Postmodern French Philosopher Jean Baudrillard

Jean Baudrillard's philosophy is based on the criticism of conventional scientific thought, replacing reality with the illusion of truth.

Postmodern French philosopher, Jean Baudrillard warns in his book "Simulations" that a world of simulation, "is infinitely more dangerous . . . since it always suggests, over and above its object, that law and order themselves might really not hinge on more than a simulation" Baudrillard's philosophies describe a situation in which the inhabitants of a particular society live in a seemingly utopian state, when in truth their contentment is an illusion. The illusion of happiness in contemporary society act as safe havens, emitting almost womb-like qualities which serve to protect those inside until they can no longer resist the need to venture out into the light, and accordingly discover the truth about their false existence. Baudrillard's view of society, is based on a distorted manifestation of the real world, portraying the images representing reality in a false light. It could also be said that Baudrillard's version of society symbolizes the subconscious, in that it too addresses representations of a dream world.

The question of how one would know the difference between the dream world and the real world stems all the way back to the Rene Descartes insights that life may be nothing but a dream. However Baudrillard's philosophy is based more on the criticism of conventional scientific thought, replacing reality with the illusion of truth. The illusion mankind lives in, according to Baudrillard, is the ultimate radical illusion where things are exactly what they seem to be. The false impressions are therefore the immediate experience one has through the five senses, a biased incident colored by emotion and lacking in concrete explanations.

From a Baudrillardian perspective, society functions as an expansive terrain designed to further extend the symbolic distance between the metaphoric and the authentic. This implies that the most insurmountable barrier between discovering the true difference between reality and fantasy is society itself. Consequently, a major disruption of society is the only conceivable catalyst towards exposing the truth.

Baudrillard's writings also present an increasingly real simulation of an inevitable calamity. In his book "Transparency", Baudrillard notes that although virtual interfacing facilitates community by obscuring social barriers such age, race, and sex, this same interface allows for deception and pretense, leaving society vulnerable to "electronic impostors".

Man has always sought to find convergence at the level of thought that describes the universe as a distorted version of reality. Baudrillard asserts that symbols which are used to represent objects, are drained of their meaning, a condition he terms hyper reality. According to this model, the connection between signifying systems and reality can be extraordinarily bewildering despite its illusions of clarity. Baudrillard additionally notes in "Simulations" that: "the real is not only what can be reproduced, but that which is always already reproduced". This is indicative of the philosopher's belief that nothing is truly original, real or imagined. Blending these concepts results in an amalgamation of philosophical theories that question the relationship between what we know to be real based on experience, and what we expect to be real based on supposition. The bottom line, according to Baudrillard, is that a virtual reality often reflects its message more forcefully than the authentic reality does, which therefore leads to a complete overshadowing of the actual truth.

Also inherent to Baudrillard's philosophies is the notion that human beings cannot tolerate the multifarious existence that our senses tells us we live in, so we begin to construct our own protected world; a world we call reality. The point both Baudrillard makes is that there is no proof that this reality is any more real than the virtual one. The threat, according to Baudrillard, emerges when mankind harbors the illusion that truth is an unambiguous entity. Baudrillard believes that even when distortion exists, it does not necessarily need to consume one's personality. While it is possible for the machine to metabolize the mind, it is not possible for the mind to metabolize reality if that reality is merely a propagated manifestation of the machine.

Jean Baudrillard places a great deal of confidence in the power of the human mind. Yet in order to wholly validate the messages, one would have to conclude that society offers nothing more than a strategy of deterrence; or as Baudrillard states, the creation of "an imaginary effect concealing that reality no more exists outside than inside the bounds of the artificial perimeter" If human beings all function as a single entity, as this passage from "Simulations" implies, then the mind is nothing more than a receptor of whatever propaganda it is instructed to absorb. If in fact, as Baudrillard believes, the only obstacle in man's path to self-realization is the stringent set of beliefs he has been forced to internalize, then the only entity that can overcome that obstacle is the power of the mind.

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