Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Philosophy – our most dangerous belief?

According to the Bible, money is the root of all evil (eg, 1 Timothy 6:10). Others would blame religion due to global religious violence (eg, Christian Crusades, Hindu nationalism violence, Reconquista, Shia vs Sunni). Still, politics is another belief responsible for many wars (eg, Russia vs Ukraine).

In my view, 5 out of our 7 Belief systems (ie, money, politics, religion, science, the truth) are derivatives of Philosophy. The most ancient human belief might be Love, the 7th Belief system. All life forms have needs. Some use tools to get what they want (eg, birds). Beliefs appear unique to humans.

It could be argued that the Truth, as a belief system, is responsible for many wars – and not politics (eg, Germany vs Jews, neo-nazism in Ukraine). This hides the fact that the Truth is always rooted in philosophical arguments that are quite often about – allegedsuperiority vs inferiority.

Hence, in my view, Philosophy is the most dangerous belief – apart from having beliefs as humans (eg, Quora). Others mention examples of such philosophies (eg, life is fair, The Top Ten Dangerous Beliefs, the resurrection, Top 6 Most Harmful Beliefs, and also transhumanism).

A 2004 Foreign Policy article on The World’s Most Dangerous Ideas mentioned 8 ideas, including these:

Philosophy includes various ethical and/or moral notions like black vs white, equal vs unequal, friends vs enemies, good vs bad, love vs hate, right vs wrong, rights vs duties, superior vs inferior, worthy vs unworthy. Such notions are often not universal but regional or even national (eg, eating cat / dog meat).

Most of the above tends to be gray / grey rather than “black” or “white”. Philosophy prefers that we see things either in black or in white, including our racial identity. I once labelled Joan as black. She immediately replied that she was mocha brown. She was right. Why would my pink colour label as white?

An interesting example of the danger of philosophy is the so-called trolley problem, a “thought experiment in ethics”. The trolley problem wonders who you would kill in case of a runaway trolley: one person or a group? And would you change your view, once the group consists of old people?

“Philosophy, though unable to tell us with certainty what is the true answer to the doubts which it raises, is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom. Thus, while diminishing our feeling of certainty as to what things are, it greatly increases our knowledge as to what the may be; it removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who have never travelled into the region of liberating doubt, and it keeps alive our sense of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect” Note LO: spelling issues in quote corrected by me.

A quote from the book The Problems of Philosophy (1912) by British mathematician, and philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

The Trolley Problem
The Good Place Se02Ep06Ch19 (2017)

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless in quotes or stated otherwise.


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