John Martindale's Reviews > In Praise of Doubt: How to Have Convictions Without Becoming a Fanatic

In Praise of Doubt by Peter L. Berger
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's review
Mar 05, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: doubt, favorites, psychology, philosophy, hope-to-re-read
Read from March 04 to May 01, 2011

This book was fascinating. Peter Berger is a good teacher. He wrote about the move from tribalism to modernity/globalization and how modernism necessarily leads to pluralization and to the end of taken for granted institutions. Instead of everything being laid out for us, we now must choose among many options, we are "condemned to freedom", as Jean-Paul Sartre said.
Communication with people who have different view points will result in cognitive contamination and may lead to cognitive dissonance, resulting in cognitive bargaining and then compromise. What often grows out of pluralism is relativism and fundamentalism, like two sides of the same coin, both are extreme absolutist positions and both are reactionary, having no room for doubt. The inclusivist position tries to stay in the middle, having convictions and yet being willing to include other ideas in with his own, even if this waters down or calls into questions other held beliefs. But what things are non-negotiable, where does one draw the line? That is not clear and in the uncertainty and confusion one might find comfort and security in a exclusivist position. Or throw ones hands up and declare "there is no truth, everyone is right and can do what they want"

Berger insist doubt is important for religion and politics. He also has some interesting thoughts on moral certainty. But yeah, it was a good book, glad I found it at the libraries book sale.
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