Friday, May 28, 2010

Can We Agree on Just This?

In the blogosphere, Socratic method is really annoying.

Here's how the method tends to be employed:

(1) I assert something, with or without additional support.
(2) Questioner asks me to clarify an element of the assertion.
(3) I make the clarification.
(4) Questioner asks me to clarify another element of the original assertion or an element of the clarification.
(5) Steps 3 and 4 get repeated infinitely.

The questioner's intent is to get me to reveal my "hidden" or latent presuppositions--which are, of course, wrong. What's supposed to happen is that when I end up exposing my own biases, I'll quiver and shake with horror at how wrong I have been all along. The questioner gets to delight in his skill at having made me defeat my own arguments, and I slink away bitter and depressed.

Unfortunately, the questioner never gets it right and winds up just being a pest. As for me, I usually understand what my presuppositions and biases are. I think about such things and find them interesting.

So instead of going all Socratic on me, why not just make a counter-argument? If you disagree with anything I say, just tell me so and let's hash the fucking thing out.


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