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Thread: Dogma: a new perspective

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    Dogma: a new perspective

    Each dogma is essentially historically contingent but the fact that dogmas are a fixture of all human societies is a direct consequence of natural selection. Whenever we use this notion of natural selection, we better give the time-frame involved to get some perspective. For example, the general logical capability of the human brain is the end-product of something like at least 525 million years of nature selecting neurobiolological systems over the entire surface of the Earth, over the whole thickness of the biosphere, in the seas, in the atmosphere, on the ground, and indeed below ground. No one is going to beat that with a computer any time soon. We may be tempted to think of dogmas as motivated essentially by social politics. This seems to be what people talk about when they discuss a dogma. Usually, there will be some implicit reference to the dogma of the Catholic Church at the time of Copernicus, Galileo and Descartes. Yet, the word “dogma” comes from the word “opinion”, or “belief”, in ancient Greek. Thus, dogmas as we think of them today are merely the socially generalised equivalent of our personal, individual beliefs. It’s belief on a social scale. Now, obviously, our personal beliefs would play a major role in our lives even without the dogmas we come to believe through our being part of a social group. And if the fact that the many beliefs we have independently of the dogmas we have are essential to our ability to function properly both in society and more generally in our environment, may be we need to recognise that dogmas play a similar role for social groups, including societies and indeed civilisations. So the capability to have beliefs probably goes back to at least the first dinosaurs 251 million years ago and certainly the first mammals around 210 million years ago. But to have a dogma requires, according to the sense of “socially generalised belief” I use here, some significant social relations, and here it’s more difficult to assess when this may have happened. Still, we’re probably still talking in millions of years, so nothing like the paltry 2000 years of things like the Catholic dogma. This certainly is enough to support the idea that dogmas are part and parcel of how any social group will inevitably function. That is not to say dogmas are necessary, merely that our societies work that way and we should keep that in mind before we try to dispose of them here and there without much thinking about what to put in place instead. History shows how dogmas are removed only for other dogmas to take their place. As I see it, dogmas, and dogmatic people, are there to stay and should be regarded indeed as necessary as long as we don’t know exactly how to live, and indeed survive, without them. I certainly wouldn’t be alive myself if not for the dogmatic people trudging along regardless of what our smart elite says. Obviously, we need our Copernicuses and our Einsteins to remove the ground under the feet of some of our dogmas, but only those dogmas that are obsolete because someone happens to know what to replace them with, and this ain’t going to happen everyday of the week. Still, the smart elite at the time of the Enlightenment successfully removed the Catholic Church’s dogma. Yet, it was only to replace it with the scientific dogma. It also seems a characteristic of our time that many different, and indeed incompatible, dogmas are allowed to somehow co-exist within the same societies. Indeed, the idea that this is a good thing should be regarded as a dogma of our democratic societies and a distinguishing fixture compared to all authoritarian regimes that still exist today.
    EB

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    You single out science and religion, which I think you could regard as the loosest and least important of our dogmas. Essentially they are variable ontologies existing so people can assuage their cognitive dissonance about living. Actually not that important.

    Much more critical dogmas are likely an intrinsic and unchangeable part of a functioning society - life is meaningful, experiencing life is important, love is real. These are arguably dogmas that can't change, because those who don't believe them are selected against.

    But religion? Science? Those things are just window dressing distracting people from their much deeper instincts and motivations.

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    The OP is a rather dogmatic view on the issue.

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    Natural selection does not produce specific ideas.

    That the human may become dogmatic may have something to do with the survival of the species however.

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    Actually genetic algorithms have been in use since the early 90s. A form of guided evolution according to asset of riles and bounds.

    Thinking is an evolutionary process. Considering we are not born with any a priori knowledge, knowledge begins with trial and error which is an evolutionary process. A natural selection of ideas.

    On meaning of dialectic is two opposing forces meeting and yielding an entirely new synthesis.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    You single out science and religion, which I think you could regard as the loosest and least important of our dogmas. Essentially they are variable ontologies existing so people can assuage their cognitive dissonance about living. Actually not that important.
    I singled out religion and science because they are the two dogmas that are the most relevant to people on this forum.

    There are other significant dogmas, like the belief that democracy is a better political system than any variety of undemocratic ones. So, yes, I singled out 2 among the three most significant dogmas of our time.

    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Much more critical dogmas are likely an intrinsic and unchangeable part of a functioning society - life is meaningful, experiencing life is important, love is real. These are arguably dogmas that can't change, because those who don't believe them are selected against.
    Well, no, I looked at the origin of the word "dogma" and I also looked at the notion of dogma that is relevant today. So, you may yourself want to take any persistant belief to be a dogma merely because dogma originally meant belief, but the notion of dogma which is prevalent today is the one given by this definition:
    Dogma
    2. A principle or statement of ideas, or a group of such principles or statements, especially when considered to be authoritative or accepted uncritically.
    And I also explained what I see dogmas as "socially generalised beliefs", i.e. belief you accept because you are part of a social group, such as a religious community, a political party, or indeed a country.

    You can't claim I have "singled out two dogmas" unless you show I did so relative to the usual notion of dogma I used.

    The idea that life is meaningful or love is real aren't dogmas, at least not in the sense of the word "dogma" which is prevalent today, since these beliefs are not expressed in terms of "principle or statement of ideas". These two beliefs also don't need the support of any social pressure and so are not "socially generalised beliefs". Rather, they are biologically generalised beliefs.

    There are other species of beliefs that are not dogmas in the usual sense, for example the fact that we all naively mistake our percepts for the real world. I'm not sure what would be the value of talking of dogma in the case of such basic belief.

    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    But religion? Science? Those things are just window dressing distracting people from their much deeper instincts and motivations.
    Your comment seems rather superficial given that I have explained my assumption as to our usual notion of dogma.

    You know, according to your take on the notion of dogma, the most significant dogma would be that reality exists. All the rest is definitely a massive distraction.
    EB

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    So what is the new perspective? Hard to parse from the original post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    So what is the new perspective? Hard to parse from the original post.
    You're not even trying...

    Each dogma is essentially historically contingent but the fact that dogmas are a fixture of all human societies is a direct consequence of natural selection.

    We may be tempted to think of dogmas as motivated essentially by social politics.

    But dogmas as we think of them today are merely the socially generalised equivalent of our personal, individual beliefs. It’s belief on a social scale.

    May be we need to recognise that dogmas play a similar role for social groups, including societies and indeed civilisations.

    Our capability to have dogmas probably evolved over millions of years. This certainly is enough to support the idea that dogmas are part and parcel of how any social group will inevitably function.

    Dogmas are perhaps not necessary, but human societies work that way and we should keep that in mind before we try to dispose of them here and there without much thinking about what to put in place instead.

    History shows how dogmas are removed only for other dogmas to take their place. As I see it, dogmas, and dogmatic people, are there to stay and should be regarded indeed as necessary as long as we don’t know exactly how to live, and indeed survive, without them.
    EB

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Each dogma is essentially historically contingent but the fact that dogmas are a fixture of all human societies is a direct consequence of natural selection. Whenever we use this notion of natural selection, we better give the time-frame involved to get some perspective. For example, the general logical capability of the human brain is the end-product of something like at least 525 million years of nature selecting neurobiolological systems over the entire surface of the Earth, over the whole thickness of the biosphere, in the seas, in the atmosphere, on the ground, and indeed below ground. No one is going to beat that with a computer any time soon. We may be tempted to think of dogmas as motivated essentially by social politics. This seems to be what people talk about when they discuss a dogma. Usually, there will be some implicit reference to the dogma of the Catholic Church at the time of Copernicus, Galileo and Descartes. Yet, the word “dogma” comes from the word “opinion”, or “belief”, in ancient Greek. Thus, dogmas as we think of them today are merely the socially generalised equivalent of our personal, individual beliefs. It’s belief on a social scale. Now, obviously, our personal beliefs would play a major role in our lives even without the dogmas we come to believe through our being part of a social group. And if the fact that the many beliefs we have independently of the dogmas we have are essential to our ability to function properly both in society and more generally in our environment, may be we need to recognise that dogmas play a similar role for social groups, including societies and indeed civilisations. So the capability to have beliefs probably goes back to at least the first dinosaurs 251 million years ago and certainly the first mammals around 210 million years ago. lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum lorem ipsum. But to have a dogma requires, according to the sense of “socially generalised belief” I use here, some significant social relations, and here it’s more difficult to assess when this may have happened. Still, we’re probably still talking in millions of years, so nothing like the paltry 2000 years of things like the Catholic dogma. This certainly is enough to support the idea that dogmas are part and parcel of how any social group will inevitably function. That is not to say dogmas are necessary, merely that our societies work that way and we should keep that in mind before we try to dispose of them here and there without much thinking about what to put in place instead. History shows how dogmas are removed only for other dogmas to take their place. As I see it, dogmas, and dogmatic people, are there to stay and should be regarded indeed as necessary as long as we don’t know exactly how to live, and indeed survive, without them. I certainly wouldn’t be alive myself if not for the dogmatic people trudging along regardless of what our smart elite says. Obviously, we need our Copernicuses and our Einsteins to remove the ground under the feet of some of our dogmas, but only those dogmas that are obsolete because someone happens to know what to replace them with, and this ain’t going to happen everyday of the week. Still, the smart elite at the time of the Enlightenment successfully removed the Catholic Church’s dogma. Yet, it was only to replace it with the scientific dogma. It also seems a characteristic of our time that many different, and indeed incompatible, dogmas are allowed to somehow co-exist within the same societies. Indeed, the idea that this is a good thing should be regarded as a dogma of our democratic societies and a distinguishing fixture compared to all authoritarian regimes that still exist today.
    EB
    The enlightenment didn't really affect catholic dogma.
    It merely paved the way for post-modernism where dogma is just some vibe you feel.
    Example - Actor Will Smith isn't 'black' enough to play the role of a black man.
    Example - Apple iPhones discriminate against women because men's hands are bigger than women's.

    Remember when we used to have buy printed newspapers. Now we have so many (limitless) sources of news we can pick whichever source of truth we prefer. That's fedeism.

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    Newspapers have always been biased going back to the first days of the republic.

    I het a good laugh when somebody on CNN proclaims the network represents unbiased truth.

    The NYT was long considered a relatively objective observer. If you wanted to know what was going on at home and abroad you read the Sunday NYT. In the early 90s my Sunday morning ritual was reading the NYT over breakfast at a restaurant.

    During the Cold War you could listen to shortwave broadcasts from Russia China, other communist states, the BBC, France, and the USA each putting a police spin on events.

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