- We are finite, limited beings; so too are our conversations.
- Therefore, it is not just some of us who are up against ignorance and impatience; we all reach the end of our knowledge (of a given topic) or the time we have to study or discuss.
- The more controversial the topic or point, the more urgently realisation of these limitations is needed on both/all sides.
- Summarizing, generalizing statements are conversation-ending/stopping ones. Questions & clarifications are conversation-developing ones. Again – all conversations have limited time within which to take place.
- Sometimes I wonder if reason is a little bit better at deconstructing arguments than constructing them.
Category Archives: general
The past six days for me:
- Friday 25th Jan – Elephant TV posts the finished ‘evolution‘ episode, which I got to take part in.
- Saturday 26th Jan – The band I’m in (Great North) plays at Parachute – even after our bass player received 6 stitches for (as you do) having a wine-bottle-ish chandelier fall on her head.
- Sunday 27th Jan – Great North plays a 3pc set at the Auckland Folk Festival, and is awarded a Tui (New Zealand Music Award) for Best Folk Album of 2012 for ‘Halves‘.
- Monday 28th Jan – Auckland Anniversary Day. Casual lovely day with Di & Tom at a park, a beach (with friends) and home. Tom got stung, we think, by a little jelly fish several times on his legs.
- Tuesday 29th Jan – I – after much psychological hesitation – published my personal photography FB page, which is sure to rise to the hundreds of thousands of ‘likes’.
- Wednesday 30th Jan – is my birthday (34th)! I received ‘special birthday toast’, a Blues Harp (harmonica), a special morning tea at work (Northcote Baptist), and am looking forward to a nice meal at ‘Mexico’ tonight in Takapuna with Frank Ritchie and his family.
We are incredibly skilled at the (always) subconscious act of looking at or evaluating a thing in a very ‘us’-ish way. Thus, it is all too often the case that:
- the [re]view says more about the [re]viewer than of that which is [re]viewed
- the name says more about the namer than of that which is named
- the belief says more about the believer than of that which is believed
- the doubt says more about the doubter than of that which is doubted
- the defence says more about the defender than of that which is being defended
- the dismissal says more about the one dismissing than of that which is being dismissed
- the theory says more about the theorist than of that which is theorised
- the interpretation says more about the interpreter than of that which is interpreted
- the translation says more about the translator than of that which is translated
- the governing says more about the governor than of that which is being governed
- the instruction says more about the instructor than of that which is instructed
- the legislation says more about the legislative body (or process) than of that which is legislated
- the writing (or blog post!!??) says more about the writer than of that which is written
- the comment says more about the commenter than of that which is commented on
- and so on…
When it comes to discussing certain topics, we all know (and some of us have been?) ‘that guy’1 whose style of engagement seems to harm rather than help the conversation.
I think (and know from my own experience) that loud, impatient dismissals are almost always say more about the loud, impatient dismisser than they do about what is being dismissed. One gets the double sensation of the person both a) having their mind so made up that discussion with this person is pointless, and at the same time sensing that b) this person has a need to prove their rightness not only to you but themselves as well.
My Dad has a saying (perhaps he got it somewhere himself); the more upset a person gets in a discussion, the weaker their view probably is. I’d just qualify it a tad to say “…the less confident they are of their view”, because just as it is possible to be confident of a false view, so also is it possible to have a false bravado for a a true view.
Having said that, I think it’s naive to think that we can detach our own emotions from our beliefs, and enjoy a ‘robust’ and ‘frank’ discussion. I also think one can firmly believe (not ‘know’ in the strict epistemological sense) they are correct and still engage fruitfully with someone they fully disagree with.
The relevant point that follows from this is that the more you really believe view ‘x’, the less energy you’ll need to defend ‘x’ and the more energy you can spend on understanding and critiquing ‘anti-x’, and of course’x’ as well.
This is true in all relationships as well. The more you know who you are, the less you’ll need another person to appear inferior to you (to asset yourself over them) or superior to them (to ride upon their coattails). The more secure your self definition is, the less you’ll need others and their opinions to define you. You’ll be less worried about self and more available emotionally and intellectually to the other. The more rooted you are, the more you can reach out.
- yes, I do think the stereotype holds true; argumentatives tend to be fellas more often than ladies?? [↑]
Some disconnected thoughts re disability:
- If Dawkins is right that she is blind, pitiless indifference, then Nature knows nothing: in particular, the difference between ability and disability.
- Nature also does not distinguish between ‘successful’ species and ‘failed’ (extinct) ones; or between anything… this successful species and that successful species… this or that anything… between self and other…
- Blindness is the disability to see. As far as Nature is concerned (or not concerned), organisms which can see and survive are not ‘more evolved’ than those who cannot, as if evolution (or Nature) had a mind with intentions and/or goals.
- Nature has no compassion on or understanding of people with any disability… or people with ‘abilities’
- Some might hold out hope that all the above is wrong: that a currently unknown part of Nature actually does know, care, and/or have compassion/understanding, etc. A bit like those who believed (or still do believe) in various kinds of nature-gods. The only difference being that they give them names based on what we know from human experience; oh wait, what name could we ever give to such a thing than that from human experience? Some just sound ‘scientific’ and others sound ‘superstitious’.
- In spite of the indifference and unconsciousness of Nature, the language of ‘disability’ is still, however, properly basic. It is simply true that we (not Nature) can recognise and name not only the various species, but the various abilities (or lack thereof) they have.
- Is the seeing ability of a (sighted) human a ‘disability’ in comparison to that of, say, a bald eagle? Why would we restrain disability to being only defined within species? What about non-living objects? Are we ‘disabled’ for not being as ‘able’ as a star, which (if our modern theories are correct) are ‘able’ to produce solar systems?
- Are we all not ‘disabled’ in at least some way? I find this idea to be quite equalising, humbling and right.
- I went to a Benny Hinn healing meeting a few years ago, so that my criticism of him would have actual experience behind it. I despise this kind of prosperity crap, and was enraged at how the machine works, but I particularly angered that those in wheelchairs were utterly ignored the entire time.
- Our ‘disability’ to love as we have ‘ability’ to (now there’s a juxtaposition if ever there was one) must be humanity’s most debilitating ailment.
- The Incarnation and Resurrection of Jesus, means, among other things, that (as the cliche goes) God meets us where we are at, namely in our disability and rebellion, and will not leave us there.