Digging at the confluence of culture and everything else
Nonconformists, Parameters, the Constitution, and Heretics
07/06/2014Posted by on
There is some danger of reading this and seeing one’s self in positive terms, like a horoscope, but I think drawing lines between the different sorts of conformity and non-conformity is a useful one. I’d also add that “society” is a difficult thing to grasp here since within any one society, one can be a true believer of one faction (say, progressiveness) while perceiving yourself as a non-conformist or free-thinker.
Free speech, that is, resisting the urge to purge the non-conformists, or insufficiently true believers, is actually a very difficult fit. The inheritors of the Enlightenment have not done a particularly good job. This isn’t to say it isn’t valuable: quite the opposite. It is even more so, because it is so difficult to hold onto.
Some of this will be coming up this week vis-a-vis Hobby Lobby.
So far we’ve discussed heresy as a general concept, looked at the definition of it from a Catholic perspective, and looked at the history of the concept. Here I want to consider some of the sociological aspects of heresy.
Back here I had the following to say (editing a bit):
In all societies and cultures…beyond a certain level of complexity, you have various attitudes toward belief…. These are as follows: 1. Sheep; or more politely conformists.
The vast majority of people–I’d say 70%, at least–are basically conformist. Perhaps I should use that term–”conformist”–as it’s a bit more polite. Conformists go along to get along. They’re not extremely reflective and they tend accept whatever the prevailing religion, political ideology, or societal Zeitgeist happens to be.
This is most likely a survival trait, for obvious reasons. In a hunter-gatherer tribe, there has to be a certain amount of social cohesion, which…
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