truths and myths

Benjamin Spatz (bspatz@BRONZE.LCS.MIT.EDU)
Sun, 7 Apr 1996 12:33:23 -0400

to think about the topic we are discussing in this thread. I start out by
looking at various religions, and how they _all_ seem to think that they
are the "right" and "correct" one. I wonder how so many religions can each
believe themselves to be the only true religion, and why they don't see
that the ideologies they use are no more objective validated than those of
any other religion.

But, just as I am about to sit back and off-handedly brush aside
most of the major religion of the world for self-righteously thinking that
they "have the answer," I have to pause and think for a moment. Here I am,
toying with an ideology of "no religion is more true than any other." This
is one of two types of existentialism, if we extend the doctrine to "no
ideology is more true than any other." This is of the type of existential
belief whose doctrine is "no belief system is more true than any other,
_except_this_one_." This is inconsistent. Why, I am doing just the same
thing which I have so recently condemned other ideologies for doing- I am
claiming to have figured it out; I am acting as if my ideology (the rule
of "no rules except that there are no rules") is somehow on a higher plane
than all other belief systems. This is inconsistent: Why am I doing
exactly what I just claimed was folly?

There is another type of existentialism, which is _not_
inconsistent with itself. I could say "no ideology is more true than any
other, _including_this_one_." In which case I am not speaking to anyone
else's ideologies; I am simply stating that I don't think there are any
rules. I am attempting to take a "leap into the absurd," as Kierkegaard
would say.

Perhaps this is more philosophy than anthropology, but I _do_
think that there is a connection: It's important that we not exempt our
own beliefs from our own relativism. Often, we teach cultural relativism
in an absolute way. To be truly relativist, we must abmit that even
relativism is relative. Hmm...

Here's my problem: I don't believe it. I _do_ somehow think that
the idea of comparing "religions" and "mythologies" as equal ideologies
_is_ somehow on a higher plane... But I cannot find any really valid
reason for believing so. I imagine I am feeling the same thing that a
religious devotee might feel when asked "but WHY do you think that YOUR
religion is more true than any other?" I'm not sure. I just do.

If anyone has any reasons why my seemingly inconsistent
existentialism is somehow meta-true... ie _more_ true than other
ideologies, I would appreciate ideas...


ben spatz
(617) 661 2430