Sunday, June 04, 2017

Toward a Jain-like epistemic and ethical sensibility for political perspectives

There is a meaningful and important difference between passionate articulation of a perspective simpliciter, say, by one whose perspective is conspicuously—or irredeemably—partisan, and objectively articulating or providing one’s (or another’s) perspective, one which you may be sympathetic to, agree with, or even in some sense (passionately) identify, but are concerned that the value and virtues of “objectivity” or impersonal reason remain intact. The person who is “conspicuously partisan” when voicing his or her or the group’s perspective, may let particular “passions” (e.g., rage, fear, envy, etc.) interfere with understanding contrary perspectives, or be constitutionally incapable of realistically assessing the consequences of acting on the partisan perspective or critically examining the possible limitations of that perspective qua perspective. Or the irredeemably partisan individual may let personal affinities or loyalties cloud one’s judgment, thereby trumping the ability to “see things clearly,” or act reasonably, or rationally assess evidence, let alone probabilities. Or the irredeemably partisan individual will be prone to wishful thinking, states of denial, or self-deception, thus distorting the aims and values of objectivity and rationality, rendering them hopelessly elusive. Finally, the irredeemably partisan individual’s perspective will be properly characterized as “inflexible” or “rigid,” incapable of modification (of the sort that comes from experimentation or implementation or experience), perhaps even assuming an air of infallibility or self-righteousness that makes it difficult if not impossible to reason with those who disagree (or, what may be worse, simply ‘get along’ with others) or who possess even slightly different perspectives (variations on a theme). It is also responsible for contributing to the phenomenon of “closed” groups, or that sort of debilitating sectarianism or factionalism that loses sight of the proverbial big picture, the overall aims or ends or original commitments that are otherwise capable of uniting disparate individuals in common endeavors or projects.
As for the “Jain-like” characterization in the title, I will attempt to explain what that means in a future post.


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