Avoiding dogmatism through realizing that human-beings are limited beings

[Based on my previous article: Nature and Dogma – The Objective Good and its limited subjective perception (2020)]

“Yet the great bird rises from the vast ocean and is borne on the great mass of air, the only support capable of carrying its immensity and soaring at an amazing height. A cicada has just hatched and a very young pigeon that saw it laughed at the big bird and said: ‘What is the use of flying so high? Why do you expose yourself like this? We who are happy enough to fly from branch to branch without leaving the suburbs; if we fall, we don’t hurt ourselves; Every day we find our necessities without fatigue. So why do you go so far? Why do you fly so high? Does not the worry increase in proportion to distance and altitude?” This is how two little creatures talk about something which is beyond their competence. A small mind does not understand what a big mind encompasses. A short experience does not extend to distant facts. The mushroom that survives only one morning does not know of a lunation. The insect that lives only one summer does not understand the sequence of the seasons. Do not ask short-living beings for information about the great tortoise, whose period is five centuries, or the great tree, whose cycle is eight thousand years. Even old P’eng-tsou will tell you nothing beyond the eight centuries that tradition ascribes to him. Every being has its own development formula.”

Excerpt of Zhuangzi’s Nanhua Zhenjing. Chapter 1. In: Léon Wieger: Les pères du système taoïste. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1950, p. 209 f. (Translation mine.)

Indeed, same as a beet, an ant or a frog cannot conceive the enormous world, as we can conceive it, we cannot really conceive that which is beyond us. And still, some people dare to see the world as an absolute and call people who believe in God in blemish ways. Even the Intelligent Design movement is sometimes called pseudoscientific, just because they advocate that there is an intellect, which created or designed the universe. At first Intelligent Design scientists are not doing pseudoscience, because they use the scientific method, so Untelligent Design is science, and in the same way, materialistic views are in no way more scientific or better. At first, the things which materialists state concerning the microevolution are not doubted by scientists advocating the Intelligent Design, they are on the small-scale and well observed and explained. In the same way, I do not doubt science, but make clear that the theory of macroevolution has severe gaps and nothing speaks against proposing a God in the beginning, or an energy, or big bang, or whatever [cp. Timo Schmitz: Das philosophische Erkenntnisproblem in Der Baum der Erkenntnis – Der Konstruktivismus evolutionärer Erkenntnistheorie (21 July 2019). In: Timo Schmitz: Ausgewählte Artikel in deutscher Sprache, 2019-2020. Berlin: epubli, 2021]. But denying Idealist views as scientific just creates an ideology, not a truth, even if it was possible that it would turn out in the future that materialists were right and we, the Idealists, were wrong. But until today, no one has an absolute proof, whether intellect or matter came first, which would satisfy everyone.

One has to understand an important thing though, materialists and idealists try to defend their position based on science and therefore, there is more than just the Neodarwinian evolutionary theory, which is just one theory among many others. However, the creationism based on religious fundamentalism, same as the evolutionism based on atheist dogmatism is no science. Nonetheless, we see this trend in the USA, where both, radical creationists and radical evolutionists try to bring their views in schools, where they shall be taught as the only truths. In Germany, we have found a proper solution: In biology lessons, the evolutionary theory is taught and in religious education, theories about God are discussed. In this way, both views are presented and students can learn to form their own perspective, which theories they prefer, though indeed it is bad that they get presented a strict atheist view and a strict church view, instead of having a moderate discussion in a neutral school subject, where a holistic scientific approach could be taught and where critical thinking could be more encouraged. Because only through critical evaluation, we can educate the masterminds of tomorrow and support their creative and their advances, which are often out-of-the-box thinking. Why is such a neutral school subject important? Because in the end, neither biologists nor theologians have the monopoly to claim that they found the one and only truth. And only a holistic science can move forward our civilization. Therefore, every barrier towards critical reasoning (because critical reasoning has to be taught actively as well) is also a disadvantage for the particular society, because those societies where these frontiers do not exist (for whatever reason) might also have an economical advantage, because they could probably think more creative, make new discoveries and these discoveries can be marketed faster, e.g. through patents, as they did not narrow their view on one basic theory. Science for science’s sake is no less democratic as a liberal society: the competition of ideas. If ideas are not in competition anymore and a theory which is set as basis remains unquestioned, then we stay in our limited box, our bubble, and we cannot advance.

In the same way, we cannot claim that because the majority believes something, the minority could have known better – majorities do not create truths, only truths create truths (in other words, the Good – or if we were scepticists: that which we call here the Good, but which exists instead of it). Science and religion, in my point of view, are no necessary contradictions at all (esp. if the religious dogmas became very thin and reason overtook the previously dogmatic stances). I believe that the believer should question the revelation critically instead of following it blindly in order to find the true core, its true content. [cp. Timo Schmitz: Die Bedeutung der Vorstellung bei Hegel (16 July 2020). In: Timo Schmitz: Politische und Philosophische Analysen. Trier & Vachendorf: Graf Berthold Verlag, 2022.] A faith based on reason should replace any dogma, so the believer has to justify why he believes that way, but metaphysics is not withdrawn or taken away from him as a legitimate instrument in the 21st century. [ibid.]

The things in the outside world as we tend to perceive them have no real being and thus are no real being – and as Grimes already made clear that everything is nothing but mind, I think that we can speak of a Panlogism, as Plato and Hegel used to exercise it.

Going back to the beginning of our investigation: The first chapter of the Zhuangzi can be translated as “A simple and happy life”.

“These terms apply today especially to the life of celestial beings, but for Zhuangzi it is Laozi’s non-acting. The author explains here what constitutes true happiness. So their aim is not, as has been said, to show that the diversity of beings is only relative and subjective, that everything is of a single and unique nature, as Heraclitus said; although the beginning, taken in isolation, might lead one to believe so. Using the example of the quail, this beginning shows us the error of small minds who believe that they are equal to the big ones.”

C. de Harlez (Ed.): Annales du Musée Guimet, Tome vingtième: Textes tâoïstes. Traduit des originaux chinois et commentés par C. de Harlez. Paris : Ernest Leroux, 1891, p. 221. (Translation mine.)

And as shown above, that is exactly, why the world struggles so much. Praising that one found the ultimate one and only truth creates ideologies and their defenders might be that deeply believing in them, that they harass other believers or try to disadvantage them. Ideologies can create terrible wars and genocides – and though they claim to act in the name of the truth, they do not inherit the truth and thus do not derive from the Good.

Timo Schmitz, 6 October 2022


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