Excuses.

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011 @ 1:36 am | Politics

No blogging because a) arguing in this thread, the most recent response costing me an entire evening and a sour honeybunny and b):

If you want one good link that speaks volumes, this is it.

-hw

15 Responses to “Excuses.”

  1. Do our friends on the left prefer arguing with conservatives to sex? « Common Sense Political Thought Says:

    […] then, at 0136 this morning (2236 his time), Fletcher Rhys favorite father wrote: No blogging because a) arguing in this thread, the most recent response costing me an entire […]

  2. AJKamper Says:

    Wow. There is some serious hate in that thread. Sad.

  3. Henry Whistler Says:

    Yeah, we’re pretty antagonistic towards each other, but that’s never an excuse to employ bad reasoning. I think it’s clear that I’m essentially defending a rational stance, whereas DNW is simply throwing every attack he can dream up to defend calling liberals soulless organisms, because he says it’s true by their own standards. Of course, as we’ve mentioned before, it’s a pivot to then claim those standards aren’t rational. I don’t find a Christian basis for rights to be rational, but that doesn’t mean those Christians don’t believe in rights.

  4. AJKamper Says:

    I wasn’t really just commenting on the vitriol between the two of you (though that’s there as well), but the real bile that DNW and his ilk have for people who don’t think as he does. Sure, it goes both ways a little bit, but that sort of soul-destroying hatred they have is… well, not real Christian, that’s for damn sure.

  5. Henry Whistler Says:

    Yeah, when you start referring to your opponent as “it,” laugh at murdered Americans for being Communists, and then tell the liberal you’re arguing with that he’s no different from them, you’re really unmooring yourself from any solid foundation from which to articulate the flaws in other people’s arguments.

  6. Henry Whistler Says:

    You know, I had my approach sharpened long ago in the great telnet debates of the 90’s, where people of all stripes and education levels were battling it out in the philosophy, political issues, and serious discussion forums. I’d go to war with philosophy students, theology majors, whoever. I wasn’t really afraid because if they could scoop me on something, I’d learn my lesson and move forward. I treated debate as an educational practice, where I learned to shed dead weight and acquire better tools.

    Still, I’ve never had the patience nor desired to spend the time plowing through stacks of philosophy books myself unless something jumped out at me, more often picking up my insights by studying the universe scientifically and sponging off the insights of great scientists, or sometimes just the smarter guys in those debate forums who I agreed with. So often I would start arguing with somebody who had more education in that particular field, e.g. debating the Gospels with a guy who had a master’s in theology.

    There was always this urge on their part to try lording something they thought they knew better over me. It would work, temporarily, until I would tackle that thing, learn it, and find a solution to my problem. So the guy who kept telling me about historical analysis of the Gospels didn’t have much to say after I used the same technique to blow holes through the historical accuracy of the Gospels.

    Another guy kept battering me over and over again in a discussion over warranted beliefs and epistemology. He said a belief was internalistically warranted, I said that wasn’t good enough, and must have written half a book going over it with him, until I finally went and did more research and found the answer fairly quickly. My answer wasn’t really different, but I found the right term to apply to my answer, in that I was speaking of externalistic warranting of belief. I lambasted that fucker, because he had to have known what I was talking about the entire time, he just thought he could pose a question to me that I couldn’t answer, and therefore dismiss everything I said. As soon as I popped his bubble, he dissipated and said no more.

    I’m aware that the steps I laid out for justifying intrinsic human rights probably lack enough precision to be any kind of final draft, and I’m happy to debate where they might fall short.

    But it’s interesting to me to see you come in and say, “Oh, I recognize right away what HW is talking about, this philosopher laid out similar principles before…” after DNW spends weeks and months trying to twist and distort everything I said into an unrecognizable condition.

    It seems to me that philosophy should aspire to create greater understanding, not be used as a weapon to obscure it.

    If you want to know one book that stands out in my mind that is somewhat related, please check out Looking for Spinoza by Antonio Damasio. F’ing sublime look at neuroscience and the evolution of feeling and morality.

  7. AJKamper Says:

    You know, I had my approach sharpened long ago in the great telnet debates of the 90?s, where people of all stripes and educate levels were battling it out in the philosophy, political issues, and serious discussion forums.

    I’m despondent that you haven’t yet recognized me from those… or maybe you have and are being coy out of respect for my privacy. 🙂

    But it’s interesting to me to see you come in and say, “Oh, I recognize right away what HW is talking about, this philosopher laid out similar principles before…” after DNW spends weeks and months trying to twist and distort everything I said into an unrecognizable condition.

    It seems to me that philosophy should aspire to create greater understanding, not be used as a weapon to obscure it.”

    This. DNW’s goal isn’t rational debate; it’s simply to find further justifications of what he already believes. (Example: looking to take apart that Radin article I posted, not out of actual disagreement or even engagement with the ideas, but because it looks MARXIST (though it isn’t) or even plain ol’ preogressive.) I’ve got more patience for it right now because I haven’t butted heads with him before, but it’s a good example of a dishonest debater. Instead of taking your statements in good faith and trying to find where they have good and bad points, he’s just using his (not inconsiderable) philosophical knowledge as a bludgeon. It’s an ugly and mean-spirited tactic.

    I think you can tell an honest arguer by whether or not, when presented with weaknesses or imprecise statements, looks to make the best of them so there can be a fair discussion, or looks to tear them down based on small errors that could be easily explained. He’s a classic example of the latter.

    Personally, I think our recognition of others’ basic humanity (which is what your “fractal nature of the universe” comes down to, doesn’t it?) is generally good but probably doesn’t stand as a “WHY” to treat others well: there have been many, many people who believe the world is a “kill or be killed,” and their recognition of others’ humanity doesn’t induce them to think the Other has any sort of rights to speak of. I tend to simply say that treating others well is a value in and of itself–it’s a fundamental premise, which is just as valid as a Christian saying God waved his magic wand and made people important somehow. But you can get to “rights” without that, just based on enlightened self-interest and fairness. You could probably throw social contracts in there too. AT any rate, I’m certainly interested in discussing that here with someone who, you know, takes other perspectives seriously.

    And thanks for the Damasio recommendation–I’ll do that. I’m feeling like my dilettante’s understanding of neuroscience is lagging behind lately.

  8. Henry Whistler Says:

    Exactly. Seriously, today he quotes me taking several paragraphs to answer his question of how a person comes to know their rights exist, and then calls me a troll.

    I answer his questions, I ask questions but get no answers. How is that supposed to convince me I’m on the wrong track? Why would I throw all standards out the window and surrender? Just because DNW is so awesome and cool? What exactly am I supposed to do with that? I guess I could ignore it, but what fun would that be?

    So I keep swatting it back at him. What, he’s going to call me obsessive when he’s written 457 responses to my 465?

    Well, yes, he will. His standards just seem entirely arbitrary. Hate clouds.

  9. Henry Whistler Says:

    As for the other bit, if things are “kill or be killed” then that’s an environment where rights exactly are nothing more than your personal convictions. Yes, it’ll be really unjust that you got your head chopped off, but your rights won’t glue it back on. You can still be equals, but also equally beholden to the survival instinct. Any person who would kill puts their own life on the table, that’s also a form of equality.

    So “kill or be killed” doesn’t necessarily alter the why of rights. I am being compelled to kill at the cost of my own life, not of my own free will.

    And my argument certainly has room for individuals who write off the rights of others. Of course people do. That’s by and large the history of humankind, we’re very good at denying others their rights, and believing we’re doing good while we’re at it. I just say that people will get together and hammer it out, I don’t say they’ll necessarily find the best answer. In fact, it’s a certainty they won’t, but you already get this. Because it won’t match my vision of what rights are!

    And maybe I’m agreeing with the Christians too much for you;) What DNW never followed up on that I thought was curious was when I mentioned that Christian rights theory was actually a shorthand way of getting at the truth. Everything has to be so literal with them!

    I think it’s shorthand for that beauty, that poetry of our existence, that resonance. Christians found a way of literalizing the incredible value of even the most inconsequential lives. Sure, they don’t always practice what they preach…but I think that’s partially because fairy tale magic spirit goo kind of cheapens the whole thing. It’s shorthand, not the actual understanding of that value. So I have that problem with it. But it says, if humans really are that goddamn fucking amazing, each and every one of them, then that deserves them rights. Such glory is owed something, right? And for me, in a universe mostly lifeless (at least by sheer volume), the rarity of life is only enhanced all the more. Sure, there’s seven billion of us here, but you could give each of us our own solar system and it wouldn’t make a galaxy cluster.

    I just find it odd that I could talk about a “soul” and be taken completely seriously by most people, but I talk about fractal resonance and I’m talking crazy. Eh? Is it really that strange to discuss the magic of life without actual magic?

  10. AJKamper Says:

    As for the other bit, if things are “kill or be killed” then that’s an environment where rights exactly are nothing more than your personal convictions. Yes, it’ll be really unjust that you got your head chopped off, but your rights won’t glue it back on. You can still be equals, but also equally beholden to the survival instinct. Any person who would kill puts their own life on the table, that’s also a form of equality.

    Sorry, that turn of phrase was obfuscating. Here’s what I mean: there are people who believe that it’s a kill or be killed world–or lesser variants of that–even when it isn’t. Soulless capitalism is a good example of this: “Greed is good.” For those people, seeing oneself reflected in someone else isn’t sufficient to believe that those others have rights. That’s quite different from necessary self-defense, of course.

    The interesting question that DNW’s bringing up, which is really difficult to answer in ANY theory of rights (including his, I strongly suspect) is simply “How do you convince someone else to respect your own rights? Or a third party’s?” Just for fun, I’ll break down some of the usual responses:

    Christians: God dunnit, and he real, and he KICK YOUR ASS if you disagree.

    Objectivists: Rights are real! I can touch them! They’re over there! So what if I “proved” this from a blatant tautology?

    Locke/Hobbes: IF we’re gonna live together, we better figure out a way to be nice. [Editor’s note: This does not justify basic human rights, just rights within a government.]

    Kant: Enlightened self-interest–treat others well so they’ll treat you well. (And I love all the work that’s been done on the evolution of cooperation.)

    Rawls: We all want to be treated fairly, and the best way to do this is to treat others fairly.

    And then there’s your idea: People are awesome, but since we all have different ways of figuring out what awesomeness entails, we should try to accommodate those. (This really isn’t far off from Rawls.) The problem, of course, is convincing someone that everyone is awesome.

  11. Henry Whistler Says:

    And I’d note that what you say of Locke/Hobbes and Kant is entirely agreeable to me as well. They’re all true. Why shouldn’t they be? They’re all kind of about how self-interest in a population necessarily leads to rights, at least intellectually. Yes, in an individual it often leads to a drive for the most power and protection they can accumulate for themselves, but when that puts your neighbors in the shithole they might come after you;)

    It’s necessarily hard to come up with a philosophy of “it’s all about me” that can only pay off for a small minority yet win popular appeal. Unless you’re a Republican…

    I should add that I’m even a bit partial to the Objectivists. Rights have value as truth even if they are not recognized or perfectly specified. I was being flippant about them being only in your head.

    Finally, you’re absolutely right that DNW is likely unable to describe any system that can escape the criticisms he levels at others, which is why he won’t answer my questions on that subject. Especially since all his criticisms were stolen from theists.

  12. jtl909 Says:

    What sort of a person spends their time developing reasons to deny individuals basic human dignity?

  13. Liberal Shark Says:

    It’s good that you’re taking a break from posting blatant misinformation.

    “Inflation is the least of our worries right now and there’s no sign that it’s going to be an issue in the future.” ~ November 2010 quote from an Iowa Liberal author

  14. mike g Says:

    Right…and inflation still isn’t an issue.

    Why the hell are you bringing this up now?

  15. Henry Whistler Says:

    You’d think he would at least bring some evidence, no?