Monday, February 6, 2012

The Bane of Human Existence: A False Certainty of Superiority

As I continue following the threads of thought that arise as I delve deeper into the Project, I recognize that the common thread that leads to the root of en masse human misery is a false certainty of superiority (or "FCS").  Essentially, this is a species of arrogance supported by societal institutions.  But run-of-the-mill arrogance is a distinctly personal, atomized event, while a false certainty of superiority is, by definition, a social event that empowers a collection of individuals to commit "violence" (whether physical, emotional, spiritual or economic) on others and rationalize their evil away as good.

In the West, historically the most malicious form of FCS has been the "monotheism" of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam).  To be clear, I have no beef with the spiritual aspects of these religions, as I believe that asking a human being to give up spiritual pursuits is asking them not to be human.  I do, however, take issue with what others have termed "the Mosaic Distinction," which states that this religion or belief system, is the only truth.  The way I read history, the rise of anti-Semitism is inextricably linked with the creation and promulgation of "monothestic" Judaism in the 3rd Century BCE (this is over a thousand years AFTER monothestic Judaism is generally believed to have arisen, but the consensus ignores an historical record that demonstrates a temple outside of Jerusalem and polytheistic Judaism as ealry as the 4th  Century BCE).

Unfortuantely, the West's secular institutions also suffer from FCS.  The various schools of economics, with perhaps the exception of the Post Keynesians, suffer from this disease, as well (especially the Austrians).  So, too, do the most strident modern atheists, such as Richard Dawkins.  But defensive religious adherents are correct in their criticisms of rationalist dogma as suffering from the same flaws that the Dawkinses of the world accuse the religious adherents.

At the end of the day, the problem is the false sense of superiority, whether it is based on pure superstition or myth  (as in the case of religion) or fallacious inductive "reasoning" (as in the case of a variety of rationalist dogmas such as economics).

I would love to see a society whose central value is that nothing is certain.

NOTE:  I want to be clear that I view any certainty of superiority as inherently false as ALL such judgments, no matter the cloak of objectivity that covers them, are inherently subjective.  The underlying assumptions and metrics determine the outcome.