|"the Objectivist mindset...is usually to find some position and call it the correct one."|
Hahahaha! Thanks for calling attention to this sentence, Glenn! I note that he used the half-cocked phrase "paradigm shift" later in that gem as well.
Laj, one of the reasons you get the treatment you do here is because you're on our turf. A lot of us come here for refuge from the intellectual hostility we encounter in our day-to-day lives. In my philosophy classes determinists, relativists, pragmatists, and skeptics are a dime-a-dozen, and I have to deal with them on their terms. I listen to and think about their ideas, and I've always found them wanting and tried to offer compelling, rational explanations for why that is so. But, with most issues, I find it extremely exhausting and boring to carry that same approach over to SOLO.
Besides all that, this is an Objectivist website, so the fact that you hang around here arguing against Objectivist ideas is a pretty good indicator that you have some very strong and deep-seated disagreement with them. (Think of it this way, who's more likely to wander into a local Communist meetup and start debating everyone in sight? A middle-of-the-road political moderate, or an arch-capitalist?) So, to me, making any actual headway with an online dissenter such as yourself seems even less likely than with, say, one of the stoned-out philosophy majors in my college courses. So I often say to myself, "Why waste time with the reasoned, didactic approach? May as well have a little fun with them," and that's the point where I start mocking dissenters. One nice thing about SOLO that this is where I can make fun of people like you and Barnes, and most of the people around me will actually understand why I'm making fun and join in the fray! This is the polar opposite of the situation I face every day on a college campus.
Of course, another form of intellectual hostility I deal with is the patently unjust way that Rand's ideas are dismissed by calling them "childish" or "seductive" or "cultish" or pointing out that Rand had an affair and smoked a lot. I don't just disagree with this approach ... I fucking despise it. It's an irrationalist, intellectually vapid way of ignoring what I have to say, so when I see some bits of it being spread around on the SOLO forums, my ideological hackles are raised, and my posts will show that.
What we call "mixed premises," Laj, are out-and-out contradictions in people's thinking. And because "where we are" is not a world where contradictions can exist, these errors represent a threat to one's rational faculty and ability to deal with the world. (And of course, some errors present much more serious threats than others.) There is simply no value, no utility, in holding two contradictory ideas at the same time and in the same respect.
The real cult we've seen rear its ugly head on this thread is that one that Ayn Rand aptly dubbed "The Cult of Moral Greyness." It's the idea -- pervasive and dogmatically insisted-upon in our culture -- that the only wrong idea is the one that is held with certainty and without reservation; and in ethics, that the only false argument is the one that describes a particular idea, individual, or act as either totally-good or totally-evil. I have a friend who insists on this approach, so I put the question to him this way, "If someone were to rape your girlfriend, would that act be totally evil, or would there be some small tinge of good in it? And when you and she make love, is it ever totally good?" Even with the controversy put in such stark, personal terms, he insisted that it's never black-and-white, just a muddled mixture of different shades of grey. Now that's an example of cultism.
Here's another: "I have never said that Objectivism is a cult, and even if Objectivism was a cult, that doesn't imply that Objectivism is all of a sudden depraved just for that reason." I've had family members who joined cults ... they destroy one's mental and psychological tools for living, and render one into a pliable, undifferentiable automaton, like an ant in a colony. If you'll permit a reference to Star Trek: TNG, it was literally like watching someone get assimilated by the Borg. It's hard to imagine anything more depraved.
Except, perhaps, the mind that ought to see and understand and condemn cults for the depraved soul traps that they are, but doesn't, because of a strange, immutable (dare I say "dogmatic?") insistence on never describing anything in terms of black and white.
(Edited by Andrew Bissell on 10/05, 1:48am)