MD NAZIs and Pragmatism

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sat Feb 08 2003 - 03:39:43 GMT

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    Matt and all non-fascists:

    Matt said:
    The Nazi wouldn't distort the MoQ.
    He wouldn't think he was distorting the MoQ, only we might.
    The Nazis aren't distorting the MoQ, they're interpreting it the same way we
    are: in the way that makes the most sense to them.

    Kevin agreed:
    This sounds like a much more reasonable expectation of our Nazi's
    reaction to MOQ. They'll interpret it to suit their interests just as we
    do. So what prevents us from being Nazis? We do.

    Platt finds the MOQ perfectly supports his conservatism.

    DMB finds the MOQ perfectly supports his liberalism.

    Several find the MOQ perfectly supports Christianity.

    I find the MOQ perfectly supports my Atheism.

    DMB says:
    This is what I find so disturbing about pragmatism and other post-modern
    thought. It says the fascist way is just as valid as the other ways, or at
    least pretends there is no way to tell the difference between correct and
    incorrect interpretations. This kind of paralysis is a moral nightmare. Its
    the stuff of horror movies. Its a black abyss. Its nihilism at its worst.
    And, for these reasons, I think its quite wrong, even dangerous. The fact
    that conservatives and christians tend to use the MOQ as their own personal
    Rorschach test is nothing to be happy about. Sure, we all bring a certain
    amount of baggage with us, but distortions and corruptions are another
    matter altogether. I mean, it doesn't matter what bias you take with you on
    the drive. If you exceed the speed limit, you risk getting a ticker, no
    matter how you "intepreted" the speed limit signs. (Try telling the officer
    about the validity of mis-readings and see how far that gets you.)

    If a NAZI interprets the MOQ as supporting his NAZI views, that is not just
    a different view. It is an error. If the conservative interprets the MOQ as
    supporting his conservative views, that is not just a different perspective.
    It is a mistake. If the christian takes the MOQ to mean that christianity is
    recommended by the MOQ, that is not just looking at it in a way that makes
    sense to them. It is a distortion. I'd challenge anyone to find Pirsig
    quotes That "perfectly support" any of these things. I know this all sounds
    very emphatic and imperious, but I really think we have to admit that some
    views are just plain stupid, while others are must closer to accurate. I
    mean, if we can't tell the difference between a sound argument and a bogus
    assertion, then why bother discussing it at all. Let us not slip into that
    mindless news age nonesense where "everything is everthing and nothing
    matters". (I actaully heard a guy say that, and he said it with a straight
    face. It was nearly twenty years ago and it still cracks me up.)

    Matt said:
    It is simply that the pragmatist knows no better way to explain his
    convictions than to remind his interlocutor of the position they both are
    in, the contingent starting point they both share, the floating, ungrounded
    conversations of which they are both members.

    DMB says:
    Contingent, floating, ungrounded conversations? I reject the notion that we
    only have a choice between this ethereal nowheresville and the rock solid
    foundationalism of the Plationic quest, whatever the heck that is. In fact,
    these two horns seem more a matter of thought styles rather than
    philosophical positions. I mean it seems clear to me that people can be
    rigid pragmatism and playful about metaphysics, but this is only about
    people, not pragmatism or metaphysics. You know? Once a zealot, always a
    zealot. The content of the belief system may be altered but the ferocity of
    belief remains unchanged.

    Matt said:
    pragmatism simply points out that our moral sentiments are gained by our
    contingent circumstances.

    DMB says:
    Or as Pirsig might put it. An individual's social level moral sentiments are
    provided by the society wherein that individual grows up. I mean, pragmatism
    does not contradict the MOQ in this. The MOQ, however, goes on to say that
    there are moral systems above and below this social level stuff. This is
    what saves it from amorality and nihilism. I don't see how pragmatism can
    avoid this dismal conclusion. It gives relativity a bad name. See what I'm
    getting at? It seems that pragmatism tries way too hard to be
    non-judgemental, tries too hard to give every voice an equal hearing and
    thereby looses the ability to make the kind of distinctions that are
    necessary in "doing" philosophy. Its like a tool built to take tools out of
    our hands and so is, ironically, not very practical or useful.

    Thanks for your time,

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