Thought-provoking article, over-all. But, I think you overlooked a motivation or two re 'persuading' (others, I presume). There is such a thing as 'persuading' oneself, of course, but, I'd guess that's not relevent to your intended context.
The desire to persuade 'others' may involve more than a self-assuring need that others agree with one's belief about 'X'; it may involve a need that others 'see the light', to actually help them avoid unnecessary pain...such as when one's raising kids.
Indeed, I see the whole idea of 'persuade' as, practically speaking, a synonym for 'teaching.' And we know that there are a myriad motivations for one being oriented at that, professionally or merely parentally, worthwhile motivations...and even evil ones.
Didn't Nozick write some book on what he saw as a problem in communication re an 'adversarial' type of approach when one attempts to 'logically persuade' an other about whatever points?
P.S: As an aside, given the subject, I'm a bit surprised that you didn't relate your point/subject to the relations amongst Roark, Wynand, and Dominique, or Dagny, Francisco, etc. where it seems the subject may have interestingly subtle dynamics.
P.S: As an aside, given the subject, I'm a bit surprised that you didn't relate your point/subject to the relations amongst Roark, Wynand, and Dominique, or Dagny, Francisco, etc. where it seems the subject may have interestingly subtle dynamics
Persuasion among fictitious heroes works a little different.
True, but good characters can take a story a long way. Fa/urther than good plot can take bad characters in my book.
Edit: I can't decide between "farther" and "further" here. In one sense I'm talking about taking a story somewhere, so farther. But I'm also talking about greater quality, so further. So, I dunno. (Edited by Sarah House on 12/02, 8:52pm)
And by the way Sarah, I was one who hope you would stick around here also. Even though you're full of it in this discussion! To clarify, what I see as character-driven fiction, as the m.o. of modern fiction, are characters that are range-of-the-moment characters. They do nothing but react, but they're great statistical representations of the modern "human condition." Yeah, right! Fiction driven by the range-of-the-moment character is just as disgusting as the real-life person driven by range-of-the-moment thinking.
I must say, none of these comments can be said to persuade anyone that fiction characters' use of persuasion, 'predetermined' or not by an author, are all that necessarily different in the actions of actual persuasion from such used in actuality...unless the predetermination is presumed to do with the success of the persuasion; but, that was never the point of my comments on the fiction characters. It's the nature of the process of persuasion I was asking about, fictionally presented as, according to Ciro, supposedly-necessarily-contrasted with actually occurring.
If fiction was an irrelevent concern to the subject, implied by Ciro and Robert, then Dagny would've predeterminedly (author-wise) have persuaded others to see the light; she didn't. I see no diff...and...see no one very good so far at persuading me as to how to see the supposed inherent diff of persuasion in fiction (unless 'badly done') or actuality.
I merely pointed out that it would have been interesting if Rand's characters-situations would have been referred to, and I get a response equivalent to "Well, that's fiction." Uh-h-h...not a very explanatory response. (better to have had none!)
At this point, I find a new question arises: Do the varied motivational-problems seen in anyone's attempts to 'persuade' others about point 'X' (including the article starting this thread) seem relevent to O'ism...as...in all the existent threads in this forum?
It should be obvious that any act - any act, including "persuasion" - in fiction is predetermined by the creator of the fiction... that is, the characters are as such and can only be as such mouthpieces for the author - robots, in effect, which go thru the motions proscribed by the author... so there really isn't any persuading by the characters...
Now, there is persuasion - by the author - to the reader... but that is something else...
In your Part II: I like the thoughts in your closing paragraph and in your second paragraph. For the rest, I am wary of the business of diagnosing self-doubt as the source of a textually rational thinker's impulse to persuade. You say that "Descartes' self-assured philosophizing was a response to his lack of self-assurance." I do not know if that was the truth, or anyway a significant part of the truth, of the man's operation.
Suppose a scholar of Descartes the man could make a good case that his self-assured philosophizing was a response to his lack of self-assurance. I suggest we always attach to any notice of such a conclusion a caveat against the ad hominem fallacy. The philosophic and scientific questions that Descartes posed, and the answers he gave to them, should be assessed on the basis of argument and evidence for and against them. Descartes' psychological motivations to make and promote his philosophy and science do not count among valid reasons for or against their correctness.
John Dailey asked in #20: "Didn't Nozick write some book on what he saw as a problem in communication re an 'adversarial' type of approach when one attempts to 'logically persuade' another about whatever points?" Yes. That is in the Introduction to his Philosophical Explanations (1981). That subsection of the Introduction is titled Coercive Philosophy. What he writes there is very good and perfectly on topic for the articles on persuasion before us.
I would say one caution concerning what Nozick writes there. I read that mighty book as soon as it was off the press. My own temperament was and is so much in tune with his introductory remarks on argumentation and coercive philosophy that I went forward many years with an excessive distrust philosophical argumentation. (My own fault, not RN's.)
Nozick opens the Introduction to his The Nature of Rationality (1993) with these words: "The word philosophy means the love of wisdom, but what philosophers really love is reasoning. They formulate theories and marshal reasons to support them, they consider objections and try to meet them, they construct arguments against other views." I'm pleased to say that, as the years went by since 1981, I came round to a love of reasoning. It's a creative and memorial challenge, and it can get to truth and wisdom.
You say that "Descartes' self-assured philosophizing was a response to his lack of self-assurance." I do not know if that was the truth, or anyway a significant part of the truth, of the man's operation.
Mr. Boydstun, by doing a research on Descartes' life, I came up with informations about his lack of self-assurance. These informations were not invented by me. I was just reporting what I had studied about his life. If his way of being, was true, or not, invented by someone, or not, it fitted well with what I had thought about persuasion.
I would love to read what *you* think about persuasion.
You asked for my thoughts on persuasion. One thing that seems important for persuasion is an appeal to more basic principles and values that you both already accept. That is, one might be able to reach a deeper principle that is inconsistent with the view one is trying to show incorrect. Let me share a personal example.
When I first read Rand's works, after a year of college, I had already become an atheist. It was already my view that only the natural world existed and that scientific investigation was how we could come to know more about nature.
At that time, I held to altruism. I held the usual view that it was wrong to be selfish and that morality consisted in rising above the natural impulse to selfishness. The best in us was to help others. (I carried out this line of conviction to politics by favoring the abolition of private property, because property allowed people to be selfish.)
There I was, open-minded, devoted to science, and subscribing to the morality of altruism. Then Rand asked me: "Why is it moral to serve the happiness of others, but not your own? If enjoyment is a value, why is it moral when experienced by others, but immoral when experienced by you? If the sensation of eating a cake is a value, why is it an immoral indulgence in your stomach, but a moral goal for you to achieve in the stomach of others?" (AS 1031)
Rand was appealing to some deeper principles of consistency and justice that we both already shared. Altruism did not really fit with those principles. So I realized it was time for me to set aside altruism as the correct morality.
I think that appealing to deeper shared principles is consistent with the outlook of your initial article "Persuasion". I know that the art of persuasion has been studied and taught since before Socrates. I'm sure there is much that is useful to learn in texts and courses on that. But I would emphasize dearly learning logic, as taught at the first-course level in college. That should include not only the formal fallacies, but the informal ones. The texts of I. Copi or D. Kelley have the right stuff. In my experience, logic is an essential for persuasion, and more importantly, one's own better vision.
I like how you think. The fact that logic is an essential factor for persuasion, it's out of doubt. But, the problem remains ,that is; people must be persuade to use logic.
"Why is it moral to serve the happiness of others, but not your own? If enjoyment is a value, why is it moral when experienced by others, but immoral when experienced by you? If the sensation of eating a cake is a value, why is it an immoral indulgence in your stomach, but a moral goal for you to achieve in the stomach of others?" (AS 1031) I agree with Rand here only on an imposed altruism! Many people don't understand, that It was John Galt speaking to his enemies, and not a valorous hero who believes to fight with his life for his country, or a father who would love to see the only cake on the table in his daughter's stomach and not in his own. I would give my happiness tomorrow for the happiness of my daughters.
So, you see, I think that the real objectivists* who had the pleasure to meet Rand* made a very lousy job in correcting many of Rand's mistakes about her philosophy. They are out just to sell books. My suggestion to the new objectivism movement is to tell these "Real Obectivists" to fuck off and move on the side. Because the only reason that they stay around, it's just to put the stick into the wheels of those who love to ride.
I don't believe most people, maybe all people, use logic in the way you would like. Everyone is aware that there are "holes" in our knowledge. I think most people "know" that their perception of any piece of knowledge is a best guess, given their experience and the causal links they are aware of. Whatever they think they know has worked for them up to that point in time and has been corroborated by the people they have known up until then. When you try to persuade them to think differently they "know" that you are trying to exchange your "best guess" for their "best guess" [and the best guesses of their friends, who they may think are smarter than you are]. Why this pisses off some objectivists and other "know it all" fundamentalists types is that they "KNOW" that there "AREN'T" any holes in their knowledge. But recognition of this very situation is why Ayn Rand insisted "check your premises". Which hardly anyone ever does. Only people with goodwill.
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