great line-argumentative people the ancients called “Sophists,” and we moderns call “Jerks Who Do Not Realize That Winning a Political Debate At Our Kids’ Soccer Team Picnic Really Does Not Matter.”
Awhile back in a post on love I noted that one of the benefits of philosophy is that it can give one the ability–after lots of practice, of course–to “question the question.” That is to say, even the most skeptical among us tend to be blindly trusting when it comes to language. When a question is posed to us, we often try to answer the question on its own terms. And, of course, we botch the answer, leading us to worry that maybe we are wrong or stupid.
We tend not to notice that maybe this is the kind of question that cannot be answered well, because the question itself is flawed. The philosophical habit of mind can begin to inoculate us against this danger. It makes us harder targets for those unfairly argumentative people the ancients called “Sophists,” and we moderns call “Jerks Who Do Not Realize…
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