Digging at the confluence of culture and everything else
Tag Archives: beliefs are discovered
03/13/2014Posted by on
I was lucky in a lot of ways as a child: I had two parents who loved, nurtured and instilled a love of learning in me; we lived in an affluent neighborhood with a good school; I had certain gifts from nature and nurture that we call above-average intelligence; and finally I had access to books through ownership and the well funded local library. As a result, I was reading five or six grades above my level. I knew this because on the back of every book a schoolchild was going to get their hands on they printed the suggested reading level. Between school, personality, and my parents I had gotten clear signals that being smart was good, and being smart had something to do with your age and your grade levels, so I was quietly pleased with being an advanced reader.1 On top of that, throughout elementary school I was the fastest reader in my class. At some point, second grade I think, the class was split, or tracked, into two reading groups. One track was for the advanced readers, and the other track was for the normal readers. 2 So you can imagine my personal disappointment and filial shame when I was tracked into the normal reader group.3 Read more of this post
11/27/2013Posted by on
You may have noticed I chose a controversial topic to start a blog with. This may concern you, and for good reason. Bear with me, and you may find something a bit more interesting as you go. I chose to begin blogging with this topic for a few reasons, some good, some terrible. 1
One of my guiding principles in writing this blog is to avoid making arguments that end in telling you that, by power of superior logic, this is what to believe.2 Not only is learning what someone else wants you to believe profoundly boring, it is underpinned by bad understandings of the nature of belief and the utility of arguments. An argument is an exploration of an idea in a forum – or an act of forensics. A debate is a crucible where arguments are tested and with a little luck, truth emerges. The best sorts of arguments are like an archaeological dig of the soul; through painstaking effort, belief is discovered.
So instead of telling you what to believe, I’m much more interested in helping people discover what they believe. The deeper foundations, moral instincts, gut feelings, and deeply held beliefs in the heart of hearts, far and away from the theoretical superstructures and ideological tribes we think define us. Labels are good tools but poor masters. And in order to get to that point, we must cut you adrift from the day to day context of controversial issues. It is too easy to simply choose by figuring out what side is that of the oppressor, or the barbarian, or the coercer and to act accordingly. To discover, to grow, you must be alone with your thoughts and your intuitions, with no clear markers to guide you. To do that I turn to thought experimentation, to the hypothetical.