Thursday, October 15, 2009

On Ideological Fundamentalism

I've had my fair share of encounters with the polarities of rigid absolutism and objectivism on one side, and flexible relativism and subjectivism on the other, and have eventually come to see the light that lets all flowers bloom. While it's not a popular position to take among the followers of one tradition or the other, I haven't heard the likes of the following statement I came across yesterday even from religious fundamentalists, at least not in so many words.
"I recognize the evil in your foundation and your arguments are saturated with it - and it must be denounced vehemently because it is a cancer out there."
No doubt, relativism can strike an annoying chord in the ears of those who would rather believe their model of understanding is a de facto theory of everything, both in the realm of religious dialogue as with anything else featuring strong ideological convictions. That it is annoying is rather an understatement, for it's downright threatening, inasmuch as it suggests the possibility of tearing down the precious walls of absolute opinion built and maintained by generations of adherents.

The above citation becomes doubly curious over the fact that it was addressed to yours truly in a discussion that had absolutely nothing to do with poking the holy cows of any flavor of religious fundamentalism, but rather in the course of an attempt to discuss a purely secular (and not even political) theme with a person sporting a long academic background. A world where ideologies are juxtapositioned in such a radically condemning fashion is a world gone sad and sour

I suppose ambivalence can be threatening, but really it is only from a state of ambivalence that something truly new can evolve. Rigid ideologies, even while they may serve a purpose, are almost invariably antithetical to the progress and evolution of human understanding, shunning as they do the prospects for discovering solutions outside the established framework. All the while, doubt remains one of the most powerful tools at our disposal in our quest for knowledge and understanding.

This idolatry of human mental constructions is perhaps the single most devolutive force in the history of mankind with a long and devastating track record of stifling, oppressing and persecuting those discontent with available solutions, seeking to cross over the establishment to the undiscovered land. The problem started with Adam and Eve grabbing a fruit off the tree of forbidden knowledge and receiving a due punishment, and has really only grown worse ever since.