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MBM
20-11-2004, 01:18 AM
When I was a kid, I got the shit beaten out of me by people that were bigger and stronger then me. At the time, I was quite bitter about it. But I now realise that this is just the way of the world. The strong beat on the weak.

And I grew up. And I found that I could argue better than many people around me. And think more imaginatively around certain kinds of problems. Hah! They were weak! And I ended up bullying certain people. It didn't seem that way - they were wrong and I was right and couldn't they see that?

But it ended up with them feeling hurt. And disengaging from what I had to say. Which was a shame, because I realised if I wanted to achieve any of my goals, I needed their help. And I couldn't get it by beating them over the head with arguments. And anyway, I quite liked a lot of them and seeing them in pain wasn't pleasant.

So where is this meandering anecdote going? Well, I suppose it preludes a discussion about styles of argument. What is appropriate where? And by "appropriate" I mean: what styles of argument lead to the most engaging conversations and satisfying outcomes?

What are the dos and donts? And does our style of argument need to vary from person to person? And when is it appropriate just to walk away?

And how does this play out in an environment like Dissensus?

Does all this make me sound like an intellectual wimp or a hand-wringing hippy? I dunno.

I'm not as engaging as Woebot. Or as visionary as Kpunk. Or some of the others here. And that isn't false modesty, it's an observation. But I am equally fascinated by people and by ideas. I want the optimal combinations of both and I won't stand for anything less. ;)

nomos
20-11-2004, 02:12 AM
Here's why I joined:

WOEBOT: "Absolutely everyone is welcome to go there, and I mean EVERYONE, with the caveat that if people don't treat others with a certain amount of respect they will be unceremoniously struck off the register"

I'm finding the Thought forum occassionally swerves into the "inappropriate." Not sure that everyone is playing by the same rules.

But otherwise I find Dissensus to be uncommonly friendly amongst web communities and so I don't tend to feel nervous about trying out ideas or engaging with people here.

satanmcnugget
20-11-2004, 02:18 AM
personally, i dont find it too nasty in here at all, really, especially considering the fact that most in here are (pseudo-intellectuals (which can lead to my intellectual penis is bigger than yours games)...i was expecting some pretty big flame wars to have broken out by now, but they havent...it's important that people be allowed to disagree, but how you do it is most essential...i think a good rule to follow is that if a heated debate/argument breaks out, limit yourself to one post, no matter what...say your piece and get out...and dont allow yourself another just because someone may have misinterpreted what you wrote or obfuscated or scored a good hit on ya...that way arguments dont drag on and become personal

nomos
20-11-2004, 03:11 AM
Yeah I'm all for friendly disagreement.

Good point about getting in and out and being concise. Web board arguments are never worth too much of one's time.

Savonarola
20-11-2004, 03:43 PM
Somewhat bemused at the notion that a site under the dissensus banner should be so concerned with the appropriate and the friendly. Surely the principle should be the following: surveil yourself in case you start to develop that contagious condition termed a 'personality', with all of its attendant tics, proliferating needs and intractable neuroses - and otherwise subject yourself and others (equally) to the ordeal of argument. If a forum such as this one is to be of any interest (precisely in the sense of not merely reproducing our own petty, mundane interests - I think we can all agree that being the 'carrier' of opinions is a rather thankless fate) it cannot be founded on the repressive tolerance commanded by the 'free' circulation of opinions and beliefs. Isn't that the point (or the potential) of aliases and such like: to render possible the modicum of disindividuation that might allow one to think without needing to 'express' one's self? (As opposed to permitting the cowardly anonymity of the sniper.) If bitching is easy, dissensus is discipline. Couldn't good clean enmity - the kind not spoiled by the nervous insult, the attack on the 'person' (that little bundle of finitude) behind the alias, the not-so-secret desire to generate anxiety and self-disgust - be something to foster? Couldn't it be as 'appropriate' as collaboration? To lay down the 'bottom line' of friendliness (as opposed to camaradery, which certainly allows for division, even of the brutal kind) is ultimately to abdicate the possibility that anything remotely new, a real conflict or a choice, might emerge out of these musings and debates. Spinoza and Leibniz weren't buddies (nor for that matter Leibniz and Clarke, or Badiou and Deleuze, or Descartes and Mersenne). We should thank them for it.

johneffay
20-11-2004, 05:23 PM
Somewhat bemused at the notion that a site under the dissensus banner should be so concerned with the appropriate and the friendly.

I agree, although it is good to be relevant and polite. I certainly have no desire to engage with people who agree with everything I say; what would be the point?

nomos
20-11-2004, 05:30 PM
I agree, although it is good to be relevant and polite.
That's what I'm saying.

I certainly have no desire to engage with people who agree with everything I say; what would be the point?
Of course not. No one is suggesting this.

Woebot
22-11-2004, 07:56 AM
Somewhat bemused at the notion that a site under the dissensus banner should be so concerned with the appropriate and the friendly. I don't think that's quite fair. When you're at a party you don't expect people to come up to you and punch you in the face do you, or tread on your toe just for fun? It seems like its really easy to "hide" yourself on the net, to use it as a place where you can grind that private axe, vent your spleen.

On the one hand it may appear absurdly controlling to even want for a place where people treat eachother with a certain amount of respect, on the other I know many of my colleagues and I (and thats all we've done here, answer a general need for a "gentler" message board) are happy to know that we can rock up, ask a question or put forward an idea, and not have some little prick try and score points over us.

As John Eden sagely observed, there are many many other message boards where you can experience that. Anyway, and here's crossing my fingers, we haven't had to do much "nannying" anyway (1 ban) people have pretty much arrived with their own expectations. I think the pros outweigh the cons.

k-punk
23-11-2004, 12:53 AM
I don't think that's quite fair. When you're at a party you don't expect people to come up to you and punch you in the face do you, or tread on your toe just for fun? It seems like its really easy to "hide" yourself on the net, to use it as a place where you can grind that private axe, vent your spleen..


But we're not at a party are we? There's plenty of places where you can go to THEM.. in fact the whole of British culture is one long tedious hedonathon.... with no rules, where the only obligatory thing is FUN FUN FUN

The analogy of the party is as telling as the school bully anecdote whingeing. The simple fact of the matter is that developing an intellectual position is not the same thing as defending an embedded subjectivity. Quite the contrary in fact. The Nietzschean insistence on the equivocation of the two is the ideology of kapitalism in person.

Savonarola is right to insist on DISCIPLINE. Intellectual discipline is no different to other sorts of discipline: martial arts for instance. The PoMo opinionist orthodoxy of course conceals - just barely - a seething resentment against intellectualism. Sure, there can be karate black belts, but when it comes to philosophy, anyone can have a view.... And this is fine, just as it is perfectly fine for people to pathetically pretend to be doing karate if they want to... But karate black belts are masters not because of them, but because they have subordinated their ego to the discipline.

'I' certainly don't want to be treated with 'respect'. Quite the opposite. 'I' want to be treated as a neurobot whose head fellow neurobots can tinker with. Treating me as an autonomous liberal subject worthy of respect is to have contempt for 'me'. What I most abhor is not being respected as a subject (yeuuchhh) but simply people not reading what I write, imposing their own lazy categories upon it and accusing what I write of inconsistency simply because it is designed to scramble the very conceptual defaults that they doggedly cling to.

One-liner one-upmanship, bullying and ppl being offended all arise from an avoidance of the impersonality of intellectual discipline. Defensive kneejerk identification with the ethnic, religious, sex or species group to which you are unfortunate to belong (and to belong to any such group is always unfortunate) is disastrous: carnate, too carnate.

Contra Nietzsche: never ask WHO is saying it, ask WHAT is being said.

Postmodern liberalism is obsessively personalising, and therefore depressing. If you believe that you are a subject, and that 'collectivity' can only ever mean some rickety aggregation of resentoneurotic subjectivities, of course you'll be depressed.

Philosophy is one way out of the hell of subjectivity.

And it is a hell, no metaphor.

k-punk
23-11-2004, 12:54 AM
Or as The Fall had it...

Hate's not your enemy, love's your enemy


murder all bush monkeys....

MBM
23-11-2004, 03:12 AM
Woebot> The metaphor of the party is not a bad one.

Savonarola> You seem to be creating an opposition between absolute agreement/conformity on the one hand and aggressive confrontation/emnity on the other.

The metaphor I had in mind was an engineering crew. These people get on with each other - they have to. But they co-operate with each other, correct each other's errors, and suggest better solutions. In some ways, their interaction is 'impersonal' - they are focusing on the task or solution rather than the individual behind it. On the other hand, their work is deeply 'personal' in that they bring their own experiences and viewpoints to it.

I don't see discipline and individuality as antithetical.

I think the 'impersonality' that Savonrola and K-punk are touting is unachieveable - and frankly undesireable. Your point of view is always located somewhere.

Or to put it another way, the martial artist must be aware of their own body - it's particular strengths and weaknesses. You can only throw someone if you yourself are positioned in such a way as to act as a lever.

'collectivity' can only ever mean some rickety aggregation of resentoneurotic subjectivities

well , yes K-punk, I'm afraid it does. What else did you have in mind?

Why the split between neurobot and liberal subject? Isn't it both/and not either/or?

gff
23-11-2004, 05:50 AM
1. politeness and conviviality are themselves a disclipline, etiquette, politesse (remember those old manuals, which spoon to use, what to say to ppl you'd rather not? i don't, all of that is long gone, it's too bad i think). very hard to hew to in times of acute disagreement.

2. "engineers:" the sciences do consider the group the agent of inquiry (academic papers can have a dozen names on them). why the humanities don't is a question i don't know how to address or answer.

k-punk
23-11-2004, 07:33 AM
I think the 'impersonality' that Savonrola and K-punk are touting is unachieveable - and frankly undesireable. Your point of view is always located somewhere.

Your point of view is always located somewhere, but intellectual positions aren't the same as POVs. In what sense are mathematics and geometry 'located somewhere'?



Or to put it another way, the martial artist must be aware of their own body - it's particular strengths and weaknesses. You can only throw someone if you yourself are positioned in such a way as to act as a lever.

Precisely. They have to be impersonal about their own bodies. See them as if from outside.




'collectivity' can only ever mean some rickety aggregation of resentoneurotic subjectivities

well , yes K-punk, I'm afraid it does. What else did you have in mind?

.

Well, genuine collectivity, which is precisely based on dissensus, as opposed to liberal consensus. Such collectivity is only possible on the basis of rigorous and total subordination of the ego to the system.

This is the very essence of communism.



Why the split between neurobot and liberal subject? Isn't it both/and not either/or?

It is the liberal subject which believes it is not a neurobot.. that insists on the inviolabilty of its 'personal space', and on its 'individual rights', that believes in some quasi-mystical notion of its own autonomy and choice.

Woebot
23-11-2004, 07:53 AM
But we're not at a party are we? There's plenty of places where you can go to THEM.. in fact the whole of British culture is one long tedious hedonathon.... with no rules, where the only obligatory thing is FUN FUN FUN

The analogy of the party is as telling as the school bully anecdote whingeing. The simple fact of the matter is that developing an intellectual position is not the same thing as defending an embedded subjectivity. Quite the contrary in fact. The Nietzschean insistence on the equivocation of the two is the ideology of kapitalism in person.

Savonarola is right to insist on DISCIPLINE. Intellectual discipline is no different to other sorts of discipline: martial arts for instance. The PoMo opinionist orthodoxy of course conceals - just barely - a seething resentment against intellectualism. Sure, there can be karate black belts, but when it comes to philosophy, anyone can have a view.... And this is fine, just as it is perfectly fine for people to pathetically pretend to be doing karate if they want to... But karate black belts are masters not because of them, but because they have subordinated their ego to the discipline.

'I' certainly don't want to be treated with 'respect'. Quite the opposite. 'I' want to be treated as a neurobot whose head fellow neurobots can tinker with. Treating me as an autonomous liberal subject worthy of respect is to have contempt for 'me'. What I most abhor is not being respected as a subject (yeuuchhh) but simply people not reading what I write, imposing their own lazy categories upon it and accusing what I write of inconsistency simply because it is designed to scramble the very conceptual defaults that they doggedly cling to.

One-liner one-upmanship, bullying and ppl being offended all arise from an avoidance of the impersonality of intellectual discipline. Defensive kneejerk identification with the ethnic, religious, sex or species group to which you are unfortunate to belong (and to belong to any such group is always unfortunate) is disastrous: carnate, too carnate.

Contra Nietzsche: never ask WHO is saying it, ask WHAT is being said.

Postmodern liberalism is obsessively personalising, and therefore depressing. If you believe that you are a subject, and that 'collectivity' can only ever mean some rickety aggregation of resentoneurotic subjectivities, of course you'll be depressed.

Philosophy is one way out of the hell of subjectivity.

And it is a hell, no metaphor.
er yeah all that toohttp://www.dissensus.com/images/smilies/wink.gif

luka
23-11-2004, 10:29 AM
i think we're all too stupid to play your game mark, most of us can't even work out the rules.

stelfox
23-11-2004, 11:36 AM
well, being a human being (and quite an egocentric one at that), i demand respect. it's a reciprocal arrangement, too. the fact is people are not machines - they have feelings and can be offended and hurt,therefore in the interest of decent relations, it's best to be halfway polite.

dominic
23-11-2004, 11:50 PM
Not to state the obvious, but I think that people come here for different reasons and make different kinds of contributions. Several appear to be highly learned, as though they knew karate. Probably because they do karate for a living. Others lead lives that are less exalted, having abandoned serious intellectual pursuits for any number of reasons. And yet they still enjoy intellectual exchange, and they reply to what they read by drawing upon the intellectual/cultural resources that they have (typically foggy recollections of books they read in college philosophy courses). And this they do even though they don't know karate . . . . But the karate masters shouldn't take offense. If we didn't find the karate masters stimulating and worth reading, we wouldn't have found our way to this site in the first place

MBM
24-11-2004, 12:53 AM
K-punk:

Your point of view is always located somewhere, but intellectual positions aren't the same as POVs. In what sense are mathematics and geometry 'located somewhere'?

From the sound of it, you are subscribing to position on Science and Mathematics that Thomas Nagel describes as "The View from Nowhere". Which I do not believe. Mathematics is absolultely located somewhere. In the sense that the forms of mathematics that humans have developed over thousands of years have met own our practical, aesthetic and intellectual needs. If you view mathematical notations as a language then that language is as culturally specific as any other language - albeit an immensely successful one. Note: This does not invalidate the power of mathematical hypotheses or render them any less "true". Intellectual positions are always 1. come from somewhere and 2. have to be refitted to work elsewhere.

Precisely. They have to be impersonal about their own bodies. See them as if from outside.

Well, not so sure about that as I am not a martial arts master. My brother is a black-belt in ju-jitsu so I'll ask him ;)

Well, genuine collectivity, which is precisely based on dissensus, as opposed to liberal consensus. Such collectivity is only possible on the basis of rigorous and total subordination of the ego to the system. This is the very essence of communism.

Right. And can you give me any examples of where this has worked on a sustainable basis? I can't help getting the feeling that you'd hate this environment if it ever actually happened.

GFF:
1. politeness and conviviality are themselves a disclipline, etiquette, politesse (remember those old manuals, which spoon to use, what to say to ppl you'd rather not? i don't, all of that is long gone, it's too bad i think). very hard to hew to in times of acute disagreement.

Good point. And politeness is useful when it allows people to focus on a discussion aimed at producing something new. In much the same way that ISO standards allow you to build technologies in different locations that you know will be compatible when assembled.

If politeness is simply used to quash necessary debate - then it sucks (in much the same way that an overly strict standard can acutally impede technological development).

paul
24-11-2004, 04:03 PM
"What I most abhor is not being respected as a subject (yeuuchhh) but simply people not reading what I write, imposing their own lazy categories upon it and accusing what I write of inconsistency simply because it is designed to scramble the very conceptual defaults that they doggedly cling to."

K Punk

Re the latter part of this sentance: I'd be interested if K Punk could expand on this? What does he mean by conceptual defaults? Someone's ideology? Does he mean that he is deliberately inconsistent? If so, why would this scramble someone's conceptual default rather than making the reader mistrust the writer? And what happens when someone's conceptual default is scrambled? Are you then under the control of K Punk?(!) (FYI: I'm not intending a battle here, just clarification)