Re[2]: ideology bashing

Michael Hamende (HamendeM@CTS.DB.ERAU.EDU)
Tue, 13 Aug 1996 08:29:09 EST

O.K. here we go again.

Steve Finley said:

"But are all unprovable assertions in the realm of faith?"

Most yes.

"And are you saying that there are no presuppositions, no unprovable
but mutually believed assertions of any kind in rhetorical

Certainly not. Obviously there are lots of presuppositions and
"mutually believed [but not necessarily accurate] assertions" in any
discussion. I'm simply saying we need to be aware of these, think
about them, and check to make sure all this supposing and assuming is
accurate or at least how it affects our conversations.

"Seems incontrovertible that at least a few agreed-upon assumptions
exist in any discussion."


"But then, later in your post, you say that those who "operate from
assumptions" are from the Dark Side [from whence I came]. If that's
true, I guess I'm still unredeemed, because I'm quite sure that much
of what I say, no matter how much I strip it purposefully of any
specious assumptions, still rests on certain agreed-upon ideas,
whether you wanna call those assumptions or not."

I'm sure for you this is true. If all our ideas and thoughts are
already "agreed upon" then why are we discussing anything? Its only
when we have taken different positions that we need to argue/discuss.
And it is only when we argue (in the academic sense) that we learn.

"I'd agree with your desire to rid yourself of all of them you can and
to get as much as you can from direct experience, though the point
could be made that even "experience" is filtered or even structured by
perceptions that often rest on what amounts to assumptions in that
realm, too."

Yes our perceptions are filtered by the beer goggles of our total
experience and existence, but we, as sentient (sp?) beings, are
capable of understanding and circumventing our filters to remove the

"Anyway, I think you're right to want to cut down assumptions back to
the most basic level; I just think you'll find a point beyond which
you can't go."

I understand your position. Its undoubtedly very hard, but I'd like
to try.

"And do you have any examples of Democrats who are bad boys and girls
rhetorically, or are such examples limited to vile Republicans? heh
heh. . ."

Being an independent democrat, I don't. :-) I'm sure there are any
number of poor democratic rhetors, but they don't go to the extremes
of the Republicans, which makes them very easy targets. Democrats
seem to want to stay out of people's bedrooms. And they seem to want
to let a woman choose what's in her best interest. Or at least they
are not on national TV putting planks in their platform demanding
anti-abortion laws and courts.

"Re: Jesse Helms

I tend to agree with you on the face of it, but I'm not willing to
make this--ahem--assumption or inference without first talking to the
man. Maybe he's just starting with a different set of ideas."

I doubt Mr. Helms is interested in talking to either you or I. Does
what he starts with make him any more right? (and not right wing)

"Talk about oversimplifying and the inability--or refusal--to make
distinctions (all killing in war is as bad as all killing in any
situation, any regulation of any activity proves that you believe in
all regulation of all activity, etc.)! I thought this kind of talk
had gotten worn out a long time ago."

You maybe right. But I think killing is always wrong.

"I have to be careful here, because I absolutely believe in making
good judgments about what is good and bad, right and wrong, etc. So
I'm not saying that all views are equally tenable, right, helpful,
etc. I argue vehemently for exactly the opposite. But don't you see
that possibly the reason you came to a different conclusion is that
you started from a different place, a place that isn't necessarily
superior to that of the people whose views you now feel justified in
not respecting?"

Sure I start in a different place and that is a piece of the puzzle.
But that does not stop me from understanding that and compensating for
it. I believe there is often a "moral high ground" to be taken. That
is an ethical decision that has its grounding in what is best for the
vast majority. So in the sense that there is a difference between the
moral high ground and the moral swamp, I guess that is superior. I
don't want to be about power and influence and what's in my own best
interest. I want what's best for everyone. And yes, someone has to
grab that bull by the tail and face the situation. All this wringing
of hands over whose feelers are going to get hurt gets us nowhere. If
we all were able to make what's in all our interest our agenda, then
we'd all be "superior" wouldn't we? And we could move on in the

"That is, I believe honest, intelligent people CAN disagree and
respect each other's views, even if those views are potentially
harmful. To justify a lack of respect because you've decreed someone
else's position harmful is the beginning of the kind of attitude you
see in some of these issues like abortion, where the possibility of
real dialogue is all but lost."

I'd like to pick out the word "you've" from above. It is not just me.
I am not out to be the benevolent dictator or philosopher king or
ruler of the world. "I" don't want to decide what is in your best
interest. Your position seems to me to give rise to this "who's to
say" attitude. In order to solve complex problems and make moral
decisions you have to be willing to take a position. That is central
to rhetoric. A good woman speaking well will put her own personal
best interest aside, being the good citizen that she is, and speak for
what's right. The use of language to just persuade for what is in an
individual's interest is what scared Plato, et al about the Dark Side
of rhetoric. How can she do what's right if she is frozen by your
idea that she might be perceived as thinking she is "superior?" I
guess if you are "right" you should feel good, I don't know about

I believe its relatively easy to see what's in the vast majority's
best interest. But under the paradigm you describe, most tend to
ignore that for very selfish reasons. If I can get away from my "me
first" attitude and know that I can depend on you to have my and the
planet's best interest at heart and that we all share that attitude
then its not just "me" doing the decreeing. We would agree that it is
not in all of our best interest to have the government involved in our
very personal lives. (or insert your favorite Republican mistake here)

Where the Republicans invite critique it that in one sentence they say
they are about less government. But in the very next one they insist
on more laws about personal issues like abortion. Their rhetoric is
absolutely inconsistent from one sentence to the next. They don't
even wait to get to the action stage.

Mike Hamende