Sunday, August 2, 2009

What do you know?

So, what can we really know? This simple question is at the core of the acient debate about who holds the truth. People are always trying to convince others that they are right, even if they are not. Sometimes they even know they are wrong, but don't seem to care.

Being right is all about privileges and special interests. When people are frightened they seek ways to feel safe again. If this fear comes from something they don't know, to learn is to feel safe(r). So if you are scared to death of some menace you don't understand, and some authority (I mean, someone trusted for his competence over the subject) provides you with answers, you will question or follow them? And furthermore, if they have designed their answers to provide them and their peers with extra power, extra income, extra privileges or whatever, they will get it willingly from thankful followers.

In the past, religion and state were hardily distinguishible as loci for institutional domination. They were kind of two sides of the same coin. Two complementary aspects of the very fabric of society. Maybe it was needed them, maybe not, whatever. As time passed, people became more and more aware of the relative and precarious position of these 'absolutized' sources of certainty, stability and, utimatelly, safety.

The perception that many cultures had the same ideia of holding an absolute position, while they were all too diverse and contradictory had made it clear how fragile were their own fundations, on which they relied so much. And hence philosophy. Through geometry, arithmetic, mathematics in general and rationalization, the merchant cities of the east mediterranean came to a new expression of knowledge. The one revived some four to six centuries ago to subvert the grip of the Catholic Apostolic Roman Church on power. The name of this institution is very telling: Catholic means universal.

Early christianity had very little to do with what came to be the so called Christianity. When it all began, as a cult inside Judaism, it was all about simplicity, clarity and self enlightement. Centuries later, it became all about power, authority and rites. The positivation of religion as some like to call it. The renovation lost momentum and a new era of domination ideology was born. It was only when the greek scriptures of early philosophy came back to europe from the hands of the arabs that the end of this era began. It is a great cicle in motion, really.

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