Scepticism, Creativity and Utopian Thought
Introduction
Pragmatic scepticism sees uncertainty as liberating rather than paralysing, and hence is sympathetic rather than antagonistic to creative and utopian thinking, at least so far as these are openly rather than dogmatically speculative. Sceptical nescience is no barrier to the synthesis of an open-minded weltanshauung, or to the expression of that creative synthesis in some work of philosophy, of art, of life.
Scepticism and Open Speculation
One may naturally expect scepticism to be contrary to speculation, but these are two sides of the same coin. To deny certainty is to affirm possibility, and therefore speculation about possibilities is a part of scepticism about the contrary certainties.

The denial of expressive freedom is a kind of dogmatism, and its affirmation may therefore be consistent with a thoroughgoing open scepticism.

To deny the possibility of an anarchist society (for example) is dogmatic, to doubt its impossibility is sceptical.

Scepticism may be seen as liberating the individual from dogmatic constraints on his personal creativity.
Possibly the single greatest impediment to social progress is the dogmatic belief that undesirable features of our society are unavoidable. Scepticism about such dogmas paves the way for open debate about the future of society. Utopianism can itself be dogmatic, but is not so of necessity.
Scepticism and Creativity
Scepticism may be seen as liberating the individual from dogmatic constraints on his personal creativity.
On Being Oneself

The suggestion "be yourself" is at face value vacuous. Who else could one be? Yet most of us are, throughout our lives, trying somehow to be someone else.

It is a quirk of language perhaps, from which we might escape by paraphrase. When we try to be someone else, what we are really doing is trying to be different in the future than we are today (in some specific ways which we think desirable). We would be the same person of course, strictly, but in another sense, quite a different person.

So the suggestion, "be yourself", rather than saying nothing, might be understood to proscribe such aspirations to self improvement, to be suggesting personal stasis. But the dynamic is part of the self, and to proscribe change is to advocate a change.

So neither of these two extreme's (vacuity, proscription of change) comes close to a plausible account of what is intended, but in their elimination we have perhaps taken a step forward.

Creative Conflict

Conflict can be creative or destructive.

Self hatred may lead to (or flow from) an inner destructive conflict which paralyses and disables. An inner unity of purpose may coexist with a creative conflict which internalises the struggle to achieve something worthwhile.

To progress in the assault on some intractible problem we must continually transform ourselves to achieve what we perceive is needed for progress, But our awareness that this tension serves our own greater purposes draws its teeth and makes it an engine of progress.

Whereas some philosophies advocate living in the present and the abandonment of worldly concerns, a profounder unity and peace may be achieved by immersion in the turmoil which we ourselved create in the fulfilment of our own being.

Scepticism and Utopianism
Possibly the single greatest impediment to social progress is the dogmatic belief that undesirable features of our society are unavoidable. Scepticism about such dogmas paves the way for open debate about the future of society. Utopianism can itself be dogmatic, but is not so of necessity.
A defence of Utopian Engineering against Poppers criticisms.

up quick index © RBJ

privacy policy

Created:2006/06/13

$Id: xe001.xml,v 1.4 2009/10/05 09:18:19 rbj Exp $

V