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An exercise in rhetoric

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From the paper:

As Henry W. Johnstone, Jr., puts it,our duty to openness coexists with a duty to resoluteness—“a duty to myself not to capitulate willy-nilly to the rhetorical demands of others”

To treat all subjects as endlessly open makes such a capitulation capricious. Once a matter is decided by the final arbiter, as is referenced two pages later in the article, what is the purpose of further rhetoric?

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I emphasize rhetorical closure -that is, the closing off of rhetoric by suggesting that argument and other forms of communication are unwanted. I also emphasize that this closure is rhetorical - that is, efforts to stop communication inevitably do rhetorical work, such as communicating messages and constituting identities. In other words, it is presumed, if not stated, that one should not “go there.” And it is presumed, if not stated, that attempting to go there reveals the dissenter’s incivility, incompetence, lack of patriotism, and so on.

A timely article given recent discussions. Regarding the appeal of rhetorical closure, I think the truth of the statements is an important factor. If it's true that you would be evil for doing something, then it's not necessarily an attempt to stop communication by pointing that out. It could merely be an attempt to point to reality.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks, Merjet, for linking to this source. Aside from the many emails wanting to appeal to my vanity, there has been a paper by Greg Salmieri 


and a review of another of his papers here:

by Carrie-Ann Biondi

Edited by dream_weaver
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A Companion to Ayn Rand is a book and "Egoism and Altruism" is a chapter within that book.

"The choice of the beneficiary of moral values is merely a preliminary or introductory issue in the field of morality. It is not a substitute for morality, nor a criterion of moral value as altruism has made it. Neither is it a moral primary: it has to derive from an validate the fundamental premises of a moral system" (VOS x).

Her saying "merely a preliminary or introductory issue" doesn't jive with how big an issue she made of egoism versus altruism.

Edited by merjet
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4 hours ago, merjet said:

Her saying "merely a preliminary or introductory issue" doesn't jive with how big an issue she made of egoism versus altruism.

True, but it is a strong pushback on the prevalent idea that "anything that is selfish is bad" and "everything that is selfless is good". In politics and personal relationships altruism confuses so badly that it causes bad/ugly/deadly things to happen.

But she is reminding that this issue, is not the end all in morality, but "extremely important" within our cultural context. In a culture that has lost its way and can't see the truth about this (beneficiary) issue anymore.

And yes, ultimately, (in common parlance) some selfish (self interested) things are good, and some selfish (hedonistic narcissistic) things  are bad. And some selfless (team building) things are good and some are bad (communism/codependency).

But that obscures the hidden problem, it does not help us when all we see is "the moment you care about yourself, something evil is going on" because at that point, the shame is overwhelming and debilitates the thought process like a hypnotic trance. It is a common source of authoritarianism, or unfairness that seems to have no cause or solution

She provided something to jar us out of our hypnotic trance, to wake us up.

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