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theestevearnold

An Argument From Intimidation. How Can I Respond?

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[Note: I'm not a platonist, meaning I know that a response should take the context of the situation into consideration, not be one-size-fits-all. But I'd like some ideas I could choose from or adjust to the circumstances.]

 

Example: I tell my co-worker that although I'd like a cup of coffee, I don't wanna go to Starbucks with him because his irrational commie friends are gonna be there, and I don't wanna listen to their propaganda. He tells me I should be open-minded.

 

How can I respond?

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The Context is in the value you get versus the cost.  In this case it is the firends, exposure, and really how much it actually comes into play.   I have freinds who are both socialists and religious and it is a non-issue since we don't go there.  You have to draw your own line.

 

As for being open minded, I'll leave behind the patented "Be active minded" response  and simply point out how those who say that always expect you to compromise with them.  They could just as easily be "open minded" with your opinions as well.  That is what I would say. 

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How do you know that they are going to spew propaganda? This implies that you can make a (probable) forecast based on past data. To be open-minded doesn't mean to subject yourself to something that you concluded to be wrong and undesirable to listen to/debate.

Edited by thenelli01

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To be open-minded doesn't mean to subject yourself to something that you concluded to be wrong and undesirable to listen to/debate.

Thank you, this is a good response because I'm telling my friend that his definition of open-mindedness is wrong, so it brings the discussion into the important realm of defining terms.

 

What can I say when he then asks me what open-mindedness is? (Here's my weak answer: Dude, open-mindedness is a willingness to hear new ideas, and no offense, but everytime I've hung out with your homies all they do is recycle the same tired communist bromides that've been circulating since the sixties.) 

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What can I say when he then asks me what open-mindedness is? (Here's my weak answer: Dude, open-mindedness is a willingness to hear new ideas, and no offense, but everytime I've hung out with your homies all they do is recycle the same tired communist bromides that've been circulating since the sixties.) 

 

I agree with you that defining terms is crucial.

 

I think of open-mindedness as the willingness to listen to new and different ideas and then to proceed to examine its relationship to reality objectively. As opposed to close-mindedness as being unwilling to listen to new ideas or even consider them.

 

The way your friend probably meant to use the word is to mean non-judgmental, or to withhold judgment. That is the way most people use the term.

 

It is fair to say: I am open-minded, I listened to the argument and concluded it to be wrong based on the facts of reality. I'm not interested in listening to ideas I have concluded to be wrong.

 

As an aside: For the same reasons, I avoid going to lunch with my aunts when my dad invites me because I don't want to hear them talk about religion. I forecast that they probably will talk about religion because they did the last two times I had attended. I have concluded their ideas to be false and I don't want to spend time listening to them. It isn't enjoyable, but that doesn't make me close-minded. 

 

I think Ayn Rand touched upon this topic with the concept of "active-mind". Here is a topic covering the distinction with concrete examples, might be interesting to read: http://forum.objectivismonline.com/?showtopic=26834

 

Edited by thenelli01

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 Your note was unnecessary. Also, you should say "Rationalistic" or "Rationalist" not Platonist.  

 

Anyways, if they intend on talking about politics with their friends during these coffee breaks then I wouldn't attend. It sounds like they are staging a left-wing echo chamber for themselves. If they can go without talking about politics then I would be fine. 

 

So talking to people. I am not saying I am an exemplar of these virtues but they make sense to me. 

 

 Charity: Most people aren't very well read nor are they very good at express their own ideas. If someone says something that sounds really weird or wrong, I tend to give the best interpretation of the argument I can.  If someone is clearly too ignorant to be speaking about a subject, just tell them so, and if you think they can improve refer them to some material. 

 

 Honesty: Don't pretend you know about things that you don't. If you disagree with an idea, give the reasons or facts that cause you to disagree, but don't ever inflate your understanding of an issue. If they provide you with alternative explanations or point a whole in your idea, its okay to tell them that you will have to think about it. "Winning the Argument" is not important, because people can be wrong and win argument and people can be right and lose arguments.

 

 Politeness: Don't bully others. Let them finish their points as long as they are going somewhere, and try not to interrupt.  The main reason most people don't want to talk about politics is because most people interested in politics are bullies who don't have any power in the real world so they attempt to make other people feel bad for disagreeing with their world view. No one will want to talk about bullies if you go into it attempting to punish or humiliate others. 

 

 Pride: Have a goal for the conversation, make sure it contributes to your well being. Pride means moral ambition, so make sure that those conversations about important topics are conducted in such a way. Some people will exhibit toxic behavior. They may not be able to handle conflict or they may wish to bring up irrelevant concerns and attempt to intimidate you away from reasonable conclusions.  Let your standards be known and shut down the conversation if you have to. If someone is spending time personally attacking you then they aren't interested in discussion but intimidation. 

  

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Here's my weak answer: Dude, open-mindedness is a willingness to hear new ideas, and no offense, but everytime I've hung out with your homies all they do is recycle the same tired communist bromides that've been circulating since the sixties...

Sounds like the most accurate answer in the context you've described. If the point of going to a coffee-shop is to relax, and if debating politics with a statist is not relaxing for you, and if holding your tongue so as not to get into such a debate is even more work... then, you're spot on with your answer.

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Not to sound like an old fart, but I wish I could go back to the days of meeting in coffee shops and arguing with communist. Most of my friends just want to talk about their kids soccer matches....

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