virus: Nothing

Reed Konsler (
Sun, 21 Feb 1999 14:30:58 -0500

>Date: Sat, 20 Feb 1999 17:16:41 -0500
>From: "joe dees" <>
>Subject: Re:virus: Nothing
>To cite is not to cower behind. Do you see farther
>because you stand on the shoulders of those giants
>who came before you, or cower behind those
>shoulders and see nothing but the asses of armpits?

As you related before, it depends entirely on how you use the tool of citation. You were saying "Not only do I hold this statement to be meaningless, but so does my powerful buddy Dan." My reply is:

"You don't have a clue what Dan thinks."

Furthermore...if he did agree with you, you would both be wrong and I'd be disappointed in him... becuase I expect someone brilliant enough to write the books he does to know better.

You were using the citation as a shield becuase you know that you can't win the argument using logic alone. You embody my central point: logic alone NEVER wins an argument, because people have the inalienable right to ignore it. You can't avoid negotiation by asserting a complex of arbitrary rules. As our buddy Dan tells us:

[please imagine "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" playing in the background...softly at first, but building to fierce crecesendo by the end]

"If you want to teach your children that they are tools of God, you had better not teach them that they are God's rifles, or we will have to stand opposed to you: your doctrine has no glory, no special rights, no intrinsic and inalienable merit. If you insist on teaching your children falsehoods--- that the Earth is flat, that "Man" is not the product of evolution by natural selection---then you must expect, at the very least, that those of us who have the freedom of speech will feel free to describe your teachings as the spreading of falsehoods, and will attempt to demonstrate this to your children at our earliest opportunity. Our future well being--- the well being of all of us on the planet---depends on the education of our descendents."
--Dan Dennett
_Darwin's Dangerous Idea_

Do you think that is about religion? Look deeper! It's about dogmatism. It's a about algorithmic rule following. Dan has stood up an said:

"Look, you don't have any special access to Truth. If you keep saying all these silly things then you should expect the rest of us to resist you every step of the way. And don't think violence will deter us...just becuase we are rational doesn't mean we won't do whatever it takes to preserve freedom of expression. Our lives and liberty are less important to us that the well being of the collective. Oh, and don't think that you have some special right to preserve the ways of your father by imposing them upon your children. We are all in this together, and they are our children, also, to love, protect, and teach as best we can."

Like I said, he is one bad ass philosopher.

>If everything were a koan, equally nothing would
>be, for the very word "koan" would lose all definitive
>power (and yes, I am "cowering behind" Merleau-Ponty's
>criticism of Sartre's concept of absolute freedom by
>applying its form to the content of your contention).

Richard has already countered that argument. We are all human, does this make the word "human" meaningless? Things which we all share are a strength, not a weakness. As George Lakoff points out (and Dennett has made analagous arguemets) it is a direct result of our incredible commonality that we understand each other so well, with so little bandwidth to go on. We are each human, and it is the basis of this shared experience which is the bedrock of communication.

Even so, I really liked:

"If everything were a koan, equally nothing would be"

I'm with you up to there.

>If you believe in error, you will lose.

Interesting...I see your point. That's a dangerous statement, though, becuase one interpretation points toward light and other towards darkness. It's a test of will you interpret me?

I interpret it as:

"If you don't have faith in yourself, then you can't win."


>whether or not you have the necessary cognitive abilities to
>realize it. Others will realize it for you.

Good. So very true. Feedback is critical to each of us. To be isolated from the collective is the road to madness.

>If A, B or C and if ~A and ~B, then C.

That's an assertion, not a proof. It is inappropriate to say QED unless you establish a statement based on a set of premises. To do that, you have to take a step back and show the premises:

If A then ~B
If B then ~A
If C then ~A, ~B
If A then ~C
If B then ~C

Those are the premises.

I assert:

If ~A, ~B then either C or ~C

Look, this abstract shit is boring me. I do it at work all the time, could we talk about people instead?

>>You do understand! That was great!
>I have understood for quite a while now;
>the contention is about the things you do
>not yet understand.

Cool. What are they?

>>The isn't over yet, is it? I still warming up.
>Not until you submit or quit.

"You can't win, Darth. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can

possibly imagine."              -Obi Wan Kenobi
                                        "Star Wars"
                                         George Lucas


  Reed Konsler