Lately, it seems that I am constantly encountering people who say things like “We’re all entitled to our own beliefs”, or “Well you think what you want and I will think what I want, so let’s just agree to disagree and leave it at that”…
There are many things wrong with these statements. Mainly, they presuppose that what we think and feel about a thing, topic or person is equally valid and true no matter what…
Whether we are talking about Gun Control, Abortion, Illegal Immigration, Anthropogenic Global Warming or pretty much ANY subject at all; there IS such a thing as the Truth. Aristotle laid out three “Rules of Thought” which are often referred to as laws. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the Second, the Law of Non-Contradiction. Fully exploring the impact and meaning of this law (as with most Aristotelian logic and philosophy) could take MANY hours just to try to cover the many potential views and meanings but in order to move the discussion forward, I will simplify with a fairly straightforward interpretation that IS widely accepted…
Two contradictory positions or statements can NOT both be true in the same way and at the same time.
Example: if two people are standing on a sidewalk in the same place and at the same time and one party claims it is raining and the other says it is a beautiful sunny day, we can be absolutely certain that both people cannot be right.
This perfectly clear and easily understood concept being ignored by many people daily is a wonderful example of Cognitive Dissonance. Cognitive Dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. It is also quite often expressed by a stubborn refusal to even consider evidence that contradicts this belief… This is why we get otherwise, intelligent and rational people saying such nonsensical things as “We will each believe what we want” or “That may be true for you but might not be for me or for all people”..
When thinking on the Law of Non-Contradiction the concept of mutual exclusivity in psychology applies to the rain scenario presented earlier as well. As these two positions ARE mutually exclusive, either it is raining or it is not, there is no third possibility.
To see it a different way, math is a perfect example of how ultimate truth, non contradiction and mutual exclusivity work… Two plus two can never be five no matter HOW much we want it to. Nor can any belief, no matter how firmly held and sincere, MAKE the answer anything BUT four.
Clearly, not all positions, beliefs, viewpoints and statements are as cut and dried as the examples above. That doesn’t mean that each of us can not ever know the truth in such instances! EACH of us should evaluate our positions and beliefs according to facts, history, logic and reason.
Example: when people claim that the Republican Party is racist, we can find out IF that is likely true by an evaluation of the facts, history and evidence. Such as the following: The Republican Part was FORMED to free the slaves. It was DEMOCRATS that opposed freeing the slaves. In fact, the 13th Amendment vote went 100% Republican and 23% Democrat. The Democrat Party opposed granting citizenship status to black people including the freed slaves. In fact, the 14th Amendment vote went 100% Republican and 0% Democrat! The Democrat Party ALSO opposed giving blacks the right to vote even after they had been made full citizens! In fact, 15th amendment vote went 100% Republican and 0 % Democrat. Who was the party that opposed the Civil Rights movement and integration? Democrats! Remember Governor Wallace at the school house doors? If not, look it up he was a Democrat.
I have heard SO many times about just how Racist the Republican party is and yet, it is CLEARLY and DEMONSTRABLY NOT TRUE…
That was just one GLARING example but it is also a perfect example of how we should look at statements, viewpoints and beliefs to evaluate whether they’re true or not.
Also, when a person claims that there is NO such thing as truth or that truth is relative and subjective we can easily prove this is not so and that this person doesn’t even believe it to be so! A simple way to demonstrate this is that we ALL have a sense of fairness. We ALL know that there is such a thing as right and wrong. Some of us have different opinions about WHAT is right and wrong but we all still believe in these concepts as absolutes. ANY person who claims they do not is either self deluded or a liar and you can prove it quite simply. It is wrong for people to hurt each other or to steal from one another. When a person says they do not believe in right and wrong or truth just ask them if you can kick them and take their wallet or purse…
They will immediately tell you “NO” that it would hurt, that it would be unfair, that it would be illegal etc. IF they say ANY of these things you can immediately ask them, IS that true? If they can’t immediately see the precariousness of their position and how it impacts their previous statements you can redirect with Maybe that is YOUR truth but it’s not true for me!”
Appeals to morality are silly from the no truth camp or person. Besides the OBVIOUS point that NO person can make an appeal to decency, fairness or right and wrong without appealing to the Judeo-Christian worldview; there is the less obvious but equally true point that in the animal kingdom there is no such thing as good or evil. To put it plainly, in the animal kingdom abuse, theft, rape and murder are all not only permissible but could be deemed “good” in the sense that these may help certain animals to survive and propagate their seed and species.
Now, all of this was foundational and all in preparation for a discussion of some new and current events..
CAN how we feel, think and believe change facts and reality? One could be excused for thinking so when we consider stories about Bruce Jenner or Rachel Dolezal. People seem to have NO issue believing that a man could be a “woman trapped in the body of a man” or that a white woman could “self identify as black”… Remember the law of Non-Contradiction, the principle of mutual exclusivity and cognitive dissonance? Logically, how can a white woman expect people to accept and believe that she is a black woman? How is it reasonable to expect that we all now call a man who has had surgery to mutilate and restructure himself a woman?
Once upon a time, most people had more common sense. I don’t mean to overly trivialize these issues or to poke fun at them but I thought of these two videos in relation to these stories..
Also, one of the criterions or standards for being committed (locked up for evaluation and treatment) for mental illness has ALWAYS been false belief about ones identity… If you said you really believed that you were Jesus Christ or Napoleon they would lock you up but if you claim that you’re in the wrong sex body, they hail you as an incredibly daring and brave American Hero! If you are a white person who believes you’re black you will get some black people (like Mellisa Harris-Perry of MSNBC) wondering if you COULD actually be black.. http://www.mediaite.com/tv/melissa-harris-perry-on-rachel-dolezal-it-is-possible-that-she-might-actually-be-black/
This is quite a departure from the typical talking points where white people are ALWAYS racist and unable to understand the plight and trials of black people isn’t it?
To finish up I am going back to the beginning. “CAN how we feel, think and believe change facts and reality”?
We are born genetically male or female, some are born black or white and NOTHING that we do or believe can ever change the FACTS. No matter how many surgeries are performed or how many hormones he takes, Bruce will still be a man genetically and will never have a womb… NO matter what Ms Dolezal believes, her parents are both white and she was born white… They may be VERY unpopular and inconvenient but they are also the TRUTH!