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Free Speech and Tact posted 10 February 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionFree Speech and Tact by Peter, Auditor

What if FEAR forms your opinions and chooses your beliefs, and you rationalize them later? What if PRIDE or VANITY controls you? What if the MEDIA influences you? Or your upbringing? Or your FINANCIAL situation? What about ENVIRONMENT, or FAITH, or CHEMICAL IMBALANCE? How could you deny the influence of your DIET? The NEED to PROTECT your children? You must LUST? Surely, sometimes, because you are smart, or charitable, or neighbourly, you feel you deserve a little MORE than certain other people, don't you?

What if fear forms our opinions and stops us from realising it? What if our evolutionary upbringing makes us think we have good reasons for something, but in fact all there is behind that opinion is evolutionary necessity?

This last may sound sarcastic, but it really isn't meant that way, it is a serious point. Essentially, there are a great number of things, possibly an infinite number, which can claim that the reasons we think we act are not the reasons for why do in fact act the way we do. BUT, in the end, the only faculty we have which can hope to tell us that we are not acting for the reasons we think we are, the only faculty that can spot this, is reason. Therefore, the best faculty we can use to try (note try, not succeed) to avoid being determined by fear etc. etc., is a self-critical reason. So, when someone is being reasonable (not just thinks they are) then they have a better chance of knowing the reasons behind their actions (namely practical reason).

Of course you can claim that my resoning here begs the question, after all I am using reason to prove the reasonableness of... you guessed it, reason. Actually I don't think I am, I think reason is a lens through which we view the world, not a tool we find in it and then bring to bear, but maybe I am fooling myself over this. Well, maybe, but if I am then I can only say that surely NOTHING is secure (aaaah the problem of radical scepticism).

Basically my point is that if we are genuinely self-critical then I think we have a better chance of discovering something approximating to truth and this is what I took Rellion to be saying.

What if your neighbours--hated or not--were invaded and occupied for control of their only valuable resource? One in which your country was also rich?

Whilst that adequately sums up what seems to be an attitude amongst some people (and not only in the Middle East) I have to say I think it is not particularly fair. To say one country invades another for reason X is to make that country a unitary object which wills etc. as one thing. "America" is surely an entity made up of a vast number of people, all with their own agendas, desires, theories of ethics etc. and to claim that "it" invaded a country for a single reason is to ignore this.

Show one culture to the other through a biased media, THEN what is true?
THEN what questions remain?

Again, the question itself is biased, in claiming the Western media is biased you assume that it does not portray the truth, implying that you know the truth (or at least you know what is not the truth) and you assume that rational adults straining with all their mental faculties to make reasonable judgements cannot discern the truth even with imperfect materials (i.e. supposedly biased media etc.).

Why do you think that EVERYONE who comes out against other cultures mentions some co-worker or acquaintance who is a member of said culture and is different? Nice? Relatable? It is because being around someone reminds us of our human bond, comforts us through real feelings of brotherhood.

On the one hand, so depressingly true, but on the other proximity is not always decisive. In terms of proximity the Jews in Poland lived cheek by jowl with the non-Jewish Poles and yet there was found some of the most rabid anti-semitism this world has seen. Proximity helps, but community is more of a glue and far better at excluding people and creating "the enemy" and "the other". Consider how most Britons view Austrailia vs how they view France. I think Freud said something about no difference being so small we cannot use it to discriminate against people based on it.

This is why I find myself becoming more and more negative with regards to the notion of community in general. Wouldn't the world be so much better if we stopped regarding ourselves as <insert nationality/race/religion etc.> and regarding others as <insert nationality/race/religion etc.> and instead just saw each other as people (which the theory of ethics I follow values as an end in itself and worthy of absolute respect). Sigh, forward cosmopolitanism (which is why I like the EU and the UN, the closest we have ever got to these sentiments). view post


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