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Author Topic: gorgias, we turn our hopeful eyes to you  (Read 11276 times)
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dhex
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« on: August 26, 2009, 10:57:43 AM »

yes it's time for a new rhetoric thread. the old one started because one of matt's friends was a vapid bitch; this one starts because i am a vapid bitch.

and it specifically starts with a question, hopefully unloaded as much as possible: how does one respect the entrenched emotional and moral values of others that they do not share without actually just saying "ok, ok" whenever a point of disagreement arises. (the normal example here would be religious, but i think it applies to animal rightists, abortion pro or con, my own anti-state feelings, etc)
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loopback
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« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2009, 03:50:47 PM »

by changing the rules of engagement, i think.  Make it about understanding their premises & why they think what they do, and less about discussing the specific facts at hand in the more usual pro/con debate style.

at least that way they feel like they're being listened to, your disagreement can take the form of questions that are trying to make their (obviously insane to you) position clearer, and nobody feels like it's a shouting match.

ideally.
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dmauro
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« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2009, 04:37:19 PM »

Avoid those subjects. If it comes up, it's not rude to say you don't want to talk about it.
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dhex
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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2009, 10:05:52 AM »

loopback: i think that's probably the best way to react, all things considered. one problem arises when you hit premises that are simply incompatible. on the other hand, that's going to be an endgame scenario regardless and there's only so much one can do.

that's especially a problem when dealing with a system that has its own jargon, especially stuff that repurposes or reframes common usage; i know an ok objectivist (he's not a bad guy, but...yeah) and he does this sometimes.* you get mired into a "what the hell do you really mean by 'cosmology'?" sidebar that's absolutely fatiguing.

dave: you can't really avoid it if you're interested in talking with people about it, but don't want to just listen to other people talk without any real input (or honest reaction) on your part. i've done that, don't get me wrong, but yo ho ho an ethnographer's life for me only gets ya so far.

* speaking of which, the whole randian concept of the "Benevolent Universe" is fascinating. not because the idea is particularly interesting but that it comes out of one of the more famous atheists is almost bewildering.
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loopback
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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2009, 08:53:30 PM »

I find that the way to deal with jargon is to just start acting really stupid and asking them to explain it in plain english.  I do this to myself when I find myself slipping into jargon and shorthand that's very clearly cultural/mileu specific, both to keep my sounding like less of a jerkass and to make sure that I know what I'm talking about.

because whenever i slip into NerdSpeak on any topic, chances are good I'm running with entire backpacks full of assumptions that might be horseshit. and often are.  I'm kind of a glib fucker a lot of the time, which makes it easy to skate on keywords and interesting puns.
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Fitz
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« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2009, 02:02:29 PM »

how does one respect the entrenched emotional and moral values of others that they do not share without actually just saying "ok, ok" whenever a point of disagreement arises.

I keep a couple of assumptions in any interaction

A) No one is smart enough to be 100% wrong.
B) I'm not smart enough to be 100% right.
C) No one's present viewpoint will be the same as their final viewpoint on a subject.

Since in most cases I'm more interested in how people extract meaning for their individual existence than I am in assuming that those extracted meaning systems need to be correct it makes conversations with all sorts of folks pretty easy.

Some topics will tweak me, usually for personal reasons or because the dissonance from reality of someone's viewpoint is potentially dangerous to more than themselves, but even then I think it is more useful to work around the seams of their beliefs and maybe pull a few threads to loosen their certainty.
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dhex
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« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2009, 04:30:38 PM »

Quote
A) No one is smart enough to be 100% wrong.
B) I'm not smart enough to be 100% right.
C) No one's present viewpoint will be the same as their final viewpoint on a subject.

a good rule of thumb. or at the very least, a good way to keep from taking anything too personally in these exchanges.

one thing that keeps poking me in the brain is the whole "benevolent universe" concept:

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/benevolent_universe_premise.html

and was part of what prompted this thread (the other part being some animal rights essays i was reading and simply don't get, for lack of a better term)

this just melts my fucking mind, yo. hardcore atheist posits a mechanistic universe THAT LOVES YOU. caveat: so long as you do things right, or else the universe won't love you. i see it as another symptom of that deep love of jargon and counterintuitive word meaning games that objectivists and other personality-driven affinity groups so often display.

or perhaps it means rand was in on operation mindfuck?
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dhex
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« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2009, 04:40:00 PM »

putting on my pointing and laughing hat:

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200907/ideas-index

the atlantic does their usual "let's invite a bunch of people to say wacky shit cause it's summer and we're on vacation". ok.

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200907/ideas-artists

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If the Obama administration is serious about stimulating the economy and creating as many new jobs as possible, one choice is clear: it should announce a massive increase in federal arts funding. Artists are among the very poorest citizens. When they get cash, they spend it both quickly and carefully.

now, of course i think wpa style programs are fucking hideously shitty but my dislike of the idea itself aside, the notion that artists are somehow financial geniuses is at severe odds with their being "among the poorest citizens". or so it would seem at first glance. the real issue is that they're so hard-working and careful that they don't have time to make money. Smiley

or something. honestly i have no idea what he's banging on about.
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Fitz
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« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2009, 09:53:40 PM »

Sounds more like he is suggesting that they are spending geniuses rather than financial geniuses.

"Hey, give Bob money.  He'll buy the fuck out of things," isn't much better though.
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dhex
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« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2009, 09:43:41 AM »

the general premise of "let's spend tax money to get us another jackson pollack" would be offensive were it not hilarious. i realize i'm a basically a well-read shanty barbarian at heart and all but i'd like to think that people sometimes consider what it is they're asking for from the world around them, if only momentarily.

speaking of barbarism, i was amused by two variations of this barzun-lite diatribe coupled with enough presumptions about the good life to fill a van:

http://www.city-journal.org/2008/18_1_single_young_men.html

http://www.city-journal.org/2008/18_4_darwinist_dating.html

edit: i have certainly made criticisms that seem to echo these but mine were a) the result of a small sample pool of highly kooky people - and further tainted by narrow self-selection, paranoid sampling methodologies and cartoons about children from japan as a constant variable and mythological boogieman and b) based more in a kind of horror of seeing a 1970s freeman jeremiad and a neil postman diatribe have retarded babies who would explicate the plotlines of battlestar galactica for 5000 words but would adopt a posture of petulant learned helplessness - i.e. "this is hard but it's not my fault" - in the face of a concept like fica.

they're no better than creationists, they're far more dangerous than creationists and there's a lot more of them than there are creationists.

dear lord i'm doing it again...

double edit: others may find her idiotic invocation of darwin the most offensive/useless part of the second essay, but i think the presumptions that surround it are even dumber.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2009, 10:49:43 AM by dhex » Logged
Fitz
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« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2009, 06:25:08 PM »

I wonder how much of the Randian Benevolent Universe idea is a hold over from Aristotle's telos. It certainly fits with the idea that the Universe has a purpose and if you only align yourself with it than there is no other outcome but success.


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Fitz
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« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2009, 09:43:57 AM »

I love Neil deGrasse Tyson's capacity to ooze amused contempt yet stick to the facts while addressing someone steeped in misinformation.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJjQMwEjC1I
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dhex
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« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2009, 09:35:25 PM »

wow. that was masterful.

the whole thing is real good.
http://fora.tv/2009/02/04/Neil_deGrasse_Tyson_Pluto_Files

Quote
I wonder how much of the Randian Benevolent Universe idea is a hold over from Aristotle's telos.

quite possible. they have a serious hard-on for aristotle.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2009, 09:38:06 PM by dhex » Logged
dhex
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« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2009, 09:13:16 AM »

revivifying this thread because joe finally loaned me the sexual politics of meat by carol adams.

i'm only about 50 pages in; not coincidentally, it reminds me of an essay i read a few years back written from a "vegan feminist pro-life" position, and the general technique was no doubt taken from what the author had pulled from adams. namely that, like any minority position, the author is working against a larger cultural presumption and trying to sell people on the opposite conclusion; and more specifically, tying the lives of women into the lives of foodstock/fetuses.
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