America | Clarissa’s Blog: If we can get people out of their metaphysical mindsets, so that the learn to evaluate models in a very cold, not at all emotional way, that will be very good. It ought to be possible for people to read a book from a perspective that is not their own, perhaps even one they think is fatally flawed, and still be able to gain some knowledge and some nourishment from it. By contrast, if everything is put under the microscope to determine its moral flaws, we will only learn to fine-tune our criticisms in a way that makes us focus more and more on imperfections.
The cure for such petty self-flagellation and flagellation of others is to move beyond relativist paradigms, which always feed our emotional needs to feel important, and to look at reality as an engineer would look at a blueprint for a machine. We could, for instance look at Russian society and evaluate that (let’s suggest a random figure for now), 30 percent of all mental effort is directed toward the struggle for survival. Then we could look at US society, which may involve a smaller percentage typically. Of course, as with all engineered projects, the blueprint itself may not turn out to be perfectly right. Indeed, my analogy itself breaks down at certain points, since reality is not set up to facilitate what we humans like to view as perfection — reality is what it is, not a measure of our human desire for pre-existing order.
in any case, a person having lived in two different cultures could possibly furnish us with a graphic to help us to gauge her sense of the differences between one culture and another. If that person were scientific-minded and thoughtful, that would probably turn out to give us a much deeper appreciation of the general distinctions between Russia and America.