Thursday 7 February 2019

Each must choose who (or what) to believe

This is the modern condition - unavoidable, in one of its aspects. We now, that is - nearly everybody in The West, have-to choose who (or what) to believe. This matter can no longer be taken for granted (i.e. to follow tradition).

And that is what we actually do - all of us; most especially those who most vehemently deny that they are making a choice, or that there is any choice. We choose who or what to believe.

Thus this is the era of personal responsibility - unshirkable - and, again, those who claim otherwise do so on the basis of having chosen to believe someone who tells him he has no responsibility for what he believes.

I often find myself shocked at my own credulousness; at the way I have believed something for no good reason or for bad reasons; at the way I have 'passively' absorbed stuff from sources I am convinced are dishonest and of malign intent.

I am shocked at the way I hold vehemently to information I know only indirectly and without any confirmation; via the mass media, or government agencies.

If epistemology (the problem of knowledge) has been the focus of philosophy in the 'modern' era (since the 17th century, increasingly) then this is why. Because each is responsible for what each knows.

This requirement - because that's what it is: a thing required of us - to know for yourself is what I call the Romantic impulse. Because to know for yourself is intuition - self-validating knowing. And I regard this as right and proper so long as it is followed-through to its implications.

instead, people reject traditional knowledge, and credulously cleave to false information from the mass media or lying officials and ideologues; they embrace incoherent nonsense such as materialism, the secular revolution, fake news and fake science - and they absolutely refuse to learn from their repeated experience of betrayed trust, of detected lies, of the discovery of malign agendas.

But if we follow-through on this fact of modernity, and believe only what we really know and test for our-selves; this will lead (by a zag-zag route, no doubt) to where we ought to be going.

1 comment:

Lucinda said...

One of the scripture stories that has helped me to remember the necessity to choose is The Good Samaritan. Someone pointed out to me that being a 'good Samaritan' to the real victim, then turning around and giving the same care and encouragement to the guilty robbers is not praise-worthy. In efforts to do good, you cannot skip questions about who (or what) is right and who (or what) is wrong.

When non-judgmentalism is seen as a primary virtue, this means you have to forgo looking virtuous to actually be virtuous, which feels very unfair and tempts toward resentment. I mean to say, it's no easy road recognizing that you have to take responsibility for what you believe, and it can produce feedback that might look like it doesn't work. So you have to choose again, "Does the resentment I feel because of being judged as a judger mean that I've chosen wrong?". The problem is not solved, and often becomes more challenging. And the process goes on. So where is the satisfaction? In the seeing for yourself the real progress inside you, seen from inside you.

(Of course, looking inside yourself is no picnic, "shocking" indeed, and it takes a willingness to see how very little ground you've gained since you got to an age when you should have known better. It can be humiliating. But it can also bring gratitude for undeserved blessings.)