But as I've gotten older I've begun to realize that human beings are influenced much more by things like strong emotions (fear, anger, indignation), ideology, and social prejudices than by logic, reason, or rationality. Case in point: The South. The Huffington Post had a wonderful article recently that shows just how backwards the entire region we call the South is on just about any measure of social progress:
Prior to the last presidential election, film-maker Angela Pelosi tried to understand the anti-governmental attitudes of people in Mississippi, one of the most backward states in the Union, according to the data in the Huffington Post article. While the people she interviewed may be more extreme than the average Mississippian, the attitudes expressed seem to be typical, insofar as the citizens of this state continue to vote consistently against their own self-interest:
So, if large segments of our American population seem to be totally impervious to rational arguments and even self-evident facts, how is it possible to persuade such individuals of the "truth"? Either one has to resort to flagrantly rhetorical appeals to emotion (hardly philosophical) or one attempts to engage in rational discourse, knowing that his or her arguments will inevitably fall on deaf ears.
In short, how can philosophical argumentation work at all in a society where the average citizen hasn't been educated to understand the value of reason in the first place? It's a dilemma that I don't have any easy answers for. I can't help thinking, however, that this great love affair that we Americans are currently having with the irrational doesn't bode too well for the future of our country.