Time flies. Wisdoms change. Experts suggest that a clear belief system is beneficial for individuals and for societies. To know what we want and desire makes us more successful. In what? In getting more of what we want if we still want it and less of what we can do without if we still can do without. Knowing ourselves is – well, conducive to happiness.
Or is it? A clear belief system – if it existed - would be based on a clear recognition of what matters for us and what matters less or not at all. But can we have a belief system, which is as clear as happiness requires? I believe that a scientific community is better than a club of trainers in Buddhist meditation in getting most answers to questions we usually raise right. I do not believe that a scientific community is any better than other professional community in refusing privileges and avoiding a turn towards a caste. Here academics are no better than - for instance - the Buddhist trainers, politicians, medical doctors, lawyers, barbers or software developers. Academic researchers and teachers are not better in rejecting self-praise and self-aggrandizement, in applying self-critical clean-ups, in serving their clients’ best interests, in demonstrating empathy and in a drive towards self-improvement.
So what should we do? Experts from the class of scientific researchers are preferred suppliers of knowledge. They (us, actually) will not be replaced by trolls or bots immediately. Nor by quantum computers with a feeling and an ability to make mistakes. We may survive a few next, slightly posthuman revolutions. But we need a humanist whip above our hot collective heads. We need Reymonts (“Mutiny”, 1924) and Orwells (“Animal Farm”, 1945) to warn us against the posthuman dictatorships of the best and the brightest. To warn us against monopolies of those more equal than the others. The best are best for a moment, calling democracy populist names won’t freeze time, and no monopoly ever survived forever. Bestness is a gamble. Chances for survival change. In a longer run – neotraditionalists may be more progressive than neoleftists merged with neoliberals. If so – so what? Another reality check? Another reality revision?
Haarlem, May 22, 2019