Orlando Figueiredo

Not all cultures are equally valuable

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Versão portuguesa: Nem todas as culturas são iguais

In his book entitled “The Moral Landscape”, Sam Harris, a staunch defender of atheism and part of a movement known as New Atheism, discuss and criticises the politically correct cultural relativism. Harris argues that there are cultures that cause suffering while others promote well-being. In consequence, they must be differently valued. The Landscape from the title concerns the hilly 3D graphics showing the well-being achieved as the dependent variable and the cultural background of diverse societies as the independent one. Highest hills represent, of course, societies that were capable of achieving better well-being. He also recognises the subjectivity of the term well-being. However, as a neuroscientist, he also proposes methods of measuring it objectively, namely using the concentration of happiness related molecules in our brains.
The recent events in Brussels airport and in the metro station of Maelbeek show, unfortunately once again, how right Sam Harris is. Many will affirm that this is not Islam; they’ll bespeak Islam as a peaceful religion, and claim radicalism as the cause of terrorist attacks, not Islam. And they’re right. I do believe there are plenty Muslims that do not agree with daesh ways. However, Islam, like all other Abrahamic religions, is a misogynist, male chauvinist society, and a homophobic and xenophobe culture. If self-entitled Muslims, like most self –entitled Christians and Jews, defend peace and human rights, it is not because of their religion, but in spite of it. In fact, it needs a really flexible interpretation to discern the “Old Testament”, the “Tora” or the “Coran”, as texts of peace. I am also convinced most of these people are Muslims, Christians or Jews because they were educated in that culture, and never had the opportunity of making a critical reading of their religion books.
It is time to stop with the politically correct discourse that all cultures are equally good and valuable. Individuals must be always treated as persons, and have their will respected within the boundaries of democracy, by all, laic or religious, cultures. But, cultures and ideas must be strongly criticised and, if that is the case, denounced.
After all I still prefer Belgium to Saudi Arabia, and it is not just because women can freely drive in the former.

Autor: Orlando Figueiredo

| Professor | Investigador | Ecologista | Ativista | Aprendente do mundo |

One thought on “Not all cultures are equally valuable

  1. Pingback: Not all cultures are equally valuable – the discussion | Pensatempos

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