Diminish the Dogmatic Assurance Which Closes the Mind

I’m tired of people that think all of the great problems of the world have been solved. They feel all they need to do is turn to the Sacred Text, whichever one they subscribe to, and everything is settled. The real problem, to them, is that not everyone agrees with their sacred text. If we were all on the same page, these modern problems would magically go away.

“Philosophy is to be studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible, enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind is also rendered great, and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest good.”

Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy (1912)

When they think all of the problems have been solved, it’s easy to believe that new problems either don’t exist, or aren’t important. That’s dogmatic assurance. It’s not mentioned in the 2,000 year old book they never actually read. Not the 18th century legal document they don’t fully understand. Certain not their favorite television show from the 1960s. So they can’t see why they should care.

Dogmatic Assurance

Knowing that you’re right makes you stupid. Willfully ignorant, at least. You don’t need to listen. There’s no need to think. Curiosity goes directly out the window. Compassion is always a casualty, of course. Those like you good; those not like you bad. And yes, I fully understand that I am characterizing those that are not like me as bad. It’s less of a subjective judgment than an objective assessment though, isn’t it?


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