Mittwoch, Oktober 12, 2005

What comes around...

Sometimes the irony is too much.

This is a good take on intelligent design. I don't know enough on the subject to make any sort of pretense as to what's right and what's wrong, but this quote summed it up brilliantly:

For several decades the philosophical ground has been softened up by the relativism and political correctness of the secular left, which succeeded in undermining the very idea of objective reality and of calling a spade a spade—so now, in the resulting marsh, fantasies like intelligent design (or Scientology or feng shui or 9/11 as a CIA plot) take root and spread like weeds. Liberals pioneered squishy-minded indulgence of their key constituencies' unfortunate new ideas, like reparations and criminalized hate speech; now it's the right's turn.

This is why I italicized the word above. The sophists of today share the same attributes of the sophists of Athen's time: of making everything subjective and nothing objective.

But the author - Kurt Andersen - misses what I see as the real point.

It's not that the secular left - used advisedly, since the religious left does the same thing - merely undermined objective reality. It's much more that the secular left replaced objective reality with their own sophistic arguments, just as the sophist in The Sophist himself denies the nature of his opinion, hiding his rejection of objective reality in the insistence that his opinion is objective reality.

And that is the problem that we all continue to face: those that represent their opinions as facts will at the same time deny that their facts are nothing more than opinions, forcing not a debate on the facts but rather an excursion into epistomology.

Of course, one that usually ends up being a complete and total waste of time: sophists cannot imagine that there is falsehood. "Fake but accurate" ring a bell? It's the same thing: representing falsehood as truth in order to force on others an opinion not based in fact.

To quote Spinoza - damn, a classical education does come in handy - omnis negatio est determinatio: All negation is distinction. Without falsehood - of being completely and totally wrong about something - there is no ability to determine what is true.

I'm being simplistic, I know: but there is a certain necessity in simplicity and I know too many people who become paralyzed when making a decision because they try to entertain all nuances of a decision and its effects.

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