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In praise of argument. [Jun. 24th, 2005|11:08 pm]
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It's been pointed out to me that I've been mean in ths board. People post their opinions and I argue against them vehemently rather than make cute feedback. Hurts feelings.

Too bad.

We live in a society that values everyone's opinions. Everyone is entitled to their American opinion, with or without evidence. We try to lock ourselves in spheres of existence that are outside the ability of others to modify. We get our ideas, and gosh-golly, we're going to stick with them and no one should tell us we're wrong. We're all special. We're all valuable.

No. We're not. We are expendable, forgettable people. In everyone's mind, they are the lead in some form of Truman Show. We're all really special people, and it's our experiences that define the world. It's our subtleties and emotions and feelings that should define how we view the world. If people disagree with us, they're obviously wrong and we're obviously right.

Or, even worse, we go the opposite route. We tell them that they're certainly entitled to their opinion. Without argument. Without rebuttal. Since it's their opinion, we should just sit down and let it slide. Opinions are magical like that.

Too bad.

You should be willing to argue. You should be willing to put something up here and want to face criticism. You should want to defend your ideas rather than have a mass of friends agree, pat you on the back, and congratulate you on preaching to the choir. A "column" in the traditional newspaper sense means you're editorializing on a topic in a way that is meant to convince or express your feelings to someone who may not share your viewpoint. It's supposed to add something new to the thought process of the community, not just feed back into it.

Therefore when you receive criticism or anger or something you deem unfair, fight back. Reply. Don't quit. Don't give up. Don't let some fat guy who writes for a living tell you how to think. Tell you how to feel. Stand up for yourself. Fight for what you believe in. It makes your opinions stronger when you must reinforce them against irrational diatribes like I spit out.

If you're unwilling to defend your opinion, it's not worth having in the first place.

And cowboys are even gayer than your average man, let alone some platonic ideal for masculinity.

[User Picture]From: blueguitarist
2005-06-25 04:41 am (UTC)
I respect your point, but I still think you're overly hostile.
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[User Picture]From: blueguitarist
2005-06-25 04:50 am (UTC)
By the way, I know I'm an idiot, but mocking the handicapped is just rude.
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[User Picture]From: ediblemike
2005-06-25 05:14 am (UTC)
Your Mom told me she felt uncomfortable putting them up.

Wait. You're Mom's not white.

Goddamn you, Ivan. Goddamn your ethnicity.
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From: bosserthanmoss
2005-06-25 05:14 am (UTC)
You make me feel bad, I'm banning you.
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[User Picture]From: ediblemike
2005-06-25 05:53 am (UTC)
Welcome to America.
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From: where_was_i
2005-06-26 01:24 am (UTC)
Shouldn't somebody argue that the messages conveyed in this post are entirely wrong? Have we learned nothing from this founded-on-falsehoods post?
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[User Picture]From: ediblemike
2005-06-26 01:42 am (UTC)
You first.

That somebody should be you.

Step up to the plate.

How is it founded-on-falsehoods?

Doesn't your request that you take me to task based on the beliefs delivered within the post contradict your very statement that I'm wrong?
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From: where_was_i
2005-06-26 03:08 am (UTC)
     Mostly, my last comment was meant as humor, but humor is exceptionally difficult to convey in using only a small number of words. I will not pretend that I am so busy and have something better to do, but rather I'll step up to the plate with this.

     As this is the only part of your ‘irrational diatribe’ that is not either in the imperative, or to my liking, I’ll attack on this front:
You said: “No. We're not [special/valuable]. We are expendable, forgettable people. In everyone's mind, they are the lead in some form of Truman Show. We're all really special people, and it's our experiences that define the world. It's our subtleties and emotions and feelings that should define how we view the world. If people disagree with us, they're obviously wrong and we're obviously right.”
I say:
     That is true (not such a great way to begin an argument). But your context, at least by my world-view, is entirely off. The fun in life is trying to prove what here stands as your antithesis.
     Daniel Calder, with whom I never had the fortune or pleasure of making proper acquaintance, but whose intelligence, based on little more than livejournal entries and urban legend, dwarves even that of God and Einstein (combined), has a livejournal icon pointing out that Jesus, in his time was a “longhaired, radical, socialist, Jew.”-all of it is (arguably) true. But who should care what this unspecial/unvaluable guy did? One should care because what Jesus did that was so remarkable, and that made him so great (if not an embodiment of God) in the history of man, was make true the things that you are saying are not true. Jesus broke down the wall of being in his own mind the lead in some form of Truman Show, and instead, he gave the world the New Testament. I think the Bible is a little more influential than the Truman Show.
     In the late 1880’s and early 1900’s, from a continent swarming with upstart Jewish physicists, arose one Albert Einstein, who experienced a happy thought, his own private experience, or emotion, or feeling, that resulted in either special or general (I think it’s general) relativity, which, in turn, defined (at least as far as humanly tested) the universe. You say that we are not special because reality is not as we feel or experience it. I say that Einstein, (and anyone who wishes to attain a similar status) was special because he managed to show that by accomplishing what you say is untrue, one can attain greatness.
     The only way to achieve anything in life is to try to do what the notables in history have done: to try to give the world its own ‘You’ Show, to try and be in tune enough with reality that what you experience, or feel in fact defines the shape of reality; unless we’ve given that a shot, and failed, the potential for being special is there for most (well, probably only a very few) of us.
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From: where_was_i
2005-06-26 03:10 am (UTC)
(Most of what may seem harsh in that is sarcasm.)
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From: where_was_i
2005-06-26 04:11 am (UTC)
"In the late 1880’s and early 1900’s" ought to read "In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s". My bad dog. (Take that as you will)
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[User Picture]From: ediblemike
2005-06-26 07:07 am (UTC)
Unfortunately, you are missing a few flaws in your argument.

I'm not saying that all opinions are wrong and everyone is stupid.

What I'm saying is that argument is requirement to prove one right. When we agree with everyone, everyone suddenly becomes brilliant and no one makes any progress.

Look at Jesus. And first of all, Jesus gave us none of the New Testament. Yes, the New Testament was about Jesus. It included his teachings and words. But most Biblical scholars agree that most of the New Testament was written 100 years after Jesus' execution. Therefore, no, Jesus didn't give us that influential book. Jesus never wrote a word in his life.

Beyond that, Jesus was great because he countered the opinions of others. "He has not sinned, throw the first stone" was not a thought he just came up with while chilling with his friends. It was in response to the common local practice of stoning a woman to death for infidelity. Jesus was amazing because he was willing to argue against the religious standard, the standard opinion of others. He was willing to turn over tables in what most thought was a suitable religious practice.

Jesus would have been very in favor of countering the opinions and dreams of others. Not of oppressing them, but of angrily bringing them to task. You don't think turning over tables was an angry act that countered common thought and opinion? You don't think that the command for people to leave their jobs and join him wasn't against what most people thought of as normal, suitable ideals? Jesus was a man who entered the synagogues and debated. He took the ideals and opinions of the religious leaders to task.

And that's what made him a great man.

As far as Albert Einstein goes, you are partially wrong, son. Not everything he made was great. He got a lot wrong by modern physics standards. When he created the theory of general relativity, one of the things that, to quote you, "managed to show that by accomplishing what [i] say is untrue, one can attain greatness," he fudged the facts a bit. The universe, which Einstein thought was static, could not be static according to his equations. Therefore instead of predicting the universe was changing, he modified his equations to introduce a cosmological constant that would make his idea of a stable, static universe more sound. Later, a physicist Edwin Hubble (who the Hubble Telescope is named after) took Einstein to task and proved that the universe was changing and that Einstein had been wrong in part in his theory of general relativity.

After the discovery, Einstein called it "the greatest mistake of my life."

Therefore, in both of you examples, both Jesus and Einstein benefitted from argument and the idea that opinions are imperfect, maleable things rather than always-right diamonds. In the case of Jesus, the son of God was able to turn around society not by introducing new ideas, but by revealing old conceptions and opinions for the falsities (some would say) for what they were. And as far as Einstein goes, he was very often wrong.

Sooooooooooooo, back to you.
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[User Picture]From: ediblemike
2005-06-26 07:12 am (UTC)
Just to be sure, I wasn't saying that you shouldn't believe in yourself. Not at all. That's exactly what I'm saying.

What I'm saying is that this belief that everyone should let everyone have their opinions without argument is silly. That everyone is right and no one is wrong is a completely foolhardy way to view the world. Progress is made through the production of ideas, and ideas are refined through the fires of mental conflict.

You should be willing to defend your own Truman Show against others. It's a refining process that slowly and surely changes the way you view the world. I never want to be locked into my views of society and the way things work, nor should anybody. Yet in the current climate of thought, everyone is entitled to their completely right and kind and just opinions, leading to the isolation of belief and thought into microscopic, yet unchangeable ideals. Not my idea of Fun-Zone.
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From: where_was_i
2005-06-27 12:44 am (UTC)
The Jesus thing: I didn't mean to imply that he wrote the New Testament, just that his life was important enough to merit its writing (One of the reasons I don't believe willy-nilly in the Bible is because I know too much of the history of its writing).

I read a book on Einstein (for real, I'm not just saying that); I knew all the stuff you wrote; My feelings on him in history are that his two (major) contributions to science (that is special and general relativity) far outweighed his cosmological constant (or any other) mistake(s). Besides, at the point in his life when he published his cosmological constant concept(which wasn't central to the other points of general relativity), it may have been a big deal in mainstream news, but Einny's popularity in mainstream physics was dying down. He'd spend the next/last years of his life searching for a Theory of Everything which, by the methods then available, he could not possibly have discovered, while the rest of the mainstream physics world delved into the burgeoning field of quantum mechanics; a field to which he was morally opposed ("God does not play dice with the universe."). I realize that again, he was wrong in thinking that quantum mechanics would go nowhere, but the fact remains that he changed the world when he was right, and that that is the key to greatness.

I completely agree that both benefited from argument. Apparently, I can't argue against you because I agree with the notion that argument is good (recall that my first post, as revealed at a later time, was sarcasm in its fullest, and that I actually asked for criticism when I posted my 'column'). So to you I say this: thanks for being the 'jackass' who kills the buzz of anybody who tries to post something that isn't truly provocative; it's good for our college preparation, and maybe after your criticism we won't all commit suicide at whatever college we attend when a professor points out that an essay of ours sucks to high Hell.
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[User Picture]From: ediblemike
2005-06-27 01:01 am (UTC)
Haha. Thanks for being the guy who has emotions and likes puppies; it's good for my preparation to deal with students, and maybe after your criticism I won't correct college papers for fear of hurting the feelings of my students that try to analyze The Da Vinci Code for deep literary meanings and it sucks to high Hell.

It's called Guest Columns for a reason. My opinion is (and we see how much that is worth as far as my own standard) that if you want to post a touchy-feely post about how much you really like kittens because they're softer than goldfish, you already have a LJ to post it in. Hell, look what I post in mine. I talk about being fat and how much I like video games. Fun to me, doesn't matter to anyone else.

Therefore, when someone posts something in the Column section of my local newspaper, for example, and it's both uninformed, silly, and/or trite, the writer shouldn't be upset when he or she gets letters replying to that opinion.

Even non-provocative opinions should be replied to if disagreed upon.

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