10 January 2007

And Job replied...

Surely you are the people,
and wisdom will die with you.

In response to my previous posting my friend Q replies as follows. I reply, as is my custom, point by point (well, mostly):

Oh my oh my where to begin.

1) Complaining about the democrates using a word like "partnership" is hard to take from someone who is clearly a believer in the righteousness of the republicans. I guess you forgot the instances that George W. has been claiming that the democrates have been already undermining policies, although until recently the rep's had total control of both houses, and calling for bi-partisanship with which he meant to bow to his wishes.

My complaint really shouldn’t be too hard to take, especially since none of it depends on anyone’s ‘righteousness’. I try in my postings to make reference to political parties only in connection with specific policy issues, for example, the minimum wage –
here, here, here and here. I never argue, for example, that we should support Republican policies because Republicans are ‘righteous’ or that we should reject Democrat policies because Democrats are not ‘righteous.’ Besides, my sympathies are only peripherally with the Republicans. At heart I find myself aligned with certain positions of the Libertarian and Constitutional parties. (In my profile, I define myself as being a right-of-center ‘Christian-Democrat’. There’s a reason for that.) And I didn’t complain about the use of the word partnership. I denied that there will be any ‘partnership.’ I boldly asserted that there will be no ‘partnership’ in any meaningful sense of the word. Given those clarifications, my ‘complaint’ shouldn’t be too hard to take.

2) To hear that you were mean and rude to your siblings didn't surprise me at all. Anyone like yourself who claims the moral high ground on the sole grounds of being a christian is in my experience almost always someone who acts saintly in plain view but in private is a bastard. Before you go of on a rant, again, just think about how you can justify those actions and how you still fondly remember with your selfclaimed high morals that are Christian inspired. A clue : you can't without portraying yourself as sanctimoneous.

There isn’t much to respond to here, since I have never – ever -- claimed any moral high ground. And I haven’t hinted at possessing any moral high ground. You’ll not find any place where I have positioned any argument which requires that I have the moral high ground. Most certainly not in my last post. Besides, Q, I was 14 the last time I pulled that soda stunt. The youngest sibling was 7 and they were all pretty much on to me. 14 years old, Q. Did you never tease any of your own siblings? Because I teased my siblings over some soda, the words ‘mean’ and ‘rude’ justly characterize my relationships with them? Wow, you’ve changed your strategy: instead of the ad hominem, it’s now the hasty generalization!

You weren’t there, so you have no idea if I was ‘mean’ and ‘rude’ to my siblings. Besides, given that I was likening the Democrat ‘partnership’ to my own ‘sharing’ of soda my description of the event was clearly a bit of self-criticism. So I don’t have to think about how I can justify those actions – as if sibling teasing needs any justification. (Besides, I wasn’t a Christian until I was 23, so it’s not like I was violating any moral code I believed in.)

My siblings have never – ever – doubted my love and affection for them, Q. And guess what, to this day we tease each other with soda. Why just this summer one of my sisters was visiting me from Texas. As she was helping herself to my soda she asked me if I wanted to split it with her. It was soda, Q. They got over it. I didn’t beat them up, or push them around. I teased them with soda. And eventually they always got their soda.

3) You claim that you have no problem with the other party having won the election and all that but at the same time you try your best to be sneering, insulting and demeaning. On top of that you do complain about the fact how they handle themselves. *sigh* Could you please make up your mind or are you a flip-flopping little man just like George W. ?

Nothing about accepting the reality of partisanship precludes my having a problem with the victors pretending that they are not going to behave like victors. I don’t need to make up my mind. It is made up. As I said: “Look. I don’t mind that the Scudderites are in charge: they won the elections. To the victor go the spoils, which means they run the gin joint—at least until the next cycle of elections… . I just wish they’d knock off the garbage about how politics under the new regime isn’t going to be politics the way it has always been played. (
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss -- as far as how politics is done.) (emphasis added).” I was very specific about my exact problem. And I didn’t sneer, insult or demean. In normal English usage a sneer is a facial expression. And you don’t know if I made any facial expressions while I wrote that posting. And where was the insult? In referring to Democrats as Scudderites? In referring to Speaker Pelosi as the The Queen Scudderite? I will admit to being sarcastic (which is as much as to admit to being James Frank Solís Bernardo), but not insulting. There was no verbal assault in my posting. I do just happen to believe that Democrat policies do accord rather well with Bertram Scudder’s own views. Democrats are more likely than other parties to support bills like ‘Equalization of Opportunity’ and ‘Anti-dog-eat-dog’, which as I recall are measures that Scudder advocated. Speaker Pelosi just now happens to be the top Democrat in the House. (I’m curious. Do people in your country not resort at all to sarcasm when discussing politics, especially in regard to parties with which one disagrees? I note just the least tincture of sarcasm when you refer to our President. So I think sarcasm is really okay with you.) And when you say ‘demeaning’ do you mean like when you refer to our President as ‘a…little man’? Or when you intimate that he is a fascist? Now who’s being sanctimonious?

4) Trying to make yourself sound erudite by qouting from Ayn Rand only works insofar that you then prove that you understand what you qoute. Your statement about "One holds property only by the courtesy of those who do not seize it." demonstrates that you fail to understand the truth about it.

That would really be something if it were my statement. The statement was made by Bertram Scudder. You can challenge him on it. Besides, since you really don’t demonstrate that you understand the statement, I’m not going to accept it on your mere say-so that I don’t. This is another instance of what I’m talking about in your comments. You say things like, “Your statement to such-and-such effect only shows that you don’t understand this-or-that.” But you offer no explanation of where I am in error. I think I understand Scudder and his real-life ilk all too well. Scudder is one of the ‘looters’, Q. You know it; and I know it.

But even for all that I don’t care for being thought erudite. I want the women, especially “La Señora”, to think I’m handsome and nice to talk to, and the men to think I’m cool to drink, smoke and watch sports with. Heck, I wouldn’t even mind if a few men thought I were handsome; I’m just non-homophobic that way.

Furthermore comparing the fascistiod Bertram to the dems is over the top. Come to think of it, his m.o. bears much more resemblance to yours then to anything I have picked up from Pelosi.

I don’t think it’s over the top to compare one man who’s in favor of taking from those who have, simply because they have, and transferring to those who have not, simply because they have not, to a political party who favors taking from one and giving to another, simply because one has and another does not. Strikes me as a fairly apt comparison.

PS: I'm rather amused to see that it's so easy to get your knickers bunch.

At least I wear men’s’ clothing. Anyway, you amuse me too. It’s nice that we have found something we can enjoy about each other, isn’t it? Besides, it’s not the knickers that bother me so much. It’s this darn straightjacket.

Seeing you post again and again trying to make yourself seem the paragon of virtue, of reason, of civility whilest in the same time you try your best to be insulting would be extremely funny if it wasn't so sad to see it for what it is namely the pathology of your mental state.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I wasn't being insulting; I was being sarcastic. Is there no sarcasm in your nation's political discourse? I doubt it very much.

More importantly: Submitting a bit of policy to some analysis, or criticism, does not entail that the one doing the analysis or criticism sees himself as a paragon of anything. I don’t require that people who have some problem with me or any policy positions I may hold must themselves be ‘paragons’ of virtue. If someone disagrees with my position on minimum wage I don’t ask if he is a paragon of virtue. I ask if his position has any factual merit. He doesn’t have to be a paragon of anything. If someone thinks that logic is not on my side of the debate, I do not look to see if he is a ‘paragon’ of reason himself. I analyze the logic of his own argument. Nothing about this blog, or any posting I make, entails that I entertain any notion of being a paragon of virtue, reason or civility. The person making an argument, Q, is irrelevant to the truth of his argument. The relation between arguer and argument is not truth-functional. You think my arguments are false. I get that. But my person – paragon of anything, or not – is irrelevant. To talk to you the way you talk to me: This just shows you don’t understand what I’m saying. You seem to think that all I say is reducible to: “Everyone should be like me, James Frank Solís Bernardo.” Well, that isn’t my feeling on the matter. You are mistaken. Besides, someone who wanted to make himself seem a paragon of those things would hardly admit to teasing his siblings with a bit of soda! Indeed, such a man would have nothing of the kind to admit to in the first place, would he?

For once look up ad hominem and learn what actually would constitute an ad hominem. Your constant berating of me using ad hominems whenever you want to complain about me being insulting when I question your intelligence and education is not only higly amusing but also very selfdefeating.

I look up the word, among many others, just about every time I use it. (That’s just the sort of OCPD guy I am.)
Here is a discussion of ad hominem, and another, and another. Ad hominem, like most words, has a range of meanings. In the end it comes to this: ad hominem is a class of argument by means of which one attempts to refute or dismiss an opponent’s argument by reference to something objectionable about the opponent, rather than his argument. And you did it again with this very comment! To wit:

In my posting I denied (i.e., made a factual statement about) that there will be ‘partnership.’ You responded, not with rejoinder (i.e., a factual statement about ‘partnership) but with: “Complaining about the democrates using a word like ‘partnership’ is hard to take from someone who is clearly a believer in the righteousness of the republicans.” Thus, my argument that there will be no partnership is dismissed not because you found any error in the argument itself, but because you find something objectionable about me.

Subsequently, and pursuant to my argument I asserted that the sharing of power will be like my sharing of soda with my siblings (i.e., there will be none). You responded, again without rejoinder (i.e., a factual statement about sharing of power), but with: “You were mean and rude to your siblings.” Again, my point that there will be no sharing of power is dismissed not because you found any error in the point itself but because you find it objectionable that I teased my siblings. (And let’s not forget the hasty generalization involved in deducing from the whole soda affair that as a matter of general course I was ‘mean’ and ‘rude’ to my siblings.)

I explain an allusion to a favorite novel of mine and provide a brief defense of the applicability of the allusion in the present case. You respond, not with any explanation of my error in applying the allusion but by accusing me of trying to make myself sound erudite (and implying thereby that I’m not erudite).

Going back in history, I recently posted
this on what I perceive as a double standard. You respond not with any argument that there is no double standard, but by first attributing to me positions which I do not hold and then by asserting either explicitly or implicitly that I am: ‘full of it’, ‘insecure’, ‘short sighted’, ‘filled with blind hate’, and ‘sanctimoneous’. All of which I may be. But that doesn’t mean that there is not the double standard I asserted.

Going further back in history, I
linked to and commented on an article in the Brussels Journal Online, which article asserted that Europeans who desire freedom will have to emigrate. You responded not with facts disputing any assertions in the article, but with: “[I]t seems that the blog you linked to is writen by ignorant and frigtened Americans and Europeans.” (Well, you did claim, without support, that people immigrating to Europe are always brought into the mainstream and eventually give up the ‘crutch that religion is’. But that just means that you may believe that the situation isn’t changing – or that the future will be just like the present -- which is what the article asserts and for which you provided no rejoinder.)

In each of those instances you make your opponent the issue, not his arguments, points, or positions. And that my friend is precisely what ad hominem is. And that is why I have berated you for it.

Btw, if a 25 year believes that there truly is a toothfairy what does one do ? Does one admire that person or think that person needs help?

You’re on the horns of a false dilemma, Q. One can ‘need help’ and still be admired. Someone I admire as a brilliant mathematician is John Nash. But the man is schizophrenic and needs help. If memory serves he thought aliens gave him his ideas. That certainly does not refute his ideas. How does the fact that he sees and hears people who are not there come to have any bearing on whether his intellect is admirable? So then the simple belief in the toothfairy is not the issue. The justification of that belief is the issue. One’s intellect is not suspect on the simple grounds that he holds a position with which you disagree or find nonsensical.

Does one then try to have a deep intellectual debate with that person or just think that the person is a few baskets short of a picknick?

In order to think that the person is a few baskets short of a picnic one would first have to know that there is no toothfairy. But even so, the answer to this question depends upon the proposition to be debated. Let’s say that I am asked to debate Ruth Bader Ginsberg on some proposition related to U.S. constitutional law. It would be irrelevant to my decision to debate her that she believes in the toothfairy. What she believes about the toothfairy is irrelevant to any constitutional question. Note: this is true even if she says that the toothfairy taught her everything she knows about constitutional law. She could be correct about the Constitution, but wrong about who taught it to her.

What's the difference between the toothfairy and god?

The difference between the toothfairy and god is that on an atheistic worldview they do not exist, while on a Christian theist worldview the former (probably) does not exist and the latter does. (Of course, we’re assuming that existence is a predicate.) More to the point, on a Christian-theistic worldview if the toothfairy exists then it does so because it was created by God. The difference then is this: God is the creator and the toothfairy is the creature.

I suspect that the real thrust of the question is rhetorical: belief in god is as silly as belief in the toothfairy. Perhaps it is, but since you didn’t prove that the toothfairy doesn’t exist belief in god is not as silly as belief in the toothfairy. Belief in god is as silly as belief in the toothfairy if, and only if, the toothfairy does not exist. (Of course, I stipulate the difficulty of proving a negative, but it still remains the case that belief in god is not as silly as belief in the toothfairy if in fact the toothfairy exists. And you haven’t shown that it does not. The difficulty of proving a negative changes nothing.)

In an earlier post, I referenced an argument by Alvin Platinga that belief in God is ‘properly basic.’ In other words, belief in god is as much a pre-rational commitment as is belief that rationality is superior to irrationality. Belief in the toothfairy is not ‘properly basic’. I count that as an important difference.

What's the difference between all the "false godse" that other people believe in and yours? Why should the ones th [breaks off here]… .

Books have been written on the question, Q. Either (1)you have read them and are not persuaded, or (2) you have not read them. It doesn’t matter: there’s not much I can do about either.


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James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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