The Psychology of Conviction: A Study of Beliefs and Attitudes

By Joseph Jastrow | Go to book overview

VIII
THE DEMOCRATIC SUSPICION OF EDUCATION

IN the survey of "cases" of conviction the transition is now to be made to the active arena of controversial questions. As a part of their history all important beliefs have passed through controversial stages. In the process of establishment the newer candidate encounters the accredited prestige of the older claimant. Dispossession in intellectual sovereignty is difficult; for it must overcome the conservative forces of adjustment and the adherence to systems and causes that have grown into the intellectual and emotional fiber of both popular and influential conservative minds. The raising of doubts disturbs an adjusted attitude; this is naturally an unwelcome procedure. When it meets the entrenched positions that have been long occupied and have developed cherished associations and warmly espoused loyalties, its reception is still more aggressively resisted. Heresy is the familiar charge that brings the issue to trial; persecutions for radical, dissenting, subversive convictions are frequent and far from creditable incidents in the history of thought. When excommunication and social ostracism are superseded as incompatible with the accredited standards of tolerance, ridicule and suspicion may take their place. The controversy that displaced the earth from its central position in the cosmic

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