Funny (in)formal fallacies

You’re probably familiar with most of the standard logical fallacies: false dichotomy, is/ought, affirming the consequent, etc. But, Ed Feser wants to alert us to a number of other very important fallacies that you’ve probably committed even though you’ve never heard of them. My favorite are the first three. Check out the post for the rest.

  • Post doc, ergo propter doc: The delusion that a Ph.D. confers wisdom, or even basic competence. Example: “Of course the medievals thought the earth was flat. It says so in the book! Who’s the professor here, anyway?”
  • Red hair-ing: Believing that something is true simply because a really hot redhead said it. Example: “Omigosh, Christina Hendricks is so hot. I would totally believe anything she says.”
  • Appeal to minority: The smug presumption that popular opinion, tradition, and plain common sense are always likely to be wrong. Often committed in conjunction with the Post doc fallacy. Example: “Of course, this goes against everything your parents, your pastor, and pretty much everyone else have always believed. So it must be true!”


Communicating with Academics: A Guide



Flotsam and jetsam (10/14)

Just because…Smell Like a Monster

In case you haven’t seen this yet, here’s Grover from Sesame Street in a fabulous parody of the Old Spice commercials.


Flotsam and jetsam (10/13)


Thirteen theses on writing

Why do we write and what does it mean to do it well? Ben Myers’ thirteen theses on writing offers some thoughts toward answering questions like these. He certainly does not attempt a comprehensive answer (does such an answer exist?). But, he does offer some provocative thoughts in that direction.

You’ll want to read the whole post yourself, but here are some of my favorite pieces:

  • On Writing and the Fall: “Writing is for the fallen, for the soul cast out of paradise and lonely to return.”
  • On Kinds of Writing: “The difference between bad writing and mediocre writing is discipline. The difference between mediocre writing and good writing is editing. The difference between good writing and great writing is miracle.”
  • On Editing: “Good writers cull the overpopulated paragraphs of their work. Like a farmer protecting the livestock, the writer lovingly separates whatever is sickly and infirm – and then loads the gun.”
  • On Writing and Living: “To distinguish between writing and living betrays a deep misunderstanding not only of what it means to write but also of what it means to live.”
  • On Writing and Thinking: “Among scholars today, there is no error more pervasive than writerly Docetism….the belief that one can have clear thoughts regardless of the clarity of their expression, or that one first has an idea which is subsequently communicated through the neutral medium of prose. But between idea and form there is a mystical union of natures; to write well is to think well.”

Hegel’s Logic as Metaphysics

[This is a post by Keith Mitchell.  It is part of the continuing series on Philosophy and Theology that current ThM students are entrenched in.  Enjoy!]

There are three common areas in philosophy that we have already discussed. Metaphysics asks, “what is?” Epistemology, “how do you know about what is?” and Ethics, “what should we be doing about it?” For Hegel the Metaphysical question of “what is?” can ultimately be understood as The Absolute Geist (aka Spirit or Mind). The essential stuff of what exists—the Geist—is non-material. The Geist got separated from itself and is now working back toward itself through history (this view of history retains a familiar Judeo-Christian progressive linearism).  What is more tangible than all imminent idea moving history forward?

The process the Absolute Geist takes through history is dialectic; working in the same manner as a rational and productive conversation (Hegel is all about synthesis whereas Kant was fine with the dualism). The interaction (between the thesis and antithesis) makes for clarification on a deeper level (synthesis), verses impasses and compromise. The result is a resolution to a higher place, not just another place.

But what gives the dialectic momentum and energy for movement? Because for something to be ultimate reality (the Absolute Geist), it must be self-sufficient, we cannot be responsible for dragging it along. This is where Hegel’s logic comes in. By logic I do not mean syllogistics, but the reason for a thing; in this case the reason for the dialectical movement of what ultimately is.

For Hegel there is no logical concept of ‘being,’ without ‘not being.’ Thus, A cannot be ~A (the little symbol just means “not”). But, and this is key, A can become ~A. For Hegel then, becoming is a more fundamental reality than being. Thus any given idea needs its opposite in order to first exist, and then to evolve. Each idea is not complete; having within it the potential for inherent contradictions.  All incomplete ideas give rise to an antithesis, which resolve into a synthesis. These contradictions are self-perpetuating. Thus, becoming is a dynamic process that works of its own accord and moves toward becoming more universal and concrete.

The final stage of the dialectic for the Geist is self-awareness. At this stage the Absolute will have no more antitheses inherent in it. All that exists will be harmoniously at one with itself. Individuals will finally experience true freedom since there will no longer be any areas of conflict. With it, there will be an end to the pattern of change. Hegel’s view is called “Absolute Idealism;” “Absolute” because it is encompassing everything, and “Idealism,” because the essential stuff of what exists (Geist) is non-material.  For Hegel, reality is rational and this is its logic.

You and your desk

“Even today there’s something about coming to sit at your desk that kind of stops you from become completely nomadic and drifting away entirely.” That’s how this video begins as it reflects on why our desks are so important to us even in an increasingly mobile world.

Best quote: “If a messy desk is a sign of a messy mind, then what is an empty desk a sign of?”


Karl Barth Biblioblog Conference (Week 2)

The second week of the Karl Barth Biblioblog Conference is underway. Here’s the lineup for this week:

Flotsam and jetsam (10/12)

After being distracted by family and work responsibilities for a few days, I had to declare Google Reader bankruptcy. It feels to to click “mark all as read” and then just move on with your life. But, before I gave up and hit the big red button, I came across some links worth checking out.