Monday, February 20, 2012

Why do we keep ourselves ignorant Pt 2

We discussed in our previous post the reason why we unintentionally keep ourselves ignorant.  The natural means of classification that we use in our everyday lives, while at times useful, can also be a barrier to further understanding.  In this post we will look at how we intentionally keep ourselves ignorant and why.

Humans relate to the world through a particular worldview.  We have carefully constructed ideas about how the world works and our role in it.  We like to think that this is view is based off of reasoned thought and universal experience.

Like our previous post this is not only natural but a legitimate viewpoint to an extent.  Our reasoning and experiences DO matter.  They are real and do in fact have value.  And such reasoning and experience can form the basis for discovering objective truths about our existence.

Also like our previous post though this is limited due to our natural limits.  We do not have the experiences of others nor do we have unlimited capabilities to reason.  Thus our perspective, regardless of how earnest deliberate our efforts are, will still be lacking in completeness.

So one would naturally think that because of this limitation that we would be motivated to learn all we can and modify our views accordingly.  But you would be very wrong.

The problem is that we often attach pride to our reasoning.  We like to be thought of as "intelligent."  Our worldview must be correct with regard to certain principles.  And we are not very fond of challenges to such our viewpoints at certain fundamental levels. This is why we react very strongly to things involving core principles, such as religion and politics.

As humans we are aware of a very real war between truth and untruth.  We perceive it at a very fundamental level.  This is why even atheists, who reject objective truth, do so as if truth actually matters in such a viewpoint.  And if you reject objective truth, why would you bother learning about the views of those who disagree with you?  If my ideas are reasonable (and they are, because I am a reasonable person) then reason naturally leads to them.  If my opponents used reason, they would agree with me.  But they don't, so they are unreasonable.

It is far easier to demonize those who have different views than learn about those views.  This is because we are secretly afraid to actually learn, and by extension possibly finding that their views are reasonable.  The narrative of me = good and other = evil is challenged when we actually have to learn about the enemy.

But there is an even deeper reason.  Those who fear to learn the truth about others do so because we would have to confront our own false views.  People who believe lies are afraid of truth.  Those who misrepresent others in a certain sense already know their own views are lies.  This is why they must represent others.

So this how we intentionally keep ourselves ignorant and why.  By ignoring the truth about others we "protect" our limited worldview and therefore our pride.  This is especially true with regard to the lies in that view that we suspect are in fact lies.  Ignorance is always part limited knowledge and part willful attempt to keep it that way.


Completely unrelated, here is a video I've been listening to.  It's the show Glee's main actor Matthew Morrison and guest star Niel Patrick Harris singing Aerosmith's "Dream On".  I know, I know.  But give it a chance.  It's pretty good actually.  I like it better than the original.  Note that the song is on the video twice, and there is no actual video, only the song.

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