World War V: Global War on Reality and Epistemic Warfare

The next global war after WWIII (Cold War) and WWIV (Global War on Terrorism) will be WWV (Global War on Reality and Epistemic Warfare).

MatrixEpistemic Warfare is described in Peter Ludlow’s prescient article “The Real War on Reality” (NYT, June 14, 2013):

“The revelations about the National Security Agency’s PRISM data collection program have raised awareness — and understandably, concern and fears — among American and those abroad, about the reach and power of secret intelligence gatherers operating behind the facades of government and business.

“The shadow world of private intelligence is a place where journalists, philosophers and other truth-seekers can meet.  But those revelations, captivating as they are, have been partial —they primarily focus on one government agency and on the surveillance end of intelligence work, purportedly done in the interest of national security. What has received less attention is the fact that most intelligence work today is not carried out by government agencies but by private intelligence firms and that much of that work involves another common aspect of intelligence work: deception. That is, it is involved not just with the concealment of reality, but with the manufacture of it.

“The realm of secrecy and deception among shadowy yet powerful forces may sound like the province of investigative reporters, thriller novelists and Hollywood moviemakers — and it is — but it is also a matter for philosophers. More accurately, understanding deception and how it can be exposed has been a principle project of philosophy for the last 2500 years. And it is a place where the work of journalists, philosophers and other truth-seekers can meet.

In one of the most referenced allegories in the Western intellectual tradition, Plato Platodescribes a group of individuals shackled inside a cave with a fire behind them. They are able to see only shadows cast upon a wall by the people walking behind them. They mistake shadows for reality. To see things as they truly are, they need to be unshackled and make their way outside the cave. Reporting on the world as it truly is outside the cave is one of the foundational duties of philosophers.

“In a more contemporary sense, we should also think of the efforts to operate in total secrecy and engage in the creation of false impressions and realities as a problem area in epistemology — the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of knowledge. And philosophers interested in optimizing our knowledge should consider such surveillance and deception not just fodder for the next “Matrix” movie, but as real sort of epistemic warfare.”

It is worth the time and effort to read this article in totality to get the full sense of its significance in a post “1984” World.1984

I am reminded of Dick Cheney’s comment as he self admittedly moved to the darkside, “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.”

Read the Article:  Peter Ludlow, “The Real War on Reality”

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