Crimes against logic

Just finished reading Crimes against logic by Jamie Whyte.
Picked it up on the off chance that it might be interesting. Whyte used to lecture in Philosophy at Cambridge University. He won a gong from a magazine called Analysis. I didn't know there was a philosophy magazine. What kind of ads do they carry? Books and conferences I suppose.

It's bugging me now.
What would a philosophy magazine look like?
I suppose if it was an existential one it wouldn't matter. It would look thoughtful. Dense text, not much leading. What would the thinking person's typeface look like. Garamond? Something tweedy with leather pads on the elbows? Would it smoke a pipe. Free pipe with issue 1. Collect all four.

But back to the book:

In the chapter 'Empty Words' Jamie (if you'll excuse the familiarity - I'll tell you why I grant license to myself in a minute…depending on your reading speed) talks about 'Hooray Words':

"Do you think it is just that those who earn more should give a portion of their income to those who earn less?…many think its redistribution of income essential to a just society; others think it simple theft.

"Everybody favours justice. They disagree only about what is just and what is unjust. Justice is in this sense a hooray word. Declare that you are in favour of it and everyone will cheer his agreement, even when he disagrees with you on every particular question of what is just.

"Besides justice, there is peace, democracy, equality, and a host of other ideals that everyone embraces, whatever they believe these ideals to consist in (sic).

And there are the boo words: murder, cruelty, selfishness and so forth. Everyone agrees that murder is wrong, no matter how much they disagree about which killings are murder. many of those who earn the disapproval of legislators by beating their children also disapprove of cruelty, they think it cruel to raise children without giving them the discipline of corporal punishment…"

Good point. Mr Whyte (he said, slipping back to formality) makes you think.

When he wraps up the Hooray Words section he says - pay close attention to this we're moving into an election year after all:

"A simple test for substance in political statements is whether anyone sane would disagree. If a politician declares it her aim to make the people of Britain healthy, wealthy, and wise, she tells you nothing useful. How will you use this information to choose between her and her opponents, who almost certianly seek the same things? In a healthy democracy, where voters demand the information required to make sensible choices betwen parties and candidates, political discussion would focus on the the difficult and controversial issues where reasonable people disagree. The commitment to justice, peace and, and all the reast would, literally, go without saying"

Well said that man.

By the way - the author is a kiwi. So, because every New Zealander is separated by no more than a couple of degrees I can regard him as a long lost maaate, right? Who'd have thought?


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