Posted by: Morgan Hubbard | September 4, 2010

a reply to Al

Al, your questions are really interesting. I wonder if there even is such a thing as “rational, unibiased information” when it comes to matters of society, culture, and politics. It seems like the closest we can get to that ideal is social science–but even that’s cheating, because it’s borrowing the methodology of a discipline bound to rationalism. Point being, it seems like the “truth value” of any particular source of news is always going to relative. Maybe this is consequence of the sheer volume of news sources available now, in the early 21st century. Maybe it’s always been this way.

I think you’re right to bring up Values, that maddeningly vague but oh-so-crucial concept in American politics. But I think we should challenge ourselves to think about what, exactly, “values” mean.

I’ll offer a provisional definition that incorporates my own profession: values come from our understanding of the way history works. A Marxist understands the story of human interactions a certain way; a millenarian Christian understands that same history very differently. Obviously, none of us are only Marxists, or only millenarians. But the way we understand ourselves has everything to do with the way we understand our origins.

Not that this tries to answer any of your rhetorical questions, Al. But I thought I’d expand the discussion. What do you guys think? Where do values come from?



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