Faithful Fanatics

I had a dream… and then I woke up. The dream about civilised human beings disappeared as soon as I opened my eyes. Leaving behind only a scent of something lost… or never acquired. Mistaken was I? Is that civilisational gloss a fairy tale only? Are we barbarians as our ancestors were? Are we just savages not even deserving to be revered as noble ones?

What’s going on with people? Why do they kill, rape, sell their brethren into slavery? Well… they don’t see them as brethren probably. Don’t want to see them as such. To kill is to believe. To rape is to revere. God is great and he requires blood and fumes of rotting flesh. Or so some want to believe because this belief allows them to rape kids. To sell women to rich beasts also calling themselves believers.

This is how those savages advertise their faith. This is how we, non-believers in their eyes, are starting to perceive Islam. We look at our neighbours and they disappear as human beings. Diminished by atrocities of their brothers in faith. More and more they themselves are becoming terrorists, savages and beasts. In the eyes of other people not sharing their beliefs. Not wanting to share beliefs that lead to barbaric savagery. One time friends become strangers. Next door neighbours start moving apart. Every time we see a girl in hijab something deep inside starts whispering “Savages!” “Terrorists!” “Barbarians!”.

The legacy of religious fanatics starts taking its toll. Extremists on our side become lauder with every barbaric act in the Middle East. Even lauder with similar acts on our own soil. They grow in strength. They grow in numbers. Animosity slowly becomes something normal. Neighbours become strangers. Step by step we are moving towards distrust. Who are they? Where do they come from? What god do they believe in? Question after question. Suspicion crawling at first to stand up proudly in the end. To announce barbarity of those who used to be our neighbours. Our friends.

This is the legacy of bloody massacres. This is the legacy of barbaric acts, killings, slavery and rapes. This is what we left behind allegedly. This is what we believed is the past. But it’s here. It’s coming back. And as long as there are those who support savagery, as long as we pretend it’s okay because it’s in the name of god, as long as there is an excuse for bestiality and cruelty of so-called believers, as long as there are those willing to finance them… the beast will be growing. The suspicion of ordinary people will be separating friends and lovers.

A beast is a beast. A madman is a madman. A rape is a rape. And a murder is a murder. It doesn’t matter in whose name the bestiality is committed. In the name of god? I denounce such god enjoying blood and murder. What kind of god it is? God of love? More and more we look at those ordinary people, our neighbours, men, women and children as crazy fanatics. Only because they happen to believe in the same god some madmen believe in. This is what they are achieving. This is where they lead us. To the hell of religious wars we hoped we left behind.

It’s not even wrong!

Some time ago I decided not to engage in discussions. Then I withdrew from engaging nearly entirely. What’s the point? People say they want to know. People say they want to learn… but it’s just another noble lie we feed ourselves with. Just another tale of glorious victory over the incompetence and ignorance. A lie. We don’t want to look for answers. We don’t want to search for often uncomfortable truths. We want to have them presented in simplified form to be digested in seconds. In minutes at most. Tweeted to us preferably. In 160 characters, tagged for convenience. Whatever we fancy ourselves to say, Plato’s sun is not what we after. The pain associated with looking directly into that blinding light is not what we have a craving for. Inquisitive mind is as unappreciated today as  it was millennia ago, just the hemlock cup has been replaced by the gloss of alleged civilisation and polite conversation over a tray of chips.

Does it bother you? It should. I know, the world we are part of seems to be deceitfully simple and too difficult questions are seen as over-complicated sophistication of misfits like myself. I’m one of those who questions allegedly answered problems and investigates meanings of no importance. Many perceive it as nitpicking. As a superficial significancy imposed upon unimportant issues for the sake of argument. For the sake of having an argument, I suppose. I remember discussions about elections where my contemplation of STV, FPTP, constituency types and different mathematical or statistical approaches to vote counting met blank unresponsiveness only. I remember insignificancy of my considerations of the type of quota used in the alleged simplicity of given answer. I remember hitting the wall over and over again and being perceived as quarrelsome and argumentative bloke trying to impose meaning on words instead of the essence. And I remember thinking about superficial understanding of my interlocutors coming from scratching the surface where deeper and more profound meaning was needed. And neglected. Because people don’t need profound meanings. They need simple answers served on a plate of superficial complexity. It’s why ideologies are so successful. It’s why propagandists will always have devoted followers. They offer superficial complexity by simplifying profundity. They offer simple answers to complex questions and they make them seem obviously intricate. So we don’t need to think too much. We are absolved.

I’ve heard once someone talking about alchemy or astrology and claiming this kind of science is false by the standards of Karl Popper. And I just couldn’t stop myself from stepping in. I should have known better but such misrepresentations of a great thinker’s ideas make me sad. And furious. Before I even opened my mouth I knew another story of my nitpicking is being born but I wasn’t able to stop. I just had to try. Maybe I still believe in humankind? I had to make the attempt to explain that the statement itself is a complete misunderstanding of Popper. I remember myself explaining what’s the difference between falsifiability and falsity, between science and pseudo-science. What it means that something is not even wrong. And I remember blank faces and empty nods of people more interested in being known as ones who know Popper than in knowing itself. How did I dare telling them that they don’t understand what he meant? How did I dare telling them they don’t understand the difference between falsity and falsifiability? Yes, how did I dare? You moron, you nitpicking moron, shut up and stop arguing! They all know their Plato and Aristotle, they know their Kant and Popper. It is you who dares to think they have no idea what  they are talking about! How dare you question their knowledge of Popper? They may not have read him but they don’t need to after all. They know what they know so leave them be! How they miss the times when hemlock was the answer!

Purifying war that we should get


I think about old chap Heraclitus quite often. The miracle of flux, nothing stable. He really changed the way we think about the world. Karl Popper was right praising Heraclitus so highly. The change is inevitable, we want it or not. The change is inevitable, whether we close our eyes or not. Plato’s utopian idea to stop the change from happening is just a wishful thinking, as dead as his Forms. The change is what matters and whatever we do, the change is coming.

We, here in the West, are used to think the peace is finally eternal. Our fathers fought the wars but we are much smarter, we live in a peaceful world of economy and abundance of junk food. Sure, it’s not a paradise. There are depressions and wages lower than we would like them to be, there are dirty politicians and murderers at large. But the war, that crude and filthy game of barbarians, is not here any more. It’s somewhere there. On the outskirts of civilised world. Outsourced and left to other people. Well, not people actually, just flashes, blurry pictures in the news. Lasting for seconds and replaced by commercials with cereals and skin products or diet supplements. They are not people. We don’t see them as such any more. They are too far. They are too quickly supplanted by some ridiculous news to be taken seriously. Kids are sold and women are raped by barbarians claiming their god told them to do so and we just eat our take aways and drink coke. Shadowy soldiers pretending to be somewhere else wash their hands of kindred blood and whisper Russian prayers while we nod and curse the lot for not giving us lotto winning this week.

Why are we so blind? Why do we prefer to pretend everything is okay? Why are we so comfortable with Putins of this world? Sure, no one wants any war, no one wants children or friends to be killed. So we pretend we are okay. We pretend Russia is a civilised state living by the standards of modern world. We pretend islamic fundamentalists are not our problem. We pretend… and people are dying. We pretend while women are raped and children sold to slavery. We pretend we don’t see money changing hands to support IS terrorists. After all the same hands so generously sponsor our football teams and pay for luxuries in our shops. We pretend peace-loving criminal is not sending soldiers to keep Ukraine in his grasp of greed. We are okay with it. As long as it happens somewhere else. As long as it doesn’t take away our microwaves and chicken curry. As long as we can comfortably watch the news with human tragedy shortened to fit into a gap between commercials. I’m really sick of humankind. We really deserve another purifying War.

Nothing of non-existence

nothingThe thing about the universe is that we know nothing about its nature. Is the universe eternal? Has it any beginning? Will it end eventually? Did it start in the big bang or maybe some kind of benevolent (or not so benevolent after all) being made it appear? Was the beginning infinitesimally small? Will the universe expand into infinity? Is it even expanding?

We don’t know. That’s the thing. We look around at what we are familiar with and project the answers onto something we don’t understand. We judge by the standards of what we know and hope everything else is similarly understandable. Well, it probably isn’t. It may be or may be not. Our backwater world is not the best point to start the game of understanding.

If we know so little about the universe we are part of how can we hope to understand the lack of everything we take for granted? Familiar or not. If there was that big bang of ours, and it seems to be quite a good bet, what would be the existence of non-existence that preceded it? What would the pre-universe be like? Or what wouldn’t be like. Can we even imagine non-existence? Not empty space. Not a glass without content. Complete and absolute non-existence. Ideal zero. Nothing of absolute. Nothing at all.

Lost in the shadows


Sometimes, when I’m in a mood of contemplating life, I wonder how I, and for that matter others like me, end up being who we are, somewhat aside of a societal mainstream. We are born like millions of others, usually attend the same schools and colleges, often have friends and from time to time even earn enemies. And we have petty dreams. And yet, somewhere there, the life itself becomes a kind of nuisance, all-important, all-significant… and worth only to be sacrificed on the altar of the truth sought. The altar of meaning unknown, searched in vain. Whatever that meaning is. Meaning of life itself or anything else worth seeking.

How did we end up contemplating such strange issues? Issues that replaced the thrill of buying a milk and watching TV like the ordinary folks do? How did we become the unfitted ones, unsuitable to chat about petty crimes of ordinary lives and seeking the meaning in the words without any meaning, submerged in a pint of lager or maybe Guinness for the darker shade of a meaningless utterance? Is it a deviation or maybe the real sense of human existence? I’m not sure. As I’m not sure what shaped those lives of ours creating misfits and outcasts jealously staring at ignorant masses enduring the existence without examining it. And being happy in their ignorance.

It may seem I’m forcing some kind of a distinction between “them” and “us”. Perhaps. Still, the ordinary people settle down, have families and boring jobs. And it’s enough for them. It’s as far as they are willing to go. Obviously, they also dream. About better jobs, nicer cars, prettier wives with huge boobs. But they don’t investigate the reality any more. Maybe they never did. For them, for happy ignorant ordinary people, the world is quite simple. There is a cause. And there is an effect. Simple as that. They rarely examine what’s below those simple relationships. And they hardly lose any sleep over the profundity of questions unasked. Not to mention a dubious  business of investigating answers already given.

There is a famous image by Plato, so called Plato’s cave. Unfortunate ones (or maybe the lucky ones, who knows?) chained in a way preventing them from seeing anything but the shadows on the wall ahead. They take those shadows for the world, for the reality itself. Until one of them escapes to see the sun outside. The reality of the wall becomes just a reflection of the real world. At least for that poor guy deprived of ignorance.  Deprived of happiness. Of a sort.

What would happen if he tried to bring this knowledge to his former inmates? What would happen if he tried to open their eyes? This question haunts me since I first heard this story, long before I actually tasted the talent of immortal Plato. What would happen to this poor guy? Not to those ignorant creatures looking at the wall in the awe of life as they understand it. They are perfectly safe and happy. What would happen to him? Would the truth he learned make him happy? Better suited to live the life of his former existence? Is he the lucky one? I’m not so sure anymore.

I often dream about being like others. Ignorant, happy, without questions and overthinking. Without that annoying habit of questioning apparently answered issues. Happy in my ignorance of unanswered questions. With all the answers I need. It would be really great to go to bed in the evening and just fall asleep. Just fall asleep. This is what happens to ordinary happy people I imagine. It’s what rarely happen to our breed. We also need to get up in the morning but instead of sleeping we lie there trying to avoid all those question other people seem to have answers to. We get up in the middle of the night, half-asleep and half-convinced the answer is somewhere in the book we read so many years ago. And we go back to beds as ignorant as before. And conscious of our ignorance what is not the lot of the lucky ones, ignorant of their own ignorance.

So what would happen if the unlucky escapee saw the sun and came back to explain his fellow inmates that they are mistaken and the world they believe in is just a shadow of the real world? He would be rejected most likely. Ridiculed. Seen as a madman. Someone leveraging answers known to be firmly standing and untouchable. It’s who we are. Madmen. Unlucky ones. Unfitted ones. Searching where the answer is already given. Served on a silver plate. Examining not even the answer but also the plate itself. Madmen indeed.


Starve them to obedience


I shake when Putin hits the news again. I shake hearing what he does. How he changes his country. How his people become poorer and poorer. Impoverishment of an ordinary Russian man or woman doesn’t make me happy. It make me dread the future.

I don’t shake because I feel their hunger. My plate is full after all. I shake because I see where it leads… and I hope I’m gravely mistaken. What I’m afraid of is a birth, an assisted and designed birth of a new totalitarian system. System purposefully construed to look very much like Hitler’s Nazi Germany. With their nationalistic propaganda and a cult of the leader.

We, in the West, are blinded by our democratic leniency. By our peace and economic stability. We think the world is reasonable and that people are prone to follow our enlightened example. Surprise! There are people like us and people of a different sort. Human beings as we are. Human beings able to do things we thought are already left behind.

Russian leader doesn’t care about economy. About stock exchange and inflation. He laughs probably hearing how profoundly concerned we are with all that shit. He doesn’t care if his people have anything to eat. For him it’s actually better if they are hungry. Like rats in a lab. You decrease their food rations to make them more… obedient. “The true believer (…) is basically an obedient and submissive person”, Eric Hoffer was definitely right here. The new Russian society is coming with a hunger and a propaganda of nationalistic ideals. With the image of the righteous besieged by the corrupted world outside. The fortress is being build. The fortress called totalitarian regime.

Philosophy of withdrawal

We are social animals indeed, Aristotle got it right. We need others and others need us. Be it a village, a town or a city. A book club or a church. The need of belonging. The need to be with others is so deep that solitude is seen as an oddity rather than the normal state. Living aside, separated from other needy creatures is so unimaginable that such individual is regarded as disturbed. Or divine. What actually may mean exactly the same, blasphemous as it sounds.

Simeon StylitesAnd yet, every now and then, some crazy individual withdraws from the body of  a societal monster to live aside, to be alone with his (or her) own thoughts. To be alone, far from the busy bees of a rat race. Far from everything we deem precious. Like Simeon Stylites living on a small platform for nearly 40 years.

I’ve always thought I understand it. That need to be alone. Perfection of a solitude. The need to leave behind people and places. To leave behind a busy live preciously guarded and wasted. I do understand it. I always did. And I’ve always played with the idea of a solitary existence. An ideal solitude of solipsistic hedonism. Isn’t it great? To leave everything and become an entity of infinite possibilities. Entity not bound by any other existence. Not bound by limitations of the world. Laughing at Cartesian demon and existing for the sake of existence.

So I understand it. On an intellectual level. I understand the rationale. I understand the urge to leave the world behind. I really do. And yet, although the understanding is there since times immemorial really, something started to change without alarming my conscious controlling self. Gradually without being noticed the need became a monster of myths unknown to the ignorant masses. Kept locked and guarded by the few who know. Gnosis of the troubled perhaps. The need became, gradually, something else. Something different. Something deeper. Much deeper. Less intellectual and more… emotional. Well, emotional doesn’t really reflect the meaning I’m trying to capture. Spiritual? Far from perfection either. Something deeper, more connected to the inner me. Emotional in the sense of connection to emotions not emotions usually associated, maybe somewhat misogynistically, with women, feeble creatures having feelings. Something more… psychical. Psychical need of seclusion. Of withdrawal.

It started a long time ago but captured my attention only recently. There was always a need to leave everything behind and separate myself from the world. And from people. Especially the latter. It was an intellectual choice without any deeper meaning, without real urge. Step by step that need began to transform. Like that bug of Kafka’s imagination. That need. The need became an urge. And then a desire. Step by step without setting off any alarm bells. Gradually and in disguise. Prompted by the contemplation of the existence. By Hegel and Plato. By Aristotle and Kant. And Marx, Mill, Descartes, Berkeley and countless others.

Without knowing when the world has changed. One day I woke up and the world was different already. I found it different. Making a perfect sense in the evening and messy and without integrity in the morning. The problem is I can’t figure out which morning it was. And what happened to the night. The only thing I know is that the world started to look odd… Or maybe it was me? It was me. Words turned into meanings. Meanings into depths of interpretational layers. Stopping at the red light became something different than it used to be. Stopping because the red light lights. Stopping because it’s a legal requirement. Stopping because I value my life. My life and lives of others. Stopping because it’s a red light, because that very colour sets off our inner alarms. Because blue doesn’t draw so much attention to itself. Because the right of way is not a given. Because red means danger. Because of the psychology of perception. Because of a colour as a determinant of human behaviour. Because of statistical poverty of colour blindness… Different levels of contemplation of quite ordinary instances. Different levels of perception.

It doesn’t make things easier. It doesn’t make life easier. One would think more is better but it’s a lie. Once you start questioning allegedly well understood and explained truths the world becomes a playground of unlimited possibilities. You see layers upon layers where other people see a nuisance of traffic lights. You become an oddity. You become that strange individual that is not able to see things as they are. At least in the eyes of ordinary people. In the eyes of those who know better. Who pray that you stop challenging their well mastered truisms. Who believe there are answers already given and those that await a discovery. Who think the answer given already should be accepted and that only a madman may want to re-discover the land already conquered, measured and rented out. Your words become a nuisance. Your questions irritate the common sense of simple axioms. You are perceived as argumentative. As someone who is not able to behave as expected. Nitpicking becomes your usual way in the eyes of beholders. Beholders who surely know better what the world is. How it should be seen. And understood. Who see the traffic lights and stop without contemplating layers hidden from the plain view.

So you withdraw. So you become a recluse. A lonely wolf. Because it’s easier. Simpler. Participation in discussions, discussions you used to enjoy, annoy other participants. They perceive your remarks or differentiated views as nitpicking. You withdraw. It’s easier to withdraw than to try to explain the depth of meaning of words used without thinking. Meanings shifting the perception of things. Meanings… seen by others as unnecessary complication that should be left out of the discussion. You may try to explain. You may. But at some point you start noticing that people look at you differently. They  know what they know so who you are to challenge what they know? A nuisance. Someone who is trying to mystify meanings deprived any mystery. There is no mystery in a word of everyday use. There is no mystery in a subjectivity of subjective meaning. At least until you start contemplating the meaning of the word used, vantage points of interpretational possibilities, angles and layers unseen at first. So you may want to explain. To show the layers of differentiated vantage points. But how can you do it without going back to basics? Basics you ponder upon on a daily basis. Basics that are not so basic for others not interested in them. The same ones that are of the utmost importance when a different layer of perceived issue is examined. No one likes to be lectured over a paint of lager. No one wants to hear that he or she doesn’t really understand a meaning of the word used and allegedly axiomatically understood.

So you stop. You withdraw. Gradually and step by step. You bite your tongue and play with the ideas inside your head. Without voicing them. You open your Hegel and Kant and enjoy the silence of vociferated ideas. You write if you can. If you are able to pour meanings into words of nuisance. Participation becomes less and less important. Withdrawal looks more and more satisfying. It’s no longer an intellectual understanding. It’s an urge. A desire. Desire that burns your soul.

This is the philosophy of withdrawal.

Storm is coming!


I wonder what my grandparents thought in the eve of WWII? Were they scared? Happy? Indifferent? Did they think the war is knocking to their doors? Perhaps they lived the illusion of reasonable human beings, peace loving creatures of the fairyland. Homo sapiens. Creatures of reason. Glorious humankind. Future of the galaxy…

Most likely they didn’t want any war coming to their yard. Most likely bombs and tanks weren’t the source of daily enjoyment. And yet war came and took them. By surprise very likely.

I’m no different. I don’t want war to happen. I don’t want children to become orphans. I don’t enjoy the view of ruins. And I hope never need to participate in a slaughter. As a victim or the perpetrator. War is not what I desire. And yet… War is coming. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Perhaps not in a week time. Hopefully. But it’s coming. Sooner or later. Inevitably.

We think we have changed. We hope genocidal disaster like WWI or WWII is never to come again. Well… surprise! Get ready! War is coming you want it or not. The world hasn’t changed so much. We are where we were before. Despicable creatures fighting over a bawl of meat. Or gold. Yellow or black. We are despicable not because we fight… it’s natural. All creatures do. Over food, over territory. Over females. All creatures do. Not just us. We didn’t invent warfare and killing. Pleasure and pain were here before we realised what they are. Chimpanzees are able to torture the same way we do. Maybe with less sophistication but still. We are despicable because we are in denial. We pretend to be something different. Something better. To be all-reason. To be civilised. To prefer words over wars. Books over guns. Despicable us! Animals. Beasts! Creatures of this world…

Don’t get me wrong. War is not something good. We may argue it’s evil. I would say it’s a natural phenomenon. And I hope it will not come before I leave this vale of tears. Perhaps I’m lucky. Who knows? Maybe I’ll live until natural, so to speak, death of old age. And yet… I know who we are. I know what we are. Beasts. Brutal and vicious. We want more and more and we are willing to pay the price. The price of blood which is the cheapest currency available. Affordable to anyone who doesn’t care how many lives are sacrificed on the altar of his (more likely his than hers) desires. We are all human beings. Eating, drinking and shitting. Maybe I’m too lazy to start a war but there are those who aren’t.

Look around. Couple years back and there was no Islamic State. Couple years back and Ukraine didn’t have to send soldiers to fight Russian soldiers pretending not to be there. Couple years back we felt pretty safe watching TV. America was winning war against terrorism, European wars were over, Russia was a business partner rather than an enemy. And where are we now?  Islamic fanatics are beheading journalists and raping women. Young girls are being sold to slavery. Civilian planes are being shot down by missiles that are not even there. Crimea no longer belongs to Ukraine and Russian soldiers are killing people once more disguised as non-existing leprechauns.

I’m watching news and I can’t believe our hypocrisy. Nearly a year now since Russians started their adventure and we are still happy to pretend we are safe. We are still happy to claim no power is able to change borders. Annihilate countries. Kill people. Isn’t it what we believed before? Many times? Isn’t it what Neville Chamberlain promised to millions of cheering citizens of the future? Are we stupid or what? One day we may be woken up by tanks and go out to ask Russian soldiers pretending not to be there if they are visiting someone in the neighbourhood. Still in denial.

Doing philosophy not logic


Couple years back someone said something to me. I still remember it although the subject of that rather lengthy discussion is already wiped out from my selective memory. During that discussion my interlocutor said, rather accusingly:

It’s because you are doing logic and I’m doing philosophy.

Well… I was somewhat stupefied, I have to admit. Not because of somewhat strange accusation but because I couldn’t actually understand how one can function without the other. I really made effort to understand that bold statement… to no avail. I remember trying to explain the erroneous supposition, the attempt to make the guy understand that  it’s not about doing logic OR philosophy but rather two inseparable elements of the same equation. I was talking about logic as a method used for philosophical considerations. I was talking about many things… but he was doing philosophy, so what can I know?

This relationship seems to be very confusing and unclear to people. Often when I’m attempting to analyse arguments my interlocutors accuse me of being argumentative, over-particular… fussy even. Trying to explain my position I very often use an example picked up somewhere along the way. It goes like this:

All Toyotas are cars

Some cars are made in America.

Therefore some Toyotas are made in America. 

Obviously everyone agrees it makes sense. Because it does. And it doesn’t at the same time. When you substitute words with symbols and look at the reasoning without clothes of misguiding words the inference looks like this:

All X (Toyotas) are Y(cars)

Some Y(cars) are Z(made in America)

Therefore some X(Toyotas) are Z (made in America).

All good so far. At least until a different example (based on the same reasoning) is given:

All Toyotas(X) are cars(Y)

Some cars(Y) are Porsche (Z)

Therefore some Toyotas (X) are Porsche (Z)

Silly, isn’t it? The very same underlying principle and result of a different magnitude. Some Toyotas are Porsche. And yet, although in principle people usually understand what I’m saying, the logic behind escapes them. They see it as a trick, sophismata of no consequences in real life. It’s logic, not philosophy… how can I argue with that??? Every attempt is just an example of me arguing about nothing, about trifles, when the real deal is left untouched.

LogicHow is that people are not able to see a problem here. Something that abuses the very common sense they are so proud of? Would you be able to trust any theory or scientific hypothesis giving different results when replicated by different teams? Giving various results when tested? Logic can really stand for scientific method in this small comparison while philosophy stands for science. Now, scientific method is an explicit technique of investigating phenomena and acquiring knowledge or correcting and integrating previous knowledge (after Wikipedia). It’s systematic, experimental, measurable and replicable. In short, obviously. Whatever hypothesis, whatever theory is put forward, it has to be tested and the results must be replicable to be accepted by the body of scientific folks. If not, we are talking about pseudo-science. Obviously, the matter is much broader but for our purpose it’s enough.

Now, if we compare logic to scientific method my insistence on its importance should become evident. Our previous example of Toyotas and Porsches pushes the inference from scientific realm to this other one, pseudo-scientific. This reasoning, the inference (All X are Y; Some Y are Z; Therefore some X are Z) is not reliable. Not replicable. Pseudo-scientific in its core. Would you trust such science? What would you say about scientific discovery that cannot be replicated by fellow scientists? That yields different results for me and for you? Is that still science? Or just a wishful thinking?

This is why logic is important. This is why a discipline of thought is of utmost importance. This is why saying: You do logic and I do philosophy makes no sense at all. In this sense it’s more like: You do science and I do pseudo-science.

But well, what do I know. I do logic only and real philosophers don’t bother to do logic apparently.

Arguing vs. Argumentation

calvin_arguingSometimes people say I like to argue. Well, I hear it quite often actually. It doesn’t bother me too much. Not enough to make time to try to convince them otherwise. What’s the point? I usually just shut up.

I think the problem is people don’t really understand a distinction between arguing and argumentation. Actually, it has probably more to do with people being emotional. They remember emotions associated without going back to what’s behind. A friend of mine often talks about a situation that happened some time ago, about words I said. The truth is I don’t even remember. I say I do, I’ve learnt to do it long time ago. Out of respect as it’s apparently important to him. People remember things differently. I remember discussions for their argumentative value. For the facts discussed. For particular pieces of information of some importance to me. I don’t remember contexts. I don’t remember emotions. I often don’t remember people. But other people may remember things differently. They may remember emotions and words I’ve already forgotten. So I pretend I remember them as well. Sometimes, if I care enough.


What the difference you may ask. Between arguing and argumentation. Between argument associated with the former and with the latter. Maybe there is none… But imagine I said: You are a white pig. Well, I may be arguing with you and the words are used to  offend. Argumentation is different:

Premise 1: Your skin is white

Premise 2: If I kill you, the meat I’ll have fulfils all necessary and sufficient conditions associated with what we call “pork”

Conclusion: Therefore, you are a white pig.

Now,  we have the same statement in both cases: You are a white pig. First instance is that of arguing in the most popular sense of this word. Second one is the actual argumentation I’m talking about. Reasoning from premises to a conclusion. Premises and conclusion that can be tested. We can check if the conclusion will be true if premises are true. If it’s the case the argument is valid. Then we check its soundness, the trueness of premises. It’s easy to spot that there is a problem with the second premise (there may be a a problem with premise 1 but let’s assume otherwise). The argument is valid but not sound. It’s a problem. Argument was logically examined and rejected.

So there is a difference. Nonetheless people rarely see it. What they see is a gloss of a shiny surface. They see the conclusion without reasoning behind. They see argument and arguing where argument and argumentation should be seen. And they see an individual like me who likes to argue. Who questions apparently evident truths. Who asks questions where everyone else takes answers for granted. Answers given and not contested.

Then, do I like to argue? Do I like to win arguments? I don’t really care. Really. I like arguments. I admire good arguments. Arguments of argumentation. I despise arguments of arguing. I feel contempt to people who argue for the sake of having an argument. They are broken. They are incomplete. For me an argument is that series of premises finished up with a conclusion. Premises that are intended to give reasons for the conclusion. This is an argument I like. Not the one where people argue.

I’ve learnt long ago people don’t usually see the difference. You say something what they don’t agree with and argument is ready to develop. Argument of arguing not argumentation. Emotions come next. After a while emotions are all there is. Emotions that afterwards distort the memory of the argument itself. After a while what people remember is not what there was. Well, it was there… for them. They may remember you picking on words they used without thinking why it happened. They may remember you questioning obviousness of axioms without contemplating the nature of those axioms.  It’s natural. We are so immersed in standards we imposed on ourselves that we forget those standards were established by people like we are. Like Euclid with his axioms already disturbed by non-Euclidean geometry.

As I said it’s natural. Nothing new here. It’s something I accepted already. It doesn’t bother me. Good argument is worth being perceived as this strange being who questions everything, even the obvious. Especially the obvious. Well, a good argument is worth being perceived as someone who can go back to the interlocutor weeks or months after the discussion took place with some afterthoughts. Sometimes it’s actually funny. I’ve heard people say I’m not able to give up. People laugh without understanding that going back to them is actually an expression of respect. Respect for the argument and a person.

An argument forgotten five minutes after its completion is worth nothing. Worthless piece of wasted time. It’s why if I find something interesting I search for answers. And sometimes I go back to my interlocutor. It’s not about arguing. It’s about the argument. I’m really happy to have something to think about when the argument itself is gone already. It’s the best kind of argument I can possibly imagine.





Revolution in thinking