I am currently reading several complex works on the nature of epistemology (how we know things) and discourse, something I haven’t done seriously since I was twenty. I have changed so much since then.
Recently I have been repeatedly shocked and appalled by the sheer Intellectual Dishonesty that has seeped into our culture. Like thieves in the night, pundits faux-intellectuals, and political special interests have crept in and dismantled the most critical ideals of our culture. Sometimes it seems as though we have lost the power of free discourse.
In the world after David Hume, we have been forced to accept that certainty is impossible . We will never be absolutely sure of anything that even the wisest of us thinks. On that basis we created a democratic system of knowledge: any idea presented in the modern world is subject to review, discussion and criticism.
We enshrined this system in the Scientific Method, in the traditions of Newspaper Editorials, in the Legislative Debate process of Democratic Governments, in Public Broadcasting, and Freedom of Speech principles. New technologies and ways of communication such as the Internet have been designed in such a way as to make discourse limitless. Every person can share their ideas, be heard, and if they are Intellectually open, honest, and rigorous, to be debated and rated by peers.
The core principle of the Western Liberal Epistemology is this:
The human mind is imperfect. No knowledge can be absolutely certain. Using Logic, Science, and Philosophy we can come to knowledge that seems in line with the laws of Nature around us. Because it was uncovered with rigour we can use it to build laws, culture, and expect it to be reasonably fair and functional. However there can be no final answer, everything must be open to questioning and debate. When an idea no longer stands up to scrutiny, it must be abandoned for a better idea.
But over the past 50 years or so, we have been slowly undermining this powerful idea.
First, we have made the process of finding knowledge obscure. We don’t teach people how Logic and Science work.
The other day I had a conversation with a man my own age who did not know what Logic was, and who had been led to believe that it was a tool of politicos, not a system of organized, methodical thought.
The week before last I rode a bus and eavesdropped on a conversaton between students at U of T who were discussing the fact that they had only begun to understand halfway through their first semester at University that learning was not the same as being able to write down verbatim what was written in their textbook.
Second we have privileged certain ideas and attitudes as being sacred and beyond question. Anyone who brings these ideas up for debate is immediately subject to a barrage of ad-hominem attacks. You can be fully prepared when asking questions about certain movements or ideas to be branded a “bigot”, “homophobe”, “Islamophobe”, “racist”, “sexist”, “facist”, or “supremacist.” The aim of these attacks is not to actually protect anyone – because you cannot harm a people by questioning an idea- but rather to demonize you for daring to ask taboo questions . The aim by vilifying you is to intimidate you into recanting the question, and to terrify others into silence.
Some of the protected ideas that you will encounter include:
- Keynesian Economics
Now, I agree with some of the aims of various ideas presented here. I do believe we are enriched to a degree by diversity. I do believe that women should be allowed to make their own decisions and follow any career they please (so long as they can meet the specific needs of that profession), I do believe people have a right to look for the Divine. But I refuse to believe that any of these movements or schools of thought is perfect, and none of them, whatever good they may do for society should be mandated as absolute truth and excused from rigorous debate.
No idea, however beautiful, or well-intentioned, is worth sacrificing our basic system of knowledge to protect. And if it is truly a worthy idea – then it should be able to weather any question to its truth.
When you deal with Men’s Issues you often crash up against these sacred cows, and because of it, you will be demonized. And the same is true of individual Men trying to better their lives. Often a man will try on a new way of thinking or acting, and meet immediate pushback from his loved ones. I know men who have been called “Woman haters” for visiting websites like mine that talk about the particular virtues and needs of men. I have had the same thing insinuated of me.
Our culture is steeped in a history of Logic, Reason, and Science that has helped make it one of the most technologically advanced, healthful, and peaceful on Earth. It also the one that has managed to mobilize Men to some of the greatest effect through the rights and freedoms it grants. I believe that there is a connection between this rising taboo of questioning, the changes to the ways in which we perceive Men, and the way in which Men today are struggling.
Men are at their most effective when they are free to create lives that they want without fear of being punished or censured. With political freedom, a relatively free market, and free speech, a Man can chase the passions that drive him to be the best possible human being he can be, whether that is a wife, children, a career, art, or his faith. The censorship we are seeing today corresponds with increasing restrictions on real freedoms, and the strangling of free enterprise. Without these things, a Man is relegated only to the roles society leaves him, or he is forced to drop out .
Free speech and our System of Questioning is the one part of Western Culture that ensures that it can self-correct. So long as we are able to debate which ideas are true, realisitc, and a good basis for governance, we will be able to recognize tyranny and reject it. We will be able to debate bad ideas, and chase them from the public sphere. We will be able to develop ways of living that suit us best.
And so I urge men to question boldly.
Learn the methods of Logic and Science, to have the Men a tools to challenge people who prevent you from pursuing your passion. Learn to speak your mind so that you lose the fear of embarrassment and conflict.
When you question boldly, even at the risk of being punished, you send a message to yourself and others that you are not going to conform for the sake of conforming. You are saying that your thoughts and your well-being are more important than the demands of an ideology. You are displaying the conviction that you will not be bullied into silence. You are refusing to let the opinions of others destroy your Integrity. And in sending the messages, you begin to believe them.
1. Treash, George. “Introduction to Metaphysics” Sept. 1997 – December 1997. Avard-Dixon Building, Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB.
2. Treash, George. “Freedom and Society” Jan 1998 – April 1998. Hart Hall, Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB.
3. Ruach, Johnathan. Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought, expanded edition. London: University of Chicago Press, 2013.
4. Clarey, Aaron. Enjoy the Decline: Living with the Death of the United States. Self-Published. 2013