Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Sermon [Intellectual Etiquette]

¡Hola! Everybody...
The Second Commandment of Corporate Christianity (right after Thou shalt prostrate thyself only before Market Ideology and before Thou shalt not enjoy sex), is: It’s a sin to allow a fool to keep his money (so give it to the rich, they know better).

I usually post the following once or twice a year.

* * *

-=[Intellectual Etiquette ]=-

Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse.

-- African proverb

I do not suffer fools easily. Fools like those who react rather than think. Fools such as the woman who came to my blog, read the term white racism and ran screaming that I was a bigot. I would venture that you could probably sharpen a thin pencil with her anal sphincter. Fools who react in anger rather than attempt to understand. Like the fool who comes here occasionally and mistakes insult for critical analysis...

Good riddance!

::cue in strains of the Twilight Zone theme song::

I’m very meticulous about my reading material. When I post here, I can guarantee you that I have taken the time not only to fully understand the material, but that I have constructed a logical argument. This is not mere personal opinion. Knowledge and opinion are not synonymous. In fact, the vast majority of opinion is worthless. If that sounds elitist, then, fuck it, call me an uppity spic -- I am an elitist if being an elitist means adhering to intellectual standards.

In any case, if you read me, you will note that there is a logical sequence to my writing. That, to me, is the greatest respect I can pay to you, the reader: that I have taken the time and effort to present a coherent and logical message.

In turn, I expect for my readers, if they’re going to engage me, to show me the same respect by attempting to understand what I have written. Some people have gotten their egos bruised because they have failed to attempt to understand before disagreeing with me. Some people apparently believe they can skim my posts and then engage me. People, I hate to break this to you, but there is no Santa Claus and you cannot agree with something you have failed to understand.

Yup, life sucks. And here? In my house? I’m going to hold you to... standards.

Honestly, I could give a flying fuck if you called me a muthafucka. You’re not that important in my life. You don’t blow me, engage in recipient anal sex with me, nor pay my rent. Therefore, if you think imma muthafucka, a bastard, or an asshole, it doesn’t rally matter that much to me.

::arches eyebrow::

If you have taken the time, however, to understand what I have written and demonstrate that understanding before you call me a muthafucka, we’re always gonna be cool.

Here is what I’m going to propose. It’s called intellectual etiquette and if more people observed it, the world would be a better place. For example, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in today.

First, respect (as I define it) means understanding the material in such a way that you could restate the post in as briefly a manner as possible. Secondly, you should be able to come to terms with the author by interpreting his key words or phrases. Know the author’s arguments preferably by constructing them out of sequences of their own sentences. Determine which of his problems he has solved and which he has not. Also, note which problems the author knew he failed to solve.

I have skimped on the first two stages of Intellectual Etiquette because the following is most important:

One more thing: debate isn’t always pretty, or even polite. Debate can be passionate, disrupting, anxiety-producing, contentious, and maddening. It’s supposed to be that way. If you doubt me, then pick up any number of books and read about the great historical debates. Believe me, they weren’t “pretty” and polite, with pinkies held erect while sipping tea.


The greatest debates were often contentious, mean, angry, but they all had that one thing in common -- at least the great debates did: they offered some measure of intellectual etiquette.

General Rules of Intellectual Etiquette

(Adapted from Adler Mortimer, How to Read a Book, pp. 164-165)

The following helps you answer the questions, Is it true? and What of it?

You cannot disagree with a point if you haven’t fully understood that point. In other words, you can’t say you agree, disagree, or suspend judgment, until you can say (and show), I understand.

Do not disagree disputatiously or contentiously. (Okay! Admittedly, I suck on this one. ::grin:: However, saying I think your point sucks, and demonstrating why, is different from saying you suck, ok?)

There is a difference between knowledge and mere personal opinion. Demonstrate that recognition by presenting good reasons for any critical remarks you make.

Special Standards for when Disagreeing (Being Critical)

  • Show where the writer/ poster is uninformed
  • Show where the writer/ poster is misinformed
  • Show where the writer/ poster is illogical
  • Show where the writer/ poster’s analysis or account is incomplete

If you fail at any of the last four, then you must agree, at least in part, although you may suspend judgment overall, in light of the last point.

Okay Muthafuckas! LMAO!

If you don’t use your critical faculty, you will lose it, or never fully cultivate it. Act the fool and I will call you on it.



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