Cultural Contradictions

Anyone have thoughts on this?

I argue every culture in every time and place will have contradictions in their belief system. There will never be a group of people who have a belief system that will not be comprimised for the survival and benefit of individuals.

Others argues to the contrary. There are universal human values like courage, creativity, empathy, confidence, etc. Only since the Greeks have we been riddled with contradictions in our belief systems.

Does anyone know about this or care to enlighten me?

Very few people create a fully fleshed out ethical system. Instead, people pretty much go with what works, which usually ends up being a mis-mosh of a variety of cultural influences and is, likewise, a mix of virtue ethics, deontology, and consequentialist ideologies.

It is an organic process whereby what works lingers (despite its often dubious philosophical underpinnings) and what doesn’t work is forgotten.

Personally, I like this system because it manages to internally curb the excesses of any of the three forms of thinking. In pure virtue ethics, you can end up with a situation where an action is good because the person doing it is good, so you have the agent defining the good. Clearly that isn’t a good idea. Likewise, deontology is rigid and inflexible and when applied across the board it can lead to tyranny (see: Qin controlled China). And likewise with consequentialism, the ‘ends justify the means’, and I think we all have a rough idea as to what kind of atrocities have been committed with that kind of thinking.

So, instead we have a system that tries to set up rules that will lead to a desired outcome, but when either system breaks down, we have cultivated individuals who will hopefully be able to bridge the gap and restore equilibrium.

The only way to align the values of an entire population is through absolute constant totalitarianism where the state has the ability to rearrange individual’s minds like aliens with probes. We aren’t technologically advanced enough for that.

The Greeks and everyone before them couldn’t manage it either.

In fact the only example I’m aware of that embodies universal societal belief is The Borg from Star Trek. So that’s how likely it is.

I don’t know much about this but my opinion is that cultrue is fluid and always changing so over time there will be many contradictions, naturally.

I imagine contradiction as a mechanism of life, the yin and yang. If there was no contradiction in life everything would remain static and grow stale. Contradiction keeps things alive and awake because its causes agitation and consternation. Contradiction keeps societies agile and and in constant revolution so as to keep totalitarianism and the power of the state at a distance.

Communism collapsed because it was intended to be noncontradictory. It failed because the natural contradiction of the world, the ebb and flow Heraclitus talked about, inevitably and eventually overwhelmed it. In contrast, democracy and capitalism have ascended because they understand it as a predisposition of humankind and know how to deal with it. They also relish it and cultivate it.

Contradiction also gives birth to new ideas much like the contradiction of male/female gives birth to a child. Contradiction keeps the world going around like the two opposite, contradictory poles of the earth do.

contradiction is the existence of identity.
existence is freedom.

While it may be true that every human agrees on a certain core of values, the expression of these values among different groups often leads to contradictory positions. Society works to reconcile these contradictions.

This is the dynamic of social organization. Ideal, opinion, conflict, acceptance, reconciliation, resolution.

Society is not static, it is a dynamic, a flow.

That said, there are always social groups who will not compromise and will not hesitate to sacrifice the individual. They will either win or die trying to inflict their particular opinion of the ideal on everyone else. They do not accept that there is another valid view.

This intransigence is the root of all social conflict and the people caught up in it become monsters, no longer human beings. They operate on a deep emotional level devoid of human morality.

Many eventually lose their monsterhood and become human beings again. They are amazed and shocked by what they did as monsters. Many carry a heavy burden of guilt and shame to the end of their days.

There are still many monsters roaming the planet, an many monster makers.

When I read this I thought immediately of Animal Farm. It seems inescapable that Utopia is unachievable. There’ll always be some animals who believe they are more equal than others.

People are just contradictory in their very nature, and so it is only natural that their ethical code will not align. Evidence would be…present in every nation of people one can look up.

If history is any indicator, you are very probably right there Wilson. But then as Emerson used to say, “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”

Contradicition is the exception to the rule and you can’t make a rule without there being an exception.

I know of no rule so perfect as to never be contradicted.

Because you are trying to find the perfect truth in a statement or idea and that is impossible. You can only state at what level of truth the statement satisfies.

For example, to state that the sky is blue is true for most purposes but it is contradictory because if it where true then from space you would not be able to see the land…the sky is clear…not blue…

yet the sky is both clear and blue. What level of truth are you wanting to state? Outside that level it is a contradiction or an non-truth to the truth you stated.

Thank you.

I like the Dutch. They’ve legalized drug use, prostitution and euthanasia. That seems to really be putting peoples’ freedoms where their laws are:


A step in the right direction.