Saturday, January 15, 2011

Do We Need Civility?

Probably. I personally like civility. But what we really need is a willingness to change our minds. Random thoughts here, but hear me out.  I have seen it written that although we have passionately held beliefs, which includes the belief that those who disagree are wrong, we need to be civil etc. But who are these people who have such strong beliefs and are espousing them in public, other than people who want to convince others, or to supply rallying cries and arguments to others of the same persuasion? Where are the people are actually trying to have a conversation to learn or modify their own beliefs?  Seriously why if one has a passionately held position would one want to talk about it, unless one wants to convince others? But that is not an orientation toward the truth-- it is the opposite of seeking the truth-- it is a prideful search for a way to have others views of the world coincide with your own, or to attain a particular end.  Given the complexity of the world and the issues surrounding us any one claiming to have the truth is claiming either omniscience, or hewing to simplistic ideologies that make the world easier to handle. They may call them principles, or values, but if we are to be oriented toward truth the first value we should seem to have is a willingness and desire to test our own beliefs, to be critical of our own notions as well as others and to always hold them as provisional.

So calls for civility and the toning down of the rhetoric are good, I guess, but they merely mean that we will continue to avoid the search for truth but we will do it politely.

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