“The voices in your head are culturally specific” is the title of my next concept album.
““The voices in your head are culturally specific” is the title of my next concept album.” is the title of my next concept album.
Yeah, I wasn’t trying to say that we created mental problems, just that, as in many other cases, these things that psychologists assume are innate are actually culturally specific, and that having a culture where psychologists assume they’re innate changes their manifestation.
But since many people don’t give a toss about sanctity,
I don’t know about that. I think that unless you’re a psychopath, something or someone is going to be sacred, you just won’t necessarily call it that. Nor would you necessarily call it blasphemy to disrespect those things or people. I think that’s just a function of how we closely associate those particular words with religion.
I think that unless you’re a psychopath, something or someone is going
to be sacred, you just won’t necessarily call it that.
Okay, I can’t promise you I’m not the mentally ill minority, but seriously: Don’t. Give. A Toss.
How about racism or homophobia then? If you had intrusive thoughts along the lines of Michael Richards’ rant at the Comedy Club, I’m sure you would be pretty upset about it (even if you didn’t vocalize those thoughts in front of the world). I doubt it was something he actually felt, but his style and personality and the stress of the situation gave a perfect opportunity for this kind of meltdown.
Racism and Homophobia are both bad things that are unfair and have negative consequences for both their targets and those who perpetrate them. I don’t need to think that having respect for all people is sacred to be unhappy that I subtly judge people based on their race and sexual orientation (which I’m sure I do).
Similarly, I don’t have to think eating human flesh is blasphemous to recognize that cannibalism is a really bad idea (and, more obviously, that cannibalism-driven murder is wrong); I don’t have to think that incest is taboo to think that people shouldn’t have sex with their children (and, in fact, I think our societal condemnation of incest - as opposed to child rape - is absurd and causes unfair damage to people in adult-consensual incestuous relationships [recognizing that such a thing is extremely rare]); I don’t have to think a synagogue is sacred to think that it is very wrong to spray paint a swastika on it.
The problem with sacredness is that if you hold anything sacred then you pretty much have to hold sacredness sacred (for example, by thinking that only a psychopath could be without it). As I said, I am not going to claim I don’t have a mental illness that would affect my ability to experience sacredness (and there is a perfectly reasonable chance I do) but I don’t have a good reason to think that it all that universal an experience (sure, over 50%, but you couldn’t sell me on 99% without a study). I regard the idea of sanctity as unnecessary to morality and as having more potential to do harm than good.
I don’t think this is talking about subtle biases, although I agree with you that this is an important issue. If we suppose that Michael Richards was not saying what he actually believed, but that his outburst was a kind of intrusive inner voice that other people got to hear, I would consider it an example of the ‘blasphemy’ that Preston Sturges was talking about. (It probably wasn’t exactly like that, but it’s an example of a very strong comment made out of character which instantly makes you into a pariah, and it was conveniently caught on film). Likewise, if you walked past a synagogue and heard a voice telling you to paint a swastika on it or saw a dead body and felt an urge to eat it, you would probably be shocked because it goes so far against your idea of morality. I don’t think sacredness necessarily entails that the principle has no rational basis, just that a direct challenge to it will have a lot of emotional resistance. It probably doesn’t affect everyone, but I’d say it is somewhat closer to 99% than 50%. I don’t have any studies to back that up though, so I guess we just have our instinct to go on w.r.t. how universal it is.
Likewise, if you walked past a synagogue and heard a voice telling you
to paint a swastika on it or saw a dead body and felt an urge to eat
it, you would probably be shocked because it goes so far against your
idea of morality.
I guess what I’m saying is that I wouldn’t be shocked (well, if I literally heard a voice I might be, but that’s not sacredness, that’s being unused to hearing voices in my head). There is a lot of nonsense going on in my head and can’t be too surprised by what bubbles to the surface. I wouldn’t do it, but the fact that the idea of doing so suddenly occurred to me would be disturbing to me at all.
I agree that sacredness doesn’t mean there is no rational basis - probably most things that people hold sacred have some kind of rational basis behind them. But having a rational basis kind of alleviates the need for sacredness unless you have some kind of impulse-control problem and need that emotional resistance to hold you back (though that level of impulse control problem would seem rare unless the rational basis was pretty weak to begin with).
Anyway, my only real objection in the first place was that I don’t think you have to be a psychopath to lack a capacity for sacredness and I don’t think lacking a capacity for sacredness makes you a psychopath. If you lack a concept of sacredness then fairness, empathy and caring can pretty much fill that space and for the most part people around you won’t even know the difference.
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