IQ issue

Paul Henry Rosenberg rad at
Mon Feb 8 11:49:39 PST 1999

Angela wrote:

> >> oh come off it Paul, I argue that you cannot distinguish
> >> between the form and content, and you read this as an assault
> >> on rationality, or
> >
> >Sure I was doing a reductio there, so what?
> not a reductio, but a confusion.

Show me where you stop, then. It's not that hard to respond to a reductio if it's false. Since neither of us are rationalists, you don't have an insurmountable fundamentalism on my part to overcome.

> >You WEREN'T arguing that you cannot distinguish between form and
> >content, you were just SNEERING.
> sneering would be saying something like 'any first year student would
> know....'. it would be calling you babe and girl. if you want
> someone to play infant to your adultness, then you should go
> elsewhere.

Hey, I got nothing against a well-placed sneer. I'm not dissing rhetoric per se, not at tal. My point was simply that you HADN'T made an argument here, as you claimed you had.

> this is an fragment of what i was arguing, and i see no sneering here:
> >i think he [chomsky] wants to make a distinction between
> >the formal rules of speech and the propositions/judgements,
> >as if the formal rules themselves are a good thing and only
> >need to be applied more rigorously, as if they can be (or
> >should be) separated from the propositions themselves.

Sorry, Angela, but that's NOT an argument. It's a CLAIM on your part about the nature of CHOMSKY's argument.

You may call me hypersensitive in detecting a sneer in there, but even if I grant you that, it's just obiter dicta alongside the point I was making, to wit: you haven't MADE an argument.

> if you want to bring up lakoff, by all means do, he sounds
> interesting, as does james. if they offer some other way of thinking
> the relation between form and content, or a not-so-cartesian way of
> presenting reason, then i'm all ears.

Well, this is a mighty big subject, too big to adequately broach in the context of this response. But I'll be happy to oblige with a separate post -- probably not till tomorrow, as I it will take some serious thinking about how to put it.

> >> nor was there implicit here an argument that Chomsky agrees with
> >> his target - i don't see how you get this implication.
> >
> >I READ, Angela, I read.
> no, you do not. i did not implicitly or otherwise accuse
> chomsky of being a racist.

That's not what I was claiming. Rather, I read your implication that his fuddy-duddy commitment to Enlightenment rationalism was of a piece with purported Enlightenment (sanction of, at the very least) racism. This still seems to be what you were saying (perhaps unconsciously) despite the following:

> the only subtext at work here for me was why is it that
> anti-racist arguments so often fail, or even fail most of
> the time.

since it seems self-evident that the major reason for this is the fragile power of argument, having nothing whatever to do with any particular FORM of argument on may choose.

> presenting racism as something that flows from the realm of
> values, rather than from the rules of validity, is a neo-kantian move
> of a particular kind. neo-kantian, not kantian. there are other
> neo-kantians who privelige validity; but the hallmark is to
> distinguish validity from values.

At the risk of sacrificing any remaining dignity in the eyes of some, I must invoke the name of Aristotle here, along with whoever of his compatriots one wishes to cite.

They well knew that validity of an argument was ENTIRELY distinct from truth. A valid argument from false premises was non-the-less valid. Whether the premise was a factual or moral claim made no difference.

It doesn't make one a Kantian or neo-Kantian to recall this ancient insight.

> >you still just LOVE your own straw men:
> >
> >> part of the difficulty with establishing concepts like
> >> biphobia is that they take little account of the terrain,
> >> that is that we are all referencing ourselves first and
> >> foremost against heterosexuality (which I hope not even
> >> those who are het actually practice, how dull),
> >
> >How comforting but not finally interesting or helpful
> >"heterosexuality (which I hope not even those who are het
> >actually practice, how dull)" is.
> >
> >Get a CLUE girl.
> wow. you're not reading, you're sneering - and accusing me of
> sneering just so's you can blithely infantilise 'in good conscience'.

As I said, I didn't have a problem with you sneering. My problem was with your claiming to have made an argument, when you hadn't made one. Had you in fact made one, I would have devoted myself to critiquing it.

My sneer here was, in part, intended to show you how it's done. Not that I think you don't know, of course, but as an artfully placed reminder. It was SO obvious that I thought you'd get it's self-consciousness quite clearly. Sorry if you didn't.

> remember the post? i made a distinction between what
> people actually do with other people and the politics of naming.
> i also gave a nod to the clinton impeachment spectacle for
> publicly unsettling the reigning definition of heterosexuality -
> in your words: the straw man that actually works to do a lot of
> policing and set the terms of political engagement and conflict,
> for hets and others alike. do you think hets only have
> procreative sex, or only do coitus? i don't. but who am i to
> know what most or all people who regard themselves as het do?
> it was thus expressed as a hope.

So many posts, how to remember them all? All I know is that in THIS context, all that went out the window. (As I've said, not just this time around, I take rhetoric pretty damn seriously. [There's a reason this is in parenthesis -- a rhetorical reason.] If you chuck your nuance all out the window, there should be a damn good reason why. Such as to make a particularly timely sneer.)

Besides, I think this policing metaphor is all wrong. Yeah, there is some policing that goes on, but relatively speaking, it's mighty thin. Seduction is far more omnipresent.

It's like Neil Postman sez in the intro to *Amusing Ourselves To Death* -- his book is committed to the proposition that Huxley (in *Brave New World*) got it right, rather than Orwell (in *1984*, natch).

-- Paul Rosenberg Reason and Democracy rad at

"Let's put the information BACK into the information age!"

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