Monday, October 29, 2012

Self And Society

The doctor who owned "just a Ferrari spider convertible 430", dined at fine restaurants with Michelin Chefs and kept company with the likes of Miss Universe and Eduardo Saverin (net worth $2.6 billion) said society made him do it.

The relationship between individuals and the social environments in which they live is a topic which fascinates sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists and political theorists. Interactions between Self and Society can help explain:
(1) the impact of one individual on another individual,
(2) the impact of a group on its individual members,
(3) the impact of individual members on their group and,
(4) the impact of groups on one another.

An understanding of the priorities of individuals in respect of the social systems into which they are immersed  helps to explain social problems (attributed to foreign intake or competition), social norms and values (unresolved "visceral" racial issues), moral and political change (exacerbated by institutional promotion of gambling), organizational practices (meritocracy eroded by cronyism), and interpersonal and cross-cultural conflict (conflated to xenophobia).

George Herbert Mead (Self and Society, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1962) argued that the self consists of more than just a bare organisation of social attitudes, but can be divided into an "I", an unique and natural response to the attitudes of others, and "me", who knows what is socially required in a certain situation through the recognition of the attitudes of others. The point in Mead’s theory becomes evident when one ponders whether social order derives from individuals or whether individuals derive from social order.

Adding his two cents to the PSLE debate, DPM Tharman said "It's only possible to succeed in character education and encouraging students to question and think originally if we create real space for it in the educational system." Will the students be encouraged to be an "I" or a "me"? When they took History and Geography off the syllabus, they conveniently did away with the horror stories of Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot,  and the perspective of what a small island we really are on the planet earth. Leaving only Math to calculate the millions to be earned from a lucrative career choice, and enough Science recognize our physical mortality. Instead of creating space, the shrinkage probably did, and continue to do so, cause misery for the future generation. Quite obviously, the one who coined "teach less, learn more" wasn't too concerned with morality plays.


  1. This is long over due...............i knew it would come from them......mark my word in six months time major overhaul of PSLE

  2. DPM Tharman said "It's only possible to succeed in character education and encouraging students to question and think originally if we create real space for it in the educational system."

    You believe this guy?

    Then why Yale-NUS students cannot have political discussions with Opposition politicians?

    1. Exactly, why can't any university student be given the freedom to think for themselves that our PAP leaders are so afraid of that it has to be written to form part of the university regulations that they can't get involved into politics?

      What exactly are they afraid of ? That some student smarter and more intelligent than LKY's son can rise up to challenge PAP policies?

  3. objectively tharman is one of the few or should I say only one in the white camp who can think out of the box..........anyway he should have stayed on as education minister where he was beginning to do things but unfortunately he was taken away for the finance advice to him then and now he should have taken the IMF job.......

    1. Has Tharman done anything to benefit us?
      Teach less in school to save the government money; Learn more at home from your private tutors at your own expense instead?

    2. Tharman not stupid.
      IMF do not have any jobs that pay $1 million dollars.
      With an unquestioning supporting cast of grassroots leaders that will do anything he wants.
      If Tharman stays at IMF for say 5 years, I'm sure he can persuade Indranee to help him do a wayang to show that the European Union crisis is over.

    3. This comment is worth reading. It is enlightening and show how wayang works in PAP.

      Comment from

      I too was surprised to read TCJ’s remarks.

      But haven’t we see this saga before? Whenever a NEW minister comes to town, he bristles with ideas and supposed openness. “No sacred cows !!”, “Less teaching, more learning!!”. Yes, that was KBH, VB, Tharman, many others. And notice that such pronoucements of openness always come SOLELY from the new kid, and rarely ever (in fact, never) from the Old Guards. In fact, they say the opposite. In this case, Old Guards mean LHL, and most importantly, TCH.

      After a while, the new kid learns the rules. If you don’t, like David Lim, you’ll be out quickly. You learn that you only hold a particular ministerial position for a few years. Better to “not jerk it” and in the words of a brilliant ex-minister, “go with the flow”. Why jerk it when after a few short years, you’ll be posted to another ministry anyway? If you scratch the right backs, you’ll be taken care of for life — pensions, a cushy directorship position with the TLC (Lim Boon Heng is a good example). But if you “can’t fit in”, you’ll be like a David Lim, banished to oblivion.

      So the new kid learns to preach the importance of the sacred cows, instead of fighthing it. Of going with the flow. And then the next election comes, and that new kid becomes a seasoned pro and another new kid becomes the latest flavor in town. And he gets the limelight, he tries to make his own stamp (“Focus on moral values, not just academic results”), he learns the rule of the game, he sits it out, he’s posted to another ministry .. life goes on.

      Essentially, every minister evolves to be come an administrator, albeit a good administrator, of the status quo. Its impossible to change – not just because your peers, including the elderly Old Guards who are the inner circle decision makers, do not buy those radical ideas. Its the entire system. You parachute into a ministry, you’re a green horn. Your right hand man is the PS and there’s an array of Admin Service scholars — every single one of these are groomed from within the system. Every idea you raise, a book has been written about why there are lots of pitfalls, why its not doable. After a while, you realise that notiwithstanding you as a Minister, you’re essentially just the figurehead. The heart of the ministry is the PS & Admin Service scholars. They know more about the ins and outs than you. You basically CANNOT effect change, without their buy-in and drive to make it happen. You’re like the Emperor Pu Yi with the rest of the elderly eunuchs in your court.

      Its only when you leave the system that things become clearer. Like what Ngiam How Tong and a few others who dare, have publicly opined from time to time. But what’s the use? When you’re in power to effect change, you duck it. When you’re outside, you claim to be in support of it. “Its only words and words are all I have to take your heart away …”

  4. Maybe "one eye dragon" really does exist in that context - both eyes see dollar signs so its monovision, no perspective, no introspection. But then hor, PRC teaches history too, and want to teach their "version" of history to HK children. Honkongers decided it would be better CPC stay away from their children - lucky lucky for HK. Ishihara wants his version of Japanese WWII history to be taught too. Maybe don't give the MIW too many ideas then.

  5. Teach less, learn more fiasco? 1k income to buy HDB flat? I am not so sure about this guy. Used to have regards for him but think of him as a NATO (no action, talk only) type nowadays.

  6. "Many political scientists have studied political decisions divorced from the economic context. Similarly, economists have often studied the mechanisms of the market as though the economy works without manipulation from political actors. However, these two areas cannot be regarded separately. Governments frequently intervene in markets by setting wages, prices, tax levels and so forth. On the other hand, investors sometimes flee states, markets or currencies that are following objectively sound macroeconomic policies to invest in inefficient projects elsewhere in the world."

    (International Political Economy - Rajaratnam School of International)

    (Global Economic Downturn A Crisis of Political Economy Stratfor)

    (Politics - Importance Of Philosophy)

    (Epistemology - Importance Of Philosophy)

    (The 5 Branches of Philosophy - Importance Of Philosophy)

    (The Role of Philosophy in Politics)

    (Yale, Singapore, and the Business of Liberal Arts - In Plain Sight)

    (TODAYonline | World | Is unlimited growth a thing of the past?)

    (Economic Policy Notes - Scribd)

    (Diary of A Singaporean Mind Understanding why PSLE needs to be changed__)

    Joshua Chiang

  7. did GY propose any of these?

    in public?

    in private? how we going to know.

    GY theory of speech that promotes development has failed.

    GY doesn't deserve the accolades accorded to him for intelligence.

    1. Who is GY?
      Goodyear tyres?
      I kick my tyres every morning to make sure they are inflated properly. And are fit to do their jobs as tyres.
      Do you kick your MPs every morning to make sure they are able to do their jobs?

  8. “I am often accused of interfering in the private lives of citizens. Yes, if I did not, had I not done that, we wouldn’t be here today. And I say without the slightest remorse, that we wouldn’t be here, we would not have made economic progress, if we had not intervened on very personal matters – who your neighbour is, how you live, the noise you make, how you spit, or what language you use. We decide what is right. Never mind what the people think.”
    - Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Straits Times, 20 April 1987

    This is where the "I" comes in, and where "me" and "us" stand in the social order. The relationship between the individuals and the social environment in Sinkie land is determined by one man, to the extent of how many babies is needed and by whom. I am sure George Herbert Mead's theory does not apply to Napoleon and Animal Farm.

    1. Well. Limpeh admits it himself.
      He is responsible for all the shit we have experienced.
      So don't feel guilty.
      Feel free to curse & blame the Pro Alien Party.
      They are responsible and should be held accountable.