Monday, August 24, 2015

On Being Your Own Best Enemy

Continuing with the centrality of the Why in human affairs, McGinn notes that "Thomas's mode of engagement was always to encourage discussion, not invective."

Thus, in the Summa, for every question he formulates at least three plausible objections, and these objections are never in the authoritarian form of the modern liberal, i.e., "because my truth is newer than yours," or "because consensus," or "because blacks / women / homosexuals have their own truth and it's just as good as yours."

As Kreeft explains, objections "must be arguments, not just opinions, for one of the basic principles of any intelligent debate... is that each debater must give relevant reasons for every controvertible opinion he expresses."

Thus, an intellectually honest person will always seek out the strongest possible objections to his own opinions -- not just to win the argument, but much more fundamentally, to be secure in one's own groundedness in truth. In a way, it is totally self-interested, since the last thing we want to do is found our lives on a Lie.

One reason people hate politicians is that they are so transparently intellectually dishonest. For example, Howard Dean says the Clinton e-mail crimes have been "manufactured partly by a press that’s bored and partly by the Republicans."

I know what you're thinking: who's Howard Dean? He is someone the liberal press turns to when it needs an authority to deny the obvious and to pretend the irrefutable is controvertible. If it were refutable, then he would just refute it instead of attacking the motives of his imaginary interlocutors.

Reducing another's thought to its supposed motives prevents us from understanding it. --Don Colacho

Which is why they do it. It's not really misunderstanding, but preemptive dis-understanding.

You will have noticed that on any major question, the left reduces our thought to its supposed motives (e.g., racism, homophobia, "controlling women," favoring "the wealthy," etc.), which seals them in their ignorance. The clever ones -- the 1% -- do this consciously as an intellectually dishonest debate strategy, while the other 99% of liberals just imitate the 1%, or do as told. Thus far, every one of our trolls has been a 99 percenter.

And of the 1% conscious liars and distorters, some are adept at it (e.g., Bill Clinton, Eric "Otter" Stratton) while others are awful at it (Hillary Clinton).

Does it trouble you that liberal-funded ghouls hack through a baby's face in order to extract his valuable brain? For Hillary Clinton, your misogynistic distress is "really an attack on a woman’s right to make the most personal, difficult decisions that any woman would face.”

Is she ashamed to be associated with such sadists? Not quite: "I'm proud to stand with Planned Parenthood, [and] I’ll never stop fighting to protect the ability and right of every woman in this country to make her own health decisions."

Truly, Clinton gives intellectual dishonesty a bad name: "If this feels like a full-on assault on women’s health, that’s because it is.”

Your real motive? When folks like you “talk about defunding Planned Parenthood, they’re talking about blocking millions of women, men and young people from live-saving preventive care." Just not too young.

It's hard to imagine even Bill Clinton so grotesquely hiding behind the flag:

"When they attack women’s health, they attack America’s health and it’s wrong and we’re not going to let them get away with it.”

Compare this to Otter's classic courtroom defense in Animal House:

"The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests -- we did. But you can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick perverted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg: isn't this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do what you you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!"

Back to intellectual honesty, which is a trait we need if we are ever going to reach the truth. In particular, we are all in need of intellectually honest adversaries in order to be truly secure in our truth. If we are only exposed to the bozos of the left, it is awfully easy to gain a false sense of security. Since they do not furnish the arguments against us, then we ourselves need to do the job. We have to be our own best enemies.

Here again, Don Colacho has a number of aphorisms that go to this:

The unbeliever is dumbfounded that his arguments do not alarm the Catholic, forgetting that the Catholic is a vanquished unbeliever.

Thus, Whoever wants to know what the serious objections to Christianity are should ask us. The unbeliever makes only stupid objections. Indeed, his objections are often the foundations of our faith.

Note that it is possible for the Christian to be to Christianity what a Howard Dean or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama are to liberalism. Which is why Every Christian has been directly responsible for the hardening of some unbeliever's heart.

So, we want to be our own best adversary, secure in the faith that our faith can handle the challenge. "If we do not consider opposing views, we spar without a partner and paw the air. If we do not do our homework, we only skim the surface of ourselves" (Kreeft).

But if we spar only with liberals, then we spar with partners who flail around as indiscriminately as Helen Keller before she discovered that water is wet.

"One who is seeking the strongest possible arguments against any idea of St. Thomas will rarely find any stronger ones, any more strongly argued, than those in St. Thomas himself." He "aimed only for light, not heat."

To which it should be immediately amended that light gives off its own heat, i.e., that there is a proper "intellectual passion," so to speak. We are not Vulcans. Only half Vulcan.

6 Comments:

Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Thus, an intellectually honest person will always seek out the strongest possible objections to his own opinions -- not just to win the argument, but much more fundamentally, to be secure in one's own groundedness in truth. In a way, it is totally self-interested, since the last thing we want to do is found our lives on a Lie."

SoOo True. And yet, I've found it to be one of the things people are least likely to believe, believe of you, or attempt to practice, or even to acknowledge as being the ideal.

Scary.

8/24/2015 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger Van Harvey said...

"Reducing another's thought to its supposed motives prevents us from understanding it. --Don Colacho

Which is why they do it. It's not really misunderstanding, but preemptive dis-understanding."

Preemptive dis-understanding - Oh that's a keeper.

8/24/2015 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

"When they attack women’s health, they attack America’s health and it’s wrong and we’re not going to let them get away with it.”

Wow - he went full Otter? You should never go full Otter.

Tangentially, come to think of it, there are plenty of SJWs out there who are perfectly happy to apply Otter's argument - namely, indicting the entire fraternity system for the (imaginary) abuses of a few frat boys - right here and now, and if they end up taking down America in the process they'd probably be thrilled.

8/24/2015 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

"One who is seeking the strongest possible arguments against any idea of St. Thomas will rarely find any stronger ones, any more strongly argued, than those in St. Thomas himself." He "aimed only for light, not heat."

And thus his luminosity. If we don't test ourselves, others - or simply reality in general - will do it for us. Sadly, there are plenty of people who are constantly tested by both others and reality, and yet manage to learn nothing from the experiences.

8/24/2015 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

It's not really misunderstanding, but preemptive dis-understanding.

In other words, if I bothered to understand you, I might have to agree with you, and that would make my feelz have a sad.

At least with Bill, you kind of understood that he had a motive, even if it was just to get more chicks. Maybe it's the same with Hillary. Still, I get the impression she doesn't even know why she's an intellectually dishonest, moral retard. She has to prove she can F America harder than Bill or Obama.

Full Otter. I laughed.

8/24/2015 10:34:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

;)

My husband once used "The Flounder Principle" in a federal court. It didn't work - they didn't win their case - but did get some laughs from the judge.

8/24/2015 10:41:00 AM  

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