The savage, like ourselves, feels the
oppression of his impotence before the powers of Nature; but having in himself
nothing that he respects more than Power, he is willing to prostrate himself before his
gods, without inquiring whether they are worthy of his worship. Pathetic and very
terrible is the long history of cruelty and
torture, of degradation and human
sacrifice, endured in the hope of placating the jealous gods. - Bertrand
Russell, A Free Man's Worship (1903)
The theologian Bernard Lonergan has distinguished what he has termed "the four
transcendental precepts": "Be attentive, be intelligent,
be reasonable, be responsible “ Bernard Lonergan,
Method in Theology (Darton, Longman & Todd, 1972), pp. 17-18.
defensible expansion of Lonergan's "four transcendental precepts" would be
that Intellectual Responsibility
can be defined as having a yearning for knowledge and truth, being honest,
attentive, rational, logical and reasonable in our thinking and belief, and
a demand for integrating everything into an understandable and meaningful
world view. It must be added that the crucial
aspect of reason perforce includes but is not limited to incorporating a
healthy skepticism that is willing and able to challenge any and every
to which it is exposed, whether from the self or external sources.
Given that our world view,
our belief system, our philosophy, our thinking, and our ethics affect
and effect everything that we do, here are some questions for the day.
Is being intellectually responsible less important than being:
- Behaviorally responsible?
- Fiscally responsible?
- Sexually responsible?
- Politically responsible?
- Legally responsible?
- Dietary responsible?
- Ethically responsible?
- Morally responsible?
If we support and help foster an intellectually irresponsible
belief system, is that less dangerous or harmful than promoting::
- Unhealthy, dangerous, or contaminated food?
- Risky activities?
- A careless and irresponsible lifestyle?
- Violent and body/brain destroying sports like boxing and football?
- The manufacturing, selling and supplying faulty products
like cribs, guns, and cars?
- The manufacturing, selling and supplying harmful products
like cigarettes, and intoxicating beverages?
- The selling or supplying of illicit drugs?
- Lewd material and pornography?
- False advertizing?
- Fake news?
- Money scams?
To which of the above items can you answer yes?
If it were pointed out that Jesus never said anything about
the above items but railed against being intellectually
irresponsible by condemning hypocrisy—in its most fundamental
aspect it means lacking in critical thinking (see
Hypocrisy Analysis)—, would
you change your answers?
How can we not see that being intellectually irresponsible
fosters mysticism, superstition and idolatry, and thereby confusion and human
misery on a far greater scale? How can we not see
that it is spiritually debilitating and paralyzing? Even a
Catholic Pope seems to have somewhat understood this:
"For since it is in the very
nature of man to follow the guide of reason in his actions, if his
intellect sins at all his will soon follows; and thus it happens
that looseness of intellectual opinion influences human actions and
perverts them. Whereas, on the other hand, if men be of sound mind
and take their stand on true and solid principles, there will result
a vast amount of benefits for the public and private good." - Pope Leo
The corpus of Homo
"Sapiens?" can be divided up into two groups: those that "care" about truth
to some significant degree, and those that are totally or almost totally
occupied in satisfying the more "base" needs, desires and appetites.
In thinking about information, knowledge, and people, their attitude towards truth and
reality and their "religions" or belief systems, we can see that
there are essentially three divisions of the first group according
to how those persons related to reality: the insane, the unsane and the sane.
(1) The insane are driven to obliterate
or obscure objective reality by projecting their personal concepts
upon it and actively trying to force it to fit their personal ideas. If
these people do this in a too troublesome way, they get locked up. Yet by no
means are all who do so interred.
(2) The unsane icomprise by
far the largest of all three groups. This group doesn't try to force
objective reality to fit their internal beliefs, but they smother it by
clinging to an external authority--some combination of "sacred" writings, tradition,
denomination, societal majority, peer pressure, clergy or other formalized
authority figures, those in power, etc. They filter information that
comes to them through whatever belief system they are programmed with. They
are insecure in their own self-conception and are emotionally attached to and
necessarily dependent on their authority/belief system for even their own
identity and self-worth. They essentially embrace whatever information or
concepts that come to them that "fit" their system and consciously or
unconsciously set aside and ignore those that don't. It can be said of this group that
they don't have a grip on their belief system, their belief system has a
grip on them. These are
the men that in one way or another can be wound up and pointed by others. Or
in the words of Ernest Becker in his Pulitzer prize-winning book, The
Denial of Death:
today call "inauthentic" men, men who...follow out the
styles of automatic and uncritical living in which they were
conditioned as children. They are "inauthentic" in that
they do not act from their own center, do not see reality on
its own terms; they are the one-dimensional men totally
immersed in the fictional games being played in their society,
unable to transcend their social conditioning: the corporation
men in the west, the bureaucrats in the east, the tribal men
locked up in tradition--man everywhere who doesn't
understand what it means to think for himself and who, if he
did, would shrink back at the idea of such audacity
(3) The sane. A very, very
small fraction of the population, this group is composed of individuals that
one way or another have founded their self-identity and self-worth on
internals instead of externals. This has allowed them to have the
courage to internalize authority and take personal responsibility for their
belief system, and they have learned to think critically. They have no need to deny or filter
facts and information from objective or exteral reality and thus can be rational (capable of
apprehending the facts), logical (capable of drawing proper tentative conclusions from
the facts), and reasonable (capable of aligning their values, conclusions,
belief choices, agenda and action decisions in the context of some larger, humanely
defensible purpose). When it comes to knowledge, this group has the
humility to be aware of how tenuous much of their knowledge really is and
are not afraid to look for and do "reality checks". Where it comes to truth, they are not
swayed by othe people's psychological pressure, enthusiasm, charisma, popularity,
power or "authority". Although they may be willing to die for certain
fundamental principles, they understand that they personally are more valuable than
their belief system, and they can change their belief system as THEY see
fit . They are in control of their belief system from their core or center,
their "internal reference point", instead of being controlled by external
authorities or someone else's system.
If you understand and
accept in general the theme of planetary astral catastrophics--especially
the Saturn myth reconstruction--and the concomitant themes of the Golden Age
ending in a major global disaster and resulting in a series of
lesser Solar system shakeups, the implications and ramifications of this
reconstruction become enormous and daunting. One of the most meaningful
deductions is that the human race is in a state of "collective amnesia" and
has been and is having a hard time coming to terms with this most
dramatic and impactful aspects of its history. Again, it is our contention
that it is critical for us to understand as best we can the memories and
mythology of the ancient people and the context and events in which these
were formed. Only then can we begin to make sense out of a bewildering
world of confusion.
One of the insidious aspects of intellectual irresponsibility that
manifests in our culture concerns the handling of important words, their definitions, and
how these words are misused so as to blur or partially obscure their true meaning. Evidently humans have a penchant for being cute with words, by developing slang,
pushing the range of what words mean, so much so that some words actually
come to mean the opposite of what they originally meant. The intellectually
responsible person strives to use words carefully, staying close to their original
meaning, Not to mention that words can be used to clarify OR obscure. Post
Modernism is particularly nefarious because of its deconstruction of
language and penchant for obscuring the truth or reality.
For that rare individual who somehow believes that he can know the truth
and the truth will set him free, who sets his heart, mind, soul and feet on
the pathway of intellectual responsibility, a word of warning: Don't expect
much support or affirmation, because you will quickly be out of sync with
those around you, and they will NOT appreciate it..