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Wieseltier: Reflections on the cult of unanimity

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Further to: Darwin’s dittoheads win over The New Republic? (which is, by the way, after 100 years, not publishing a December issue -next issue is February).

Recall, the new owner, fired Leon Wieseltier, who has now published an essay reflecting on the importance of permitted dissent. says,

The Jewish tradition—the tradition of the argumentative Jew—is a long and great challenge to the consensualist mentality. It repudiates, sometimes in theory, always in practice, the cult of unanimity. It displays an almost erotic relationship to controversy. (Like all erotic relationships, this one sometimes devolves into decadence, which in the early modern centuries was known as pilpul.) In the Jewish tradition, disagreement is not only real, it is also ideal—at least in the unredeemed world, which is the only world we know. In its millennia of disputations, even mistaken opinions are not without legitimacy. Minority opinions are not obsolete opinions: They are preserved alongside majority opinions because their reasoning may one day be useful again. Arguments that are adjudicated practically remain alive theoretically. More.

This is not the worldview of the pom pom-shaking science writer who no longer needs to hear both sides or the foes of denialism (= people have stopped learning).

Note: We don’t know whether the purge had anything to do with Wieseltier’s use of the phrase Darwinist dittoheads (“Here was a signal to the Darwinist dittoheads that a mob needed to be formed”). And it is true that there are other dittoheads out there.

But it is curious how people who actually start to think about these things tend to wind up getting purged in the quest for unanimity.

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3 Replies to “Wieseltier: Reflections on the cult of unanimity

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    We don’t know whether the purge had anything to do with Wieseltier’s use of the phrase Darwinist dittoheads (“Here was a signal to the Darwinist dittoheads that a mob needed to be formed”). And it is true that there are other dittoheads out there.

    It appears that Mr. Weiseltier believes in God. Maybe that was the problem.

    I notice the purger, Mr. Huges, is a co-founder of Facebook. Maybe TNR can publish something from the fake Stephen Meyer FB pages, or at least turn in the magazine into a place where we all can socialize?

  2. 2
    keith s says:

    Denyse:

    Recall, the new owner, fired Leon Wieseltier, who has now published an essay reflecting on the importance of permitted dissent.

    I hope the owner and moderators of Uncommon Descent will reflect on the importance of permitted dissent.

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    Is this Leon saying its anti-semitism?? Just kidding.
    What a strange concept to invoke Jews to justify Anglo saxon freedoms of speech/dissent.
    It shows thats the best they can do to get sympathy.
    Oh brother.
    What a mess of modern life.
    Its a empire eating itself.
    Erotic? yuck!
    This leon is just worthless and clueless about how to argue for america freedom when yop have a unique chance for audience with accurate demographics.
    I doubt third world jews from the old places ever had a good argument about anything except leaving for America.
    The important thing os freedom, truth and intelligence in making your case and debunking the other guy.
    Children argue. men use reasoning, with seasoning, and should persuade where a mutual standard of smarts and sincerity exists.
    I’m sure this Leon did nothing but censor and control when he was boss.
    I , suspect, he just got on the chopping block like old Robisperre .
    Not that he is born again free speech lover.
    These are the bad guys in america. the left wing etc etc types who are not representing main street USE.
    let the NEW republic self destruct and get a NEWER republic that actually contributes to a true, just, smart, fun, America. Including creationists.
    Is leon a spoilt crybaby??
    WE can do better then this cat!

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