Search This Blog

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Trying to Understand

Jim writes:
It's hard for me to understand, Howie, how you can hang your hat on this premise.
It seems to me, that in many of the debates occurring in this blog, Howie and I disagree with Jim, but we (or at least I), understand his position and his reasoning. On the other, it seems that Jim not only disagrees with us, but can't even understand our reasoning, the implication being that our thinking is irrational. I don't think we're irrational. Instead, I think there are three subtle, but significant differences in our world views that, if taken into account, makes it fairly straightforward to understand how Howie and I can arrive at significantly different opinions.

The first difference in world view involves the perception of government. It looks to me like Jim believes the government is (or at least should be) moral and beneficial. Howie and I believe that government is inherently immoral but still beneficial. I think that there are more areas where government can be beneficial than Howie, but Howie and I share this underlying world view. Since Jim, Howie, and I all agree that government can be beneficial, it's no surprise that we support many of the same policies and don't support others.

Because I believe that most government means are immoral, I focus much more on the results than on the actions of those governing. I'm not so concerned when Bush and other government officials lie or use immoral means since the very existence of the government is immoral (in my opinion). On the other hand, if one were to think that government should be moral, then it would be very important that all government actions be (or at least try to be) moral. This creates a vastly different perspective of almost everything the government does.

The second difference is that Howie and I read different things than Jim and assign different weights to the information we glean from those documents. For many topics, the available information is extremely murky, at best. In Iraq, for example, I don't think anybody has a really good understanding of everything that's going on. Depending on what you read, the situation is either just terrible or going swimmingly well. Depending on which sources you deem reliable, a radically different world view results.

The last difference is our views regarding war. Other than some of those in the military, few people like war. However, given that, there is still a wide range of thresholds for when people consider war to be a possible option. I hate war, but there are a number of things I hate even more than war. Jim hates war, and there are probably substantially fewer things he hates more than war relative to me. Again, this significantly affects our fundamental views of the world.

Starting from different fundamental positions regarding perception of government, information sources, and war should make it easier to follow our logic. I'm not expecting Jim to agree with our opinions since he has a different fundamental viewpoint, but it should be possible for him to understand our logic.

No comments: