Monday, July 30, 2012

Proportions, Nothing But Proportions

Let us be charitable for a moment: what is the likelihood that someone is so lost in irrationality that their point of view completely lacks merit? I think it is slim. We have grown accustomed to erring on the side of cynicism whenever it comes to questions of rationality, knowledge, and bravery. We should keep a little cynicism, of course, but I think we should also have a little good faith, if only when we are dealing with people so moved by philosophical questions that they begin devoting serious time to wrestling with them. The good faith stemming from the idea that if we can wrestle honestly with a philosophical question, then others should likewise be able.

But, then, if we have two honest thinkers who are honestly wrestling with shared evidence and come to two varying conclusions, what can we say? It is tempting to accuse one of the thinkers of cowardice, bias, ignorance, or some other corruption to account for the discrepancy. This seems reasonable to me: it is hard to imagine a man who is not afraid, ignorant, biased, and in various other ways corrupt. What does not seem reasonable to me is the idea that one of the thinkers does not suffer likewise!

This is certainly not an absolute rule, but a general one. If an idea is strong enough that a school of thought can be built around it, it probably has a point. What it lacks, and what accounts for opposing views, is vision. It might have a little insight, but its vision narrows because it focuses too tightly on its insight. Other groups have their little insights too. Conflict occurs because of the appearance of contradiction, however the truth may be that we have two valid insights and we need simply to see how they relate to each other. That is, maybe it is all a question of proportions.

No comments:

Post a Comment