Argumentum ad Hominem
- We’re All Insane! Second Edition will teach you how to think better and saner.
The problem of the messenger and the message is an old one.
While it is important to detach the messenger from the message in order to understand the message as it is, it is also important to understand the messenger as they relate to the design of the message.
- How does one deal with these two conflicting urges? Well, many have chosen sides and picked one over the other.
Below is the solution to the problem of the messenger and the message.
Divide the understanding of the ideas of the philosopher or teacher accordingly: theoretical and personal.
1. Theoretical understanding of the idea.
Under theoretical understanding of the idea, any and all influences upon the idea are not only irrelevant, but they are also clouds or misleading.
For instance, leave out biographical information of the messenger (author); leave out the historical context of the idea (the time period of the author); leave out the development of ideas before and after (author’s education).
2. Personal understanding of the idea.
Under personal understanding of the idea. You can include the social times of the messenger(author). You can include the schooling of the messenger. You can include any influence upon the messenger. You can even include the example of the messenger as they follow or do not follow their teachings.
You may also wish to use other contextual categories for the study of an idea such as: anthropological, developmental, historical, philosophical, political, practical, psychological, religious, social, spiritual.
- The point is that you can explore ideas in more than one context.
- Yes, there are times to understand the politics of ideas and not just their meanings.
Justly or Fairly Examining an Idea Requires the Absence of Influence
- If you wish to know the idea itself, you need as an objective and as free a context as you can provide.
- The intent of the theoretical context of inquiry is to be free of bias, bribery, and influence.
- You examine ideas with just ideas, not personalities, politics, histories, or traditions.
Quotations from Various Sources
“Energy will do anything that can be done in this world.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“I am certainly wiser than this man. It is only too likely that neither of us has any knowledge to boast of; but he thinks that he knows something which he does not know, whereas I am quite conscious of my ignorance. At any rate it seems that I am wiser than he is to this small extent, that I do not think that I know what I do not know.” —Socrates, in Plato’s Apology
“I have the ability to be but not to know or do.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice
“I’m not sure I want popular opinion on my side–I’ve noticed those with the most opinions often have the fewest facts.” —Bethania McKenstry
“If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.” —Anatole France
“Learn to say ‘I don’t know.’ If used when appropriate, it will be often.” —Donald Rumsfeld
“Not knowing anything is the sweetest life.” —Sophocles, Ajax
“One of the best ways to ensure the spreading of a message you hate is to kill the messenger.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice
“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” — Confucius
“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” —William Shakespeare, 1546-1616
“The novice who knows he is just that, has a small amount of wisdom. But the novice who thinks he is wise, is a fool.” —Dhammapada: The Novice, verse 63