Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Changing Vantage Points

When there is a revolution in thought, it is not because we have discovered new facts, but because we have found a new vantage point. We are looking at the world in a different way, looking for different things. It is a new method for analyzing the same old evidence, not new evidence.

What do these vantage points consist of? They consist of values and emotions. It all begins with “I want....” That is, maybe one generation says, “I want truth,” another, “I want holiness,” another, “I want certainty,” and one, “I want freedom.” And then they develop a method that will help them attain what they want. The truth-seeker will take what he already takes as true and see what else he can get out of it – and he'll get truth along with a whole lot of nonsense. The holy man will believe in what he does not understand and devote himself to understanding something that he has already pledged his support for. The man who wants certainty will doubt the world to ribbons, and he will lose much, but what he has left he can be certain is true. The man who wants freedom will doubt as well, but he will doubt to such an extent that he can make doubt seem absurd and then, having lowered the bar for what is needed prior to assent, he can believe whatever he likes.

But it all starts with “I want.”

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