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The writer of this pamphlet feels almost shame that he is called upon to prove the flatness of the surface of the Earth. The subject is so elementary and the proof so obvious that he feels that his reader will be hurt by the simplicity of things. It will be, as one of his listeners has already said, The thing is too simple to be true. Or may I express it, in the words of another listener Oh, how did they come to believe it? Reader, I will tell you how the learned came to believe in a globular earth Forward to Truth the Earth is Flat by S. G Fowler


Fundamentalism terrifies us as a society more than anything else. We are scared of creationists taking over our school curricula, we are anxious about fundamentalists dominating our political system and we are petrified of fundamentalist terrorism. Fundamentalists dont just scare us because of what they do but also because of why they do it; their motives and thought processes seem utterly alien to us. We are driven to a state of fear beyond what is reasonable: we are more scared, as a society, of fundamentalist terrorists than groups that pose a much greater threat to our lives and wellbeing like drink drivers or people who smoke in the same room as us. This fear is even more strange when one considers that most fundamentalists are not like the caricature we often have in our minds Boone writes of fundamentalists, For every such figure *a caricature of a fundamentalist+, there are millions of other fund amentalists, less visible and therefore less notorious. The scholar grappling with difficult bib-

lical texts, attempting to reconcile the mercy of God with the existence of hell. The modestly dressed woman from the local fundamentalist church who appears on our porch one day to ask shyly, Do you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? The grim young boy who ca rries his bible to class in a private Christian school, where he learns that he is different from the other neighborhood boys, that he is saved and that he has a moral duty to share the gospel with everyone he meets (Boone, 1990, p. 1). This paper firstly takes a look at different belief systems that the word fundamentalist is currently applied to find similarities that unite these belief systems. It then examines other beliefs that the term is not currently applied to and argues that these beliefs can also be called fundamentalisms. Section two is an examination of different thinkers who have written about differences in worldview that seeks to provide insight into how and why fundamentalists think. Section three seeks to provide a model for the relationships between beliefs that explains several aspects of fundamentalist thought. The final section concludes that fundamentalism is an unhelpful term and that we should ignore internal consistency for a metric of judging worldviews.


Fundamentalism is not easily defined: fundamentalist is a label applied to a plethora of people from many different regions, cultures and religious and non-religious backgrounds. The collection of essays Fundamentalisms Observed (Marty & Appleby, 1994) offers up Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Japanese religious and political fundamentalism to us as examples but while it may be easy to provide examples of fundamentalists it is less easy to provide a concise definition of what a fundamentalist is. The problem is exasperated by the pejorative nature of the term fundamentalist, for the most part it is a term used to describe others rather than one people use to define themselves. Now fundamentalism is a bad word: the people to whom it is applied do n ot like to be so called. It is often felt to be a hostile and opprobrious term, suggesting narrowness, bigotry, obscurantism and sectarianism. The people whom others call fundamentalists would generally wish to be known by another term altogether. To talk about fundamentalism therefore is not the same as discussing an opinion under the term by which its own advocates would choose to express it: it involves discussing underlying attitudes and our attitude to those attitudes (Barr, 1981, p. 2). This lack of self defining fundamentalists means that there are no fundamentalist manifestos or similar documents for us to work from meaning that a definition is much harder to reach. 1.1 CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISM

Kathleen C. Boone in The Bible Tells Them So (1990) writes mostly from the point of view of discourse and textual criticism with regards to American Protestant fundamentalism; she highlights several features of fundamentalism including a rejection of modernity (p. 6) extremism (p. 8), a belief in an inerrant bible and a mindset that is authoritarian, intolerant and compulsive about control (p. 7). She also notes that By viewing fundamentalism as a tendency, a habit of mind, rather than a discrete movement or phenomenon, we can discern a unified body of discourse, a body of discourse arising from belief in the sole authority of an inerrant Bible. (p. 10) This description is valuable in two aspects, the first is the definition of fundamentalism as a tendency rather than a discrete phenomenon. This approach seems to be the correct one to take for all fundamentalisms including ones beyond Protestant fundamentalism as people can participate in fundamentalism to different degrees, one person might buy into the fundamentalism begrudgingly while another dedicates their entire life to it; we will see in this paper a wide array of fundamentalisms which affect peoples lives to a greater or lesser extent. Secondly, it is interesting that Boone identifies the belief in an inerrant bible as the source of the other features of fundamentalism. This raises an uncertainty of meaning: does Boone believe that fundamentalism consists in the belief in bible inerrancy alone or in having characteristics like those listed above because of ones belief in an inerrant bible? I would like to suggest that the former option is the correct one, characteristics like extremism or an authoritarian, intolerant, controlling mindset may arise from fundamentalism but they are certainly not the only attitudes that one could gather from an inerrant belief in the bible, it is easy to imagine someone who remains a belief in an inerrant bible while not being extremist about it or while rejecting authority and control and insisting upon tolerance. Indeed groups like the Anabaptists were fundamentalist in that they held the supremacy of scripture but reached strikingly different conclusions from their fundamentalistsm than Protestant Fundamentalists in the USA in that they aimed to restore a more authentic Christianity rejected worldly power and authority and were in many cases pacifists (Webber, 1907). Such individuals and groups might not share much in common with the Protestant Fundamentalists Boone concentrates on but in my mind would be just as fundamentalist as them as they were as dedicated to their beliefs and opinions as Boones Fundamentalists. In the course of this paper we will encounter a variety of fund amentalists who differ greatly in attitudes from Boones fundamentalists which I believe shows that it is the way people embrace certain books or ideas that creates the fundamentalist rather than the intolerance, extremism or authoritarian mindset. James Barr is another writer on fundamentalism who defines fundamentalism with the following criteria a very strong emphasis on the inerrancy of the Bible, the absence from it of any sort of error; a strong hostility to modern theology and to the methods, results and implications of modern critical study of the Bible

An assurance that those who do not share their religious viewpoints are not really true' Christians at all. (1981, p. 1) Barr agrees with Boone that it is a strong belief in Biblical inerrancy that makes a fundamentalist a fundamentalist, both (b) and (c) can be seen as responses to an acceptance of Biblical inerrancy. A hostility to modern theology arises from a belief that the work of theology is already done. Barrs fundamentalists believe that the meaning of the Bible is obvious to the plain man so there is very little explaining to be done in terms of theology, thus the work of the theology is already for the most part done. (1981, p. 161) Because the Bible is inerrant the only mistake possible with ones theology is that they have not been sufficien tly conservative evangelical in their point of view. Barr goes on to say There is never any acceptance that really different theological positions, and especially any liberal position, have had anything at all to say that stated any aspect of the Christian faith better than the conservative evangelical position. The rejection of the theologies labeled as liberal or modernist is total. There never was the slightest good reason why these theologies were propounded; there never was, and is not and is not, the slightest biblical evidence that could legitimately tell in their favour; they were all alike thought out by men who were indeed clever but who merely spun out of their own heads total fancies and speculations, none of which had the slightest justification from within the Christian faith (1981, p. 163) Similarly the denial of other Christian groups as being not true Christians can be traced back to Biblical inerrancy: if the Bible is inerrant then any group that deviates from what it says or perhaps more accurately what the fundamentalist believes it says is not a true Christian. In a similar way to Boone, what Barr highlights as features of fundamentalism all trace back to the belief in an inerrant bible. A feature of fundamentalists both Barr and Boone highlight is the logical nature of fundamentalists, fundamentalists are often derided as being deluded or crazy but both writers deny this. I would first address the widespread misconception that fundamentalists are the village idiots of Christendom intellectually benighted fold to be pitied or ruthless preachers to be pilloried. Fundamentalist discourse is in fact marked by an unrelenting rationalism, not the irrationisam or emotionalism with which fundamentalism has so often been identified. Anti-intellectual though it may be, Dwight L. Moodys refusal to read books tha t do not help him understand the book is neither irrational nor emotionalistic; Moodys religious faith is grounded in his rational comprehension of the biblical text rather than subjective apprehension of the divine. (Boone, 1990, p. 11). Similarly the arguments Barr writes about all have an internal logic that works. The argument presented above about rejecting liberal theologies is a case in point: all of the arguments it makes do follow from the Bible being inerrant, this obviously does not make them convincing to someone who does not believe in Biblical inerrancy but it does protect them from a charge of a lack of logic on that count. The crux of the argument between the fun-

damentalist and the non fundamentalist then comes down to the basis of the fundamentalism: biblical inerrancy.

1.2 THE HAREDIM: JEWISH FUNDAMENTALISTS While we now have an overview of Christian fundamentalism there are many other fundamentalisms we must also look at in order to gain a full understanding of the nature of fundamentalism, these fundamentalisms are not as developed as Christian Fundamentalism and so will not occupy as much space in these pages as Christian Fundamentalism does, however they do provide an interesting counterpoint to Christian fundamentalist in several ways. Firstly then let us look at the Haredim, Haredim are often described as UltraOrthodox Jews and are a section of Jewry who, while most other Jews have assimilated their culture with Western culture to differing extents, have chosen to distinguish themselves by maintaining distinctly traditional non-westernised Jewish nature to their dress, attitudes, worldview, and the character of their religious life (Heilman & Friedman, 1994, p. 197). Much like Fundamentalist the term Haredim is rarely used by the Haredim themselves who prefer to refer to themselves as erlicher yidn or virtuous Jews implying that their strain of Judaism is the truest, most correct form and other forms fall short of this mark1. The term Haredim comes from Isaiah 66:5 Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at his word The Hebrew word for tremble here is haredim and so those who e specially devoted Jews began to be referred to as Haredim and as the term evolved it began to be used solely to describe the most orthodox Jews. (Heilman & Friedman, 1994, pp. 198199). These Haredim are fundamentalist in their dedication to a distinctly Jewish culture, Heilman & Friedman give the example of the students at the yeshiva [a Jewish place of study] in Volozhin which taught Jews about their culture, sacred texts and great rabbis. These young Jews studied in Hebrew alone and kept away from outside influences: they were involved in what Heilman and Friedman describe as passive contra-acculturation2, going against the prevailing culture by keeping themselves to themselves. The Haredim go much further than this however into the territory of active contra-acculturation actively opposing and trying to change the culture of others. The activists moved beyond traditionalism and towards what may be called active contra-acculturation, or something akin to what today is called fundamentalism. As those Jews demonstrate, fundamentalism as such is not ident i-

Compare this to the descriptions used by fundamentalist Pr otestants The people whom others call fund amentalists think of themselves as, and would like to call themselves, just Christians or true Christians: this is their real perception of themselves. For this reason they are dissatisfied with any more restricted designation. They want to think of their own position as the or the only Christian position: there is, for them, no other truly Christian position that can be contrasted with their own. (Barr, 1981, p. 4)

Contra-acculturation refers to the process of going against assimilation and trying to maintain ones own cu lture

cal to traditionalism, in that it is not content with mere emphasis of the positive elements of tradition but focuses equally, or even more intensively, on the negative aspects of modern secular culture (1994, p. 215)

These Jewish fundamentalists are both similar and different to their Christian counterparts. They have the similar dedication to a principle, build their entire lives around this principle and both consider themselves to be the true believers of their religion and reject those who water down their religion. There are differences however, whilst the Christian fundamentalist life involves for the most part a subscription to a set of beliefs being a Haredim is much more about an unshaken subscription to cultural values. This is not to say that there are cultural elements to being a Christian Fundamentalist or beliefs that go along with being a member of the Haredim Zionism, for example, is prevalent amongst Haredim but the focus in Christian Fundamentalism, and indeed in the literature about Christian Fundamentalism, is on belief, while the focus in being Haredim is on culture (Heilman & Friedman, 1994, pp. 257-258). Fundamentalism then can be about more than refusing to change ones beliefs, its focus can instead be on a refusal to change ones culture and lifestyle. 1.3 ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM Islamic fundamentalism is more disparate than many other fundamentalisms we will encounter in this paper and as such it is even harder to define3. John Voll characterizes it as the reaffirmation of foundational values and the effort to reshape society in terms of those reaffirmed fundamentals. (1994, p. 347). In a similar way to both Christian and Haredim fundamentalists Islamic Fundamentalists look past recent scholarship and return to the fundamental sources of Islam (Voll, 1994, p. 364) and, in a similar way to the Haredim, one of its primary aims is contra- acculturation (Sachedina, 1994, pp. 449-450). This struggle against Western Values is driven not just by a conviction that the teaching of Islam comprehensive and provides answers for all areas of life making Western values unnecessary (Voll, 1994, pp. 364-365) and also a combination of the perception that Islam was not achieving the success that had been promised it and an observation of Western values fail to achieve moral ends with the West backing a variety of oppressive dictatorships in the Arab world. (Sachedina, 1994). While there are beliefs that are held by all Muslim Fundamentalists these are not beliefs that distinguish them as Fundamentalists, their strong support for Sharia law, an oft given example of Radical Islam, is not enough to qualify them as Fundamentalist or Radical Muslims as many other Muslim groups support Sharia law. Furthermore different

indeed the very phrase Islamic fundamentalist is one that is seen as offensive in itself as it implies that Isla mic fundamentalism is what Islam is really about, I do not believe this criticism is fair however as however much Radical Islam is or isnt the true Islam the strongly held belief of its adherents is that Radical Islam is the only true Islam and for me this is what makes it fundamentalist rather that how strictly it actually matches up with true Islam.

Muslim fundamentalist groups have different goals and beliefs so that what a Member of the Fundamentalist Sunni Muslim Brotherhood believes will be very different to what a Shiite Fundamentalist believes. That there is much less shared history between Muslim movements than there is between Jewish or Christian and that, because of their close relationships with the state in the Middle East, Muslim groups vary much more between states than Christian one are certainly a contributing factor towards this. What does define radical or fundamentalist Muslim groups is the passionate nature of their beliefs and the lengths they go to in order that they might achieve their ends. Muslim fundamentalist groups work to provide social services and healthcare (Voll, 1994, p. 347) are involved in building an Islamic perspective on science Western science is seen as imperialistic and as something that attempts to subvert Islamic Values (Tibi, 1993) and trying to use political influence to achieve a society that does not shirk from what they see as the fundamentals of Islam. There is then the matter of Jihadi Islamist groups, these make up a tiny proportion of fundamentalist Muslims but gain the most attention. These groups are the most extreme form of fundamentalism and take a step beyond living ones life on a fundamental principle to risking ones life and being prepared to take the lives of others for a fundamental principle. (Sachedina, 1994) (Voll, 1994) (Ahmad, 1994)

Muslim fundamentalism once again has similarities and differences with other fundamentalisms that can help us illuminate the nature of fundamentalism as a whole. Islamic fundamentalism is much more diverse than Christian or Jewish fundamentalism with a variety of different groups working towards different goals. I believe this provides evidence that it is not what is believed that creates the fundamentalism but the way it is believed. Islam is a faith centered around belief that the Quran is the unadulterated word of God and totally true but this belief in a divinely inspired inerrant Quran is not enough to make a fundamentalist it is far from the case that all Muslims are Muslim fundamentalists fundamentalism is more than a belief in something being inerrant, it is a dedication to that idea and an unwillingness to compromise with the rest of society that divides the fundamentalist from the regular believer. A moderate Muslim might for example decide to live by the rules set down by Shaira while a fundamentalist will seek to see those laws enacted throughout their society.

1.4 FIVE ATTRIBUTES OF FUNDAMENTALISM We have now seen several fundamentalisms and for now they will suffice to provide a general overview of the differences and similarities between fundamentalisms and now we must examine these fundamentalisms and identify their unifying characteristics and also the misconceptions we may have held about fundamentalism that do not match up with the

truth about what fundamentalism is. It is not yet time to provide a full definition of what fundamentalist thought is but these attributes are nevertheless

Firstly, fundamentalism is a tendency rather than something that you either are or arent. There is a difference in the level of fundamentalism between the Muslim who is passively involved in a fundamentalist mosque, shares the beliefs of that mosque and molds their life quietly around its teachings and the Muslim militant who takes up arms and risks his life to protect what he holds dear. Similarly the Christian fundamentalist might be a begrudging believer who acts in accordance with fundamentalist Christian beliefs without much zeal and one who does so fervently.

Secondly, it is a misconception that fundamentalists are stupid or illogical. Within each of the fundamentalisms we have looked at there has been an internal logic. This logic is built up around a belief or small set of beliefs that the fundamentalist is utterly dedicated to to the extent that other evidence to the contrary of those beliefs is deemed to be wrong by dint of contradicting the core belief. The Christian fundamentalists that logic was based around biblical inerrancy, for the Muslim fundamentalist: an extreme reading of the Koran and for the Haredim this was a belief that they were part of a tradition that needed to be upheld and that foreign influence should be actively fought against and resisted. All of these systems maintain their inner logic for as long as one accepts their most basic premises: the Bible is totally inerrant, we must maintain these Jewish roots or This particular reading of the Koran is the correct one.

Thirdly, many of the traits commonly associated with fundamentalisms are not necessary traits of fundamentalism but instead stem from the high levels of dedication fundamentalism involves. Traits like intolerance, for example, may be commonly associated with Christian fundamentalist groups but it is far from necessarily being the case: any intolerance fundamentalist Christians may have comes from their dedication to their particular interpretations of an inerrant bible rather than as part and parcel of being a Christian fundamentalist. We have seen that other historical Christian fundamentalist groups have not taken this path and have instead been very much ahead of their time in terms of tolerance and giving rights to women. Similarly when someone says Muslim Fundamentalist the first picture that may pop into many peoples head is a Jihadist militant where as in fact Muslim Fundamentalism covers a range of groups including those that are involved in providing hospitals and other social benefits. While it may or may not be true that most fundamentalists are authoritarian, this authoritarian nature is not something that always comes from a fundamentalist belief.

Forthly, fundamentalism is something that consumes ones entire life. While fundamenta lism is a tendency, it is still a tendency towards having ones whole life dictated by a certain beliefs. At its more extreme end fundamentalism is something that determines peoples whole lives, every decision in the fundamentalists life is determined by faith Even if the

believer might be able to witness to his buddies while they are drinking after work, the possibility for misinterpretation of his presence (or even slipping into sin himself) is too great to risk. He would rather lose his friends than his soul. Simply getting along, not making waves, accepting the ways of the world, is not characteristic of those evangelicals who deserve (and claim) the label fundamentalist, (Ammerman, 1994, p. 8)

Finally, fundamentalists engage in contra-acculturation. The author is not convinced that contra-acculturation is a necessary condition of being a fundamentalist but it is one that is so universal among fundamentalists that it can definitely be mentioned in a list of fundamentalist attributes. While traits like intolerance or authoritarianism are aspects that belong to many fundamentalisms this is only because many fundamentalisms happen to contain those things. An active fight against any arguments or culture which is opposed to the fundamentalists which will usually be any argument or culture not aligned to the fundamentalist seems to be something that is a logical consequence of being utterly convinced one is right and utterly prepared to do anything in support of that belief. Because of this contraacculturation will occur wherever fundamentalism arises.


So far we have only examined religious fundamentalisms; while fundamentalism is a term that is at present applied almost exclusively to religions the author believes that fundamentalism as a epistemological tendency is something that is present in many non-religious systems of thought. We now have a set of criteria with which to judge these groups as fundamentalist and so we will use it to examine two groups who meet with the criteria required to be fundamentalists: False consciousness communists and flat earthers. 1.51 FALSE CONSCIOUSNESS COMMUNISTS

False consciousness is an idea that emerges in the thought of Marxist thinkers originating with Engels and is the argument that it is possible to have a state of mind whereby one is unable of seeing the same truth as the Marxist. Marxists use the expression to explain and condemn illusions generated by unfair economic relationships. Thus, workers who are unaware of their alienation, and happy homemakers who only dimly sense their dependency and quiet desperation, are molded in their attitudes by economic power relationships that make the status quo seem natural, thereby eclipsing their long-term best interests (Audi, 1999, p. 304). Those who disagree with the Marxists view of what makes a good society do so because they are corrupted by capitalism and have been deceived into believing they know what they want. Some Communists believed that it was even possible for other communists to have a false consciousness, Lenin believed that the tendency among many Communists was to attempt to gain concessions and additional rights for workers in the capital-

ist system whereas in fact what was needed was a revolution (Eyerman, 1981, p. 45) In the same way that Fundamentalists Protestants ignore arguments that do not come from those who they consider to be bible believers the communist is free to ignore those who dis agree with them and present herself as someone who is standing up for something all workers want, even if they do not know it yet. There is a problem in the logic of a false consciousness argument in that by admitting that it is possible to be duped to the extent that one cannot determine what one wants the Marxist opens herself up to the possibility that it is she herself who has been duped. The crux of arguments between a communist and non communists can go Everyone wants a Communist society, I dont, in that case you have a false consciousness, no you have a false consciousness, no you do and so on. This sort of argument where no progress can be made because the two contending worldview differ so greatly on their premises that they are incommensurable is one that marks fundamentalisms, the both the Haredim and Muslim fundamentalist might not accuse Western culture of being swept up in a false consciousness but when they look at it they must b elieve that it people who buy into it so strongly have been deceived and do not truly know what they want. False consciousness communism then shares much with Fundamentalism, their beliefs are different to many other peoples beliefs but there is still a strong internal logic within them. They believe they cannot be wrong because anyone who presents arguments to them that might unsettle their beliefs or who wants different things to them is action out of false co nsciousness They have a strong dedication to their beliefs and for many communists their communism is the driving force in their life and finally they are counter-acculturative, actively trying to change the society that they live in to fit their beliefs. 1.52 THE FLAT EARTH SOCIETY

The Flat Earth Society is an organization dedicated to the belief that the earth is flat rather than globular. The organization has had varied levels of success throughout its history including periods of non existence but has recently had a small resurgence driven by an active internet forum. The Flat Earth Society has, during its time, had a variety of different publications and journals from the Flat Earth News to Truth. These journals purport to contain scientific proofs of the Earths flatness as well as giving explanations of how phenomena that many use as evidence of a spherical Earth can be observed in spite the Earths flatness. For example when a ship is far away at sea you can only see the top of it modern explains this by arguing that ones eye-line to the bottom part of the ship is blocked off by the curvature of the Earth, for the flat earther however there is an alternative explaination SHIPS DISSAPPEARING OVER THE HORIZON, simply CONFORM to the known laws of perspective The mist, etc., near the surface of the water also influence and add to the optical illusion. Much more sure than death and taxes is the simple elemental law of physics -- water will and does lay LEVEL and FLAT. (sic) (Johnson, 1977, p. 1). Similarly the fact that we can circumnavigate the earth proves nothing for the flat earther who take the explanation that the north pole is in the centre of the flat earth so that a ship that allows its compass to point north and then sails at right angles to that will believe it is sailing in a straight line while it is in fact sailing in a circle around the north pole (Johnson, 1977, p. 2). What is interesting about the flat earth society is that the fundamentalist nature of the way they do science is

so out in the open, some flat earthers admit to taking the flatness of the earth as a fundamental point in their scientific enquiries for example Daniel Shenton writes The Earth is flat. This is a belief I hold as the beginning of an ongoing search for truth and certainty. It is a starting point an intellectual foundation on which I feel further knowledge can soundly be built. Much as Descartes did in his Meditations on First Philosophy, I wish to start from a place of certainty and build upon it. The Flat Earth is an obvious truth to me now. My senses show me and my reason confirms it. (n.d.). The flat earther is like the fundamentalist in that there is a central belief that has logical consequences for all their other beliefs. Much like religious fundamentalisms this can lead to a set of scientific views which do not match up with the views of the great majority of scientists. It is up to the reader to decide if false consciousness communists and flat earthers are counted as fundamentalists in their mind; however even if the reader decides they should not be counted their ways of thinking highlight key elements in fundamentalist thought. Firstly, fundamentalists must have ways of explaining the existence of people who disagree with them, a concept that could prove confusing for people who believe they hold a special inerrant truth. Secondly, fundamentalists build up the rest of their worldviews from what their fundamental belief is. Once this foundation has been laid the rest of their worldview has to conform to its shape. For the flat earther this meant complicated explanations of ships doing circles around the North Pole and optical illusions near the surface of large bodies of water. In a similar way the protestant fundamentalist is lead by biblical inerrancy into seemingly strange beliefs for example the belief that because accounts of Peters denial of Christ differ he must have denied Christ 6 times rather than 3 as both accounts must be true (Boone, 1990, p. 63). 1.6 WHAT'S THE PROBLEM WITH FUNDAMENTALISM? We've seen now that fundamentalism comes in a vast array of guises and that there are no specific beliefs that we can associate with it as a general phenomenon. If this is the case it is useful, as means of conclusion to this first section, to offer two4 specific problems5 with fundamentalism. The first of these is that fundamentalist is able to look at the same world as us, see the same evidence as us and hear the same arguments about things as us and come to vastly different conclusions to us. The second is the seeming impossibility of discourse with fundamentalists. Fundamentalists disagree with arguments against their fundamentalisms before analysis of those arguments making discourse impossible. Both of these problems are worth making sense of both on an academic and a practical basis. We need to understand how fundamentalist thought works both to understand our world better and to know how to deal with the fundamentalist better. The next section aims to provide some solutions to both of these problems.

Although the author suspects they may be the same problem expressed in two different ways rather than two problems

In the sense of something that needs solving or explaining, rather than in a pejorative sense.


The previous section discussed the what of fundamentalism: it looked at fundamentalisms and the features they shared. This section will be about the how and perhaps the why of fundamentalism and will try and present an epistemological explanation of fundamentalism and how fundamentalists maintain their worldviews. To do this we will draw on a variety of sources from epistemology and the philosophy of science as well as Wittgensteins On Ce rtainty that help us understand the concepts of doubt, belief, and weltanschauung or worldview which in turn help us understand and explain fundamentalism. My efforts here are not to provide an all encompassing unified theory of epistemology instead I will hope to make observations of how fundamentalists and other people generally think and structure their knowledge. 2.1 UNDERSTANDING BELIEF AND WELTANSCHAUUNG

At the atomic level of our worldviews we have our individual beliefs. The nature of our beliefs is a less contentious one to define than other core philosophical concepts as there is at least something to point to as a starting point of understanding a belief, that is that in almost all cases when I say x and nothing untoward is happening I have the belief x .While it may be the case that I am lying or that I said x as a slip of the tongue as long as there are no strange events taking place I have an authoritative position to say that I believe x. While the existence of this authority is not well contested how it comes about is, the two main views are Detectivism and Constitutivism. Detecivists account for this authority by arguing that we have an ability to detect what is going on through introspection while Constitutivists argue that the act of saying x and meaning it in itself constitutes a belief that x (Finklestein, 2008). There is not room for a full discussion of the merits and failings of both of these positions here that would be a task which might easily fill a paper of this length it should be noted that while author leans towards the side of Constitutivism what is most important to our understanding of belief is that we have an authority when we speak about our own beliefs and ones personal stand in the Detectivist Constitutivist debate should not affect the arguments laid out about belief in this paper. Weltanschauung is a term for worldview that we will return to regularly in this section. The term is a loan-word from German that is similar in meaning to worldview but has connot ations of being more all-encompassing than a worldview. Someone might be described as having a conservative worldview, for example, but while this worldview may cover many aspects from personal tastes to political views it does not include all the aspects of the individuals life while a weltanschauung would. In this paper I will present an argument th at weltanschauung is not just the culmination of our beliefs but also includes our beliefs about how those beliefs interact and what beliefs it is possible to hold at the same time, it is these beliefs about beliefs that determine how a fundamentalist thinks rather than their beliefs themselves.

2.2 KUHN

Thomas Kuhn is a philosopher and historian of science who popularized the concept of paradigms. While his work pertained mostly to science it is also very useful to someone who wishes to gain an understanding of weltanschauung as the concepts are related. Kuhns work comes out of his work in examining the history of science and as a reaction against falsificationism. Falsificationism was the prevailing logic of the time and was based on the philosophy of Popper. Poppers argued that science is reliable because it constantly seeks to prove itself wrong, the only good scientific statement was one that could be tested and proved wrong because it meant that that statement had been tested against the world. The more a hypothesis has been tested in different ways the more corroborated it is. Corrob oration doesnt make something true but it does make it more believable and so science ne ver fully proves or verifies anything (Popper, 2010). The path of scientific progress witnessed by Kuhn was much more messy than the one described by Popper however, in the history of science Kuhn saw long periods of stability in science interspersed by periods of revolutionary change. During these long periods normal science scientists in a particular discipline will have a certain paradigm that governs how they think, during this period the science that takes place involves solving problems and fleshing out the details of the current paradigm. Paridigms gain their status because they are more successful than their competitors in solving a few problems that the group of practitioners has come to recognize as acute. [..] Few people who are not actually practitioners of a mature science realize how much mop-up work of this sort a paradigm leaves to be done or quite how fascinating such work can prove to be in the execution. [..]Closely examined, whether historically or in the contemporary laboratory, that enterprise seems an attempt to force nature into the preformed and relatively inflexible box that the paradigm supplies [..]normal scientific research is directed to the articulation of those phenomena and theories that the paradigm already supplies. (Kuhn, 1996, pp. 23-24). Paridigms in Kuhns philosophy are incommensurable: they cannot be compared to each other and said to be more right than each other; paradigms are so different to each other that such a comparison would be meaningless. Each of us *Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend+ was centrally concerned to show that the meanings of scientific terms and concepts force and mass, for example, or element and compound often changed with the theory in which they were deployed. And each of us claimed that when such changes occurred, it was impossible to define all the terms of one theory in the vocabulary of the other (Kuhn, 2000, p. 34). Each paradigm contains ways of performing experiments, interpreting data and determining what is right and wrong and because this will differ between paradigms one cannot say that one is better than the other, they have no common language to make that comparison. In learning Newtonian mechanics, the tems mass and force must be acquired t ogether, and Newtons second law must play a role in their acquisition. One cannot, that is, learn mass and force independently and then empirically discover that force equals mass times acceleration. Nor can one first learn mass (or force) and then use it to define force (or mass) with the aid of the second law. Instead, all three must be learn ed together, parts of the whole new (but not wholly new) way of doing mechanics. (Kuhn, 2000, p. 44) This idea seems like a strange one at first glance, surely scientific progress through the years has come up with paradigms that can be said to be better than the previous ones but in actual-

ity we dont really have any means to say this is so if we wish to compare Aristotelian and Newtonian physics we will find that what the Newtonian physicist has to say to the Aristotelian physicsist would mean nothing to the Aristotelian; even their definition of what a good or better theory is would differ6 meaning that no meaningful conclusion on which was better could be reached The incommensurability of paradigms leaves an obvious gap in science: if we cannot compare paradigms in a way that helps us decide which is best how do scientists move between one paradigm and another? Kuhns answer is that this takes place during periods of revolutionary science. Periods of revolutionary science involve discoveries that cannot be accommodated within the concepts in use before they were made. In order to make or to assimilate such a discovery one must alter the way one thinks about and describes some range of natural phenomena (Kuhn, 2000, pp. 14-15) this change Kuhn compares to a gestalt shift; the shift in ones perception of something that can be viewed in two different ways. for instance the duckrabbit (see fig)can be viewed as either a duck or a rabbit, the viewer has little to no control over how the picture is viewed and the change happens instantly and unexplainably. Pictures of ducks may not appear to be a perfect analogies for scientific change at first but both viewing a duckrabbit and viewing the world from a scientific paradigm involve constructing meaning from something that can have meaning constructed from it in multiple ways. Looking at a contour map, the student sees lines on paper, the cartographer a picture of a terrain. Looking at a bubble-chamber photograph, the student sees confused and broken lines, the physicist a record of familiar subnuclear events (Kuhn, 1996, p. 111) Paradigms then are ways of constructing meaning from the otherwise meaningless and changes between them happen in a ways similar to the gestalt shift: unexplainably, quickly and without being willed.

Aristotles physics views things as having natural tendencies and being made up of 4 elements; Newtonian physics attempts to understand forces. Aristotelian physics is much more philosophical and is much less based on experiment, for instance in Aristotelian physics a vacuum is a priori impossible while the Newtonian physicist would not accept a priori reasoning as proof of something. The two systems can be compared, they are trying to describe different things and have different ideas about how those things might be well described.

The Duckrabbit 2.3 ON CERTAINTY

Wittgenstein's 'On Certainty' is his examination of skepticism and certainty. One of the important arguments of the text is that certainty on some matters is essential and that skepticism cannot be applied to all of one's beliefs at the same time. He also provides a loose description of how we form our weltanschauungs; both of these are aspects which I will now elaborate on. 2.31 CERTAINTY

On Certainty is written in response to a proof of the existence of an external world by Moore which can be expressed: p1. Here is a hand. p2. If there is a hand here then there must be an external world. p3 Therefore, there is an external world. The argument is an interesting one and it is certainly true that p3 follows from p1 and p2 if they are both true. p2 seems hard to argue against while p1 is something that Moore is certain of. The problem with the argument is that someone who is sceptical of the external would wouldn't be convinced of p1 but statements of the kind 'I am certain that here is a hand' are philosophically interesting in that outside of the philosophy classroom we tend to

accept them to be true; one does not worry that one's hand doesn't exist when reaching to pick up the groceries. Wittgenstein's contention is that for some of our beliefs we are so certain that we can't be mistaken; it wouldn't be like anything to be mistaken in this sort of case. He gives the example of knowing one's own address For months I have lived at address A, I have r ead the name of the street and the number of the house countless times, have received countless letters here and given countless people the address. If I am wrong about it, the mistake is hardly less than to believe I was writing Chinese and not German. (OC, 70). Wittgenstein goes on to say that if a friend had been wrong in a similar manner that it would be that the friend was insane rather than making a mistake (71). In this example it might be possible to imagine someone making a temporary mistake or misspeaking leading them to give the wrong number but it is hard to see how someone would be wrong about this kind of statement after correction. Wittgenstein offers up more extreme examples of this kind of 'can't be mistaken' statements, What if something really unheard of happened if I, say, saw houses gradually turning into steam without any obvious cause, if the cattle in the fields stood on their heads and laughed and spoke comprehensible words; if trees gradually changed into men and men into trees. Now was I right when I said before all these things happened I know that's a house Etc., or simply that's a house etc. (OC 513) No answer is given here but it isn't the case that we abandon our beliefs at present because of the possibility of the utterly bizarre; at present there are absolutely no guarantees that the things we think we know beyond any doubt today will be true tomorrow. Wittgenstein adds shortly after this passage that in these cases where we can't imagine being mistaken that if some kind of freakish occurrence happened that seemed to prove us wrong we wouldn't necessarily believe that the freakish occurrence was real and might have doubts about it. In talking about a case where someone was trying to persuade him his name wasn't Ludwig Wittgenstein he writes, If my name is not L.W., how can I rely on what is meant by 'true' and 'false'? If something happened (such as someone telling me something) calculated to make me doubtful of my own name, there would certainly also be something that made the grounds of these doubts themselves seem doubtful and I could therefore decide to retain my old belief. (OC 515 516) There are two things to pick up on here. Firstly, that this pattern of behaviour of rejecting any evidence that goes against certain beliefs one holds is precisely the one identified in fundamentalists in 1 of this paper. Secondly, that some things are so certain to us that if we were wrong about them then our whole system of deciding true from false would go out of the window with them. This is similar to what Kuhn writes about paradigms in that paradigms have to have certain axioms that they accept as true and how they find truth that they base their other beliefs on. 2.32 WELTANSCHAUUNG Weltanschauung is a German loan word that can be translated as worldview or paradigm but that has connotations of being much wider reaching than a worldview or paradigm. A

persons weltanshauung encompasses nearly everything that person believes. Wittgenstein uses a variety of phrases for this including 'weltbild' or referring to is as our personal mythology. 'On Certainty' looks at this concept and the relationship between the fundamental 'I can't be mistaken' type statements and other statements. It might appear from the previous section that Wittgenstein regards these beliefs as foundations of other beliefs but this is not how he presents them. Being certain that my name is T.J.H. isn't something that I have based my other beliefs on but it is part of a web of beliefs that I hold that relate to each other and if I were shown to be wrong in this one thing then the rest of the web would falter as well. What would it be like to doubt now whether I have two hands? Why can't I imagine it at all? What would I believe if I didn't believe that? So far I have no system at all within which this doubt might exist. I have arrived at the rock bottom of my convictions and one might almost say that these foundation walls are carried by the whole house (247-248) In this analogy it isn't the case that our weltanschauungs are built on some bedrock beliefs but rather they are like a self supporting structure. Our beliefs hold each other up because in a manner resembling a house of cards. Wittgenstein doesn't argue that there is a clear binary divide between statements which we are certain of and those we aren't (OC 673). Moyall-Sharrock points out however that while we might not always be able to distinguish if we are completely certain in every case there will be cases where we can clearly distinguish our certainty (p. 100, 2007). Wittgenstein draws another analogy to explain this comparing weltanshauung or 'mythology' to a river, The mythology may change back into a state of flux, the river bed of thoughts may shift. But I distinguish between the movement of the waters on the river bed and the shift of the bed itself though there is not a sharp division of the one from the other (OC 97). Weltanshauung is like a river in that there will be statements that we are certain of at any one time but these might shift7 over time. Other beliefs that we hold that are less certain represented by the river itself may also shift but when this happens it has less of an effect because these beliefs are supposed to be fluid. There also might not always be a clear distinction between the riverbed and the river.

2.321 LEARNING AND DOUBT Wittgenstein also writes about learning in On Certainty and his ideas have application to our understanding of how people become fundamentalists. He presents a picture of a student and teacher, the teacher cannot teach the student anything because the student doubts absolutely everything that he is told including the existence of things, the meanings of words and that history even happened. The teacher says Stop interrupting me and do as I tell you. So far your doubts dont make sense at all (OC 310). The idea here is firstly that people need to have a certain amount of knowledge about something before doubting

We can compare this to Kuhns idea of paradigm shift.

it. Children need to be raised believing in things and the process of learning requires the acceptance of a large number of beliefs as given. Only once the student is grown up and well educated it is possible for her to challenge her base assumptions about the world. It is possible to see how this creates a situation where someone who was raised with a belief in a fundamentalism would then gain these beliefs in childhood without doubting them 8. Wittgenstein also writes of doubt that even once we are educated our doubt needs to be informed by other beliefs that we accept without doubt. The questions that we raise and our doubts depend on the fact that some propositions are exempt from doubt, are as it were like hinges on which those turn. (OC, 341) He gives as an example that while trying to win a game of chess one cannot doubt the existence of the board or that the pieces arent changing places of their own accord when unobserved (OC 346). When we try and doubt or question something it is important for us to have, at least, a belief in our methods of doubting and questioning things. The Fundamentalists fundamentalism is for them one of Wittgensteins hinge beliefs: for someone of the firm belief that their holy book is the ultimate arbiter of truth it is hard to doubt anything without one of the hinges around which their doubt is formed being their holy book. Because of this, any doubt of the holy book itself becomes very difficult for them.

3.0 DESCRIBING FUNDAMENTALIST THOUGHT It is now possible to present a hypothesis for how fundamentalist thought works that accounts for the ideas of both Kuhn and Wittgenstein as well as explaining the two problems outlined in 1.6. This examines specifically what occurs when two beliefs come into conflict with each other and the believers behaviors in this circumstance. The hypothesis can be described as follows, with each of these statements being used as heading to be expanded upon later:

3.1 The strength of one's beliefs are defined by what one decides to believe liefs come into conflict with one another.



3.11 These conflicts of belief can be described as an interaction between three more) beliefs.

3.111 This can also be said to apply to beliefs about what we have experienced. 3.112 This applies equally to moral and scientific beliefs.

Fundamentalism can also be based on religious experience. See below.

3.12 As well as rejecting one of the conflicting beliefs it is also possible to reject the idea that there is any conflict between the two beliefs whatsoever. 3.121 This takes place in the case of an ad hoc hypothesis 3.2 Decisions as to which belief to continue holding are non-logical in nature 3.21 This happens in a manner similar to gestalt shift 3.22 Moral arguments take place on a non-logical level 3.221 This is highlighted by responses to the trolley problem 3.3 We can define fundamentalism as a commitment to a certain set of beliefs and a refusal to yield to any arguments or evidence to the contrary.


We can say that belief x is more strongly held than belief y in a case that if (x + y) I would continue to believe x and stop believing y. For a fundamentalist their fundamentalist beliefs are so strongly held that no evidence could persuade them that their beliefs are false. 3.11 THESE CONFLICTS OF BELIEF CAN BE DESCRIBED AS AN INTERACTION BETWEEN THREE (OR MORE) BELIEFS. Ones beliefs, at points, will come into conflict with one another. This seems a simple statement but what happens in these cases is complex. In a conflict between x and y three beliefs are involved: x, y and (x + y). We can represent this visually as follows.

(x + y)

In this diagram the arrows represent the fact that there is an interaction between these three beliefs. The three beliefs cannot be held at the same time9. In this type of case one of three things can happen. An abandonment of belief x, an abandonment of belief y or an abandonment of the belief that x and y are incompatible with one another. To illustrate this values can be given to x and y as follows,

(x + y): The existance of dinosaur bones shows the account of creation in Genisis to be false

x: The account of creation given in Genisis is true.

y: The existance of dinosaur bones that are millions of years old.

In this example the person might respond in the following ways. Firstly they might decide that the account of creation given in Genesis is false. Secondly they could deny the existence of dinosaur bones that are millions of years old, perhaps radiocarbon dating doesnt work or the bones just appear to be millions of years old. Finally they might decide that a belief in the account given in Genesis isnt incompatible with dinosaur bones, Genesis might not be a literal account of creation but may still be true or the events described might have happened millions or billions of years ago. 3.111 THIS CAN ALSO BE SAID TO APPLY TO BELIEFS ABOUT WHAT WE HAVE EXPERIENCED. Often we will come across cases in which one of the beliefs in a conflict of belief is a belief about what has been experienced. This can happen in different ways the most simple being simply that we have had an experience. We may however ascribe more meaning than this to an experience, for example those who have had religious experience often believe that their experience is an encounter with a divine being. People may however have an experience that is similar in nature to a religious experience and not have any beliefs about it being a

We would say that someone who proclaimed to believe x, y and (x + y) at the same time had made a mistake about the meaning of (x + y)

divine encounter at all or they may indeed change their beliefs about what they have experienced. 3.112 THIS APPLIES EQUALLY TO MORAL AND SCIENTIFIC BELIEFS. This structure works for all kinds of beliefs including scientific beliefs about what is the case and moral beliefs about what ought to be the case. It can also possible to use this model to model clash between scientific and moral beliefs. A case of scientific conflict of belief might be the case of wave particle duality. For a long time there was conflict about how light acts: under some circumstances it appears to act as a wave, under others it appears to act as a particle.

(x + y): Light cannot behave both like a wave and like a particle.

x: Light behaves like a wave.

y: Light behaves like a particle.

The solutions to this problem were either deciding that light is a wave and experiments showing that it behaves like a particle were in error; deciding light is a particle and that any experiments showing that it behaves like a wave are in error, or deciding that light at some times behaves like a wave, sometimes like a particle and that these two ideas do not contradict each other. Similarly moral conflicts of belief occur in a similar way although in these cases it may be more likely that a conflict is pointed out between two already held beliefs than a new belief is gained that conflicts with an old belief. An example of this might be a vegetarian who believes eating meat is wrong but that animal products are acceptable but who has concerned that eating animal products is morally equivalent with eating meat.

(x + y): Eating meat and eating animal products are morally equivielent acts.

x:Eating meat is imorral.

y: Eating animal products is morally acceptable.

In this case the conflict might be resolved by deciding that eating meat is morally acceptable for the same reason that eating animal products is morally acceptable. They might instead decide that eating animal products is wrong for the same reasons that eating meat. Finally they might provide a moral difference between meat and animal products that allows animal products but doesnt allow meat that permits them to believe x and y simultaneously. In both of these conflicts of beliefs different beliefs are given the positions x and y and a different reason is given for (x + y) but the form of what is happening is the same in both cases and indeed all conflicts of belief can be broken down to this format. In a conflict of belief there will be the two conflicting beliefs, the reason why the beliefs conflict and the impossibility of holding both beliefs while also seeing that there is a conflict.

3.12 AS WELL AS REJECTING ONE OF THE CONFLICTING BELIEFS IT IS ALSO POSSIBLE TO REJECT THE IDEA THAT THERE IS ANY CONFLICT BETWEEN THE TWO BELIEFS WHATSOEVER. One of the central benefits of modeling conflicts of belief as an interaction between three rather than two beliefs is that it highlights that when conflicts of belief do arrive it is possible for the believer to reject the idea that there is a conflict at all. This rejection of there being any sort of conflict is recognizable in the accounts of fundamentalism provided in 1 of this paper. Boones fundamentalist who believes that Peter denied Christ 6 times is providing an account to reconcile there being no conflict between their belief that the Bible is error-free and there appearing to be differences that mean that one Biblical account must be flawed. 3.121 THIS TAKES PLACE IN THE CASE OF AN AD HOC HYPOTHESIS

In a case where a scientific hypothesis is tested and the result predicted by the hypothesis does not occur the hypothesis may be altered or added in some way to account for the unexpected result. When this kind of change is made the new hypothesis is called an ad hoc (or auxiliary) hypothesis. Bamford (1993) gives the example of the hypothesis all swans are white being proposed and the example of a black swan being seen on the Cherwell. The ad hoc hypothesis is given that some things that appear to be swans (in all matters bar colour) are in fact simulacra. This would be an ad hoc hypothesis because a new explanation for the anomalous example is given. Popper would argue that it was a bad ad hoc hypothesis as it is less testable than the original (Popper 2010, 62) hypothesis. Bamford on the other hand argues that to reject the ad hoc hypothesis out of hand leaves the possibility of black swans being simulacra unexplored. Another example is that of the hypothesis that bread nouris hes, This low-level theory if spelt out in more detail, amounts to the claim that if wheat is grown in the normal way, converted into bread in the normal way and eaten by humans in a normal way, then those humans will be nourished. This apparently innocuous theory ran into trouble in a French village on an occasion when wheat was grown in a normal way, converted into bread in a normal way and yet most people who ate the bread became seriously ill and many died. The theory bread nourishes was falsified. The theory can be modified to avoid this falsification by adjusting to read bread, with the exception of that particular batch of bread produced in the French village in question, nourishes This is an ad hoc mod ification (Chalmers 1976, 51-52) This ad hoc modification is less testable than the original but still seems to be one that we would accept as legitimate even if there were more than one freak example of nonnourishing bread that was also accounted for by ad hoc hypothesis. Ad hoc hypotheses are then, at least in some cases, a legitimate part of science and fit into the model of conflict of belief. The method of falsificationism given by Popper can be said to argue that scientific experiments should have a hypothesis that makes predictions that have possibility of being proven wrong. A case where an experiment did not provide the predicted results the conflict of belief would be as follows,

(x + y): The results of the experiment contradict the hypothesis

x: Hypothesis

y: The experiment provided unpredicted results.

In this case Popper would (perhaps after repetition of the experiment to confirm y) argue that the hypothesis x should be abandoned. In the case of an ad hoc hypothesis (x + y) is changed to (x + y) with an explanation for the unpredicted result the hypothesis is still considered to be generally true however for example bread nourishes is still accepted to be generally true despite examples to the contrary. 3.2 DECISIONS AS TO WHICH BELIEF TO CONTINUE HOLDING CAN BE NONLOGICAL IN NATURE In some internal conflicts of belief the outcomes is non-logical10 in nature. This occurs when both of the beliefs can easily fit into a coherent weltanschauung. This happens as the two potential weltanschauungs are incommensurable as they are both based on a coherent set of beliefs and potentially differing on ideas as basic as how the truth is determined. The struggle of the Muslim fundamentalist who is conflicted between Western and Islamic co nceptions of science11 is one that happens in the soul as much as it does in the mind. 3.21 THIS HAPPENS IN A MANNER SIMILAR TO GESTALT SHIFT The shifts in weltanschauung are more personal and wide ranging than the paradigm shifts described by Kuhn but gestalt shift is useful to understand both of these. In a gestalt shift the image doesnt change but the perception of what is happening in the image does wit hout any kind of will or decision on the part of the observer. In the case of paradigm shift or a


As opposed to illogical which has connotations of flying in the face of logic, they instead simply have little to do with logic.

Cf. 1.3

conflict or change in weltanschauung the world remains the same whilst what the believer sees in the world changes without any kind of application of will12. 3.22 MORAL ARGUMENTS TAKE PLACE ON A NON-LOGICAL LEVEL This non logical nature of conflict of belief is also observable in many moral arguments that occur in society today. If we consider the issue of abortion13 it is possible to form an internally coherent argument on both sides with different opinions on what makes an action morally permissible, which individuals have rights and what rights those individuals have. With such different paradigms for deciding what is right and wrong it is no wonder that the abortion debate is considered one of the most entrenched debates of our times. Discourse in the abortion debate often takes place on a patently emotive, non-logical level. The names pro-choice and pro-life are both intentionally emotive after all, who wants to be antichoice or anti-life. Similarly, activities like heckling women at the entrance to abortion clinics or describing prohibition of abortion as an attack on women are attempting to garner an emotive (or otherwise non-logical) response. However even in academic papers the arguments presented affect people on a non-logical level; because the debate has two sides with such logically consistent paradigms arguments often work from a belief shared on both sides of the debate. In her famous paper A Defense of Abortion (1971) Thomson presents the analogy of being kidnapped by a society of music lovers and being plugged to him for nine months, a procedure that will save his life but will leave you bed ridden, would we be obliged to stay attached to the violist. She then asks us to consider a situation where we will be attached to the violinist for life, What if the director of the hospital says. Tough luck. I agree. but now youve got to stay in bed, with the violinist plugged into you, for the rest of your life. Because remember this, all persons have a right to live, and violinists are persons. Granted you have a right to decide what happens in and too your body, but a persons right to life outweighs your right to decide what happens in and to your body. So you cannot ever be unplugged from him. I imagine you would regard this as outrageous, which suggests that something really is wrong with that plausible sounding argument [that there is an obligation to keep the violinist alive] I mentioned a moment ago. What is happening in this argument is that Thomson is attempting to find a common ground between herself and pro-lifers, namely that it seems wrong to be attached to a violinist for the rest of ones life to keep them alive. She goes on to explain why the story of the violinist is morally equivalent to pregnancy.


Even phrases along the lines of Im going to choose to believe you could be more accurately phrased Im going to choose to act like I believe you, for now.

For a brief overview see (Warren 1993)

The form of the argument, a1. If one is not obligated to remain strapped to the violinist then one is not obligated to bring a baby to term against ones will. b1 .One is not obligated to remain strapped to the violinist c2. Therefore one is not obligated to bring a baby to term against ones wil l. Is a logical one in that c follows from a and b but it is possible to describe moral arguments as taking place on a non-logical level in that responses to being presented with this argument are not based on the logic of the argument. A pro-lifer presented with the argument might agree, disagree with a by arguing that the violinist example isnt analogous with pregnancy or disagree by arguing that there is a moral obligation to be strapped to the violinist. All of the responses here are logical ones; they are all possible to believe and fit into a logically consistent moral paradigm. On the other hand the argument presented by Thompson relies on a negative moral reaction to the idea of forced attachment to the violinist. While this moral revulsion to the idea of being plugged in permanently may seem like a given to us we have seen that these sorts of reactions are based on paradigms and weltanschauungs and arent guaranteed. Furthermore it is very possible that someone reading this argument might have a much stronger attachment to their beliefs about abortion than those about attachment to violinists and they might respond with an argument along the lines of, a2. If abortion is morally impermissible then there is a moral obligation to remain attached to the violinist b2 .Abortion is morally impermissible. c2. Therefore there is a moral obligation to remain attached to the violinist. Which takes the same modus ponens form as Thomsons argument and is equally as valid: as long as both a2 and a2 are subscribed to, c2 is a logical consequence. If we, for the sake of argument, assume that there is a moral equivalence between being detaching from the violinist and abortion then both a1 and a2 are correct, in this case whether one accepts the first or the second argument comes down to the extent to which b1 or b2 is believed. The response to Thompsons argument then is entirely non-logical in that it is based on levels of attachment to ideas rather than logical structure. Similarly the response to any moral argument that appeals to some kind of shared belief (which I would suggest is all or almost all moral arguments) will be non-logical in the same way. 3.221 THIS IS HIGHLIGHTED BY RESPONSES TO THE TROLLEY PROBLEM The Trolley problem provides an example of morals coming from non-logical intuitions and the many responses to it highlight can be seen as attempts to iron out contradictions in the

way that weve already seen in this paper. There are many versions of the trolley problem but one of the best known one follows, Suppose you are the driver of a trolley. The trolley rounds a bend, and there come into view ahead five track workmen, who have been repairing the track. The track goes through a bit of a valley at that point, and the sides are seep, so you must stop the trolley if you are to avoid running the five men down. You step on the breaks, but alas they dont work. Now you see a spur of track leading off to the right. You can turn the trolley onto it, and thus save the five men on the straight track ahead. Unfortunately [..]there is one track workman on that spur of the track. He can no more get off the track in time than the five can, so you will kill him if you turn the trolley onto him. Is it morally permissible for you to turn the trolley? (J. J. Thomson 1985, 1395) The eponymous problem comes when we compare peoples responses to other situations especially one which is the same except in that instead of saving the five workmen by flicking a switch one can save them by pushing a fat man off a bridge into the path of the trolley (J. J. Thomson 1985, 1409). Thomson found (and anecdotal evidence suggests) that people are near unanimously in favor of flicking the switch and killing one to save five, but they are against pushing the fat man off the bridge to save five lives. These two cases seem morally analogous: if it is right to kill one to save five it is right to do it in both cases. This leads to a situation similar to ones we have looked at previously where people are forced to abandon one belief, the other belief or to find a moral difference between the two cases.

(x + y): Turning the trolley and pushing hte fat manare morally equivielent acts.

x: It is morally permissable to turn the trolley onto a different track.

y: It is imorral to push the fat man off the bridge.

In the first episode of Justice with Michael Sandel (2009) a room full of Harvard students are presented with the two situations above and are similarly in favor of changing tracks but not of pushing the fat man, when challenged on why they hold these beliefs they provide some reasons that dont stand up to scrutiny from Sandel. Whats interesting here is that

they have their moral beliefs prior to having any justification to them and want to hold onto their beliefs in spite of not being able to show a moral difference between the two cases. One student argues that the cases are different because pushing someone is a different to turning a steering wheel to change track. Sandel replies that we can imagine a case where the fat man is over a trap door that can be opened by turning a wheel. The student is flummoxed and replies that for some reasons that still just seems more wrong. This just-seems-more-wrong-ness is a prime example of a non-logical decision in the face of internal conflict of belief. It is also a prime example of why it isnt necessarily a bad thing to be non-logical in this sort of situation. If the student had instead decided that pushing the fat man was morally permissible they would be to an equal extent acting on their gut feeling of just-seems-more-wrong-ness14. When we compare this example to the example in 3.11 of this paper of the fundamentalist Christian who believes that the account of creation in Genesis is true but who is confronted with dinosaur bones and arguments that the dinosaur bones disprove the Genesis account of creation we can see that something very similar is happening in both cases. The fundamentalist with a deep seated conviction that Genisis is true and some very real dinosaur bones might say Im sorry, what youre saying seems very coherent and reasonable but Im sure that youre wrong. I dont know how or why youre wrong but I do believe that you are wrong. Much in the same way our flummoxed college student might use similar words and be going through a similar experience 15. 3.3 WE CAN DEFINE FUNDAMENTALISM AS A COMMITMENT TO A CERTAIN SET OF BELIEFS AND A REFUSAL TO YIELD TO ANY ARGUMENTS OR EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY. Five characteristics of fundamentalism have already been identified in this paper this section should help provide an understanding of the ways in which fundamentalists think. I also identified two problems of fundamentalism that can now be answered. The first of these is that fundamentalists are able to draw vastly different conclusions about the world despite having access to the same information and arguments as us. By looking at what happens when peoples beliefs come into conflict with each other we can see that what people co ntinue to believe is a personal non-logical response. In the case the fundamentalist he is highly committed to a set of beliefs and the non-logical response to beliefs that come into conflict with his fundamentalism is to reject them. This can be either by denying any idea that conflicts with his fundamentalism is true or by denying that there is a conflict between his
14 15

Why not decide that flipping the switch was wrong or that the two cases arent analogous?

I would contend that both the college student and the fundamentalist are entitled to do this, at least on first encounter with an argument. It would be strange to expect people to abandon their deep moral or religious beliefs immediately on hearing a counterargument they cant answer to. Furthermore in the face of an arg ument that proves falsehoods we might disregard the argument no matter how clever it sounds. Zeno provides convincing arguments for the impossibility of movement that I may not have answers to, I am perfectly entitled to believe in movement in spite of this however because of the simple fact that movement seems very real to me.

fundamentalism and other ideas. This rejection often comes prior to having a reason for this rejection and reasons provided might be simply that Y contradicts X, X is true so Y must be false. This idea of rejection of other beliefs can be seen throughout the fundamentalisms examined in this paper. The Christian fundamentalists were most defined by biblical inerrancy. To believe in an inerrant Bible is to believe that beliefs that seem to contradict the Bible are either false or, in fact, not contradictory to the Bible at all. The Haredim had a specific set of beliefs about Jewish culture and how it should be, as much as possible, untainted by secular culture. The Haredim then are fundamentalist in that they reject cultural beliefs that contradict their own. Islamic fundamentalism has a variety of forms but all of them involve a rejection of the Western whether this be the violent rejection of the west by the Jihadi or the rejection of Western science by the Islamic fundamentalist scientist. False consciou sness communists believe that those who disagree with communist ideas have false consciousness: their thought processes have been corrupted by capitalism. For the false consciousness communist non-communist beliefs must be rejected out of hand as a corrupting influence that is based on a selfish false ideology. The Flat Earth society provided a vision of science that had the idea of the earth being flat as its starting point with evidence to the contrary being illusionary and with complex explanations of why the Earth often appears round despite its flatness. In all of the above examples the fundamentalism can be viewed in the way it rejects other ideas and this rejection can, in all of these cases, be looked at in the metric provided in this chapter. The non-logical nature of choice in conflicts of belief is important to understand fundamentalists. To those who disagree with them fundamentalists may seem willfully ignorant but their beliefs have not been chosen by the fundamentalist; rather their beliefs have their origins in the circumstances and experiences of the believer. In the same way our own beliefs are determined by our own circumstances, the average person fifty years ago have hugely different beliefs to the average person today. There is little doubt that those in fifty years will believe very different things again and consider people today to be antiquated and willfully ignorant in many areas. To engage with fundamentalists it may be better, instead of using what we consider to be watertight arguments, to engage on an emotional level or to concentrate on beliefs held in common. To focus on differences when the differences arise from basic beliefs about what truth is and how it is determined is to force a misunderstanding and to drive people apart. When similarities are focused on common ground can be found and by focusing on beliefs that derive from those similarities new understanding might perhaps be reached. 4.0 CONCLUSIONS It is an assumption of much of Philosophy that there is one coherent worldview and that by disproving and disregarding those that are in some way illogical we can reach the one coherent worldview that is truthful. The first conclusion of this paper is that this idea of worldviews is false. Section 1 of this paper presents a plethora of worldviews that have an internal consistency. There are two main reasons why there are differences in worldview. The first of these is that it is easy for people to gain different beliefs. It is very difficult for people as they are in the process of education to doubt what they are learning and because

of this education is hugely influential on what people end up believing. The second reason that there are a range of worldviews in the world is that once a person has a worldview it is hard for them to change it. This is because the way in which people decide what is true and false is both dependent on and supportive of their worldview. To change their worldview they would need to, at the same time, change the criteria they use to define truth. I have also presented an argument that it is very easy, when presented with a piece of evidence or an argument against ones worldview, to dismiss the evidence or argument or to deny that it contradicts ones worldview. This may be seen as an argument that fundamentalists are justified but it should not be taken as such. A worldview can still be seen as being unjustified for reasons other than a lack of internal consistency. For instance, Christian fundamentalism might be criticized for homophobia even if it is internally consistent. It is dangerous however to dismiss fundamentalists as stupid and backwards. A huge number of fundamentalists are intelligent people who do good things and similarly fundamentalisms themselves can be positive and well thought through belief systems that happen to have different starting points to other belief systems. 3 of this paper suggests that changes of opinion are more likely to be forthcoming by concentration on the similarities between belief system. In interacting with the fundamentalist it is important to focus on these similarities even if we vehemently disagree with some of their beliefs. The title of this essay refers to fundamentalists as bogeymen. Bogeyman is defined by Merriam Webster as A monstrous imaginary figure used in threatening children The bogeyman is an interesting concept in that it is a monster that has no real characteristics but who, either because of or in spite of this, is still terrifying. Fundamentalists in the modern world are in a similar way a group with no real defining characteristics. They are perhaps labeled as fundamentalists more because their views are at odds with mainstream Western liberal views than for any other reason16. When we label someone a fundamentalist however we dismiss them as an irrational non-person whos beliefs and interests are not worth of consideration. The term fundamentalism is a non-helpful one that alienates and dehumanises others and prevents us from engaging seriously with their beliefs. It would be better then, to ignore the term fundamentalism and seek to engage with individual fund amentalisms.


None of the five characteristics of fundamentalism apply solely to those society labels fundamentalist and not all of them apply to all fundamentalists.

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