Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How Much is Human - Conservatives and Liberals

This is certainly not an absolute statement on the differences between liberals-broadly defined-and conservatives-broadly defined, but more of a general trend I've noticed in their respective worldviews.

In the course of speaking and thinking, a conservative is more likely to appeal to the immovability of reality. You can see this in conversations about gender, morality, poverty, or human nature. You can more easily imagine a conservative ridiculing someone transgendered for trying to go against the facts (the penis or lack thereof), about morality as something one "goes back to" rather than something that adapts, that poverty is just a result of the nature of wealth - haves and have-nots, and that things like war and crime are inevitable because of the way people are and the most sensible approach to such things is superior force and retribution because anything else does not deal with the way humanity actually is. A conservative is more likely to suggest an approach to life that says most of life is out of our control and all we can do is try to be good and excellent people in our role and leave the universe to work according to its motions. The rules are fixed, things are the way things are, and to act otherwise is to ridiculously try to live against the facts.

This leads to an increased reverence for tradition, traditional morality, and tradition beliefs because this worldview produces a disinclination toward the destruction and recreation of existing institutions and practices. It tends to view existing institutions and practices as just being sensible and moral ways of interacting with the facts of reality.

Liberals on the other hand tend to appeal to the human influence in how we make sense of the world. They are more likely to say that gender is a human construct, that morality can be changed and tailored to fit our needs, and that poverty can be eliminated or minimized by the ordering of society. With regards to human nature they often times take a similar approach to conservatives and say that it just is the way it is, but there seems to be a greater optimism that all we really need to expunge the less desirable aspects of human nature is increased education and knowledge, thereby bringing things back under our control. They too appeal to the facts, but they typically appeal to the facts to destroy something human so that they can build something new in its place. They place more of life under human creativity. A liberal approach to life is more pluralistic, if some given aspect of life is defined by the human mind then they are likely to leave each person to use their mind to create their own definition.

From here, liberals can adopt a method of creative destruction. Human Construct X leads to Undesired Side-Effect Y. By appealing to the real facts behind Human Construct X (the indifferent facts of nature, presumably as revealed by science) they "disprove" the validity of the Construct and are now free to substitute a new Construct or allow for a pluralism of Constructs.

I wonder how much of the differences between the two groups, at least in America, is reducible to the question of how much of life is of human origin.

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