TED Conversations

william clegg


This conversation is closed.

Can we ever be free of the caustic influences of fundamentalism?

The fundamentalist is one who is fixated upon the rigid, strict and literal interpretations of a particular belief or practice. The fundamentalists use circular reasoning to support their rightness by believing themselves to be morally right and they are righteous in the belief of being right.

As a consequence, their righteousness of 'being morally right' then allows them to see all those who disagree as heretics and potential enemies deserving of their scorn, contempt and even violence in the most extreme cases.

Most are familiar with the religious fundamentalists that can be found in every religion ever devised and who have been behind so many of the atrocities perpetrated in the name of religion and religious rightness. .

But few people are aware of the political fundamentalists found on both the left and right of the political spectrum who keep fanning the flames of conflict in society and who, once in office go out of their way to destroy whatever good the other party might have accomplished..

The economic woes besetting the planet today are a direct result of the adherents of Milton Friedman's economic philosophy which has been summed up as "greed is good' while ignoring all the criminal and corrupt adherents that have exploited this particular belief system.

Of course, the majority of people would rather seek common ground and compromise over conflict and strife. But invariably it is the fundamentalists that want to incite conflict and who seek to inflict their narrow-minded rigidity upon the rest of us, making them no less dangerous to human populatons than any other infectious disease. .


Closing Statement from william clegg

I think Frank Bierbrauer put it best "I believe that fundamentalists of all forms will be around as long as people believe themselves either be superior or possess superior knowledge to that of others". In other words, humanity's inherent arrogance may well be its greatest failing.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Dec 23 2013: Often, fundamentalism and anti-fundamentalism are one and the same.


    Fundamentalism is a form of extremism. The opposite of extremism is moderation. Extremism is self-enhancing. Moderation is self-refuting. To understand why, just meditate on the phrase "extreme moderation".

    Moderation is often associated with wisdom.
    http://www.wisdomquotes.com/topics/moderation/ has some interesting quotes:

    "There's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes . . . and dead armadillos."
    Jim Hightower

    "Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by traffic from both sides."
    Margaret Thatcher

    "Neutral men are the devil's allies."
    Edwin Hubbel Chapin

    That, pretty much, defies the idea that moderation is wise, doesn't it? Didn't I say that moderation is self-refuting?

    I don't think, moderation and neutrality are the same. Neutrality is standing in the middle of the road, waiting to be hit by cars in both directions. Moderation to me means choosing a side of the road and following the chosen direction avoiding dangerous speeds and head-on collisions.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.