Saturday, December 24, 2005

Disagreement and Tolerance

“Let’s agree to disagree.”

“Hinduism is known for its acceptance of other faiths.”

“Tolerance is a virtue.”

“Respect others’ beliefs, do not hurt their sentiments.”


The above assertions, prescriptions and exhortations are based on a view of human condition which perpetuates the misery and malice all around us.

Facts cannot be disputed, if there be a dispute there is usually a definite way to settle the dispute. Beliefs can not be proved (otherwise they would no longer require the act of believing).

One can disagree only about whether one believes in a certain opinion or not. To disagree about facts is just madness.

Regarding what is still unknown, there are many choices, based on the importance of knowing about the matter at hand. In science one usually hypothesizes and then tests that hypothesis by experimentation. In other cases, one generalizes based on past experience and generic knowledge about the processes involved (for example, in boarding a train expecting that it will reach the destination), in still other cases, one can accept one’s ignorance and carry on.

Beliefs, in the sense I mean them, are emotional investments in certain unverifiable opinions.

It is sensible to see the cause of a belief and one’s (or another’s) emotional stake and involvement, and it is silly to just agree or disagree with it. Both agreeing and disagreeing with a belief leave intact the process of belief and emotional vulnerability, and perpetuate the sense of a separated identity with its opinions and subjectivity.

Accepting or agreeing with another’s faith is foolish. It might make the other feel better, but what has been accomplished? Instead of enquiring into the facts of the matter, the available evidence and its implications, one reacts emotionally (for example, following the hoary adage that “you may win the argument, but you have lost a friend.”) instead of rationally.

Isn’t it evident when two people are arguing about a metaphysical belief, that they are not at all concerned about the facts or the truth of the matter, and that their aim is merely to forcefully and wittily present their case and to convince the other person by every kind of manipulation? Isn’t it evident that the parties have an emotional stake in the matter? A “heated” debate tinged with anxiety, agitation and pugnacity surely indicates that feelings are involved.

In a similar vein, tolerating other faiths and superstitions might be great for a facile harmony and a temporary truce but the very fact that there is a phenomenon requiring tolerance makes it obvious that it somehow pinches oneself. What is the need to tolerate something if it is of no consequence to oneself? The very need of tolerance, patience and equanimity indicate that the basis of antipathy is alive. Merely applying these cover-ups over an essentially malicious nature accomplishes at best a tense equilibrium.

One frequently reads about peoples’ religious sentiments getting hurt, judges issuing restraining orders on the publication of a book or on the screening of a movie on the grounds that it offends the public morality or sensibilities.

While to allow otherwise in animals masquerading as intelligent human beings would be an invitation to civil war, one must look into whether tolerance and acceptance of diverging beliefs is a lasting solution for human peace.

Tolerance is not a virtue, it is only suppression and control of one’s aggression.

Agreeing to disagree might keep alive a friendship, but it also keeps alive the identities involved. Without an identity within, friendship and animosity both are seen as the need-based psychic relationships that they are.

If somebody is psychologically hurt by a word or a statement or an act, then the full and square blame for this hurt lies with the aggrieved party. The other may or may not be malicious in its provocations, but it is certainly up to oneself to not get affected by them.

Nobody is responsible for your psychic suffering and for your happiness than you yourself. To ask others to be sensitive to yourself or to your feelings is to abdicate this responsibility.

4 comments:

Vibhanshu Abhishek 3.1 said...

WOW !! U really touched upon quite a few issues in this post Though they are clubbed under the same heading I see various streams of thought emerging from it.

A belief like you said is something that is just accepted as a fact. You have faith that it IS true. The moment you u start questioning its scantity it becomes a hypothesis. So I think you need to blindly trust a belief.

Though I would emphasise that tolerance is a virtue, it makes you receptive to someone else's point f view.

harmanjit said...

It is one thing to be able to listen to the other person, but another to accept his/her views.

Good listening demands patience,
wide understanding and knowledge,
language skills and a respect for
the other person as a human being.

Usually impatient listening is a sign
that one considers oneself right
(without good reason).

bunty said...

It is not at all related to the current thread.Yesterday night i was just all alone and was sitting and planning out investement strategy for all the savings that i had in the last two months.Then just started to access the previous investements and their returns,the assessment showed that i have gained substantially,i was understandably happy about myself and it was during all this that a thought came to my mind that what for and whom for i am doing all these exercises,for my wife,for my son????my father did the same and now i am doing it....and then a question came to my mind that what for am i on this planet earth....well the question was obviously weird but then amazingly enough i could not find out the answer for this question....what for are we all on this planet earth.....will be looking forward to have a answer for this question.....

Truth Seeker said...

The rejection of means - interesting... seems a bit familiar...