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Semiformalishmaybe

Stabbing the Ground

Two of the things I really like reading from people I know is explanations of either their history of thought or their current foundations of thought. It's this kind of philosophy, whether it's in the context of writings of great philosophers or comes from their personal experience, that I just can't get enough of. And I want to talk about it. The fact that I write so much isn't that I necessarily think I'm brighter than the people I know (either generally or on this topic) so much as a desire to participate in such a community. The fact that I'm critical in my comments is also not an attempt to put myself above everyone so much as a desire to participate in a community where we're not trying to be touchy-feely-express-ourselves-and-love-everyones-ideas-and-validate-the-hell-out-of-everyone so much as having good sparring partners in a realm where if we're uncritical, we're lazy and do shitty philosophy. In my view, you spar with someone for one (or both) of two reasons:

  • You consider them and their ideas respectable enough to engage with so you help them stay on the right side of sanity
  • You consider their ideas lazy or harmful enough to be worth challenging them so you limit their boldness
To a certain extent, these are the same thing in intent, and it's possible to mix them (e.g. respect a person on most topics, find some of their ideas really bad)

I would never promise not to be critical of someone's ideas to encourage them to express them; being critical is the point. I would promise them that I will never push them to seek my wholehearted approval, and that I will almost certainly never offer it, and that I will remind them should they seem to forget, that that's not the point of engaging another on this level. I hope people can be rid of the idea of making everyone feel happy or validated as soon as possible once they start thinking about philosophy or activism or related things.

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