Old logics and old dialectics organized the kinds of arguments in such a way that the worst possible dirty trick in the bag was the ad hominem argument, and you became nicer as you progressed from opposing the person to opposing the person’s argument itself. Ok, but going against someone’s arguments is another way of going against this person and, also, to blur the lines between person and argument is another way of recognizing this person as a living breathing material real person. Although there is an angle to the old point of view, the game of arguments is more nuanced than that, and the rules of the game must be more comprehensive.
In fact, there’s a kind of exclusion right there, inside this scheme of arguments. Specifically, that it assumes there is only one possible set of values to orient the discussion, one set of motivations, and that therefore there is only one scale to measure arguments with. This in turn led to a bunch of misunderstandings, like turning “sincerity” into “truth” into “perfect language” into “the voice of bog”. Giving up the possibility that «truth» could be measured, we keep the measure of the intent of arguments and ideas, and this turns out to be more useful, although much less divine.
Starting from a different assumption, we instead say all arguments are equally fictional, they all stem from an alien subjective reality from which we are forever excluded. All arguments are the enemy. All arguments are forms of manipulation. And as the arguments rise in complexity they also expand our possibilities of action.
Another way to explain is that one argument on a higher level includes many arguments at a lower level. A judgement involves a lot of actions or the possibility of a lot of actions. It is a measure of complexity.
This measure can be roughly arranged into a typology that almost wants to be a scale:
- Eris, or arguments towards arguments
- Ethos, or arguments towards judgement
- Thelos, or arguments towards actions
Àt the bottom of the scale, noise presents itself as dumbness. An argument that «leads to dumb» is one that does not say anything because everything it says is obvious, boring, uninteresting. It is as sophisticated as an Anvil on the Head. Generally speaking, this is absence of intelligence.
Thelos means the end results of actions. It can also appear as goals and objectives. The type of argument dealing with actions is the lowest of them. “Bring me that cup of water.” This is the kind of talk around getting things done. Of course, you can always answer with: “No, instead I’ll try to kill you” or, in different words that mean the same thing, “Go fsck thyself”. But generally speaking, this is what most people ever talk about: “The sun is shining, good for a walk” — “How was your day?” — and so on and do forth. And it is pretty useful too: For example, to team up to kill your neighbour you must sooner or later decide who is going to attack from behind. On a different note, all “empirical” talk happens at that level: The Earth is round (which by the way means that if you go into a rocket you’ll see a blue disc, there is no bullshit about “Truth” here!). And finally those are the arguments towards final consequences, about «What happens then», like: “Bring me that water so i’ll shag you like you want me to”.
Ethos means the set of habits and beliefs that define a group or society. These things can also appear as judgement and values. The type of argument dealing with judgement usually over-rides arguments for action. If “Bringing water is a signal of weakness” then you wouldn’t have brought me that glass if you weren’t really desperate for my body. Arguments of this kind are more complicated. A first leap of abstraction happens: From «what is» to possibilities and sets. And thus they are much easier to misunderstand. If an argument is misunderstood it can both lose their power to convince or convince of the wrong things. Thus some of the time we must use Thelos arguments to lead to Ethos arguments.
Eris means confusion. From experiences draws expression, and from expression fiction, and finally from fiction spurs arguments. We start talking about the talking itself. Meaning is painstakingly extracted from experience, and meaning is not experience, and the Eristik argument deals with meaning alone, all experience distilled away. The Eristik argument is the most powerful but the most difficult to use, the kind of argument that sometimes says different things than intended. Eristik argumentation is in some senses the meta-argument, and also in some senses all arguments are meta-arguments. Fundamentally Eristik is the enhancement of complexity (not complication).
As arguments battle for meaning by exuding experience, they can be as complicated as desired, and often much more than desired. Beyond the Eristik, there lies arguments that «leads to silly». The rise of complication hides away the impossibility of communication, the unsurpassable difference in world-views, which at the beginning had been so obvious, and then our journey returns to where it began, in noise, as the person creates intricate arguments that seem to say something very structured and intricate but actually says nothing.
Noise is assumed to be a frontier to language, both up and down. We assume that language is a kind of noise, a noise that can be subjected to interpretation, or even any noise that has been successfully interpreted. Both Flusser or Wittgenstein had silence as the absence of language. But silence is actually the withdrawal from language, the action of refraining from language. In that way, silence is also a frontier of language, but one that stands sideways, in a different direction.