Tuesday, March 28, 2017
The outsider: fool, genius, or anti-social?
I sympathize with outsiders for obvious reasons. Outsiders never know if their work will be buried with them or not. Outsiders often create their own reality which they usually believe comes closer to reality than traditional thinking. Yet because they move alone outside of the world, the outsider has moments when they wonder if they are a fool, a genius, or just antisocial. They have high moments of happiness, or at least moments of satisfaction in their work. But in the end it is the evolutionary truth that matters more than happiness. History will be the judge.
It might be helpful if future outsiders could ask themselves if they could live without respect in the academic world? Can they write to illuminate rather than impress? Can they live with the consequences of appearing less comprehensive regarding the past, present and future, which makes philosophy so dull? Can they write knowing that even ancient grammar obfuscates the truth?
That being said, with empathy for outsiders, the bottom line for me regarding outsiders, fools and geniuses was examined by the courageous psychologist Raymond Cattell, who believed that the key was for society to have a way to understand the difference between the social and anti-social outsider, because outsiders can be virtually criminals in rejecting laws. This harmonizes well with the understanding that group-selection is the primary unit of selection and individual selection only follows after. Cattell's field was in comprehensive psychometric testing (he invented many of the tests) and the tests work quite well in telling much about people, as long as there is room for outsiders to fall through the cracks, which being outsiders they often do.
The bottom line is, let outsiders freely create with no strings attached, philosophers, artists, engineers, or whoever, but in the end the judgment on the work of outsiders has to come down to choosing socially responsible work and not antisocial work, and based also on sound sociobiologically knowledge of the biological origin of much of social behavior. Outsiders, and insiders, need to live with that judgment.