The Six Burdens of Sanity
"Sanity," says Akhtar, "has its own burdens, and fundamentalism is the treatment for those burdens." His argument spins on six specific burdens of sanity:It goes on to explain how there are normal ways of relieving these burdens, but when those are unavailable, one will turn to the fundamentalist solutions to these problems.
-- Factual uncertainty: the need to carry on even when we don't know all the facts
-- Conceptual complexity: Our ability to interpret the world, and choose our path among many
-- Moral ambiguity: There are almost no one-size-fits-all laws and rules. How do we make the punishment suit the crime?
-- Cultural impurity: Human culture is a mix of many influences, which can make establishing one's own identity difficult
-- Personal responsibility: Sometimes, shit happens. Sometimes, it's our fault. How do we accurately assign responsibility?
-- The confrontation of our own mortality: Death comes to us all, though we almost compulsively deny it.
A lot has been written about the psychology of fundamentalism and authoritarianism, and rightly so. I think it is probably one of the most important psychological problems facing civilization today. Of course, the fundamentalists might think that skeptical pluralism is the main problem to be solved. Of course for a fundamentalist, all fundamentalists of a different kind must also be considered problems.
It's like the classic Steve Jackson Games' Illuminati: Liberal groups are opposed to conservative groups, and peaceful groups are opposed to violent groups, but all fanatical groups are opposed to all other fanatical groups.