Today I want to talk about pills.
I’ve already shed some light on philosophical phenomena erupted from popular culture, and I gladly take a step further by talking about the profound meaning of these different colored pills, people extensively talk about on the internet.
Although in popular culture, it isn’t uncommon to use pills as symbols for certain states of awareness, the best-known example is a scene from the movie The Matrix. In this scene, the protagonist Neo is offered a red pill and a blue pill. By swallowing the blue pill, one remains in blissful ignorance, but by swallowing the red pill, one is exposed to the brutal truth of life.
Throughout the years, people began to attribute more meaning to the red and blue pill, and even expanded the philosophy with several other colored pills, like the black pill and the purple pill.
In this three-part series, I will talk about these pills, starting with the blue pill and red pill served with a bit of Schopenhauer.
A blue pilled person lives in an illusion. This illusion shields people from seeing the world for what it really is. Those in power could consciously provide blue pills to dumb down the herd. But on a grass-root level, people also, unconsciously, provide blue pills side-ways and even bottom-up, when the masses take illusion as reality. Simply put: on becomes blue pilled through nurture.
When the majority of people are attached to a certain belief system, it’s incredibly difficult to change their minds. The Matrix movie shows us that most people that are plugged into the Matrix aren’t ready for the truth. Moreover, when their reality is challenged, they will resist. In a blue pill world, people even get punished simply for telling a painful or politically incorrect truth.
Mostly after a great tragedy, one begins to awaken and starts to question all previously accepted realities about this world, and realizes that he or she has been living in a lie.
This realization often brings about an emotional reaction of anger and depression, which is called the red pill rage. Some stay in that rage forever, while others come to terms with reality.
Red pill knowledge contains tons of information about different subjects. People spread this knowledge, and their own experiences and observations, to teach others what they have learned.
Other people’s knowledge can be used as a compass – a torch that illuminates the path to our own experienced truth. We see the world through new eyes; eyes that we have never used before. And it’s only when we become aware, and now see and experience ourselves these things that others told us, that the red pill truly kicks in.
Although I think that red pill knowledge can be valuable, there’s a caution before tumbling down the rabbit hole. The red pill may pull off our blue pill glasses, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to truth.
German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer distinguished a natural way of learning, which is done solely through our own experiences, and an artificial way, which is:
..to hear what other people say, to learn and to read, and so to get your head crammed full of general ideas before you have any sort of extended acquaintance with the world as it is, and as you may see it for yourself.Arthur Schopenhauer, Studies in Pessimism, 6
Schopenhauer believed that we hardly apply all these ideas in the right manner. By gaining ideas first and personal experiences last, we basically put the cart before the horse.
Instead of developing the child’s own faculties of discernment, and teaching it to judge and think for itself, the teacher uses all his energies to stuff its head full of the ready−made thoughts of other people. The mistaken views of life, which spring from a false application of general ideas, have afterward to be corrected by long years of experience; and it is seldom that they are wholly corrected.Arthur Schopenhauer, Studies in Pessimism, 6
If instead of removing the veil of ignorance through personal experience, we attach ourselves to belief systems that other people throw at us, we basically go from the frying pan into the freezer. Moreover, we run the risk to feel threatened when these newly-adopted ideas are challenged.
Schopenhauer also described this:
…he will begin by rejecting the evidence it offers as partial and one−sided; nay, he will shut his eyes to it altogether and deny that it stands in any contradiction at all with his preconceived notions, in order that he may thus preserve them uninjured.Arthur Schopenhauer, Studies in Pessimism, 6
Ironically, this man finds himself, again, in the same position that he tried to free himself from, which is the position of ignorance.
When it comes to red pill knowledge, I’d always separate beliefs from empirical knowledge and treat this knowledge as it is: a collection of data retrieved in a certain moment from a certain source. I think it’s fine to take the notion of this data, as long as we stay receptive to life experiences; especially those experiences that challenge our beliefs retrieved by the artificial way of learning.
What I personally hold in much higher esteem is something called red pill awareness. This is the act of keeping our eyes open, paying good attention to the world and thinking for ourselves, instead of adopting a set of fixed beliefs that put our awareness and curiosity back to sleep.
If we continuously adopt large amounts of, predominantly, negative ideas about the world, from TV, newspapers, internet forums, social media, YouTube videos, and other external sources, we might become so miserable, that we decide to shut the door forever. Instead of experiencing life, we wallow away in the abyss we’ve built for ourselves and deny everything that contradicts our convictions. In that case, we have become doomers.
So, I will talk some more about pills in the second episode of this three-part series. This episode appears in about two weeks, and I will dedicate it to the black pill and the clown world.