[MF] MOQ: valuable or not?

Sam Norton elizaphanian at kohath.wanadoo.co.uk
Sun Feb 26 05:55:23 PST 2006

Hi DMB (just to keep it clear who I'm talking to ;-)

I'm sure Marsha is capable of defending herself if my distemper has caused 
offence - but you're a big boy and quite capable of arguing your own turf 
without bringing in other people (a purely social level manoeuvre of course).

Anyhow, lets get the offence clear and up front - I think you're behaving as a 
sanctimonious hypocrite, and to justify that I'll need to set out exactly why.

First the sanctimony - and we'll just use your last message in evidence, 
although the Lord knows full well that there's plenty more.

You argue:

> dmb replies:
> Right-thinking? I have a rather simple concern here, Kevin. Honesty.
> Intellectual honesty and the courage that it demands. I'm saying that nobody
> should be let off the hook in a place like this. Are we not philosophers?
> Are we supposed to allow religious statements to go unexamined and
> unchallenged simply because they are religious? No, of course not. I really
> don't see how one could make a valid case to the contrary. I mean, in a
> forum such as this it seems unfair to make statements and then get upset
> about it when another asks for some kind of explanation or otherwise
> scrutinizes that statement. Don't you think?

and later

> Anyway,... I'm not necessarily saying Kevin or religious people in general
> are deluded, I'm just saying that delusions can't be discovered or exposed
> when our assertions and statements are walled off from inspection. I'm
> saying that intellectual honesty requires a frank and open discussion. It
> demands that we be allowed to critized one another's views, don't you think?
> Since there is no final arbitor of the truth, all we can do is put our ideas
> out on the table for everyone to see, to grapple with and by this process
> try to figure out which views are better. Sure, it can be a bit painful to
> sit before our little "intellectual panel". That's where the need for
> courage enters into the picture, no? It probably goes without saying, but I
> certainly wouldn't claim any kind of exemption from this rule nor do I claim
> any kind of talent for this kind of honesty or courage. I'm just saying the
> principle is sound.

Here you are standing on your high horse, claiming the moral high ground of 
fearless exploration of the intellectual truth wheresoe'er it may lead. You 
appeal to the virtues of honesty and courage, and rhetorically ask 'are we not 
philosophers?' Humbug.

One would expect  that you would seek to live up to such rhetoric, and therefore 
be willing to pursue points made publicly against your philosophy. So, second, 
the consequence, your hypocrisy:

> Beyond the insults (Ironically delivered in defense of divine love) the
> first thing I noticed was the evasion tactic contained in both salvos. Sam
> is telling Marsha to ignore him, in effect to remain silent about any
> disagreements she has with him. Her criticism is dismissed as shit,
> basically. He's telling me that he will go away, that he'll go back to
> "lurking" and dismisses my criticism because I'm an ignorant, a liar and a
> purveyor of boring old tea... Anyway, in both cases Sam seems to be suggesting
> that he's being persecuted rather than scrutinized or criticized or
> challanged. Rather than respond to the content of the disagreement or
> otherwise criticize the critic, Sam is just inventing excuses to avoid the
> debate. And rather than embrace the opportunity to persuade others or
> sharpen his arguments, he just wants it all to go away.
> This is the sort of evasive tactic that has frustrated me for a long time.
> I've drawn Kevin into this little drama because of his lasting desire to
> find a place for theism and faith within the MOQ, which is not quite as bad
> as trying to find a place for atheism and skepticism within the Baptist
> church.

And just to flag up what I think is the most hypocritical part of the above, 
I'll extract it and bring it up front:

"Sam seems to be suggesting  that he's being persecuted rather than scrutinized 
or criticized or  challanged. Rather than respond to the content of the 
disagreement or otherwise criticize the critic, Sam is just inventing excuses to 
avoid the debate. And rather than embrace the opportunity to persuade others or 
sharpen his arguments, he just wants it all to go away."

That seems to me to be a perfect description of your behaviour on issue after 
issue over the last few years; most particularly the allegation about 
'responding to the content of the disagreement'. Let's get specific again. The 
particular issue in play here is emotion, and the role that emotion might play 
in a wider intellectual understanding. You wrote earlier:

"I'm wondering if its even possible to discuss statements like "God is love". It 
seems to me that this common sign expresses a certain sentimental attitude and 
it announces the emotional inclinations of the people who put up the sign and 
run the church, but intellectually that statement has no meaning. It seems to me 
that trying to find a place for this within the MOQ is a little bit like trying 
to discover the metaphysical implications of a greeting card from Hallmark. 
Naturally, I would encourage anyone who disagrees to provide an explanation as 
to the meaning of that sign and otherwise show me the light on this point."

Your argument is that emotion is simply biological level - and this is based on 
particular assumptions about what 'emotion' is. My view is that 'emotion' is 
central to our intellectual decision making process and that it therefore cannot 
be restricted to the biological level - this is why the MoQ needs to be amended. 
In making this argument I am drawing on various contemporary philosophers who 
are exploring precisely this topic, and dismantling the sorts of arguments that 
you make ad nauseam. I have been clear on this point until I am blue in the 
face - and yet it all washes over your head, and is consistently ignored. And so 
we go round and round the merry go round again and again and again and again and 

Example 1: I first raised this point on July 6 2001, in one of my earliest posts 
to MD.

Example 2: it is a core part of my eudaimonic MoQ paper, published at moq.org in 
April 2003, but discussed in some depth in various threads in MD in the months 
before. (Criticism number 1 of the standard model)

Example 3: I mentioned this point when MF got back up and running in December of 

Example 4: and again in February 2005...

It seems to me that I have consistently argued for a position that 'emotion' is 
not accounted for properly within the MoQ, and - what is of far more interest - 
I have clearly signalled my sources for my views, firstly in the research done 
by the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, and secondly, more recently, through 
exploring the work of philosophers like Martha Nussbaum (there are others).

In the face of this consistent line of argumentation from me, you have never 
once 'responded to the content of the disagreement' but have repeatedly evaded 
any form of detailed investigation of the points. You have never once displayed 
any desire to investigate my sources or search behind why I think about emotion 
the way that I do but have rested content to use cliche and personal abuse, 
attributing my viewpoint to the intellectual confusion that must - as a matter 
of logical necessity - apply to me because I am a Christian. You have 
demonstrated beyond any shadow of a doubt that you are not interested in 
exploring the philosophy underlying my point of view but instead react to me in 
precisely the same way that a fundamentalist reacts to someone who doubts the 
literal truth of the words of the Bible - with bigotry turned up to full volume.

Of course the crowning achievement of your approach came when I was referring to 
Nussbaum in MF, in the discussion that moved into March 05, and you pretended to 
have read the book!!! You're not just content to not read what lies behind my 
approach - which would surely be the "courageous" approach - but you have to 
intentionally mislead people into thinking that you in fact HAVE read the book. 
How intellectually depraved have you got?? (Other people can see 
http://www2.venus.co.uk/hypermail/moq_focus/0291.html for DMB's defence of that 
manoeuvre  - " I do not own the book and have not read it. Never said 
otherwise." - which rather slides neatly over the fact that he wanted people to 
BELIEVE that he had read the book. Very sly...)

This is the context for our ongoing disagreements. I have spent years and far 
too much energy explaining my point of view and laying all the cards on the 
table. I have even explored some of your sources, eg the Kingsley book on 
Ancient Philosophy, along with Joseph Campbell and (retch) Ken Wilber. You have 
never once done me the courtesy of responding in kind.

And now you accuse ME of running away!! You're a hypocrite!! You are a coward!! 
You have no intellectual integrity or honesty whatsoever!! You are an overblown 
gasbag so caught up with the certainty of your own opinions that you wouldn't 
recognise a Dynamic philosophical argument even if it was in the shape of Robert 
Pirsig and flagged up with all the neon in Las Vegas!!

This is why I accuse you of only having stale tea. I'm not running away from an 
argument you stupid idiot!!!! I've just given up on you after five years of 
trying to have an honest intellectual conversation. I've realised you're not 
capable of it - all you do is harangue me (and people like me) because you're 
still working through your bad experiences of fundamentalist Christianity, and 
you lack the intellectual breadth and imagination to realise that when there are 
more than two billion Christians in the world they might not all believe the 
same thing.

You have a simple way to prove me wrong, and to show that I'm being unfair. 
Simply read one of the books that I have consistently recommended - read 
Damasio, or Nussbaum, or someone like Robert C Solomon, or whoever!!!

Enter into the argument.

Stop blustering.

Stop assuming you know what people believe and think when you refuse to perform 
the common courtesy of actually investigating what their points of view are.

Do you know what the really bizarre thing is? I'd still like to buy you a beer.


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