Thursday, March 03, 2016

Pugnacious

Among my many faults is a tendency to want to be in every intellectual fight I see. When The Weasel writes some nineteenth century denunciation of economic protectionism, I want to point out some useful counterexamples and the intellectual bankruptcy of the underlying theory. When Wolfgang writes about qualia or Nietzsche, I'd like to offer a contrasting view. When Arun writes about Y-DNA and the AIT or about about how Western scholars have no right to write about the Mahabharata, I have an opinion on those things too. Naturally things as fraught as climate and politics are catnip for the pugnacious mind. Could the Oscar Robertson of old have guarded Steph Curry? I've got an opinion on that too.

I'm not quite dumb enough to think I or anyone can have an intelligent opinion on all these things, but I have found argument a very potent learning tool. If you have an idea, test it in intellectual debate. It's the Socratic method, and it still works. If everybody is willing to play.

Most of the human race is not. For many people, questioning their fundamental assumptions is like kicking their dog or calling their kid ugly - a deeply offensive insult.