Convincing Others - Transcript


0:00 - Gratitude to Subscribers
0:54 - The Three Parts of the Conversation
1:00 - Convincing Others about Philosophy
20:05 - The Analogy to Romantic Love
27:56 - Recognizing Intellectual Integrity
29:03 - Allowing Opponents to Convince
34:33 - Teaching How to Think
37:46 - Appreciation and Feedback

Long Summary

In this comprehensive and thought-provoking conversation, the speaker delves into the challenges of convincing others about philosophical viewpoints. The discussion begins by highlighting the essential need to engage others in philosophical conversations and the difficulty in generating interest in philosophy. The speaker then draws parallels between creating a love of wisdom in others and the concept of romantic love, emphasizing the importance of virtuous behavior in attracting curiosity and openness in others.

Moving on, the speaker stresses the importance of expressing doubt and humility in philosophical debates, as certainty without recognition of opposing views can lead to skepticism from others. The speaker emphasizes the need to acknowledge uncertainties and address any doubts or skepticism brought forth by individuals in order to maintain credibility and engage in productive discourse.

Furthermore, the speaker explores the notion of allowing individuals to present their arguments and viewpoints, thereby fostering a deeper understanding of one's own beliefs and limitations. Encouraging individuals to make their case and respecting opposing arguments enables personal growth and intellectual integrity in discussions. The speaker highlights the value of actively engaging in critical thinking, curiosity, and debate to foster a deeper appreciation for philosophy beyond reaching conclusions.

Overall, the conversation underscores the importance of honesty, intellectual integrity, and the joy of active thinking in philosophical dialogues. By encouraging individuals to think critically, engage in respectful discourse, and embrace uncertainties, the speaker aims to promote a deeper understanding and appreciation for philosophy beyond mere conclusions.


[0:00] Gratitude to Subscribers

[0:00] Good afternoon, my pretty subscribers. I hope that you're doing well. I'm going to try to create some additional value for you because I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate, monstrously, massively, and eternally the support that you have brought to me and, of course, the stable base of income that is so essential to what it is that I'm doing. And look at this we have the weight floor entirely to ourself so i hope that you don't mind a little bit of cheesy 80s background music and um a little bit of hopefully not so cheesy philosophical foreground music or the music of wisdom as it were so some questions have been floating around and and this is sort of part of this slow to take off but still essential third part of the conversation.

[0:54] The Three Parts of the Conversation

[0:54] The first part was about the truth, the second part was about yourself, and the third part is about others.

[1:00] Convincing Others about Philosophy

[1:00] And so, there've been some questions floating around, which is, how can I convince others or begin to bring them along in this conversation around philosophy? And of course, it's a very essential question. Not much is going going to happen unless we can begin to really help other people get the hang of what it is that we do and talk about here. And it is a significant problem how to get other people interested in philosophy. Certainly, I can say that I spent about 20 years not doing it very well. And in fact, I would say working in quite the opposite direction in many ways in terms of getting people not excited in philosophy, but instead getting them turned off by philosophy. And that, of course, is a real challenge. So really, and kind of essentially, what we're talking about is how can we create a love of wisdom in other people? And that seems like a hard place to start from. But in much the way that we can clarify aspects of UPB by remembering that it is an analogy to the scientific method, we can also create analogies to a love of wisdom by looking at it through the lens of romantic love. And that's sort of the approach that I'll take through this podcast or this conversation. So.

[2:24] When we look at the question of romantic love, of course, we want romantic love, and it's a beautiful and wonderful thing. But of course, it can also be a great horror and a great trap if it doesn't work out, i.e. if we invest as if it were love, but it turns out to not be love. So the first thing that I would suggest is to remember this basic fact that you can't make anyone do anything.

[2:50] You know, that is so much at the core of what it is that we talk about here that it almost is the very basic basis of this approach. You can't make somebody fall in love with you. And why is that? Because you have no control over their values. I mean, you can, I don't know, if you're Brad Pitt, people can be in lust with you, I suppose. But even that, in a sense, doesn't have control over the values. That's just base biology. But you can't make somebody fall in love with you because love requires, A, that you be virtuous, and B, that they be virtuous, or at least curious and open to virtue. And if we understand that, then we can understand why it's impossible to make somebody fall in love with you. You can, to a large degree, control your own dedication to virtue, and you can control your virtuous behaviors. You can refrain from calling people names and so on. But you can't control the degree to which other people respond positively to virtue, right? You simply can't.

[3:56] In the same way that a nutritionist can really only help somebody who wants to eat well and is willing to make those changes or those sacrifices in lifestyle to achieve that end. You can't make somebody love healthy eating and good nutrition and exercise or all those other healthy things. If they do respond positively to some sort of goal, whether it's slenderness or muscularity or increased flexibility or health, if they want that, then you have something to offer them. But you simply can't generate a love of virtue in people. You can't, you can't, you can't. You can show virtue, which will overcome a certain amount of cynicism or skepticism, but you cannot generate a love of virtue in others. So if we accept that, that doesn't mean that nothing that we do is going to have an effect on people. Because once we recognize that, I mean, if you say, well, I can't control whether people buy my product. Does that mean you don't advertise? Of course not. In fact, advertising is a recognition that you can't control it, right? I mean, the free market and advertising a product is a recognition that you can't control people's behavior. If you truly believe or want to control people's behavior, then you join the mafia or the government, right? Because then you can use force and you don't really need advertising. Instead, you need propaganda, which is, as we talked about some time back, like quite a different kettle of fish.

[5:22] So that's important. We don't really have that differentiation down too well in our minds. We cannot control other people's behavior, but that does not mean that we cannot influence the outcome of a situation. In fact, you don't try to influence stuff unless you recognize that you can't control it. So, a beer company cannot control what kind of beer that you buy, but they want you to buy their beer, so they'll put it in the best possible light. And I'm not talking here about advertising philosophy or anything particularly coarse or crass, but it's really about being true to what it is that you accept or believe about philosophy. So, I mean, as a basic example, if we accept that the goal of philosophy is happiness, then it's not advertising to say I'm happy or to show people that you're happy. That's not advertising. That's just a basic recognition of the fact, right? If I say following this diet will cause you to lose weight, and losing weight is a value if you're overweight. If I myself am overweight, then I'm not doing anything particularly positive in terms of convincing people or getting over people's skepticism with regards to my diet. So I think it's very important to start off just saying or showing happiness. Now, the other thing that's important in terms of gaining credibility when trying to convince people is to show and express doubt.

[6:49] Because humanity, so to speak, is so constituted for reasons that we don't have to get into right now, but it's so constituted that the more certainty, in particular situations, and particularly if you're right, the more certainty you show, the more doubt other people will experience. And this is sort of very important. The more certainty that you show about the truth of your own propositions, the more uncertainty and resistance this will generate in people. I'll just mention sort of why this is. This is very briefly, but it's important to understand. It's not just because we're bloody-minded to begin with or as a species.

[7:29] The reason that it shows up like this for people is that if we don't seem to have a recognition of the patent quasi-absurdity of our claims, we've solved the problem of truth and God and society and ethics and relationships, and that we have this amazing or comprehensive answer from completely outside any recognized intellectual or academic community. If we don't recognize that basic fact, if we show no doubt in the truth of our own propositions, then other people will simply assume that we're insane right this is what's so so so important to understand and we're supposed to be people who process reality and probability correctly if we don't recognize the absurd claims that we're making then we will simply look like people who don't process reality correctly so addressing the improbability for claims up front is very important. That's why the more certainty we show, it's like if somebody says, you know, I know exactly who shot JFK and it's proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, are we not immediately going to feel a very large degree of skepticism? Because the person is not addressing the fact that there has for many decades been a lot of ambivalence and problems and issues and questions and different theories and so on. So if they're not addressing that, that's kind of significant.

[8:59] If someone comes along and says the theory of relativity is wrong and don't address all of the credibility that the theory has gained over time, then they just look like they're not processing reality correctly, even remotely correctly. Correctly.

[9:15] And in the same way, if we say we have solved all the major problems of philosophy from metaphysics to epistemology to ethics, society, politics, family, and so on, and nobody's ever heard of us, then if we don't, it's like the 9-11 truthers, you know, it was an inside job for sure. Sure. There's no doubt. There's no question. Well, there is a doubt and there is a question. And if you choose not to address it, all you do is you push the reality of that doubt onto other persons. So you act out the certainty, they will act out the doubt. And you'll just see me doing this or you'll hear me doing this over and over and over again when I'm in conversations with people. So... I will forever be saying, this is just my amateur theory, this is not, this is just my opinion, I'm not saying this is proven, I'm just saying this is a theory, I'm just blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Even with UPB, which I consider fundamentally unassailable, I'm not going to say that this is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. I don't make the claim at the beginning of the book that I have closed off all of the doubts around ethics for all time, but that this is my best swing at the challenge of secular ethics.

[10:27] So, the more you express confidence, and the less you accept the reality of skepticism or the use of skepticism, or the reality of skepticism on the part of the listener, oh, these people I've never heard of have solved all the major problems of philosophy, and no academic has ever written them up or talked about them, and they're not talked about anywhere in the media and just on this little corner of the internet and so on. If you don't address that, then people will just assume that you're mental, right? And building my credibility brick by brick from the outside in, as I talked about in another podcast recently, was really the most fundamental challenge. Even coming up with some of the solutions to the things I have come up with was not as great a challenge as keeping the passenger car, so to speak, hitched to the train and not going off the rails at any time. That was a greater challenge.

[11:18] So the more that you express complete and total certainty, and the less you express the reasonable, rational doubt, the more that other people will take, will act out the doubt, right? So to take a silly example, if you have 50% certainty and 50% uncertainty, if you take 100% of the 50% of certainty, everybody else will take 100% of the 50% of uncertainty. The other way around, if you accept all of the improbability and uncertainty of what it is that, you are trying to communicate, then other people can be free to at least explore the possibility of certainty because you're recognizing a basic reality, which is that the claims that you make are unprecedented and outlandish, right? Because, I mean, basically, when it comes right down to it, we're saying, yeah, we've solved the problems that Socrates couldn't. We've solved the problems that Aristotle couldn't. We've solved the problems that Ayn Rand couldn't. We've solved the problems that 100,000 academics and intellectuals throughout the course of human history have not been able to solve.

[12:29] And, you know, we've done it in a year, in a couple of years, over the internet, right? I mean, that is a completely outlandish claim, and I've always been pretty conscious of the outlandishness of that claim. That's why I've always tried to work from first principles and so on. So, when you're talking to people about philosophy or about the ideas that you have, whether they're from here or elsewhere, you know, it's important to recognize that when you say, government is not necessary, the family is the root of state power and church power, there's no such thing as God and so on, it's important to say that, you know, I know this sounds outlandish, which I know that this sounds completely ridiculous. I know that there's a lot of doubt around these topics, and I've explored that doubt and so on, right? If you don't say that kind of stuff, and you come across as cockily certain of that which everybody else on the planet is uncertain about.

[13:31] Then you're just going to annoy people. That's like going to a physics conference and saying, Einstein's full of crap, right? as if it's self-evident, well, that's just going to annoy people. And you don't want to be annoying people, right? So that's the first thing. Express doubt. Express conditional approval. Say this is a theory that I'm still working out and still working on, but this is sort of where it starts. That is an invitation to discourse, right? Let us explore the truth together. I am not dogmatic. I am not certain. Now, that does not mean uncertainty in methodology, right? That's the really, really important thing. There's no... We cannot claim or we cannot express uncertainty in methodology, right? We can't say, oh, revelation is as valid as reason as for disseminating or discovering truth. Prayer is as valid as science and learning the truth of the physical world. And so we do not then say, I am not certain as to whether or not we should use faith or reason to determine the truth, whether we should use intuition, dreams, or rational empirical evidence. That's not open to debate, right? But the conclusions are all conditional.

[14:57] So that is another important thing to remember. Remember, everything that we talk about here, the state of the society, I mean, in terms of the conclusions, argument for morality, the state of society, the golden gun, non-aggression, I mean, these are all conclusions. And yes, they have to conform to reason and they have to conform to evidence. But they're still all conditional upon, so maybe there's some logical flaw we haven't thought of. Maybe there's some piece of overwhelming empirical evidence that we have never thought of, right? Now, we can, as time goes along, we can get more and more certain. But there's still evidence that we need to be conditional upon and what that does is it gives people some comfort as to the rationality of your approach. All right, so let's move on to the next aspect of what it is that we're going to talk about. And this one is just a little bit more tricky, so we'll spend a little bit of time on it.

[15:54] So, you can't convince anyone of the truth, right? You cannot convince anyone of the truth. If somebody genuinely believes that the state is necessary for peace, order, and security within society and believes in the problem of the commons, that the government exists to cover up the problem of the commons and so on, well, you can't convince them to change their minds. You simply can't. And recognizing that is really important. And this is where people get both willful and frustrated, right? They get willful and so they get frustrated the other person isn't changing their mind. And so they redouble their efforts to get the person to change their mind. They get irritable, short-tempered, and so on. And that just won't work, right? If that's where you are in a debate and you can't go anywhere else, then you should just stop debating with that person, right?

[16:46] So, the question is, how is it that we can convince people if they genuinely believe things that are false? Well, the best way to, in my experience, again, I'm not saying it's It's the only way, but it's the best way that I've figured out to get people to change their minds is, first of all, they have to recognize that what they believe is not necessarily true, right? That's sort of an important place to start. But, as I said, if somebody believes that without the government all is anarchy in the pejorative sense, then you're basically saying to them, are you a fan of violence and destruction and murder and mayhem and social chaos? And, of course, they won't take that approach, right?

[17:34] So, the best way to approach it is to allow them to convince you, right? And this, of course, is nothing new. Of course, this is the Socratic approach. So, people would come running up to Socrates and say, oh, Socrates, I know everything there is to know about justice. And this, of course, was the sophist that he would be cross-examining on his travels. levels, right? People would say, well, I know everything there is to know about, say, justice, right? And he would say, wow, that's fascinating. I myself have a great deal of difficulty coming up with a rational and consistent definition or approach to justice. But if you have sorted it out, then perhaps you could enlighten me as to the true nature of justice, right? Now, the difference was that Socrates, in my belief, we don't know for sure because he's never written anything down that survived, but Socrates genuinely didn't have answers. So he was examining people to find out if they had answers and found that they didn't. On the other hand, we do have answers. So this is a bit of a specious approach, but there's no point trying to sell a pill to cure something, to cure a disease that a person doesn't believe that he has. Right? You just look, as we've said before, you just look like you're trying to poison the guy, right?

[19:03] So, sorry, those aren't my words. So, what you need to do, and this is the judo technique, right? That you use the energy and momentum of your opponent to bring him down, right? So, what do you do? Well, if somebody says the government is absolutely necessary for social order, just say, well, I understand that that is the mainstream position.

[19:28] So, perhaps you can make the case for me if you'd be so very kind and if you wouldn't mind taking the time. Perhaps you could make the case for me because I can't quite get myself through to getting to that same kind of certainty, and you're obviously certain about this, and I certainly admire that. I would really love to have that kind of certainty, but I'm just not able to get that level of certainty, so maybe you could make the case for me, right? Right. And see, this is important because what this does is it allows you to make sure that you really understand what it is that you claim that you understand.

[20:05] The Analogy to Romantic Love

[20:06] Right. I mean, if if if you're a physicist or I don't know, maybe a geographer and you know all of the arguments as to why how you can prove that the earth is round. And somebody comes along and says the earth is flat. There's simply no point. And they're completely certain of it, there's simply no point telling them that the world is round and they're full of crap, and then throwing all these reasons at them, right? What you want them to do is to make the case that the world is flat, right? Now, if you're a good physicist or geographer, then you will listen to their reasons, right? And then you will absorb their arguments, and then you will be free to start to oppose those arguments or undermine them, right? But if you're not certain as to why the world is round, if it's a kind of dogma for you, then you won't actually be able to counter the arguments as to why it's flat, right? And so you'll be revealed as dogmatic as the person that you're, quote, opposing. So let's say, for instance, that you have trouble with the UPB argument. And God knows it's a hellish argument, right? It's one of these things that's blindingly obvious when you get it, but it's so easy to forget. And it's so easy to lose track of in the moment, right?

[21:29] So, what you want to do is, you know, somebody says that ethics are completely subjective. If you just start by saying, no, they're not. Ethics are completely objective.

[21:40] Well, then, obviously, you're not going to get anywhere, right? But if you say to the person, okay, well, maybe what you can do is make the case for me about ethics being subjective. And let the person make the case. And they'll say, well, different people believe different things and so on. And I said, well, that may not necessarily be a statement that ethics is subjective, right? I mean, there is a flat earth society that believes the earth is flat. That doesn't mean that whether the earth is flat around is subjective. I mean, just things that you could... But if you can't answer their arguments, that's really important for you to know.

[22:14] It's really, really, really important for you to know. If somebody comes up with some kick-ass argument against what it is that you believe, then you've got to have the intellectual integrity to give them their props. If you want to claim that what you say is true, rather than it's just a conclusion that you believe in, right? Well, Steph argued it once, and it sounded convincing to me, so that's truth, right? Well, no, it's not truth until you own the argument. It's not truth until it's really yours. Certainly, it's not truth because I say it, God help us, right? And it's not truth because you heard it argued on a call-in show once. It's not truth because you saw somebody debate it in the chat window. It's not truth because it's buried somewhere in the UPB book. It only becomes truth when you own it, you get it, you understand it, you can argue it. I mean, for you. I mean, obviously, things are proven and they're true, but it's not true for you. And it's not a truthful statement for you to say, it is true if you can't prove it.

[23:20] From the ground up, from every different conceivable dimension, from space in Urdu with hand signals, if you can't prove it six different ways from Sunday, if you can't absorb and oppose, the alternate arguments, the opposing arguments, then you can't claim that it's true, because you can't prove it. Do you sort of see where I'm going with this? This is just a statement of honesty. And everybody, of course, wants to rush directly towards the, this is true part of the debate or the argument, the same way that everybody wants to rush into politics. And no one wants to dick around with definitions or metaphysics. And this is what I keep trying to pound into people, right? I see them in the chat room getting into debates. It's like, okay, well, what are the definitions? If you don't even know what the definitions are, how the hell do you know what you're arguing? Everybody wants to rush into the fun stuff, right? Everybody wants to cure cancer. Nobody wants to take first-year biology. Well, you can't cure cancer if you don't take first-year biology, unless you're the guy who's got the radio waves and the nanoparticles. But that's where we've really got to start, I think. So what you want to do is let the person take their best shot at you. Take their best shot at the argument.

[24:33] And that way you can find out where the limitations of your knowledge is. Because I'll tell you what people are really sniffing for when they're debating with you? This one I can guarantee for sure. What people are really sniffing for when they're debating you is they're sniffing for intellectual integrity or lack thereof. If you're going to make claims about truth that have enormous consequences to their life, right? If ethics turns out to be objective, then that is going to have a massive and radiating impact on all of their personal relationships, as we know and as we talk about continually in this conversation. So if you're going to say your entire worldview has got to be turned upside down, and what you've taught your children, and what you believe about your parents, and how you're going to confront religious people in your life, if you're going to try and convince someone that morality is objective against all known opinion, then you're going to have to, what people are going to sniff is they're going to sniff any deviation from intellectual integrity. And the moment that they hear in you a slithering, a slip-sliding, a sidestep.

[25:51] Something which undermines your credibility in terms of intellectual integrity, then they're going to get that you are avoiding a lack of knowledge or a lack of ability to process an argument within yourself. Right? Now, the moment that they sense that you are not being honest in your interaction with them...

[26:12] They're just going to write you off. And they should, frankly, they should. Right. If you claim that, I don't know, grapefruit enemas cure cancer, and then you say, well, have you done your clinical trials? And you say, well, clinical trials aren't necessary. Then you're immediately revealed as a quack, right? And in the same way, if you say ethics are objective and you say, well, can you make that case for me from the ground up and you say, no, no, just accept it, right? Or you say ethics are objective and I say, well, what about this, that, and the other, and you can't answer it, then I know that you've just leapt to a conclusion and you can't argue every step of the way. And this is just a reasonable and heartfelt humility, right? You should not argue conclusions. You should argue process. You should argue within, not the 25th step of a proof, but you should be able to do all 25 steps. All 25 steps.

[27:10] Because if you're just parroting, you haven't learned anything, right? You've just learned a sequence of words. UPB. Ooh, look, three magical letters. E equals MC squared. Well, that doesn't make you a physicist, right? That just means that you're able to repeat three letters and maybe one or two arguments. But until you can learn to really think within the paradigm of UPB, until you can really absorb and answer the arguments and the oppositions that people bring towards something like UPB, then it's not true. Then it's not true. And this is so, so, so important to understand. Let people take a run at you. And this is just around being honest, right?

[27:56] Recognizing Intellectual Integrity

[27:56] If somebody comes up with an argument against UPB that you can't answer, what people do is they panic, right? And they get frustrated. And they say, well, UPB has to be true. Right? UBB is true. UBB is true. And the fact that I can't answer your argument doesn't mean anything. I just know that it is true. Right? Well, that's just, it's exactly the same as religious people. Right? It's exactly the same as religious people who say, well, I can't argue your argument. I can't answer your argument, but God exists anyway.

[28:34] Right? Or they just make up some crap, like outside the universe, outside of time, this kind of crap. Right? So this is the kind of intellectual honesty and integrity that it's just so relaxing. It's just so relaxing. You don't take a position and defend that position like some sort of beleaguered vet or the Alamo or something, hoping that you can repulse the people who are attempting to storm your position. It's like, no, storm my position. Come on in, right?

[29:03] Allowing Opponents to Convince

[29:03] And if they come up with an argument that you can't answer, then it's important to say, I can answer that. That is an excellent point, right? And if they get triumphant, and if they're like, yeah, yeah, yeah, you think you know, but you don't know, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, then that's fine. You know, you want to, if that's the kind of people, let them have that victory if they want, right? But you keep your intellectual integrity, right? You keep your honesty. And I mean, I say this as somebody who, in attempting to support for many years, 20 years, the objectivist argument for ethics, and to some degree the Aristotelian argument, I know what it means to bypass obvious objections. And it's not good. If I'd continued to do that, and this is why objectivists tend to get really dogmatic, because they're wed to conclusions, not so much the methodology.

[29:58] This is the beautiful thing that comes out of that. The beautiful thing that comes out of that process is that if you're willing to let people take a run at you with their best arguments, you get practice at helping to uncover where it is that your knowledge is lacking, right? So, if someone comes up with an argument for relativistic ethics that you can't answer, Well, that's very helpful for you, right? I mean, if you're trying to build a bridge and someone says, this particular section simply will not stand, and you can't come up with an answer for that, you should stop building the bridge, right? Because otherwise you're going to waste millions of dollars, or years of your life, in pursuit of error, or defending that which deep down you do not truly believe to be true, but defending a conclusion and not a methodology, right? And not being able to argue that methodology in an accurate and convincing way to yourself. If you doubt something, if you don't have a good answer for something, deep down, you know that that's the case.

[31:04] You just know that's the case deep down. You should be honest about that. Because that's your true self saying, I have doubts, I don't know. And you discover a huge amount about yourself in a very, very productive and positive way when you start to examine the arguments that you can't answer. I mean, this is where trauma is. This is where sadness is. This is where some of the broken aspects of our history are. This is some very, very important stuff that we need to learn about ourselves. You know, where we're unable to go from D to E alphabetically in an argument is very important for us to know, because that's where a lot of self-knowledge lies. Obviously, we can do it intellectually, but the great thing about debating is that it really helps us to figure out our dead zones, our null zones, our blind spots. And those always have psychological roots, because these arguments are not that complicated intellectually.

[32:02] But people who take a run at us and we can't answer particular areas, I mean, obviously, Obviously, we want to have the intellectual integrity and honesty to say, I can't answer that. I don't know. That's an excellent point. You know, be honest, right? Give props where props are due. Give respect where respect is due.

[32:23] If someone has a great argument that you can't answer, you say, hey, that's a great argument I can't answer. And then you sit there and think about it and mull about it and come back and say, well, I think that I have an answer. If you can come up with one, I think that I have an answer, but I don't know. Tell me what you think. You will just generate respect in people because of that.

[32:43] And you will teach them the true beauty of philosophy. It's not coming to conclusions, but thinking. I mean, we've come to more conclusions than any other philosophical movement in history, to be perfectly honest. We have come to more conclusions than any other philosophical movement in history. Ethics, society, relationships, family, church, God. And if conclusions were all that were required for us to continue to reap the joys of philosophy, we would just have listened, we would just have absorbed those conclusions and then be perfectly joyous for the rest of of our life, but it's not like that, right? The joy does not come from generating conclusions, but from thinking. And that's the joy that you want to share with people. It's the joy of thinking, not the joy of coming to conclusions, which is no doubt, I mean, certainly satisfying and very exciting. It's quite a thrill. We should be very happy about doing that. But it's not the core joy that we're really trying to establish, right? The process of active thinking, of curiosity, of debate, of putting values into practice, of accepting our limitations. These are the things which make philosophy joyous. The joy is not understanding that ethics are not relative.

[33:59] Does not bring joy. I mean, it brings happiness, but you don't go, you don't spend 10 or 20 years learning how to play tennis in order to win one tournament, right? The thrill of victory lasts about 15 minutes, but the joy of thought lasts forever. And that's what you want to show to people. Because if you get them to parrot a conclusion, you're not actually helping them at all. You're not actually helping them at all, right? I mean, if you are a cooking teacher, you don't want to teach people how to make particular dishes because a recipe can do that.

[34:33] Teaching How to Think

[34:33] You want to teach them how to be a cook, how to think creatively within the realm of the culinary arts and how to cook in a healthy manner, how to cook in a way that is so they can come up with their own recipes, so they can actually be creative within themselves.

[34:49] You At this point, though, for a lot of people in the conversation, really what's happening is we're spoon-feeding them something which they say tastes bad and calling ourselves chef teachers. We're just spoon-feeding people. But that's not what it is that we want to be doing. We want to teach people how to think. We don't want to inflict upon them conclusions. So if somebody comes and says that the truth is relative, the point is not to give them the answer that the truth is not relative. That doesn't do anything for them, even if they accept it. right? It's a total transitory situation even if they completely accept that they say oh I believe you, you throw out one or two arguments and they then believe you and they say oh okay well I guess the truth is not relative I was wrong. Well if you haven't taught them how to think what's going to happen? Well of course all that's going to happen is they are going to come up against somebody else who is going going to tell them that the truth is relative. And because you force-fed them a conclusion, they're going to come up against somebody with very sophisticated arguments, or even somewhat sophisticated arguments, and be completely unable to answer them.

[36:02] So you've actually pushed them into a lion's den with no weapons. That's kind of cruel, right? You understand? That's kind of cruel. You want to teach them how to think, how to ask questions, how to reason through things, how to build arguments from premises, how to establish definitions, how to really debate productively, not just rush to a conclusion, go out and start spraying that conclusion around and find that they flame out the first time they meet anybody particularly sophisticated, of which there are a hell of a lot of people out there who can argue this other kind of stuff. For the nihilists and relativists and intellectuals among us, this stuff is as natural as breathing, and they take particular delight in feasting upon the non-relativists. So if you can't communicate to them all of the complexity and subtlety of debating these points, if you can't teach them how to think, but you only give them conclusions, you're sending them out to get blown apart. And of course, you haven't done anything. What you've done is has temporarily relieved your anxiety about not knowing the answers to particular questions. Well, that's manipulative. That's destructive. If you don't have the answers to particular questions, then what you say is, hey, I don't have the answers to particular questions. That's called honesty, right? It can't be a big shock that I'm talking about it in these terms, right?

[37:16] So, from that standpoint, it's just so important to be in a conversation where you roll with the punches, you accept the doubts, you accept the questions, you work with them. Don't take a position, but you want to surprise yourself by ending up in a particular place, right? You just keep working, you keep working next step, next step, next step, and then you've covered a thousand miles. But if you try and airlift people a thousand miles, you'll just leave them disoriented and confused. So I hope that that's helpful. I certainly do appreciate you wonderful subscribers who keep this show cooking. I really appreciate the money.

[37:46] Appreciation and Feedback

[37:46] Every subscription gets you 400 people a month to come to FDR, and that is just wonderful. So thank you again so much, and please do let me know if this is helpful. I was thinking of making this into a series, but you can let me know. If that would be a good idea. Thank you so much. I will talk to you soon.

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May 2024

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