By Wess Marks

 

Metaphilosophy and Genuinity

Throughout my primary education, I never felt I learned anything legitimate or applicable other than Anatomy and Physiology, Photoshop and Art Design. Now that I’m in higher education, I’ve come to realize the one thing I wish I learned the most that I was never provided is philosophy.

I’m starting to find that the lack of logic is extremely noticeable across our society. You can always get the feeling of “that’s a bad idea” but now I can state, “I know why this is wrong” which I couldn’t objectively do before. People are essentially speaking subjectively without knowing how they are expressing it. It’s not about winning; It’s about being effective.

Effective communication needs to be clear and concise. Understanding your audience, your topic and your own thoughts on your topic is important, but this leads me to the second thought on logic, that you can’t have just logic. Emotional intelligence is an element of effective communication that I’ve learned through a variety of communication and psychology classes.

In one of my psychology classes, during a discussion on emotions, I’ve learned that some cultures have multiple vocabulary for emotions that english does not have, and a person can’t identify the emotions if they don’t understand the vocabulary for them. Essentially, you can’t effectively fathom emotions without knowing vocabulary behind it. I feel the same applies to logic. Once I learned of fallacies, I can identify faults in logic.

Ad Hominem

Ad Hominem is an attack on a person which is irrelevant to the topic of discussion. Ad Hominem derail and undermine the topic of discussion. The literal Latin interpretation is “against the man.” Ad Hominem are capable of evaluating motives behind an argument, but not capable to dismiss them as false.

Often the attacks are in regards to the other party’s personal characteristics or traits to discredit their argument or create doubt towards their credibility. Nizcor.org breaks it down into two steps. The first is the attack towards the opposite party, then using the attack as evidence against the opposite party’s claim. Many cases of Ad Hominem are unconsciously performed and hold rhetoric effectiveness to those unaware of logic. As strange is it can be, Ad Hominem can be used in support as well as shame.

As an example:

“Have you seen Bob’s report? He’s such a good guy, his stuff is perfect.”
A commonplace ad hominem would be: “… He’s such a douche, his stuff is garbage.”
The quality of his report is irrationally associated with a perceived character trait rather than content associated with what is expected of the report.

An Ad Hominem may or may not be true, but the use of them in an argument is flawed logic and very ineffective.

False Dichotomy

False Dichotomy is an argument providing only two solutions. The literal Greek interpretation is “Dividing in Two.” Some situations may only have two options available, but usually it is a poor assumption to make.

Often False Dichotomy are radicalized arguments to remove additional options. Usually one of the two options are skewed to make it appear that there is only one solution to prevent other solutions to be considered. Close-mindedness is often the cause of binary thinking. False Dichotomy focuses on binary thought but it also applies to limiting any amount of solutions. Locking down your options is ineffective, also a bar to creativity.

An invented instance for example:

“We need these boxes moved by the end of the week. We can either do it all now, or get up at 4 AM and get it done.” This would be an argument to imply the only options are now or 4 AM, likely in attempt to convince someone that it needs to be done immediately. Other options may be more effective such as a certain amount of them per day for example.

A branch of False Dichotomy would be Black or White thinking. Black or White thinking is the belief that people are either 100% good or 100% bad.

False Dichotomy provide a high level of contrast or conflict between two options in attempt to support their claim. False Dichotomy develop close minded mentality, as well as support it which is ineffective in the long run.

Hasty Generalization

Hasty Generalizations are conclusions derived from limited information. This often occurs out of laziness as providing proof to your claim requires effort where as generalizations can be slung together on whim.

The majority of hasty generalizations occur due to the lack an appropriate sample size in comparison to the whole subject. Alas, what an appropriate sample size would be is still a subjective concept. The majority of the time, too small of a sample size will be obvious if you pay attention to it.

Stereotyping is a commonplace example:

“My gothic friend is depressed so gothic people are depressed.” While this may or may not be true given certain groups of gothic people, one person of reference is incapable of representing the gothic people as a whole.

The inverse of a Hasty Generalization is “appeal to coincident.” This is the act of denying a conclusion defining the evidence as coincidence.

Hasty Generalizations are common in the anti-intellectual evolution of our society. Failure to follow up on citations as well as sloppy assumptions only contribute to the ineffective and lazy nature of our culture. Alas, laziness contributes to laziness so where do we start to fix this issue?

Slippery Slope

Slippery Slope is a fallacy where one action leads to a chain of occurrences resulting in a negative conclusion, also known as absurd extrapolation. A Slippery Slope can be identified if the chances of something bad occurring seem exaggerated from a single action.

The idea of this fallacy is that taking a first step towards any action inevitably leads to a final step with negative consequences. The reasoning is fallacious due to the assumption that step one is correlated to the rest without appropriate evidence.

As example:

If a professor thinks, “If I let students retake this test, they will want to retake every assignment all year.” There is no evidence if the students retake one test that it will set precedence and they will demand to retake everything.

This fallacy is present only when assumptions are made. If there is evidence or reasoning why the events may be related then it might be accurate. The more steps there are until the final consequence, the easier it is to spot a slippery slope.

Alas, this fallacy is used often in exaggerated speech due to it’s natural consequential rhetoric. It is a lazy approach to handle an argument, often used from a position of authority, which alleviates the need to put in effort to solve a conflict. This is logically ineffective and most of the time, emotionally unintelligent and manipulative.

Fallacy Fallacy

Argument from Fallacy, also referred to fallacy fallacy due to it’s nature, is the assumption that a statement that contains a fallacy has a false conclusion. Often an Argument from Fallacy is included in Ad Hominem in the form of which the target speaker’s claim is fallacious, therefore the target speaker is ineffective.

It may be difficult to grasp at first but becomes clear with example:

“Have you seen Bob’s report? He’s such a douche, his stuff is garbage.” Audience response to the Ad Hominem used: “You know that’s Ad Hominem, right? His work is fine.” in which his work may actually be garbage, regardless of the fallacy used.

The use of fallacies is usually unintentional and ineffective to communication. Someone may make a claim in which a fallacy is present, but the claim is still true. This fallacy is often performed by those that have recently become educated in the philosophy of logic. It becomes a close mindedness barrier and is ineffective use of philosophical education.

Tact

One valuable experience I learned from my military experience is the expression of tact. Tact is a little known and poorly understood concept in our society. Wiki defines it as:

“The ability to deal with embarrassing situations carefully and without doing or saying anything that will annoy or upset other people; careful consideration in dealing with others to avoid giving offense; the ability to say the right thing.”

America applies connotation to phrases such as upset and offense. Within the last few years I have been hearing this phrase, “special snowflake” correlated with offense or upset. Defensiveness is a severe barrier of communication and being hypersensitive is ineffective.

People fail to acknowledge that the communication process occurs with both a sender and receiver, and the ability to tailor and adapt your communication towards the target audience is required to be an effective communicator. This snowflake cycle that I keep seeing is that a sender receives upset feedback and the sender’s response to the feedback is mocking. This occurs regularly in america and is horribly ineffective of both the sender and receiver.

I find vocabulary to be an incredible tool. Digging into the synonyms and antonyms of the word “Tact” reveal the synonyms: Common Sense and Refinement as strong synonyms, Control, Intelligent, Judgement, Perception, Skill and Understanding as medium accuracy synonyms. Antonyms are the opposite of all of these with the strongest word being Carelessness.

Tact is an emotionally intelligent skill. When tactless, you are failing to communicate to your target audience the message you wish to portray which often leads to the snowflake cycle mentioned above. Logic is also a skill but if you apply logic without tact, your communication is ineffective.

Conclusion

My title is Metaphilosophy and Genuinity. Metaphilosophy is the discussion of philosophy as a concept and how the logic works. I believe that you can not have effective communication using philosophy without genuinity; genuinity being an illegitimate word that I use to define responsible use of emotional intelligence and appropriate intent.

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