FOM: Strong rhetoric
wtait at ix.netcom.com
Fri Mar 13 18:37:59 EST 1998
Jaap van Oosten's (jvoosten at math.ruu.nl ) last posting (3/13) ended with
a protest about Steve S's aggressive and insulting style. I think that v
O's protest was not itself in terms most likely to defuse the rhetoric,
but I at least feel that he has a point.
To me, the issue is not violence, which I am quite happy with between
consenting adults; and if I don't want to witness it, I can screen it
out. But when you insult people, they are no longer simply interested in
the intellectual issue: they want to defend themselves or attack you.
What is happening is that the list is being overwhelmed with issues that
are not in the end about foundations at all but about who was right and
who was wrong---line by line responses, more geared to scoring points
than adding content to the discussion. The interminable back-and-forth
argument about Boolean algebras/Boolean rings/isomorphism is a case in
point (but far from the only one). Can there be anyone who did not
understand after the first exchange what each side was really saying? The
rest (or as much of it as I have been able to bear reading) has all been
about words: what words one or the other person ought or ought not to
If the above is not persuasive, perhaps I can appeal to a sense of
dignity: what has been going on is what gives us nerds a bad name.
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