Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

The smell of religious doctrines

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

I have spent some time recently on this forum in the hope that I might be able to subject my own ideas to strong intellectual scrutiny since this is how one grows intellectually. I was also hoping to learn from other ideas presented here. Regarding the above two things, I have had some success in both regards and would like to thank those contributors who have provided stong constructive critisisms of my arguments and who have also provided me with food for thought on a number of topics such that I have been driven to reassess some of my central opinions.

However, I have also witnessed the treatment of some arguments, and also the proponants of those arguments to be petty and personal. There is more than a whiff of doctrinal orthodoxy in the posts of a number of high profile contributors here. Indeed, when the orthodoxy has been questioned on occassion. sometime clumsily, sometime with great erudition, it tends to be treated by the aforementioned contributors in an intellectually obfuscatory and off-hand manner. Which is to say, it is treated in an intellectually fraudulanet manner.

As with any orthodox church, there are the lowley peasants and there are the high priests. As with any orthodox church, to question the orthodoxy is to risk hellfire and damnation. I guess that is fine if we are talking about a religion. However, I had initially taken this forum to be a place where honest, rigourous, and open intellectual debate would be possible. I was mistaken. Again, as I have said, there is much here to commend this forum in terms of the intellectual debate that takes place. However, there is also an intellectual rotteness lurking here aswell. The stench of which causes me, sad to say, to decide to take my leave.

I have recently taken part in a thread that discussed the persistence of religion in modern day society. I find it quite ironic that a number of high profile contributors to this thread and to others, have made bold statements about the illogicallity and philisophical fraudulence of religion (a position I happen to concur with, by the way) whilst at the same time adopting a quasi religious position with regards to the foundations of their own arguments. I admit it, I give up. As the old adage goes, "you can't reason with a person of faith".

Naturally, I do not refer to my own contributions and how they may or may not have been treated since this is for others to judge. Besides which, I am quite capable of looking after myself :lol:

Goodbye

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So soon? Steve, I'm surprised. If you were serious about engaging in thoughtful discussion, then I would have thought you would have stuck it out longer.

I will not however, let this post of yours stand as it is without response. The people on this board hold ideas strongly as a matter of principle. We don't back down easily. But to insinuate that conviction and dogma are the same thing is rude and a cheap parting shot. It is an insinuation, because you don't provide specific evidence nor do you address particular points in the thread where they were raised. Instead you post this post where you distance yourself from any particular issue, and spout generalities about "smells" and "whiffs" and "peasants" and "high priests".

The thread in question is here. You have 6 post to this thread total.

In response to your posts, you have had

  • 1 challenge (to which you responded sarcastically, right off)
  • 3 people offered information to you on Objectivism in response to your requests.
  • I clarified that Objectivism disagrees with your position wholly, and stated briefly what its basic premise was in this issue. I also followed up nicely when it was clear that what I said had not been received the way I intended.
  • 1 person who is not an Objectivist (but who does believe in engaging in thoughtful discussion and has proven it by sticking around and doing so) tried to offer some thoughts on where the miscommunication was.

Where is the orthodoxy exactly?

This discussion forum presupposes and interest in Objectivism and a desire to discuss its applications. It does not require agreement with those ideas, and if you stick around long enough you'll see that not only do we disagree internally and often, but we are actually quite engaging with people who only partially agree with the philosophy, but who are intellectually honest about engaging in a discussion of ideas. We just expect them to stand up with those ideas with reason and logic to back them up.

Several of the key people here have engaged you benevolently, and given you benefit of the doubt to some of your posts. In response, you have given us no understanding of why it is you want to be here, no understanding of why you chose this board, and what your relationship is to Objectivism, or how the points you make relate to Objectivist thought. In short, you haven't given me or anyone else a reason that we would want to engage with you beyond the cordiality you've already received.

If you don't come to the board with an interest in Objectivism then we might very well seem short, but that is mostly because without presenting that interest, I can see that few people might have the time or the interest to engage you. The points you bring up are raised by everyone who wanders in unaware of Objectivism, and we've already worked through them all. I am happy to continue discussion with you if you truly have an interest in the ideas, but then you haven't given me any reason to believe you do.

If you are here with no interest in Objectivism, but a simple desire to debate, well then we have a special place for that. But please recognize that the board was not put here for you, and its purpose is not to serve your exercise in inquiry.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have made the same observation about several people who post here, however I find the discussions to be enriching despite that. That said, I can't say you were treated harshly or unfairly at all in the thread Kendall linked. People just expect you to have a basic working knowledge of Objectivist Ethics before discussing the topic - and they were more than happy to point you in the right direction.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was determined not to post here again. It is somewhat dishonerable. However, I am compelled to do so. I promise not to again. Apologies for this. So....

To reiterate. I do not feel personally harshly treated. Apart from anything else, I am too thick skinned for that, either personally or intellectually (though i hope less so intellectually). To be more specific, i must accept that it is not enogh for me to simply state that "some" people are intellectually fraudulent. I guess I did so because I think it is obvious who I refer to.

I am referring in particular to David Odden and, to a lesser extent, Blackdiamond and Rational biker.

David has a tendency to quote sections of AR to other contributers as though it were sacred scripture. As though, these quotes, in and of themselves provide self evident truths. Maybe it is sacred scripture. If so, it is not inetellectual debate that is takiing place here. Also, I note his other tendency to take umption if someone should question his underlying assumptions. His typical response is to rubbish such questioning as "irrelevant". At the same time, he is, quite correctly, ready at every opportunity to liguisticallt unpack the minutia of others contributions.

I should like to make mention of Viking here. whilst, it might appear, at first glance, that Viking and I shaer ea similar position on certain issues contained in the "racial" thread that is currently running. There are a number of makor points of argument where we significantly differ. I point this out because I wish to state here that he has been treated on that thread in an intellectually disgraceful manner. I am quite sure Viking does not need me to come to his defence as he give me the impression he is someone who is well cappable of holding his own and so I would respectfully ask for his indulgence for my citing him as part of the argument I am putting forth here. Whilst I do not agree (I think) with Vikings underlying assumptions regarding racial differneces and their consequent behavioural consequences, he presented arguments concerning the use of probabilities that, whilst certainly debateable, were instead treated with intellectual dishonesty and retorical obfuscation. When that did not work (I find his tenatiousness admirable) downright ridicule and then false accusations were applied againts him. Disgraceful. So,,,this is what happens when you challenge a high priest in this place is it?

Anyway....forgive the intrusion

Goodbye

Edited by SteveCook
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Whilst I do not agree (I think) with Vikings underlying assumptions regarding racial differneces and their consequent behavioural consequences, he presented arguments concerning the use of probabilities that, whilst certainly debateable, were instead treated with intellectual dishonesty and retorical obfuscation. When that did not work (I find his tenatiousness admirable) downright ridicule and then false accusations were applied againts him. Disgraceful. So,,,this is what happens when you challenge a high priest in this place is it?

Oh man, I feel left out. You went to all the trouble of naming David Odden, Blackdiamond and softwareNerd, but you don't name me? I wanna be a high priest....

Ohhh, wait....I get it, this is one of those farewell ad hominens, the philosophical version of "I'm taking my ball and going home." When someone disagrees with one's ideas they think they can toss about terms like "religious", "dogmatic" or "orthodoxy" as if they actually apply, only underscoring that they have failed to grasp the focused purpose of this forum. If you going to run off after tossing a few insult bombs, at least make the insults original and applicable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh man, I feel left out. You went to all the trouble of naming David Odden, Blackdiamond and softwareNerd, but you don't name me? I wanna be a high priest....

Ohhh, wait....I get it, this is one of those farewell ad hominens, the philosophical version of "I'm taking my ball and going home." When someone disagrees with one's ideas they think they can toss about terms like "religious", "dogmatic" or "orthodoxy" as if they actually apply, only underscoring that they have failed to grasp the focused purpose of this forum. If you going to run off after tossing a few insult bombs, at least make the insults original and applicable.

Actually, you will be pleased to know, RationalBiker, that the third person on my list was in fact you and I got the third name incorrect on the list. aplologies for that Softwarenerd. I have been writing reports all day and my memory of who, what where and when on this forum was abit fuzzy when writing the post above. Who knows though, maybe i have dissapointed you by removing you from my hall of infamy.... :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

David has a tendency to quote sections of AR to other contributers as though it were sacred scripture. As though, these quotes, in and of themselves provide self evident truths. Maybe it is sacred scripture. If so, it is not inetellectual debate that is takiing place here. Also, I note his other tendency to take umption if someone should question his underlying assumptions. His typical response is to rubbish such questioning as "irrelevant". At the same time, he is, quite correctly, ready at every opportunity to liguisticallt unpack the minutia of others contributions.

Re: quoting Rand. An important principle in Objectivist circles is that the principles of Objectivism are a closed system. That is, Objectivism is what Rand said it was. Additions by later philosophers are possibly valid and true and congruent with Objectism, but they are not Objectivism. As such, most honest Objectivists are reluctant to represent the Objectivist position in place of Rand; that is, either when I know I can put my hands quickly on the relevant passages, or where simply quoting relevant passages will do. Rand was very good about concisely making arguments and many times these passages are self-contained. That is, they are an argument unto themselves (rather than self-evident truths as you claim - there you go confusing Objectivists with intrincisists again). By the way, i looked through the racism thread and of David's numerous posts, I can't find a sinlge reference to a Rand quote.

I should like to make mention of Viking here. whilst, it might appear, at first glance, that Viking and I shaer ea similar position on certain issues contained in the "racial" thread that is currently running. There are a number of makor points of argument where we significantly differ. I point this out because I wish to state here that he has been treated on that thread in an intellectually disgraceful manner. I am quite sure Viking does not need me to come to his defence as he give me the impression he is someone who is well cappable of holding his own and so I would respectfully ask for his indulgence for my citing him as part of the argument I am putting forth here. Whilst I do not agree (I think) with Vikings underlying assumptions regarding racial differneces and their consequent behavioural consequences, he presented arguments concerning the use of probabilities that, whilst certainly debateable, were instead treated with intellectual dishonesty and retorical obfuscation. When that did not work (I find his tenatiousness admirable) downright ridicule and then false accusations were applied againts him. Disgraceful. So,,,this is what happens when you challenge a high priest in this place is it?

You are referring to an almost 200 post thread (6 pages on my screen) that has had the same participants almost continguously through the entire thread. This thread dealt with a particular topic but with many complex aspects of the topic. I wouldn't have called it particularly contentious. A little "rough and tumble" maybe, but Viking himself sets some of the opening tone of the discussion. When one has such a conversation with mutliple side aspects, it is possible to get frustrated with the seeming inability to have points be understood. To me the fact that it continues to go on, with parties still engaged (albeit at time frustrated) is a sign that there at least some continuing motivation to stay engaged.

Yes, there is a little sarcasm and a little humor and at time some frustration, from all sides. But everyone is still going. I think claims of intellectual dishonesty and obfuscation are a bit far fetched. As I said before, we carry a lot of conviction around with us and are ready to stand up for our ideas. Shoot, I participated in a thread on bankrupcy just the other week where I was in Viking's position arguing against the mainstream and feeling "the heat". It was invigorating. Sure people got heated at times, but RB, and DO, GB and many other members have proven that while they can at times get carried away, in the long term they are committed to ideas and continue to stay engaged. I've found David and others to be very adept at judging the tone of the participants and calibrating the "hard hitting" nature of any particular thread based upon who is participating and what history they have to liking a heated discussion. I don't see anything in the continuing tone of that thread that Viking himself didn't contribute to early on as well. It seems like a pretty good discussion to me, but then I like to roll up my sleeves and get a little sweaty sometimes too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am referring in particular to David Odden and, to a lesser extent, Blackdiamond and Rational biker.
If you think someone has been rude or disrespectful to you, why not just report them, and describe the specific context of the incident? [Edit: At the bottom of every person's post is an icon that says "! REPORT" that you can click to do this.] Rude and disrespectful posts are against the forum rules too. I didn't read the thread in question, so I have no idea if anybody really was rude or disrespectful. Sometimes, on Internet forums, a person can come across that way when they're not meaning to, though. Even if it's a moderator, and maybe especially then, it would probably be more constructive to report them than it is to simply boycott and call people names (smelly religious dogmatists) while refusing to further explain your grievance.

This is just a message board for people interested in a philosopher and novelist, not an organization. People who post here vary in knowledge, motives, personalities, life experience, and so forth. Sometimes, when discussions get heated, people who usually behave say things that are inappropriate. There are some similar message boards that are more heavily moderated than this one, and any inappropriate posts are deleted. This one is less strict. There are pros and cons to that.

Edited by Bold Standard
Link to comment
Share on other sites

David has a tendency to quote sections of AR to other contributers as though it were sacred scripture.
I feel honored. It's really quite sad that you are a man of honor and will not be coming back here, because you said goodbye a number of times (for special emphasis, I presume), since that means you won't understand why I quote Rand. I assume that you're read the forum rules and you know what the purpose of the forum is. Given that purpose, it's pretty much a no-brainer that actually knowing what Objectivism says about certain matters is of some importance. For example, there are many lunatics who think that Objectivism is a mystical Eastern philosophy, or that it teaches that you can do anything you want as long as you don't hit people, or there are people who say that you should die if you are stuck in a snowstorm in the woods and come across another person's cabin, but they aren't home to give you permission to enter. And all of this comes about because many people don't know what Objectivism is. So I personally think that it is natural, in a forum whose purpose is the discussion of Objectivism (which is the philosophy of Ayn Rand), to actually provide evidence regarding what Objectivism is.

You will notice, or would notice were it not for the fact that you've departed never to be seen again, that I do not argue "and therefore because this is what Objectivism says, it must be a fact". That would be a fundamental repudiation of Objectivism -- that would be Kantianism. Wishing or saying something does not change reality. If you can prove to me that some aspect of Objectivism is false, that would be a significant problem. But in order to do that, you have to do two things that don't seem to sit well with you. First, you have to correctly identify Objectivism. Second, you have to identify the facts of reality that disprove Objectivism. I understand that in the modern stream of consciousness "my feeling is" view of discussion that all one needs to do is express their opinion. But you should understand (and perhaps would, had you not left) that this is not a rational method for gaining knowledge.

I admit, though, that I have a non-trivial contempt for intellectual dishonesty, and I cannot ignore intellectual dishonesty, especially when it is in my face. I had not yet formed an opinion of you as to whether you have that trait, and if you interpreted my replies to you as a sign that I had consigned you to the dungeon of the intellectual frauds, that would have been a mistake on your part.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had initially taken this forum to be a place where honest, rigorous, and open intellectual debate would be possible. I was mistaken.
I wouldn't say that.

The problem (if you want to call it that) is that topics can digress and arguments can be misconstrued, unintentionally and not. But this is due to the general nature of debating people with different knowledge and beliefs, not specifically a fault of this forum, its predominant ideology, or the people who tend to frequent this site.

If you prove the other guy wrong, he either acknowledges it or he doesn't. Either way, good ideas win out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Unfortunately I find myself in agreement with the general idea that the dogmatism of certain people is a problem on this board.

I hope that the misbehavior of a few people is not taken as a general indication of how Objectivists should behave or how they typically behave.

Objectivism is a closed system, but being a closed system is not the same thing as being dogmatic. Being a closed system means that Objectivism has a definite identity; as long as Objectivism is closed, it is possible to say authoritatively whether or not an idea X is part of Objectivism, and the determiner is what Ayn Rand actually wrote. If Objectivism is open then it is no longer possible to state definitively whether not idea X is part of Objectivism; it depends on whom you ask; and then it becomes impossible to be sure whether you support or oppose Objectivism because it is now no longer possible to say definitively -- objectively -- just what it is you are supporting or opposing!

Objectivism, however, is also a system of principles. These principles are logically interconnected. They have contexts in which they can be applied. They also have proofs that explain their validity. Even people who accept a principle can disagree about whether a principle has been applied correctly, or whether (or to what extent) it applies in a particular situation.

Consider Newton's Three Laws. They are a closed system: no one can add a Fourth Law, and there is no debate about whether something is or is not one of Newton's Three Laws. But they are also a system of principles: it is possible to use them in concrete situations that did not occur to Isaac Newton, and it is possible to use them incorrectly or to debate whether they have been used correctly. It is also possible to debate the principles themselves, whether they have been derived correctly from reality, under what assumptions they were derived, and so forth. All this is also true of Objectivism.

An Objectivist is to Objectivism the same thing that a Newtonian Physicist is to Newtonian Physics -- somebody who does not dispute the principles themselves, and tries to use them to solve real problems.

There are a lot of people who are wondering about the principles of Objectivism, whether they are true and how to use them. They want to see some examples of the use of Objectivist principles in order to learn how the principles work. Ayn Rand has written many examples of the use of her own principles, but there is no reason why there shouldn't be more; it's possible to cook up an unlimited number of examples of (e.g.) a mathematical principle, and doing so serves to further demonstrate the validity of the principle. Likewise with Objectivism.

This approach is very different from dogmatism, which generally just states the principles and then uses ad hominem attacks to denigrate the character of those who still have questions about them. A principle or a result asserted in a dogmatic style may still be correct; it may even have been derived in a correct manner; but stating it in dogmatic form does nothing for those who still have questions about it, except turn them off, as has apparently happened to Steve Cook here.

A person who is not a "dogmatist" may still make a statement in a "dogmatic" form, if for example he gets tired of explaining something over and over, or if he believes his audience is already familiar with his reasoning. However, if he is tired of explaining, he is doing nothing for his argument, and would do well to take a break. And on a board like this, one should be aware that the audience may not be familiar with all of Objectivism. That's why this board exists, after all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And on a board like this, one should be aware that the audience may not be familiar with all of Objectivism. That's why this board exists, after all.

How do you reconcile that statement with this one:

Purpose

This website facilitates trade among Objectivists and students of Objectivism. The primary -- but not only -- form of trade will be information about Objectivism and discussion about its applications.

Agreement with Objectivism is not required for participation. Anyone interested in Ayn Rand's philosophy may join. However, questions, discussion, and posting of new threads must not contradict the purpose of the forum.

[edit]http://' target="_blank">

Prohibited behavior

  • This site supports discussion of, first, the principles of Objectivism, as defined by the works of Ayn Rand and supported by the Ayn Rand Institute; and, second, their application to various fields. Therefore participants must not use the website to spread ideas contrary to or unrelated to Objectivism. Examples include religion, communism, "moral tolerationism," and libertarianism. Honest questions about such subjects are permitted. However, since the focus of this forum is the philosophy of Objectivism, such questions are not encouraged.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Unfortunately I find myself in agreement with the general idea that the dogmatism of certain people is a problem on this board.
Perhaps you could point to concrete examples of the dogmatism that you claim is a problem here, and some explanation of why you find the examples problematic.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps you could point to concrete examples of the dogmatism that you claim is a problem here, and some explanation of why you find the examples problematic.

Okay, try this one:

I would argue that the developer should be allowed to build the complex with no further hindrance, and should be compensated for the waste of his time for having been forced to defend his rights. I would also argue for prosecuting those who seek to prevent him from acting in accord with his rights, and I would demand that those people be required to read Atlas Shrugged, and write a 10,000 word essay outlining how they are being evil.

This is from a "Town Hearing" thread started by mweiss, where later he quoted a letter he wrote in 1966, saying that "Zoning is morally correct, just as government is." (This idea from mweiss -- Ugh.)

For contrast, I'll quote the follow-up, someone on the same thread who I think did things absolutely correctly:

...and your main problem in life is that the government is hitting you with taxes and environmental laws? Sorry, but this just proves that you've made the bed you're sleeping in. :wub:

Zoning laws are not morally correct. If you want a contract for what can be build in a neighborhood, then you sign a contract with your neighbors. Zoning laws, on the other hand, are based on the premise that the government controls the land and what can be done with it, rather than the property owners. Zoning laws are neither necessary or proper. You've given your sanction to not only those who are destroying you, but also their means of doing so.

Can you see the difference? The first post states a position without giving the reasons for it; the second post outlines its reasoning.

[edited to clarify what the Ugh was about.]

Edited by necrovore
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, try this one:

For the sake of argument, I'm going to assume that when one says "dogmatic", they are operating under a definition similar to this; (since they always seem to mention religion in the same sentence or paragraph)

"of or pertaining to or characteristic of a doctrine or code of beliefs accepted as authoritative"

- WordNet® 2.1, © 2005 Princeton University

I'm not saying you can't find one, but I don't think the one you cited qualifies as dogmatic. There is a diffference between stating a position without providing the underlying reasoning, and stating a position and providing the underlying reasoning as "the book says so" or "because Ayn Rand says so". In my experience on this forum, that is the typical "dogmatic accusation".

In the specific quote you cite, David says "I would argue" but then doesn't go into the underlying reasoning. The fact that he offers as a "sentence" that they should have to read "Atlas Shrugged" isn't saying that that is his argument.

For one to legitimately claim that a person is speaking dogmatically, one has to know what the other person's argument is not simply that they didn't provide the argument. For one to make the accusation of dogmatism in the absence of a person providing the foundation for a claim, one has to assume that the person has no argument or is relying on an authoritative source. One is free to make the assumption if they want but it establishes nothing. The next step would be to press the person to provide the foundation for their claim.

Edited by RationalBiker
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can you see the difference? The first post states a position without giving the reasons for it; the second post outlines its reasoning.
Surely, David is having a bit of fun with his 10,000 word essay requirement. I read it as being humorous. The particular dogmatic-sounding words are really saying: "hey, I can match your arbitrary assertions with assertions of my own; so there!". The idea is that the opponent will re-think and start to offer reasons, which can then be countered. The second post takes a different tack, by empathizing with the opponent, etc. So, yes, the styles (or "tone") in those two posts are very different, but I don't think dogma was implied.

In addition, one cannot judge a forum post the same way one judges a more comprehensive article. A post is one "transaction" in an ongoing dialog. Sometimes one simply challenges an opponent in a particular way that might sound dogmatic if viewed in isolation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the specific quote you cite, David says "I would argue" but then doesn't go into the underlying reasoning. The fact that he offers as a "sentence" that they should have to read "Atlas Shrugged" isn't saying that that is his argument.

For one to legitimately claim that a person is speaking dogmatically, one has to know what the other person's argument is not simply that they didn't provide the argument. For one to make the accusation of dogmatism in the absence of a person providing the foundation for a claim, one has to assume that the person has no argument or is relying on an authoritative source. One is free to make the assumption if they want but it establishes nothing. The next step would be to press the person to provide the foundation for their claim.

SN, this is a very important point to me. In bus school, as a method of communication I was taught the power of the "executive summary". That is state your position and conclusions unequivocably on a single page in front of whatever report or presentation you are giving. Many times executives will never go beyond this summary due to time, and trying to save up your conslusions to the end of a long drawn out drama or explanation of the underlying facts is almost tiring to them.

This is what I see David doing here, and it is a method I use all the time now. Even if I don't have the particular time to go into all the detail, I can state unequivably that I disagree or state what my conclusion is. I know that if pressed, I can provide reams and reams of substantiation. This is what David does often as well, and I know from history that many here can drill down very deeply on the point.

You are correct, it is not dogmatism and it then is encumbent on the challenger to ask for substantiation. This is still what I characterize as reasonable discussion.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For one to legitimately claim that a person is speaking dogmatically, one has to know what the other person's argument is not simply that they didn't provide the argument. For one to make the accusation of dogmatism in the absence of a person providing the foundation for a claim, one has to assume that the person has no argument or is relying on an authoritative source. One is free to make the assumption if they want but it establishes nothing. The next step would be to press the person to provide the foundation for their claim.

SN, this is a very important point to me. In business school, as a method of communication, I was taught the power of the "executive summary". That is, state your position and conclusions unequivocally on a single page in front of whatever report or presentation you are giving. Many times executives will never go beyond this summary due to time, and trying to save up your conclusions to the end of a long drawn out drama or explanation of the underlying facts is almost tiring to them.

This is what I see David doing here, and it is a method I use all the time now. Even if I don't have the particular time to go into all the detail, I can state unequivocally that I disagree or state what my conclusion is. I know that if pressed, I can provide reams and reams of substantiation. This is what David does often as well, and I know from history that many here can drill down very deeply on the point.

You are correct, it is not dogmatism and it then is incumbent on the challenger to ask for substantiation. This is still what I characterize as reasonable discussion.

This sounds like the opposite of the onus of proof principle as presented in chapter 5 of OPAR. A single statement in isolation can appear arbitrary (and thus dogmatic) to the person who does not already know how to prove it.

It is not wrong to present your conclusion first and then follow it with the evidence. But the more controversial and provocative your statement is, the more important it is to present some grounding for it so that people can at least grasp why you hold it. Of course it is not possible, in every post, to prove everything all the way down to A is A; that would be absurd; but it is possible to try to explain it in terms of principles that are already proved in Rand's work, and then others can take it from there.

Surely, David is having a bit of fun with his 10,000 word essay requirement. I read it as being humorous. The particular dogmatic-sounding words are really saying: "hey, I can match your arbitrary assertions with assertions of my own; so there!". The idea is that the opponent will re-think and start to offer reasons, which can then be countered. The second post takes a different tack, by empathizing with the opponent, etc. So, yes, the styles (or "tone") in those two posts are very different, but I don't think dogma was implied.

I do see how the post could be read as humorous, but it rubbed me the wrong way, and it might do so for others as well. Maybe David Odden should have used a smiley when he said it.

In addition, one cannot judge a forum post the same way one judges a more comprehensive article. A post is one "transaction" in an ongoing dialog. Sometimes one simply challenges an opponent in a particular way that might sound dogmatic if viewed in isolation.

This is true, but the post I quoted was the second one in its thread.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course it is not possible, in every post, to prove everything all the way down to A is A; that would be absurd;

And besides that, it can't be done in most cases. Sort of a side point, but I see this idea pretty often and it bothers me. That it is somehow possible to learn the law of identity and deduce all the rest of philosophy from it is incorrect. Most all of our knowledge comes from induction. So it is often necessay to relate a great number of other experiences or specifics to support most ideas. And in fact many can be so involved and complex, that without actually having experience with it yourself, explanation and understanding can be almost futile.

This is why it is much more efficient for the dissenter to state specifically what they do not see support for, in the claim. It is then possible to provide that evidence which is necessary for their understanding and acceptence.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do see how the post could be read as humorous, but it rubbed me the wrong way, and it might do so for others as well. Maybe David Odden should have used a smiley when he said it.
Yes, and it likely rubbed the original poster the wrong way too, because it was essentially laughing at him. I was not defending the style, but just saying it wasn't dogmatic.

Let me now defend the style in this particular case. Consider, first, that the original poster is not a newbie to Objectivism, but rather a person who has been an Objectivist for decades. Now, with that in mind, consider this: he posts, asking how he should argue to his local government to get them to stop a developer from building nearby. On its own, this would be presumptuous. However, he offers one "first-level" reason (fear of water supply contamination), and one blatantly immoral reason (not wanting the poor in his neighborhood). In his post, he does not even consider the possibility that people will disagree with him petitioning the government to force someone to cut back on a development; he simply skips that step and asks how he should argue.

That, then, is the context in which David replies that he would argue in favor of the developer. Nor does he stop at that; he gives a "first-level" reason too: rights.

The underlying issue ought to be clear to an Objectivist, and you can bet David knows what it is: does the developer's actions constitute a violation of rights or does stopping him constitute a violation of the developer's rights? However, the original poster did not bother to ask that question, and he received a reply "in kind". Another poster then asked the next level clarification and received the next-level reply.

I'll grant you this: the tone on the forum can often be argumentative and heated. I'll also grant that there are some members who can be dogmatic, but I submit that David O. is not one of them.

Others have said this already, but it is not dogmatic to make an unsupported assertion if one can -- when questioned -- continue to explain deeper reasons for the assertion. Here's a little example from this thread itself. By the criteria of presenting reasons, one would have to say that Bold Standard's last sentence is dogmatic. However, I don't think it is:

There are some similar message boards that are more heavily moderated than this one, and any inappropriate posts are deleted. This one is less strict. There are pros and cons to that.

Sometimes, on boards like these, people have a history of other posts and get responses that take that history into account. So, rather than focus on what was said to someone else, let me ask you this: have you personally ever felt that someone was routinely dogmatic in an argument with you and was taking advantage of a role like being a moderator?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...