Thursday, February 22, 2018

Phony Intellectualism Exposed


Joe Hinman has done a lot of reading - especially academic works including various philosophers and scientists.  Being exposed to a wide variety of ideas gives one a well-rounded perspective.  He loves to cite their words in his own writing, usually in support of his ideas about God and theism.  That's great.  They can lend an air of erudition, and provide a measure of academic authority to help you make your point.  Especially if you understand what they're saying.  But if you don't, you run the risk of destroying your own argument.  And besides that, you risk crossing the line from from erudition to pretentiousness.  And that seems to be the hallmark of Joe.

I was surprised some time ago (and I'm sorry I do not recall the specific location of this discussion) to hear Joe make the claim that all subatomic particles are comprised of still more fundamental particles.  Of course that is not consistent with the scientific view.  But Joe had a quotation from a physicist that he cited to prove his point.  The trouble is, he didn't understand what the physicist was saying.  When I tried to explain it to him, he doubled down, and insisted that he had the quotation from a real physicist to prove it.  Joe is not educated in science, so it might be forgivable for him to make this kind of claim, but it is not really forgivable to continue to insist that he's right after his mistake has been pointed out to him.  You see, in his liberal arts education, Joe studied "History of Ideas", which includes some important scientific discoveries, and he feels this qualifies him to properly interpret any scientific paper or article, no matter what the topic.  And he feels confident in dismissing someone who actually knows something about science, because he is convinced that he knows better, and arrogant enough not to doubt it.

And Joe's failure to understand what he reads is not limited to scientific works.  The same can be said of various philosophical materials.  I'm not saying that there is nothing he understands correctly, but there certainly are philosophical works where Joe doesn't quite grasp the concept, but fails to recognize that fact.  An example of this is Jean Paul Sartre's ontological dualism of being-in-itself and being-for-itself.  I discussed this issue in an earlier article.  I don't know if Joe has read much of Sartre, but I do know that it's easy to find plenty of explanatory material that clarifies the concept.  So there's really not much excuse for quoting a passage from the philosopher in an effort to prove a point, when in fact that passage does nothing of the sort.  What it accomplishes is to show that Joe doesn't know what he's talking about.  But that doesn't stop him from believing that he has shown how "sophisticated" he is because he includes a quote from Sartre in his writing.

Now, these aren't just isolated cases of Joe not understanding what he reads.  This kind of thing occurs again and again.  And in my experience, it is impossible to convince him that he doesn't get it.  His typical reaction is to ignore any supporting evidence and instead demand PhD credentials.  Joe has made it clear that he has no respect for the knowledge or opinions of anyone who argues against him, if they don't produce their academic credentials.  And the funny thing is, he doesn't have a PhD himself.  He just considers himself to be a member of the academic elite because he has a master's degree from a bible college, and was in a PhD program.  He calls himself "ABD" (all-but-degree).  On this basis, he feels that he understands more than the rest of us, and that he is justified in talking down to those who disagree with him, rather than actually rebutting their arguments.  See, for example, his responses to me here.

And so does he talk down to my friend Papalinton, while completely failing to grasp the point that Papalinton made in the first place, here.  In fact, Joe's response is an ironic affirmation of the very point Papalinton made.  But Joe thinks he has scored a smack-down, with ungrammatical and barely comprehensible language that sounds sophisticated to his own ears:
He not only spells truth differently but gives it a registered trade mark; nothing could be more appropriate because the modern denuded concept of truth replacing the real idea of truth is a product of 1DM [2] and thus the simulacra truth of the closed realm of discourse (the product of regicide everything to consuming and producing).
Let me explain for Joe's benefit.  Papalinton's use of the term "Trooth™" is a parody.  You don't have to explain to the unsophisticated among us that "God = truth", because we are well aware that's what you think.  It's the concept of truth, as understood in the ordinary non-theistic sense, that has been appropriated, degraded, and cheapened by theists.  If you can say "God is being", or "God is love", or "God is perfection", or "God is truth", then you have effectively merged those words all into a single concept, and removed any semantic distinction between them.  You have rendered them essentially meaningless.  Thus, the concept of truth that we all understand (because it has real meaning) becomes the theistic "Trooth™". 

But this is apparently beyond Joe's grasp.  Instead, he inexplicably declares this statement to be a "product of the 1DM" (one-dimensional man), which is a Marxist social concept espoused by philosopher Herbert Marcue.  What does that have to do with the meaning of "truth"?  It's irrelevant to this discussion.  I think this is just another example of Joe's appropriation of philosophical concepts in a context that doesn't make sense, because it superficially sounds as if it helps to make his point (as in Papalinton is one-dimensional because he doesn't understand the Christian appropriated concept of truth).  Just like he thinks that Sartre's concept of "being-for-itself" exemplifies God, when in fact it refers to man without God.  Sounds good to someone who doesn't understand the philosophical concept, I suppose.  Throw in a fifty-cent word here and there, and you've sealed the deal, in your own mind.  But to those who have a better understanding, it sounds as if Joe has replaced intelligent discussion with shallow sound bites.

22 comments:

  1. Joe's got theistic sources that interpret Sartre much the same as him.

    But since Sartre is in the continental tradition this well-known quote from another very famous French philosopher might be relevant as to the manner in which someones concepts and precepts can later be appropriated by other thinkers. That's how it works, the philosophy game.....

    I imagined myself as arriving in the back of an author and giving him a child, which would be his and which nevertheless would be monstrous ....
    -- Gilles Deleuze


    This kind of thing was also labelled, by another now-famous academic working in literary criticism, & a bit more politely, as a "creative misreading."

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  2. "creative misreading."

    - Something Joe seems to be very good at. And yet he complains very loudly when others don't read things the same way he does.

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    1. an air of erudition, I was a Ph,D candidate passed my qualifying examines with flying colors,one of the judges said it was the finest performance on an exam he had seen at UTD. I ran an academic journal in which several nationally excoriate caddies published,I was asked to be a referee for other journals. My book was laded by the major researcher in the field.

      that is far more than just an "air." You are to purse this stupid vendetta because your little glass self image is based upon putting down others,that's why you are an atheist.

      Ryan M is q intellectual he has castigated your Knowledge of various topics on many occasions. Your self acceptance hang in the balance so you have to put me down to reassure yourself that you are wroth anything. That is a sick place to e in.

      you need to learn to accept yourself on your own terms,

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    2. Joe, you are a conceited, pompous ass. The thing I've been trying to tell you is that you put far too much effort into puffing up yourself, and belittling your opponent, but not nearly enough into answering the argument at hand. Your ABD doesn't mean anything to me (or anyone else). It is the fact that you can't provide a cogent response to an argument.

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  3. Now he he;s going to base his whole life on getting even with me.

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  4. By John W. Loftus at 11/04/2007
    "Christian thinker Joe Hinman has the equivalent of a Ph.D. and is taking me to task for dealing almost exclusively with fundamentalist Christianity, here, and here. Maybe I have developed a tunnel vision about the Christian faith, and so I thank him for reminding me that Christianity is broader than fundamentalism. But as you'll see I can also deal with liberal versions of Christianity. I recommend his blog."

    http://www.debunking-christianity.com/2007/11/metacrocks-blog.html

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    1. That was a long time ago. John evidently believed your self-aggrandizing. He hasn't said anything positive about you since then.

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    2. Seems to me like Loftus just dealt with the argument at hand, which was whether or not, in his rebuttals, he had reduced Xianity down to the fundamentalist version....

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    3. Yes, Joe had complained (as many Christians do) that Loftus wasn't arguing against Joe's version of Christianity, and Loftus took his complaint seriously.

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    4. Yes, that's because Joe presented a version of Xianity that's cogent & significantly different from the usual fundamentalism stuff. "Religionism" is not all the same....

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    5. Did you ever wonder why there so many variants of Christianity? It's because Christians make it up as they go. Don't like some tenet of the faith? Just invent your own take on it, and then declare all the others to be a bunch of unsophisticated "fundies". That is exactly what Joe has advocated.

      And one thing I'll say about Loftus: He is very well educated in theology and Christianity. Much more so than Joe.

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  5. & were it otherwise, I suppose you'd complain that Xians don't think for themselves?

    ;-)

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    1. All I'm looking for is an honest argument.

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  6. He that cannot perceive parody cannot discern philosophy.

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    1. Joe won't listen unless you state your credentials, and make a philosophical argument for your assertion about discerning philosophy (citing your references, of course). You get bonus points if you include a quotation from Heidegger.

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    2. This primordial forking (as distinct from the secondary forking of comportment to beings) belongs to the essential constitution of our Dasein, i.e. our comportment to beings is always already oriented to being. However, with this forking there is given … the possibility of mis-taking not only in regard to beings (as in the doxa) but in regard to being. Anything which can be existent to us can, in so far as it shows itself as unhidden, also seem. So much being, so much seeming. Untruth belongs to the most primordial essence of truth as the hiddenness of being; i.e. to the inner possibility of truth. The question of being is thus thoroughly ambiguous—it is a question of the deepest truth and at the same time it is on the edge of, and in the zone of, the deepest untruth. (Vom Wesen der Wahrheit, 322/ 228)

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    3. How convincing. Joe's getting excited.

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    4. Well, I think you are just "primodially forking" with him, personally...

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    5. I would not be surprised in the least if it were that Joe thought I had tendered a 'parable' on which he could apply his apologetical weazelwording magic. Parable? Parody? All the same to Joe, given his proclivity for indefinable "God is being", or "God is love", or "God is perfection", or "God is truth". His wordsmithing knows no bounds.

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    6. LOL!

      ...in some ways, that sounded almost like a compliment?

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    7. Joe's kind of wordsmithing is rather strange. Look at the sentence I quoted in my article. It makes more sense to him than to anyone else, I suppose. Almost reminds me of of the speech of the stable genius. Check this out.

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    8. Perhaps Mike, i should have written: "His wordsmithing knows no logical bounds."

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