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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lazy minds

It is a strange thing that most modern conversations resemble fighting with strawmen rather than the actual exchange of ideas.  Most exchanges resemble attempts to defend one's own view rather than the attempt to exchange intellectual goods.  As a result the insulation of ourselves from ideas that are not our own continues and worsens.  

I think it has a lot to do with the intellectual shallowness that we moderns have with ideas.  Most of the arguing is a hyper-reflexive response to the fact that someone is challenging the ideas that one holds.  While we are used to our ideas challenged we are far more preoccupied with the opposition than with examining our own ideas.

I find this tendency exhibited in myself.  I am preoccupied at times with New Atheist shoddy arguments and complete inability to see religion beyond what Michael Flynn terms "Bill and Ted's Most Excellent Bible Shack."   They are completely incurious to the fact that most of their arguments aren't even on the same planet compared to what people actually believe.

But yet I find myself on occasion going to atheist sites or reading atheist arguments despite the fact that the only new things out there are just new distortions about religion in general, by which they usually mean Christianity, and Catholicism in particular.  Why would I do such a thing if I was convinced that these ignorant and usually vile people have nothing to offer?

I read my friend JC Sander's piece about reality and Hell for Ignitum Today and found this:
The conformity of the mind to reality is knowledge, and it is an innate desire. It is how the intellect responds to truth, which is in a sense the response of the soul to Truth, that is, to God. Truth, like reality, is something which transcends us—both truth and reality are among the transcendentals  That is, they are things which are outside or above and beyond us, things which are “more” than us, and thus which we can grasp only in part and not in whole.
I began to think about how it seemed to me that while we do desire to be right modern thought seems to go about this not by finding the best argument for one's view but by going out and destroying the competition.  Our preoccupation these days is not "Am I right?" but "others are wrong, here's why."

Intellectual shallowness is nothing new but it has reached critical mass in the modern age.  People don't know honestly why they hold the ideas that they do.  Look at any discussion and see who if anyone is actually defending their ideas vs. attacking ideas that are not theirs.  The lopsided trend toward the latter is obvious.

I know the reason why this is.  I do this all the time.  The reason why this is the case is because it is easier to attack an idea than it is to defend one.

Shooting down an idea requires no compromise on our part.  Nothing is at stake for the attacker.  All it requires is the ability to find holes in another's position.  It is a stance that requires nothing of us nor does it threaten to destabilize our view of the world if the attack fails.

Denying objective truth or its know-ability requires no cost to any of our ideas.  When one denies that truth can be knowable all one has to do is to destroy how people came to know the truths that they hold.  It is in short a way for a lazy mind to think it is thinking when all it is really doing is casting down others.

And to be honest this is what I do far too often, so I should know.  When I am preoccupied with what others are doing I am not doing what I should be doing.  Instead I am distracting myself from the work I should be doing.

So I will get back to that.


1 comment:

JC said...

Hence, for example, we see a lot of dudgeon and propaganda and tripe about how the Catholic Church and the Irish anti-abortion laws caused the death of Halappanavar, but no actual research by those making the claim into what, exactly, is the law in Ireland, or what, exactly, is the Church's teaching. nor, for that matter, does much thought go into the details of her death. Both the Church and the Irish law would have allowed labor to be induced (principle of double effect in the case of the Church, and a very specific clause in the Irish law in the latter case). Nor did either the Church nor the law prevent actual medical care (e.g. antibiotics) from being administered. It makes great propaganda for Moloch and against the Church, so all the usual suspects (sans, oddly enough, Planned Parenthood and NARAL) are blaming Catholics for what is a textbook case of medical malpractice.