17 Mar 2021

Breeur (2.3) Lies – Imposture – Stupidity, Ch.2.3, “The Right to be Stupid”, summary

 

by Corry Shores

 

[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

 

[Central Entry Directory]

[Roland Breeur, entry directory]

[Breeur, Lies – Imposture – Stupidity, entry directory]

 

[The following is a paragraph by paragraph summary of Breeur’s text. Boldface, underlining, and bracketed commentary are my own. Proofreading is incomplete, so please forgive my mistakes. The book can be purchased here.]

 

 

 

 

Summary of

 

Roland Breeur

[Breeur’s academia.edu page and researchgate page]

 

Lies – Imposture – Stupidity

 

Ch.2

 

2.3

“The Right to be Stupid”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brief summary (collecting those below):

(2.3.1) (As the opinions espoused in the reduction to stupidity are not based on truth,) it would seem that any opinion whatsoever can be insisted upon, regardless of its value. In other words, we would expect that any opinion whatsoever can stand in the place of a better judgement. However, Breeur notes that in fact, “some opinions are intolerable if not disqualified” (40). So we wonder, under these conditions of the destructive warfare of discourse that brings all judgments, no matter how worthy, down to the level of opinions, how is it that some are nonetheless deemed to be unworthy? (2.3.2) There is a first possible answer to why there are some opinions that cannot even legitimately enter the discourse despite the reduction to stupidity’s power to promulgate seemingly any opinion whatsoever: perhaps in fact the powers of the reduction to stupidity are limited. Perhaps it is unable to place these opinions on the same level as all other judgments. Breeur argues that this cannot be the right answer. Rather, these opinions are excluded not because they bear some value that the reduction to stupidity is powerless to reduce but rather because it has already exercised its power to reduce them, only in this case,  to reduce them to ruble. (2.3.3) The attacks that the reduction to stupidity levels at some opinions to destroy them “are often inane, asinine, mean, or base” (42). They do not even try to argue against the judgments they are attacking; they rather aim just “to close down argumentation, to short-circuit discussion once and for all, and with an air of self-righteousness,” and often take the form of “Clichés, unarticulated critique (“ungegliederte Kritik”, as Musil would say), excessive castigation, etc.” (42) This means that in substance these attacks are of little worth themselves. (They are all offense and no defense; no ground is held by them.) “The irony is that, though ostensibly in defense of its own position, such attacks defend precisely nothing. This is the core of this nihilistic program” (42).  (In a sense, stupidity exists in an artificial realm of discourse of its own making that lacks any potential for truth-value, where opinions that prevail do so only arbitrarily by force.)

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

2.3.1

[Despite the Reduction to Stupidity’s Power to Elevate Opinions, Some Opinions Still Being Excluded from the Discourse]

 

2.3.2

[The 1st Considered Explanation Being That the Reduction to Stupidity Has Limitations to Its Reductive Powers. The Reply That No, Rather, This Demonstrates Its Limitless Destructive Powers.]

 

2.3.3

[The Nihilistic Program of the Reduction to Stupidity]

 

Bibliography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

2.3.1

[Despite the Reduction to Stupidity’s Power to Elevate Opinions, Some Opinions Still Being Excluded from the Discourse]

 

[(As the opinions espoused in the reduction to stupidity are not based on truth,) it would seem that any opinion whatsoever can be insisted upon, regardless of its value. In other words, we would expect that any opinion whatsoever can stand in the place of a better judgement. However, Breeur notes that in fact, “some opinions are intolerable if not disqualified” (40). So we wonder, under these conditions of the destructive warfare of discourse that brings all judgments, no matter how worthy, down to the level of opinions, how is it that some are nonetheless deemed to be unworthy?]

 

[(Recall the “reduction to stupidity” from section 2.2.5. Breeur was discussing how one’s insistence on their opinions is an instance of stupidity, because they persist with their faulty views even when confronted by superior ones. It would be better to have flexibility and drop bad judgements in favor of more informed and considered ones, and then to espouse the better ones instead. This would facilitate the flow and prosperity of truth, which involves development, refinement, adaptation, and so forth. When instead that flow is blocked because some people insist on keeping their faulty opinions in the face of other people’s better ones, this depletes those superior ones of their power to flow, promulgate, and have influence on other people’s minds. In that way, the better views are “reduced to hot air” so to speak, and overall it reduces the general discourse to inferior judgments. This reduction of the truth-flow power of evolving judgments is the “reduction to stupidity”.) (See summary above.)]

Why not simply keep silent and withhold our judgments in domains in which we do not have the requisite knowledge and/or experience to have informed opinions? Unfortunately, the reduction to stupidity has a tendency to absoluteness. I do not simply adopt an opinion and repeat it without too many scruples, I claim the right to utter it. That is, I claim the right to speak and think without the fear of critique and in absence of any personal commitment and responsibility. At first sight, the proliferation of stupidity seems to be the articulation of a vast program, a program to endorse opinions to whatever extent the circumstances require. However, there is a puzzling inconsistency inasmuch as some opinions are intolerable if not disqualified. On the one hand, we proudly proclaim the bringing into effect of a global reduction to stupidity. The proliferation of opinions is by definition boundless and unlimited. That is the driving force behind its functioning. Its reign | and supremacy persist as the general devastating fires that turn every resisting piece of value, sense, or “das Bedeutende” to ash. Not only does the sovereign power of the opinion participate in the radical reduction to stupidity, this reduction itself functions as a force tearing judgments down to the level of opinions. On the other hand, even though it is “opinions all the way down,” some opinions are not allowed. Why is this?

(40-41)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.3.2

[The 1st Considered Explanation Being That the Reduction to Stupidity Has Limitations to Its Reductive Powers. The Reply That No, Rather, This Demonstrates Its Limitless Destructive Powers.]

 

[There is a first possible answer to why there are some opinions that cannot even legitimately enter the discourse despite the reduction to stupidity’s power to promulgate seemingly any opinion whatsoever: perhaps in fact the powers of the reduction to stupidity are limited. Perhaps it is unable to place these opinions on the same level as all other judgments. Breeur argues that this cannot be the right answer. Rather, these opinions are excluded not because they bear some value that the reduction to stupidity is powerless to reduce but rather because it has already exercised its power to reduce them, only in this case,  to reduce them to ruble.]

 

[ditto]

One answer might be that there are still some fortresses of meaning (the “Truth”) resisting the devastating power of what Frankfurt called the “contemporary proliferation of bullshit.” This does not seem to be the case. To wit, consider the stupidity of some of the awkward reactions to statements determined to be insulting or injurious. Such reactions are most of the time completely out of proportion, excessive, or inappropriate, hence stupid (or hysterical, but that’s a subject all its own). They illustrate what Robert Musil says about stupidity vis-a-vis the brutal, clumsy, and bungling behavior of someone who, feeling threatened by some isolated enemy on the other side, throws a grenade instead of aiming at him with his gun. No risks! Destroy everything in the immediate area and the stain of the enemy will be rubbed out.40 Stupidity, to use a military term, “saturates” a target with a volley or with sweeping fire, or, indeed, when it uses shrapnel or a grenade. Moreover, stupid reactions and words (clichés) are vast and vague, thus their lack of precision becomes an advantage: They can be used in all manner of situations and circumstances without discernment. Thus, lack of tolerance for some (kinds of) opinions is not indicative of the “failure” of the reduction to stupidity, but rather, of its radical achievement. That is, such lack of tolerance is not confirmation of the existence of some resisting meaningfulness, it is a symptom of its absence. In this realm, everything can hurt because nothing protects, therefore any and all opinions which are deemed “threatening” are immediately and mercilessly attacked. As Sartre would say, the stupid world is full of snares.41

(41-42)

40. See Robert Musil, “On stupidity,” in: Precision and Soul: Essays and Addresses, Ed. and Trans. Burton Pike and David S. Luft (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1990), p. 279.

(41)

41. Jean-Paul Sartre, Notebooks for an Ethics (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1992), p. 302.

(42)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.3.3

[The Nihilistic Program of the Reduction to Stupidity]

 

[The attacks that the reduction to stupidity levels at some opinions to destroy them “are often inane, asinine, mean, or base” (42). They do not even try to argue against the judgments they are attacking; they rather aim just “to close down argumentation, to short-circuit discussion once and for all, and with an air of self-righteousness,” and often take the form of “Clichés, unarticulated critique (“ungegliederte Kritik”, as Musil would say), excessive castigation, etc.” (42) This means that in substance these attacks are of little worth themselves. (They are all offense and no defense; no ground is held by them.) “The irony is that, though ostensibly in defense of its own position, such attacks defend precisely nothing. This is the core of this nihilistic program” (42).  (In a sense, stupidity exists in an artificial realm of discourse of its own making that lacks any potential for truth-value, where opinions that prevail do so only arbitrarily by force.) ]

 

[ditto]

Not surprisingly, such attacks are often inane, asinine, mean, or base. This is to be expected, for stupidity thrives on negating the meaningful. Indeed, stupid attacks never challenge or defy an enemy; rather, they try to reduce that which they oppose to stupidity. The tools are the tools of the stupid: Clichés, unarticulated critique (“ungegliederte Kritik”, as Musil would say), excessive castigation, etc. The goal is not to argue but to close down argumentation, to short-circuit discussion once and for all, and with an air of self-righteousness. The vicious and paradoxical dynamic of stupidity is that the opinions it has adopted in its war on all that conflicts with it ultimately function as a protective crust. This explains the nervousness and irritability discernible in the stupid attacks against anything that threatens its weak edifice. The irony is that, though ostensibly in defense of its own position, such attacks defend precisely nothing. This is the core of this nihilistic program. Stupid opinions are kept alive artificially in order to prolong or extend the negative activity of stupidity. As a phenomenon, stupidity exists in a “closed system,” or an “Orde der Dunsen.” One could even suspect stupidity of deliberately installing and promoting some artificial values it could tear down afterwards (freedom of speech, equality, fraternity). There is something perverse and inappropriate about it: It is, as Musil would say, a bit like the behavior of a frustrated child slashing at nettles baptized with the names of those it fears.

(42)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography:

Breeur, Roland. Lies – Imposture – Stupidity. Vilnius: Jonas ir Jakubas, 2019.

 

 

Breeur’s academia.edu page and researchgate page

.

 

 

.

31 Dec 2020

Breeur (2.2) Lies – Imposture – Stupidity, Ch.2.2, “Reduction to Stupidity”, summary

 

by Corry Shores

 

[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

 

[Central Entry Directory]

[Roland Breeur, entry directory]

[Breeur, Lies – Imposture – Stupidity, entry directory]

 

[The following is a paragraph by paragraph summary of Breeur’s text. Boldface, underlining, and bracketed commentary are my own. Proofreading is incomplete, so please forgive my mistakes. The book can be purchased here.]

 

 

 

 

Summary of

 

Roland Breeur

[Breeur’s academia.edu page and researchgate page]

 

Lies – Imposture – Stupidity

 

Part 1

Lies and Stupidity

 

Ch.2

Alternative Facts and Reduction to Stupidity

 

2.2.

“Reduction to Stupidity”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brief summary (collecting those below):

(2.2.1) Truth can have a value in the sense of it having a significance to the situation or to the people involved; it has a sense or meaningfulness. Stupidity is not so much the error itself but rather an indifference and negligence toward a truth’s significance. “Someone is stupid as soon as he or she tends to neutralize the value of the truth they missed. Hence, for example, a puerile or clumsy reaction to diminish or even to annihilate the relevance of the things they ignored. With this reaction, the stupid act betrays pure weakness, betrays a lack of power, a stupid reaction is negative and sometimes vicious – it could be attributed to the frustration caused by the failure to deal with what the situation demands from them” (38). (2.2.2) Stupidity also then is more than merely making an erroneous statement resulting from a mistake in our understanding or reason; it also requires that we diminish the value of the truths we neglected. For example, suppose we say something wrong about an important book. (The error is the act of saying the false thing.) The stupidity would manifest to the extent that we try to diminish the value of the book or of literature in general. The error here makes a difference, on account of the fact that the truth we ignored has real importance (the book truly is worth our closest attention, and we should have learned more about it), but we try to make it seem like it made no difference. “That act of irreverence targets the frame of values and meaning in which the truths about that book emerge. To mock these values is a mean way of excluding them from my world, it is a way of narrowing the domain of what counts and is at stake in my existence to that realm of things that I can tolerate and abide” (38). Breeur then notes that by trying to demean the truths we ignored, thereby “narrowing the domain of what counts is at stake in my existence,” we also enact “a narrowing of responsibility, i.e. of my necessity to grasp things vitally” (38). There are a number of ways we accomplish this. One is to adopt opinions. Since we do not form them ourselves, we are still thereby ignoring the value of the truths they mask over, when we adopt them. (2.2.3) Breeur offers an example. He was listening to the radio. On the program were people sampling a particular kind of music. One listener did not know or recognize that music, and it also seemed to offend his tastes. He says that he hates it and offers criticisms. Another listener on the program, a musicologist, tried to explain how it actually holds notable musical value, even in the face of these critiques. The first listener conceded all the positive and interesting traits about the music but still could not acknowledge its overall value; “he was not ‘open to it’.” We wonder, wherein lies this person’s stupidity? (2.2.4) Although the first music listener on the radio program was given ample reason to appreciate the music’s value, his response was still to devalue it, with his justification being that “this was simply his opinion, and that he couldn’t do anything about it” (39). He believed that he could not change his character in such a way as to appreciate it. At the same time, he preferred not to “question and discuss the truth of the musicologist’s claims regarding that kind of music” (39). (In other words, he “knowingly” ignored the significance of these true things about the music’s interesting traits.) This means that by positing some inexplicable inner cause for his not liking the music, he is saying that these truths about the music are not significant enough to override his supposed inner sources for dismissing its value. He strips these truths of their power to command one’s appreciation. And herein lies the listener’s stupidity. “Reference to some deeper, opaque, mystical origin of his tactless reaction is simply a way of neutralizing truth claims in the musical (if not the broader artistic) realm. He ‘accepts’ the truth, but only after having denuded it of its value and function” (39). (2.2.5) Making use of opinions functions in two ways. {1} It immunizes us from the criticism that we are really in fact in error. For, we reason, “My opinion does not aim at any | truth, and hence cannot be false. I escape the danger of being blamed, and the necessity of assuming that responsibility” (39-40). Here the stupidity lies in the fact that we deny the importance of truths that in fact do matter. {2} By adopting and spreading opinions, we block the flow of truths in others, whose statements of truth are reduced “to hot air”, in that we may note to them that these statements could be true, but nonetheless they have no value for us anyway. Breeur calls this the “reduction to stupidity.”

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

2.2.1

[Stupidity as Negligence Toward the Significance of Truth]

 

2.2.2

[Diminishing the Value of Truths We Ignore; Doing This By Means of Opinion Adoption]

 

2.2.3

[Illustration: Listener Who Denies the Value of True Things About Music]

 

2.2.4

[The Stupidity of the Listener as Residing in Them Holding to an Opinion Rather Than Developing an Appreciation for the Music]

 

2.2.5

[Opinions as Protecting Us from Criticism for Our Errors and as Spreading the Flow of Others’ Truths]

 

Bibliography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

2.2.1

[Stupidity as Negligence Toward the Significance of Truth]

 

[Truth can have a value in the sense of it having a significance to the situation or to the people involved; it has a sense or meaningfulness. Stupidity is not so much the error itself but rather an indifference and negligence toward a truth’s significance. “Someone is stupid as soon as he or she tends to neutralize the value of the truth they missed. Hence, for example, a puerile or clumsy reaction to diminish or even to annihilate the relevance of the things they ignored. With this reaction, the stupid act betrays pure weakness, betrays a lack of power, a stupid reaction is negative and sometimes vicious – it could be attributed to the frustration caused by the failure to deal with what the situation demands from them” (38).

 

[(Recall from section 2.1.6 that: (quoting the summary)

In order to overcome stupidity, it may not be enough to simply favor realism (which holds that there is an objective reality to which our claims might veridically correspond) over skepticism (which holds we can have no such reliable access to reality and may make room for bullshitting, because bullshitting involves an indifference to the truth values of one’s claims.) The reason this strategy can fail is that “The truth a realist has access to can be as stupid as the errors of the antirealist” (37). Breeur also notes that antirealists do not simply deny that we can have access to reality or that there even is an objective reality in the first place. Rather, antirealists hold that any such access to reality is insufficient for guaranteeing “sense and meaning” (37).

So, simply insisting that truth is correspondence to reality is insufficient to guard against stupidity, because there very well may be no meaning, sense, or significance to that reality or truth (so it might be “stupid” to take note of such truths), and also, many false things can have great value (and so it would not be stupid to utter them). Let me try to put this in my own words. Statements might be said to have an aletheic value of true or false. That is one sort of value. A statement might also be said to have a semantic content, something perhaps like an intensional meaning, or however we want to construe it. That could be yet another “value” of the true or false statement. Yet, what concerns us here seems to be an altogether different sort of value: a true statement (and possible a false one too) can be said to have a significance-value. By this I mean that the semantic meaning of the sentence indicates something that makes a difference in the world or in our lives, somehow. This might be most basically illustrated with practical values, perhaps. “The cat is on the mat” could be true, supposing the cat is on the mat, but if someone utters it, the statement could very well lack significance-value. First suppose you are walking through the room while holding a tray of drinks, not able to see your feet or what is below you, and you are about to trip on the cat. If I yell, “the cat is on the mat!” then this would have great significance to you. Or, if we are writing a childish poem and we are looking for a memorable rhyme, it could prove significant (even if false). Or, if we are looking for a convenient sentence to illustrate a philosophical point about meaning, it could prove handy (and often in those cases it is false or its actual truth is irrelevant). However, if you and I are sitting in our chairs, chatting, both looking at the cat sitting on the mat right there in front of us, and I utter, “the cat is on the mat,” that statement (although true) could have absolutely no value or worth in that situation. You may even look at me like I am a total imbecilic for saying it. The fact of the cat being on the mat does not indicate something that makes a difference to us. Stupidity, Breeur says, is an indifference or negligence toward the meaningfulness of truth: “the real domain of stupidity is not error or indifference to truth – its ‘real element’ is an indifference, obtuseness, and dullness concerning the value of a truth, concerning what Musil called ‘das Bedeutende’ (the meaningful). [...] Some truth may be meaningless – some error may have some dignity. [...] Someone is stupid as soon as he or she tends to neutralize the value of the truth they missed. Hence, for example, a puerile or clumsy reaction to diminish or even to annihilate the relevance of the things they ignored. With this reaction, the stupid act betrays pure weakness, betrays a lack of power, a stupid reaction is negative and sometimes vicious – it could be attributed to the frustration caused by the failure to deal with what the situation demands from them” (38). I will try to see if I may find an illustration. Suppose you are in a situation that calls for one kind of behavior. But you do not realize that this behavior is called for, and you act inappropriately instead. Then next the truth is brought to your attention, namely, that a different behavior was called for. You cannot take the mistake back, so instead you try to make the situation you are in seem to lack any significance, thus it did not matter what behaviors you took. I am not sure if that is on track and also how to make it more concrete. But suppose you and a friend walk into a room, and you see people are sad. You want to cheer them up, so you start telling jokes. The people respond with horrified faces. You turn around and see a dead body in a coffin: you walked in upon a funeral commemoration. Perhaps your friend witnesses your mistake, but your response to her or him is to insult the people attending the funeral in order to make it seem like – although it really was a terrible mistake – it did not matter, because the people there do not matter. The stupidity here would not seem to be the fact that you made the mistake in the first place of telling jokes at a funeral (perhaps that is more properly the “error); rather, the stupidity is your negligence toward the significance of that truth (that you acted very inappropriately). (If so, this strikes me as also being a sort of foolishness). (P.S.: Breeur’s example in the next paragraph is far better than this poor attempt).)]

We have the truth we merit, dependent upon our way of measuring ourselves against the exigencies of reality. Truth has no meaning at all outside of this fact. The real friend of truth, says Deleuze,38 is the one who makes truth submit to the hardest | test, the test of sense and value. Hence the real domain of stupidity is not error or indifference to truth – its “real element” is an indifference, obtuseness, and dullness concerning the value of a truth, concerning what Musil called “das Bedeutende” (the meaningful). What makes sense, in a truth, and what does not. Some truth may be meaningless – some error may have some dignity. More generally, one could venture that even passions, emotions, and activities or actions may be stupid, stupidity extending beyond the realm of thought. Someone is stupid as soon as he or she tends to neutralize the value of the truth they missed. Hence, for example, a puerile or clumsy reaction to diminish or even to annihilate the relevance of the things they ignored. With this reaction, the stupid act betrays pure weakness, betrays a lack of power, a stupid reaction is negative and sometimes vicious – it could be attributed to the frustration caused by the failure to deal with what the situation demands from them.

(37-38)

38 Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche et la philosophie (Paris: PUF, 1997), p. 118.

(37)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.2.2

[Diminishing the Value of Truths We Ignore; Doing This By Means of Opinion Adoption]

 

[Stupidity also then is more than merely making an erroneous statement resulting from a mistake in our understanding or reason; it also requires that we diminish the value of the truths we neglected. For example, suppose we say something wrong about an important book. (The error is the act of saying the false thing.) The stupidity would manifest to the extent that we try to diminish the value of the book or of literature in general. The error here makes a difference, on account of the fact that the truth we ignored has real importance (the book truly is worth our closest attention, and we should have learned more about it), but we try to make it seem like it made no difference. “That act of irreverence targets the frame of values and meaning in which the truths about that book emerge. To mock these values is a mean way of excluding them from my world, it is a way of narrowing the domain of what counts and is at stake in my existence to that realm of things that I can tolerate and abide” (38). Breeur then notes that by trying to demean the truths we ignored, thereby “narrowing the domain of what counts is at stake in my existence,” we also enact “a narrowing of responsibility, i.e. of my necessity to grasp things vitally” (38). There are a number of ways we accomplish this. One is to adopt opinions. Since we do not form them ourselves, we are still thereby ignoring the value of the truths they mask over, when we adopt them.]

 

[(Some comments. I find interesting here the notion that we have a responsibility to acknowledge and even appreciate the truths that we ignored while in error. And this is also a “necessity to grasp things vitally.” In other words, we should not be stupid in this way; yet, as we noted, we do this because we feel powerless and perhaps also ashamed of our ignorance or mistake. What is called for is a full and profound acceptance of that pain. It seems that it might involve a deep humility. It is not that we “beat ourselves up” for making the error, which we acknowledge. Yeth we still endure the pain and humiliation for the sake of living life more “vitally”. Truths that matter, that make a difference, that count in our lives, which we might have erroneously ignored and thereby caused us pain, are at the same time things that can grant us vitality when instead of demeaning or neglecting their value, we rather fully acknowledge their worth. Perhaps we might find this in our normal daily behavior. We might frequently be neglecting truths in our lives that in fact are of great significance, but are unpleasant to acknowledge the value of. By doing so, we “narrow the domain of what counts” and perhaps this is why we often find ourselves occupied with trivialities as distractions.)]

Stupidity in this sense exceeds the domain of erroneous statements controlled by understanding and reason. Suppose, for instance, that I make some erroneous statements about an important book. The stupidity emerging from these statements will be “a project” (as Sartre would say) to conceal the awareness I would have of my ignorance and error by discounting the value of that book, or of literature in general. That act of irreverence targets the frame of values and meaning in which the truths about that book emerge. To mock these values is a mean way of excluding them from my world, it is a way of narrowing the domain of what counts and is at stake in my existence to that realm of things that I can tolerate and abide. That narrowing finally means a narrowing of responsibility, i.e. of my necessity to grasp things vitally. There are several manners of achieving this neutralization. One of them rests on the propagation of opinions. Indeed, an opinion claims to be neutral with regard to our responsive relation to being. An opinion never compromises me, it is opaque and heavy as a stone. Contrary to concepts, you do not have to | form opinions, you adopt them. Hence, they do not signify or manifest any original endeavor to understand what happens to you, they do not emerge in an effort to determine yourself in relation to some affliction or situation in the world. On the contrary, an opinion helps you to mask such necessity.

(38-39)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.2.3

[Illustration: Listener Who Denies the Value of True Things About Music]

 

[Breeur offers an example. He was listening to the radio. On the program were people sampling a particular kind of music. One listener did not know or recognize that music, and it also seemed to offend his tastes. He says that he hates it and offers criticisms. Another listener on the program, a musicologist, tried to explain how it actually holds notable musical value, even in the face of these critiques. The first listener conceded all the positive and interesting traits about the music but still could not acknowledge its overall value; “he was not ‘open to it’.” We wonder, wherein lies this person’s stupidity?]

 

[ditto]

Consider the following: I was recently listening to the reaction of someone on the radio who was asked to comment on a piece of music he did not seem to know or recognize. Moreover, that kind of music apparently was not his style. His reaction was surprisingly annoyed and irritated in the vein of “I hate that kind of music, it is a pure mixture of genres, has no structure, misses any purity, etc...” In answer to this, a colleague musicologist tried to explain the importance of that music, the inner structure, refinement, ingenuity and inventiveness of it, etc. The original respondent listened to this and, in response, conceded that his points may be true, but that did not change the fact that he simply could not stand it, that he was not “open to it.” Of course, one may wonder why this lack of openness causes so much irritation. But this is another problem. The question is: Where is the stupidity in this case?

(39)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.2.4

[The Stupidity of the Listener as Residing in Them Holding to an Opinion Rather Than Developing an Appreciation for the Music]

 

[Although the first music listener on the radio program was given ample reason to appreciate the music’s value, his response was still to devalue it, with his justification being that “this was simply his opinion, and that he couldn’t do anything about it” (39). He believed that he could not change his character in such a way as to appreciate it. At the same time, he preferred not to “question and discuss the truth of the musicologist’s claims regarding that kind of music” (39). (In other words, he “knowingly” ignored the significance of these true things about the music’s interesting traits.) This means that by positing some inexplicable inner cause for his not liking the music, he is saying that these truths about the music are not significant enough to override his supposed inner sources for dismissing its value. He strips these truths of their power to command one’s appreciation. And herein lies the listener’s stupidity. “Reference to some deeper, opaque, mystical origin of his tactless reaction is simply a way of neutralizing truth claims in the musical (if not the broader artistic) realm. He ‘accepts’ the truth, but only after having denuded it of its value and function” (39).]

 

[ditto]

In trying to justify his reaction to (i.e. his lack of comprehension of/receptiveness to) that music, the respondent said that this was simply his opinion, and that he couldn’t do anything about it. It was beyond him in some sense. His temperament, his character, his personality, his psychology, it simply refused to tolerate that kind of thing. But, at the same moment, he didn’t want to question and discuss the truth of the musicologist’s claims regarding that kind of music. Hence the stupidity: Reference to some deeper, opaque, mystical origin of his tactless reaction is simply a way of neutralizing truth claims in the musical (if not the broader artistic) realm. He “accepts” the truth, but only after having denuded it of its value and function.

(39)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.2.5

[Opinions as Protecting Us from Criticism for Our Errors and as Spreading the Flow of Others’ Truths]

 

[Making use of opinions functions in two ways. {1} It immunizes us from the criticism that we are really in fact in error. For, we reason, “My opinion does not aim at any | truth, and hence cannot be false. I escape the danger of being blamed, and the necessity of assuming that responsibility” (39-40). Here the stupidity lies in the fact that we deny the importance of truths that in fact do matter. {2} By adopting and spreading opinions, we block the flow of truths in others, whose statements of truth are reduced “to hot air”, in that we may note to them that these statements could be true, but nonetheless they have no value for us anyway. Breeur calls this the “reduction to stupidity.”]

 

[ditto]

The role of promulgating opinions in this context is clear. First, it is a manner of escaping the risk and the inevitable charge of being “in error.” My opinion does not aim at any | truth, and hence cannot be false. I escape the danger of being blamed, and the necessity of assuming that responsibility.39 But to so reduce judgment is stupid: It is merely a refusal of the fact that truth may be at stake, that truth may matter. Second, in this manner I reduce the other’s thoughts to hot air (“What you say may be true, but it is of no value to me”). This neutralization is precisely what I would call, as a phenomenologist, the reduction to stupidity. It is a kind of short-circuit that hinders the truth from flowing and shining. To claim the right and freedom to utter, state, and propagate one’s opinions is a manner of claiming the right to exercise this reduction without constraints.

(39-40)

39 For an insightful illustration and confirmation of this line of thought, cf. Kyle Barrowman, “Signs and Meaning: Film Studies and the Legacy of Poststructuralism”, Offscreen, Volume 27, Issue 7, Available at: https://offscreen.com/view/signs-and-meaning-film-studies-and-the-legacy-of-poststructuralism

(40)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography:

Breeur, Roland. Lies – Imposture – Stupidity. Vilnius: Jonas ir Jakubas, 2019.

The book can be purchased here.

 

Breeur’s academia.edu page and researchgate page.

.

 

 

.

11 Dec 2020

Breeur (2.1) Lies – Imposture – Stupidity, Ch.2.1, “Stupidity and Errors”, summary

 

by Corry Shores

 

[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

 

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[The following is a paragraph by paragraph summary of Breeur’s text. Boldface, underlining, and bracketed commentary are my own. Proofreading is incomplete, so please forgive my mistakes. The book can be purchased here.]

 

 

 

 

Summary of

 

Roland Breeur

[Breeur’s academia.edu page and researchgate page]

 

Lies – Imposture – Stupidity

 

Part 1

Lies and Stupidity

 

Ch.2

Alternative Facts and Reduction to Stupidity

 

2.1

“Stupidity and Errors”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brief summary (collecting those below):

(2.1.1) Normally we define stupidity as being error. And error here is understood as not knowing something we should have known. We furthermore suppose that all humans have a “natural disposition towards truth as such” (35) and we think that we all have the good sense to discern the true from the false. So if we fail to judge the true as true or the false as false (including when we fail to judge at all), then we are being stupid, according to this conception. (2.1.2) Now, both error and lie involve the confusion of true and false. Lies, we suppose, involve the intention to deceive. However, we think that stupidities that cause errors are more or less innocent and perhaps harmless (as they do not arise from this intention to deceive, and) because, rather than endangering the truth, they instead confirm “the existence of our natural disposition towards it” (35). (In other words, perhaps, because we make room for innocent errors, we recognize that we think truth should prevail in the end, which can be accomplish by correcting the errors.) (2.1.3) Each era may hold a different view on truth, the mind, and the intellect. As a result, each era might have its own idea of what would qualify as being erroneous or “contrary to established evidence and conviction” (35). People of the Enlightenment, for instance, denounced “obscurantism and superstition,” while “contemporary advocates of the Enlightenment” confuse “postmodernism with post-truth”  (35). (2.1.4) Although society may, with utopian ambitions, embark on crusades to abolish stupidity, “such emancipation projects conceal deeper and less decent ambitions but because stupidity as such cannot be eliminated outright or once and for all: It threatens thought from within” (36). (2.1.5) Harry Frankfurt discusses a particular type of stupidity called “bullshit” (in his “On Bullshit”). Bullshit results when people lack any interest in whether or not what they say is true, because for them, truth itself is not of interest. Frankfurt furthermore connects bullshit to stupidity. “Frankfurt asserts that a general skepticism, ‘which den[ies] that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality,’ is responsible for the proliferation of stupidity.” But, Breeur questions this notion, noting that even if we maintain such a realist standpoint and advocate for speech that remains true to such an objective reality, still there is no guarantee we will not succumb to stupidity. For, “there exist a lot of calamitous stupidities that, as Deleuze said, are made up entirely of truths” (36). (2.1.6) In order to overcome stupidity, it may not be enough to simply favor realism (which holds that there is an objective reality to which our claims might veridically correspond) over skepticism (which holds we can have no such reliable access to reality and may make room for bullshitting, because bullshitting involves an indifference to the truth values of one’s claims.) The reason this strategy can fail is that “The truth a realist has access to can be as stupid as the errors of the antirealist” (37). Breeur also notes that antirealists do not simply deny that we can have access to reality or that there even is an objective reality in the first place. Rather, antirealists hold that any such access to reality is insufficient for guaranteeing “sense and meaning” (37). Realists are presupposing “a value framework,” and their “notion of truth functions as an undetermined concept in an ontological vacuum” (37). (2.1.7) Frankfurt makes an interesting distinction between bullshit and lies. Lies oppose truth, and liars reject the authority of truth. But in order to do so, they in the first place recognize truth’s status, value, and power. Furthermore, lies dissimulate something supposed to be true, and as such ultimately affirm the value of truth. Bullshitters, however, are completely indifferent to what is true and what is false, and for this reason bullshit is a much greater threat to truth than lies are. Breeur ends by noting that “This indifference to the difference between what is true and what is false is precisely what is at stake in stupidity and the proliferation of opinions” (37).

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

2.1.1

[Stupidity as Error: Failing to Judge the True or False as Being Such]

 

2.1.2

[Stupidity’s  Supposed Innocence]

 

2.1.3

[Each Era’s Errors]

 

2.1.4

[Doomed Efforts for a Stupidity-less Utopia]

 

2.1.5

[Bullshit & Stupidity: Harry Frankfurt’s “On Bullshit”]

 

2.1.6

[Realism’s Inability to Protect Us from Stupidity]

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

2.1.1

[Stupidity as Error: Failing to Judge the True or False as Being Such]

 

[Normally we define stupidity as being error. And error here is understood as not knowing something we should have known. We furthermore suppose that all humans have a “natural disposition towards truth as such” (35) and we think that we all have the good sense to discern the true from the false. So if we fail to judge the true as true or the false as false (including when we fail to judge at all), then we are being stupid, according to this conception.]

 

[ditto]

What is stupidity? Usually, we tend to identify stupidity with error. In other words, we reduce it to a lack of truth, the | absence of something we should have known. That conception presupposes human being to share a universal and natural disposition towards truth as such. Good sense, for example, being the best thing distributed in the world, and naturally equal in all men, allows every individual subject to discern autonomously the true from the false. We behave stupidly when we neglect our power to judge well, or when we don’t use our power at all.

(34-35)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.1.2

[Stupidity’s  Supposed Innocence]

 

[Now, both error and lie involve the confusion of true and false. Lies, we suppose, involve the intention to deceive. However, we think that stupidities that cause errors are more or less innocent and perhaps harmless (as they do not arise from this intention to deceive, and) because, rather than endangering the truth, they instead confirm “the existence of our natural disposition towards it” (35). (In other words, perhaps, because we make room for innocent errors, we recognize that we think truth should prevail in the end, which can be accomplish by correcting the errors.)]

 

[ditto]

But these stupidities, given their nature as errors, can easily be corrected or rectified. Contrary to lies, which presuppose the intention to deceive, stupidity is supposed to be innocent and, one would be inclined to believe, harmless. Such stupidity never endangers the truth – on the contrary, it confirms the existence of our natural disposition towards it. And, given the premise that this disposition coincides with the nature of our mind, our thinking, or our intellect, stupidity will normatively be ascribed to anything that deflects the spontaneous tendency to what counts as “intelligent” or “thoughtful” The intellect heads for the truth by itself, as long as its exercise is not deflected by emotions, feelings, ignorance, illness, etc., i.e. everything by definition exterior to thinking: What distracts the disposition from its pure openness towards the truth refers to the body or the animality (the beast) in us. The stupids are silly sheep, donkeys, or owls.

(35)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.1.3

[Each Era’s Errors]

 

[Each era may hold a different view on truth, the mind, and the intellect. As a result, each era might have its own idea of what would qualify as being erroneous or “contrary to established evidence and conviction” (35). People of the Enlightenment, for instance, denounced “obscurantism and superstition,” while “contemporary advocates of the Enlightenment” confuse “postmodernism with post-truth”  (35).]

 

[ditto]

Of course, every epoch presents its proper form of stupidity. Dependent upon what it believes to be true, and what it believes to be the nature of mind and intellect, every new culture allows itself to denounce what seems contrary to established evidence and conviction. Hence, the Enlightenment (for example of Voltaire) denouncing obscurantism and superstition, Marx denouncing cretinism as a product of capitalism (to tie the workers slavishly to the means of production), the more recent so-called “black books” denouncing Marxism, and contemporary advocates of the Enlightenment confusing postmodernism with post-truth.

(35)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.1.4

[Doomed Efforts for a Stupidity-less Utopia]

 

[Although society may, with utopian ambitions, embark on crusades to abolish stupidity, “such emancipation projects conceal deeper and less decent ambitions but because stupidity as such cannot be eliminated outright or once and for all: It threatens thought from within” (36).]

 

[ditto]

These tendencies to denounce and surpass stupidity are often accompanied by weak or strong versions of utopian aspirations or ideals concerning the nature of reality. The crusade against stupidity is part of a program to emancipate the human being from everything that hinders his or her access to the truth. But, unfortunately, such inquisitions often reflect what Melville once said about how “the greater idiot ever scolds the lesser.”32 And this is not only because such emancipation projects conceal deeper and less decent ambitions but because stupidity as such cannot be eliminated outright or once and for all: It threatens thought from within.

(36)

32. Herman Melville, Moby Dick (London, Penguin Books, 1994), p. 489.

(36)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.1.5

[Bullshit & Stupidity: Harry Frankfurt’s “On Bullshit”]

 

[Harry Frankfurt discusses a particular type of stupidity called “bullshit” (in his “On Bullshit”). Bullshit results when people lack any interest in whether or not what they say is true, because for them, truth itself is not of interest. Frankfurt furthermore connects bullshit to stupidity. “Frankfurt asserts that a general skepticism, ‘which den[ies] that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality,’ is responsible for the proliferation of stupidity.” But, Breeur questions this notion, noting that even if we maintain such a realist standpoint and advocate for speech that remains true to such an objective reality, still there is no guarantee we will not succumb to stupidity. For, “there exist a lot of calamitous stupidities that, as Deleuze said, are made up entirely of truths” (36).]

 

[ditto]

In a recently (and much-commented-on) rediscovered article, Harry Frankfurt complained about the proliferation of a form of stupidity which he called bullshit, which he described as a direct consequence of our lack of interest in the truth-value of what we state or claim. Someone producing bullshit deceives us, because he or she hides from us the fact that truth is of no interest to him or her. The motive guiding and controlling her speech, Frankfurt says, has nothing whatsoever to do with how the things about which he or she speaks truly are.33 But on the basis of what criterion does one claim that she knows how the things truly are? Frankfurt asserts that a general skepticism, “which den[ies] that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality,” is responsible for the proliferation of stupidity. But how can he guarantee that his notion of realism and the promotion of speech that is concerned with the kind of truth it presupposes can protect us against stupidity? After all, there exist a lot of calamitous stupidities that, as Deleuze said,34 are made up entirely of truths.35

(36)

33. Harry G. Frankfurt, “On Bullshit,” in: The Importance of What We Care About (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, [1988] 2005), pp. 117-133.

34. Cited by François Zourabichvili, Deleuze. Une philosophie de l’événement (Paris: PUF, 1994), p. 26.

35. See his remarks on “contemporary” forms of “anti-realist” doctrines, e.g. skepticism “which den[ies] that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality and which therefore reject[s] the possibility of knowing how things truly are” (Frankfurt, “On Bullshit,” p. 133).

(36)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.1.6

[Realism’s Inability to Protect Us from Stupidity]

 

[In order to overcome stupidity, it may not be enough to simply favor realism (which holds that there is an objective reality to which our claims might veridically correspond) over skepticism (which holds we can have no such reliable access to reality and may make room for bullshitting, because bullshitting involves an indifference to the truth values of one’s claims.) The reason this strategy can fail is that “The truth a realist has access to can be as stupid as the errors of the antirealist” (37). Breeur also notes that antirealists do not simply deny that we can have access to reality or that there even is an objective reality in the first place. Rather, antirealists hold that any such access to reality is insufficient for guaranteeing “sense and meaning” (37). Realists are presupposing “a value framework,” and their “notion of truth functions as an undetermined concept in an ontological vacuum” (37).]

 

[ditto]

Perhaps claiming to contest and resist stupidity simply by defending “realism’’ against “skepticism’’ might be a little bit naïve. The truth a realist has access to can be as stupid as the errors of the antirealist. Moreover, it is too easy to declare that the antirealists deny the ability to access and/or the existence of objective reality. Rather, what they wish to disclose is the fact that being able to access objective reality provides no guarantee of sense and meaning; on the contrary, reliance upon an idealized conception of objectivity in order to defend some notion of truth itself presupposes a value framework. For the realist, the notion of truth functions as an undetermined concept in an ontological vacuum. (This is far from self-evident, as we will see.)

(37)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.1.7

[Bullshit as a Greater Danger to Truth than Lies]

 

[Frankfurt makes an interesting distinction between bullshit and lies. Lies oppose truth, and liars reject the authority of truth. But in order to do so, they in the first place recognize truth’s status, value, and power. Furthermore, lies dissimulate something supposed to be true, and as such ultimately affirm the value of truth. Bullshitters, however, are completely indifferent to what is true and what is false, and for this reason bullshit is a much greater threat to truth than lies are. Breeur ends by noting that “This indifference to the difference between what is true and what is false is precisely what is at stake in stupidity and the proliferation of opinions” (37).]

 

[ditto]

Interesting, however, are Frankfurt’s claims opposing bullshit to lies. A lie still dissimulates something supposed to be truth, and in that sense a person who lies is “responding to the truth.” To that extent, argues Frankfurt, he is still “respectful of it.”36 But the “bullshitter” is “neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false,” he does not “reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to [it]. He pays no attention to it at all.” By virtue of this indifference, bullshit is finally a “greater enemy of the truth than [are] lies.”37 This indifference to the difference between what is true and what is false is precisely what is at stake in stupidity and the proliferation of opinions.

(37)

36. Frankfurt, “On Bullshit,” p. 131.

37. Frankfurt, “On Bullshit,” p. 132.

(37)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography:

Breeur, Roland. Lies – Imposture – Stupidity. Vilnius: Jonas ir Jakubas, 2019.

The book can be purchased here.

 

Breeur’s academia.edu page and researchgate page.

.

 

 

.

26 Oct 2020

Shores. Logic of Gilles Deleuze: Basic Principles. Announcement and Preview

 

by Corry Shores

 

[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

 

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Announcement and Preview of

 

Corry Shores

 

The Logic of Gilles Deleuze:

Basic Principles

[Publisher’s book-webpage]

 

 
 
 
 

My book on Deleuze’s logic is now in press. A preview of the table of contents, acknowledgments, and introduction is available here:

https://www.academia.edu/44372079/The_Logic_of_Gilles_Deleuze_Basic_Principles

 

The publisher offers a preview of the first chapter here:

https://bloomsburycp3.codemantra.com/viewer/5f4e5a6fdc0e82000176fab1

 

 

Here is the publisher’s webpage for the book:

https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/the-logic-of-gilles-deleuze-9781350062252/

 

And here is an Amazon.com link:

The Logic of Gilles Deleuze: Basic Principles (Bloomsbury Studies in Continental Philosophy)

 

 

 

I thank a number of people in the acknowledgements (also see below). But here on this blog post I want to especially thank readers of this blog who have helped me on the book and supported me throughout the process, including Clifford Duffy, Terrance Blake, and Scott Wollschleger.

 

 

 

Full Acknowledgements:

This book was first made possible by Roland Breeur, who recommended me to the person who became one of my main editors, Liza Thompson. Much of what I know about philosophy and how it should be conducted, I learned from Prof. Breeur. And Liza, along with my other editors, Frankie Mace and Lucy Russell, have extended to me an incredible amount of generosity with the scheduling for the book. It never would have made it without their help, so I thank you all very much.

The basic content of the book was first made possible by the participants and organizers of the 2014 Paraconsistent Reasoning in Science and Mathematics conference at Ludwig Maximilian University: Peter Verdée, Holger Andreas, David Ripley, Graham Priest, Diderik Batens, Fenner Tanswell, Marcos Silva, Bryson Brown, Hitoshi Omori, Heinrich Wansing, Andreas Kapsner, Cian Chartier, Franz Berto, Itala Maria Loffredo D’Ottaviano, Zach Weber, João Marcos, Luis Estrada-González, Nick Thomas, Maarten McKubre-Jordens, Maria Martinez, Diego Tajer, and Otávio Bueno. They graciously allowed me to present, despite being quite incapable with logic, and they afterward did much to help me begin my project. Peter Verdée and Holger Andreas edited an edition of the proceedings for Springer, and they were kind enough to include my paper in it, the text of which is partly used here. I thank everyone for getting me started in non-classical logics, which still I love to this day.

I could not have written this book without the enduring, loving support of my wife, Gülben Salman. Her sacrifices and efforts are the reason I was able to do all the work necessary here. As a philosopher herself, she also made substantial contributions throughout the whole compositional process, and I cannot thank her enough. Gülben, I dedicate this book to you. I also thank Yasin Ceylan, Aziz Fevzi Zambak, Deniz Yılmaz Zambak, Aret Karademir, Hikmet Ünlü, Bolkar Özkan, Scott Wollschleger, Kurt Ozment, Samet Bağçe, Karen Vanhercke, Vykintas Baltakas, along with my family, Patricia, Ebbie Victor, Fatma, Hasan, Ebbie Paul, Brandon, Aimee, Mandy, Austin, and Joseph for the companionship, support, and advice they gave me all throughout.

Certain parts specifically benefited from help I received from other scholars. Oğuz Akçelik reviewed the logic parts (and any mistakes are mine). Many of the cinema parts (Chapters 4, 7, 8) were made possible by the guidance and teaching of Ahmet Gürata. The section on Plato in Chapter 8 was improved with Hikmet Ünlü’s expert assistance, and his instruction in Ancient Greek proved indispensable for working through the Stoic material in Chapter 5. Dorothea Olkowski taught me about intuitionism and its importance in Deleuze’s philosophy, so all of Chapter 6 was made possible by her writings and comments, and also she reviewed and made suggestions on most of Chapter 5. Roland Breeur’s work on imposture influenced much of what I write on the Falsifier in Chapter 8, and he reviewed and made suggestions for both Chapters 7 and 8. Along the way, I also received help with interpretation, sourcing, and translation from Antoine Dolcerocca, Terence Blake, Clifford Duffy, Roger Vergauwen, Julie Van der Wielen, Griet Galle, Iain McKenzie, Guillaume Collet, and Steven Spileers. Meriç Aytekin contributed much to the sourcing in Chapter 2, and Çi̇si̇l Vardar, to Chapter 1. At the beginning stages, my project benefitted from the comments provided by anonymous referees and from Ronald Bogue. I am very grateful to them. And I have taken great inspiration from the work of Jeffrey Bell, who has pioneered this particular field of study and whose advice I deeply appreciate. I am also heavily indebted to the archivists, transcribers, and translators (listed in the bibliography, but let me here mention Richard Pinhas) who have made Deleuze’s courses accessible. I thank everyone mentioned here so very much.

And many of the logic parts were improved through my correspondences and conversations with Graham Priest. His philosophy is the original inspiration for this book, and he has been nothing but the most generous and supportive toward this project. I thank him for patiently and thoroughly answering all of my questions about his writings and ideas. The philosophical world is so much better because of him, and I will always be deeply grateful.

I also could not have completed this book without the support and understanding of my colleagues at the Middle East Technical University: Halil Turan, Barış Parkan, Murat Baç, David Grünberg, Ayhan Sol, Samet Bağçe, Elif Çırakman, Mehmet Hilmi Demir, Aziz Fevzi Zambak, Fulden İbrahimhakkıoğlu, Yasin Ceylan, Teo Grünberg, Ahmet İnam, Ertuğrul Rufayi Turan, Refik Güremen, James Griffith, Selma Aydın Bayram, Dilek Başar Başkaya, Ercan Erkul, Gülizar Karahan Balya, Hikmet Ünlü, Erdinç Sayan, and Tahir Kocayiğit. (Ayhan Sol helped me especially with freeing up my scheduling for more time to write.)

Many students in my classes and seminars have contributed ideas and insights to this book, including: Bolkar Özkan, Gürkan Kılınç, Ilgın Aksoy, Yıldırım Bayazit, Faik Tekin Asal, Ekin Demirors, Hazal Babur, Tanayça Ünlütürk, Aybüke Aşkar, Meli̇ke Başak Yalçın, Ulaş Murat Altay, Sedef Beşkardeşler, Toprak Seda Karaosmanoğlu, İlkyaz Taşdemir, Çınar Uysal, Handan Ağirman, Tunahan Akbulut, Yasemin Karabaş, Aybüke Aşkar, Mahsasadat Shojaei, Umut Kesi̇kkulak, Ayşe Pekdiker, Seyran Sam Kookiaei, Atakan Botasun, Esra Saçlı, Firuza Rahimova, Sona Mustafayeva, İrem Kayra Özdemir, Erkan Özmacun, Ezel Ortaç, Rada Nur Ergen, and Yiğit Baysal. I thank all of you for your interest in these topics, for your original philosophical thinking, and for helping me interpret the texts.

And finally, I thank the following publishers and journals who granted me permission to reprint texts and figures (and additionally, I thank their blind referees, who helped me improve the articles):

Tijdschrift voor Filosofie / Peeters Publishers. (“The Primacy of Falsity: Deviant Origins in Deleuze.” TijdschriftVoorFilosofie 81 (2019): 81–130).

Routledge. (“Affirmations of the False and Bifurcations of the True: Deleuze’s Dialetheic and Stoic Fatalism.” In Deleuze and Guattari’s Philosophy of Freedom: Freedom’s Refrains, edited by Dorothea Olkowski and EftichisPirovolakis, 178–223. New York: Routledge, 2019.)

Springer. (“Dialetheism in the Structure of Phenomenal Time.” In Logical Studies of Paraconsistent Reasoning in Science and Mathematics, edited by Holger Andreas and Peter Verdée, 145-157. Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2016.)

Deleuze and Guattari Studies / Edinburgh University Press. (“In the Still of the Moment: Deleuze’s Phenomena of Motionless Time.” Deleuze Studies 8, no. 2 (2014): 199–229.)

 

 

Shores, Corry. The Logic of Gilles Deleuze: Basic Principles. London: Bloomsbury, 2020.

[Publisher’s book-webpage]

 

 

 

 

.

Shores. Logic of Gilles Deleuze, 1: Basic Principles, entry directory

 

by Corry Shores

 

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Entry Directory for

 

Corry Shores

 

The Logic of Gilles Deleuze:

Basic Principles

[Publisher’s book-webpage]

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Shores, Corry. The Logic of Gilles Deleuze: Basic Principles. London: Bloomsbury, 2020.

[Publisher’s book-webpage]

 

.

25 Sept 2020

Breeur (2.0) Lies – Imposture – Stupidity, Ch.2.0, “Introduction”, summary

 

by Corry Shores

 

[Search Blog Here. Index-tags are found on the bottom of the left column.]

 

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[The following is a paragraph by paragraph summary of Breeur’s text. Boldface, underlining, and bracketed commentary are my own. Proofreading is incomplete, so please forgive my mistakes. The book can be purchased here.]

 

 

 

 

Summary of

 

Roland Breeur

[Breeur’s academia.edu page and researchgate page]

 

Lies – Imposture – Stupidity

 

Part 1

Lies and Stupidity

 

Ch.2

Alternative Facts and Reduction to Stupidity

 

2.0

“Introduction”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brief summary (collecting those below):

(2.0.1) We noted before that “A lie has the same ambivalence as a fact, a duplicity between the real and the possible.” (31) (A fact has a duplicity between the real and the possible, because insofar as a fact is a given, we cannot change it (it is real); but, insofar as it is something we work toward altering, by means of our imagination and freedom, it is a possible. See section 1.2.) Liars exploit this duplicity (by imagining alternatives to the facts (simulation) and concealing the real facts (dissimulation) (see section 1.3.5).) But in our times, the distinction between what is real and false has broken down (see section 1.6). Facts have lost their normal power of truth in our public discourse. Institutions are no longer able to establish truth from falsehood, resulting in our indifference to what the truth may happen to be. “this deceptive strategy of dissimulation and simulation breaks down in circumstances where the distinction between what is real and what is false is blown up. This is the situation in which, to use the words of Katherine Viner, “the currency of facts ha[s] been badly debased.”31 Facts don’t work, they are often reduced to what someone feels to be the case. When trust in institutions (the “gatekeepers of truth”) crumbles, any criterion hoping to impose any limit between facts and falsehoods is weakened. This weakness creates – whether intentionally or unintentionally – a generalized indifference to truth” (31-32). (2.0.2) Liars and imposters need us to believe that what they are saying is the truth and not something false (which in fact it is). (But in our post-truth era, we noted, that distinction breaks down, and probably-false statements are given equal presence and emphasis as probably-true ones, and we all become indifferent to truth itself. Thus,) “the so-called proliferation of alternative facts in the post-truth era profits from the general anesthesia towards it.” Social media, as gatekeeper of the truth, has instead equalized all claims, true and false. “Facts and opinions, truths and falsehoods, are spread the same way, simultaneously, and as a consequence their synchronized proliferation suffocates any desire for discernment” (34). (So we have established that in such an environment, liars will not succeed. See section 1.6.8.) “This is not the realm or the biotope of liars and imposters, but rather, of stupidity” (34). Breeur calls this sort of Arendtian transformation of truth into opinion the “reduction to stupidity (reductio ad stupiditam)” (34). Breeur will show how this reduction results from certain factors in new media, including social media’s “information cascade” and  “the context in which ‘alternative facts’ diminish not only the status of scientifically validated truths but the difference between such truths and opinions” (34). Of course there are no such things as alternate facts (a term coined by Kellyanne Conway to elevate the truth status to the false figures for Trump’s inauguration attendance). Instead, “this term represents a contraction based on a (malicious or ignorant) conflation of facts and opinions” (34).

 

 

 

 

 

Contents

 

2.0.1

[The Debasement of Truth]

 

2.0.2

[Stupidity Instead of Deception]

 

Bibliography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

2.0.1

[The Debasement of Truth]

 

[We noted before that “A lie has the same ambivalence as a fact, a duplicity between the real and the possible.” (31) (A fact has a duplicity between the real and the possible, because insofar as a fact is a given, we cannot change it (it is real); but, insofar as it is something we work toward altering, by means of our imagination and freedom, it is a possible. See section 1.2.) Liars exploit this duplicity (by imagining alternatives to the facts (simulation) and concealing the real facts (dissimulation) (see section 1.3.5).) But in our times, the distinction between what is real and false has broken down (see section 1.6). Facts have lost their normal power of truth in our public discourse. Institutions are no longer able to establish truth from falsehood, resulting in our indifference to what the truth may happen to be. “this deceptive strategy of dissimulation and simulation breaks down in circumstances where the distinction between what is real and what is false is blown up. This is the situation in which, to use the words of Katherine Viner, “the currency of facts ha[s] been badly debased.”31 Facts don’t work, they are often reduced to what someone feels to be the case. When trust in institutions (the “gatekeepers of truth”) crumbles, any criterion hoping to impose any limit between facts and falsehoods is weakened. This weakness creates – whether intentionally or unintentionally – a generalized indifference to truth” (31-32).]

 

[ditto]

Hannah Arendt once complained that, in many regimes, unwelcome factual truths are often, “consciously or unconsciously, transformed into opinions”30 – as if some events (the invasion of Belgium in 1914, the existence of concentration camps, the genocides during the wars, etc.) were not a matter of historical record but of mere conjecture. Factual truths are from the start not more evident than opinions (which is why they can be so easily discredited). In our first chapter, we analyzed the internal or structural link between facts and lies: A lie has the same ambivalence as a fact, a duplicity between the real and the possible. We argued hence how the liar profits from this duplicity and reproduces it on the level of discourse or communication in order to deceive. But this deceptive strategy of dissimulation and simulation breaks down in circumstances where the distinction between what is real and what is false is blown up. This is the situation in which, to use the words of Katherine Viner, “the currency of facts ha[s] been badly debased.”31 Facts don’t work, they are often reduced to what someone feels to be the case. When trust in institutions | (the “gatekeepers of truth”) crumbles, any criterion hoping to impose any limit between facts and falsehoods is weakened. This weakness creates – whether intentionally or unintentionally – a generalized indifference to truth.

(31-32)

30 Arendt, ‘‘Truth and Politics,” p. 236.

31 Viner (2016).

(31)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.0.2

[Stupidity Instead of Deception]

 

[Liars and imposters need us to believe that what they are saying is the truth and not something false (which in fact it is). (But in our post-truth era, we noted, that distinction breaks down, and probably-false statements are given equal presence and emphasis as probably-true ones, and we all become indifferent to truth itself. Thus,) “the so-called proliferation of alternative facts in the post-truth era profits from the general anesthesia towards it.” Social media, as gatekeeper of the truth, has instead equalized all claims, true and false. “Facts and opinions, truths and falsehoods, are spread the same way, simultaneously, and as a consequence their synchronized proliferation suffocates any desire for discernment” (34). (So we have established that in such an environment, liars will not succeed. See section 1.6.8.) “This is not the realm or the biotope of liars and imposters, but rather, of stupidity” (34). Breeur calls this sort of Arendtian transformation of truth into opinion the “reduction to stupidity (reductio ad stupiditam)” (34). Breeur will show how this reduction results from certain factors in new media, including social media’s “information cascade” and  “the context in which ‘alternative facts’ diminish not only the status of scientifically validated truths but the difference between such truths and opinions” (34). Of course there are no such things as alternate facts (a term coined by Kellyanne Conway to elevate the truth status to the false figures for Trump’s inauguration attendance). Instead, “this term represents a contraction based on a (malicious or ignorant) conflation of facts and opinions” (34).]

 

[ditto]

Whereas liars – and, as we will see, impostors – play with our trust in the existence of that difference, the so-called proliferation of alternative facts in the post-truth era profits from the general anesthesia towards it. This is one of the effects of social media on the gatekeepers of truth. Facts and opinions, truths and falsehoods, are spread the same way, simultaneously, and as a consequence their synchronized proliferation suffocates any desire for discernment. This is not the realm or the biotope of liars and imposters, but rather, of stupidity. What Arendt claimed about the transformation of truth into opinion is a good example of what I will call the reduction to stupidity (reductio ad stupiditam). This reduction, as I will try to explain, is rampant due to, for example, the proliferation of social media, its “information cascade” and the context in which “alternative facts” diminish not only the status of scientifically validated truths but the difference between such truths and opinions. The notion of an “alternative fact” is in itself a provocation: A fact has, given its “stubborn’’ nature, per definition no “alternative.” It is what it is: A fact. As we know, the cynical term “alternative fact” was used by the U.S. counsellor to the president Kellyanne Conway during an interview in January 2017, in which she defended White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s false statement about the attendance numbers of Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States. In itself, this term represents a contraction based on a (malicious or ignorant) conflation of facts and opinions.

(34)

[contents]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography:

Breeur, Roland. Lies – Imposture – Stupidity. Vilnius: Jonas ir Jakubas, 2019.

The book can be purchased here.

 

Breeur’s academia.edu page and researchgate page.

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