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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Vox Day's Problem

In a recent post on his blog, "Vox Day" demonstrates, right out in front of God and all the angels, what his problem is; or, at any rate, what a major one of them is. I'm interested to see if you, Gentle Reader, see what I'm getting at prior to me explicitly spelling out what I mean. And, it shouldn't be too difficult, as only a handful of sentences in the post are his sentences.

"Vox Day:" A wish list

And, for contrast, here is "Vox Day" not displaying "The Trouble with Vox Day:" Mailvox: a humble request


Crude said...

What? His love of getting people angry and defensive?

cathy said...

Oh, I am so glad you included that "humble request" post; it's very comforting to see this Vox who's willing to treat someone respectfully, even generously. (Plus some interesting points, and reading suggestions.)

Ilíon said...

Crude: "What? His love of getting people angry and defensive?"

Close, but deeper and more troublesome.

VD (from the first link): "... Being an Award-Winning Cruelty Artist, I tend to rather enjoy seeing how speedily I can force them to retreat from a prosecutorial pose to the position of a desperate, wild-eyed defense attorney who knows his client is headed straight for the chair."

His primary motivation isn't to get at the truth, but to humiliate someone -- or, at least, to tell himself in his internal-dialog AAR (after action report) that he has humiliated someone. And, it seems, if he hasn't gotten his fix recently enough by beating up on someone who might be said to have deserved it, just about anyone will do.

Mind you, I’m not criticizing him because he’s “mean,” but because his goal is humiliation and dominance of others.

Crude said...

I think he clearly takes pride in humiliating people, but he seems to largely aim for people who themselves love to attack and humiliate others.

Right in that quote he's saying he takes pleasure from putting a person on the defensive - but it's specifically a person who is taking it upon themselves to go on the offensive about a subject they obviously don't know too much about.

Admittedly, even that much can be seen as kind of petty. But maybe this latest quote from Vox will put him in a better light for you:

I think it would correct to chastise me if I was walking around and attempting to hurt people by telling them how idiotic they are without any provocation, but that's simply not the case here.

Ilíon said...

I'd read that just before you posted it. And, as you can see from the OP, I'm not ragging on him, not trying to present him as a monster or as having no good qualities.

Whether it's the case "here," it's frequently the case with him. And, I'm not the only one who recognizes the issue.

Crude said...

Nah, I know you're not just tearing him down. And I'm certainly not presenting him as flawless - he's got flaws a-plenty. I'm just offering up my own view of the guy.

I admit, I admire him in part, for all his flaws (not to mention, unorthodoxies). He's one of a scant handful of people who speaks frankly about controversial issues, when such talk is needed. (Even David B. Hart, when administering one hell of a denunciation of the New Atheists, typically does so only by way of praising past atheists undeservedly in my view.)

Ilíon said...

Of course.

And about the misplaced praise of the "Old Atheists" (from Hart ... and from Feser, and Reppert, and so on and so on) -- ugggh! The "Old Atheists" were just as great fools, just as intellectually dishonest, as the "New Atheists" are.

Ilíon said...

I'll take "Vox Day," any day, warts and all, over the insipid dishonesty of elevating "civility" over truth.

Crude said...

Have you seen Trent Dougherty's recent post on naturalism at Prosblogion? I think you may find it of interest.

As far as Feser specifically goes, though, I think his words on that front are a bit more qualified. He praises Russell, for example, but only insofar as Russell was not a materialist. He seems to have nothing but scorn for naturalism/materialism, even in an intellectual sense. In other words, I think a lot of his praise amounts to 'At least the old atheists realized naturalism was bankrupt.'

Ilíon said...

No, I hadn't seen it (thanks for making me aware of it).

As for what you say about Feser ... well, sure; but then what? What is one to say of persons who acknowledge that naturalism is bankrupt ... and yet still are naturalists/atheists or advocates of atheism and/or denigrate Christians (as Christians) as being “superstitious” and worse? How can one honestly advance any sort of praise for persons of such low moral character? For is not intellectual dishonesty -- lying about the very nature of truth and reason -- the father of most other “big” immoral acts; I mean the ones which engulf more lives than one’s own?

Crude said...

What is one to say of persons who acknowledge that naturalism is bankrupt ... and yet still are naturalists/atheists or advocates of atheism and/or denigrate Christians (as Christians) as being “superstitious” and worse?

Probably what I've seen a few people say about Russell (and a few others): Great insights on some subjects, but he lost his mind when it came to religion. (Even the very polite Reppert seems to have no problem saying that Russell's treatment of theism and religion was bad to say the least.)

I also suspect that anyone who rejects naturalism (and who recognizes they do so) is going to be far slower to play the 'superstitious' card, precisely because that sort of empty attack is one they're going to be very familiar with. I've never seen Chalmers play it, for example. Of course, that guy also has ID sympathies - he occupies some interesting philosophical positions across the board.

The Phantom Blogger said...

The funny thing with Feser on Russell is he complimented him for rejecting materialism as Crude points out (Russell embraced Neutral monism the "view is that the raw material out of which the world is built up is not of two sorts, one matter and the other mind, but that it is arranged in different patterns by its inter-relations, and that some arrangements may be called mental, while others may be called physical"). But at the same time he admitted that Russell in "Why I am not a Christian" made a straw man refutation against the Cosmological argument (repeating the famous everything has a cause, so the universe has a cause, and the cause is God) stating the misunderstood popular version of it, as well as repeating other bad straw men arguments against Christianity as well. Yet for some reason he still regards him as honest. The idea that atheists in the past were better than those today comes across as ridiculous, people like Diderot and Baron d'Holbach, though more intelligent than hitchens and co, still came up with terrible arguments and bad ideas based upon there personal hatred of religion, they were just more superficially intelligent, articulate and stylishly clever than the moderns are.

Feser says "J. L. Mackie, J. J. C. Smart, Quentin Smith, and Jordan Howard Sobel – to take just four examples off the top of my head – are serious thinkers whose work must be treated by the theist with respect."

When he complements J L Mackie he does the same thing. Mackie can be honest on some things (like admitting that to be an atheist one has to embrace moral skepticism, which is to say, All moral claims are thus false) but some of his arguments like his argument against miracles consists of nothing more than I don't believe in them because there silly, but dressed up in pseudo-intellectual language.

The Phantom Blogger said...

On Bertrand Russell, he was important in that he played major role in the development of many of the most important philosophical schools and movements throughout the early 20th century (Also many of the worst such as Logical positivism and the Vienna Circle which were influenced by him and Wittgenstein). He helped get them established, but his casual dismissal of metaphysics and blind acceptance of the claims of science and logic, caused severe problems in philosophy that still to the day, has not been set straight. His own ideas and contributions have almost all been refuted, and they didn't come to much, like his idea of grounding all mathematics in Logic, (his view, logicism was that all mathematics is in some important sense reducible to logic) was overturned by Godels Incompleteness theorem and his other major work the theory of Logical atomism has been refuted many times over, to the point that in later life Russell himself no longer believed in his theory (though he continued to believe that the process of philosophy ought to consist of breaking things down into their simplest components, even though we might not ever fully arrive at an ultimate atomic fact). But he did play a major role in the development of mathematical logic even if his ideas weren't successful, plus Godel's work may not have existed without Russell, also the work of other greats such as Quine, Turing, Walter Pitts and Clarence Irving Lewis in some way, owe something to Russell, since all of them had been affected by his Principia Mathematica (even if it was to argue against it, as it was for most of them).

His popularisers of Philosophy and Science (such as the ABC of Relativity) are quite good, though his anti-metaphysical mentality does shine through in them. In his History of Philosophy his own personal dislikes of philosophers and there beliefs, plus his disinterest in the area of philosophy that they worked in, does become apparent often, (such as when he talks about Nietzsche) plus his inadequacy as a historian is shown as well.

The only philosophical work of his that has really stood the test of time is "On Denoting" which is still considered a landmark work in the Philosophy of Language, (Frank P. Ramsey referred to the essay as "the paradigm of philosophy." which is hyperbolic to say the least but captures its importance to analytical philosophers) and has many defenders to this day, among them Saul Kripke (who is himself anti-materialism and anti-naturalist).