Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Evolution of Small Thinking (pt.2)

Part 2 of 2 (see 'Righteous Indignation Disorder' for pt.1)

I am as guilty as the next person of this thinking error called righteous indignation. In all fairness, it is probably as absurd for me to claim that the thinking error may be attributed to religion, as it is preposterous for religion to lay claim to the concept of morality. But I can only speak from my own experience, and I do feel that from an early age, I was taught to exercise closed-mindedness in the form of righteous indignation. Every time I encountered smokers, drinkers, immodesty, democrats, gays, seventh day adventists, etc. I experienced varying degrees of righteous indignation.

Perhaps it is fair to assert that it was pertaining to religious matters that I first observed the behavior and grew to emulate it. But I believe the system of society which has become increasingly "Us vs. Them" in attitude is due to self-justified thinking patterns that date back to the caveman days. We exist in a society rife with thinking errors, like Fundamental Attribution Error (which plays a considerable role in Righteous Indignation), which are rooted in cognitive processes, or categorization models, such as Set/Fuzzy Set Theory, which is a system of categorization of objects or concepts, or of tendencies toward certain categories (like gradations of "fuzzy"ness); or Correspondent Inference Theory, which is concerned with assessing personalities based on desirable, or undesirable behaviors.

Social psychology is born of the very basic, instinctual, thought process which is concerned with simply observing the world in which we find ourselves one way or another: Biopsychology. From here we derive our core conscious, or our ability to observe the world, and with the aid of cognitive devices such as categorization (safe vs dangerous, etc.), we grow to operate in ways that would seem to prolong our existence, instinctively avoiding danger, and seeking out security.

From the instant we are born, we are obsessed with obtaining and maintaining security. From the sensory overloaded new-born who grapples for the soothing characteristics of a mother, and latches onto her with instinctive, precious little 'iron' fists, to the soldier who fights in the name of freedom, and through a certain set of cognitive habits, is capable killing without apprehension. Atrocities against humanity are exacted by his strategic and methodical hand. In his iron grip are the weapons which slaughter man, woman— new mother, and precious child. In the name of Security.

After social tendencies, such as cooperation or camaraderie, establish infrastructure of relative physical security from the elements security is found in forming social structures—the idea of enforced morality. Our instinctive ideas of safety and danger carry over into the abstract. After we have come to a social understanding that 'every (cave)man for himself' is not ideal, we form communities.

No longer do we assess our surroundings simply on the basis of inherent preferability (shelter, food, warmth, etc) or undesirability (hunger, hostility, etc.) but on the understanding that we, as well as those around us, have the cognitive potential to choose whether we will be agreeable or dangerous. And from here, we begin enforcing rules which would affect behavior in the direction of safety. No killing, no stealing, work to contribute, share, etc.

But inevitably, our social bonds, and our shared values, will introduce new dangers. We crate such strong bonds that we actually segregate the human/caveman community into different tribes, based on different preferences, different rules.

Security and self-preservation playing the role they do on our behaviors, we feel either threatened by, or superior to, outsiders--even other cavemen. Inter-social behavior becomes a double standard: 'don't kill' becomes 'don't kill unless it is for the safety, or good of your tribe/family, country, etc.', 'don't steal' becomes 'if you must, steal from outsiders'.

It's not long before cavemen have conceived of all the principles and double standards that comprise modern society. Not much has changed since the dinosaurs died. We no longer fear the saber toothed tiger, but we do fear for the preservation of our traditions. We have espoused certain philosophies, beliefs, thinking patterns, etc. which preserve these traditions. And we are too proud to acknowledge that we maintain only partial truths. In fact, to even suggest that we are self-deceiving creatures, or to question the existence of the traditional God, is enough to incite righteous indignation. Perhaps it is that we are seeking to maintain a traditional belief in God, or an absolute truth that blinds us to our arrogance, ignorance and indignation.

Indignation itself is the prime response which maintains the closed loop thinking that tradition, and dogma, are rooted in. It is the biggest small-thinking habit that ensures a continuation in a cycle of small thinking.

Thanks for reading. Comments are always welcome!


Brittany said...

Evan have you ever taken a class from Brian Birch or Dennis Potter at UVU? The religious studies program is really pretty awesome, I think you'd like it. Dennis teaches logic and philosophy of religion, which both seem right up your alley.

¡91211790! said...

I have not taken either of those. They do sound interesting, but as for "right up [my] alley", I'd have to say school is my arch-nemesis. Thanks for reading!