The latest round of thinking parents playing “What’s in a Name?” as a floating blog-game of religion and politics costumed as each other for Halloween, apparently started with Lynn and JJ and many commenters both places, riffing on Frank Schaeffer’s books and his new MSNBC repudiation of the evangelical radicalism he was weaned on, taught to use as a weapon of mass destruction in mainstream politics and governance, back in mid-century America. He used some very colorful and contentious language to make his case that this was a bad thing then and a worse thing now.
Cat linked that video and the posts, used it as a mirror exercise in fallacious argument with her kids, which interested JJ enough to keep her playing over there instead of here for a couple of days.
Oh,and Monty Python got involved because isn’t it axiomatic that satisfying intercourse between smart people just does revert to Monty Python sooner or later? 😉
And here we are. My last comment at Cat’s is reproduced below as an invitation if you’re so inclined, to take on the Python persona of your choice and join the improv, here or there across artificial boundaries and dubious definitions as you prefer:
Well, let’s define terms immediately upon using them, or far better, stick to dictionary definitions. A good argument needs no redefinitions, right?
Or a good argument is almost entirely redefinitions. Need we first argue to define good argument?
To that point, I’m surprised you missed this Python definition of argument! 🙂
I laughed at that in the 70s because it was really absurd while Bill Buckley was doing Firing Line on PBS for real — breathing life into intellect and intellect into argument and argument into television.
Initially, Cleese simply contradicts everything that Palin says. Palin insists that it is not an argument but merely contradiction and asserts that “argument’s an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gain-saying of anything the other person says.” Cleese asserts that, to have an argument, he must “take up a contrary position.” Palin is frustrated until he realises that Cleese is actually engaging him in a sort of meta-argument about what constitutes an argument.
But it’s not so funny when television and real life become one big intellectually bankrupt contradiction clinic 24-7.
I think of “good argumentation” much like, ahem, other forms of healthy human intercourse. 😉
It is meant as a creative force to uplift, connect and sustain virtues rather than do harm to anyone directly or indirectly through vice and self-indulgence. It is “good” intercourse and fun to share with the right person for the right reasons, when it’s neither deceptive, regressive nor retrogressive, iow more than masturbatory; never when it breeds violence, degradation of people, ideas or the planet, thus no, argument is not good as “mental warfare” except if CLEARLY defined and understood by all as healthy consensual sport, not actual war.
So, not blaming the Pythons but “good argument” is in a sorry state, at least here in the States. In our new American dictionary any “politics” is venal and mostly vice, not good argument. Politics purposely exploiting faith traditions and doing harm in a quest for power, may indeed meet various legal definitions of crime, including conspiracy to defraud.
In my dictionary, through my kaleidoscope.
Maybe our kaleidoscopes are so different now that common English dictionary definitions aren’t common enough to serve us well in argument anymore? — and/or working definitions of even common words are too specialized for clear thought.
And the point of making points well through argumentation was to help illuminate the question from all angles for the thinking audience, to use different facets of it to bounce the light around. Bill Buckley, not Bill O’Reilly. To use our dictionaries and kaleidoscopes for good and not evil. By definition, not to bludgeon each other into numbness, concussion and serial loss of consciousness with deception, sophistry and contradiction.
By that definition maybe there are no good arguments anymore.
I looked up dictionary definitions of “argument” and another element often listed is defining the question. Subsequent comments this morning seem to suggest that here the central question wasn’t actually argument analysis of Frank Schaeffer but more counterpoint or rebuttal to Lynn’s post, sort of FOX and MSNBC slugging it out rather than mutually delighting in the intercourse? Not how I framed my argument nor indeed, how I understood the defining of this question.
Cat’s always a gracious host but I’m prepared to argue that even here and even for smart folks, it’s a dying art to share a good joke across definitions and contentious world views, much less a good argument. I’ve unintentionally spoiled this sketch by taking it seriously but in my book, as good argument that parrot is, by anybody’s definition, DEAD.