Re: virus: Logic Nazi
Mon, 22 Feb 1999 18:25:38 EST

Ah, . . . see!!!

I was looking back in the list and saw ample evidence for Reed's Boogey Man, the Logic Nazi. Yes, Reed, I know that you will say that *I* created the logic nazi. But I merely gave it a name, when reflecting upon this boogey man image that you are so quick to foist on us. And it is real, I do believe. In fact, I am convinced after reading this old EMail of yours, where you pull out this confessional repentance routine. (Geeze aren't those routines just shameful to watch "Yes, I've done drugs, I've committed robberies, but now I am SAVED!!")

Don't assume that just because because you screwed up, that we are all screwing up too.

-Uber Mensch

>>Subj: virus: reason is the heart of faith
Date:	1/28/99 2:45:36 PM Central Standard Time
From: (Reed Konsler)
To: . . .

I strongly support the idea that logic should serve as the principle tool towards the goal of communication. Communication is desireable, and it is much more satisfying when the communication is meaningful. The critical concept here is that logic should serve meaningful communication, and not the reverse.

Logic is not a machette one uses to hack through a jungle of discourse in search of El Dorado, the golden city of truth. Reason is not a razor cutting ideas into bloody chunks. Logic is not a weapon.

Unfortunately, people often use it thus. Do you find yourself mentally fondling your lists of fallacies like a gun collector? Are you eager to "unleash" that analytical power to strike down the enemy? I have felt that way at times.

Do you gain satisfaction from an attack? When you see a "straw man", do you feel a rush? Do you find that you feel more alive in the process of disecting someone elses arguments? I have, I am sorry to admit.

Can you imagine that someone with that taste for blood might be looking for targets to lock horns with? Might that kind of person look for targets where none exist? I have.

I'm not presenting a complete arguement here, I'm asking you to imagine the possibility that using the tool might become an end in itself...that a person might aqcuire an addiction to analysis.

How would one know it was addiction? As Richard pointed out eariler, addiction implies a lack of mastery. What is the purpose of logic?

Can we agree that the purpose of logic is to facilitate meaningful communication? What would be the caracteristics of successful application of that principle?

We should feel good (experience satisfaction) when we agree and feel bad when we disagree. We should feel especially bad when we have a lengthy conversation and still "can't understand how the other person could think X" or "can't imagine ever being like that".

But there have been times when I've felt a rush, a real emotional boost "in the heat of battle". That's why it's called a "flame war" right? When conversations shift from constructive to mutually destructive I begin to wonder why now. It frightens me when a tool we build in search of good, meaningful communication seems to become an end in itself...when the <logic> memes fail to serve the <communication> memes.

It's a military coup de'ta of the mind.

If you can imagine that, you can understand why someone might "abandon logic". It isn't that the person is truely irrational or really ready to expunge the <logic> memes from their mind. What happens is, in the course of communication, the use of logic turns from a good, helpful, satisfying tool into a sinister, destructive weapon. If that happens one too many times, the person begins to associate that ill feeling of being attacked with <logic>. We avoid what is painful, and so eventually we might abandon <logic> if it is used to bite us one too many times.

The funny thing is, that you are absolutely right: all meaningful communication is logical. An understanding of logic can help everyone build more and more meaningful communication with each other.

That is why it is so critical that those of us who have some understanding of logic meticulously avoid using it as a weapon, or describing it as an irresitable force. Every logical attack we make turns the target away from their best tool towards creating a fulfilling life. Logic is not a harsh, demanding master. Reason is not a stern parent which must be obeyed.

This is the wrong imagery.

Logic is the first principle of a nuturing family. Reason is the basis of sharing and building mutual trust. In that sense, logic is mother of faith. Not the arbitrary, dogmatic, faith which we all abhor so much...but the reasonable faith built from many many successful interactions...the faith inherent in friendships which allow us to express ourselves without fear. The deepest, most satisfying and most meaningful communications spring from the warm beating heart of reason.

Logic is a gift, not a burden. The question ought never to be "should we abandon reason" but instead "why would we want to"? Unfortunately, sometimes good tools are put to ill uses. The result is always insanity. Luckily, such things can be cured with time and effort.


PS: Why do you use the pseudonym "TheHermit"? What attracts you to that word? In my mind it conjures images of isolation, certianly the antithesis of meaningful communication. How do you think about it?

  Reed Konsler