August 29, 2007

Wisdom from Babes

The Thunderdragon is one of the rising stars of conservative blogging- but being a youngster within blogging tempts one to ask the question upon what basis can one criticise anyone else's views given their more extensive experience of life. The Thunderdragon provides some thoughts as to what those answers should be in a guest post here. His answer is interesting- and basically takes the form of a suggestion that whilst he accepts his limited experience compared to those who are his elders, he still thinks that the perspective of someone young deserves to be heard. As a twenty six year old blogger I am tempted to agree with him: but I think there is something else worth adding to his comments.

It isn't merely the quantity of experience that can furnish someone with an aid to understanding politics, but also the quality of that experience. Knowledge and experience are related but they are not neccessarily equivalent. To take a simple example there are plenty of seventy year olds who have less understanding than I do of economics, the science of a changing situation than I do, partly because they have never studied calculus. There will be plenty of 18 year olds with a better understanding than mine because they studied economics for longer than I did. It is not merely experience but the type of experience that matters as to whether you understand politics.

What kind of experience furnishes you with the ability to understand politics- that is the kind of question that we could spend a thousand years debating. Obviously reading vast numbers of books about history and analyses of the past helps. Obviously working in political organisations furnishes you with another kind of wisdom. Watching films and absorbing culture allows you another kind of valuable perspective, as does understanding the sciences and social sciences like economics furnishes you with another perspective. The problem is that no one of these competing experiences is enough really to sort out the whole of politics- but each allows you to have an understanding. As throughout life the more of those experiences the more you can understand- but it does depend on the type of experience you have. Watching football matches, despite the fact that is what I'm doing right at this moment, won't furnish you with much direct knowledge of politics but there are many activities which will.

Because it isn't the quantity as much as the quantity of quality experience that matters- if like the Thunderdragon, myself, Matt Sinclair or Vino Sangrapillai you have spent a long time thinking about these matters your views matter and you can even teach sometimes those who are older than you. It is also worth remembering that fetishising experience over intelligence is also a failing- a canniness and ability to think logically matters as well- training in various arts and sciences can help in that. In the end, we are all in the position where we are losing and old or young the real moment when you can tell that you have lost the ability to transmit experience into useful knowledge is the moment at which you beleive yourself not to need to learn.


Vino S said...

That's an interesting and thoughtful post. I agree with you that, because the experience of one particular person, even over a long lifetime, is limited, then attaining the age of 70 or 80 may still not give someone enough experience to know what a wide variety of political and economic situations are like. This is where I suppose theory comes in. Those who have learnt economics or read history may thus be able to bring in ideas from outside their own personal experience to broaden their perspective.