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Biorseth, Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Toward a return to argumentation; the lost art of reasoned verbal combat. A return to argumentation requires a return to critical thinking. Is it too late for Western man?
Possibly. We have come to a point where most of us don't really know anything, but we know how to look things up, and do it quickly, with electronics. Our foundational education lacks depth.
We can check the weather with our cell phones; we do our reading using our Kindle or our Ipad; we do "serous" research with our laptops. We seldom read "hard copy" any more, and we almost never write, with a pen. When our signature is required, we ever increasingly sign some electronic device rather than paper. Pencils, pens and paper are just beginning to approach obsolescence.
As a local courier, I get people's signatures at every pickup, and at every delivery. I have to get people to print their last names in a column right beside the signature column, because so many of them have absolutely illegible signatures. Now, I'm as guilty as the next guy; my handwriting is nothing to brag about. But it calls to mind the words of an old elementary school teacher, who always went on and on about how
and even all these years later, I still remember thinking, yeah, yeah, what's the big deal. Lord, how I wish I had listened more attentively. Most of the signatures I collect every day are absolutely illegible scribbles. Now, today, cursive writing is no longer even a subject that is taught in public schools. There are now new generations of Americans for whom "How R U?" is a perfectly legitimate English sentence.
The English language is degenerating right before our eyes, and language is the first and most fundamental requirement of education, communication and elucidation. Language is the one thing that enables us to stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us; without language, there could be no history; without language, we would be constantly reinventing the wheel.
We remember fondly old black-and-white movies featuring The Bowery Boys, sometimes called The Dead End Kids, led by a hilarious character named Mugsey (Leo Corsey.) What was great about Mugsey was how he absolutely slaughtered the English language, misusing and abusing almost every word with more than two syllables. And we remember how the whole audience would howl with laughter every time he miss-spoke in some new manner, without knowing it, and just went on talking. Now, today, if you watch one of those movies with younger viewers, pay attention to them, and you will see that they don't get it. Blank stares. Puzzled looks. Yawns. They don't know their own language as well as previous generations. Language-specific humor is lost on them.
The Marx brothers were famous for the comedic pun. Here's one of my favorites from Groucho:
Try that line on someone younger today and see what the reaction, or non-reaction, is. Most younger people do not understand or even detect such subtle nuances of the language as are contained in that quite simple pun.
Part of the reason involves the purposeful dumbing-down of the people through the government-controlled public education process, which involves the virtual elimination of classical English literature from formal education, and part of the reason is related to our rapidly increasing dependence upon electronics.
Once upon a time, before the invention of electricity, there were no electronic devices of any kind. There were no televisions or radios; there were no movies; everything was live, every communication was either spoken, or written and posted. A written message might take days, or weeks, if it had to cross an ocean or large land mass, to reach its destination. And, whatever was written could always be clearly understood by anyone who read it.
So what did everybody do for entertainment, when the work of the day was done and the last meal was eaten, and the leisure part of the day presented itself?
That just shows that I'm a little older than you.
In the days before electronics, which is to say, most of world history, leisure time was spent either increasing education, or using acquired education in a group setting.
That is what is lost to us today. People would choose up sides on an issue, and pick two champions to lead the debate. One would defend a position, and the other would challenge it. Most often it was not a formal thing; just someone would make some bold statement, hoping to be challenged, and if he was, the game was on. It was always done in a gentlemanly and ladylike way; champions did not need to necessarily agree with the argument they put forth; they were called to use critical thinking to augment their argument as best they could. It wasn't done because the two champions believed in what they were saying; it was done for entertainment, and for the good exercise of critical thinking. It was to hone the skills of argumentation in a public setting.
A classic example of this kind of argumentation was in a scene from the movie Captains Couragious with officers and midshipmen gathered round the Captain's table. The hard tack was being eaten by weevils almost as quickly as by men; the Captain tapped his biscuit on the table to knock the visible weevils off before he took a bite, and the following argument ensued:
And there followed uproarious laughter, for Jack had won the argument in a truly hilarious fashion. Everyone laughed, because everyone "got it." That's important. Today, many, perhaps most, younger people would have to have that last line explained to them. It is not merely a problem of recognizing the similarity in the sound of the words weevils and evils, particularly when pronounced after the word two; they might not even know the principle involving choosing the lesser of two evils, and where it came from.
The whole purpose of reading and studying classical literature, of learning about English composition and structure, is to unlock these deeper meanings. Without a good background in deeper linguistic meanings, the student is lacking in the ability to discern the finer points and nuances of irony, comedy, tragedy, the pun, the double-entendre, the unexpected turn of the word. The uneducated or poorly educated man sees every English word as a very flat, one-meaning thing. There is a whole world of nuanced meaning that he has been locked out of by his lack of fuller education in his own language.
Believe it or not, before there was TV, before there was radio - which was not really all that long ago - good argumentation was a popular form of entertainment. Around dinner tables, or sitting in front of the fire, or in bars, taverns and inns, or in town halls, people would argue, for fun. And for the entertainment of others. And for the polishing of the skills of argumentation. It was once just as important and just as coveted a skill as, say, playing a musical instrument very well. And none (or very few) participants were what we today would call highly educated or lettered men and women. Elementary education prepared them for these kinds of discourses.
(Remember, Abraham Lincoln, lawyer and President, was a very simple, unlettered, home-schooled man.)
Aristotle is recognized as the father of argumentation. He may not have invented it, but he, among the Athenian philosophers, is always thought of first, from among an elite group always thought of first, among all the great thinkers of history. Aristotle was the disciple (student) of Plato, who was the disciple of Socrates; but Aristotle would surpass them both as a teacher of critical thinking and argumentation. The skill that he polished comes down to us as rhetoric; the art of argumentation, using or appealing to ethos, pathos and logos.
Ethos is the altruistic sense of morality, by which we follow a moral code, the end of which is always good justice.
Pathos is the appeal to sympathy, emotion and human feelings.
Logos, or Logic, is the appeal to the hard, cold facts of the matter, as a presentation of empirical evidences, mathematical formulae or solid cause-and-effect argument leading to a conclusion.
Western civilization owes much to the Athenian Philosophers; the gift they passed on to us is an ordered approach to Reason. The ability to make sure that something makes good sense. And then, the ability to convince someone else of the correctness of your argument.
In the Athenian "schools" where this approach to the seeking of truth was systematized and honed, disciples would listen to teachers, and then dialogue with them, and with each other. Those who stood out from the rest by exhibiting good reasoning advanced to become assistants, or "star pupils" in the school; thus did Socrates excel among the disciples of Plato, and thus did Aristotle excel l among the disciples of Socrates. They challenged their teachers and fellows with good reasoning.
Aristotlian rhetoric has been used and recorded throughout all of the history of Western civilization, and it is heavily entrenched in English classical literature. Unfortunately, much of that classical literature is today dismissed as the "unimportant" output of old, dead English poets. And our public school education systems have virtually re-written the entire history of Western man in a completely negative way, so that most modern students are disinclined to pursue or seek original Western literature on their own.
I have stated elsewhere that I have learned more from good arguments than I have from all the books I have ever read; that may be because a really good argument forces you to really confront your own words, as well as those of the opposite argument. It forces you to think deeply. The best arguments I ever had were with my Pastor, Fr. Mike, who was my mentor during my course work in the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program (LPMP.) The mentoring program required regular weekly meetings between mentor and student, to discuss the classes of the week, readings, assignments and spiritual direction. Our weekly meetings soon settled into longish dinner meetings, usually in the far corner booth in the quieter back room of Franco's Italian Restaurant in Dayton; a great Italian restaurant.
Fr. Mike had a way of casually and easily destroying my initial arguments; but over time, it got more and more interesting. He had a way of listening to my position statement, and then slowly repeating it back to me, word for word, and then systematically picking it apart, point by point. At first, it was almost humiliating; but I quickly got better at more properly and thoughtfully formulating my argument in the first place, before stating it. (Take this as a warning, before you argue with a priest: they really study philosophy in seminary, among other things. Be prepared.)
These discussions were the best part of the whole LPMP program. Many times, after these talks, I would burn the midnight oil reading, researching and making notes, to be better prepared next time. It was never enough to state an opinion, or just make a casual statement off the top of my head, or respond too quickly to a question. If I couldn't back it up with something, right now, the statement was unacceptable. I had to know whereof I spoke, before I spoke. Not an easy thing, for a blitherer like me.
Toward the end of the program, these sessions were the one part of the whole program that I really looked forward to. The program had some real difficulties, because I argued bitterly with most of the professors over their extremely liberal, unorthodox and clearly improper Catholic teaching. The mentoring sessions with Fr. Mike were a break from all that; they were like visits to an oasis of orthodoxy, true Catholicism and spirited dialogue. And, there was always a very good meal involved.
What got me thinking about all this was another perhaps precocious, perhaps specious, warning from Glenn Beck. This one warned about the possibility of the loss of all electronics, everywhere, in one fell swoop. Whether from attack-gone-wild involving EMP (Electronic Magnetic Pulse) weapons, or, more likely, a storm of solar flares, we could suddenly find ourselves devoid of electric devices, and with no electricity in our homes or work places. Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? No.
Gigantic solar-flare storms have happened in the past, but we have never been so utterly dependent upon electricity before. A gigantic electro-magnetic surge of the kind we're talking about would "fry" microchips and circuit boards, rendering the electronic device permanently inoperable. Today, that means cars, and airplanes, and trains, and just about every transportation and communication device in existence. Computers would be fried, and so would radios and TVs. So would your GPS. Whole power plants would be knocked out. Along with refineries, and every sort of factory.
Life would become simpler, as the Eco-Nazis imagine and day-dream it should be, but I submit that they might be the least prepared to deal with it. The art of warfare would return to relying on the disciplined use of rifle and bayonet, and those not skilled with those weapons might be destined to death or slavery at the hands of those who were.
Personally - and this is purely opinion - I don't believe it would be as widespread, as catastrophic or as permanent as some believe. It is possible to protect electronics from pulses by use of a Faraday Shield. While all electronics are not so protected, I believe a significant number of them are, particularly military electronics. I can't believe the military would not have thought of protecting ships, planes, tanks and various electronics from such an event.
A car, provided the skin of the car is made of conductive metal, is a sort of Faraday shield. The principle of the shield is that you surround what is to be protected with a metal "skin" so that the electro-magnetic pulse induced electric current will follow the conductive skin and go around the inside rather than through it. That is why people inside a car are somewhat protected from a lightning strike; the gigantic electric surge goes all around the car body rather than right through it.
Many electonic devices already contain a small Faraday shield surrounding components that emit RF (Radio Frequency) waves, which might harm other electric components in the same device. It would be a simple thing to surround the whole circuit board with a Faraday shield. I cannot believe that military laptops and electronic devices are not protected; I certainly hope not.
Similarly, it would be hard to believe that satellites, including GPS satellites, would not be protected by Faraday shields, since even small solar flares are more of a threat out there in space than they are here on the surface of the earth.
What I suspect, but cannot know with certainty, is that all planes and all cars and all computers would not be disabled. And if that's the case, then it would not take so much time to get power stations back on line and the power grid restored. In other words, it might be a temporary very serious problem.
The dying art of argumentation should worry us more. Historically, the best arguers wound up in politics, or as highly prized political advisers. Read the Federalist Papers, and the Anti-Federalist Papers, containing the earliest debates and arguments that formed America, and you will see why our Founders and Framers rose to the top of the heap. They were brilliant. What they came up with, through argumentation, was a marvelous work of genius: Constitutional America.
Today, I do not see one good argument coming from any elected Congressman or Senator in Washington.
And that, to me, poses more of a threat to Constitutional America than any EMP or Solar Flare possibility. The Democrats, with Obamunists in the lead, and despite their oaths of office, are clearly anti-Constitutional in every single tactic and stratagem they pursue. They are openly attacking everything in the Bill of Rights. They are openly attacking the very principle of sovereignty and sovereign borders, which means national integrity. They are alienating traditional allies, and they are encouraging, and even paying our traditional enemies. They are purposely spending and borrowing us into economic oblivion, while printing and/or digitizing American dollars into worthlessness. All to the cheers of a dumbed-down and increasingly dependent moron vote, that forms a larger and larger segment of the American voting populace.
And what do we see from the opposition?
They form political "gangs" to cooperate and get things done. Today, it's a gang of eight; past manifestations have included a gang of fourteen; it is always a gang of an even-number, because it always contains an equal number of the two great political Parties.
What these gangs of even-numbered-fools are formed to cooperate in is the systematic, piecemeal destruction of the Constitution, and Constitutional America. That is what the Marxocrats are after, and the Republicans who join even-numbered gangs do so to "compromise" with them.
You don't. It is quite impossible.
Yet we have Republican office holders willing to cooperate in "background checks" or other infringements on the right of the citizenry to keep and bear arms, ostensibly to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the "dangerously mentally unstable."
But, why are criminals and dangerously mentally unstable people loose among the citizenry in the first place?
They don't even ask the most glaringly obvious questions.
They would rather cooperate in infringing the rights of the law abiding and the mentally stable than do anything about the real problem.
And we have Republican office holders willing to cooperate in finding some path to normalcy for millions upon millions of criminal aliens, who are already increasing our dependent population, and who will eventually join the moron vote and the Santa Clause vote opposing Constitutional America and rendering the Republican Party into permanent political irrelevance.
All of them took an oath of office to protect our American Constitution against all enemies, foreign or domestic. I doubt many of them took it as seriously as the Framers intended.
The worst among those representing us are evil and duplicitous.
The best among those representing us are fools, easily duped by better politicians.
What more can I say?
Pray for Constitutional America.
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Date: Thu Nov 20 2014
From: Vic Biorseth
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Arguments Pro and Con Pages
We love a good argument. Here are some of our favorites.
Argument: The Good, The Bad and The Pointless. On the Reasoned Argument. (In the absence of reason, there is no valid argument.)
The Arguments pro and con under girding the Catholic American Thinker. Foundational arguments pro and con under girding Western culture and the Judeo-Christian ethos.
Artificial Contraception: Tool of Materialism with which to destroy Monotheism.
Acceptance of Artificial Contraception marked the single most destructive turning point in the history of Western Culture, marking the end of moral norms, foretelling tolerance of anything at all.
Refuting the Origin Of Species pseudo-scientific theory of Charles Darwin.
If Darwin’s Origin Of Species is a true Scientific Theory then there must be a preponderance of evidences supporting it. Show us any of it.
Refuting the Repressed Memory Syndrome scientistic theory of Freudianism.
If Freudianism’s Repressed Memory Syndrome is a true Scientific Theory then there must be a preponderance of evidences supporting it. Show us any of it.
Refuting Marxism and sub-theories of Socialism and Communism, as Scientism.
If Marxism represents any sort of true Scientific Theory then there must be a preponderance of evidences supporting it. Show us any of it.
Refuting Separation of Church and State as a Constitutional Principle.
If Seperation of Church and State cannot be found in our Constitution, what makes it a Constituional Principle? Nothing. It is NOT a Constitutional Principle.
Argument opposing Sharia law as brutal, oppressive and murderous.
Opposing Sharia Law means opposing brutal domination, wife beating, child abuse and even bloody murder.
Our argument supporting the Rule of Subsidiarity, practicality and common sense.
The moral and organizational Rule of Subsidiarity is crucial to the rights of man and essential for freedom.
The Sexual Revolution: Sexual Freedom, or enslavement and degradation?
The Sexual Revolution was supposed to free us, rather than enslave us, and uplift us, rather than degrade us. It was a lie from the beginning; it degraded whole cultures and attacked human dignity.
Our argument against Earmarks: the infamous Line Items of Pork Barrel Politics.
Legislative Earmarks feed corruption through skimming, lobbyist paybacks, hidden political agendas and more, by providing a huge political Pork Barrel feeding frenzy.
You cannot legislate morality is the false claim of the immoral.
We MUST legislate morality, as long as the legislature is representative of the people. Otherwise, what is legislated reflects the whim of the dictator(s) of the moment.
The religion as a private matter argument that cannot stand the light of day.
Claiming one’s religion as a private matter is a neutral thing, unless the one with the claim is in authority over us, as an official or a “representative” politician.
Our arguments against un-Constitutional Gun Control laws, rules and regulations.
The British feared that, absent "gun control", the militias in the colonies could become as "regulated" and fearsome as the British "Regulars" themselves.
Renouncing the great Communist Lie in its older, current and newer forms.
The whole “Communist Dream” is a lie; the history of “Communist Revolution” is a lie; virtually everything about Communism is just one big elaborate flagrant categorical lie.
Our argument supporting the Fair Tax as a sensible and practical Tax Revolution.
Fair Tax presents the possibility of a real, popular, voter-supported, tax payer supported, grass-roots supported Revolution in America, and a radical change for the better.
Argument against Public Education, which is, in fact, Government Indoctrination.
Public Education equals State Indoctrination, pure and simple. Education is beyond the scope of government and not what our government is constituted to do.
Argument against National Health Care, which is, in fact, Socialized Medicine.
National Heath Care equals Socialized Medicine, pure and simple. Medical Practice is beyond the scope of government and not what our government is constituted to do.
Values Versus Ethos: If we are not a Christian people then what the hell are we?
Obama set up the values versus ethos argument. He declared that we are not a Christian nation, but a nation of citizens with “values”. What are these values and where did they come from?
Being pro choice or pro woman's right to choose equals being pro abortion.
Saying you are pro choice, or pro right to choose, is saying you are pro abortion. Period. Pro choice equals pro abortion.
Warning all bourgeoisie: Obama will destroy the middle class.
Take fair warning all bourgeoisie, i.e., members of our vast middle class: the Marxists despise you and intend to conquer you once and for all.
The English national language of the United States of America.
There is no good argument against an English national language for America. What other language should we all speak here?
We argue against income minimums and caps, and for a free and private market.
Income minimums and caps are Marxism’s “moral” bait to gain popular support for Socialism on the path to typical Marxist absolute dictatorship.
Our argument against unions and for a more open and free marketplace.
Arguing against unions and other free market interventions is seeking greater excellence in market goods, services, employees and employers, through free and open competition.
The Thinking Catholic responses to questions re perpetual virginity of Mary.
From the "brothers of the Lord" to "The Davinci Code" to the word "until" in Matt. 1:24-25, the ancient Hebrew cultural notion of Professed Perpetual Virginity is doomed to be repeatedly challenged.
The contentious issue of Infallibility of Papal and Church teaching.
On matters of faith and morals, and matters relating to Divine Revelation, our central Catholic trust is in the Infallibility of the Holy Ghost, Peter, and The Church, acting together.
Our argument against fads, fashions, popular trends and herd instinct.
If speaking against fads makes me square, un-cool or un-hip, then so be it. All fads are, in microcosm, expressions of rebellion against tradition.
What does normalized, mainstreamed, open homosexuality say about us as a people?
Our argument against open homosexuality is an argument for the continuance of Western Civilization, and the Western Culture Ethos and the normative family.
The Marxism of Obama: Marching America into another Socialist dictatorship.
Vic Biorseth describes the self-documented Marxism of Obama which is still not widely recognized among the American citizenry. Obama “change” is Socialism, pure and simple.
Catholic Marriage Annulment: Is it merely the Catholic version of Easy Divorce?
Ecclesial law regarding the Catholic marriage annulment process has not changed, yet the numbers of annulments granted in America have rocketed. Why?
Opposeing affirmative action / equal opportunity programs as racist. Affirmative action (racial preference) requires racial exclusion, which is, definitively, racism.
Against diversity for the sake of diversity. Why do Marxists always seek more?
Our argument against diversity for the sake of diversity, which weakens and ultimately replaces ideology and ethos.
Against political moderation: America was not founded by indecisive moral wimps.
Political Moderation provides neither leadership nor opposition, but merely a moral drag that historically prolongs moral debates and ends up hurting morality.
The Death Penalty: Is our justice system too corrupt to be trusted with it?
The death penalty is too strong a sentence when serious questions exist re the truthfulness of police, prosecutors, defense attorneys and even forensic scientists.
Constitutional America: The argument for a return to basic rule of law. The arguments for a return to the Constitutional America intended by the Fathers and expected by the People through their Representative Government.
The Population Problem: A Real Problem, or a typical Scientistic Myth?
If England has a higher population density than China, and Hong Kong's is higher than Bangladesh, then maybe the real problems are not related to any over - population problem.
Definition of Marxism: Total control of means of production, including workers.
The definition of Marxism describes the social, economic and governmental philosophy of Karl Marx, co-author of the Communist Manifesto.
Anti-American Politics, pure and simple, describe Democrat Party strategy.
Anti-American Politics are practiced by all Leftists. Marxism, at any level, is antithetical to the very idea of America. To be Marxist is to be an anti-American.
The Godless Left leads the young and naive to their utopian Hell.
For an honest comparison of the effects on youth, we need to look to the history of the Godless Left versus the Religious Right.
My anti anti-American arguments are attacks on falsehoods, in support of truth.
American Communists hide their true identity and disguise themselves as anti anti-Communists. Using their playbook, I hereby identify myself as an anti anti-American.
Deliverance From Evil goes to the heart of the hot political debate in America.
Americans increasingly pray and work for deliverance from evil, as they slowly wake up to a threat that is not merely political in nature.
Background history of the recent Catholic reformation (revolution?) in liturgy.
Reform of the Liturgy began with good intentions toward minor changes, yet almost permanently trashed Latin, and Chant, and, etc., etc., etc.
Our definition of pro American goes considerably deeper than the dictionary. Anyone, anywhere, may be a patriot. Definition of pro American: one who loves and adheres to the American Constitution.
Our definition of anti American goes considerably deeper than the dictionary.
Anyone, anywhere, may oppose nationalism or national pride. Definition of anti American: one who ignores or opposes the American Constitution.
Islam is the enemy; the non-Islamic world just dosen't know it yet.
I keep saying that Islam is the enemy here, and you keep not wanting to hear it. But it's true.
A submission of the “The Church is rotten to the core” argument and its basis.
If indeed the church is rotten to the core then all is lost; unless, of course, the statement is untrue.
Our argument opposing Libertarianism as an amoral conservative vote-splitter.
Opposing Libertarianism may seem counter-intuitive until you realize that it’s just another form of moral relativism.
Why is this American Christian nation not called a Christian nation?
This American Christian nation is oddly referred to as something other than a Christian nation. Why?
Argument Against the Anti-American UN: Why do we support such an antagonist?
The staunchly anti-American UN has a major goal involving world governance, and America is in the way of that effort.
Either limit the scope of government or limit citizen liberty.
Scope of government has broadened so much that there is now little of the living of life that is not subject to regulation.
A fatal false premise is a deadly logical trap for the mal-educated person.
A Fatal false premise with broad general consensus will always trump reason, evidence and critical thinking.
Faith versus Atheism: Is atheism really just a silly superstition?
The Faith versus Atheism argument is at the root of every other important argument.
“Are you saved” might be the conversation starter with a devout Protestant.
First, are you saved; then, are you saved by having been “born again” (but not by Baptism) are the two popular questions of Protestantism.
Is the Bible the sole authority for teaching Christianity?
If Holy Scripture is the sole authority for Christian teaching, then, where does it say that in Holy Scripture?
Marxism Socialism Communism – what’s the difference between them all?
Marxism Socialism Communism are all mistakenly held to be different things, but they are one and the same.
Can we outlaw Marxism in the USA and still be a free thinking society?
I say we can and should outlaw any ideology that seeks the elimination of Constitutional America.
Can we outlaw Islam in the USA and still be a free thinking society?
I say we can and should outlaw any ideology that seeks the elimination of Constitutional America.
Is faith alone the sole requirement of salvation?
Luther’s dictum says that man is justified by faith alone. Is it true?
Argument for Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.
The Federal Reserve Act did not prevent the Great Depression, so why does it still exist?
Argument to Repeal Amendment XVI, the Income Tax Amendment.
Repeal Amendment XVI and the very idea of progressively taxing income.
Argument to Repeal Amendment XVII and the Politicizing of the Senate.
We need to repeal Amendment XVII and restore our Senate to its original status.
Toward a return to argumentation; the lost art of reasoned verbal combat. A return to argumentation requires a return to critical thinking. Is it too late for Western man?
Secularism is clearly "the enemy" in the culture war; so, what, exactly, is it? Secularism is an aggressive and very pro-active form of atheism, in that it not only disbelieves, but it actively attacks belief itself, on all fronts.
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