Fundamentalism and Unfair Mario

Chris Attaway recently suggested that ” Fundamentalism…is when social function becomes so important so as to discourage or even forbid real knowledge.”

He compares it to playing Unfair Mario, a Mario game that I was previously unfamiliar with. Click through to try it. I laughed out loud.

The point of the comparison is that the game is one of arbitrary obstacles and traps, and one may learn ways of avoiding them, but without there ever being a rationale for why one should do so, or why things are the way things are. Not that the classic Super Mario Bros. made all that much sense.

Attaway further suggests that:

Fundamentalism is the result of a philosophical mistake. We favor our way of doing things rather than the why which lies behind them. They become a set of taboos, still in practice but with their significance long forgotten.

If we’re ever going to achieve any real semblance of peace, justice, or any of those wonderful values that Christians and people of all stripes like talking about, then we’re going to have to set aside differences of culture, practice, and so forth to seek what is essential behind them. Until we do that in full, those values are just shadows of what they could be, held back by our prejudice.

Do you agree? And, having now discovered Unfair Mario, do you still have time to reflect on things like religious fundamentalism?

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    Fundamentalism is the result of a philosophical mistake.

    That seems about right.

    If we’re ever going to achieve any real semblance of peace, justice, or any of those wonderful values that Christians and people of all stripes like talking about, then we’re going to have to set aside differences of culture, practice, and so forth …

    That sounds good.

    … to seek what is essential behind them.

    But that part sounds wrong. Maybe there isn’t anything essential behind them. Maybe essentialism is the basic philosophical mistake

    • Mark Farmer

      Good point, Neil. I am wondering if James means “essential” in the philosophical sense, or in the ordinary sense of basic or necessary. In the latter case, what one finds could be the human desire to find meaning, for example, rather than some irreducible truth content.

      • Mark Farmer

        Oops – not James, but Chris Attaway. Time to click through to his post….

        • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

          Don’t forget to share it! =D

          But I mean “essential” in the philosophical sense, since you asked.

          • Mark Farmer

            Good point. Done.

          • Nick Gotts

            Then that’s a fundamental (ha!) error. Essences don’t exist. (Well, vanilla essence does, but philosophical essences don’t.)

            • http://thediscerningchristian.wordpress.com/ Chris

              Very few people use “essence” in the metaphysical sense that Aristotle once did. I used the term in order to distinguish from cultural accident, suggesting that justice and other such values do not have a single form of expression.

              • Nick Gotts

                OK, but it’s far from clear that all cultures share some fundamental notion of justice or other such values. Some cultures consider it just to enslave people, or treat women as property, or trash the environment and the poor in the name of economic efficiency.


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