Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Fred Astaire Polemics


Nice insight from Jordan Peterson:

He was was asked what is the most legitimate criticism of him.

He said it is his inclination to anger. 

Then he noted his need to keep his temper in check. 

He’s been thinking about this a lot and trying to do this, he said, especially over the last year and a half or so as he’s become publicly more prominent. 

Then he spoke about the common law doctrine of self defense using only the minimum amount of force necessary. He spoke about how he has adapted that doctrine to situations in polemics, particularly oral polemics, in a word, discussions.

He then said, in a striking, indeed a sparkling, formulation, that it’s a mark of “sophistication and elegance” in discussion and debate to defend yourself, which you have a clear right to do, which is necessary that you do, with only the amount of rhetorical, personal (and maybe intellectual—I’m not sure about intellectual) force that is necessary.

What a wonderful notion: so often in discussions, particularly virtual ones where you don’t have the constraint of the living presence of another person (though I suppose that that face to face dynamic can cut both ways) we can get overheated, lose it, become insulting, want verbally to hurt. How often do we regret what we’ve said. How often have we frayed or even blown good relations by what we’ve said. And how often have we counted to ten, gone back to a first version and toned it way down and then breathed a huge sigh of relief for doing it. 

I love the notion of “sophistication and elegance” in self constraint in polemical self defense. 

And hey, who doesn’t want to be sophisticated and elegant?

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