Jan 12, 2010

Philosophical Phun - Universalism Lite :o)

Some basic concepts of universalism:  place trust in ourselves, there is rational pressure to place the same trust in others that we place in ourselves.  Self-trust is an essential part of any non-skeptical outlook.

Our belief systems are saturated with the opinions of others. In our childhoods, we acquire beliefs from parents, siblings, and teachers. These constitute the backdrop against which we form yet other beliefs, and, often enough, these latter beliefs are also the products of other people’s beliefs. We hear testimony from those we meet, read books and articles, listen to television and radio reports, and then form opinions on the basis of these sources of information. If we have intellectual trust in ourselves, we are pressured also to have  intellectual trust in others.

The credibility of someone else’s opinion can be defeated even when we have no specific knowledge of the individual’s track record, capacities, training, evidence, or background. It is defeated when our opinions conflict, because, by our perception, the person has been unreliable. When our opinions conflict with a person about whom we know little, the pressure to trust that person is dissipated and, as a result, the presumption of trust is defeated. If we have other information indicating that the person is a reliable evaluator of the issue, it might still be rational for us to defer, but in cases of conflict we rarely do.

I think that a large part of our problem in todays environment is that we have lost our concept of intellectual curiosity.  Instead of performing our own research, weighing pros and cons, and then forming an opinion; we rely on talking heads and soundbites.  Our society has reached the point that we latch onto the first opinion, that on the surface, matches our own - with the skeptical and questioning perspective immediately switched off.  Even worse, we seem to be then espousing that position as truth.

My wish for this new year is that we slow down, start to weigh the pros and cons, and reach our conclusions on how to proceed based on facts, and remove the emotion from the picture.

Entry information from Think Tonk.


  1. Well said. I enjoyed this entry.

    Hugs, Rose

  2. hmm... perhaps THIS is why I have issues to task the Emerson quote. There are some things that are for the individual to discover and add unimpeached to their body of knowledge and accept as true.

    But it seems that people have gotten out of the objective, critical thinking part of things. Between the pressure that they feel between the things that they are under the impression they have to do and the things that they want to do, there seems to be a surrender of decision making in the minds of people.

    Since Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh wants to do so much 'thinking' for people, and since people only 'feel' on the left and let impulse determine their direction, it has been forgotten how it is that we arrive at our own conclusions.

    And I thought that was an instictive trait. Maybe Christopher Hitchens can tell me why I am wrong!

  3. Great entry Ken and I particularily liked your closing wish. I always try to seek the facts rather than blindly follow anyone. I do know people though who will believe anything and then like a parrot repeat what they've heard to others all the while having no conviction at all.

  4. Yes, the lack of intellectual curiosity I see of late bothers me very much. It is not cool to hang onto ignorance.

  5. Very well put. I agree. And I'm guilty of it too. I think time has a lot to do with it. We go with the information "at hand" all too often without adequate research, on nearly everything...politics, medical situations, religion...you name it. Hope ya'll are keeping warm up there. If it's been cold here I'm sure you all are in igloos by now.


Tell Me What You Think, Don't Make me go Rogue on you :o)