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Dogma verses Anti-Dogma

November 4, 2009

Dogma verses Anti-Dogma

Another battle that will probably continue is the question of dogma. Is dogma wrong? Many people would have an example of a
dogma that they see as being wrong and would use it to invalidate all dogmas. Dogma in some circles is considered to be something of an oddity against a range of liberties and free thoughts. They may argue that all dogma is bad because it restricts and controls the follower to a set of rules that cannot be reasoned against. They see it as mindless indoctrination, like we had in the Soviet Union or in China to produce believers from the unwilling. Dogma for some people is equivalent to have a lobotomy.

The problem comes in defining all dogma as the same. If all dogma is equally guilty of the same crime then it follows that they must all be wrong. The question is applied to all dogmas if logically correct must also be applied to anti-dogma reasoning. Those that claim to oppose the concept of any dogmas have inadvertently adopted the dogma that all dogma is wrong. The concept of an anti-dogma produces a dogma and therefore cannot exist in reason. It is like using mathematics to prove that mathematics is useless. The fact that mathematics must be used to make the case proves its value. So the question should never be about whether it is wrong to have any dogmas, rather it should be about the validity of individual dogmas.

We do adhere to many dogmas without much though because to question every action or decision in life would be tedious and draining. So we accept things like spelling conventions, mathematical formula, rules of a society because we were taught their value at some time in the past. The issue has been resolved in the mind and now it is applied without endless argument.

In the world of thoughts and ideas we have competing dogmas thrown at us from every direct. This sometimes follows the same pattern as learning mathematics where a formula for life is learned and the argument is mentally resolved. Who do you vote for? Why do it? What principles are you applying in this decision? How did you decide that these principles were correct? Somewhere along this path you will find at least one dogma that you have accepted to build the case for the rest of your reasoning.

For example: “We hold these truths to be self evident…” Why are they self evident and to whom are they self evident?

In the case of Communist Manifesto by Engels and Marx there was a whole range of applied dogmas that they needed to accept long before they produced their final book of Marxism. Equality implying socialism is valid; the value of the individual; the existence of God/s were all decided long before they built the case. Similarly Mein Kampf could not have been written without Hitler first accepting the dogmas of the Super Man as described by Nietzsche. The apples never fall far from their dogmatic tree.

In rejecting genocide we are not sitting down each time and arguing the pros and cons of its merits. Instead we follow the argument based upon some preconceived notions.

A: that genocide is morally wrong

B: that morality is based upon a morality that we have accepted

The reason why we accept one form of morality over another is often because we are taught one version and given compelling reason to accept those lessons. Failure to provide a compelling reason offers nothing but an exit clause to any morality or ethics.

Choice is important in this talk about dogma and anti-dogma. You can no more objectively arrive at moral standpoint than you can dismiss one objectively. Our views of morality come from ideologies that we adopt and ideologies are ‘points of view’ and hardly objective. Even anarchism is relative to a point of view about what it rejects. Nihilism may offer to wipe the slate and start again with a new set of objectives but in doing so has already accepted itself as the dogmatic premise.

The word ‘dogma’ should not be feared, because it is neutral word that people have granted unwarranted special meaning. In doing so they have missed the point of what they are trying oppose t because they are opposing generalizations rather than specifics. It betrays a lack of knowledge about why anyone should accept something is wrong other than it is a dogma. Instead what we should tackled it the specific elements of that dogma against what can be some very compelling arguments. So perhaps we can put aside the dogma of anti-dogmatism. It has become an oxymoron.

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