The Maverick and the Philosopher

0. I have long been puzzled by the difference between the two kinds of posts one sees published on the blog, Maverick Philosopher. One kind, one of the latest members of which is his post of December 31, 2014, “John Anderson, Heraclitus the Obscure, and the Depth of Change,” is composed of posts of very high quality. When I read posts like that, I find myself thinking, “This is a man who understands philosophy, one from whom I can learn and have learned, though undoubtedly not as much as one more intelligent than I am would have.”

1. Not so the members of the other kind, the latest representative of which is the “Do Communists Lie?” of January 4, 2015. In these posts one often finds, just to begin, a sometimes startling disregard for even the most basic of logical niceties. One such logical nicety is that of being careful in the expression of the “quantity” of one’s propositions. The case in point in the post at hand begins with:

I just now found this at the CPUSA website:

Communists are not against religion. We are against capitalism.

A communist who is not against religion would be like a Catholic who is not against atheism or a teetotaler who is not against drinking alcoholic beverages.

2. Now the reported statement is careless in the expression of its “quantity,” for it fails to make it clear whether the claim is the universal negative statement that:

No communists are against religion.

or the particular negative statement that:

At least some communists are not against religion.

The latter, of course, could be true, even if the former is false. I cannot answer the question of whether the lack of attention to the statements’ quantity is knowing or not.

3. But the post under consideration is susceptible to the same critique, for it continues with the statement that:

What we have here is further proof that truth is not a leftist value.

and then the further statements that:

Leftists, like Islamists, feel justified in engaging in any form of mendacity so long as it promotes their agenda.  And of course the agenda, the list of what is to be done (to cop a line from V.I. Lenin), is of paramount importance  since, as Karl Marx himself wrote, “The philosophers have variously interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it.” (11th Thesis on Feuerbach). The glorious end justifies the shabby means.

In the first sentence, that is, we find quite efficiently expressed two statements, the one that:

Leftists feel justified in engaging in any form of mendacity so long as it promotes their agenda.

and the other that:

Islamists feel justified in engaging in any form of mendacity so long as it promotes their agenda.

The first of the two statements fails to make it clear whether the claim is the universal affirmative statement that:

All leftists feel justified in engaging in any form of mendacity so long as it promotes their agenda.

or the particular affirmative statement that:

At least some leftists feel justified in engaging in any form of mendacity so long as it promotes their agenda.

The latter, of course, could be true, even if the former is false. I cannot answer the question of whether the lack of attention to the statements’ quantity is knowing or not.

Similar remarks can be brought to bear on the statements about Islamists.

4. As I said at the outset, I have long been puzzled by the difference between the two kinds of posts one sees published on the blog, Maverick Philosopher. Recently, however, I have sometimes begun to think that I have a solution: the blog has two distinct writers, one of whom is the maverick and the other of whom is the philosopher, but both of whom go by the name of Bill Vallicella. But then I find myself once again baffled: why doesn’t the philosopher point out to, or remind, the maverick that his posts sometimes fall short in their observance of some basic logical niceties?

Until next time.

Richard

 

About Rchard E. Hennessey

See above, "About the Author/Editor."
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