Friday, September 9, 2011

Prisoners of Passion, Part 1: Random Inception of an Idea at 3 AM

I read several blogs regularly. Some are expositions on religion, some are general philosophy, and some are thoughts on life from a subjective point of view. When I read something, I think about a few things. Mainly, I think about this person's thought process. I think about what beliefs I can imply they have based on what I am reading. I think about what they're really trying to say and why.

This has begun to really disturb me lately.

It's as though I am seeing a trap that so many people are falling into. This is ironic, because I feel I'm in a completely different kind of trap, so I don't feel I have the right to look down on a single person stuck in this. In fact, I feel that I end up worse off than the lot of them because of my skepticism. It's tough having something of an "anti-passion." In intellectual discussions, 99% of the time you feel like you're just being an arrogant jerk.

"You want to know if I agree or disagree? Define your definitions first."

"I disagree with your personal beliefs, but can't tell you mine because they are so few and not relevant to beliefs you are passionate about."

I end up annoyed with myself half the time because I can't sit around and say I have strong beliefs on things like morality, the Bible (relevant because I'm a Christian and read a lot of theology), politics, or religion in general.

So regardless, on to the trap.

I think people are becoming prisoners of their passion. They have such strong beliefs, become foundationalistic about them--"if you don't believe [x belief] then you aren't really a [y label]," and suddenly everyone's got something to say. Great for discussion, but poor for discerning what is actually going on.

Even the non-foundationalistic are in trouble. They criticize points of everything and make their own way, but they end up creating a structure anyway. Perhaps they're not as far along as more established foundationalists, or perhaps they simply can't decide on anything. Regardless, it's easy to get entangled in labels and rhetoric, and it's very hard to stay committed to finding the truth.

Now I'm doing it. Aggravating people. Maybe it's because I've been accused of not caring about the truth that I notice this, or maybe it's because I know what gets under other peoples' skin. Regardless, it's extremely vexing to note how hard it is to separate oneself from the context one either grows up in, or from one's reactions to contexts they grew up in, or from personally based beliefs.

Is objectivity possible? I'd say to a degree it is, but it requires a kind of dispassionate nature that not many have.

Maybe I'll talk about more of this when I'm not being kept awake by an itch to write, and when I have more to say than a reaction. Which is, yet again, an example of what I feel is a problem. Clarity has just gone out the window. Whoops.


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