KNOWLEDGE OF THE UNEQUAL SOCIETY

 The way that power is set up in society can affect a person’s individuality to the point where the lines between bad versus good, external versus internal, passion versus reason and impressions versus judgments start to blur. These contrasting ideas are considered and studied by philosophers and scholars like Epictetus, Henry David Thoreau, Lucretius, Mary Wollstonecraft, Karl Marx, Hannah Arendt, and Freidrich Nietzsche. In their writings a distinction starts manifest between two classes of power that go by many names such as, the proletariats and the bourgeoisie, creditors and debtors, and the oppressed and oppressors. The more powerful group or upper class is usually associated with money, status, luxuries, materialism, government and state. While the less powerful group or lower class is more associated with labor, uncleanliness, savagery, slavery, and refugees. Not every one of these theorists openly uses these titles but they all recognize that there is a certain structure of inequality in society. It is wise to uphold and value wisdom independently against conditions of power or inequalities that hold people back to a standard.                                                               Typically when a group of people fears a corrupt power they become subservient to their standards and ways because it is easier for them to do so. Instead of turning to their knowledge they once again subject themselves to and are tricked by society’s games of power. Some cases of corrupt constitutions that play on fear are capitalism, tyranny and totalitarianism. An example of a distracting ideal that the society of inequality advocates for is the value of appearances over wisdom. Another is the excessive need for luxuries that can lead people into debt and risk their welfare. Corrupt systems stand to promote racism, slavery and discourage charity. It is important to recognize that class is an external and that people should not conform to it.                                                                      The scholars mentioned earlier all recognize the corrupt systems of power and choose to take stances on them. Though what makes their opinions different from each other is whether or not they choose to act on it or not. Some of the theorists that propose methods for change are Henry David Thoreau, Mary Wollstonecraft, Karl Marx and Hannah Arendt. While the scholars that proceed not to do anything about these conditions are Epictetus and Lucretius. The stances that Epictetus and Lucretius chose to take are probably due to the fact that they identify as stoics. Some themes recognized in these writings that are stronger than unequal power and class are love and knowledge. Power is something that can affect the quality of a person’s life but no one should let it hinder them and their knowledge.

“It is a mistake to suppose that the whole issue is how to free man. The issue is to improve the way in which he is controlled.” ― B.F. Skinner, Walden Two In unequal societies lower classes are controlled by money, labor and product. This panting presents three peasants working for their livelihood by harvesting wheat. Karl Marx explains how wage labor can become much like slavery due to its poor working conditions. Also Henry David Thoreau is adamant in his position against slavery.
"Indeed, in most instances they simply call themselves 'the powerful', 'the lords', 'the commanders', in accordance with their superior power or with the most obvious sign of their superiority, as for example 'the rich', 'the owners' (that is the meaning of arya; the Iranian and Slav languages have corresponding forms)"-Nietzsche, On the Geneaology of Morals This scene depicts a upper class, parisian gathering in a outdoor restaurant. The status of the people in the painting can be classified through their materialistic, extravagant attire.
"meanwhile strength of body and mind are sacrificed to libertine notions of beauty, to the desires, to the desire of establishing themselves,- the only way women can rise in the world,- by marriage" -Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights Of Woman Some of the few ways for women to gain power in society is through beauty and arranged marriages. This scene depicts an example of how a marriage based on power and status can be negative and lead to infidelity. Mary Wolstonecraft advocates for friendships between men and women over marriages because then the woman would not be dependent on the man.
This painting depicts a park where upper class or parisian people reside. Their powerful status in society can be seen in their materialistic ostentatious clothing and exotic pets. The fact that they are cloaked in the shade reiterates the nefarious nature of these people.
"In bourgeois society capital is independent and has individuality, while the living person is dependent and has no individuality" -Marx, The Communist Manifesto This painting represents the opposite of the unequal society including individual all people of different statuses coming together. Which promotes more of the authentic common life that Karl Marx describes. Money in society is a power that only serves to alienate man from each other.
"It is evident that political economy establishes an alienated form of social intercourse as the essential, original, and definitive human form."-Karl Marx, Money and the Alienated Man This artwork shows disinterested upper class people at a cafe. They seem to be in their own worlds alienated from each other. This alienation of man is exactly what Karl Marx says is due to money and production's influence on society.
"Authentic common life arises not through reflection; rather it comes about from the need and egoism of individuals, that is, immediately from the activation of their very existence"- Karl Marx, Money and the Alienated Man This scene depicts a rural family during the great depression. With the power of money invalidated during that time it made people appreciate and value their instincts, knowledge and love. Which is greater than the power in corrupt circumstances. This way of simple living is similar to how Henry David Thoreau lived like in Walden. Where in which he wanted to survive on his own terms not basing his life on power or money and not conforming to society.
“Men build society and society builds men.” ― B.F. Skinner, Walden Two Kabash arranges different erratic materials from lower class shanty homes to present faults in the power of the economy. Similarly Karl Marx presents the problems with the capitalist economy and society. Including how the power of money externalizes and takes away the value of property or materials. For lower class people they have try to make the most value out of all materials.
"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone" -Henry David Thoreau, Walden This painting illustrates a group of men walking home from work. Karl Marx describes a type of labor that these men might have be employed in being wage labor. In Epictetus's opinion you should not focus on externals including your profession or it will control you. This painting is a good representation of the question of a man's character and worth in what he will choose to focus on in life.
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