Philosophical Discussions: Disclaimer.


As you might (or might not) have noticed, I erased “Another One Bites the Dust”  because for some strange reason it was too popular with a disproportionate amount of hits. As I said there, no one is perfect and once apologies are exchanged, we all just need to move on to the next round. I am personally fine with conflicts, insults and heated exchanges, as long as there is an understanding that it isn’t not the end of the world, and it’s done in the name of some larger cause like a philosophical argument.

I don’t care for comments like this, for example, but I’m sure Harman is just being protective and fatherly. I don’t like it anymore than the next person when I am insulted and it brings me no pleasure (despite the accusations) to provoke anyone. What does bother me and causes me to react rather violently is the sense of oppression that I sometimes feel is artificially created by the realist side, or a sense of being an underdog or any need to create an imaginary enemy to fight. I keep saying this over and over again, but why can’t we just talk about these things without constructing some sort of victim identity? Why the need to constantly attack “Continental tradition” or any other supposedly hegemonic organization (SPEP comes up very often)? Let’s just do some philosophy, shall we? No one is out there to get anyone.

33 thoughts on “Philosophical Discussions: Disclaimer.

  1. Unfortunately, this doesn’t only happen in relation to philosophy, but all over the place, even with regard to one’s own personal thoughts on an issue or whatever. Somehow people feel the need to interpret it as a personal attack and then get angry about it, even if they weren’t even involved in the discussion. I don’t quite understand how that works, but it’s a bit frightening how much I see that happen. I don’t know if it’s a particularly American trait or not, but we seem to enjoy playing the victim.

  2. But aren’t you kind of glad that due to your actions in some circles one can simply say “Stop pulling a Mikhail!” and they all know what that means. I mean, you’re part of a cultural vernacular now.

  3. That does comfort me, Shahar, in fact, it is comforting me greatly right now. I think I also resented a kind of moralism that is always out to tell people what to do and how to feel when I was growing up, so I turned out to be an insensitive asshole – say what you have to say, period. Maybe people in my culture are more rude and straightforward than in the US, I don’t know, I don’t like to play the “ethnic” card and claim that I’m just from a different culture and back home being an asshole is a great thing – it’s just playing the victim again. Did I insult people with my comments? Yes. Am I always insulting and annoying? I hope not. Is that a horrible stylistic move to answer your own questions? You bet.

    Dave, I do know that it happens all the time, but I think philosophical discussions are sometimes more heated because people are very attached to their views (and it’s clear that I count myself among such people) – saying that view X is wrong is often interpreted as saying “you must be an idiot for holding such views”… Again, in the end, life goes on, I usually don’t hold grudges, but I realize that it might be just my attitude and I’m fine jumping right back into discussions with people that I fought with a week before.

    I wish that that “pulling a Mikhail” would be something nice like appreciating the contributions of others and especially attentive listening, but what are you going to do?

  4. Yeah, philosophical discussions probably do have an overall higher probability of erupting🙂

    It’s an interesting psychological reaction that so many people have, to interpret someone saying “I disagree” as them implying “you’re stupid.”

    I think cultural differences are a valid piece of the puzzle, as we do follow different cultural standards, and what is considered rude here might not be in Russia or anywhere else – that’s not to say it’s somehow inherently rude or not rude, it’s just how we perceive it based on what we are used to. It’s not the *whole* picture, but I think it does play into discussion sometimes.

  5. You’re right, standards and expectations are definitely different, I just don’t want to excuse myself by pointing them out, in the end, it’s my job as a foreigner to adjust to the local customs, even if it’s sometimes difficult to know what the “local customs” are.

  6. Mikhail,

    I honestly think that from your culture there is a different sort of love of intellectual discussion-debate, and a different threshold/conception of what hegemonic oppression is. This is not to say that you cannot be a flat-out pill to discuss things with if the “right” philosopher is brought up, but I sense that the frivolous/aggression transitions, and “what its all about” are different for you.

    Besides this, people who make their living pretending (attempting to exemplify) that they are smarter than everyone else, tend to be quite insecure and pricked by any pin, probably because it isn’t so.

  7. Kevin,

    It might very well be, or I’m just an asshole, both explanations are fine with me, I just don’t get the sulking part sometimes. As for those pretending that they are smarter than everyone else, I think I am pretty good at it myself and sometimes that’s what sets off some ugly exchanges.

    In any case, I’m thinking of returning to our Kant and categorical imperative discussion, if you’re interested, I’ve been thinking about all of the things that were brought up…

  8. I don’t know, I think it’s just an excuse – so you are mean and dismissive, what’s the big deal? Most of your guys don’t even know each other. I don’t get the constant bickering and whining about it afterwards.

    Maybe you should all just do what Harman did and close comments, just blog for your own pleasure, you know?

  9. I could, you know? Describe my adventures like going to the store, or taking a train to work, or biking around neighborhood all interspersed with deep philosophical observations – I’m sure people would love to read about all that stuff…

  10. Mikhail: “In any case, I’m thinking of returning to our Kant and categorical imperative discussion, if you’re interested, I’ve been thinking about all of the things that were brought up…”

    Kvond: I don’t know if this is a joke (if so, a very funny and subtle one), but I have to say that the subject matter is just way TOO inflammatory. (Hilarious that the CI sets of conflagrations.) I would of course read anything that you post.

  11. M.E.: “I could, you know? Describe my adventures like going to the store, or taking a train to work, or biking around neighborhood all interspersed…

    Kvond: May the Sin of Onan prevail! (sigh)

  12. No, really, I do want to go back to categorical imperative – I think it’s something that I have been thinking about since our discussion of it. I think I was unnecessarily defensive then as I somehow found myself in the position of defending Kant all the time and partly because I didn’t think the points of attack were fair to Kant’s actual discussion of the issue, but there are plenty of questions I have about Kant’s ethics…

  13. Well, perhaps you can lure our born-again, and again, and again Lacanian back into the question, and out of his Harmonic Cave. It should be some interesting theatre, and perhaps you have something quite significant to say that will filter through the quasi mayhem. For my part I will have to stay this one out. I look foward to what you have to say.

      • Their strange sudden demise is truly puzzling, I was hoping for a real fight there. However, I’m glad to see Penguins clearly following the game plan I sent them and Hawks are looking good making me hope my prediction that beat Canucks in 7 is not that crazy after all.

  14. I am totally a genius. Oh, and the Canes are good too.

    Doesn’t a post called “Another One Bites the Dust” get a lot of hits because it’s the title of a famous Queen song, plus a cliche’ from even before that?

  15. You would think so, Carl, but the search engine terms would then correspond with your theory, i.e. if people arrived here in search for Queen-related awesomeness, it would have shown what they were searching for (including the phrase itself) in the search term section, yet all I saw there was stuff like “Is Carl Dyke a genius or what?” – “Long live mother Russia!” and, strangely, “John Currin”

    I know some people obsess about their stats, but it seems that relying on WordPress stats is a mistake. It seems to be counting all the hits, even if done by one person constantly checking if anyone responded to their comment or something, therefore if you, Carl, went back and forth and checked PE every 5 minutes or so, it would drive the stats up, i.e. despite the numbers, our blog very well might have 5 readers…

  16. I see. So I’m skewing your numbers by keeping PE open in a window and hitting ‘refresh’ every five minutes from my first waking moment to my last conscious act of the day (not to mention the sleepblogging)?

    I really can’t wait for the Carl Dyke genius consensus to mature so we can get on with the really important questions, like the exact scope of my excellence as a lover or where to get a wicked awesome haircut like mine.

  17. Carl: “I really can’t wait for the Carl Dyke genius consensus to mature so we can get on with the really important questions, like the exact scope of my excellence as a lover…”

    Kvond: Right as we speak Parody Center is doing a work upon this, something I’m sure you await with baited/bated breath.

  18. It’s true – no matter what one’s subjective accomplishments, one has not really arrived as a sexual object until PC’s gaze settles and the parody takes shape. I’ve baited my breath and cast my best lines, but so far the hook has not been taken.

  19. About the “cultural differences”: My wife is a Slavic linguist, and was married to a Russian guy at one time and lived in Russia for a while, so I asked her what she thought.

    She said that she does see a cultural difference. Qualifying that she was wildly generalizing, of course, she said that in her experience, Russians were more blunt (and correspondingly less thin-skinned) than U.S.-ers, and that they saw the factual nature of a statement as overriding the possibility that someone’s feelings would get hurt – especially if those feelings seemed precious or were getting in the way of the recipient seeing the facts. Also, she said, Russians exhibited a sort of impish delight in stirring an argumentative pot.

    She said that these traits seemed to be more pronounced in teachers. This jibed well with my experience of Russian coaches in gymnastics.

    Anyway, it’s a likable set of traits, in my opinion, though it got me in trouble with some coaches when I was a young man.

    And Carl: I knew you were a freakin’ genius when I saw, “A group of Muses is known as ‘an amusement'”.

  20. Thanks, Asher – existential crisis over! There’s a large number of Russian males dying in drunken knife fights due to our argumentative nature (and drinking, of course)

    As for Slavic coaches in gymnastics, think of Lugash:

    Lugash: You girls were all great, cats back for everyone.
    Girl: I had a dog.
    Lugash: Is cat now!

  21. Asher: “She said that these traits seemed to be more pronounced in teachers. This jibed well with my experience of Russian coaches in gymnastics.

    Anyway, it’s a likable set of traits, in my opinion, though it got me in trouble with some coaches when I was a young man.”

    Kvond: One wonders, as I picture gymnastic coaches, if the bloggist, email media makes a very poor conductor of this sort of “bluntness”. That is, the harshness in content may be ameliorated to some degree through bodily cues of warmth or strength, or tones of voice. One might say that the analogue of the body gets lost.

    Its difficult to announce that some cultures do not fair well in a coming to be dominant communication form (cultures do change fast), but one can imagine that the “feel” of communication may be operating on certain registers that simply do not translate well in a digital medium.

    For instance, apart from the question of culture, sarcasm and rhetorical excess is very hard to read because the other bodily cues are missing.

  22. Thanks, Asher – existential crisis over! There’s a large number of Russian males dying in drunken knife fights due to our argumentative nature

    That’s a great sadness that my comments weren’t intended to trivialize. I hope you didn’t take them as trying to be explanatory.

    One wonders, as I picture gymnastic coaches, if the bloggist, email media makes a very poor conductor of this sort of ‘bluntness’.

    In my experience, yes. There is a twinkle in the eyes especially as the coach intentionally tries to get your goat (or cat, I guess, as the case may be).

  23. [hiding knives]
    I think most people would be surprised if they ever met Mikhail in “real life” – there’s not really that much argumentativeness and “rhetorical excess” but mostly a sort of “live and let live” attitude. I suspect he saves most of his anger and meanness for his imaginary online opponents. Probably repressed his Russian angry self in order to survive in this polite and uptight American culture – thus the existential crisis, I think.

  24. I just came back from the dog park and had a wonderful discussion with a Russian man whom I did not know. I noted how easy the conversation was, in particular that I don’t really like “small chat”. A large portion of this was that this man was willing to look me in the eye when he spoke. What is the electronic version of “looking in the eye” in these other media? The signs of commitment to mutual presence?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s