Sunday, September 25, 2011

God - That Which Is?

Here a thought: the name of God given in the bible is "Yahweh". I understand that the exact meaning of that word is unknown, but I've read that it can be interpreted as "that which is." If "is" means what I think it does, then it would be hard to deny the existence of "that which exists". Sort of a "cogito ergo sum" for theology -- "That which is, IS!!!" If you suitably define your terms, anything is possible! Good is bad, recession is boom, mediocre sophistry is philosophy. <= (warning... this is sarcasm.) Given this definition, I suppose I'm a believer, though I'm not sure we can know what "that which is" IS, relative to anything else.

On the other hand, it's not difficult to be "atheist" with regard to an anthropomorphic god -- the one on a throne in the clouds with white robes and all -- or any variation of that, regardless of whatever philosophical accessories are attached. But I wonder if we would even be considering the possible existence of "god" if it were not for the taint of these personified images seeping down from our superstitious, royalty worshiping ancestors!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Political Syllogism

I. (A) If Republicans block President Obama's economic plans, then (B) the economy will not improve.
II. (B) if the economy doesn't improve, then (C) the people will blame President Obama.
III. (C) If people blame President Obama, then (D) they will vote for his opponent in the election.
IV. (D) If people vote for President Obama's opponent, then (E) Republicans will take the White House.

Obviously... Republicans want to block any plan that might improve the economy. If you really want to know who to blame for the continued malaise of the economy, look no further than the GOP.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Refresher on Rhetoric and Reasoning

I didn't write this... it was posted on an AOL music forum in 1992. Lots of flame wars were breaking out in early days of social networking. This is a really good synopsis of rules of debate and logical fallacy. If this were a disease and could become an epidemic, we could all be well again!

---------------------- THE ORIGINAL POST -------------------------

When arguing a case or examining the arguments of another, look for these common fallacies. Avoiding these problems makes a case stronger. Further, finding these fallacies in other's statements can make your rebuttal easier. Argue the point, but don't belittle the person.

The "Straw Man" fallacy is committed when an arguer distorts an opponent's argument for the purpose of more easily attacking it. This often happens when someone quotes another member out of context.

"Circular Reasoning" occurs when stating in one's proof that which one is supposed to be proving.

The "Missing the Point" fallacy occurs when the premises of an argument appear to lead up to one particular conclusion but then a completely different conclusion is drawn.

The "Red Herring" fallacy is committed when the arguer diverts the attention of the reader or listener by changing the subject to some totally different issue. Sticking to the topic of each individual folder will minimize the impact of this fallacy.

The "Hasty Generalization" fallacy occurs when there is a likelihood that the sample is not representative of the group.

The "Ad Hominem" fallacy occurs when an arguer's post appeals to feelings or prejudices as opposed to logic. It also occurs when an arguer moves a discussion to a personal level through character assassination or personal attacks.

The "False Cause" fallacy occurs whenever the link between premises and conclusion depends on some imagined casual connection that probably does not exist.

The "Amphiboly" fallacy occurs when the arguer misinterprets a statement that is ambiguous, owing to some structural defect and proceeds to draw a conclusion on this faulty interpretation. Again, this can happen when someone is quoted out of context. If a statement seems unclear, ask the person about it.

The "Composition" fallacy is committed when the conclusion of an argument depends on the erroneous transference of characteristic from the parts of something into the whole. In other words, the fallacy occurs when it is argued that because the parts have a certain characteristic, it follows that the whole has that characteristic, too. However, the situation is such that the characteristic in question cannot be legitimately transferred from parts to whole.

The "Suppressed Evidence" fallacy is committed when an arguer ignores evidence that would tend to undermine the premises of an otherwise good argument, causing it to be unsound or uncogent.