Dispersions

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Khethil
 
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 07:01 am
It's always been easier to destroy than to create
... easier to call into question, tear down and berate than build.

This is a poisonous tool, especially in philosophy, because it tends to have the effect of tearing down something simply by calling it into question. This is bad... There is no claim you can make, no ideal you can praise that can't be questioned, picked apart and torn. I'd hazard a guess that most all of us know this - it's a plain-faced part of any philosophical discussion, yet I don't see it being called out much; some, but not much.

Bill's Hurting...
Legit and Non-Legit examples of "not the point" Dispersions cast[INDENT] Bill: "It's terrible that Lloyd's dog got ran over by a car"
Sally: "... not NEARLY as bad as the Holocaust"
Not the point - unnecessarily diminutive

Bill: "I love ice cream!"
Sally: "... just think of all the torture those dairy cows endure!"
Not the point - though perhaps true, has no bearing on taste-bud response

Bill: "Isn't that a nice church? I love the architecture"
Sally: "I'll bet no one talked about nice architecture when the crusades started slaughtering"
Not the Point - mean spirited redirect

Bill: "My! That's a cute baby..."
Sally: "Yea but I doubt her mother knows who the father is"
Not the Point - Vitriolic demonizing

Bill: "I'm happy to have social security, it's nice to know I can get back some of my contribution when I need it"
Sally: "You're a big-government socialist"
Not the Point - name calling and mis association
[/INDENT]The subtle result, for many, is an unjustified turn around that shouldn't have had anything to do with the assertion. What is left, subconsciously is the following:

  • It's OK the dog got ran over
  • Ice cream tastes horrible
  • Architectural appreciation is petty
  • Babies aren't cute unless mommy's pure
  • Wallow in your guilt for your retired years

The point is: We cast "not the point" dispersions a lot, as a species. I see this most profusely in the political media and in places like The Forum here. What I find most troubling about this, is that it seems to work. All I have to do is call something into question and POOF, it's credibility is diminished regardless of how much that questioning has to do with the statement at hand. It goes on and on...

Another manifestation of this is the accusation-based dispersion:[INDENT]Allow me to waltz into your place of work, saunter into your bosses office and have *5* minutes to accuse you of some widely-disgusting act and I guarantee you: No matter how baseless it is, how ridiculous, all I need do is call your credibility into question and you're toast - guaranteed. Whether we're talking about ideas or people, the ability to discredit or redirect simply by calling into question (no matter how not-the-point) is a wide-reaching, undiscriminating axe that needs to stop.
[/INDENT]So it's a switch we trip over constantly. And where this is the case, I think it MUST be called out; here and everywhere. Not-the-point or Unnecessary Dispersions that seek to discredit an idea or person are low and quite damaging. As a result, many resort to never proposing anything - simply sitting on the sidelines tossing stones at that which they don't agree with, or waiting for that opportunity to grind that axe. We're better than this!

Anyone care to agree or disagree? I'm not sure I've enunciated that very well. Comments and criticisms (yes, even dispersions) is invited.

Thanks

~~~~~~~
Note: As a turnout demonstration, and since most people don't read down this far, I wonder who will call out that last example; question it, as a bad example. Even if it is, the ideal it illustrates, I believe, is quite valid - but I think it quite likely someone will cast a dispersion on the example itself; and in some small way, diminish its validity - not because the ideal is wrong, but because it hits an issue saturated with hate and negativity. I hope this illustration is received in the spirit I intend.
 
xris
 
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 08:46 am
@Khethil,
Your being very cynical of your fellows, but is that not something your commenting on? you cant really complain by not complaining that's the nature of the beast.

Human nature, I'm afraid, controversy is always more interesting than polite approval. I'm always polite to strangers and never make disparaging remarks they are preserved, well nearly always, well most of the time.OK hardly ever.

The weather is always topical if its bad, the food is always noted if its sad. My attempts at being nice are never quoted, but my anger is always noted.
 
Fido
 
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 09:08 am
@Khethil,
Debby downer always gets the first seat on the bus... The fact is that humaan behavior can be very depressing, and some depressed people see only that...

It may be hard to be a china doll in a room full of iconoclasts; but we should always, and all the time compare our forms with the reality we represent...I was telling my sister about a little charity I use which I use to divert money from the government to give to the natives who have never got what we promised them...My sister asked if I thought helping them, government money and charity actually helped them... She does not see it doing any good, so she sees no purpose for doing so...I say: If you owe a person money, and you expect they will spend it on drugs and alcohol; then what is that to you... First pay your debts, and then you have some basis for interdiction, or even interest...It is too easy to say that bad will result from good, as it often seems to, and not do good...In fact, she justifies not doing anything for anyone...I only justify justice... So, I send hundreds of pounds of clothes, and it make a couple of thousand dollars difference in my taxes, and so, I can do it all over again the following year, and the cost is covered except for the space, the gas, the time, and the effort... What little it takes is nothing if I will not justify not doing nothing... I do not think I am doing anything special...I am not giving them more than their due, and far less... It is what I can do.... The facts being what they are, I cannot expect humanity to be better because they are obviously worse... Rather, we improve ourselves, and it is through the philosopher's stone of truth that we do so... If we do not deny what we are individually, or as a species, we are on firm ground, mentally and spiritual...Expecting little from others, we can be amazed at the goodness they often reveal...
 
chad3006
 
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 09:15 am
@Khethil,
I'll give an example of a strawman argument:

Oh, Khethil, so PF isn't good enough for you! You'd be happy if it was just deleted from the net! Well I, for one, think PF is worth keeping!

Laughing
 
jgweed
 
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 09:55 am
@Khethil,
Perhaps we should make a distinction when we talk about "calling something into question," especially when we talk about philosophy. On the one hand, some calling into question is much like slander in that it leaves a permanent stigma even if proven false. On the other hand, a philosophical "calling into question" seems almost a definition of Western Philosophy since Socrates roamed the streets of Athens and challenged common conceptions, for example, of justice. Philosophy challenges the world and presents new ways of thinking that either in part or in whole replace older ways of seeing things; much of what we would like to call civilisation has been the result of the contests between perspectives, in which a "false" view was discarded for a "better" view.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 09:59 am
@xris,
xris;92395 wrote:
Your being very cynical of your fellows, but is that not something your commenting on? you cant really complain by not complaining that's the nature of the beast.


Hey Xris,

Oh I suppose... some of us, me sometimes. It feels like this happens a lot; that it's something productive to recognize. That's all

---------- Post added 09-21-2009 at 11:06 AM ----------

chad3006;92410 wrote:
Oh, Khethil, so PF isn't good enough for you! You'd be happy if it was just deleted from the net! Well I, for one, think PF is worth keeping!


Wow, interesting take

We all have pitfalls to avoid, to say we have them isn't an indictment of the place we're meeting, it's a "If the Shoe Fits"-proposition that each of us ought to look at individually whether here, at your friend's house, a family post-dinner talk about <whatever>. Philosophy is alive and kicking; we share our views all over, many times a day. So no, we're not just talking about the forum.

I like our place here, a place where we can talk about just such a thing; to discuss philosophies on how we philosophize.

Don't you?

---------- Post added 09-21-2009 at 11:10 AM ----------

jgweed;92427 wrote:
Perhaps we should make a distinction when we talk about "calling something into question," especially when we talk about philosophy. On the one hand, some calling into question is much like slander in that it leaves a permanent stigma even if proven false. On the other hand, a philosophical "calling into question" seems almost a definition of Western Philosophy since Socrates roamed the streets of Athens and challenged common conceptions, for example, of justice. Philosophy challenges the world and presents new ways of thinking that either in part or in whole replace older ways of seeing things; much of what we would like to call civilisation has been the result of the contests between perspectives, in which a "false" view was discarded for a "better" view.


All true. It's one thing to question, what I'm talking about is distinctly different. Perhaps I didn't get that across very well.

Appreciation for the method of questioning is good! It's needful, but questioning too often takes the form of a damnation, rather than a question seeking an answer. And appreciation for questioning norms is often used as a place to justify the kinds of damnation I outlined. This is especially harmful in any environment where we wish to foster communication. Don't you think so?

Be skeptical, be inquisitive, ask, prod, seek justification - by all means! But let that not be used as a justification for derision; because yes, it happens.

Hope that made sense - thank you.
 
rhinogrey
 
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 10:59 am
@Khethil,
The trouble lies in the categorical imperative. People operate under the assumption that something need fit into a constrained set and do not consider the inner area of the Venn diagram. Thus, we go to war.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 12:01 pm
@rhinogrey,
Kh:
Indeed, what often goes on is people asking questions designed to deride the conversation or even, I think more insideously, ask them in a manner that sets up the argument for their own opinions. neither of these are legitimate forms of philosophy as traditionally practiced although they are very effective rhetorical devices. It is difficult however to set aside your own opinons and beliefs (ego) and ask the open ended critical questions that make philosophy work. I have a hard time setting aside my ego and ideology to hear a discussion and let that discussion go where it may and conclude at its best rational conculsion. We need not abandon our ideals to do this, simply set them aside for the sake of the discussion. One of the reasons I enjoy this place is that many people, not all, are able to do this. At times my humanity is called into question when I set aside emotion and ideaology to discuss something out there in RL. "how could you say such a thing blah blah". I have respect for those people with obvious passion about a topic here on PF, I do however wish, and I include myself here, that sometimes it were more of a place of abstracted discussion and less a place of personal agenda propogandism.

Cheers,
Russ
 
Fido
 
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 12:08 pm
@jgweed,
jgweed;92427 wrote:
Perhaps we should make a distinction when we talk about "calling something into question," especially when we talk about philosophy. On the one hand, some calling into question is much like slander in that it leaves a permanent stigma even if proven false. On the other hand, a philosophical "calling into question" seems almost a definition of Western Philosophy since Socrates roamed the streets of Athens and challenged common conceptions, for example, of justice. Philosophy challenges the world and presents new ways of thinking that either in part or in whole replace older ways of seeing things; much of what we would like to call civilisation has been the result of the contests between perspectives, in which a "false" view was discarded for a "better" view.

It is essential to question, and yet, Socrates did not just question, but made the worse seem the better... And it is strange, that surrounded with natural people with their more natural a primitive societies, that he did not more question his own presumptions about his own society... He wanted to remake it without understanding it... His understanding was limited...Okay... So he did not like his world... Did he care to trace how it became that way, or did he presume it always so... Change is everywhere...Only a fool thinks he can master change without understanding all the circumstances...

---------- Post added 09-21-2009 at 02:10 PM ----------

rhinogrey;92449 wrote:
The trouble lies in the categorical imperative. People operate under the assumption that something need fit into a constrained set and do not consider the inner area of the Venn diagram. Thus, we go to war.

All your sets are forms, and every form structures a relationship, and if the form does not serve the relationship then it should be questioned..
 
Khethil
 
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 03:47 pm
@Khethil,
Good points.

Questioning to understand, refute, request proof and such is fine and a needful part. There is a big distinction between this and what I'm calling out. See my examples in the OP; I'm not sure I could put it any plainer. The kind of destruction, such as I cited doesn't even make much sense, yet we see it every day.

Again, thanks for your clarifications and observations
 
Fido
 
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2009 10:56 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil;92526 wrote:
Good points.

Questioning to understand, refute, request proof and such is fine and a needful part. There is a big distinction between this and what I'm calling out. See my examples in the OP; I'm not sure I could put it any plainer. The kind of destruction, such as I cited doesn't even make much sense, yet we see it every day.

Again, thanks for your clarifications and observations

Not even a single percent of what humanity does makes sense... We are not rational... Make the reasoned argument, and turn your teloscope to the future so your moves are more reasoned than chess...But if you wish to change humanity and the way people do business, you must make them feel differently...Emotions find their reasons.... Desire finds the key if it must try a million doors... People excuse what they want no matter how base... Now, if we thought about what we do we would not do it... Would we burn a mountain of coal to light some meaningless spectical knowing our grandchildren would shiver in winter and starve in the fall as a result... We blind ourselves and are blinding... The self is fed as though it is the only reality, while humanity dies... Why can we not be better??? The answer is simple... We share a general pessimisim, and it fuels most of our religion, and all of our politics, and it justifies our economics, the economics of waste and destruction... There is only death in our society... We feel that way and accept it... And it is obvious, that individuals livee and die... No primitive would say his death was the end of anything, because they are all a part of something bigger than themselves... They felt differently about themselves and about their communities...We can barely feel at all... For how many of us is reason a refuge... We can tally the seconds of our lives, or our tax deduction but if we dare feel all we feel is lonely and empty... This Frankenstein society needs to be shocked into life... It is a corpse... It needs to feel, and this place needs to be feeling friendly...
 
salima
 
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 02:15 am
@Fido,
Fido;92629 wrote:
Not even a single percent of what humanity does makes sense... We are not rational... Make the reasoned argument, and turn your teloscope to the future so your moves are more reasoned than chess...But if you wish to change humanity and the way people do business, you must make them feel differently...Emotions find their reasons.... Desire finds the key if it must try a million doors... People excuse what they want no matter how base... Now, if we thought about what we do we would not do it... Would we burn a mountain of coal to light some meaningless spectical knowing our grandchildren would shiver in winter and starve in the fall as a result... We blind ourselves and are blinding... The self is fed as though it is the only reality, while humanity dies... Why can we not be better??? The answer is simple... We share a general pessimisim, and it fuels most of our religion, and all of our politics, and it justifies our economics, the economics of waste and destruction... There is only death in our society... We feel that way and accept it... And it is obvious, that individuals livee and die... No primitive would say his death was the end of anything, because they are all a part of something bigger than themselves... They felt differently about themselves and about their communities...We can barely feel at all... For how many of us is reason a refuge... We can tally the seconds of our lives, or our tax deduction but if we dare feel all we feel is lonely and empty... This Frankenstein society needs to be shocked into life... It is a corpse... It needs to feel, and this place needs to be feeling friendly...


are you talking about the whole world or just america? i see people feel a lot here, but i find that either it is going the wrong way or at the wrong time in the wrong place, so it is counterproductive. i agree people have to be able to feel to the limit, that would be task number one- but there also has to be restraint. just as there are men and women, there is reason and feelings-both are necessarily to survive, they just need to be in synch.

i dont see any chance of there coming anything along that will shock anyone here (on earth). we pretty much seen and done it all, dont you think so?

so outside of that happening to turn us around, you think we are doomed?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2009 02:51 am
@Khethil,
I agree that these particular types of rhetoric are often pointless. It can be a sign that the opponent hasn't really understood what you're saying, or can't think of a reasonable grounds to oppose it, so will resort to one of these tactics, often without really understanding what they are doing.
 
Whoever
 
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 05:23 am
@Khethil,
Is it not inevitable that metaphysics is a negative process, all about the destruction of dogmatic superstitions? It proceeds by abduction, the refutation of false views, and its final and perennial result is that all positive metaphysical position are demonstrably absurd.

In order to make metaphysics a positive activity, not just an inconoclastic process of blundering about in the shop breaking china dolls, it would be necessary to take this result and make something of it, as did Kant, Hegel, Bradley, Spinoza etc.
 
Khethil
 
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 05:52 am
@Whoever,
Hey Who,

Whoever;97623 wrote:
Is it not inevitable that metaphysics is a negative process, all about the destruction of dogmatic superstitions?


I wasn't talking about metaphysics directly; as a question of metaphilosophy, this is a philosophical ideal about the process if philosophy directly. But to your question; perhaps - though I don't think that's its best iteration. One could posit that the destruction of dogmatic superstitions is a part of it - sure.

Whoever;97623 wrote:
It proceeds by abduction, the refutation of false views, and its final and perennial result is that all positive metaphysical position are demonstrably absurd.


Where that's the case, that's certainly one way to go about it. Some times effective, sometimes not.
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 06:42 am
@salima,
salima;92643 wrote:
are you talking about the whole world or just america? i see people feel a lot here, but i find that either it is going the wrong way or at the wrong time in the wrong place, so it is counterproductive. i agree people have to be able to feel to the limit, that would be task number one- but there also has to be restraint. just as there are men and women, there is reason and feelings-both are necessarily to survive, they just need to be in synch.

i dont see any chance of there coming anything along that will shock anyone here (on earth). we pretty much seen and done it all, dont you think so?

so outside of that happening to turn us around, you think we are doomed?

We need to take the clocks off our walls, out of our workplaces, off our phones and off our wrists, and get them in our minds, and into our hearts... We need a sense of time, and not just some device to mark time... We need to see where we have come from, and how far we have yet to go... We need to grasp that there is a future out there waiting for us and for our children if we take care of what we have now, and do not destroy too much to have just a little bit more...We need a sense of the eternal to see our place in this moment...
 
Whoever
 
Reply Thu 15 Oct, 2009 05:03 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil,

I don't think it's a matter of opinion. Metaphysics proceeds by abduction, by the elimination of false views. (It is Bradley who calls it an 'antidote to dogmatic superstition,' and for this reason). Its result is the absurdity of all positive metaphysical positions. This is the only reason why metaphysical problems are undecidable in traditional European metaphysics, and it is a result that is rarely disputed.

It's whether we should take any notice of this result that divides opinion. Kant, Hegel, Bradley, Schroedinger, Heraclitus, Spinoza and others of like mind, Buddhists and Taoists for example, take it to be reliable evidence that all such positions are false and that theirs is true. Everyone else must find a different interpretation.
 
 

 
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