Wednesday, May 9, 2012

“We do not have a monopoly on the truth”

This quote by Stieg Larsson characterizes the essence of a person’s world view – it is a collection of opinions, which the person holds true, but which always are somewhat mistaken. It is a mental personal possession that is created in the past, present, and the future of a person. Due to constant change it can be altered with intent, all one would have to do is find a suitable method for it.
As a toddles, a person learns to act by observing and mimicking other people’s behavior. As a result of this proves the person attains a behavior type which is unique to him and which he will use constantly throughout his entire lifespan. The first world view is developed, because the person begins to learn the morality of actions by him and people around him. Hence an opinion develops defining morality. In childhood people hopefully obey the Golden Rule: do to others what you wish to be done to you. This moral is not always obeyed as the world is large and fascinating; during the discovery process many things are forgotten. At this stage a person finds something that is perplexing at first.
Advertisements that are aimed at children tend to be large and colorful, filled with abstract words like “cool” and “awesome”. Quite quickly can a child connect these words with positive emotions and start acting upon the criteria of cooldom defined by the advertisements. A person may start thinking that the release year of a mobile phone shows the quality of a person. Advertisements are not the only factors during the development of a world view. Morality is taught by parents and “Moomin”, interest in the external world is grown by books and “MacGyver”, not to mention relationships, which are described by friends and American sitcoms. The influence of the world on an individual does not stop in childhood, it continues through adulthood.
There are many ways in which a person’s opinions can be altered, from lying, as was done to Americans before the invasion to Afghanistan, spreading false information, as Americans and Brits did before D-Day, to demagoguery and other propaganda. Demagoguery can be noticed in nearly every politician’s speech, may the fallacy be constant repetition of ungrounded facts, illogical jumps from one claim to another, or the most common fallacy – argument ad hominem – meaning criticizing the person, not his claims. The influence of propaganda is also evident because we constantly keep getting the message that America is one of the best places to live. This message echoes through nearly every TV-show, every movie, even news shows depict America rather positively, not to mention websites where more of the comments in English are written by people who support the United States. A large amount of all of the information that reaches us lacks solid facts; it substitutes them with opinions and slogans. It is presumed that a person accepts these opinions and becomes a silent lamb, who knows nothing about truth and does not really want to know it.
A group of people aiming for power is hindered most by a thinking person, someone who prefers critical thinking and whose world view is a result of life experience, not of outside influences. In this case we find a conflict between Isaiah Berlin’s proposed positive and negative liberties. Berlin believed that positive liberty, in which case the people hold their leaders to be infallible, always leads to oppression. For an example he brought the Soviet Union – beautiful ideals initially received public support, but later the people’s rights were limited and terror was spread. As J.M.Straczynski wrote “How many people actually belonged to the Communist party? The Jihad party? A very small number. But there were always plenty of other people who were happy to do the work for them, and others afraid enough to let it happen.”, the same connection can be used for Nazi-Germany. Berlin’s negative liberty means that the people believe in improving themselves better. In other words, instead of faith in the ruler there is faith in the people. The power of the sovereign has to be limited because the collective mind of the people – spiritus mundi – is less prone to error as the mind of a single individual. The rational result of this logic is a compromise between the two liberties, which was also the conclusion of Berlin. In other words the people must trust the sovereign but check his actions, also known as democracy. From this it emerges with elegant inevitability that theoretically a person’s ideology, his world view, should be in compliance with the rest of the society to shorten the amount of time necessary to reach compromises. On the other hand it has to be controversial enough to reduce the number of “wrong” decisions. So called “right” decisions can be reached most effectively through discussion.
A world view is a collection of opinions, each of those can be right or wrong. They can be changed, every method to do so varies in effectiveness by other opinions a person has and his ability to stand true to those opinions. They are created by living, by existing. These opinions are vital to cause discussion in society. And when the society becomes “better” through development, the individual reaps benefits as well. We do not know, which opinion is right, which one is wrong. We do not have a monopoly on the truth.

There are more cold facts in there and any feeling you may notice of hatred or support towards anything can be fully ignored. However, the third and last paragraphs are the ones I will be concentrating on more later on.
It would also be worth noting that this essay was originally written in 1 hour and 20 minutes, and translated rather brutally (even more brutally than Philosophical Ramblings!) from a coarse language.

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