Saturday, February 6, 2016

On the Ethos of Rational Science

The Triumph of Achilles 

Why aggression is necessary in intellectual discourse

"I am warlike by nature. To attack is part of my instincts. To be able to be an enemy, to be an enemy — perhaps that presupposes a strong nature... for a philosopher who is warlike challenges even problems to a duel."

- Frederick Nietzsche
Nothing is more irritating and stultifying to the progress of philosophical or scientific inquiry than meekness, humility and *smallness* of the soul of a thinker. We are told to be as neutral as possible in all respects when concerning intellectual ideas-- that any sign of personal investment, passion, and intimacy with your ideas is nothing more than immature bias, and that involving yourself (that is to say, bringing ideas into the fold of your life, incubating yourself within them, and letting them grow as parts of you) is vain, pretentious, and ultimately an impediment to clear and rational thought.
Nothing could be further from the truth!!
It is precisely that cold-bloodedness... that chilly, sterile, disembodied state of intellectualizing... which stagnates discourse and dampens even the desire of solving problems and finding answers. Nothing squashes the pure joy of inquiry more than the pretentious affectation of dispassion. No living soul on Earth can truly engage themselves with its mysteries without some degree of heat rising within them, and those who take on the appearance of disinterestedness worked long and hard on such an actor's front.
So go forth, be wild in your expressions of rationality. Passion is a sign that you care, that you are intimate with the subject, that **you** have something to say. Remember that the passion is for answers, for explanations, for reason and understanding... not for any one particular idea that you hold. Such personal involvement does not limit your capacity for rational thought, but rather, it spurns it on! When a man expresses ideas *as himself*, saying, "Do not mistake me, for THIS is what **I myself** think!" then a much greater degree of prior thought and consideration is warranted, so as to not make a fool of oneself, and a reversal of one's stance can be performed without shame, since in this respect one becomes like a champion boxer who has been bested in the ring... you feel more admiration for the superior argument than anything else.
And on this note, please do us all a favor and never remain silent in the face of idiocy. Even if you cannot make an argument against them, or you have no hopes of convincing them... crude dissent is ALWAYS better than silence. At LEAST let them know you disagree, you need not justify yourself.
For we ought to be a bunch of war-like thinkers. This is the only way we stand any chance against the frozen machine of mathematical science.


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