Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Comment on Postmodern Logic

I'm endlessly fascinated by the funky argumentative logics of the radical left. As some of my readers have noticed, I've initiated a number of debates with lefty bloggers in recent weeks (see here and here).

Some have asked: Why do I do it? Sure, a lot of it is fascination and a hint of orneriness. But more seriously, my response is that engaging the enemy at home is the best way to learn about the nature and capabilities of the adversary. And I do think we have an enemy at home in the hardline left, which I see as
a modern fifth column movement seeking the destruction of the country.

It's difficult to engage lefties in debate, however. Even the most evidentiary, logical, or principled argument will fail to persuade a postmodern ideologue. As Dr. Sanity points out in a recent post,
postmodernists somehow manage to win all arguments:

Substitute almost any talking point of today's political left for "Manmade Global Warming Debate". and you their tried and true recipe for "winning" debates: ignore reality, truth, and reason.

It turns out that postmodern philosophy and rhetoric are simply perfect for this purpose (see
here, here, here, here, here and here, for example) and can be mobilized rapidly whenever there is the slightest possibility that a glimpse of the real world might break through the barrier of perpetual psychological denial.

Those who live in the wonderful world of denial go through their daily lives secure in the knowledge that their self-image is protected against any information, feelings, or awareness that might make them have to change their world view. Nothing--and I mean NOTHING--not facts, not observable behavior; not the use of reason or logic; or their own senses will make an individual in denial re-evaluate that world view.
All events will simply be reinterpreted to fit into the belief system of that world--no matter how ridiculous, how distorted, or how psychotic that reinterpretation appears to others. Consistency, common sense, reality, and objective truth are unimportant and are easily discarded--as long as the world view remains intact.

This is one of the wondrous aspects of postmodern rhetoric, where reality and truth are only relative, is that anybody's "reality" is as good as anybody else's. For the dedicated postmodernist, polls and opinion are the final arbiters of truth; and the results of a poll or two, constructed along ideological lines to fit a particular template, is all you need to confirm your reality.

Reality is a matter of opinion (simply ignore any polls that don't agree with your reality, of course). This type of useful rhetoric can even determine today, what history will say many tomorrows from now. With enough repetition and passion, "history" can be set in stone in the temporal present!

Extremely convenient for anyone who wants to avoid confronting their own contradictions in the present.

The rhetorical passion and word play is mere camouflage for the inherent philosophical and psychological contradictions that the postmodern left exploits in order to achieve and maximize political power. They are perfectly aware that their positions don't make any sense and can be refuted by anyone with basic knowledge of logic and
logical fallacies; but their goal is to maintain the psychological denial necessary to believe in the left's ideology. Interpreting this defense and exposing it is essential to countering that ideology.
Read the whole thing. Dr. Sanity also adds this point a little later in the entry:

The entire purpose of the contradictory discourse technique is actually to shut down any argument or debate.
The opposite of my fascination with the left's flawed argumentative logics is the pure, almost raging frustration I get with these types. I think this flows from my profession as a teacher.

In the classroom, when engaging students in discussion, there is the air of the institutional mission to educate, to open minds, to challenge beliefs and opinions with countervailing data or arguments. Most students have a sense of respect and deference for knowledgeable discourse grounded in evidence or history.

I don't find that to be the case in exchanges with the radicals. In fact, in one of my debates with one of the craziest of my left opponents, my arguments caused so much frustration on the other side as to elicit a violent reaction, and some retaliation.

In any case, that's enough of this for today. I'll be posting more on liberal irrationalism as the whim dictates.

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