Re: Origins of Political Beliefs

From: Francois-Rene Rideau (
Date: Sun Apr 29 2001 - 07:57:01 MDT

On Sun, Apr 29, 2001 at 02:25:25AM -0400, James J. Hughes wrote:
>>> I acknowledge that my politics and values are products of a particular
>>> time and place.
>> Which is so trivial an assertion as to be of no consequence whatsoever.
> Apparently not so trivial that it failed to give you any humility in the
> certitude of your own beliefs.
First define "humility". What observable criteria can you give for it?
Why "should" such a universal triviality entice any "humility"?
Are you displaying any "humility" with regards to your own opinions? how so?

> converts are often the most fervent evangelists.
Again, so what? Yet another triviality.
Yes, people with strong opinions have strong opinions.
Besides, considering that one starts with no opinion whatsoever,
what do you call "convert"? Someone who's gone through some
major internal change in opinions? Shrug.
I don't feel I had any major change in my core beliefs;
rather, I discovered very late a tradition where my core beliefs
would fit perfectly, even though I had to reform many prejudices.

> "I can't show why my ethical beliefs are better than anybody else's,
> but I'm still willing to fight for what I think is right."
Which means "I renounce to use reason in discussing beliefs,
and am ready to push my opinions by sheer violence when reason fails"

> Maybe I just don't like exploitation, genocide, etc.,
> but that's good enough for me.
Yet your meta-ideology is precisely what justifies the violence
behind exploitation, genocide, etc.

>> So yes, my opinions are somehow the fruit of my past of being confronted
>> to lots of different opinions, with reason as my guide
> I'm sure that's comforting to you, that your libertarianism is simply the
> result of reason and an open mind, but I feel the same way about my beliefs.

Who talks about feelings? Why put feelings forward?
What are their relevance? None.
Replacing rational arguments with emotional stances
is typical leftist rubbish. You're just escaping the issue.
As said a famous french politician to another one:
        "Vous n'avez pas le monopole du coeur"
        (you do not have a monopoly on heart)

> If the degree to which you disagree with your parents and school about
> politics was an indicator of the degree to which reason guides your
> politics, skinhead Nazis would be the most reasonable of all.

No one ever argued this silly thing you say.
My argument is that, among all environments in which someone can be educated,
some are more conducive to the use of reason, particularly ones where
you are simultaneously faced with a wide variety of contradictory theses,
none of which are imposed to you out of authority albeit most
being imposed to their respective tenants with the same authority,
whereas you are taught the basic principles of critical thinking,
are trained to read original texts before to make your opinion,
yet are encouraged to make your own opinion, and have to argue it rationally
with a wide variety of bright people of varying opinions themselves.
My breedings may have lacked in many ways, but certainly not in the ways
of teaching me critical rational thinking.

I also tried to counter your narrow determinism in which you seemed to argue
that one would naturally or even rationally follow the opinions of those
with whom one shared an emotional background. You are but cautioning
emotional thinking, as opposed to rational thinking.

Additionally, there's no evidence either that skinhead Nazis react mainly
by rejecting parents and school, or that most people who reject parents
and school end up skinhead Nazis. You win a Godwin point.

>>> But there is no certainty in values or politics,
>> Here's a loathable self-defeating statement.

> Well, there are some wonderful French philosophers

So what? Are you invoking some argument of authority?

> I could recommend you read, such as Camus, Foucault
> and Lyotard, but I suppose you probably already have.
I like Camus, but he doesn't have much of a philosophy, just a tiny but
strong core thereof, with a few good intuitions and rejection of some
fallacies. Foucault is very bright, but his system of values is deeply skewed.
I haven't read Lyotard, but from what I've heard he seems even
worse than Foucault. Of course, if you have any particular text to recommend
(if possible on the net), then go ahead and recommend it.

If you like french thinkers, I'd rather recommend Turgot, Tocqueville,
Bastiat, Alain, Jouvenel, Fourastié, Ruyer, Revel; (there are also
Voltaire, Condorcet, Constant, Say, Molinari, Taine, Renan, Faguet, Aron,
although I have read too little significant texts by them to comment).
Why choose inferior philosophers of little worth, when you can have real ones?
And if you want only three, whose works I know sufficiently enough,
let me pick Bastiat, Fourastié, Revel.

I really don't know what your argument was worth, what it was supposed
to suggest or induce, but if you're consistent, then I suppose my
counter-list of french thinkers should suggest or induce that thing to you.

Oh, to be sure that it has the intended effect, let's not forget to add
the little snide remark: but I suppose you probably already have read them.

Apart from that, I don't see much relevance
in the fact that philosophers be french or not french.
Despite your claims of the contrary, you are a racist!

Some good philosophers I like of many nationalities, many of whose ideas
I have selected after critical thinking:
Lao Tse, Darwin, Russell, Ferrero, Rand, Hayek, Popper, Einstein,
Wiener, Hazlitt, Havel, Sagan, Chaitin, Dawkins, Hofstadter, Dennett.

> but the Ought is always, at root, a leap of faith.
No, it isn't.
It's written all over in nature in HUGE LETTERS.
The name is natural selection.
And it also shaped instinct and tradition,
so you never have to leap, since the answer
has most often been given to you already,
although it didn't use rational thinking until very recently,
so the traditions aren't fully selected yet
as far as this dimension is concerned
(but it is not very hard to operate this selection by yourself).

Some good etext on ethics: Henry Hazlitt's "The Foundations of Morality"

> If you have an airtight reason why your idea about the Good
> is better than mine, I'd love to hear it.
If you think that everything is equivalent,
let me suggest that you commit suicide.
It won't be worse according to your non-values,
and it will be better according to people with values:
It will rid the world from a dangerous relativist.
Plus it might make a very funny Darwin Award.
Even better, of course, would be that you drop your silly relativism,
since objectivism (no, not Objectivism: objectivism)
is at least as true as relativism according to relativism itself.

Your principles are self-defeating. They negate reason. Ultimately,
they but justify affirmation of gratuitous opinions through violence.

[ François-René ÐVB Rideau | Reflection&Cybernethics | ]
[ TUNES project for a Free Reflective Computing System | ]
Philosophy is questions that may never be answered.
Religion is answers that may never be questioned.

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