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“If it fits into a nutshell . . .”: on, the error of demanding arbitrary, rhetorically loaded brevity

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I noticed that the objection of dismissal on length (without substantial consideration) has come up here at UD yet again. I think it appropriate to note its fallacious character where considerable reflection is required. (And BTW, a quote from a serious source is a legitimate approach as I will shortly exemplify.)

Accordingly, let me headline a comment I just made in the Egnor vs a materialist neuroscientist thread:

KF, 15: >>[I]f a philosophical claim on any serious matter fits neatly into a nutshell, it belongs there. There is always an issue of substantial exposition, cross-check against material facts, establishing credible coherence and comparative, balanced explanatory power. This is not a business of 140 or 280 character tweets or rhetorically loaded sloganeering. We need substance, and that’s why a serious phil work may take 50 pp to establish a pivotal point. Short summaries and headlines may indeed summarise, promote and link, but they do not generally speaking establish a substantial matter. (And BTW, that’s one of the few things that that notorious tabloid Daily Mail is exemplary on: header, bullet points, exposition.) KF


PS: In The Laws, Bk X, Plato speaks eloquently to the demand for arbitrary brevity:


Ath. At Athens there are tales preserved in writing which the virtue of your state, as I am informed, refuses to admit. They speak of the Gods in prose as well as verse, and the oldest of them tell of the origin of the heavens and of the world, and not far from the beginning of their story they proceed to narrate the birth of the Gods, and how after they were born they behaved to one another. Whether these stories have in other ways a good or a bad influence, I should not like to be severe upon them, because they are ancient; but, looking at them with reference to the duties of children to their parents, I cannot praise them, or think that they are useful, or at all true. Of the words of the ancients I have nothing more to say; and I should wish to say of them only what is pleasing to the Gods. But as to our younger generation and their wisdom, I cannot let them off when they do mischief. For do but mark the effect of their words: when you and I argue for the existence of the Gods, and produce the sun, moon, stars, and earth, claiming for them a divine being, if we would listen to the aforesaid philosophers we should say that they are earth and stones only, which can have no care at all of human affairs, and that all religion is a cooking up of words and a make-believe.

Cle. One such teacher, O Stranger, would be bad enough, and you imply that there are many of them, which is worse.

Ath. Well, then; what shall we say or do?-Shall we assume that some one is accusing us among unholy men, who are trying to escape from the effect of our legislation; and that they say of us-How dreadful that you should legislate on the supposition that there are Gods! Shall we make a defence of ourselves? or shall we leave them and return to our laws, lest the prelude should become longer than the law? For the discourse will certainly extend to great length, if we are to treat the impiously disposed as they desire, partly demonstrating to them at some length the things of which they demand an explanation, partly making them afraid or dissatisfied, and then proceed to the requisite enactments.

Cle. Yes, Stranger; but then how often have we repeated already that on the present occasion there is no reason why brevity should be preferred to length; who is “at our heels”?-as the saying goes, and it would be paltry and ridiculous to prefer the shorter to the better. It is a matter of no small consequence, in some way or other to prove that there are Gods, and that they are good, and regard justice more than men do. The demonstration of this would be the best and noblest prelude of all our laws. And therefore, without impatience, and without hurry, let us unreservedly consider the whole matter, summoning up all the power of persuasion which we possess. >>

Food for thought as we contemplate the need for comparative difficulties analysis. END

37 Replies to ““If it fits into a nutshell . . .”: on, the error of demanding arbitrary, rhetorically loaded brevity

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    “If it fits into a nutshell . . .”: on, the error of demanding arbitrary, rhetorically loaded brevity

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Notice Plato’s context of warrant for the inherently good as grounds for moral government, law and justice, as well as his observation that a serious working through of the matter will be lengthy. Leading, to the problem of dismissiveness. Thus we come to the educator’s dilemma: dialectic and/or exposition vs the punchiness (yet, too often want of real substance) of rhetoric.

  3. 3
    redwave says:

    I am compelled to agree with you with respect to the contemporary trend of brevity which can not satisfy the necessity for a completeness of virtuous thought. This is not an adverse to Ockham’s Razor in which William of Ockham’s principle can be stated, “Entities should not be multiplied without necessity.” Latin: “Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate” (Plurality should not be posited without necessity.)

    “It is futile to do with more things that which can be done with fewer.” Latin: “Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora”

    There are things, issues, subjects, et cetera for which brevity serves the conversation well, yet moral governance and the re-establishment of well-defined human virtue have not so served our society. Is this trend for brevity a signal of a deeper crisis with the individual “soul” found swimming against strong currents of socio-political relativism? The cry for reason in the midst of unreasonable noise is the one brevity of thought we can not hear or wish not to hear but should want to hear, though its sounding must interrupt the individual “soul’s” struggle against the noise. The virtuous thoughts necessary for moral governance and re-establishment of well-defined human virtue might only emerge from an underlying silence of reason’s origins.

  4. 4
    kairosfocus says:

    RW, welcome to UD. Some very thoughtful points, I for one would enjoy amplification. And if you do not know I am perfectly willing to host guest posts. KF

    PS: I have always connected Occam to Einstein: things should be as simple as possible, but not simpler than that. I guess simple means different things in different contexts. My thought is, too much of modern commentary is disguised — or even, open — appeal to prejudice and polarisation. and Since 2016 there has been a distinct vulgarisation of language. A serious discussion pivoting on first principles has to take a first principles, educational tone. And where things need to be established as a first step . . . Plato led on to a Cosmological-Moral design inference . . . there is a place to take time to do so.

  5. 5
    Seversky says:

    You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother

    — attributed variously to Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman and Ernest Rutherford.

    Verbosity is not necessarily a virtue. It can be used to obfuscate rather than illuminate. Excessive brevity can also obfuscate, however, if it hides important nuances and contexts of a case. It seems to me that the best discipline is economy where the author identifies the key elements of an argument and couches them in terms that are judged to be most accessible to an intended audience.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev,

    Could you explain say the substantial core of number theory to your grandmother in a nutshell, or the architecture and machine language of an ARM processor, or Quantum theory?

    Relevant issues in worldviews analysis and linked topics are comparably complex.

    Responsible discussion is not empty typing or speaking, but requires a fairly serious engagement.

    I add, from the OP:

    [I]f a philosophical claim on any serious matter fits neatly into a nutshell, it belongs there. There is always an issue of substantial exposition, cross-check against material facts, establishing credible coherence and comparative, balanced explanatory power. This is not a business of 140 or 280 character tweets or rhetorically loaded sloganeering. We need substance, and that’s why a serious phil work may take 50 pp to establish a pivotal point. Short summaries and headlines may indeed summarise, promote and link, but they do not generally speaking establish a substantial matter.

    It is a challenge to find a balance, and there is no one the Internet audience, where it is far easier to pose questions and dismissals than it is to engage substantial matters on comparative difficulties.

    Which, was Plato’s point.

    And, latterly, it is increasingly clear that much of the polarisation surrounding not only design theory but broader linked issues has to do with miseducation, gaps in understanding logic and first principles, locked-in polarisation tied to worldviews and cultural agendas, ignorance of relevant history and worse. And when it comes to general discussion of topics (especially politicised, polarised topics and things subjected to media spin by powerful agendas), the situation is deeply compounded to the point that by and large fashionable opinion is not only grossly wrong on substance but has become locked into a dangerous polarisation and factionalism that Plato warned against in his parable of the ship of state.

    We would do well to heed Plato’s words as cited above.

    KF

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I think it is advisable to put Plato’s parable of the mutinous ship of state on the table, noting that relevant background is the Peloponnesian war and the failure of Athenian democracy:

    It is not too hard to figure out that our civilisation is in deep trouble and is most likely headed for shipwreck. (And of course, that sort of concern is dismissed as “apocalyptic,” or neurotic pessimism that refuses to pause and smell the roses.)

    Plato’s Socrates spoke to this sort of situation, long since, in the ship of state parable in The Republic, Bk VI:

    >>[Soc.] I perceive, I said, that you are vastly amused at having plunged me into such a hopeless discussion; but now hear the parable, and then you will be still more amused at the meagreness of my imagination: for the manner in which the best men are treated in their own States is so grievous that no single thing on earth is comparable to it; and therefore, if I am to plead their cause, I must have recourse to fiction, and put together a figure made up of many things, like the fabulous unions of goats and stags which are found in pictures.

    Imagine then a fleet or a ship in which there is a captain [–> often interpreted, ship’s owner] who is taller and stronger than any of the crew, but he is a little deaf and has a similar infirmity in sight, and his knowledge of navigation is not much better. [= The people own the community and in the mass are overwhelmingly strong, but are ill equipped on the whole to guide, guard and lead it]

    The sailors are quarrelling with one another about the steering – every one is of opinion that he has a right to steer [= selfish ambition to rule and dominate], though he has never learned the art of navigation and cannot tell who taught him or when he learned, and will further assert that it cannot be taught, and they are ready to cut in pieces any one who says the contrary. They throng about the captain, begging and praying him to commit the helm to them [–> kubernetes, steersman, from which both cybernetics and government come in English]; and if at any time they do not prevail, but others are preferred to them, they kill the others or throw them overboard [ = ruthless contest for domination of the community], and having first chained up the noble captain’s senses with drink or some narcotic drug [ = manipulation and befuddlement, cf. the parable of the cave], they mutiny and take possession of the ship and make free with the stores; thus, eating and drinking, they proceed on their voyage in such a manner as might be expected of them [–> Cf here Luke’s subtle case study in Ac 27].

    Him who is their partisan and cleverly aids them in their plot for getting the ship out of the captain’s hands into their own whether by force or persuasion [–> Nihilistic will to power on the premise of might and manipulation making ‘right’ ‘truth’ ‘justice’ ‘rights’ etc], they compliment with the name of sailor, pilot, able seaman, and abuse the other sort of man, whom they call a good-for-nothing; but that the true pilot must pay attention to the year and seasons and sky and stars and winds, and whatever else belongs to his art, if he intends to be really qualified for the command of a ship, and that he must and will be the steerer, whether other people like or not-the possibility of this union of authority with the steerer’s art has never seriously entered into their thoughts or been made part of their calling.

    Now in vessels which are in a state of mutiny and by sailors who are mutineers, how will the true pilot be regarded? Will he not be called by them a prater, a star-gazer, a good-for-nothing?

    [Ad.] Of course, said Adeimantus.

    [Soc.] Then you will hardly need, I said, to hear the interpretation of the figure, which describes the true philosopher in his relation to the State[ –> here we see Plato’s philosoppher-king emerging]; for you understand already.

    [Ad.] Certainly.

    [Soc.] Then suppose you now take this parable to the gentleman who is surprised at finding that philosophers have no honour in their cities; explain it to him and try to convince him that their having honour would be far more extraordinary.

    [Ad.] I will.

    [Soc.] Say to him, that, in deeming the best votaries of philosophy to be useless to the rest of the world, he is right; but also tell him to attribute their uselessness to the fault of those who will not use them, and not to themselves. The pilot should not humbly beg the sailors to be commanded by him –that is not the order of nature; neither are ‘the wise to go to the doors of the rich’ –the ingenious author of this saying told a lie –but the truth is, that, when a man is ill, whether he be rich or poor, to the physician he must go, and he who wants to be governed, to him who is able to govern. The ruler who is good for anything ought not to beg his subjects to be ruled by him [ –> down this road lies the modern solution: a sound, well informed people will seek sound leaders, who will not need to manipulate or bribe or worse, and such a ruler will in turn be checked by the soundness of the people, cf. US DoI, 1776]; although the present governors of mankind are of a different stamp; they may be justly compared to the mutinous sailors, and the true helmsmen to those who are called by them good-for-nothings and star-gazers.

    [Ad.] Precisely so, he said.

    [Soc] For these reasons, and among men like these, philosophy, the noblest pursuit of all, is not likely to be much esteemed by those of the opposite faction; not that the greatest and most lasting injury is done to her by her opponents, but by her own professing followers, the same of whom you suppose the accuser to say, that the greater number of them are arrant rogues, and the best are useless; in which opinion I agreed [–> even among the students of the sound state (here, political philosophy and likely history etc.), many are of unsound motivation and intent, so mere education is not enough, character transformation is critical].

    [Ad.] Yes.

    [Soc.] And the reason why the good are useless has now been explained?

    [Ad.] True.

    [Soc.] Then shall we proceed to show that the corruption of the majority is also unavoidable, and that this is not to be laid to the charge of philosophy any more than the other?

    [Ad.] By all means.

    [Soc.] And let us ask and answer in turn, first going back to the description of the gentle and noble nature.[ — > note the character issue] Truth, as you will remember, was his leader, whom he followed always and in all things [ –> The spirit of truth as a marker]; failing in this, he was an impostor, and had no part or lot in true philosophy [–> the spirit of truth is a marker, for good or ill] . . . >>

    (There is more than an echo of this in Acts 27, a real world case study. [Luke, a physician, was an educated Greek with a taste for subtle references.] This blog post, on soundness in policy, will also help)

  8. 8
    Brother Brian says:

    Leaving aside that the impetus for this OP was a response to a simple claim (split brain does not change behaviour) that did not require hundreds of words I think the real issue is that there is a time and place for brevity and a time and place for detailed expansion. A fringe blog is not the place for the latter. We are not going to properly identify the world’s problems, let alone analyze them and solve them, on a blog that only has a handful of commenters.

    I have freely admitted that I seldom read BA77’s expansive posts, as I am sure is the case for most viewers. The same applies to your extensive OPs and thousand word comments with follow-on PS, PSS, PSSS. That is usually because I do not have the time or interest. It also has to due with a history of these extensive posts being largely indecipherable or irrelevant. Maybe that is because of some lack of concentration on my part but I find your posts much more constructive and informative when provided in smaller chunks.

  9. 9
    ET says:

    Leaving aside that the impetus for this OP was a response to a simple claim (split brain does not change behaviour) …

    The claim was that split brain does not change PERSONALITY.

    We are not going to properly identify the world’s problems, let alone analyze them and solve them, on a blog that only has a handful of commenters.

    That doesn’t follow. And it further exposes your agenda of ignorance.

    But then again it seems that you like comic strips because they are short. And it seems that comic strips are the extent of your education

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, you proceeded to make a general comment which caught my eye and it therefore seemed appropriate to talk to the loaded polarising talk-points mentality of our day. I note that neither you nor any other party has been able to overthrow the main point for this thread: that matters that bear significant worldviews and cultural agenda weight require significant, substantial work on comparative difficulties in order to have responsible results. KF

    PS: If you and others wish to carry on a dispute that belongs in another thread where its context is, I suggest you go there.

    PPS: One purpose of this blog is to address several significant problems on record for present and future audience.

  11. 11
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    I note that neither you nor any other party has been able to overthrow the main point for this thread: that matters that bear significant worldviews and cultural agenda weight require significant, substantial work on comparative difficulties in order to have responsible results. KF

    You are not going to get any meaningful discussion on an issue in a fringe on-line blog when people have to slog through thousands of words. However, if you want to sermonize and then claim victory because nobody can bother to read thousands of almost indecipherable words, your method is very effective. It is a shallow victory, but a victory none the less.

  12. 12
    ET says:

    Brother Brian:

    You are not going to get any meaningful discussion on an issue in a fringe on-line blog when people have to slog through thousands of words.

    Not with the likes of you, anyway.

    We will never have a meaningful discussion with evolutionists on the very concept of evolution, either. And it doesn’t matter what the venue is.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, translated, [a] dismissiveness not cogent substance, [b] there is an ideological lock-in of a dead paradigm, Darwinism, [c] you still have no counter to the essential point of the OP. I add, [d] apart from ideologised circles that happen to hold institutional dominance for a dead paradigm (evolutionary materialistic scientism and fellow travellers), the vast majority of the world are design thinkers. Further to this, it is clear that the core design inference on reliable signs is well-founded. There is every good reason to see that the world of life with embedded info including alphanumeric code in DNA (= language), and the fine tuning of the cosmos are strong signs of design. However, there are entrenched, opposed interests. But ironically, the ruin they are leading our civilisation towards will undo them, unfortunately, the result is likely going to be very painfully costly, especially to the dying experiment in democratic freedom. Nope, the Party of Darwin and a lot of other linked things will not end up in charge, they will be lucky not to be at minimum defenestrated by those who will hold them as the betrayers of our civilisation, when this is done. That’s not a threat, it is a warning on sobering lessons of history. And frankly, I am very concerned that we are going to lose liberty, not a very good thing with nukes etc in play. I wonder why Plato’s parable of the cave and that of the ship of state are not compulsory school lessons. The Laws Bk X etc too. Even, Ac 27. KF

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    ET, I have seen enough of what is out there on various evolutionary materialism and fellow traveller blogs and forums to agree that their aim is to suppress and marginalise any questioning of the party of Darwin. When I recall some of the stunts here and elsewhere over the years I can only hold that those who seem to imagine that such misbehaviour, rudeness and just plain venomous hostility and slander are normal behaviours that should be allowed to drag discussions down into the mud or the sewer, show that something is deeply wrong with them. KF

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, kindly go read a few Socratic Dialogues and come back to us on the number of participants, the silent audience and their cumulative impact then and since. Start with Socrates (and the Areopagus and the hemlock) –> Plato (& the Academy) –> Aristotle, the Lyceum and Alexander of Macedon. Do not overlook Ac 17 and 27. KF

  16. 16
    Bob O'H says:

    I think I’ll just leave this here:

    The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter.

    (this is a translation, of course)
    I wonder if kf has the same problem: “where considerable reflection is required” it can be difficult to find a concise way of expressing things that is comprehensible. I appreciate he (like the rest of us) has a real life, and so may not have the time to think through issues of communication.

  17. 17
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: I invite you to read Plato’s observation, i/l/o the issue of the need to explicitly, responsibly address comparative difficulties on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power. As a certain current occupant of no 1600 Pennsylvania Ave is learning, not everything can be effectively addressed or countered in a string of 140 or 280 character, rhetorically driven tweets. Yes, such can headline, summarise and even promote and link (to what . . .?), but they simply cannot carry the weight of a case in the main. The attempt simply invites being reframed, stereotyped [whether deservedly or not] and dismissed. Especially in a highly polarised, cold cultural civil war atmosphere full of nihilistic manipulators, the inordinately angry and the woefully ignorant (this last, often being the fault of a dumbed down education system compounded by a reckless, irresponsible, partisan, agit-prop dominated media). Our civilisation requires a serious, foundational, logic and first principles based step by step, reconstructive conversation but is by and large not in the mood for it. Especially as it recklessly dances on the crumbling edge of a cliff and — mixing metaphors (like Socrates) — similarly insists on using crooked yardsticks as standards for straightness, uprightness and accuracy, mocking naturally straight and upright plumb-lines that expose the blunder. Oh, TL;DR seems an adequate answer, even as we spend hours on inane, deceitful, manipulative entertainment and alleged news that is even worse. FYI, one does not need to leap off a cliff to fall over it, as a cliff’s edge is by definition unstable and crumbling. KF

    PS: I suggest, you may find here a relevant case in point: https://uncommondescent.com/atheism/bbc-swings-and-misses-why-is-there-something-instead-of-nothing-pt-2-being-logic-and-first-principles-24b/

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: Pascal in action — just, his notes.

  19. 19
    john_a_designer says:

    Kevin Williamson of National Review has written a new book entitled, The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics, which in part is an expose’ of the mindlessness of social media.

    In his Forward he writes,

    “After about 300,000 years of anatomically modern H. sap., here we are again: monkeys, albeit monkeys with wifi.”

    You can read the rest of his Forward on Amazon for free. (Warning: Reader’s discretion is advised.)

    https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN/B07NLHQ9Y9/ref=nosim/nationalreviewon#customerReviews

    In a recent article at NRO he writes,

    [M]y book argues, people do not go to social media hoping to learn things about the world. They go to social media hoping that attention will be paid to them. That’s what social media is: a sad, sprawling bazaar in which attention is exchanged and bartered. There is no profit in it for anybody other than Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey and, to a considerably lesser financial extent, people like me. Social media is not about information. People go there hunting a feeling of significance, which they try to achieve by associating themselves in trivial ways with public events or public figures. (emphasis added)

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/07/among-the-chimps/

    I think what he says is absolutely true. And, I think that explains the empty mindless posturing and pretension of most of UD’s regular interlocutors. They have nothing intelligent to say but they somehow find some meaning in saying it. I think Williamson may also be on to something when he suggests they are unevolved monkeys who find pleasure in primeval unevolved disruptive behavior.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD,

    Sobering.

    Democracies, from the days of Plato, are known to be prone to decay into misrule and marches of folly driven by manipulated mobs. Hence, the concept, demagogue:

    demagogue (?d?m?????) or demagog
    n
    1. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) a political agitator who appeals with crude oratory to the prejudice and passions of the mob
    2. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) (esp in the ancient world) any popular political leader or orator
    [C17: from Greek d?mag?gos people’s leader, from d?mos people + agein to lead]
    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

    Of course, often the demagogue is part of a stable of bought and paid for actors, backed by some Mr Moneybags behind the scenes.

    (And sometimes, there are far more sinister networks with mostly hidden, escalatingly ruinous agendas. Just to list: mobs or even militias on the streets, crudely populist agitators, more cultured literary voices and/or literal actors and celebrities with popular followings, pundits, academics and other high prestige experts, think-tanks, public relations strategists and agencies, marketers, agit-prop strategists, even media houses, parties and more. If we have not drawn these frightening lessons from the history of C20, with both the Communists/Bolsheviks and their kissing-cousins the Nazis/Fascists, we have yet again failed to learn lessons of sound history that were paid for in literal rivers of blood. Maybe, we need to read Canetti’s Crowds and power. Perhaps some thoughts on the heirs of both, today’s Alinskyite cultural marxists, would be advisable. Where there is a howling, menacing mob on the streets or in your workplace or online pushing a powerful and destructive attack-agenda, you can bet your bottom dollar that somewhere, there is a paymaster backed by serious money. Which, can even be the lead bureaucrats of the increasingly powerful state apparatus, the so-called deep state and their allies in the intelligentsia who are bought with grant money. This, BTW is my read of the ongoing mid-game play-out in North America [no, the end-game of the current, battle- of- attrition- by- mob- and- lawfare- driven- personal- ruin cultural civil war is not yet], i/l/o my observations on trends with the increasingly obviously utterly unstable UK. Three PM’s in four or so years is not a good sign, and the Brexit, Scotland Secession etc mess is nowhere near finished. Implications for my own bailiwick beg to be drawn out. Ac 27 has in it a raft of sobering lessons we have yet to seriously attend to, draw lessons from and absorb in the Churches, much less the wider culture. And so does a lot more of what now seem to be hidden, derided corners of willfully silenced and forgotten history of our common civilisation. One, once rightfully called Christendom . . . with all its sins, struggles and blessings; but which, having willfully and angrily cut itself off from its vital roots through the oppression thesis, now begins to decay disgustingly as it withers. It is now very hard to find a decent survey history of our civilisation, which used to be commonly taught in colleges and schools; a bad sign. [I shrug, then suggest here as an obviously flawed outline.])

    So, yes, Kevin D Williamson has a telling point or a few (and yes the warning about his NSFW foreword is well taken).

    So does of all people the notorious Vox Day [NOT generally endorsed but he has drawn up a useful survival guide for the mobbed based on lessons of history and current experience], in his description of mobbing, job-busting, deplatforming and scapegoating-driven marginalisation (he highlights the so-called SJWs) in eight stages:

    The eight stages of the SJW attack sequence are as follows:

    1] Locate or Create a Violation of the Narrative. [–> used to be: the party-line, cf. Orwell, 1984 and Animal Farm]
    2] Point and Shriek. [–> slander to smear and mark the target]
    3] Isolate and Swarm. [–> mob-riot and bullying or lynching]
    4] Reject and Transform. [–> the scapegoat carries away the sins of the multitude, which must now ever more conform to the agenda of “new” “virtues” demanded by the radicals and their mobs . . . generally ending in reigns of terror if unchecked]
    5] Press for Surrender. [–> demand to dominate by nihilistic power disguised as claims for justice]
    6] Appeal to Amenable Authority. [–> more interested in “reputational damage” than justice]
    7] Show Trial. [–> a highlight of both Stalin and Hitler’s Nazis, the media-amplified kangaroo court, also going back to Robespierre and the guillotine. With Rommel, just the threat with further threat to ruin family caused him to commit suicide. This was followed by the show state funeral.]
    8] Victory Parade.[–> with the decapitated head on a pike or the like, don’t forget, attainting of the bloodline by ruining the family]

    Here, I suggest, that we need voices that can draw together a body of insights that lead to effective, sound strategic solutions that can work with a critical mass of support. However, where there are the powerful who profit from continued chaos and/or from manipulated agendas, any moves towards such sound synthesis or a way out of the chaos-maze will be viciously targetted by the ruthless reprobates who hold power. And the attack-mob baying for metaphorical or literal blood (think about Rome’s policy of bread and circuses and its modern extensions) is one of the habitually resorted to tools of such; whenever there are times where such mobs can gain traction. Yes, another compass-needle pointing to the peril of our times.

    While we are at it, let’s link something else I ran across that is sticking in my craw just now, by way of sounding frighteningly uncomfortably close to the mark, on how the front men may be being manipulated and blackmailed; again, NOT a general endorsement of the source, I report as “this hits uncomfortably close.” If you doubt that the very powerful may become predatorily destructive like this (while sitting comfortably in circles of the highest power), I simply call the name Beria.

    Now, dismissing TL-DR [and noting how often demands for simple yes/no answers are loaded], I turn to a source that I find refreshing by sharpest contrast, Pascal, in some of his opening remarks for Pensees.

    And yes, PLEASE take time to savour one of the all-time greats in opening bat action:

    1. The difference between the mathematical and the intuitive mind.—In the one, the
    principles are palpable, but removed from ordinary use; so that for want of habit it is difficult
    to turn one’s mind in that direction: but if one turns it thither ever so little, one sees the
    principles fully, and one must have a quite inaccurate mind who reasons wrongly from
    principles so plain that it is almost impossible they should escape notice.

    But in the intuitive mind the principles are found in common use and are before the
    eyes of everybody. One has only to look, and no effort is necessary; it is only a question of
    good eyesight, but it must be good, for the principles are so subtle and so numerous that it
    is almost impossible but that some escape notice. Now the omission of one principle leads
    to error; thus one must have very clear sight to see all the principles and, in the next place,
    an accurate mind not to draw false deductions from known principles.

    All mathematicians would then be intuitive if they had clear sight, for they do not
    reason incorrectly from principles known to them; and intuitive minds would be mathem-
    atical if they could turn their eyes to the principles of mathematics to which they are unused.

    The reason, therefore, that some intuitive minds are not mathematical is that they cannot
    at all turn their attention to the principles of mathematics. But the reason that mathematicians
    are not intuitive is that they do not see what is before them, and that, accustomed to the
    exact and plain principles of mathematics, and not reasoning till they have well inspected
    and arranged their principles, they are lost in matters of intuition where the principles do
    not allow of such arrangement. They are scarcely seen; they are felt rather than seen; there
    is the greatest difficulty in making them felt by those who do not of themselves perceive
    them. These principles are so fine and so numerous that a very delicate and very clear sense
    is needed to perceive them, and to judge rightly and justly when they are perceived, without
    for the most part being able to demonstrate them in order as in mathematics, because the
    principles are not known to us in the same way, and because it would be an endless matter
    to undertake it. We must see the matter at once, at one glance, and not by a process of
    reasoning, at least to a certain degree.

    And thus it is rare that mathematicians are intuitive
    and that men of intuition are mathematicians, because mathematicians wish to treat matters
    of intuition mathematically and make themselves ridiculous, wishing to begin with definitions
    and then with axioms, which is not the way to proceed in this kind of reasoning. Not that
    the mind does not do so, but it does it tacitly, naturally, and without technical rules; for the
    expression of it is beyond all men, and only a few can feel it.

    Intuitive minds, on the contrary, being thus accustomed to judge at a single glance, are
    so astonished when they are presented with propositions of which they understand nothing,
    and the way to which is through definitions and axioms so sterile, and which they are not
    accustomed to see thus in detail, that they are repelled and disheartened.

    But dull minds are never either intuitive or mathematical.

    There are minds that are both broadly intuitive and aware, seeing synoptically and synthetically on picking up deep, reliable and powerful patterns/principles from clues AND are then able to be exactingly precise in forming and drawing out plausible postulates and logical-structural, qualitative/existential and quantitative consequences. Such are apt to be found among physicists, big-picture philosophers who tackle big issues, philosophical theologians, big-picture economists of the first rank [including among the Austrian heretics], certain types of similarly big picture but profoundly insightful cultural/policy critics or great artists and historians.

    (Let me note for record: Marx was a spoiled case, whose correct insights need to be carefully harvested from the many errors of his materialism, and soundly, wisely put together with many others. Starting, with the lessons of the reformation and the breakthrough American Experiment. We must not allow an over-emphasis on the sins of Christendom to blind us to the hard-bought advances and blessings, as well as the proved mechanisms for prudent incremental reformation rather than ill-advised radical experiments that due to lack of checks, balances, soundness and restraint, predictably end in tyranny and chaos. One of the things we must recover is our confident, well-founded faith in God, in the gospel, in gospel ethics [thus, in linked natural law] and in the scriptures attested by the resurrection of the Christ witnessed by the five hundred.)

    It is no accident that Pascal was a Mathematician-Physicist, philosopher with theological bent and one of the pioneers of highest French style.

    Minds like that are multiply rare: simultaneously rare on multiple dimensions.

    But, in an age of widespread communication at low cost, we can learn from such synoptic thinkers, starting with realising that a few thousand words are powerfully distilling many thousands of pages (or even thousands of books) of reading and even more hours of pondering and deep discussion among the truly informed . . . as opposed to mere purveyors and guardians of current academic shibboleths. (Here, compare Ac 17 and 27 with 1 Cor 1 – 2.) In short, let us learn enough broadly about our civilisation and big, fundamental issues that we can begin to work our way out of the problematique we are manifestly in, willfully and foolishly dancing on the edge of a crumbling cliff.

    It matters not, whether the words used to bring out the synthesis are original or are clipped, the issue is, let us find valuable, instructive, wise and promising synthesis.

    Ours, is a perilous time.

    A kairos, fraught with consequences.

    KF

  21. 21
    Bob O'H says:

    kf @ 17 – I think you’ve mad may point with your long-windedness. You could have written something like this:

    I disagree: as a certain current occupant of no 1600 Pennsylvania Ave is learning, not everything can be effectively addressed in 280 character tweets. Yes, they can summarise, but they simply cannot set out a full case. The attempt simply invites being reframed and dismissed, especially in the current highly polarised atmosphere. Our civilisation requires a serious logical conversation but, by and large, is not in the mood for it. Especially as it recklessly dances on the crumbling edge of a cliff, using crooked yardsticks as standards for straightness, uprightness and accuracy. Oh, TL;DR seems an adequate answer, even as we spend hours on inane, entertainment and alleged news that is even worse. One does not need to leap off a cliff to fall over it: the cliff’s edge is itself unstable and crumbling.

    Perhaps It gets a bit florid towards the end, but I like the imagery you use. I’m sure with more editing it could be improved (the TL;DR sentence would need a bit more work to bring out the contrast with the hours spent staring at the TV).

  22. 22
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: While I do appreciate your suggestion, I think you have missed key points. Let me do some highlighting . . . I once recall someone on looking at what you did not highlight:

    I invite you to read Plato’s observation, i/l/o the issue of the need to explicitly, responsibly address comparative difficulties on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power. [–> this is actually a main theme, cf this link: http://www.angelfire.com/pro/k......htm#intro ] As a certain current occupant of no 1600 Pennsylvania Ave is learning, not everything can be effectively addressed or countered in a string of 140 or 280 character, rhetorically driven tweets. Yes, such can headline, summarise and even promote and link (to what . . .?) [–> the substantial, in summary case], but they simply cannot carry the weight of a case in the main. The attempt simply invites being reframed, stereotyped [whether deservedly or not] [–> the ad hom laced strawman caricature problem] and dismissed. Especially in a highly polarised, cold cultural civil war atmosphere full of nihilistic manipulators, the inordinately angry and the woefully ignorant (this last, often being the fault of a dumbed down education system compounded by a reckless, irresponsible, partisan, agit-prop dominated media) [–> a situation analysis in a nutshell] . Our civilisation requires a serious, foundational, logic and first principles based step by step, reconstructive conversation but is by and large not in the mood for it [–> Plato’s key point, and mine]. Especially as it recklessly dances on the crumbling edge of a cliff and — mixing metaphors (like Socrates) [–> how he disarmed objectors] — similarly insists on using crooked yardsticks as standards for straightness, uprightness and accuracy, mocking naturally straight and upright plumb-lines that expose the blunder [–> how deeply entrenched errors lock out correction by putting error as standard of reference]. Oh, TL;DR seems an adequate answer, even as we spend hours on inane, deceitful, manipulative entertainment and alleged news that is even worse. FYI, one does not need to leap off a cliff to fall over it, as a cliff’s edge is by definition unstable and crumbling.

    I think the highlighted were worth the additional words, in what is a paragraph-length 254 word summary response in any case. Just a little below, I made a broader more involved response on the themes, at 20. In that, you will see selective references that bring out how mob rule is currently wrecking our civilisation’s governance. You will see a vest-pocket summary on strategic change and how it is hampered or frustrated, with historical reference to bread and circuses. I paused to look at a thought piece on manipulation and blackmail behind the scenes as potentially explaining how many of the elites operate, not as endorsed but as we had better think on this.

    I then turned to a more excellent way, courtesy Pascal, fragment 1 in his collected Pensees. Food for thought and a diagnostic on the sort of intellectual leadership we desperately need. Even, where we might find such people who blend two key intellectual types. As Marx is clearly returning to fashion, I point to him as a spoiled case.

    I invite us to pursue that more excellent way, together. And yes, it is going to require that having done some calibration and validation, we become willing to take sweeping summaries and suggested insights seriously as part of a conversation. As an example, I have often used an adjusted, integrated infograph form of Schaeffer’s analysis of the history and consequences of key ideas in our civilisation. Also, an adapted form of a “seven mountains” picture of key influences that also traces to Schaeffer et al.

    KF

  23. 23
    Bob O'H says:

    kf – I’m not sure the text you added helps: the same argument can be made with greater brevity, as (I think) I showed. It might help if I explain some of the edits I made:

    I invite you to read Plato’s observation, i/l/o the issue of the need to explicitly, responsibly address comparative difficulties on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power. [–> this is actually a main theme, cf this link: http://www.angelfire.com/pro/k……htm#intro ]

    I removed this because it didn’t help: the link has a lot of text that only mentions Plato in passing. So the reader who follows the link gets side-tracked. If you want to include the link, do it by explaining that it provides a more detailed version of your argument (or in another way summarise how the link is meant to support what you are writing).

    As a certain current occupant of no 1600 Pennsylvania Ave is learning, not everything can be effectively addressed or countered in a string of 140 or 280 character, rhetorically driven tweets. Yes, such can headline, summarise and even promote and link (to what . . .?) [–> the substantial, in summary case], but they simply cannot carry the weight of a case in the main.

    I removed the bolded text because you use 4 verbs where only one is needed. Plus, “they simply cannot carry the weight of a case in the main” is so vague it’s not clear what you mean. Be more precise (and brief!).

    The attempt simply invites being reframed, stereotyped [whether deservedly or not] [–> the ad hom laced strawman caricature problem] and dismissed.

    Again: 3 verbs where only a single one is needed.

    Especially in a highly polarised, cold cultural civil war atmosphere full of nihilistic manipulators, the inordinately angry and the woefully ignorant (this last, often being the fault of a dumbed down education system compounded by a reckless, irresponsible, partisan, agit-prop dominated media) [–> a situation analysis in a nutshell] .

    Again far too many words: you’re trying to make a point, but “cold cultural civil war atmosphere full of nihilistic manipulators, the inordinately angry and the woefully ignorant (this last, often being the fault of a dumbed down education system compounded by a reckless, irresponsible, partisan, agit-prop dominated media)” is a single nounal phrase for the current political atmosphere. The argument you are trying to make is about brevity, so you only need to make the reader understand that you are referring to the current political atmosphere, and that can be done much more briefly. Doing this helps the reader because they can follow your point, without getting distracted by trying to follow a long description.

  24. 24
    Brother Brian says:

    Bob O’H, good points. The best arguments are made by people who can keep it concise. It may require some back and forth to hash out some specifics, but that is much better than the fire hose approach utilized by a couple commenters here. Might I also suggest that the unnecessary use of arcane and rarely used language simply results in people scrolling past the comment.

  25. 25
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H (& attn BB): it is clear we are speaking to cross-purposes. I will confess freely to dense compression, but that does not mean unimportance, and a lead tends to be there as lead for a reason, here, responsive in a context of a discussion in progress with antecedents above. I footnote, that in the context of tweets etc “headline, summarise and even promote and link (to what . . .?)” speak to very different but complementary functions. As for “reframed, stereotyped [whether deservedly or not] [–> the ad hom laced strawman caricature problem] and dismissed” — recall, expanded with the arrow-point — I speak to the trifecta, habitual fallacy of too many in our day: red herings led away to strawman caricatures soaked in ad hominems and rhetorically set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere. Fallacies often come in mutually reinforcing thickets, which unfortunately multiplies their practical effectiveness. And BTW, I am not merely pointing to the current atmosphere, I am describing its dynamics of ruin in a nutshell. KF

    PS: On comparative difficulties, the lecture note as linked is well worth the go-to, as a tutorial. The text is not going away (this is not broadcast mass media), time can be taken to fill in and come back.

  26. 26
    Bob O'H says:

    kf – I think you’ve totally missed my point. Your writing certainly doesn’t suffer from “dense compression”, in fact the opposite. You don’t need to fully describe everything: you only need to give enough information to know what we are discussing. In a discussion about writing concisely, you don’t need to describe ” the trifecta, habitual fallacy of too many in our day: red herings led away to strawman caricatures soaked in ad hominems and rhetorically set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere”. That’s not what we are discussing, so don’t get sidetracked!

    If you’re interested in communication, you should try to learn how to do it better. Your current approach is a failure because it’s full of red herrings (both metaphoric and literal). That makes it hard to read. Try to focus on what you are trying to say, without getting into side-tracks. You don’t need to say everything at once: if you try to do that, you end up obscuring the main point you are trying to make.

  27. 27
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: the gap between worldviews is precisely one of the key points of breakdown. Consequently, there is no reasonable assumption of mere reference; you can see such from the recent exchanges over what “atheism” means and the unresponsiveness to the SEP point that the novelty, “weak” form actually strictly rules out the historic sense of the term. Similar 1984 newspeak games are happening even with things like male/female, marriage, law, justice, rights, the right, truth, knowledge etc. That is a key part of our predicament as a civilisation, and it is a part of why I start from the comparative difficulties across live option worldviews challenge. BTW, that was not “added,” it was original and in moving from 250+ words to 130+ you cut out the lead idea. And so forth. KF

    PS: The trifecta of fallacies issue is not a distraction from the main themes in the OP or in the comment that you provided as a suggested editing. It is in fact a central, ever present part of the problematique. What is emerging, inch by inch, is the worldviews driven gap.

  28. 28
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: For reference, I remind of the focal remark in the OP:

    [I]f a philosophical claim on any serious matter fits neatly into a nutshell, it belongs there. There is always an issue of substantial exposition, cross-check against material facts, establishing credible coherence and comparative, balanced explanatory power. This is not a business of 140 or 280 character tweets or rhetorically loaded sloganeering. We need substance, and that’s why a serious phil work may take 50 pp to establish a pivotal point. Short summaries and headlines may indeed summarise, promote and link, but they do not generally speaking establish a substantial matter. (And BTW, that’s one of the few things that that notorious tabloid Daily Mail is exemplary on: header, bullet points, exposition.)

    KF

  29. 29
    Bob O'H says:

    kf – people with very different worldviews are able to write clearly, so concise writing is not about that. It’s about being able to clearly express your thoughts.

    You write “[I]f a philosophical claim on any serious matter fits neatly into a nutshell, it belongs there”. A lot of what you write does fit into a nutshell (see my post 21, for example), but you’re unable to see how to do that. Your extra prose actually gets in the way of communication. Orwell’s essay Politics and the English language is worth reading: he describes some problems which appear in your prose, and also gives sensible advice on how to approach writing to make it clearer.

  30. 30
    Brother Brian says:

    KF@27, I have to agree with Bob O’H on this. Your arguments can be made much more concisely, and effectively, by leaving out the irrelevant . Examples include:

    Similar 1984 newspeak games are happening even with things like male/female, marriage, law, justice, rights, the right, truth, knowledge etc.

    I speak to the trifecta, habitual fallacy of too many in our day: red herings led away to strawman caricatures soaked in ad hominems and rhetorically set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere.

    These sorts of statements may be suitable when given from a pulpit, where disagreements are unwelcome, but are just pure meaningless tangents when posted on a site that purports to encourage discussion and debate. And, I should add, they seriously detract from whatever point it is you are trying to make. Whenever I hit one of these in your comments I simply stop reading.

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    BO’H: I won’t even bother going further, as 250 wordsd are patently not an example of meaningless longwindedness [it is about standard length for an executive summary], nor were the 111 words in the OP’s main discussion. And, the classic clip (admittedly longer and not from Plato’s most literary writings) was very much on target. It is clear that you missed something due to gaps between worldviews and dismissed them; further disregarding links and clarifying remarks. I started with a lead-in point on an absolutely pivotal matter, and it still made no impression that there is something to the issue of comparative difficulties. Have your last say as you will but such will make no difference to the substantial issue. Which, I am afraid, is quite clear enough. KF

  32. 32
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, what you perceive as irrelevant is most definitely not so. That you see such as irrelevant itself speaks. let me add, I gave several examples, which happen to have been discussed back and forth many times over the years here at UD. Indeed, the trifecta of fallacies is a description of a persistent pattern of distractive rhetoric that I have observed to be a habit of too many objectors to the design inference. Which is not utterly irrelevant to the course of this thread, through in a fairly mild form. KF

  33. 33
    Brother Brian says:

    KF, how is

    I speak to the trifecta, habitual fallacy of too many in our day: red herings led away to strawman caricatures soaked in ad hominems and rhetorically set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere.

    relevant to whether or not it is possible to effectively present arguments in a more concise manner than those often presented by you and BA77?

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, compare the actual OP with what you wish to discuss, and how. That will amply demonstrate relevance. KF

  35. 35
    Brother Brian says:

    KF

    BB, compare the actual OP with what you wish to discuss, and how. That will amply demonstrate relevance. KF

    I read the OP. The one line that jumped out at me was:

    This is not a business of 140 or 280 character tweets or rhetorically loaded sloganeering.

    How is the following not an example of rhetorically loaded sloganeering?

    I speak to the trifecta, habitual fallacy of too many in our day: red herings led away to strawman caricatures soaked in ad hominems and rhetorically set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere.

  36. 36
    ET says:

    LoL@! @ Brother Brian. It is up to YOU to make your case. If you think what kairosfocus posted is an ” example of rhetorically loaded sloganeering” then it is up to YOU to make that case. And it is obvious that you cannot. But I understand why his sentence bothers you because it pertains to you and your ilk.

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    BB, You are trying the rhetorical turnabout projection now. FYI, some years ago, I noted a habitual pattern of too many online and RW commenters, a way that changes the subject, caricatures issues and people, then confuses and poisons discussion. That pattern is observably real, and can be summarised in a nutshell, as seen — using standard terminology for fallacies. KF

    PS: Notice, how far away this thread has moved from discussing a serious matter, that worldview level issues need comparative difficulties analysis, but such (obviously an acquired taste) is not in keeping with the inclinations of our times? And yes, I am pointing to the classical rhetoric-dialectic gap.

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