Daily Bread for 5.9.23: What if Contention is Emotional Rather than Analytical?

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 70. Sunrise is 5:37 AM and sunset 8:04 PM for 14h 27m 01s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 82.3% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1662, the figure who later became Mr. Punch makes his first recorded appearance in England. (These centuries later, he’s still irritating.) 

Consider the following observation from Dr. Laura Robinson about what happens when someone’s contention — someone’s argumentation — goes bad:

If you can’t follow the logic of an argument without getting somewhere catastrophic, and need to head off the catastrophe at the pass by saying “please don’t follow the logic of this argument” – isn’t it a bad argument? 

Quite right: that would be a bad argument.

(Robinson’s observation, by the way, appears in her series critiquing the view of sexuality presented in Joshua Ryan Butler’s Beautiful Union. Robinson’s six-part, fifteen-thousand-word critique is formidable, with range from exegesis to anatomy.)

In Robinson’s field, academic theology, bad arguments are, understandably, to be avoided. 

There is, however, no avoiding bad arguments in the field of social media. Many arguments are offered not because they lead someplace reasonable but because they lead someplace satisfying for the offeror. That satisfaction need not be benign, but is often malevolent. Adam Serwer’s Cruelty is the Point captures the impulse of conservative populism toward inflicting injury as a primary goal (and, fundamentally, all populism demonizes this way). See Defining Populism, Populism Doesn’t Apologize, and Extreme Populism Presents as Trolling.

For so many of the local men who talk about ‘common sense,’ Hobbes was spot-on, that reason is a spy for the passions (“the Thoughts, are to the Desires, as Scouts, and Spies, to range abroad, and find the way to the things Desired”).

I’ll not say that Robinson’s environment is easier, of course. One could look at this and see that Hobbes would be nearly as correct about Robinson’s environment as any other. How much of the book that Robinson critiques is simply what the book’s author wants to believe? It is, however, a book, and an argument contained within. 

For arguments offered in our local scene, there’s an impatient conflation, a mad rush, from claim to desire.

Stunning Timelapse of Full ‘Flower Moon’ Captured in Australia

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