These irreducible differences
A dialogue between Irinas the dead leaves and Emmanuelles the tortoises. The Irinas believe that life is wait and mystery, but they are willing to seize the opportunities of the moment while remaining nostalgic for the past. They fear evil which knows how to take on deceptive appearances. The Emmanuelles are reasoners who prefer to trust logic rather than feelings.
Irinas: ladies turtles, have you heard Davina and Peter’s new show? These two are going to get us in trouble!
Emmanuelles: do you think so? They want to be critical but lack depth, why would that get us in trouble?
Irinas: because they laugh at humans and humans are not going to like it and are going to make us pay for it. You must always know how to recognize evil under the deceptive appearances it can take.
Emmanuelles: humans do not listen to animals and even less to plants, you have nothing to fear.
Irinas: some do and anyway, to talk about a problem is to give it more importance than it has. To ignore it when possible is not to let yourself be led by it.
Emmanuelles: but since only certain humans who are not like the others can possibly listen to the program, the problem does not arise.
Irinas: it’s not just that. Peter and Davina highlight differences and therefore increase the possibilities of tension. They foment revolt. What good is it since we live quite well as we are?
Emmanuelles: what do you suggest?
Irinas: a counter-program that we would broadcast on the radio of the water.
Emmanuelles: the frogs radio? Do they agree? They do not like humans very much, why would they want to defend them?
Irinas: because, as you have no doubt noticed, they like to make noise but are not enough to fill all the time slots and besides, they hate Peter.
Emmanuelles: ah, that makes sense. For our part, we don’t really like Davina, she’s a haughty goose.
Irinas: so, what do you say?
Emmanuelles: it’s a good idea. They talked about rights in their last two shows, we could go back to what they said and correct them.
Irinas: what do you think you’d say?
Emmanuelles: well, that ties in a bit to what Socrates made us understand better when we spoke with him recently: individuals, whether of one species or another, are all different and cannot be compared. They therefore only have rights and duties towards those who resemble them and share their views. When Peter claims that humans have a culture that distances them from nature, he is only defining what a human is. He cannot therefore reproach them for being what they are.
Irinas: those who imprison lions are therefore within their rights when they do so?
Emmanuelles: yes because that is how they have organized their values. Peter never wonders if he respects the right of frogs to live when he eats them because he doesn’t think like a frog and doesn’t want to think like a frog.
Irinas: so Davina is wrong when she says that human morals should not be based on virtual experiences since by definition, their culture creates a virtual world where language gives the illusion of a community of views.
Emmanuelles: that’s right. For us, they are neither interesting nor frequentable but it is their difference which makes them what they are and we cannot judge them by the yardstick of who we are. Our worlds are not the same. We can only accept these differences without trying to correct them.
Irinas: and what about their yoga pants story?
Emmanuelles: you can only request compassion from someone who is compassionate and so it’s an unnecessary request. Mutual aid is or is not, but cannot go from non-being to being. Respect is given only to what seems respectable.
Irinas: it follows that everyone should strive to stay in their universe surrounded by similar people without trying to impose their views on those who are different, is that what you mean?
Emmanuelles: yes, that seems logic. If everyone was right, peace would be universal, but this is not the case, so to stir up the differences is to unnecessarily disturb the waters. Better to adopt a more realistic approach which also seems more reasonable to us.
Irinas: what about natural benevolence?
Emmanuelles: it is a fiction intended to impose a unique way of thinking but in reality, it only benefits those who defend it.
Irinas: ah, it’s clear that we have enough to make a good show. We are going to talk to the frogs again and as soon as they give us a time slot, we develop these ideas on the air. What do you think?
Emmanuelles: that you know where to find us when you need us. We could even call this show “The reason of the world” if that’s okay with you.
Irinas: I think it reflects exactly what we’re going to do and I’m going to submit our idea to our amphibian friends right now.
Should we talk about differences at the risk of threatening the well-being of all?
The Irinas think that making fun of humans by showing their differences is to put oneself in the situation of superiority that they are criticized for and potentially generate revolts . On the contrary, ignoring them would be a better way to limit their influence. Advertising a problem by talking about it only increases it.
Les Emmanuelles say that differences are inescapable and that it is by recognizing and accepting this state that everyone lives well in their world. Expecting everyone to accept identical rules and share common ideas is to ignore reality.
What good is there in criticizing those who act differently from us?
Is pluralism of ideas a danger to life in a community?
Want to think a little more? See, for example, Pluralism, against the demand for consensus where Nicholas Rescher explains how the search for impossible consensus can be replaced by pragmatic arrangements.
Want to contribute to these dialogues? Write your comments and questions below.
Want to know more about the tastes of the Irinas and the Emmanuelles? Their favorite books are in the domain library.