That’s a nice post: it ads variety to the blog. If there’s one thing refreshing to encountering in The Industry, it’s when someone connects out to The Rest of the World, instead of staying all clogged up in Bytelandia.
Wasting Time With Truth
Here’s one thought I was having:
No, the problem is rather the degree of conviction – the inability to take that step back, evaluate a given argument thoughtfully, rationally, and – should worst come to worst – concede a point lost.
The end result of all my philosophy studying in collage was an extreamly strong conviction that beyond “physical truths” (gravity, chemistry, and what we call “natural sciences”) there really isn’t much truth to hang things on. Point being, that spending your time fretting and arguing about what you should do based on The Truth of the Matter is time wasted, because there is no truth of the matter: there’s just the context that feeds into that process where you “take that step back, evaluate a given argument thoughtfully, rationally.”
Some people get all uppity at this point and start flailing about with words like “moral relativism” and, when they get real desperate, Hitler.
To all that, I pretty much say, “yeah, when you fall off a sky-scrapper, gravity sure does suck, doesn’t it? But it’s not like you getting all upset and trying to argue that it doesn’t exist as you’re hurtling towards the pavement is going to save your head from turning into pumpkin pie.”
That is, to me, the fact that there are no moral truths is an inescapable truth, regardless of the consequences. Instead of worrying about the consequences, it seems more reasonable to start figuring out how to go on living life, e.g., by metaphorically putting fences up around sky-scraper roofs so people don’t fall over them.
Being overly rational can, of course, lead to as much zelotry as being overly-supernatural. One of my friend’s father’s was for barring gay marriage because:
- people should be producing off-spring.
- the point of marriage is to produce off-spring.
- thus, the government and society provide incentives for people to get married.
- providing incentives costs all of us money.
- thus, supporting marriage between people costs us money. But, because they’re producing off-spring, it’s worth the money.
- Two people of the same sex cannot produce off-spring.
- Thus, if two people of the same sex were married, no off-spring would be produced.
- And yet, these two people of the same sex, when married, would benefit from all the incentives the government and society give married couples.
- But, the two people of the same sex can’t produce off-spring, so they’re cheating the system: they’re not living up to their part of the deal.
- We can’t have people cheating the system.
- Thus, two people of the same sex should not get married.
As with all well laid out arguments, the logic connecting the ideas is just fine. Logic is a slippery-fuck in that regard: it’ll easily lead to whatever conclusions you set up for it. The problem is with all the parts between the logic. Thankfully, the argument at hand is weird enough that you can rely on your Blinkstincs to figure out it’s silly, and move on without much more though.
Unfortunately, other complex systems of morals, derived from rational thought aren’t so simple to disentangle. And some of them front-load on rationality, luring in converts, and then go all nutty.
Technorati Tags: phl, politics