Friday, July 15, 2011

Machinations of Materialists

Finished up an argument with a materialist a couple of days ago. A few things I've learned.

* If a person uses a lot of :) symbols when they argue, and makes plenty of indirect insults rather than direct ones, a surprising number of theists will go on about how nice and civil and polite and smart the person is. Apparently the internet has reached a point where you can be a smug, inept, insulting jackass and so long as you're subtle people will praise you like crazy.

* Self-contradiction is a hard concept for people to grasp. Argue that a given person X is making an argument which is self-contradictory or incoherent - say, that they say A, and they also say B, and A and B are incompatible - don't be surprised if they respond to you, "Well, he couldn't be saying A! Because look, he says B! And B isn't compatible with A!" That the point is that A and B are incompatible, and that it's even possible for a person to make a contradictory or incoherent argument, seems to not even register for some people. Unless, of course, they disagree with the person in question.

* There are materialists who think saying the words 'emergence' or 'recursion' is sufficient to completely defend materialism, particularly with regards to the mind. Really, all they have to do is say 'the self emerges' or 'experiences emerge' or 'consciousness is recursion' - no more explanation than that - and they think they're done. Point out that some types of emergence are in principle impossible, unless emergence is brute, and they seem to not even notice.

Just proving more and more that arguing on the internet is (surprise) pretty hopeless.

6 comments:

Ilíon said...

"* If a person uses a lot of :) symbols when they argue, and makes plenty of indirect insults rather than direct ones, a surprising number of theists will go on about how nice and civil and polite and smart the person is. Apparently the internet has reached a point where you can be a smug, inept, insulting jackass and so long as you're subtle people will praise you like crazy."

Yeppers. These "theists" are adherents of what I call "nice"-ianity (in contrast to Christianity). Christians worship Truth Himself; "nice"-ians worship the patronizing pat on the head.

"* There are materialists who think saying the words 'emergence' or 'recursion' is sufficient to completely defend materialism, particularly with regards to the mind. ..."

Those are some of their Magick Words; apparently among the most powerful.

"Just proving more and more that arguing on the internet is (surprise) pretty hopeless."

The problem isn't the internet, it's people who *will not* reason.

Crude said...

See, I'm fine with being polite, even nice. The problem is that sometimes people who act nice are really just insulting you or being jerks in a more roundabout way.

I think part of this stems from the modern obsession with 'dialogue'. Which is almost always one-sided at that, the whole 'compromise is giving me some of what I want and me graciously allowing you to keep some of what you have' bit.

Ilíon said...

Well, of course, real politeness is great.

But passive-aggressive 'dialogue' isn't polite.

Crude said...

What really gets me is that it's so transparent.

Look at Michael Ruse. Ruse gets boosted in various quarters as being some great 'accomodationist', of 'arguing that Christianity and Darwinism are compatible'.

If you look at his actual proposal, it's insulting. I'd even call it demeaning. Yes, I know he's mocked and attacked Dawkins and Dennett. Did no one notice that the reason he dismissed both was for a strategic reason - him saying that their methods would result in laws being passed that he found offensive, etc?

That sort of thing happens a lot.

The Deuce said...

If a person uses a lot of :) symbols when they argue, and makes plenty of indirect insults rather than direct ones, a surprising number of theists will go on about how nice and civil and polite and smart the person is.

It has the opposite effect on me. Passive-aggressive smarm annoys me far more than outright hostility.

There are materialists who think saying the words 'emergence'

"Emergence" is one of my big pet peeves too. It's simply a throwaway term. All "emergence" means is "X comes from Y somehow". When a materialist responds to an argument that it is logically impossible for X to come from Y by citing "emergence", all they're really doing is reiterating their belief that X comes from Y (the very issue under contention) in spite of any logical difficulties. It's not even a counterargument.

Crude said...

Re: emergence, absolutely. I also see the gimmick of 'If you stack all these legos in the shape of a circle, the circle 'emerges' from the lego shapes. See? Now, that's how mind emerges from the brain!'

Literally, that's it. It's a sight to behold. And I get the feeling part of the reason they offer it up is because in their echo chambers, everyone nods their heads, making it more difficult for them to notice "You didn't explain a freaking thing."