A Progressive Belief: Our bad behavior is caused by society damaging our nobility.

Unlike traditional Americans, who believed that people had the potential for good or evil and were responsible for the path they chose, newthinkers believe humans are inherently virtuous: to them, society is the culprit which perverts our true nature.

The unconscious logic goes like this, starting from the “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of the newthink worldview tree:

• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.
• Our bad behavior is caused by society damaging our nobility.

Several important entailments branch out of this belief. The unconscious logic is: our bad behavior is caused by society damaging our nobility. Additionally:

• To change the world for the better, change society, not individuals.
• If someone’s behavior seems wrong to us, it may seem that way because of our ignorance or prejudice.
• Demanding standards of behavior are damaging because they hurt the feelings of those who can’t meet them.
• Most antisocial behavior is caused by society, which corrupts or damages the inherently noble wrongdoers until they break.

Judgement, which used to have positive connotations among traditional Americans, is a negative attribute to newthinkers.

This belief and its entailments create among newthinkers an increasing unwillingness to judge other people’s behavior. Judgement, which used to have positive connotations among traditional Americans, is a negative attribute to newthinkers. If someone is “judgmental,” they are thought to be unfairly evaluating the behavior of others, often through a filter of ignorance or prejudice. A virtuous newthinker must not judge others lest he display either his lack of understanding of their situation or his bias.

More on the Newthink Belief in Human Nobility

…humans have an inherent religious utopian urge which is necessarily sublimated in a worldview where God is absent. This urge transforms into an impulse to see paradise on earth rather than in heaven…

As my previous post noted, newthinkers believe that people are inherently and transcendentally noble. (Please note that when I say something like, “newthinkers believe so-and-so,” I mean that some believe it consciously, some believe it only partly consciously and some – probably most – believe it unconsciously. And, of course, some don’t believe it at all, because I am speaking in generalities, not in things that apply to every single person.) Several factors support this belief. First, humans have an inherent religious utopian urge which is necessarily sublimated in a worldview where God is absent. This urge transforms into an impulse to see paradise on earth rather than in heaven, influencing newthinkers to perceive nearly all people as virtuous regardless of evidence to the contrary. Second, this belief allows people to belong to the local chapter of the Easy Virtue Club: you admire my goodness and I’ll admire your goodness and we’ll all feel so good about ourselves. Third, people who haven’t suffered don’t know evil. Like the three monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil, it’s just easier not to acknowledge human iniquity. Newthink inculcates naivete in its members and is often embraced by the naive or those psychologically hiding from evil.

In contrast, traditional Americans generally believed that humans had the potential for good or evil. To them, man had a primitive nature and barbarism was an eternal threat. Civilization was a veneer over that nature. But man had free will and the ability to act either toward good or evil.  Civilization helped man suppress his primitive nature, express his higher nature, and become good.

Out of the unconscious newthink belief that human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble comes a number of entailments. These entailments are further unconscious beliefs that grow out of the original belief. Think of them as branches forking off of the main “Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble” branch of newthink’s worldview tree. They are:

• Our bad behavior is caused by society damaging our nobility.
• We need to strip away society and return to a natural state to uncover our inherent and transcendent nobility.
• All cultures are equally virtuous because they are composed of equally, inherently noble human beings.
• We should celebrate human beings, not God.
• Our feelings are inherently noble.
• Our motives are inherently noble.
• Our struggle is not internal.
• Great social evil is improbable.

Because they are so fundamental and widespread, a worldview’s unconscious beliefs shape society. As I analyze each major unconscious belief of newthink, I’ll discuss the social dynamics they’ve created.

A Progressive Belief: Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.

Newthink’s worldview tree grows out of its three main branches. One of the three is the Godless Universe metaphor, which begins with the unconscious belief that human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.

This is the primary unconscious belief derived from the Godless Universe metaphor. It’s the result of cognitive dissonance between two fundamental beliefs: that God is not present, and that transcendental goodness does exist. The unconscious logic branches upward like this:

• The Universe is a Home.
• God is the Absent Father.
• Transcendental goodness does exist.
• Transcendental goodness exists within us, not outside of us.
• Human beings are inherently and transcendentally noble.

WorldviewTree_p024

Newthinkers’ conviction that God is absent, derived from the Godless Universe metaphor, encounters their coexistent conviction that transcendental goodness does however exist. The cognitive result of these seemingly contrary positions is the belief that transcendental goodness does exist, but within us, not outside of us. It is therefore, newthinkers believe, humans who are inherently and transcendentally noble, not an absent God.

Where does the foundational belief that God is not present in our universe originate? From various factors: First, science’s ability to explain the world has led to the belief that the universe is knowable, and that the idea of God the unknowable mystery is simply mysticism. As the New York Times headline said, “God Is Dead.”(Notice the headline said God Is dead, not God Doesn’t Exist. The former implies that he once was alive and now is gone.) Second, science’s ability to manipulate the world has led, in many minds, to its replacement of God as the great manipulator. Third, disbelief in God may seem like freedom; freedom attracts. And, fourth, on an individual level, repressed anger toward a missing or failed father in one’s personal life creates anger which may be sublimated toward God the Father.

Where does the foundational belief that transcendental goodness actually exists come from? I believe it originates in an inherent human recognition of and attraction to transcendental goodness. Virtue is essential to human life – who would want to live in a universe where goodness did not exist? Only the bleakest among us deny the existence of goodness completely. Nearly all people have an internalized virtue system. (And I’m willing to bet that nearly everyone rates themselves above average on their virtue scale.) But, as we’ll see, people with different worldviews define virtue differently.

The Elements of a Worldview

I continue laying the foundation for assertions to come.

The shared structure of beliefs comprising the newthink worldview tree produces, like fruit from a tree, all the elements of a worldview: morality, values, conventions, attitudes, social dynamics, character archetypes, self-concept, world-concept and cosmology.

–Morality: a set of rules about what is and isn’t ethical.

–Values: the things a society esteems.

–Conventions: social customs, unwritten rules regarding behavior.

–Attitudes: emotion-laden outlooks. All humans have emotions, but belief creates and guides those emotions; thus, different belief systems create different attitudes. Distinct worldviews cultivate dissimilar emotional outlooks on the world.

–Social Dynamics: Underlying social processes based on a worldview’s unconscious beliefs.

–Character Archetypes: Social dynamics create character archetypes.

character archetype n : a paradigmatic personality type which is shaped by the positive and negative rewards of a society

Positive rewards that shape character archetypes can include praise, fashionableness, money, power, and the mantle of virtue. Negative rewards can include ridicule, unfashionableness, financial hardship, powerlessness, and the reputation of vice. These forces work together to create character patterns that real people tend to unconsciously emulate.

–Self-Concept: what we consciously or unconsciously believe to be true about ourselves.

–World-Concept: what we consciously or unconsciously believe to be true about our world.

–Cosmology: a society’s ideas about the structure of the metaphysical universe.

The Worldview Tree

The three primary metaphors of a worldview form a sort of trunk, out of which grow its shared beliefs. These beliefs branch out in logical increments to create a mostly unconscious group cognition I call a worldview tree.

WorldviewTree_p018

Here’s my definition:

worldview tree n : the shared and mostly unconscious cognitive structure of a culture which grows out of its primary cognitive metaphors, and branches out into logical off-shoots of belief

Newthink’s Government Metaphor

Newthink’s government metaphor is the Big Mother Government metaphor:

Big Mother Government Metaphor
• A Country is a Family.
• Government is the Mother.
• People are the Children.

While traditional Americans viewed government as if it were fire, newthink sees the country as a family and government as the mother. From the Big Mother Government metaphor grows unconscious beliefs like “the government should be compassionate to the people” and “the people should live equitably.”

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Newthink’s Society Metaphor

Newthink’s society metaphor is the Society Is a Battlefield metaphor:

Society Is a Battlefield Metaphor
• Society is a battlefield.
• Social interaction is war between groups.
• Warring groups either dominate or are dominated.

Newthink envisions society as a battleground, not a wilderness. The main social impetus under newthink changes from civilizing barbarism to battling oppressive groups. This metaphor creates unconscious entailments like “the dominant group ruthlessly oppresses and exploits the weaker group” and “the oppressors’ social system is unvirtuous.”