Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Open Mind and the Problem of Islam—Part One

There are, broadly speaking, two ways by which a person maintains his mind, before he would see fit to change it:

1) he holds various interpretations of the general field of data out there, interpretations based on the data as well as loosely based on interpretive models that remain flexible to modification as new data comes in

2) he holds his various interpretations of the general field of data out there inside an interpretive template which tends to encourage a stricter adherence to the interpretations and tends to resist the effects of new data.

The #1 type of person is more open-minded than the #2 type of person. #1 will be more open to new data and their potential effect of persuading him to modify one or more of his interpretations.

The #2 type of person, however, has entrusted his psychological-epistemological process to an interpretive template that, in effect, will do the thinking for him: when new data comes in, it is not attended to by the living, thinking person in his sincere search for truth, but is handed over to the digestive process of the interpretive template.

Thus, if an attack happened tomorrow on American soil, in which 5,000 Americans died -- or 10,000, or 50,000, or 100,000, or 500,000 etc. -- it would not have any effect on the interpretive template of PC Multiculturalism which dominates our sociopolitical culture in the West, by which the perpetrators of any future attacks are, and will always remain, a “tiny minority of extremists” who have little or virtually nothing substantively to do with the “great Abrahamic [and ethnic to boot!] religion of peace” Islam itself.

With the #2 type of person, there sometimes is a sufficient preponderance of new data that can shake up the interpretive template—but the problem is, that new data must be egregiously overwhelming, and with our current problem with Islam, the necessary weight of data that could shake up the interpretive template of PC Multiculturalism would tend to be one by which tragically horrific numbers (perhaps millions) of innocent Westerners would have to die and many more suffer injuries and dislocations and grief, before the #2 type of person—who is far more common than us Jihad Watchers I am sad to inform my blustering optimistic colleagues—will be shaken to re-interpret the grim data out there.

I have presented the problem of the open mind vs. the closed mind in rather simplistic fashion for pedagogical and rhetorical purposes. In Part Two, I will unfold some of the complications of this problem, which might help to explain, in part, why we are in the pickle we are in today.

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