Authentic versus Principled

How do reconcile society's need for shared principles with individual's needs for authenticity?
This week we riff on last week's acknowledgement that Bruce's desire for self-expression overwhelmed his anti-Facebook principles.  Prabhakar asserted that this is a fundamental problem in the design of social systems.  In the short-run, everything is simpler if people comply with pro-social principles. But in the long-run, if people aren't free to be their authentic selves, both individuals and societies become extremely unhealthy.

This highlights the fact that no individual fully expresses the values we aspire towards, so we must appeal to some kind of transcendence. As well as someone we all trust to speak on behalf of that transcedance. Examples include:
  1. Ancestors (via Elders)
  2. Animistic Spirits (via Shamans)
  3. Pagan Deities (via Priests)
  4. Monotheistic Gods (via Scriptural Scholars)
  5. Dialectical Materialism (via the Dictatorship of the Proletariat)
Prabhakar then pointed out that America in the 1960s shifted moral authority from WASPs to the Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Count.  Once that become our highest standard of morality, is it any surprise that politicians sacrifice all other values in order to influence that?

Bruce then attempted to propose a variety of principles, only to retract them when Prabhakar pointed out they conflicted with others of his values. Bruce initially criticized religion for relying on unprovable beliefs, until Prabhakar pointed out Bruce's core beliefs were equally unprovable.  In fact, Prabhakar claimed formal religion (for all its many flaws) at least made its core beliefs public where they could be analyzed and argued over.  Prabhakar then challenged Bruce to similarly write down his own principles, for us to discuss next week.

© 2020 Ernest Prabhakar & Ernest Bruce