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Saturday, November 13, 2010

It pains me to say this

It pains me to say this, it pains me to know this: but the sad truth is that Edward Feser is a fool (i.e. he is intellectually dishonest).

The straw that breaks the camel's back, the action/behavior which makes it rationally impossible for me to avoid the (sad) conclusion that Mr Feser is intellectually dishonest, is this:
I will continue, for now anyway, to tolerate your obnoxiousness, as well as your habit of misrepresenting both my views and my attitude toward critics. But I can no longer tolerate the frequency and length of your comments. Stop posting so frequently and at such length. Say what you want -- I rarely read 'em anyway -- but if I keep seeing post after post after post, and if I keep seeing absurdly long comments, I'll start deleting.
"I rarely read 'em anyway" -- now there's a shocker! His loss, really, for I am almost never wrong when I express an opinion (and that is because I almost never just spout off; if I express an opinion, I have generally thought carefully about the matter).

He also doesn't *attend* when he does pretend to read, for:

1) I'm not obnoxious; I'm in fact, very much like he is: I speak bluntly and directly, as a man does, and I have no use for the passive-aggressive mode of men-pretending-to-be-women speech and behavior which seems to be de riguer amongst academics;

2) I was not misrepresenting his views -- I was opposing them. And, incidentally, mopping the floor with them. I was showing anyone willing to pay attention and think for himself, rather than kow-tow to someone's aura and prestige, that his argument is incoherent, on multiple levels. And I was presenting a coherent alternative, or at least the initial steps to a coherent alternative;

3) Clearly -- as witness his reaction to sustained and cogent criticism -- I am not misrepresenting his attitude toward critics;

4) The "frequency and length of [my] comments" were directly related to the fact that I was critiquing the points of his shitty argument; so yeah! I can see where he'd justifiably be upset by my previous response dealing with his whinging about the "frequency and length of [my] comments." That was sarcasm, by the way, just in case it wasn't clear;

5) OBVIOUSLY, instead of taking him seriously enough to attempt to show him the error and incoherence of his shitty argument (and I didn't even call it that, even though it is), such that to answer the points of it I posted "absurdly long comments," I should have just said: "You're wrong!" (or, possibly, "What an amusingly shitty argument"), and then he'd have seen the error of his ways.

Concerning his claim that I have a "habit of misrepresenting both [his] views and [his] attitude toward critics," this is my post which was for him that proverbial straw, or at least excuse:
[this post and the next are diversions from the main topic, so as to deal with some snark]
E.Feser: (a free-paraphrase of multiple comments) "[Whine, whine, whine! Why are you bothering me? I don't have time (or interest) to *attend* to the argument you're making. Besides, you're saying too much!]"

*slapping forehead* Who knew! So, what I was supposed to do is simply assert, "You're wrong!" and you'd have (recognized and) admitted your error?

You have presented a lengthy argument to support a set of conclusions. The argument is flawed, and some of the conclusions are unsound. And we all recognize that -- including you, yourself, which is why you are forced to make unprincipled exceptions to it and to further assert that the purported inherent sinfulness of lying is (sometimes, or even often) trivial, and therefore that lying -- sinning -- is sometimes permissible on grounds of triviality.

I am presenting an argument to attempt to rationally explain the flaws we all recognize in your argument and conclusions (and, by the way, mopping the floor with your argument). It is, perforce, going to be at least as lengthy as your argument.

I am taking you seriously enough to attend to your flawed argument and rebut it, rather than simply dismissing it.

Now, you could respond by saying something like, "I'm busy, and so unable to respond to your criticisms" You could respond by saying nothing and letting the two arguments arguments address one another.

Instead, you chose to respond in a most juvenile manner; which response, among other things, seeks to harness group-and-personal politics, and "authority," to discourage anyone else from even attempting to attend to the argument I'm making. As I said to my advisors, your behavior speaks for itself.

And, there is another point.

The young man I mentioned, the "lurker" who contacted me, seems to be in an intellectual pickle. On the one hand, his reason tells him that I am correct that lying (which simply another word for deception) is not intrinsically sinful; his priest tells him that that is correct. On the other hand, he fears that official Catholic doctrine, to the extent that there is an offical doctrine on this particular point, will be in agreement with your argument.

How will he resolve that? I don't know. But one potential solution is to deny his own reason -- to lie to himself about what he believes to be true; and that never ends well. Another potential solution is to conclude that Catholicism is seriously misguided -- and, indeed, self-contradictory.

My argument offers a way out of that self-contradiction (at least, as applies to this particular question). And you don't even want to consider it.

Look, I *don't* want to conclude that you're intellectually dishonest. But, if you insist upon leaving me no other option, I will not shy from the conclusion.
Gentle Reader can decide for himself whether my paraphrase is an accurate representation of Mr Feser's responses (which is to say, non-responses) to the argument I was presenting. And, keep in mind his comment quoted above: "Say what you want -- I rarely read 'em anyway."

Now, let's look at one very mild, and not at all confrontational, criticism of his argument, and his reaction to it:
Matteo said:I've never understood the problem here. Lying is withholding the truth from those who have a right to it. Murderers at the door and the Gestapo have no right to it, so no lying is involved.

Edward Feser said: Ilion, I know you can't read, as is evident from your remarks. But I thought Matteo could. I address that very dodge in the second to last paragraph of the post, Matteo, as you'll see if you go back and read it.
Note the personal insult directed at me, and the related implied insult directed at Matteo.

Did Matteo warrant such behavior?

Did I warrant such behavior? That was Feser's "response" to the posts I had posted to that point, going through the points of his argument. Now, this particular (mostly one-sided) argument I'd been having with him goes back several days, into a prior essay he'd posted. Gentle Reader will search in vain in either thread for anything I had said that would give justification for this behavior.

Now, Mr Feser frequently cross-posts his essays between his personal blog and the 'What's Wrong With the World' blog. In this instance, Matteo posted his criticism there, too, and this was Feser's response:
Edward Feser said: Matteo,

QED in your dreams. I responded to just that dodge at some length in the second to last paragraph of the post. That is not what "lying" means -- otherwise saying absolutely nothing to someone who has a right to information from you would count as a lie -- and there are other problems too, as I note in the post. (It's a good idea to read things before you comment on them.)
There are a few things I want Gentle Reader to note; I mean, even aside from the snarky attitude toward Matteo:
1) Feser is, among other things, begging the question (in the post specifically directed to his argument, I intend to further explore, or at least point out, some logical fallacies he is making) when he says: "otherwise saying absolutely nothing to someone who has a right to information from you would count as a lie." Notice again what Matteo said: "Lying is withholding the truth from those who have a right to it." And Feser's "refutation" of Matteo's definition/understanding of the word amounts to, "that can't be true, because if it were true it would be true."
2) Matteo's proffered definition of lying may be incomplete (it is), and it may reflect a misunderstanding (it does), but it is not wholly false;
3) AND, in fact, sometimes "saying absolutely nothing to someone who has a right to information from you [does] count as a lie"

For a real-life example of 3), consider the traitor, Benedict Arnold; I'm sure no one asked him, "Benedict, are you a traitor to the revolutionary cause?" (he was a highly trusted officer, after all, who had seemingly proven himself worthy of trust). And you *know* that he didn't volunteer the information. Yet, did not George Washington have the right to the information, and didn't Arnold have the duty to supply it? (When Arnold changed his mind about the rightness, or was it winnability? of the Revolution, he *could* have resigned his commission, he *could* have declined to betray the trust others had put in him.) Was not Arnold's silence on this pertinent fact an active lie? Did not his silence on the fact that he was a traitor really amount to the claim, "I'm still faithfully with you in the cause"?

For a fictional example of 3), consider the program 'Stargate Universe' (which, by the way, is *way* better than the other programs of the Stargate franchise): recently, the character Dr Rush has figured out how to get into, and thus control, the automatic control-systems of the "Ancient" ship on which the show's characters are marooned way out in far-distant space. And he hasn't told anyone, and has no intention of doing so. He is thereby lying to his fellows, for getting control of the ship is one of their first orders of business. And, incidentally, his actions pursuant of keeping this secret have lead to the death of (yet another) crew member, and the loss of their working space-shuttle.

So, really? I've misrepresented Feser's attitude toward critics?


Heuristics said...

I generally just skip over most of your comments over there as well. they really are too long and nomerous.

Ilíon said...

Heuristics: "I generally just skip over most of your comments over there as well. they really are too long and nomerous."

If I had wanted your opinion, I'd have beat it out of you.

Ilíon said...

Ilíon said: "But, as Herr Doktor Professor has no desire to engage actual criticism of his argument, and as I generally don't continue to hang around when I'm clearly not wanted (also, I quickly lose interest in intellectually dishonest persons), I'm not really going to say more here."

E.Feser said: "I engage criticism all the time, Ilion, as all sane readers of this blog know (and as is evident from the fact that I've now written two long blog posts in reply to criticisms of my two original posts on lying). I just don't engage irrational, gratuitously nasty windbags who by their own admission can't even be bothered to read what I've written before criticizing it."

Gentle Reader can see for himself (starting here) that most of the items in this comment -- and especially the critical claim (*) that Herr Doktor Professor "engage[s] criticism all the time" -- do not match reality.

(*) I've already written the OP of this thread to explore/show that; I have no need to prove the point again.

E.Feser said: ""Quickly" for Ilion apparently means "after posting countless lengthy comments at such persons' blogs, and writing four separate posts about them on my own blog.""

Poor, poor, Herr Doktor Professor; not everything is about you. Only one of those "four separate posts ... on my own blog" (the OP of this thread) is *about* Herr Doktor Professor. And the "countless lengthy comments [posted] at such persons' blogs" (as with the other three posts on my own blog) are about critiquing Herr Doktor Professor's faulty-and-incoherent argument (and, in showing it to be faulty and incoherent) -- you know, exactly the sort of thing that Herr Doktor Professor was bitching about when I was attempting to do it on his blog.

Also, and this is important, so pay attention: I have only just concluded that Herr Doktor Professor has chosen to be intellectually dishonest.

Ilíon said...

Step2 said: "That's a little much, isn't it? I mean, I've been reading his blog posts for years and he can sometimes jump to the wrong conclusion or more likely overstate his conclusion, just like everyone else. There's only been one issue in which I suspected Dr. Feser was being dishonest, and the fact there was only one tells you how extraordinary it was considering how partisan I am."

Ilíon said: "I've explained why I've concluded that he has chosen to be intellectually dishonest (on this matter, if no others).

Let us posit that only on this one matter does he chose to be intellectually dishonest. And the single-issue nature of the choice matters, how?

E.Feser said: "Yes, I have always ached, ached to find some rationalization for my deep-seated, irrational desire to tell the truth to any murderer who might come to my door. You caught me!"

Way to ... evade? (Oh, it's all right, then!) ... the point.

Nate Winchester said...

It's... unfortunate. Feser & Mike Flynn both are very sharp, and when they aim true, the result is devastating.

But also like the nuke, when they end up aimed at the wrong target... (Flynn also adopts the lying thing)

It would probably work best if they remembered nobody's perfect.

For a fictional example of 3), consider the program 'Stargate Universe' (which, by the way, is *way* better than the other programs of the Stargate franchise)

Whoa now wait a minute, I thought you said you were a serious thinker! ;)

(just kidding, I'm an old SG1 fan who still hasn't gotten around to Atlantis & Universe, but I've heard the general reaction - but then Uni has Julie McNiven so I'll have to give it a try.)