When Dialectic Goes Wrong

Since consensus is the motor of degeneration, it’s delightful to see this kind of thing happening:

[Twitteritis trivia warning]

May 12, 2014admin 26 Comments »


26 Responses to this entry

  • Izak Says:

    It’s always fun to see what happens whenever intelligent arguments about race are raised, as evinced by this guy’s twitter feed and that Slate review of the new Wade book. When in doubt, resort to arguments promoting nominalism and/or the idea that we can never know anything because our beliefs change all the time, or something. The left, generally speaking, is very solid and coherent in terms of what it wants now and what it has been gradually aiming for over time. But what really secures its power is that it has this astounding ability to flexibly resort to total epistemological nihilism whenever necessary. This “Duck Enlightenment” guy did the right thing.


    Posted on May 12th, 2014 at 6:12 am Reply | Quote
  • j. ont. Says:

    I’d love to hear what Twitter is actually good for. I’ve used it, and it seemed effective at cutting through the noise and reaching specific people (musicians, artists, philosophers—people who have no time for email or private messages), but aside from that I can’t think of much. And then there’s stuff like this, and I wonder why any of these (apparently) smart people allow themselves to get dragged down by Youtube-level drama, trolling, and attention whoring. The Anissimov thing was not quite on the same level, but still deeply inane. I certainly want no part of any of it.


    Kgaard Reply:

    Completely agree. It is totally retarded. Perhaps not a coincidence that Twitter shares have been getting hammered. I fail to see the ultimate utility of the thing.


    peppermint Reply:

    It is for microblogs for famous people. Pretending not to know that is not a way to sound smart here.


    Michael Reply:

    pretending huh ? you live in a ghetto kid ,i too had no idea, and still could care less ;nor can i conceive how that would be an intelligence test anywhere , an anti intelligence test maybe


    Izak Reply:

    Twitter isn’t about usefulness. It’s about fun! Duh.


    argus Reply:

    OK, but it’s not really fun either.


    Posted on May 12th, 2014 at 6:16 am Reply | Quote
  • Aaron Says:

    It is difficult to reconstruct the argument, who shot first, lots of scrolling, etc. illustrates the limitations of twitter.

    I sort of half remember that there were some cultures that had the same word to identify both blue and green. What to name colors and precise boundaries between them are not hardwired. The rest is iron clad biology and physics all the way down. So OK, yes of course color is socially constructed. There is a big material reality color glacier below the waterline and a socially constructed color tip above. This doesn’t make color unreal.

    I have to wonder how much he is bluffing when he says that the “probable” scientific and philosophic consensus is color anti-realism. It would be pretty incredible if that really were the consensus, but anything is possible. The word “probable” means that he is hedging his bets and feels a bit of safety with regard to the obscurity and high credential and reading requirements of the subject. It’s likely that he would be safe to assume that no one reading his tweets are going to run down to the library, pore over Ontology of Color Quarterly Volume XI, and then proceed to either agree with him or call him to account.


    Posted on May 12th, 2014 at 7:12 am Reply | Quote
  • When Dialectic Goes Wrong | Reaction Times Says:

    […] By admin […]

    Posted on May 12th, 2014 at 9:37 am Reply | Quote
  • Orthodox Says:

    Patton Oswalt follows Duck Enlightenment, among 1,700 others. He’s aware that NRx at the very least is the best place to obtain Cthulhu-grade troll material.


    Posted on May 12th, 2014 at 10:21 am Reply | Quote
  • E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Says:

    Twitter is a virtual version of a classical forum with a confusing message log and a search feature. (Hashtags are part of the search feature.)


    Posted on May 12th, 2014 at 3:07 pm Reply | Quote
  • Joël Cuerrier Says:

    Perfect line of argument. Sometimes we get driftted in the ad hominem of the left… so maybe, just going for the ad hominem instead of being rational and logical can be redundant past a certain point.

    Like when you argue with a feminist, what the heck are you going to say rationally at that point?


    Posted on May 12th, 2014 at 3:50 pm Reply | Quote
  • VXXC Says:

    I escape as the Dyslectic cannot be mastered except by fellow adepts.

    I’m quite literal and serious.


    fotrkd Reply:

    I quite liked the related Huxley summation: “Individual insanity is immune to the consequences of collective insanity.”


    Posted on May 12th, 2014 at 10:16 pm Reply | Quote
  • David Stove Fan Says:


    Neat trick I learned in my philosophy classes: anytime someone makes some form of metaphysical nominalist or skeptical epistemological argument against stuff they hate (science, etc), ask them if those same arguments apply to their favorite moral or political position. I’ve found this usually outs them as not actually being consistent in their justifications, but using such justifications to attack positions they don’t like (in other words, they are weak-sense critical thinkers who use reason as a tool to attack, as opposed to strong-sense critical thinking of applying it to their own beliefs).

    Notice also the Wittgensteinian view of meaning as use that Tiehan is promoting. The two mentions of “useful” w.r.t. language points to this. On the one hand Tiehan is promoting a world out there where color doesn’t exist in an ontological sense (while justifying this position with science); while on the other hand saying there is some language game of color. Here is a list of silly bullshit that Tiehan is now committed too:

    1) All living entities on Earth that make use of color are actually living out a fiction. Plants that are green for light, are actually living a lie. Animals that can change their colors to evade predators are playing a silly game, someone ought to tell them about science.

    2) We use color in our sentences right now to distinguish between background and foreground (in our case it is white letters on black, in the case of the SEP article linked by Professor Jackass it is black letters on white). The sentences that comprise the articles of color science and color philosophy are also a fiction. Someone ought to tell those color scientists and philosphers that it is all for nought, and they are involved in a rather question-begging enterprise. Tiehan is in the rather circular position of denying color, while also making use of it. Not only using it, but he wants to say that there is a metaphysical connection between the colored words of color science and the real world.

    3) All forms of visual art aren’t ontologically real. That people use color in creative and original ways is malarkey as a consequence of Tiehan’s view.


    nydwracu Reply:

    No, no, the color-qualia are real, and aside from the people who can’t get the same color-qualia (colorblindness) the color-qualia tend to correlate with certain spectra, so you can abstract away from the qualia to get colors which are comparable across minds once you account for colorblindness, but where you draw the lexical distinctions *is* a social construct — probably not an arbitrary one, since languages tend to build on their color inventories in the same way (if you have two color-words it’s black and white; three, it’s black, white, and red; four, it’s black, white, red, and either green or yellow; five, it’s black, white, red, green, and yellow; six, it’s dark, light, red, green, yellow, and blue — that’s the classic picture anyway, but that doesn’t sound right, since there are a lot of languages (e.g. Japanese) that don’t — or didn’t until Western influence — distinguish blue and green, aren’t there?) — but the point is, languages divide up the color spectrum differently (English distinguishes between green, gray, and brown whereas Welsh has one word for green/gray and another for gray/brown, Hungarian has piros vs. vörös whereas English calls them both red, Russian distinguishes between sinij and goluboj but English calls them both blue (or is that cyan vs. blue?)) and there’s no one ‘right’ way to divide up the color spectrum into core lexical color-items.


    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:

    This may be so, but all languages will adopt all the color names when they need to do photorealistic painting, for the purpose of identifying the different shades in that art. This implies that you cannot determine clearly if the color names were intentional groupings or were naive unities… people all talk about ‘different shades’ of a color. Plus the fact that your cones are adapted for red, green, and blue specifically indicates that a basic level of color division is mapped into the pattern of existence, with varying degrees of grouping and subdivision based on need.

    The whole ‘a country where the trees are blue’ probably glosses the fact that ‘tree blue’ and ‘lake blue’ would have been understood as distinct shades of ‘blue’ anyway. The whole color relativist position is a way of using a mess of information to confuse and obscure, the very opposite of science.


    E. Antony Gray (@RiverC) Reply:

    There’s also a key form of nominalism sneaking in – assuming color even means the same thing in every language…

    nydwracu Reply:

    This may be so, but all languages will adopt all the color names when they need to do photorealistic painting, for the purpose of identifying the different shades in that art.

    There are languages with larger color name inventories than English.

    Of course, this is all about basic color names — there can be non-basic color names (blue-green, dark red, etc. — I think gold and silver aren’t considered basic color names, though I’m not sure why), and between derivation and coining by analogy (see: ‘orange’), you end up with as much specificity as you’d need.

    There’s something interesting going on here: on some level it’s all relative [and therefore seemingly random], but on another level, it’s shaped by certain societal forces, technological demands for specificity, etc.

    So on the most primitive level, there’s a totally linear gradient from less to more developed, with the West (and especially England) being most developed of all; but on closer examination, this breaks down and it’s all random and relative once you get past colonialist ideology and Western supremacism and so on; but on even closer examination, societal and technological demands imply the existence of some sort of advancement-gradation, since advances in certain fields (which demand specificity of color-names) will end up creating a wider vocabulary of color-names…

    …and then, on a fourth level, that can be attacked, since there are languages in Papua New Guinea where certain areas of the color spectrum aren’t lexicalized at all and colors are described by analogy, which presumably would allow at least as much specificity as the English derivation system, but investigation of color names is restricted to basic (i.e. neither derived [dark red is derived from red] nor reducible to a more basic color [maroon is a type of red, but red isn’t a type of anything else] — cf. vörös [ = dark red], which is neither derived from nor reducible to piros [ = red]) color names and that ignores the potential for derivation and analogy and there really ought to be terms for the things that are going on here but there aren’t…

    David Stove Fan Reply:

    Here is a collection of propositions you made:

    (1) Color-qualia are real.

    (2) Color-qualia tend to correlate with certain spectra.

    (3) Via (2), you can abstract away from the qualia to get colors which are comparable across minds

    (4) Given (3), where you draw the lexical distinctions is a social construct.

    (5) Given (1) to (4), languages divide up the color spectrum differently.

    (6) Given (5), there’s no one ‘right’ way to divide up the color spectrum into core lexical color-items.

    What RiverC said below, you are sneaking in a form of nominalism and relativism. You say the issue is that different languages divide up the color spectrum differently, but what is at issue is ontology (what exists or not). (1) and (3) make references to minds. (4) to (6) make reference to language. The only possible premise in your argument that actually latches onto reality is (2), but even there you are hedging your words with qualifiers like “correlate”. Other problems:

    (a) (1) to (3) seem to imply that color needs minds capable of subjective experience. How do you explain life forms that don’t have shared minds or abstracta making use of color? E.g. plants and their many shades of green that help with sunlight. You might say this is from evolution, but this is just my point. There seems to be something mind-independent going on here, even if color consists of vague language predicates.

    (b) The jump from (5) to (6) is a jump from what is the case, to what is not normatively the case. You need some extra premise why it is not normatively the case.

    (c) (1) to (6) seem to rule out any sort of color science at all. The only things that exist in the scientific endeavour of color are minds and language. You might say this isn’t the case given (2), but you are universally quantifying over all languages in (5), this includes scientific papers and research, which have to be grounded in a language. (5) and (6) seem to undermine (2).

    E.Antony Gray (RiverC) Reply:

    Color derivations don’t argue for anything – colors are often more based on ‘where the color occurs’ or ‘how it is produced’ – if red and dark red are produced differently, their terms may be unrelated. An example of this in English is orange/yellow and brown.

    Brown is either dark orange or dark yellow, but since differentiating ocher and umber browns has little significance to most people’s daily lives – as opposed to differentiating red and pink (flushed cheeks) pink and white (pale from sickness) etc, etc, we don’t bother. But when pushed we would of course acknowledge there are different browns, unless we have low grade color-blindness (can’t distinguish subtler color differences.)

    My prediction is that there are other colors that fall outside of the spectrum but are not expressible with physical light. Our minds correlate color to a particular range of physical light because it is a simple way to distinguish between wavelengths, and noting contrasts is the basis for visual perception. If we argue from either a design perspective (God’s) or a adaption perspective (efficacy) we come to the same conclusion, and that is that we’re set up to translate a certain set of wavelengths to colors. This also means that it is possible we don’t really even see the same colors at all, though I think since we’re all similarly wired the translation should be similar enough.

    I would stress that colors are ontologically real but also a continuum; therefore the breaking up of that continuum contains an additional meaning, whether descriptive of the actor’s history or perception, or of what the actor thinks colors should mean. Colors being continuous doesn’t argue for their being a construct or purely physical, it argues for their being infinite and thus always subject to remapping based on need.

    Ademonos Reply:

    ” This also means that it is possible we don’t really even see the same colors at all, though I think since we’re all similarly wired the translation should be similar enough.”

    Or are we? What if evolutional pressure in different parts of the world has caused the translation to differ, based on different requirements for distinction and prioritization of colours?

    nydwracu Reply:

    Ah, but I’m not sneaking them in at all — I intend them completely. Spectra are physical facts; colors are, as they say, social constructs. Plants emit certain spectra that we call green, but the greenness of the plants — that is, the trait of the plant as having the same color as limes, geckos, and emeralds, and a different color than the sea, the sky, and bluebirds isn’t inherent in the plant, but arises from the interaction of the plant with the language. (Spectra are one-place functions; colors are two-place.)

    nydwracu Reply:

    And right after I wrote that I realized that the real issue is probably that we’re using ‘color’ differently — obviously you’ll get different results if you define it as the raw physical facts than you would if you define it as the result of sending the physical facts through the individual language-function.

    nydwracu Reply:

    What’s the pattern that’s going on there in that fourth level and what are some other examples of it?


    Posted on May 13th, 2014 at 12:04 pm Reply | Quote
  • This Week in Reaction | The Reactivity Place Says:

    […] Nick Land was kind enough to offer praise for Yours Truly’s Urban Dictionary definition of “Neoreactionary”. OK, so it wasn’t perfect. Hey, what part of “Urban Dictionary” (blocked @ work!!) do you not understand? But if it’s good enough, then go over and upvote it, or… write a better one. Land also offers praise for The Duck’s debating style. […]

    Posted on May 17th, 2014 at 6:05 am Reply | Quote

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