Tolerance and Radical DisagreementJun 8, 2019
What should you do in the face of radical disagreement? Do you live and let live, or try to convince the other person they’re wrong? Are some ideas just too terrible to tolerate? These are some of the questions we're tackling on this week's show.
Harold G. Neuman
Thursday, May 23, 2019 -- 10:56 AMI reply to your question
I reply to your question about power and its affect(s) on our ability to be tolerant. (the others, though important, are corollary to this one, IMHO). If Foucault was right, power is the engine which drives all of our other action/reaction motives. No one is immune to its attractions, unless we could count acolytes in a Trappist monastery---and, perhaps that notion is also faulty. As to whether tolerance is a paradigm, I am uncertain. We discuss all sorts of paradigms, speaking often of the new and the old among those. Tolerance might, at various points in history, have been considered a virtue, or at least a quality of 'humanness'...that it is older than most of our so-called new paradigms seems significant. It appears related to forgiveness, and, last I heard, forgiveness is, itself, more virtuous than its counterpart, vengeance. In any case, compromise and tolerance appear to be going out of fashion. We have a tendency to to revise and re-invent meanings for things that no longer fulfill our expectations---things which do not fit well with our situational ethics. I think this is a mistake. There are examples I could offer, but anyone who has thought about this topic can supply their own. (A friend who died about year ago always liked the militant quote concerning apology: Never apologize! It's a sign of weakness...I have always been told it is a sign of humanness.) Oops---guess that would count as an example?
If we get down to the bottom of these questions, tolerance (and even compromise) are merely ways of agreeing to disagree, without hauling out the 44 magnum or switchblade. They are algorithms to a peace process; a maintenance of detente. Don't be too hard on Ms. Rini. She is only another professional soul who has written a book she believes in. No different really than anyone else who seeks sense in their world---and, maybe, a couple of ounces of power.
Harold G. Neuman
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 -- 3:06 PMI am becoming intolerant of
I am becoming intolerant of American government. Mostly, the dysfunctional aspects of American government. I find it intolerable that a miscreant can be elected; subsequently prove himself incompetent, and be defended as protector of American values, when it is clear he is only it in for himself. All of this talk about not prosecuting a sitting president? Come on now. How much are we willing to tolerate when a sitting president thumbs his nose at anyone and everyone who challenges his pedestrian decisions about anything, of which he knows nothing? What is that? I m about the same age as this moron. I find abhorrent that no one,save his staunch supporters, can support his lunacy. Sorry, gang. This nonsense just annoys me.
Friday, June 28, 2019 -- 11:16 PMPower is dangerous thing and
Power is dangerous thing and over time leads to intolerance. Compromise is a good thing and the law should encourage this. Bashar H. Malkawi
Harold G. Neuman
Saturday, October 9, 2021 -- 10:53 AMSee my remarks on
See my remarks on multiculturalism. Draw your own conclusions.
Thursday, November 4, 2021 -- 8:19 PMToleration is not done to
Toleration is not done to reach a compromise. The schisms between our beliefs are not growing more significant. Our country is coalescing and coming to a consensus in the face of social and environmental turmoil, contrary to the presentation in the show ‘What is it’ leader.
The term 'schism' refers to the threat to those in power. Wealth, be it of knowledge, money, or power, is just and tolerable when it is earned. Those people with wealth like to justify that wealth with ideals and morality. Justifications like this are unjust and intolerable.
People are not equal. We were created equal, yet from conception to death, inequality is natural. A baby is not an adult, a boss is not an employee, and a teacher is not a student. What's more, some people can handle situations due to physical means, intellectual ability, or social privilege. Equality in these three senses, physical, academic, and social, aren't worth compromising. We don't give a short person stilts to play center on a basketball team; they play guard if they play at all. To some, life may not be a game, but inequality is a reality every second of one's life. Knowing who is your better is the surest way to get along.
When Ray and Ken ask Regina to be left alone without the burden of toleration, they, Ray and Ken, are being intolerant. When is intolerance allowable. Well…
This is as good a time as any to break out a little Meta Philoso?hy Talk. The Covid years (it's plural now) have brought a level of production to the shows that are themselves intolerant. A perfect example of which is Anti-Vaxxer Rick from San Francisco, who calls in pre-Covid, proclaiming to be scientific. This call is rich with content and foresight. Dr. Rini's takedown of this call is prophetic and wise.
Currently, live shows ARE possible, despite Josh saying they are not. Many shows and podcasts are presented with real-time interaction with callers, posters, and even Tweets. I'm not saying PT should do this, but I will say that calls like Rick's are not possible when shows are produced to the level they are now. Pre-production is a form of intolerance to the folk that somewhat contradicts the show's premise.
Dr. Briggs refutes Rick's claim to knowledge (and skepticism) of vaccines with her claim. Regina puts this all in perspective with a wise push for all of us to tolerate anti-vaxxers. Here is where I tuned in to Rini's philosophy and perhaps will embody it in the future. Where previously I had thought anti-vaccine rhetoric was specious – I no longer do. I wonder if Regina still does?
This critical turn in the show and deep point would not be possible in the current setup of post-production PT. I miss the crazy callers with their off-the-wall takes. Another good one was the caller who asked Christopher Lehrich if he had ever read 'Hamlet's Mill.' Well, I'm glad to say I have now due to that odd call. This is what toleration breeds; knowledge and potential growth that previously Ray would never experience reading her book on the train or bus, living and letting live.
… to get back to the question of acceptable intolerance and away from the meta, let me say the critical concept of intolerance is incompetence. When something is incompetent, no form of toleration is allowable. Unfortunately, incompetence is a can of woe that deserves its own universe and ontology. Failure is required for any progress, and those who claim incompetence too often call out failure, which is not the same and by all means needs tolerance and disambiguation.
Science, when practiced well, is tolerant. Our funding and publishing of science are intolerant. Autocratic societies counterbalance some of that with their flavor of intolerance and aggressive lack of respect for intellectual property. Somewhere, somehow, we need to compromise with Rick and all the callers who have lost their sense of identity with their skepticism.
Rick or Ray?, one of the more important philosophical questions of the year 2021 was when and if one should be vaccinated. If that is not a philosophical question to you, then I might say you are being intolerant.
Bring on the year in Philosophy. We can dig into this and other ideas shared and not in the shows of 2021, as there are decadal, centurion, and millennial issues that need attention.
Monday, December 20, 2021 -- 11:40 AMDear Philosophy Talk,
Dear Philosophy Talk,
I have to admit to being a little dismayed after briefly tuning into your program yesterday. While listening, someone phoned in to comment that even though he was vaccinated, he was also a vaccine skeptic. He did not deny the effectiveness of vaccines, he just had certain criticisms about their use during this current crisis. But what bothered him was that anyone who expresses skepticism is treated as if their perspective is somehow completely wrong-headed and anti-science, when actually the reverse is true. Genuine science is never dogmatic, and only becomes so when people like him are publically bullied out of voicing their legitimate opinions and areas of disagreement.
The response to this comment by the Philosophy Talk team was surprisingly flaccid. One individual noted that although a person has a right to private feelings of skepticism, peoples' lives are on the line and so these feelings ought to be suppressed. Another noted that society is supposed to all be in this together, and so we need to withhold our skeptical thoughts and simply get vaccinated.
What seemed to not be perceived by anyone involved in the discussion, however, was the influence of finance. Massive profiteering is taking place, and yet we are collectively being told by the same class of people profiteering (the managerial/professional class) that we're all in this together and need to act according to this collectivist ethic. Yet simultaneously, they are doing-for-self, driving their new Teslas, getting flush off the stock market, purchasing multiple luxury homes, working remotely, not paying taxes, complaining about crime waves and wanting Chesa Boudin to lock everyone up that isn't a member of the successful pampered corporate class. That certain people are getting filthy rich off of Covid, while the rest of us are left to eat one another in a Darwinian state of nature, is completely ignored by this "we're all in this together" nonsense. We're not.
Can someone please explain to me why this obvious conflict of interest between those giving advice and those expected to follow it blindly is not considered problematic by the philosophical community at Stanford? Why are these philosophers unable to see that their intellectual integrity and clearsightenness is compromised by the powerful institutions that pay their salaries? Plato dealt with this subject in depth, but today it's completely ignored. Why is it rational to imagine that comfy, cozy, housed, healthcared, pampered, privileged, gloated on, and praised individuals are not affected at the level of conscious judgment by receiving all these delectable social treats and goodies?
Sorry to burst your egotistical bubbles, but they are affected.The average homeless person has a more realistic conception of the dynamics of both social and physical power than the average tenured philosophy professor. This was made extremely apparent yesterday when I listened to your show. I think the homeless community is the only truly free segment of our population, as only they have the power to express their direct experience of truth without another person having the ability to take away their livelihood because this experience is perceived as threatening. I think today's homeless are the true philosopher kings and guardians of our society, for only they are genuinely immune to the corrupting influence of finance.
Monday, December 20, 2021 -- 3:25 PMTartarthistle,
Your right. Ray and Ken were wrong. However, Gina, the guest philosopher, corrected this, and the show segment's overall learning was to tolerate anti-vaxxers.
This show aired six months before the Covid19 outbreak on Sunday, June 9, 2019. Ray's flaccid response to Rick, the anti-vaxxer who called in, was corrected by Regina in real-time in the show at the 27:30 mark. Ken co-signed Ray's flaccidity when professor Rini pushed back, saying that Rick's views, based on morality, need to be respected.
The science, however, is not in question. I doubt Rick, who claimed to be scientific and was more likely scientistic, would argue those points. The vaccines are effective if cash cows for Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson (as well as most other pharmaceutical companies with SAR2 vaccines.) I'm not sure how much I fault those companies as they did take the risk, and in Pfizer's case, without public money.
I went to a better school than Stanford, so I don't speak for the school here, their Philosophy department or Philoso?hy Talk (PT). I'm not a professional philosopher either. However, I would say that philosophy departments are rarely endowed or compromised in their work. While a good philosopher can paraphrase their opponent, rarely does one make a point outside their professional interest or judgment, which is aimed, for the most part, to understand. Philosophy and science get along in this way, the former parenting the latter in an historical sense.
Plato did check in on wealth along with the compromising effect of its extremes. However, Plato was no fan of Diogenes, and he felt poverty compromised virtue, as does excessive wealth. I doubt he would find virtue in the homeless as you do, and I don't either, having been homeless in my youth. Houselessness or street living is not a seat of wisdom but circumstance.
All told, one can have wealth and do the right thing. Not all wealth compromises, even as most do. I have a hard time accepting PT or the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as compromised (though I wouldn't put it past Ken, Josh, or Ray to be wrong on some if not most occasions.)
Stanford has exemplary public education initiatives. Their faculty essentially share their research in the public interest, even as they and their students are encouraged to build businesses and profit from their work. Andrew Ng's MOOC on Machine Learning is a fine example, as is this very show.
I'm a bit sore about opportunities missed in my life, but conflicts of interest will always be a source of concern. The fact that Philosophy departments are so rarely compromised is their virtue even when their ideas fall flat.
Tuesday, December 21, 2021 -- 6:04 AMThank you for your feedback.
Thank you for your feedback. I just have to add that when housing prices are as irrational as they are at present, those not financially enslaved by wildly overblown monthly mortgage expenses might very well be the only sane ones around these days. I too was homeless in my childhood, and so now I enjoy lending support to people living on the street. What's most amazing about my interactions with them is how many wildly interesting conversations I end up having. I met a wonderful woman living in tent on Octavia Street that loved to read--she turned me on to The Last Man, by Albert Camus, and for while we had nice book exchange going on. Ironically, most of my housed friends and neighbors are not really interested in discussing complex social, theoretical, or political issues. Their jobs keep them constantly stressed, with little time to devote to the realm of thought. They just want to numb out, and I suspect that contemplating reality is too overwhelming and painful. This is not the case with most homeless people. They like to engage in reflection and are highly perceptive. They also seem to enjoy truly committed friendships with one another, along with a genuine and meaningful sense of community. I can't say the same for most of the housed people I encounter in my everyday life. In my opinion, the more marginalized members of our society seem far less zombie-like and more in touch with matters of truth/reality than most of the "smart" people belonging to the expert professional class. They have time to introspect. No one else does. And no one else seems to really care that much either...
Harold G. Neuman
Thursday, January 13, 2022 -- 5:20 AMIn the face of intractability
In the face of intractability, there may be but one course: walk away. Just don't turn your back carelessly. I do wonder what Harry Frankfurt might say.
Harold G. Neuman
Sunday, January 16, 2022 -- 4:03 AMThe graphic, comprising the
The graphic, comprising the word coexist has fascinated me. It probably would not, had I dreamed it up and designed it. The interstitial framework of the six-pointed star contains numerous x's. That figure, if memory serves, is the star of David. The points on the dot of the I number five, outlining a pentagram...a witching symbol. There are other features including yin and yang and the now-historic peace sign from the 1960s. This means the entire graphic is, itself, historic.
In some ways, though not all, some of us have come part way towards the meaning of coexistence. In some ways, though not many, we have always been part way there. This seems to be the way of diversity: warrior and witch; yin and yang; sameness and difference---saints and not-so-much. History does not go away-even when we will it to do so. I and others have discussed that in this blog. The hardest thing, it seems, is avoiding repetitions of mistakes. Compounded, of course, by refusals to admit we have made them: never apologize- it's a sign of weakness. There you go...