You and I are having a conversation, however there may be someone who claims that is not true, and someone who believes you.
Without a doubt, it is a very complicated moment in today’s society.
We aspired to promote critical thinking but it seems that we are in a radical skepticism.
In this statement critical thinking is opposed to skepticism, however, if we go to the etymology, “critical” comes from a Greek verb that is crinu, which means to separate, distinguish, judge and interpret, and “skepticism” comes from another Greek verb that is skopeo and means the same thing. So they don’t mean two different things. We actually live in a pernicious relativism, which is disguised as legitimate skepticism. The skeptic looks at things carefully, studies them, because he is not sure about them, and before them he gives a prudent answer, without security. He is concerned with avoiding mistakes. These two terms are sometimes confused.
Would the next step be denialism?
A denier is not a skeptic. A denier draws attention, because he is against an established position. A skeptic distances himself with regard to institutional, scientific or orthodox truths, while a denier is not neutral, what he does is go against it. Sartre said: “Everything has been discovered except how to live”, and in matters of living there is only skepticism, which is fascinating, uncertain, insecure, which has to decide with incomplete information. This is the opposite of denialism that is clear about its position, it has already decided what it does not have to do. Sometimes, I would say most of the time, wrong.
Another option, given the reality we live in, is that of unconcern. Is that ataraxia?
The first to speak of it is Democritus, who defines happiness as pleasure, well-being, harmony, symmetry and adds: ataraxia. It can be translated as peace of mind, the absence of restlessness. The Greeks, when they don’t know how to define a thing, they define it privately, that’s why the prefix “a” is used. It is synonymous with the absence of concern and the one who has the absence of concern about things is sometimes carefree, because the more worries you have, the more unhappy you are.
That unconcern can be the first step to individualism.
Definitely. The skeptics are those who develop the term ataraxia, something that occurs in the time of Alexander the Great. The Greeks had an identity as a collective and suddenly Alexander the Great destroys all political institutions, with their own gods, they lose their traditions, they lose practically everything, and Hellenistic philosophy returns to the individual.
Our society is individualistic, but now it turns out that we do not need the individual but society. If the population is not vaccinated by being skeptical of the vaccine itself, vaccination does not work.
New technologies have transformed things. Benedetti said: “We had almost all the answers and suddenly all the questions change.” On the issue you are raising, that of vaccination, if the networks guide us and there is a lot of noise in them, one should ask oneself, observe, reflect, to make the best option, the best for the majority and, obviously, get vaccinated. It will be necessary to convince that minority, listen to reasons to be able to convince them.
“A denier is not a skeptic, the skeptic distances himself, the denier is not neutral”
There is a point of perplexity in the fact that it is necessary to convince the population to protect itself from something that has been found to be very harmful.
Without a doubt, but what happens is that it is tremendously difficult to get informed in the information society, due to the excess of information that exists. New technologies offer unreasonable, false messages, and there are so many that excess light can leave us blind. Before, we recognized experts and doctors and we listened to them, but today any voice on the Internet can confuse and deceive us. We are mediated by this great tool that is the Internet, and it is very difficult to distinguish the truth from the lie.
Is this extension of uncertainty new or are there precedents in the history of philosophy?
The world has become very complex and, of course, today we need experts for almost everything, to make the rent, to request a medical appointment …, and this means that the system has changed and that we control it very little. In that informational jungle there are many impostors, and we also don’t have time to do what we should do: stop and think, recognize those impostors, reflect as citizens. The Internet was invented so that people could find out about the world, but business has made the Internet a tool for machines to know many things about us.
What is being done well?
Nothing, the system is so changeable that those who implement or stop the changes are the politicians. They are not to blame, but we have gone from an idea of public service to an idea of professionalization. Most of the politicians have not lived anything but politics, they are sociologists, lawyers, economists, but politics has become a matter of experts and there is no faculty to train. Now, in the debate on the Celaá law, they agreed that they wanted to recover Ethics and at the last moment it is discarded. When asked why this is decided, the minister says that there is no gap. I do not know what is worse, that they remove the Ethics or that they answer you that there is no gap. The problems we face are profound, the post-truth trend is a long-term phenomenon that is beginning now. Before you didn’t want to have a liar by your side. As his attitude is not punished, the liar will continue to lie more.
We seem to love aligning ourselves with those who say what we think.
Today it is called the cynical offer of alternative facts. If some information does not fit our worldview, we look for another that does fit us and the facts cannot be alternative. Many people have become contaminated in the Trumpian way of doing politics.