Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ideology as a template or sieve

Living in New England with a largely liberal population I see certain patterns of choice over and over. Volvos sitting in the driveway. TV tuned to PBS. Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth sitting prominently on the coffee table. Organically grown groceries from Bread and Circus. And so on. And, if you happen to disagree on a hallowed position, like being skeptical of global warming being caused by humans driving their Volvos, you are automatically labeled as a Bush lackey.

To be fair, I’m sure there are areas elsewhere in the country where your advocacy of a liberal position will be met with an equally knee jerk pigeonholing. It shows me that unthinking acceptance of belief systems make life easier. It serves as a template that the user slaps onto reality to squeeze out the “truth” while trimming off the annoying counter-facts.

It also brings me back to a recurring theme, particularly for Objectivists: that being objective is hard work. It requires not sweeping away facts that contradict our previously accepted premises and conclusions but facing them head on. Does this mean we can never be certain and always withhold judgment? No. I am just saying that we should not be too quick to discount inconvenient facts. Maybe these pesky facts are signals trying to tell us to dig a little deeper.


John said...

Since you have read Ken Wilber, I can ask you this. Do you think that perhaps the reason it is hard to be objective is because it requires a certain "letting go" of ego? A certain "dying to the self?"

Henry Scuoteguazza said...

John, I hadn't thought of it this way but I suspect this could be a reason why people have a difficult time being objective. I think they invest so much of their ego in being right that admitting an error means their self-esteem takes a hit too. For some, being right (or thinking that you're right) is a way of imposing your will on others and in so doing makes the person feel more powerful.