Thursday, April 26, 2012

How easy it is for people to generalize from disagreement to threat

Something that Nietzsche actually touched on in "Beyond Good and Evil".  There are two senses to the word "transgression". It can refer to someone transgressing an ideological norm, or it can refer to someone transgressing a core moral norm. Often, people who aren't that intelligent get the two confused, because when you're  faced with a belief or opinion that they don't like, conflicting with their own personal sense of values, it can feel like the person is committing a moral transgression against them. The hurt and discomfort is purely psychological. The source of this psychological discomfort can be treated as not only the bearer of transgressive opinions but a Bad Person, with a bad character who surely does bad things, because the ideas and values that are being attacked are surely so right that only a Bad Person could oppose them.

Small,towns and conservative societies are notorious for having the attitude, where someone offending the established idiocies of the day can be run out of town on a rail on the suspicion of secretly doing....something, we don't know what....Nietzsche pointed out how the idea of Good and Evil, or Good and Bad to use a more correct translation, can reinforce social conformity, but his corrective, was to get rid of the idea of Good and Bad, Good and Evil, totally and completely. Instead, perhaps it would be better to make a distinction between the private realm and the public realm, between personal ethics and morality and the realm of public opinion. There, Good and Bad aren't useful descriptive terms. Right and wrong, true or false, supported or unsupported, are useful, but Good and Bad are the definition of being morally loaded, and don't really apply. An ideology can promote doing things that are morally bad, and can be bad in practice, can be wrong, but it can't be Bad in the sense that attacking someone physically, causing them physical pain, is Bad.

To generalize from one to the other is an act of moral cowardice.

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