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Hidden Agenda Hidden Agenda
by Matt Williamson
2007-09-29 09:59:08
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We all have a hidden agenda. Whether we want to admit it or not we are trying to make our life in our own image. Sometimes we are honest and we tell people that we seek a certain outcome within a given situation; sometimes we just try to manipulate people and events so that we get our way. We are all suffering and we want to change that somehow.

I want a raise, I want a promotion, I want him/her to like me, I want this, I want that.

There are a lot of situations in life where we as individuals try to exert our own will upon people and therefore gain control of the event. Why?

Do we really think we will be happier if we get 'our' way? Will this magically make something in our life better?

What if we just for a moment actually took stock of our life and realized we can be happy even now. Who is the 'I' that I mentioned a few paragraphs earlier?

If we believe that Buddha-Nature is the essence of our experience then we can find happiness in all situations. If we are mindful of the here and now, if we remain calm and allow ourselves to be in the moment any hidden agenda will find itself useless and fade away.

Remember that the 'You' is just a series of thoughts and feelings . Know that you are not who you were yesterday and you have no idea who you will be tomorrow. Life changes and you change with it.

I think it was Dan Millman that said we should "stop trying to be superior in an ordinary realm, and start trying to be ordinary in a superior realm."

Remember that there is ordinary magic in everything. Kids laughing, butterflies flapping and the wind, all of these are magic and perfect; with out you having any control over them at all.

Drop your agendas, see reality and live.

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Emanuel Paparella2007-09-29 12:54:40
The assumption here is seems to be that to be happy one has to let go of the penchant for being right all the times (the so called hidden agenda) but the danger here is that one becomes either an Epicurean, or a Stoic, or a person without any convictions parading as a Buddhist. There is evil in this brave new world and it needs to be protested and there are those who'd like us to shut up about it. Just be happy! Undeed, with no convictions there is nothing to defend overtly or covertly. Socrates, in other words, ought to have heeded the advice of his admirers and should have "saved" himself by desisting from being a gadfly to the Athinian democracy and choosing exile to another Greek city, and simply be happy there, go to the beach and get some sun in the sunset of his life. Alas, to the consteration of his friends, his wife and children he chose the hemlock. Food for thought.

Thanos2007-09-29 14:45:28
I was surprised a few weeks ago from a colleague when I invited him to a social gathering; well a pub quiz event and he asked ….what’s the hidden agenda? Despite whatever I said he could not believe that a gathering of 50 people could be only for fun and he was trying to find the …agenda of the event!

Sand2007-09-29 15:06:42
To characterize hemlock as food for thought is one of the most hilarious descriptions I have ever encountered.

Emanuel Paparella2007-09-29 15:35:20
Your friend must be a Puritan of sort. A Puritan always suspects anything that has to do with pure pleasure or fun. He is the modern Christian Stoic reacting to hedonism the way the ancient Epicurean reacted to Stoicism. On the other side of the spectrum some in our rationalistic times are prone to confusing fun for joy. C.S. Lewis wrote a book about that phenomenon titled “Surprised by Joy.”

There may indeed be a hidden agenda in the above statement, but if there is it is sub-conscious. Freud had it on target too: many of our motives are buried deep in the subconscious. They too are a hidden agenda of sort hiding behind the stream of consciousness. James Joyce told us something about that phenomenon. Who said that musings and reveries cannot be lots of fun too?

Emanuel Paparella2007-09-29 16:00:43
It is indeed not so difficult to spot the not so hidden agenda behind Mr. Sand's above egregious amd ridiculous statement. Indeed, it validates your thesis Mr. Williamson, that, perversly, some of us in our brave new world, try as we may, would rather be right than happy or to put it another way: some of us are not happy unless we are unhappy. Yes Freud had it on target, or as Pirandello put it in one of his plays: to each its own.

Sand2007-09-29 16:15:45
I am relieved to learn that Paparella did not mean what he obviously said. I charitably assume it is his habit of speech for if he has been aware of the meanings of his numerous dissertations it would be hugely disgraceful.

Emanuel Paparella2007-09-29 18:38:06
On a blog aptly called "A Lamb with no Guiding Light"

Jan Sand said...

"I had been a contributer to OVI on various subjects but was was puzzled, disturbed and offended by much of what Paparella has submitted to the site. When I tried to engage him in discussion I discovered he was so deeply embedded in what seems to me total nonsense that I became completely frustrated. He has several religious zealots to support his obvious illogic and since nobody else seemed to support my point of view I decided to withdraw submitting from the publication altogether as Paparella has spread his idiocy like some malignant fungus throughout the whole site and his comments were taking too much of my time and energy to confront with no support."

01 July, 2007 08:48

Can we also charitably assume that Mr. Sand did not mean the gracefulness of what he obviously said on another publication (on which I stumbled three months later) unbeknown to me and other Ovi readers?

Sand2007-09-29 18:57:55
Here is the entire post from that site:
In defense of extreme, unbalanced rationality

Ovi Magazine has published a thought-provoking and, to be honest, remarkably annoying three-part article written by Emanuel L Paparella titled "Levinas' Challenge to the Modern European Identity" (link spotted on Nosemonkey / Europhobia).

Paparella starts off by writing about the importance of Humanism, especially Levinas's humanist philosophy, for "the emergence of a renewed European identity", an event which he for some reason considers to be desirable. He writes that "talk of a 'democratic deficit'" in the European Union has been caused by "confusion in the area of cultural identity" due to a battle between Renaissance Humanism and Enlightenment Rationalism. (He uses phrases like "the modern European identity", "the emergence of a renewed European cultural identity", and "the authentic cultural identity of Europe" without ever really explaining what the bloody hell they're supposed mean.)

Now, I always thought the talk of a democratic deficit was caused by things like the splintered European media markets which don't report on EU politics nearly as much as on national politics, EU citizens not paying much attention to EU politics even when the media reports on it, and the design of EU institutions. Perhaps those things were caused by the conflict between Humanism and Rationalism in some manner I don't quite understand, but I'd like the author to spell out his case.

As the argument progressed, I got the feeling that the point lurking in the background is that Europeans just need some religion in their lives. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe I'm right. According to Paparella, "an extreme, unbalanced rationality devoid of imagination, feelings, senses and spirit, unconcerned with the ethical dimensions of life, is the equivalent to a refusal to be human, to allowing oneself to become a monster." From the context I gather that this observation is supposed to have something to do with Nazism, but the Nazis had loads of imagination and extremely strong feelings about a great many things. When I think of cool and rational thinkers, Hitler doesn't come readily to mind.

In the third part the link between the Holocaust and rationalism is made explicitly, when Paparella summarizes Berel Lang's argument in Act and Idea in the Nazi Genocide:

His conclusion is that there are two important aspects of the Enlightenment that formed the intellectual heritage, which needed to be in place, for genocide to occur in the heart of civilized Europe: namely, the universalization of rational ideals, and the redefinition of the individual human being in terms of its possessing or not such a universal rationality. The genocide, Lang argues, was aimed at those groups who stuck to their own ancient pre-Enlightenment sources of particularistic identity, considered 'irrational.'

That strikes me as a spectacularly misguided conclusion. Nazism was founded in a pre-Enlightenment source of particularistic identity, namely the "Aryan" blood running in German veins. Sources of particularist identity don't get much more pre-Enlightement than that sort of tribalism writ large. The problem with Nazis wasn't that they considered rational ideals universal and hated the idea of anyone having a particularistic identity (like, say, being German). The problem was that they were murderous racists.

But suppose for a moment that the Nazis did hate the Jews because they thought the Jews didn't accept universal rationality. Does that mean that we shouldn't accept universal rationality? The Nazis also hated the Jews because they thought the Jews were greedy and untrustworthy. Should we therefore consider greed and untrustworthiness to be positive traits?

This powerful essay leads many cultural anthropologists comparing civilizations, to begin to wonder: which, in the final analysis, is more obscurantist: religious fanaticism and fundamentalism, or a so called 'enlightened' era throwing out the window the baby with the bathwater and arrogantly refusing any suggestion that it ought to enlighten itself, and not with its own light?

Religious fanaticism and fundamentalism, of course. Duh.

I'm not sure what specific outside source of light Paparella envisions here, but it's worth noting that religion has a damned poor record in the field of preventing mass slaughter. 1930s Germany was a predominantly Christian nation, but that didn't inoculate Germans to Nazism. The Bible contains appalling scenes in which the Israelites at the behest of God wipe out opposing tribes. Further examples aren't difficult to find.

Posted at 18:08

Filed under European Union, Germany, history, politics, religion


Jan Sand said...

I had been a contributer to OVI on various subjects but was was puzzled, disturbed and offended by much of what Paparella has submitted to the site. When I tried to engage him in discussion I discovered he was so deeply embedded in what seems to me total nonsense that I became completely frustrated. He has several religious zealots to support his obvious illogic and since nobody else seemed to support my point of view I decided to withdraw submitting from the publication altogether as Paparella has spread his idiocy like some malignant fungus throughout the whole site and his comments were taking too much of my time and energy to confront with no support.
01 July, 2007 08:48
Dr. Emanuel L. Paparella said...

So much for "freedom of speech! Indeed, atheistic humanism (which has nothing to do with humanism per se originating in 13th century Italy) and rationalism, abetted by technological know-how devoid of ethical concerns, is a culturally fatal mix, as Jung aptly pointed out.
23 September, 2007 16:22
Ari said...

So much for "freedom of speech!

I'm probably making a mistake by asking, but I'm curious: what do you think is the freedom of speech issue here?
26 September, 2007 21:30

Emanuel Paparella2007-09-29 20:59:54
Here is the complete post from the site in condemnation of the "barbarism of the intellect":

Dr. Emanuel L. Paparella said...

That question Mr. Ari is better asked to Mr. Sand who withdrew "submitting from the publication altogether..." because it was publishing something other than just his biased rationalistic views on religion and the poetical and decided to go and peddle them somewhere else, in a less open forum which sympathizes with his views and where he thought he could get more support for his attacks ad hominem, a nasty habit of his. I am afraid that my comment stands: so much for freedom of speech.

I too am curious and intrigued by your question. What do you think of the issue of the fatal cultural mix as analyzed by by Carl Jung, Christopher Dawson. C.S. Lewis, G.K Chesterton and others?

29 September, 2007 20:51

Emanuel Paparella2007-09-29 23:28:43
To be thorough on this issue, here for the reader is the complete posting on the site, as of now that is:

Dr. Emanuel L. Paparella said...

I also find it intriguing that you take it upon yourself to censor and edit the comments. You have eliminated "a nasty habit of his" referring to Mr.Sand's penchant to attack the man rather than the issue [as copyed and retained in Ovi] while retaining his characterization of my views by Mr. Sand as "idiocy like some malignant fungus." Once again I need to comment: so much for freedom of speech.

P.S. This like the addendum in square brackets above has been added for Omni: the reader should notice that the editor of this "enlightened" blog remains semi-anonymous referring to himself jus as Ari. How convenient indeed!

29 September, 2007 23:18

Emanuel Paparella2007-09-29 23:50:11
P.S. And this follow-up posted twice and censored once, so far. I'll keep the readers informed if it gets censored twice.

Dr. Emanuel L. Paparella said...
P.S. Unless it was due to some technical snafu, you have also censored and eliminated my whole response to your critique (sent before any other comment) of my article on Levinas where I made several points among which the fact that those Nazis far from being hot-headed emotional semi-idiotic types as you seem to claim were very "cool" rationalists who rationalized and planned the Holocaust in less than two hours and then cold-bloodedly executed it in less than four years; moreover they all sported a Ph.D. after their name. It would have been better had they never gone to school.

Once again, so much for freedom of speech.

29 September, 2007 23:47

Matt Williamson2007-09-30 05:53:40
Wow. I write a post about hidden agendas and then we actually find a few within the OVI community.


Simon2007-09-30 09:37:41
I was thinking the very same , MAtt!

Emanuel Paparella2007-09-30 14:33:00
If Freud had read those comments he would have exclaimed: let us not be too disengenously surprised, the Ovi community is also part of humankind and therefore also affected by sub-conscious motives: the hidden agendas of human nature. If Socrates had read them he would have said: knowledge is virtue; this is a sign of either lack of virtue or ignorance, as the case may be. If St. Paul had read them he would have said: alas, we know the good but we do evil. I suppose we can take our pick of those three stances but to do so we need a forum in which to express them and a door (“ovi”) that stays open and allows those expressions. That is called “free speech,” and it is good whether we pick Freud, Socrates or Paul, and Ovi is to be applauded for facilitating it.

Chris2007-10-02 20:42:08
Something has been missed: The Overt Agenda. Agendas are not hidden (not very well hidden) if they can easily be analysed and commented upon. Everybody commenting on Matt's article seems to assume that hidden agendas are not really hidden, including Matt. I do have an agenda -- but I'm not telling. The hidden hides the hid in the hinder.

Emanuel Paparella2007-10-02 22:39:19
Quite right Chris, quite right. Sooner or later all hidden agendas come to the fore and all hidden messages reach their destination. What is the saying: be careful of that you think or you’ll end up saying it, be careful of what you say or you’ll end up doing it. At the Wannasee Conference in January 20 1942 a secret agenda was set up, just talk around a table while sipping brandy, 15 men in all, more than half of them held Ph.D.s from German universities. The plan (called Aktion Reinhard from its genial mastermind) was so secret that there was no direct written order for it. These men, having talked and rationally planned and rationalized what ought never have been rationalized for some two hours, proceeded to execute the hidden agenda in the next four years. As we all know it was a simple rational plan: to kill all the Jews of Europe, not excluding the 330,000 in England and the 4,000 in Ireland. Now we have the President of Iran going around saying that it never happened; which is to say the agenda has remained secret all along. What his own secret agenda might be, he is not telling. Can we imagine it? For if we cannot, then I am afraid that Western civilization as we know it is doomed.

Sand2007-10-03 05:17:56
The proposition that fifteen men murdered about four million Jews is about as daft a any idiotic concept can get. It took centuries of indoctrination by vile Christian fanatics to create the fertile ground which grew the brutal thousands of cruel executioners of men and women and children for no sane reason whatsoever.

Emanuel Paparella2007-10-03 06:56:15
Ari said...
I knew I shouldn't have asked.

That question Mr. Ari is better asked to Mr. Sand

Not really. It would be downright cruel to ask him to explain your thoughts on the matter.

I do hope you're not making the absurd suggestion that Mr Sand's choices with regard to where he publishes his text have something to do with your freedom of speech. It's his text, after all, not yours. Were he forced to publish it in forums you deem appropriate, that would really constitute a freedom of speech issue.

in a less open forum

Is this a less open forum? I'd bet good money my comments policy is more liberal than Ovi Magazine's, although I'm not sure if the same can be said for Blogger's policies.

What do you think of the issue of the fatal cultural mix as analyzed by by Carl Jung, Christopher Dawson. C.S. Lewis, G.K Chesterton and others?

Not a heck of a lot, I can confidentially reveal to you.

(I hate it when they try to change the topic.)

I also find it intriguing that you take it upon yourself to censor and edit the comments. You have eliminated "a nast habit of his"...

I can't edit comments left on this blog. I can delete them or leave them be, but I can't change their contents. The software won't allow for it. Ipso facto, you're wrong.

Hmm. I suppose I could delete a post and then impersonate the author. I withdraw the "ipso facto", but you're still wrong.

you have also censored and eliminated my whole response to your critique

Nope. I don't know what happened to your response. Maybe you pressed the wrong button.

Emanuel Paparella2007-10-03 06:59:31
(continued from above)
far from being hot-headed emotional semi-idiotic types

I don't know where you saw "semi-idiotic". I made no comment on the Nazis' level of intelligence. I didn't say much about their personalities at all, excepting Hitler, I guess.

Nazism as an ideology is extensively concerned with ethics. It frequently comes to horrible conclusions about what's the ethical thing to do, but repugnant ethics is ethics too. Its appeal is more emotional than rational; for example, it's centrally concerned with fostering a sense of a particularist identity that can't be supported rationally.

In 1930s Germany it was a mass movement whose supporters were more concerned with national strength than their personal rights, who wanted a strong leader to tell them what to do, and who bought into racist fantasies. The vast majority of them were Christians, which is only worth pointing out because you seem hell-bent on blaming the whole thing on atheists - of all tiny and entirely powerless minorities.

who rationalized and planned the Holocaust in less than two hours

Do you know who decide on and plan enormous operations really, really quickly? Hotheads, that's who. What's your point, again?

Once again, so much for freedom of speech.

Are you sure the phrase means what you think it means?

02 October, 2007 20:44

Emanuel Paparella2007-10-03 07:00:45
(continued from above)
Dr. Emanuel L. Paparella said...
Indeed birds of a feather flock together. You too as Mr. Sand seem to be convinced that Christians put 6 million Jews in crematoriums between 1942 and 1945. The president of Iran is convience it never happened. How does one start the unburdening of that kind of ignorance? But let us stay with free speech and transparencey and veracity.

Since the whole exchange was copied verbatim and posted in the comment section of Ovi as copied verbatim, anyone can clearly see by a simple comparison that that the comment "a nasty habit of his" referring to Mr. Sand's penchant for attacks ad hominem was in fact eliminated as pointed out. You conviniently ignore the point and forge ahead with the defense of your points of view from what you obviously consider a superior ethical stance. But you see, signing yourself by first name only is equivalent to hiding behind a mask; that lack of transparency means that in the final analysis there is nobody to take responsibility for one's cavalier assertions; it's like the hand that hides after launching the stone, as I pointed out in my extensive reply that got lost in cyberspace. How convenient indeed. So much for open-mindedness and liberality free speech and transparency. I too wonder what you actually think they mean. But perhaps it was a mistake to ask.

03 October, 2007 06:38

Sand2007-10-03 07:33:00
The internet, of course, is a swamp of all sorts of deceptions. To be confident of the veracity of a poster because he has the imagination to copy the name of, say, some wacky PhD. called Paparella, is no guarantee he is not a rather clever grey parrot in a lab equipped with a computer or a multi-tentacled creature in a cave on Titan with the appropriate electronic equipment. Based on the alien and illogical submissions and the extremely imaginative versions of human history and the predisposition to compose posts overstuffed with quotes from obsolete philosophies it seems logical that a non-human alien is involved although I doubt that psychologists have thoroughly plumbed the depths of mischievous grey parrots.

Emanuel Paparella2007-10-03 07:54:36
Indeed, birds of a feather...

Sand2007-10-03 08:18:40
Unfortunately even confirmations are suspect. The Finnish for parrot is papukaija so I am leaning towards a wily extra-terrestrial.

Emanuel Paparella2007-10-03 13:37:49
The wolf, or the wacko as the case may be, in lamb's clothing (and no guiding light)knows mischief and not only does not repent of it but is proud of it. That is indeed Machiavelli's "virtu'," to do mischief and be proud of it because done thoroughly. Mr Ari is even convinced that such kind of competence has an ethical, albeit negative, component. The Nazis for sure would make a rational correction there: Mr. Sand, we did not exterminate four million Jews, we are not amateurs, be precise, the number is six million for your information and if we count the non Jews it is more like 11 million. Give us some credit for crying aloud.

Sand2007-10-03 16:12:08
Paparella, your claim to be a methane monster from Titan who exterminated six million Jews under the aegis of the Nazi party seems, to me, to be a bit far fetched. I am beginning to suspect you are pulling my leg.

Emanuel Paparella2007-10-03 18:26:38
Your claim and that of your buddy Ari that religion explains all the monstrosietie of modern Europe is indeed a monstruosity in itself. Some are even proud of it. It makes them stand out. For shame.
Be careful in naming your monsters or they'll become your pets. Primitive man who had imagination and understood the poetical never rationalized such monstruosities. And the Romans had it on target: corruptio optima pessima. Indeed some sicknesses are not curable. A miracle may be needed.

Sand2007-10-03 19:53:14
I have had many different kinds of pets but the only one who was in the general area of your mental capacity was a praying mantis. I doubt that it's prayers were answered either.

Emanuel Paparella2007-10-03 21:42:18
Did you know that there is a Dial-a-Prayer for atheists now. You call up and it rings and rings but nobody answers...

Sand2007-10-04 01:53:24
The big secret is, of course, is that it's the same system that's used for the faithful except religious people believe they have been answered.

Sand2007-10-04 03:51:26
Sorry about that. It was 3.30 am when I wrote it. To be clearer, The standard dial-a-prayer may supply a prayer but the answer to the prayer is equally a silence.

Emanuel Paparella2007-10-04 18:49:40
Ari said...
Say, Em, Have you considered admitting that you were wrong to accuse me of editing your comment?

Sand 2007-10-03 19:53:14

Is there some particular reason why you're quoting Mr Sand?

So much for liberality and "enlightenment".

Really, now. There's more to liberality and enlightenment than just mocking your intellect.

04 October, 2007 16:29

Jan Sand said...
I apologize for inflicting Mr. Paparella on you. I found him as irritating as poison ivy and as difficult to avoid scratching.

04 October, 2007 17:25

Emanuel L. Paparella said...
No Mr.Sand, you did not impose me on Mr. Ari; you were found out three months later writing ad hominem arguments (a nasty habit of yours from which you do not seem to be able to extricate yourself) on another site unbeknown to those you had previously attacking in Omni magazine. You are good at dishing out but not at receiving. So it would seem that you and Mr. Ari, whoever he might be, are the ones who have imposed on each other. So much for objectivity and transparancy so beloved rhetorically by extreme rationalists, otherwise known as "barbarians of the intellect."

It would appear that between you and Mr. Ari you'd have to figure who manipulated the messages. I know I did not. All I did was copying them verbatim with the computer from one site to the other. You Mr. Sand has suggested that a mischevious alien from outer space might have done it. If you meet him as a voice in your mind, you need to ask for an apology for Mr. Ari. So much for "extreme rationality." A modicum of veracity, common sense and courtesy may be more appropriate to the situation.

04 October, 2007 18:45

Emanuel Paparella2007-10-04 20:34:20
Ari said...
Great news, folks! I found Dr Paparella's missing comment! Here it is, in all its undeleted glory. Careful observers will note that the poor guy had misplaced it in the wrong comment section altogether. Oops.

But I expect he'll make amends by withdrawing his assertion that I've altered his comments. After all, it's the ethical thing to do. Right, Em?

It would appear that between you and Mr. Ari you'd have to figure who manipulated the messages. I know I did not.

I'll have you know I'm guffawing over here.

04 October, 2007 19:11

Emanuel Paparella2007-10-04 20:36:22
Dr. Emanuel L. Paparella said...
I stand by what I said: I sent what I said I sent (as the found reply confirms), I did no manipulation, I simply copied verbatim with the computer what I sent to rebut what Mr. Sand was copying and sending to Ovi, but what came out in print had "a nasty habit of his" missing in your blog which was not the case in Ovi. Somebody somehow did some editing. I have nothing to apologize for. As mentioned, the mischevious alien to which Mr. Sand refers to might have to do the apologizing.

The silver lining in this unpleasant exchange is this Mr. Ari, whoever you might be: you said at the beginning of your review of my article on Levinas that you found it thought provoking but irritating. I am glad it provoked some thinking; the irritation was a byproduct but was never intented. Indeed, as I have suggested to Mr. Sand repeatedly, in a forum where sincerity reigns people can well disagree without becoming disagreable. Plato and Aristotle disagreed vehemently but remained friends. Mr. Sand obviously does not believe that it is possible to disagree and still learn from each other. Those who disagree with his positivistic atheistic leftist views get demonized and attacked verbally. I would suggest that such is the mind set of the totalitarian authoritarian personality contemptous of democracy and free speech. If that lesson was learned in this exchange it would not have been in vain. Regards and farewell.

04 October, 2007 20:28

Sand2007-10-05 05:41:28
Your insistence that I apologize to the inhabitant of Titan which I theorized might have fabricated the personality of a pompous academician with small intellectual capability substantiates my indication of the possibility that this tentacled methane breather is a reality. Stop thrashing your tentacles Mr. Xzrtyutrd, I admire your ingenuity in creating this amusing impostor. Now is your opportunity to move on to a character with at least a bit of integrity and cognizance of reality.

Emanuel Paparella2007-10-05 10:42:27
So much the worse for reality? True to form your acerbic nervastenic diatribe once again confirmes my last point above. Indeed, barbarians of the intellect and totalitarian personalities simply cannot help themselves. To each his own. I will not dignify your antics parading as intellectual exchange with any other response.

Sand2007-10-05 13:32:48
Not to worry, Pappy, dignity is beyond your capability.

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