We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The technical definitions of solipcism and sophistry tend to elude my memory. I study them, and a month later they slip away. "Sophistry" is of course often used as a general insult towards arguments with which one might disagree, but that usage degrades the meaning.
AVI did my work for me today, on sophistry. His handy practical definition: "Sophistry is a phrase so neat you can't see the loose end that would unravel it. It's flawless, but wrong." Sleight-of-mind.
One of the examples he offers is:
You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.
Hmm, wait a minute - why can't you do both? I'll offer this one:
If the glove don't fit, you must acquit.
Wait a minute - a glove gets to make the decision?
Heard from a New Zealand interviewer last week re global warming: "It's very important for New Zealanders to try to help, even if it doesn't make a difference."
It is? Futility is an essential part of the Kiwi national character?
Thus sophistry is designed to defeat thought, not to provoke thought. Such assertions are designed to ward off that "Hey, wait a minute, does that make sense?" reaction. Always check the premises before discussion, even if they sound OK. Or especially if they sound OK.
Seriously. Humans access the world via pattern recognition. The brain looks to complete patterns. A rhyme is an important pattern, like a circle.
Rhymes and other patterns (like corporate logos) make things easier to remember, and occupy a 'happy' space in your brain. This is why songs and ad jingles strive for rhyme, why Jesse Jackson talks the way he does, why iPods have rounded corners, and why OJ got off.
``A banal truth contains more genius than the works of Dickens, Gustave Aymard, Victor Hugo, Landelle. With these latter a child, surviving the universe, would not be able to reconstruct the human soul. With the former, he could. I presume that he would not sooner or later discover the definition of sophism.''
Being one of two contributors to accept Ass't Village Idiots invitation to comment on his site I contributed this on the thread regarding sophistry.
Thank you for the kind invitation.
I enjoyed your comments on sophistry, especially the one about preparing for and preventing war simultaneously.
We know the head bobbing crowd would all mumble agreement with Tom, shuffle their feet and decry war as a wasted enterprise anyway. War is hell there is little doubt of that. One only has to read about it or watch the DVD's of WWII and WWI to get an idea of how it tears at every generation present during the war and the ones who immediately follow.
In some cases, such as the US Civil War the implications can last for a hundred or more years and yet wars occur with almost metronomic regularity and always have.
I have mentioned, as others have that not all wars are bad things. Our War for Independence was a good cause, as was the Civil War and WWII. From those wars came the greatest and most benevolent nation ever to exist, the freedom of an entire race from slavery, and the prevention of mankind slipping into what Churchill called the dark abyss of perverted science.
Sophist,Plato tells us, is largely responsible for the modern view of the "sophist" as a greedy instructor who uses rhetorical sleight-of-hand and ambiguities of language in order to deceive, or to support fallacious reasoning. In this view, the sophist is not concerned with truth and justice, but instead seeks power. Plato was supported by Aristotle and other great thinkers of that day .
The great counter-balance of course is knowledge. With it one can find the raveled end of the fallacy and cauderize the lie before the infection spreads.
My understanding of sophistry is that the word dates back to the Greeks of Socrates era: there was a common practice for so-called philosophers to be able argue both sides of a case. Such persons were called sophists.
be that as it may, Websters gives a definition as one who reasons adroitly and speciously rather than soundly.
Excellent observation, nja. A trial "expert" would be the very definition of sophistry in action.
In a way, the two words are almost opposites. Sophistry is an argument that sounds logical and, as AVI so aptly stated, you can't find the loose end of. Immediately, anyway.
Solipsism is reducing any argument down to a non-argument because anything can be proven to be not real. The sky is blue? No, you only think it's blue. Everything's just a state of mind, y'see. John McCain is a conservative? Again, just a state of mind.
And everyone has their own point of view, which despite the obvious faults, is a good thing overall I think. Besides, it generally falls to the sword to truly advance a point of view. The rest mere pomp.
A few steps beyond narcissism is personality disorder. In between the two hovers solipsism. All in degrees though solipsism corrals closer to PD.
"Solipsism and pantheism. Together they explain anything. Cancel out any inconvenient fact, reconcile all theories, include any facts or delusions you like. But it's all cotton candy, all taste and no substance - as unsatisfactory as solving a story by saying - 'Then the little boy fell out of bed and woke up.'