Re: Plea (was ExI: Cognitive Extropians)

Eric Watt Forste (
Thu, 23 Jan 1997 19:55:54 -0800

>I won't back down quite that far: it's not just what works for /me/,
>it is my experience of what has worked for humankind throughout
>history, and what I believe will work to get us to the kind of
>future I want to live in. If I have "attacked" anyone (which is a
>characterization I disagree with, but I'll let it stand for now), it
>is for using methods that I indentify from history as those that have
>failed to serve the purposes they apparently seek. If they can
>convince me otherwise, I'm here listening (despite that you may think
>I am not).

Let me just say that I prefer the style of argument that uses reason in
finding particular fallacies, particular false premises, particular
mistakes, and particular irrelevancies to the style of argument that
makes sweeping judgements of "irrationality" and "mystical nonsense". I
think the former style of argumentation is far more rational than the

>> This is sheer sanctimony, Lee.
>Yes. So, what's your point? That is is wrong to express ethical
>judgment? Isn't that itself an expression of ethical judgment?

Of course it is. I must admit, it's the self-reference involved in
accusing other people of sanctimony that delights me so that I do this
more often than I probably should.

>If the boorish lout has some ideas worth examining, even if only to
>refute them, isn't choosing not listen dangerous? Should I burn all
>the copies of Mein Kampf? Supress the Communist Manifesto?

This is insufferable. All I'm doing is pointing out that you might be
more effective in attaining your own goals if you were to argue in
a way that actually stands a chance of getting some useful information
across to other minds, and you act as if I'm asking you to censor
yourself. I am not asking you to supress your ideas or practice
dishonesty, and I have never suggested anything of the kind. What I have
asked for is an active awareness that the emotional state of your
audience has direct effects on how *able* they are to understand the
ideas that you are presenting to them, and that you are shooting
yourself in the foot (and damaging my cause as well, since I suspect
that I agree with you on most substantial issues) by deliberately
destroying the receptiveness of your audience.

>I don't remember ever telling anyone what to do; I merely expressed
>my own evaluation of the ideas they presented.

With what end in mind? *That* is what I am asking you to bear in mind.
Are you engaging in discourse for mere amusement, or do you want to
accomplish something in the world by means of your discourse? At this
point I can only conclude that you must be in it for sheer amusement, so
there is no point in my attempting to continue this particular argument.

>If that evaluation is
>"mystical nonsense", then sobeit. That's what I'll say. Seems to me
>that you're the one telling people what to do: keep your judgments to
>yourself, be more considerate of other ideas, be polite at the expense
>of being honest. Sorry, but I don't buy it.

This is a slanderous accusation. At no point have I asked you to
sacrifice your honesty. I have asked you to be considerate of the
emotions of others in order to *enable* them to profit from *your* ideas
that *you* have to offer them. (One can also learn from argumentation,
but whether or not you choose to do so is strictly up to you: this is
not the point which I am currently arguing.) I have not asked you to be
considerate of the *ideas* of others; only their emotions, because if
you destroy the emotional ground of cooperativeness in an audience who
prefers cooperative conversation to aggressive argumentation, then you
are simply defeating yourself at the outset. Nor have I asked you to
keep your judgments to yourself, although I have suggested the simple
truth that judgements of particular flawed arguments and particular
concrete mistaken beliefs are usually more effective than dismissive
judgements of a person's intellectual style and philosophy.

>That may be a fair observation. I don't really encounter that
>reaction much except on the net, because the only people with whom I
>discuss libertarian ideas are those that know me well, and know that
>I am personally kind, generous, tolerant . . . and opinionated. I'm
>not really bothered at all by even the most "sanctimonious" Randroids
>(to use your term) so long as they are just expressing ideas. I know
>some are, but the raw numbers show that the ideas are spreading well

They are spreading, but they aren't spreading fast enough for *my*
taste. What sort of complacency is this?

>I don't want to live in the kind of world where I can't be
>straightforward and honest, and I'm not convinced yet that lying (or
>"softening" my prose, or whatever euphemism you like) will help me
>get to the kind of world I want. Maybe I will be, but I just don't
>see it yet.

More slander. Acting as if the emotions of your audience are worthy of
concern does not entail dishonesty. The way I tend to conduct my
argumentative affairs, if I have no concern for a particular person's
feelings, neither do I have any interest in arguing with them (unless I
am forced to, e. g. in a court of law.) I am no longer interested in
continuing this particular discussion. My best wishes to you, sir.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++