Ideas that add up #211

[John Searle, in Mind] says of certain arguments offered by philosophers of the materialist school, “What they suggest is that these people are determined to try to show that our ordinary common-sense notions of the mental do not name anything in the real world, and they are willing to advance any argument that they can think of for this conclusion”.

Marilynne Robinson in Absence of Mind

Setting aside the topic of consciousness and mental phenomena, what I like above is that characterization of combative wisdom-lovers “willing to advance any argument that they can think of” in support of their position.

I’ve done that.

And I recognize it in others who’ve got themselves overly invested in being right about something ideological, political or personal. But it’s foul play, isn’t it? If dialogue and discussion of big ideas is a mutual pleasure, a form of intellectual jousting with truth as the notional prize – then randomly dragging in heavy weaponry purely for the sake of beating down an opponent, defeats the object. 

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