When the bastard John Snow was going to put the black, everyone told him it was noble, and brave, and the family thing to do, but the imp Tyrion Lannister told him it would suck. And then latter John Snow thought that only the Imp had told him the truth. When in fact the Imp had, as much as all the others, just given him a version of things. But his version was stronger than all the others. And if you want to understand how, if you want to have any chance of ever learning that trick, you must look much much deeper than truth.
Snarky dialogue between Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister
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Quando Jon Snow ia “adotar o pretinho básico” e entrar pra Night’s Watch, todo mundo disse pra ele que aquilo era muito nobre, e muito corajoso, e coisa de um verdadeiro homem de família, e tal e coisa, mas o Tyrion Lannister falou que ia ser uma merda. Daí muito depois o Jon Snow achou que só o anão tinha falado a verdade. Só que, claro, o anão deu uma versão da história, assim como todos os outros. Acontece que a versão do anão era mais forte. Mas se você quer entender como e porque, se você quer saber onde mora a trapaça, você tem que ir além da “verdade”.
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When Nietzsche sez Plato was an ugly man, that is an adorable low blow. The idea being that just a very ugly man could have any interest into proving the material world to be an illusion, since then his ugliness would also be illusory. Turns out his name likely comes from a brutally big forehead, so, you see, the Moustache Guy was on to something (surprise, surprise). Even then explaining away someone’s world-views through such very paltry personal issues is a low blow.
Thinking about this, at first sight it looks like this is a vulnerability of serious thinkers, that by keeping high level arguments they unhappily open themselves up to coarser, blunter, stupid counter-arguments. That the personal stuff is just the basis for the arguments, and that those are, by their turn, more abstract and more important.
But there is a catch, there is cunning and deceit here. If the Moustache had said just that Plato is ugly and sad and dumb and he does not like him and, as we say in Portuguese, hates anyone who likes — well, that would have been like lowering our argument level. But what Nietzsche does is actually using the personal in order to raise the abstraction level. In pointing out ad hominem objections, he makes matters more complex and subtle. He uses a personal attack to make the argument more encompassing, not less.
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
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