I recently decided to get active on Facebook. The groups dealing with economics or politics appeared to have a higher ratio of hostility to content than I was comfortable with, so I have mostly been posting in the SCA groups. I encountered interesting conversations there but also a pattern that I found disturbing—and suspect is not limited to that particular context.
One version takes the form of "it's all a matter of opinion" or similar statements, offered in response to a question about different ways of playing the game. When pushed, the poster seems to be saying that opinions are entirely arbitrary, that there are no reasons relevant to whether (for example) it is better to specialize in things associated with your persona's culture or to ignore that and do whatever in the SCA period seems interesting.
A different version of what I suspect is the same pattern appears if I offer an argument for doing something—for example, for trying to do things as they were done in period even when the failure to do so will not be obvious to others and so will not interfere with their experience (discussed in an earlier post
). Some people respond with arguments agreeing or disagreeing with me. But others respond with some version of "stop attacking me for not doing things your way" or "nobody should try to shove his views down anyone else's throat." It is as if offering reasons for doing something is merely a disguised way of trying to force people to do it, a form of aggression.
These responses suggest an unstated assumption that reason is irrelevant to much of what we do, that there are no good reasons for or against, that decisions such as how to play the SCA game are as arbitrary as opinions about the relevant merits of chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Taken seriously, that seems to imply both that there is no point in conversation about these topics—why should you care what my opinion is if opinions have no basis—and that we might as well make our decisions by flipping coins. I suspect it goes along with a culture that regards "judgmental" as a pejorative term—as if there is no reason for people to make judgements.
The title of this post is a slogan used in fund raising for black colleges, but I think its application is wider than that. There is little point to having a mind if you do not believe it is of any use.
Labels: opinion, reason, SCA