Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bruce throws a hissy fit

Bruce at The Crybaby's Playpen Thinker's Podium throws a hissy fit. Since he's specifically invited me to respond on my blog — and blocked any other avenue — I guess I'll take him up on the invitation.

Apparently he takes criticism of his ideas so personally that he considers my essay on metaphysical objectivism to be a personal attack (ok, I do throw in a little snark). He's banned me from commenting on his blog (oh! I'm so disappointed!) and has preemptively blocked email from me.

I want to thank Bruce for showing us how a mature blogger reacts to criticism.

8 comments:

  1. At first I thought you were being harsh with Bruce. I stand corrected. What a font of projection and irresponsible speculation that long post is; those paragraphs speculating about your hiatus are really out of line.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's a very weird situation.

    He makes an argument, which he substantiates. I critique the argument, and substantiate my critique. Very routine stuff.

    But he goes off the rails in his first response, with all the defensive outraged dignity of a contradicted child. His blatant misrepresentation of my comment was only the most egregious flaw in his response. (Which, amusingly enough, he sees fit to defend with a multiple-paragraph defense of the most weaselly possible interpretation of "said".)

    I left a snarky comment, extracted what argument I could, and responded to it.

    Have you noticed the pattern with Bruce, and commenters Erik and Lake? It's not that I don't mind criticism of my work, it's just that when you apply the least charitable interpretation to and actively misrepresent the work, nothing gets done. Everyone argues about what it means, not whether it's true.

    I blame the academic philosophers. Meaning is a matter in no small part of arbitrary convention: You can argue matters of meaning for the rest of your career without ever worrying about having to come to an actual conclusion; conversely, you arbitrarily privilege meaning to justify any conclusion you want, and defend that conclusion by reinterpreting the meaning of any criticism you encounter.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Er, I don't get it.

    His blatant misrepresentation of my comment was only the most egregious flaw in his response. (Which, amusingly enough, he sees fit to defend with a multiple-paragraph defense of the most weaselly possible interpretation of "said".)

    Aren't you just wrong here?

    Such observations assumed a priori to have veridical content are denied [...]

    Followed by:

    Larry may very well deny that said observations have veridical content (and I would agree with him)

    ... is perfectly reasonable, isn't it? His use of "said" is equivalent to having written "Larry may very well deny that 'observations assumed a priori to have veridical content' do in fact have veridical content[...]".

    Using "said" is just a standard shorthand, surely. What's the problem with that? Or am I the only one who uses that construction?

    Owen

    ReplyDelete
  4. Perhaps I'm incorrect.

    However, the construction is very odd. On your reading, Bruce is saying, "Statements without veridical content don't have veridical content." But why would we want to interpret his comment, especially in light of the critical tone of the post, in such a vacuously tautological manner?

    Furthermore, the antecedent is my universal statement, which he quotes explicitly: "Such observations assumed a priori to have veridical content are denied — implicitly or explicitly — in the scientific method." This is a universal declaration: No observations at all are assumed a priori to have veridical content.

    I read Bruce's "said observations" to be my own "such observations". But I wasn't saying that observations couldn't be veridical; I was saying they can't be assumed to be veridical.

    I still think Bruce makes a tendentious misrepresentation.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Also note that "such/said observations" are precisely the observations he discusses at length in his first post: objective observations, observations which are assumed a priori to be veridical (and not, as he implies, merely non-veridical), against which we can compare "subjective observations" to determine subjective interpretation.

    ReplyDelete
  6. On your reading, Bruce is saying, "Statements without veridical content don't have veridical content." But why would we want to interpret his comment, especially in light of the critical tone of the post, in such a vacuously tautological manner?

    Hmm. That's not my reading. Mine would be:

    "statements assumed to have a priori veridical content, don't (necessarily)."

    (You missed out "assumed" and "a priori", which really rather alter the sense, imho.

    Other than the "(necessarily)", I think that's a perfect reasonable re-wording of Bruce's use of the "said" idiom.

    I put the "(necessarily)" in, because otherwise the statement becomes trivially untrue, as you point out: some things assumed true really are. By the principle of charity, I'm happy to believe he didn't mean that.

    With this interpretation, he's not disagreeing with you (on this point). And I think my interpretation is reinforced by his follow-up comment:

    I’m not saying you universally deny the veridical content of observations, or contradicting anything you have written in your “correction”.

    This doesn't mean he's not wrong in the wider sense. But he didn't misrepresent you here.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Owen: I didn't have the time, energy or inclination to fisk Bruce's first reply in excruciating detail; neither do I have the inclination to nitpick out every shade of meaning an unclear, confused, weaselly and childishly defensive asshole such as Bruce might have intended.

    Your objection is noted. Let's move on.

    ReplyDelete

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