Tuesday, August 24, 2004

What Would Niemoller Think?

(Originally Posted 23 August 2005 at 9:54 AM PDT)

The other day, I posted a comment to this post on Triticale's blog. In it he recounts a story that's a sad example of just how dumb we've become. One of the reasons I titled my blog as I did is because it's my opinion that the quality of reasoning in America has gone rapidly downhill in recent years -- rapidly downhill as in "like a meteor in a gravity well". And I believe this lack of reason and logic is a major factor in the strident tone of modern political discourse -- because so many opinions are based on emotion and not on thinking, any dissent is viewed not merely as a philosophical difference, but a personal attack.

And so, I made the following comment, with apologies to Pastor Niemoller:

First they came for Logic, and I did not speak out, for I did not think logically.

Then they came for Reason, and I did not speak out, for I did not think reasonably.

Then they came for Thesis and Synthesis, and I did not speak out, for I did not think synthetically.

Finally they came for me, and I could no longer think for myself.


UPDATE 24 Aug 2004:
If you compare the quote above to the original or the ones quoted at Triticale or Tim Worstall, you'll notice that the order is slightly different. Last night as I was lying in bed, I realized that I wanted to put them in descending order from what I perceived as the most advanced of the three concepts, formal logic, to the most foundational, thesis and synthesis. This way, not only is it a fairly deft (if I do say so myself) play on Niemollers original quote, but it also shows the regression than can be observed in modern thought: starting with a lackadaisical attitude towards formal logic and the avoidance of fallacies, and deteriorating through a cessation of any reasonable attempt to make ones arguments correspond with ones conclusions, to the loss of any ability to synthesize original ideas from what you already know whatsoever.

As soon as I had this thought, I realized that if I made the change, and even more so if I explained the change, there would be some who would accuse me of thinking too much. This, of course, cemented my decision.

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