The art of conversation (was: Risk vs. Payoff)

From: Francois-Rene Rideau (
Date: Fri May 11 2001 - 03:54:36 MDT

On Thu, May 10, 2001 at 10:44:04PM -0700, Neal Blaikie wrote:

> I guess I was simply trying to make it
> clear that my perspective was based on practical considerations,
> not altruism. I wasn't attempting to place them in opposition.


Next, I could argue that the term "practical" is misleading, too,
and has a long tradition of being used in fallacies. Its only relevant
meaning, relative to empirical rationalism (as opposed e.g. to
contructivism or irrationalism), is so tautologically good that it doesn't
need mentioning, except in debates about rationality.

> [...]

Now that you made some clarifications, I think that your message
could have been phrased in a meaningful, positively informative way;
but you chose to make "oversimplications" (as you put it,
which is also an oversimplification of the process
that led to your statements having an obvious fallacious interpretation):
you chose to resort to forms of expression
that are loaded with meanings opposed to what you think
(as compared to what you later explained you meant or didn't mean),
and to use common language in areas where it specifically fails.

I think putting conciseness before correction is just wrong,
All the more since your post wasn't concise.
I'll grant you that there is one metrics according to which
your means of expression might have looked like a win:
it might originally have took you less time to think about
and write your message in this incorrect form
than it would have in its correct form.
But as you can see, this time you thought you won,
was first lost by other people trying to decode what you say
or being misled by it (loss multiplied by the number of readers),
and then by yourself clarifying your position.
Either in a specifically altruistic point of view, or in a specifically
egoistic point of view, in all practicality, your choice was thus wrong.

>> So you think you're intelligent? prove it! I don't believe you, so far.
> In intelligent discussion
This looks like one, after all. Thanks for it.

> (as opposed to unprovoked attacks),
I don't think the attack was unprovoked.
And I don't think that attacks, even unprovoked,
oppose intelligent discussions.

> [...] this response would be referred to as ad hominem.
It was undeniably ad hominem, but note that it was not argumentum.
Thank you a lot for taking up the challenge
and making your post level higher.
*Now*, I believe you.

> It's a weak strategy, is uncalled for in this case,
> and totally destroys your credibility.
I apparently participated in a working overall,
I don't think it was uncalled for,
and it's a risk I'm taking (though maybe lightly so).

> Perhaps in the future you might consider taking a deep breath before
> responding.
Thanks for reminding me. I'll try.

I'll return the argument to you:
I should take time to be less aggressive in my replies,
you should take time to be more precise in yours.

> There's a difference between "responsible for" (in charge of,
> which is what I meant) and "responsible to" (an obligation).
I've never seen the term "responsible to", so I'm not sure what you mean.
Can you expand?
Maybe you're trying to talk about intelligent handling of responsibility.
Which, in the context of justifying intelligent choice about the future,
is but a hidden tautology (which is, of course, true).

Then to use your terms, I invite you to be "responsible for" your posts
and not just "responsible to" them. (Doesn't sound right.)

>>> I don't see how it could be anything but
>>> "natural" for us to do so.
>> Remove your quotes, and consider how "do so" is generic in your sentence.
>> Then you'll have reached the tautology. Now, move on.
> This makes no sense to me. Again, I think you're arguing against
> something that isn't there.
Not all arguing is "against". Don't let my questioning your own personal
intelligence let you polarize the debate in terms of "for" or "against".
I was putting your argument in perspective, and showing how
the specifics to which you apply them are irrelevant to its purpose,
thus factorizing your argument.

> [I] was using [this phrase] in a conversational manner.
> I wasn't trying to make any particular point.
Exactly what I'm reproaching you: noise.

Now, I'll be putting this book in my long to-read list.

[ François-René ÐVB Rideau | Reflection&Cybernethics | ]
[ TUNES project for a Free Reflective Computing System | ]
Theists think all gods but theirs are false. Atheists simply don't make an
exception for the last one.

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