Wednesday 28 September 2011

Annoying Fallacies

I am so very tired of that most widely committed logical fallacy (does it have a name?) where the refutation of a proposition is assumed to denote the endorsement of that proposition’s opposite (which is itself assumed to be both obvious and singular). The denial that there is ‘a real, knowable, objective external world’ is taken to constitute an affirmation of the inexistence of anything ‘outside’ of what had previously been assumed to be ‘inside’ (and against which the ‘outside’ of the ‘real, knowable objective world’ had been defined). Namely, this ‘inside’ was ideas, sociality, consciousness or human subjectivity. The fallacious observer cannot comprehend how anyone can refute the existence of ‘a real, knowable, objective external world’ as this, to them, automatically denotes the affirmation of the inexistence of anything besides ‘ideas, sociality, consciousness or human subjectivity.’ Non sequitur.

The situation is made even worse when the doer of the denial attacks the fallacious observer by critiquing the ‘outside’ reality and posing it as ridiculous. In so doing the denier implicitly or explicitly endorse the floating, lifeless, immaterial ‘inside’ and set the two parties at each others’ throats for eternity. This is how wars get started. (And it is over little more than which end to crack your egg.)

Don’t refuse the pole, refuse both poles and the opposition. Break each element down into its constituent parts, ask what each part was doing in the previous schematic and put the bits back together again in a way that avoids the traps and pitfalls of the previous arrangement.

Please don’t take sides over false oppositions; he who decides the sides decides the whole bloody game.