“Attempting to debate with a person who has abandoned reason is like giving medicine to the dead.” –Thomas Paine.
Unless they can recognize what words actually mean in given instances, you cannot reason with them meaningfully. Many people exercise pseudo-reasoning based on clouds of loose association instead of by means of clear terms relating to solid facts. Consensus among groups of people guarantees nothing but itself, for they may all share a false premise and exercise the same silly judgment by reasoning invalidly from it.
Many people engage in argument believing they exercise good reasoning when their minds are under constraint of false assumption or insufficient premise. In addition, committment to a goal that they defend from examination or revision thwarts reaching truth or gaining ability to resolve disagreements with opposition. Reason is more than following out a logical process to an inevitable or foregone conclusion. Open readiness to remodel one’s mental relation to reality whenever fresh perception and new thinking are needed, marks the state of reason. Conservative attitude often seeks to avoid mental change by ignoring external facts. The opposite of this attitude is not liberal but rash. So called Ultra-conservatives can act as rashly as Ultra-liberals. Extreme positions tend toward disbalance and lead to further estrangement and disorder.
The rash person does not carefully consider unforseen, unintended results of his action, but plunges ahead hoping for a lucky outcome, maybe even believing it to be inevitable and that its wished-for benefits will necessarily accrue and its positives outweigh its negatives. The rash person is unreasonable. He or she stops listening, observing and learning in order to “clear the decks for action” in pursuit of a predetermined goal. Acting-out programmatic faith marks verges on insanity. The continual testing of beliefs in the form of hypotheses denotes sensible procedure. This characterizes the scientific attitude which rash people abandon in favor of half-witted or short-sighted, wishful programs.
People of low psychological self-worth grasp at symbols of spiritual wealth identified with religious participation, or they surround themselves with material signs of value such as rich homes, cars, personal chattels and attractive clothing. They practice conspicuous consumption, conspicuous religiosity, or both, and may take up what they think is the outlook or ideology of the rich. A political faith or secular philosophy can substitute for religion. To be possessed by insane belief can substitute for material wealth or accompany it, as in the cases of certain prominent movie actors who profess Scientology. Identifying with it in diametric opposition to both science and religion, some actors seem to forget who they are. True believers rarely believe in themselves, but when they do, like Saint Paul, Ayn Rand or Karl Marx, they rashly go all out. When they end up broke and disappear, it is no surprise. When they die happily in bed or suddenly under a micro-meteor strike, it blesses everybody.
Many people develop only superficial selfhood. If they accept fundamentalist notions of biblical Christianity, they see humans as put here by God to rule over everything on earth as they please, to their own benefit which they view as glorifying their creator. It’s as if they say: “The world is my playpen; I shall not want” though all else around me suffers injury, decline and death. Often they are unconscious of really believing in this.
These simplists feel that to allow the natural world of landscape, plants and animals a just reprsentation in thought and action cannot be necessary. It is as if they say: “Voiceless things need no ombudsmen. Their interests are not part of our interest but beneath and apart from us. We are free to rape the resources of land around us, take all, devastate the land itself, usurp the rights of people who live on it counter to our collective or corporate will, provided we engineer some kind of legal cover for doing so, or without cover, if what we steal and trash is out of sight of our home public and any media not controlled by us. Our fine, God-given birthright and heritage consist of what we take from nature and others around us. We can dump our rubbish anywhere but on our own front lawns. Even so, all that, out there, is not part of us in here, inside our bubble. We believe in Freedom! We’re willing and ready to profit by short term, half- measures that risk long term damage.”
These people are not sane nor are they aware of needing sanity. They lack the breadth of experience and depth of feeling to sense what is actually right or wrong. Their mental categories are too few and too stereotyped to classify events and ethical choices correctly. They substitute social status and purchasing power for authenticity. Their values are unsustainable. They lead to deterioration of life-systems and eventual death, prior to which they feed on the earth’s cadaver and grow worthlessly fat with property.
The earth is rising to smite us all down, if we cannot soon get control over the insanely short-sighted and irresponsible groups, i.e., those whose responsibilty is confined to the pseudo-values and power figures subsisting inside that bubble of blind ideology. The center must hold and power rotate to the progressives.
How many writers do we know, whether local or syndicated, who sneer at the green causes, the ecologically aware, the advocates of sustainability and united earthlings, and who continually extol “billiard ball” individualism, repeatedly calling sociality and sociable impulse “socialistic” or worse? Can they never grasp how “Rugged Individualism” increasingly results in ragged individuals who gasp for consideration and help from our social institutions such as GOVERNMENT? Ah, but our moronic “rightists” would have you believe such folks are unworthy of sharing in the Republican Eutopia. They haven’t earned it, right? They deserve only to fall under the wheels of the great Fascist Engine, the corporations, on down to their levels of incompetence or bad luck. What have they to offer but cheap labor and subsistence consumption? Surely their failure exists to make the more competent or lucky ones feel successful and justified in all they think. Can there be any model for humanity other than Economic Man? And what if that man or woman is not perfectly efficient, obedient, gullible, avidly consumed by avarice? Are there values which do not partake of such narrowness? If not, we are doomed.