In so far as Confucius was progressive in opposing natural social hierarchies, he was part of the Axial revolutions that were happening all over the world in the middle of that millennium. The concepts of elitism and of universal human rights are pretty easily reconciled, though, since the elitist can base those rights on our common potential to progress.

So what was universalist and revolutionary about the Axial Age is that philosophers and spiritualists/proto-existentialists discovered the human capacity for enlightenment. But not everyone fulfills their existential potential, so we still end up with a social hierarchy, except that this one transcends the more primitive, evolutionary power hierarchies.

I don’t see the reason for being in favour of hierarchies as such, since ideally everyone would be enlightened. I’m resigned to the fact that we’ll probably never be equally so, since we don’t start on a level playing field. However, the idea of equality of outcomes isn’t necessarily right either, since variety is the spice of life, as they say.

I’m certainly in favour of the equal freedom to attempt to fulfill our existential potential to achieve full personhood, the kind that requires critical thinking and that entails angst and alienation rather than contentment with nature’s inhumanity. Most people freely reject that kind of enlightenment or full personhood, since they’d rather stay in the Matrix than become jaded and burdened with dark realizations.

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Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

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