Dagdha's Blog

50 Shades of Dubious Grey

Posted in Uncategorized by dagdha on August 8, 2012

I recently made the cliche mistake of asserting a cliche. More specifically, in my discussion of American bipartisan politics, I said that “nothing is black and white.”  I now wish to amend that statement to say “relationships (political or otherwise) are never black and white.” Only a fool or solipsist would argue the relativist point of view that nothing is certain.

For starters, uncertainty is certain.  Anyone who claims otherwise is dangerous and full of shit. Any Socratic philosopher will be the first to tell you that the mark of intelligence is knowing the limits of one’s own knowledge, which is why the Socratic method, the foundation of Western science and epistemology, uses basic, self-perpetuating questions, forcing the petitioner to examine what one really knows. And sure, this methodology could be wrong, but reason and empirical evidence suggests we (Western civilization) are on the right track. After all, we’ve made a few advancements since Classical Greece.

Truth, the ultimate goal of philosophers like Socrates and his ilk, is also certain (or absolute, to use more common phrasing). Sometimes it might take a genius to explain complex truths (genius being defined as the ability to explain complexity with simplicity), but the universal applicability of truth never falters. It is only with the introduction of ideologies that truth is obscured, blurring the black and white lines into a grey monochromatic clusterfuck.

Ideologies are a collection of ideas or beliefs, packaged to be bought and sold to those looking for a quick and easier answer. Whether the questions are about the afterlife or which fighting style is unbeatable (to give just two examples), ideologies claim that their beliefs or methods are superior, which is a bigger crock of shit than the vats of “beef” in Taco Bell’s distribution centers.  Selling any ideology as truth presumes a consideration of all possible alternatives, even ones that haven’t been discovered or invented yet. And this doesn’t even take into account how different people are, so for any ideology to be true, it would almost require a homogenous population. Before I digress too much into abstraction though, let me get back on track.

When ego meets mental prejudice, like that created by ideologies, people begin to assert their beliefs as truth. This, in a very small nutshell, is solipsism, and a very dangerous philosophy for social and communal creatures like humans. Truth can’t be a matter of perspective, otherwise it will be determined by whoever holds the most power (e.g. the Catholic church, banks, etc), and therefore not universal. Even against mountains of evidence to the contrary, ideologies will cling to their beliefs as truth like a heroin addict clings to his syringe. It’s quick and easy, unlike the search for real knowledge and happiness.

I’ve written bits and pieces of this entry over the last few days, attempting to force words onto the page, and consequently I’ve lost hold of my original aim. But in short, and in words much less eloquent than my previous QotD by Christopher Hitchens, be wary of anything or anyone that promises you overly simple answers to complex questions or, more dubiously, complex answers to simple questions.  Belief systems are clever and good at logic games, which can easily trick the willing and feeble-minded.  Ideologies are communicated with language, which is itself a limited and imperfect medium for the communication of ideas. Truth is largely unknowable, but it’s the quest for it that is important.

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