Reason vs Violence | INFJ Forum

Reason vs Violence

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by wolly.green, Jul 24, 2017.

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  1. wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    Are reason and violence opposed? Is violence antithetical to reason? And is this a bad thing?

    One interpretation of this question says that reason does two important things: it helps us to manage conflicting ideas, and it helps us to discover truth. Historically, various forms of violence have been used to resolve conflicts. In disputes over things like culture, religion and land, people have tended to fight each other. But as we have seen over and over, talking also works. Now, since no single conflict can be addressed with both reason and violence simultaneously, it follows that they must be antithetical. But this implies that violence actively suppresses reason, which means that truth is also suppressed. Therefore, since truth is necessary for survival, it follows violence is always bad.

    Thoughts?

     
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  2. charlatan

    charlatan Community Member

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    Sure; I don't know of a single instance where violence beats all parties talking things over, and I buy the argument that it just can't be the case.
    Of course, if one or more parties poses a violent threat, in interest of survival of a subset of the species (so as to allow for future progress), one might not be able to avoid the violence, but again, I don't think there's a case where it should ever come to this.

    Quite honestly, I go a bit farther, in that I don't see justification for "agreeing to disagree." It really seems to me either both/one party admit(s) to not knowing/understanding something, or we reach a conclusion or at the very least we say we don't have time.
    Hence why I favor clarifying styles of discussion over argumentative ones.
     
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  3. James

    James Is this the Library ?
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    I think we are probably, an omnivorous very evolved ape like creature, and sadly still possess a lot of those "animal" violent traits.

    Hopefully we'll reach a point where civilisation and reason, pushes past what I see as harmful genetic baggage. I hope so, as we have obtained technologies that make violence a very dangerous thing.
     
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  4. charlatan

    charlatan Community Member

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    Yeah, often that's the argument I've seen people give; the funny thing is I say what else have we got?! Violence doesn't work either, then...plenty of times, engaging in violence leads to not getting what you want. You get overpowered, for instance.
    Especially if you're, say, a common bully, you'll find you conflict with other common bullies who want all the power for themselves. Maybe 50% of the time you win, 50% they win.

    The real truth is most people are engaging in a combo of reason and violence. And there's really no sensible reason that can't shift to 100% reason. The fact that it's so hard to get rid of the violence is just that everyone needs to sign onto reasoned discussion.
     
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  5. OP
    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    My argument is not quite as you say. You said it is easy to buy the fact that violence never 'beats' discussion. But this not quite what I was saying.

    Consider some political conflict. Say, on whether abortion should be legal. There are two sides to this conflict, and each has their own set of ideas and reasons to choose one position of the other. Since the dispute is over whether abortion should be legal or not, those sets of ideas and reasons MUST conflict. Now we have two options: either we choose to settle the conflit through reason and discuss, or we fight. There is no choosing both simultaneously.

    As you stated above, the only case where violence is necessary is with self defence. But even in this case, the above argument still follows.

    I agree with this. Karl Popper wrote about this in his book The Myth of the Framework. He states that differences in conceptual frameworks should not prevent to people from using reason. We all know that no matter how big the differences between two groups, it is always possible to have a discussion. Even if that discussion is intolerably difficult.
     
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  6. charlatan

    charlatan Community Member

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    Alright, I understand, I think; your point is that, since reason is always a good, and since violence conflicts directly with reason, violence is problematic, period.
    I buy that, sure.
     
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    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    Yes, basically! Now the next question to ask is: Why is reason good? What are you thoughts?
     
    #7 wolly.green, Jul 28, 2017
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  8. charlatan

    charlatan Community Member

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    I'd say in any situation of conflict, there are clearly disagreements; in at least such situations, reason's clearly a necessity for a moral solution, hence a good!

    I'd say more generally, while we could say reason is just necessary for good, I go farther and say it simply is good, because we cannot justifiably suspend it (this is the idea that it seems strange to say we can decide to be irrational justifiably -- that is, give reasons for suspending reasons). And there doesn't seem to be a neutral between rational and irrational. So rejecting irrationality seems to me to be tantamount to accepting rationality. And the acceptable as opposed to the rejected (at least how I use the words) is good.

    This further says that which conflicts with reason is bad.

    I think people generally think of reason as often neutral, because the statements it makes can be neutral. However, whether we should adopt the rational attitude does involve good/bad judgments, here it seems to me to be a good.

    Of course, I don't equate being rational with by necessity pursuing every fact under the sun or anything silly like that, which is why the intuitive objection that some knowledge doesn't seem relevant to good doesn't matter for my purposes here.
     
    #8 charlatan, Jul 29, 2017
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    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    So basically, there can be no 'reason' to reject rationality since that 'reason' must be arrived at through rationality. If one accepts a 'reason' to reject rationality, one must also reject that 'reason' since it was arrived at using rationality. Which is a logical paradox...

    I believe this must be the case. But I do not believe this is the most compelling reason to value our tradition of rationality and reason. I put up an article on this.
     
  10. charlatan

    charlatan Community Member

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    I'm silly, lol, where's this article/what's it called? Was not sure where to find it. Or you could explain here!
     
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    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    On this website. On why openness is so important.
     
  12. the

    the Si master race.
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    Reason is powerless against the unreasonable.
     
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  13. OP
    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    I disagree.
     
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  14. Ren

    Ren Secretary of State

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    I think it depends on the kind of system of valuation you use. You need to get into metaethics to answer this question about the goodness of 'reason' as you define the term.

    An ethical system predicated on the idea that great men should flourish at the expense of weaker men (which is one way of looking at Nietzsche's ethical view) will probably not consider violence to be "bad". If the yardstick is the enhancement of one's power to the maximum of what it can achieve, then cunning and violence will likely take precedence over your interpretation of reason as productive discussion aiming at getting closer to truth. This system won't seek truth so much as power. I'm not saying I defend this system, but it's a possible way to conceive of ethics, however repellent it may seem.

    There are different routes closer to my own view, of course. A Kantian deontologist will use the categorical imperative to show that violence is bad and reason is good: "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law." We see here that violence fails on that count, but reason does not. A utilitarian, on the other hand, might say that he aims for the "good" to be what benefits the highest number of people possible. On this approach also, reason will be arguably be good and violence bad, because in a conflict, reason will make room for the benefit of both parties, whereas violence will only benefit one party.

    I'm not sure about this. I find the premise "truth is necessary for survival" too vague. It might be argued that survival can be achieved through the alternative pursuit of truth (or certain truths) and violence, at discrete intervals of time. It also depends if you mean survival of the species or survival of just one member of the species. Such questions have importance, I think.
     
    #14 Ren, Oct 31, 2017
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  15. OP
    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    I don't think I delivered my argument clearly enough. So I will do so here.

    Remember our discussion in the Thread about Utopia. My argument there was that problems are inevitable. Every time we solve one problem, another will always emerge without exception. The solution to one issue ALWAYS leads to new, novel issues.

    But how do us humans solve problems? How is it that we go from problem to solution? Suppose I own a delivery company that specialises in delivering furniture. My company has recently come under fire for failing to meet delivery deadlines! What can I do? Well, I could try to solve this problem by optimising our delivery process. I could hire more people, fire those employees that are not working efficiently, find better delivery vehicles and so on. But what happens when optimisation fails to yield results? What can we do then. It won't help to buy a better vehicle because this is just more optimisation. It wont help to find more efficient delivery routes either because this too is just more of the same. A situation where optimisation fails to deliver results requires a dramatically different sort of solution; it requires innovation! Only innovation can solve these sorts of problems. And it is only through creating new knowledge that one can innovate.

    A more urgent example from real life is global warming. Global warming is a huge issue that requires substantial innovation to solve. If we are to prevent global temperatures from rising even further, we are going to need to create A LOT of new knowledge. If we are prevented from seeking new knowledge -- either by religion, idiology or WAR -- we will fail. Global temperatures will continue to rise, and civilization will perish! This is why it is so important that we should be able to search for truth? Without truth, we cannot solve problems, including potentially civilization ending catastrophies! Without truth, we will die!

    Violence is bad because it prevents us from solving problems. Remember that reason and violence are just two ways of resolving conflicting ideas. You cannot resolve the same conflicting ideas using both reason and violence simultaneously. It is always only one or the other. Since reason is our only means of discovering truth, it follows that reason is our only means of solving problems. And since solving problems is our only means of surviving, it follows that violence is immoral. This is essentially why your moralistic argument in support of violence does not work. All humans need to solve problems; no matter what. Now you could argue that violence actually does solve some problems -- such as conflicting ideas. Therefore, it is 'good' some of the time. But does this really follow? You should be able to figure this one out for yourself. But if you can't, I'll lay out the argument for you.
     
    #15 wolly.green, Nov 2, 2017
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  16. Ren

    Ren Secretary of State

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    I find your tone here uncharacteristic of the one you usually employ. :confused1:Did I say anything in my previous message to upset you? I decided to revive this thread because the discussion interested me and I thought we might be able to push it further by bringing in new perspectives. My intention is never to be right – it is to gain a richer perspective through productive exchanges.

    Keep in mind that these questions have been discussed by philosophers and others for centuries. We will most likely be rehearsing debates already held hundreds of times. To my knowledge, nobody has ever produced the conclusive proof that ‘violence is always bad’. Maybe I agree with this, maybe I don’t. What I know for sure is that I am interested in a productive debate to become more enlightened on the matter. But my feeling is that, instead of engaging with what I said in my post, you only chose to screen what did and what did not fit your own argument. What about the ethical valuation of good and bad, and the assumptions that we necessarily make when we decide to call something good and its opposite bad? What about the categorical imperative as an attempt to bypass the fact that judgements of value are necessarily synthetic judgements? What about utilitarianism? Can you provide a definition of 'good' without begging the question?

    Although I greatly enjoy your ideas and insights, sometimes you sound very affirmative in a way that I don't find warranted. « Violence is bad because it prevents us from solving problems. » Even this, once we look at it with intensity, is actually not obvious to me. What about the feminist struggle? What about the struggle for the rights of African Americans? In some Swiss cantons, women obtained the right to vote in the 1970s. Do you think they obtained that right only via reasonable arguments? I don't think so. They had to fight for them. Algeria did not get its independence from France by relying exclusively on sound reasoning. Structural inequality in the world will probably be not be solved by relying entirely on sound reasoning. Unfortunately, violence or the threat thereof will have to be used as a means to push these agendas. Because humans are not pure reasoning machines: sometimes they will have self-interest against an argument; sometimes they will candidly not understand the best argument.

    Even your example about global warming is telling. Trump pulled out of the Paris accords – we will both agree that this is disastrous. But don’t you think he could do this because he is at the helm of a country, the USA, that has the geopolitical leverage to do this without suffering too many consequences in terms of sanctions (i.e. violence) from other countries for having done so? It’s quite likely that, had the USA not been able to meet the possible violence ensuing from pulling out, they wouldn’t have pulled out, and the agenda for global warming would have progressed faster. Maybe we can see here how reason - the logical argument aiming at the truth of the solution to global warming - and violence - the political means to bring this argument to fruition in the real world - do not collide into cancelling each other, but actually may support each other to push change.

    Of course, you might say that in all these instances, we are only talking about the situation in which “A is assaulting me, therefore me using violence to defend myself is necessary.” But if structural inequality is endemic to the world, the said situation is no longer an exception. It is how the world works, and how it has worked since the beginning of human society, it seems to me, looking at the historical record. And if it is no longer an exception, then maybe our valuation of reason as 'good' (once we have defined 'good') will not necessarily entail the symmetrical valuation of violence as 'bad'. Once you arrive at truth via reasoning, how do you implement that truth for human society? It may even be argued that any kind of decision-making features a degree of violence, insofar as one way or another, the decision will have to be imposed on others.

    I think there are other possible issues with your argument above (in particular, a vagueness in the definition of the words violence and problem that may confuse our exchange; also the distinction between means and ends) but my tertiary Ti is exhausted so I may have to think about how to show why over the weekend! Again – I’m only trying to bring in new perspectives here. I do not care in the least for being right or wrong.
     
    #16 Ren, Nov 2, 2017
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  17. Wyote

    Wyote Castigat Ridendo Mores
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    Well reasoned violence solves all problems
     
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  18. Wyote

    Wyote Castigat Ridendo Mores
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    All problems stem from perceived unreasonable violence
     
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  19. OP
    wolly.green

    wolly.green Community Member

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    When I said "Does it really follow? You should be able to figure this out for yourself", I did not mean to imply that my argument is unquestionably correct. What I meant is that the answer to the question "does it really follow" can be derived from the structure of my argument. If you can find an error in the structure, my whole argument will fall apart.

    You have actually made two points here, so I'll deal with them one at a time. Your first point is that sometimes violence is just necessary. No amount of reason will secure your freedom. Your second point is that "sometimes they will candidly not understand the best argument." You mentioned that Algeria did not gain independence by using only reason, and that women had to use force to win their right to vote. I can see what you mean when you imply that these are two good examples of 'virtuous violence'. Although it certainly IS true that women had to fight for their right to vote, I would like you to consider another way understanding this.

    In both scenarios there are two opposing sets of ideas. In the one case, you have the idea that Swiss women deserve to vote coming into direct conflict with the idea they do not. In the other case, you have the idea that Algeria deserves independance coming into direct conflict with the idea that they do not. Both cases, although unique, are very similar in structure. Both involve the oppression of one group by another. And both involve substantial loss of freedom. This is important because freedom is absolutely necessary for knowledge to grow; this conclusion just follows from Karl Poppers epistemology. Thus freedom is one of those things that is necessary to find solutions to issues. By preventing Swiss women from voting, their government is suppressing their capacity solve problems. This is supremely immoral because it means these women are effectively disabled from improving their own lives, or securing their own future. In such an oppressive situation, their violence is just a form of self defence; which in my opinion is the only exception to the rule that 'violence is always immoral'. The same argument can be formulated for the case of Alegrias independence.

    You claimed above that sometimes people are just incapable of seeing the best explanation, therefore violence is necessary. Sometimes this could mean that the public is just not capable of understanding the best explanations available. Other times this could mean that nobody is willing to change their mind. Still other times this could just mean that getting something done is in direct conflict other people's interests. Whatever the obstacle, these are just more problems to be solved. Thus it cannot be used to justify violence. This might sound like a cheap cop out, but it's not. Convincing others is ALWAYS a problem that must be over come when trying to formulate solutions that involve other people. There is no exception to this, ever. All social movements, no matter how small, involve the challenge of convincing other minds that you are right,, and they are wrong. This is the reason that this cannot be used to justify violence.

    Ok sure, inequality is endemic. I completely agree with you. And yes, this is just the way the world has always worked. But there are so many questions to consider here. Perhaps most important of all: 'is it possible to get rid of all structural inequality?'. This is similar to asking whether a Utopia is possible. I think the answer is no. And the reason is because we are fallible, we never have a complete knowledge of reality. There are always situations we cannot account for. Thus, our solutions to problems will always contain errors and misconceptions. Therefore Utopia is impossible. But if human reason is fallible and Utopia is impossible, then it follows that a world free of social inequalities is also impossible. The best and most noble thing we can ever do is make improvements to those inequalities that we know about. Social inequalities are going to be with us forever because our knowledge of reality is never complete -- and there ain't nothing we can do about it.. This is quite important, because if I am correct, then it is quite unreasonable to use inequality as an excuse for violence as well. I'm not saying you can't however. All I'm saying is that you can't use inequality as an excuse on its own.
     
    #19 wolly.green, Nov 2, 2017
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  20. Disguised

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    Would reason work with North Korea? Would powerful words make it a better place for the vast amounts of people living in there and stop the race with nuclear weapons? I really do want to know what it is that which would turn that into something good. Sure one can think and believe it will sort itself out one shiny day. Let there be a civil war and all will turn out just fine. Is it morally in any way acceptable to see others use their views and ideals as the means of oppression? Is it all good to wait for something to happen, for them to find reason as well? I feel like not, not ever. Reason that would resonate in that madness is a dream that doesn't exist. Violence is all good to me if it aims for allowing freedom of choice for people.

    Good is no good at all for others if it's left by itself. If we lay people out as plain good and bad, the bad will have no problem with fighting. The purest and best of people would rather choose morals and dignity at the time of fight, and also die with them.

    At the time of nazi Germany they couldn't be just convinced no more, it was too late. I wish it could have, but it had to be sorted out with a lot of violence. They needed more than convincing to turn back from that route. I wouldn't go as far as convincing others is always bad. No matter if the problem was political or concrete, if you have the knowledge of what will happen then you must convince. If your friend was jumping off a cliff, you wouldn't convince him not to? If you could meet Hitler and convince him that he would be one of the most hated persons in human history you wouldn't? I think it's quite naive to think that people will find their way no matter what they are heading into. Even children need convincing sometimes to do the right thing. I'm not saying that there isn't wisdom to be found in doing what is wrong, but sometimes it is plain ignorant to let those mistakes happen.
     
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