Monday, December 22, 2008

Continuing the conversation from the last couple of posts and the comment threads that followed thereafter, I want to address a point that the blogger "Orthoprax" mentioned.

OP (Orthoprax) and others were a little shocked and perhaps even disappointed that I was "in favor of obscurantism and ignorance." (A very important side point should be made about the choice of vocabulary that's been thrown around, even by yours truly, on this subject in particular... but more on that later.) But I feel that they are dramatizing or somehow mis-understanding the point I'm promoting.

I'm NOT a kiruv rabbi, trying to sell their version of Judaism. I'm NOT a Kannoi from Meah She'arim blackmailing residents into buying my brand of esrogim, the only kosher one, of course!

However, I don't feel that there is a reason to fight a war for Reason. I don't think Reason much cares. Reason is probably secure about it's identity and doesn't feel the need to be liked by all. 99.99% of the world makes on without it 99.99% of the time.

Please don't get me wrong... I believe in education, I believe in Science, I believe in freedom of inquiry and all that. But in regards to politics and policies on a personal and public level, ask yourself, "Do I have a moral obligation to align other's beliefs with my own?" (i.e. spread the value of scientific skepticism[or OJ or Christianity or Hinduism or Islam] using whatever practical methods available to me) Or maybe... just maybe... we can embrace diversity and democracy and allow others their guilty pleasures, so long as they aren't too terrible.

Surely not all myths are created equal and though Ignorance is Bliss, it's not always benign. But are we really in a constant struggle against ignorance? Or perhaps our wicked Western society has come to realize that totalitarianism is undesirable, even if it's got all the facts straight. Sure, we have our nutcases and extremists, and we disagree with 90% or more of the world, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Another issue that I'd like to weave into the mix, is that of dealing with those with whom you disagree. There are lots of options... Ignoring, dialogueing, conversing, debating, mocking, fighting, warring etc. The option you choose will need to be appropriate. You don't start a war with a whole country for no good reason. Similarly, you don't ignore someone who makes constant atempts at puncturing your vital organs. Mockery, bashing, and constant criticism can be fun and useful at times but it has an awful habit of changing the subjects into objects. (The Mocker becomes more like the mocked...)

In regards to Ignorance, much of it can be ignored. Most of the vital problems with ignorance are dealt with by our Genes (wouldn't do much good for our survival if they were completely ignorant now would it?). Most of the remainder are reined in by education and culture. In today's day and age, in free countries, are we honestly in a struggle against ignorance on any meaningful level?