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Language, Ego and Philosophical Debate

 
 
Khethil
 
Reply Tue 5 Aug, 2008 06:43 am
[CENTER]I realize, after writing this, that those who 'get it' already know it (thus my point is redundant) while those you don't 'get it', most likely won't because of the lack of ability to absorb that of which the message speaks (which is the message). Despite this, I would like to explain some thoughts on what I believe is an important barrior to philosophical debate and invite comments and thoughts.
[/CENTER]

Transference of meaning ("communication") can not occur when the pitch of adversarial language short circuits the rational thought process. Ok, there we go - I've just declared myself Caption Obvious... grats me.

In philosophy, *humility* in allowing oneself to change is paramount. We all tout this flag, yet I see very few actually living up to it. Is it that we want, that badly, to come away with the feeling we've 'won' a debate? Are we so tenuous - so hopelessly insecure in ourselves - that we're OK missing the chance to see into another mindset? When you fail, during the course of any debate, to honestly and sincerely WORK to understand another's mindset you cut yourself off at the knees. What I want to say (given the voracity with which I feel this) is, "You arrogant, immature putz; grow out of the diaper that constrains you to disdainfully press your point and *listen* - liberate your mind or you'll walk away from the experience with less than you had when you arrived".

Reducing Defensiveness, through the language we use - is absolutely, unequivicably foremost in the philosophical process. I too can stand on my hill and profess all that I believe I know (and I suppose I've been known to do this). But what I see is a crowd of people assembled to transfer and talk ideas - what some of the brightest minds actually end up doing is tantamount to sitting on their side of the sandbox hording all the shovels saying "listen to me! listen to me!".

None of this is possible without some humility. Humble yourself... accept that your notions and ideas are probably 50% wrong. Know also that the 'truth' in most philosophical issues exists in no absolutely-quantifiable form. There is; however, insight out there - but it exists in the minds of your debate opponents (and at that, only in bits and pieces). Only some humility of mind and strength of character will grant you the key to open it.

It's not about 'winning' a point, it's about gaining insight. That, I believe, is where the greatest value in philosophy lies. Ego runs amuck and stabs us in the back. Turn around and listen first to understand, then to address.

I appreciate the opportunity to rant and wholeheartedly welcome thoughts on language selection and lubricating the philosophical process.
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urangutan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Aug, 2008 09:35 am
@Khethil,
Very nice point Khethil. Philosophy cannot be debated though, if it is accepted as philosophy. Sparing no expense, Socrates cannot argue about God The Almighty, simply because he debated philosophically over the existance of Gods. Wherein lies the problem of gathering the notes of great works or ordinary works and simply pitching them as information and of course this can be argued over in the course of a discussion because not everyone has read the book or gathered the same insights. I think people should step into the debate a bit more and remove the baggage that they carry around allowing themselves to lend more to the topic. I will listen to a persons arguement but only to the extent that I do not have to duck wild Socrates from the left and Russell uppercuts, every second verse. Philosophy is not gold it is dirt and people keep brushing it off to show the sparkle.
Arjen
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Aug, 2008 12:49 pm
@urangutan,
Hi Khethil, I would like to say that I appreciate and enjoy the opinion and thoughts you state and therefore the topic you have opened. I know you are right and I know a lot of people cannot operate in the way you advocate. I will not get into the subleties and the workings of the mental processes at this time, but there are a few things I would like to say.

The thing of it is that before one starts to shut onself off from the rest of the world and just claim one is right one has to accept that, as you say, one is fallible. That is often complicated by the way people state that the other party is 'wrong'. For 'wrong' creates a feeling of 'shame' in someone and often translates into 'guilt' in the eye of 'society'; at least Nietzsche argues that this is how 'aesthetical ideals' are 'utilised' as 'thought-objects' in the brain.
In that sense, if one wants to stimulate 'open-mindedness' one first has to stimulate the feeling that although one is 'wrong' and 'right' (or 'truth') mey be something to strive for, there is no shame in being 'wrong'; perhaps there may not even be such a thing alltogether, and there only are different angles from which to approach a question and therefore a different thing is being highlighted so all opinions might just be true. This angle emphasises the importance of 'digging' out the opinions of others, for instance, because it show another part of the object of the discussion.
However, I think the most important thing that might come out of this topic is that telling people who, in your eyes, behave 'wrong' have nothing to be ashamed of. Everybody is 'wrong' now and again and that it is ok to be 'wrong'. Perhaps a notion of skepticism might be valuable at this point: stating nobody knows what 'correct' is in the first place and judging another might be a little silly considering this (<--hands Kethill, who is sitting on the side of the sandbox, a shovel Razz).

It is strange to realise that even the point you are making can be forged into just the 'aestheical ideal' that creates the situation in which one can claim to be 'right'; the remark made did fit the 'aesthetical ideal'. This is called a circulatory argument and points us towards the value of skepticism again: the only way coming to a true (even though one can still be wrong) judgement is by not assuming a truth, but by honestly observing and investigating a subject. And this is Khethil's point I think.

So, all you people out there who are so 'wrong', don't be ashamed, because so am I!

*tries to get his foot out of his mouth*

Arjen.

p.p.s. I hope you don't mind me using you as an example Khethil. I know what you are saying and I agree with you. I merely ment that every picture one paints becomes an 'aesthetical ideal'. Smile
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2008 09:22 am
@urangutan,
Very nice, thank you for your reply.
urangutan wrote:
Wherein lies the problem of gathering the notes of great works or ordinary works and simply pitching them as information...


This caught my eye as one of the habits we, as home-grown philosophers, end up getting a bad reputation for: Name tossing. I think that's only useful insomuch as it abridges a parallel point one's trying to make. But I sense many feel this Lends Weight to their point - misinterpreted (or even just creatively), the same point/subpoint/phrase can be ostentatiously tossed to support anything. And yes, I've been guilty of it - I was very proud in my younger years of having read <this> or <that> and wanted to show it. I sense many of us here are still in that 'phase' (wherein one has yet to actually absorb the enormous complexity and varying tones of different philosophical blathering. Once realized, it's humbling...

Thanks again
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Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2008 09:29 am
@Arjen,
Thanks Arjen,

Agree with and appreciate your insights. This, in particular struck me as true: and no I don't mind being made an example at all.

Arjen wrote:
The thing of it is that before one starts to shut onself off from the rest of the world and just claim one is right one has to accept that, as you say, one is fallible. That is often complicated by the way people state that the other party is 'wrong'. For 'wrong' creates a feeling of 'shame' ...


Precisely!. "How darest thou contradict me in the village square!". The point is lost, emotion - borne from the insecure, struggling heart of a philosopher - rears its uglier side and whatever precious little insight that *could* have been gained, floats off in the wind utterly ignored.

Good points
Holiday20310401
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Aug, 2008 11:00 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
Are we so tenuous - so hopelessly insecure in ourselves - that we're OK missing the chance to see into another mindset? When you fail, during the course of any debate, to honestly and sincerely WORK to understand another's mindset you cut yourself off at the knees.


Ok, to be fair though, some people's mindsets are so hopelessly chaotic in their writings and thread starters that it is impossible to understand what is being said to see their mindset.

For example, take a look at the neurons thread and tell me that you understand the mindset I was in to write such stuff. And paulhanke too.

I have to agree with you though. People are stubborn, as I found out. I don't think I have once provided a theory that people here actually considered would be the truth. That's because most of the stuff we philosophize is unprovable right now and I've noticed that we don't bother to research and find actual evidence to support a theory, but rather use inner insight. (exception to philosophy of politics and law, and health):a-ok:.

Its kind of like what Edison said about the light bulb. He found out a thousand ways not to make a light bulb(I don't know if you see the connection).:rolleyes:

But I go on the forum because I learn much more here than I feel I do at school, seriously. A teacher will give a lesson but never provide a mindset for anybody, not even in history. And english is a jaded mindset, because the books been read a million times by thousands (more) other people.
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Arjen
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Aug, 2008 10:34 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:

Precisely!. "How darest thou contradict me in the village square!".


I feel ashamed, am I also supposed to feel guilty?

Smile
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Arjen
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Aug, 2008 12:57 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
"How darest thou contradict me in the village square!".

*Casts the first stone.*

Quote:

The point is lost, emotion - borne from the insecure, struggling heart of a philosopher - rears its uglier side and whatever precious little insight that *could* have been gained, floats off in the wind utterly ignored.

Unfortunately emotion is only too often the cause of this mess. When one realises that emotion is merely learned behavior one starts to wonder why exactly this behavior is being taught to us. It seems to be fit to the 'use' of corrupting the search for what 'is' to what it 'is for the individual('s ego)'.

Well, perhaps all of this superfluous.
Khethil
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Aug, 2008 01:54 pm
@Arjen,
Arjen wrote:
Unfortunately emotion is only too often the cause of this mess. When one realises that emotion is merely learned behavior one starts to wonder why exactly this behavior is being taught to us.


Yes... or perhaps why we're so damned sensitive is a product of a waning sense of self-worth. Also, philosophers in general (from what I've seen) are an awful sensitive lot... damn the deep thinker to the task of feeding the monsters he himself creates.

Arjen wrote:
Well, perhaps all of this superfluous.


Maybe, ok; probably... but who cares! There's gotta be worth in here somewhere
Arjen
 
  1  
Reply Fri 8 Aug, 2008 02:53 pm
@Khethil,
I think we are working up something worthwhile right here:

A sense of self-worth is created by judgements; values. However every thought itself is a judgement; a predication. Seeing as every though(-object) is something which one carries within oneself and makes up the image of the world one has it can create harsh conflicts. The image might be contradicted by a dasterdly topic for instance. Seeing as any judgement of the world we create is really a judgement of the world from our own unique standing in it a contradiction can be a denial of the definitions of oneself (read: ego). So, thinking indeed is the core of this trouble.

In my opinion one can overcome these difficulties by understanding clearly that what one thinks of oneself is not what one is. There is a big difference between the thinker and the thought (as Aristotle pointed out in his 'Ethics'). In that sense the sort of complication Khethil points out in his opening post can only exist in a fully empiricistic world view, but never in a fully rational world view.

Very Happy
Joe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Dec, 2008 02:16 pm
@Arjen,
I see this topic as a piece of evidence. That the choice to accept things, thus proclaiming them against contradiction, does not hold special bearing when in a forum of acknowledgment (Philosophy). But the great thing about philosophy is that it leans towards this acknowledgment. Perhaps this is the saddest realization. That maybe we must move on from this study of philosophy to something more real, with the same acknowledgment. I hope too see this through out my life, take place.

For what is ego to me, if I dont know how to be rid of it?

Language, seems to be a whipping boy.
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