Throwback Thursday: Certainty and Doubt Essay

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.


Certainty: To be absolute and steadfast in belief, in oneself or the world at large.     Doubt: To be skeptical or waver in belief, in oneself or the world at large. Parallels in definition. When there is absolute certainty, there is no doubt, but if the absence of doubt was not quantified, then to be certain would not exist either. Each cannot stand alone, they exist in relation to one another. A certain fact is only concrete when all doubt has been extinguished; opinions cannot be certain if even minimal doubt exists in one mind. Two sides of the same coin: That is the relationship between certainty and doubt, because neither can exist without the other; existing in the spaces between each other.

Without the concept of doubt, there would be no certainty. Without the ability to be certain, there would be no need to name the concept of doubt. Just as without darkness, the concept of light would not exist. If only darkness were to exist, it would not be darkness, it would simply be the way things were, likewise, light is comparative. If darkness did not exist, light would need not be named either. There are in inverse-relation. Similar is the existence of certainty and doubt; you can have both simultaneously to varying degrees, or one entirely, but you are always aware of the other’s existence, or potential for existence. You can be mostly certain, with lingering doubt, you can be mostly doubtful with faith in some minor degree of certainty, but the capacity for the other to take over is what gives meaning to the quantification of either.

The theory of gravity was held in doubt for a long time; how could we be certain of something we could not see? We need not be certain of the concept of gravity, as whether or not we are, we have no doubt on whether things will fall. The doubt of gravity was tested vigorously, and when the result stayed consistent – an apple falls, everything eventually falls – most of that doubt was replaced by certainty, the certainty that gravity exists because its physical manifestation is consistent, but there is always a minuscule, lingering doubt, as gravity with never be tangible thing; hence the “theory of gravity” because termed a theory. We are able to be certain, because you understand said certainty in relation to past doubt. Certainty and doubt are co-dependent concepts.

Nothing in this world exists in a vacuum. Just as day does not exist without night, certainty and doubt, as opposites – two sides of the same coin – exist in relation to the other. Certainty and doubt are a zero sum equation – you cannot become more certain without becoming less doubtful as well, or vise-versa. They either co-exist, or neither exists, each defined by the absence or potential presence of the other.


 

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Throwback Thursday – Argumentative Essay: Distinction Between Disagreement and Dissent

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.


Democracy is founded on the view that the majority is “right”. Inherent to this, is the presence of opposing viewpoints – the minority is heard, acknowledged, and compromised with – but the majority wins out. The key to democracy with these opposing views, is allowing for disagreement – which can further progress and change through compromise between differing views – but not allowing disagreement to fester into dissent, where there is an irrevocable separation of views and an unwillingness to compromise on opposing ideals, putting discussion and progress at an impasse; creating a minority unwilling to concede to the majority, a view inherently against democracy. This distinction between disagreement and dissent can be seen throughout American history, and has further implications in modern political discourse.

This distinction can be seen throughout American history; take for example, the discussion of slavery throughout early American history. Originally, slavery incited disagreements between states, on both its legality and on slave representation, but disagreements can still foster an environment of peace and encourage democracy, as compromises can be made. Compromises such as the 3/5ths compromise which brokered peace between the Northern and Southern states concerning slave population representation – in that for every 5 slaves, 3 would be added to the state’s population count, increasing the number of votes in the House of Representatives – and The Missouri Compromise, which certified slavery legal in the south and illegal in the north – by establishing all territory and states south of the 36’ parallel open to slavery, and all territory north closed to slavery. Each of these compromises appeased the citizens and politician for a time, allowing other legislature to be focused on, furthering industry, commerce, and other governmental powers. Compromises such as these allowed for society and the country to progress economically, politically and socially despite disagreement, as progress should as interstate commerce and railroads became possible. Disagreements can foster democracy. However, as the growing tensions of slavery were ignored from the 1820’s to 1840’s, disagreements began to brew into dissent. Fighting broke out, manifesting as both pseudo-war in “Bleeding Kansas” – a skirmish between pro- and anti- slavery groups looking to claim the Kansas territory as a future slave or free state in their favor, leading directly up to the Civil War – and in a public caning in congress, legislature could not be passed, it was too late to make a compromise, Southern states seceded, and The Civil War broke out. By the time the country had split, and southern politicians had defected to form their own government, neither compromise nor peace was possible. Dissent pervaded quickly, nearly tore the nation apart, and for several years, democracy and the entire country were in jeopardy. While disagreement over slavery could build a nation despite it, dissent destroyed said nation.

After The Civil War, dissent atrophied back into disagreement. Southern states were brought back to the Union, eliminating the key element of total separation common for dissent, in order to come back to, rather than dissent, a state of disagreement. Things weren’t perfect, but even a state of extreme prejudice and disagreement enabled great changes and progress. Throughout this time, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were able to be passed – granting rights to African Americans, such as the end of slavery, citizenship with its full protections, and the right to vote. While this may not have been unanimously agreed on, the state of disagreement still functioned in society, evening allowing for reconstruction to take place in the South, building up industry and infrastructure. The overall progress able to be achieved in disagreement is seen cumulatively in the Civil Rights Act. The nation was divided on issues of segregation and civil liberties for people of color, compromises made for the induction of the south back to the union nearly 100 years prior. Had groups allowed themselves to stay separated, had further sequestered themselves politically, not rights would have been accomplished in such dissent, but in disagreement, there is an inherent fight to reach an agreement, and that agreement eventually was The Civil Rights Act of the 1960’s. The key is, that despite continued racial tensions and presence of the same opposing views as before The Civil War, the country was no longer in a state where all communication between viewpoints has broken down into dissention. Disagreements can still allow for a healthy society and progress, but dissention can kill it.

Even today, political discourse is common. Disagreements, especially the heartier ones, may not be enjoyable, but they are preferable to complete dissent. Disagreements, major or minor, are still reconcilable by nature. It is when disagreements are allowed to fester, and views allowed to polarize, to the extent of dissent, that there is an issue, because once a point of dissent is reached, it is very difficult to reign it in, and reach a state of peace once more, as normal methods of problem solving are rendered useless, and compromise inviable. Dissent is a progression of disagreement, left to an untamable extreme. While contention is never favorable, democracy can thrive in disagreement, its “life-blood” (per. Daniel Boorstin), but is choked off in dissent. When disagreements are left unchecked, or ignored, they may segue into dissent, where either side may become so entrenched in their ideal, that any original willingness to compromise may fade, leading to dissent and halting progress, breaking down the avenue by which democracy functions: compromise.

 

Throwback Thursday – Argumentative Essay: Disobedience

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.


Progress comes with time, but only when catalyzed by humans. One catalyst can be disobedience. Disobedience can be anything from small defiances to nation’s rebellions, not on the individual scale, but on the global scale, on the societal one. Society must change society; one individual cannot alone create progress. Progress is by definition a large scale shift, so for disobedience to ring out progress, it must be large scale, and not for the sake of disobedience, but with a purpose.

Humans are social creatures, and social progress can only come with large shifts, not small ones. Disobedience on its own, cannot be a virtue, but can be used for virtuous means; to bring about societal change in the use of large scale disobedience. Take, for example, the American revolution. Today, the revolution is celebrated as the birth of democracy, the birth of America – a nation that prides its self on progress. Though at its inception, the revolution was nothing more than a disobedience of the colonies to its authority, Britain. If only a handful of individuals had lead said disobedience – had participated in the rebellion, it would have been labeled treason, and the only change to come would have been the swift downfall of the colonies. But, as a large scale disobedience, as a rebellion, as a revolution, ideas expressed – of democracy, of freedom – can spread in society, and produce social change, create progress.

Progress is not wrought by single disobediences. A single disobedience is punishable, ignorable. For example, if one person, alone, protests a company or business practice, it is easily ignored. If many people boycott a company, then the company changes its ways or falls to ruins: progress. If one person protests a law or ruling they are imprisoned. If a significant number of people begin to protest a law, then new representatives are elected, and legislature is changed in accordance: progress is made. Disobedience is only virtuous if it incites progress, and progress can only come about when it is wanted, society moves in the direction of the mentality of the majority. So for progress to follow disobedience, disobedience must be, if not on the majority scale, then on a scale large enough to influence the majority, if not, it is a single act of incorrigible behavior, something that, at its core disrupts society, disrupts the current status quo without the introduction of a new path, and thus, not aiding progress at all. Disobedience with a goal can create progress, without a goal, disobedience disrupts society to the point where progress cannot be made, when unity of any scale can no longer be achieved. Society requires some degree of cohesion, while a large scale disobedience can shift society towards progress, small scale disobediences can destroy that societal cohesion, and impede progress when the majority becomes frightened of an unknown status quo.

In terms of disobedience and progress, the ends justify the means. It is the progress achieved that renders disobedience able to be labeled a “virtue” – only in particular instances. Disobedience is not inheritably virtuous or valuable, nor generally celebrated, but as with most human acts, it has its place, and is imbibed with value by its uses and abuses.

 

Throwback Thursday: Argumentative Essay Value of Public Opinions

Throwback Thursday, where, essentially I post old writing samples, essays and short stories that I dig up from my pile of hoarded papers and school assignments or from the depths of my computer. So everyone can see how my writing has changed/improved over the years.


In America today, information and opinions can reach millions in minutes, the spread of information has never been easier; though for much of history this was not the case – the spread of information was limited to personal interactions and letters – opinions could not be easily shared.  This changes the access to, and role of, opinions in America – it does not change their worth. Opinions, ideas, thoughts, information all have worth – even if not equal in weight or worth – in a democratic nation like America. In fact, the first amendment protects the freedom of speech and expression, every opinion may not be correct or agreeable but every opinion carries worth by fostering democratic values – every voice given a chance to be heard.

Democracy relies on equal consideration to all, and acquiescence to the majority. But the majority cannot truly be found if not all voices can be heard –  this makes all opinions worthwhile in furthering democracy. This is why the very first amendment made to the constitution ensured free speech. When information and opinions spread, more can be learned. The opinion of the majority can shift – as history shows it does – on the grand scale, to progress. Accessibility of information has always been important, even back in world War One with FDR’s Freedom of Information Act – the keeping of information and opinions aids no one. If an opinion is wrong or infactual, by being voiced and listening to other voices, progress is made as people can learn. When wrong or unfavorable opinions are not allowed to be expressed, there can be a bias – progress can standstill when discussion is curtailed. Those with factually wrong opinions never have a chance to be corrected and wrong information continues to fester and influence. Though often, there is no possible objective truth, the truth in democracy is the will of the majority – which cannot be reached if all opinions are not considered worthwhile, even if to varying degrees, no opinion is worthless.

The first amendment shows a central tenant of democracy – if public opinions are stifled, democracy is stifled. But there are always considerations to be made – some statements are not permitted by the freedom of speech, as established by the supreme court with the “clear and present danger” clause – you cannot shout “fire” in a crowded theater for example because of a physical safety hazard. With public opinions, there is a greater threat in preventing opinions than in allowing them. Especially in today’s world where opinions are shared on social media – physical safety is not the primary concern. Whether an opinion is personally deemed worthwhile or not, in general, public opinions are worth something because they further the conversation and can influence or add to change the majority – which is how democracy functions. By allowing the spread of ideas, the change of ideals, and the voices of all to determine the majority is how democracy functions.

Public statements of opinion have differing value based upon the value assigned by the person hearing the opinion – but all opinions do have value, have worth – even if not equal worth. They have worth, because every voice must be heard – allowed to speak – for democracy to function – because hearing every voice is how the majority is found and allowing every voice to be heard is one of democracies central tenants.