Friday, November 09, 2012

I Two Am Four Something

It's interesting how the right wing often confuses ambivalence (or ambiguity) with irrationality, while the left wing often confuses ambiguity (or ambivalence) with open-mindedness.

In the first case, this is because conservatives prefer to identify fixed positions and a wary of moving positions or flexibility, whether real or imputed. In the second case, this is because liberals are inherently against fixed positions except as unattainable ideals.

But, as F Scott Fitzgerald said, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function."

In the first case, it is not always irrational to consider two opposed or different positions as both being tenable. This is because social phenomena depend a lot on social context for validation. Discipline in school and discipline in banking are different (and yet the same) in many (different) ways.

In the second case, it is not always open-minded to consider two different or opposed positions as both being tenable. Sometimes it's just a mark of indifference, lack of mental rigour, or desire to not create a fixed position of any kind. Yet that too is some sort of fixed position.

The upshot of these two positions is a third non-position. People who are unhappy with both extremes are called centrists, which just muddies the waters further. Since most intelligent people hate muddiness, this forces them to be unhappy. What a mess.

A fourth non-position is the 'apolitical' tag. People who are intelligent but do not want to be unhappy just refuse to think too hard about politics in public (lest somebody label them lefty, righty, or centristy). But that too is a position, and if it avoids the left-right axis, may end up being judged on a vertical axis of 'beneath politics' to 'above politics'.

You can't win. So you might as well have fun. I stand by the fifth — the position that I'm willing to aggressively engage any position that I'm not happy with, just to make myself happy. Heh heh.

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2 Comments:

Blogger LoneRifle said...

... So the fifth position is indiscriminate trolling?

Monday, November 12, 2012 9:23:00 pm  
Blogger Trebuchet said...

Discriminate trolling. :)

Monday, November 19, 2012 2:30:00 am  

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