Cody Gray has all but said that I am calling him a fascist here. I had no intent of doing so, and I am 100% sure that he isn't. I was only calling nietzsche a fascist. I don't want to engage in name-calling or ad-hominem anything. Calling nietzsche a fascist is something that many actual, historical, fascists did. Many credited nietzsche for formulating the fascist response to Marx. I am sure that there are no mussolini or franco supporters active on this forum, and even if there were, it's not important as to the content of the answers.

The content dispute on the question is relatively trivial--- I didn't like Cody Gray's insertion of "Is there even any evidence that nietzsche read Sade", because you can't defend yourself against charges of insufficient citation by claiming ignorance--- otherwise I could publish the theory of relativity and claim I never read Einstein.

This was my main complaint with Cody Gray's edit, and also the minor tonal stuff. It wasn't personal, but the acrimony on the previous deleted answers didn't help.

  • Can the question be unlocked, and the dispute over the wording resolved here?
  • Is it possible to bury the hatchet regarding past disputes?
  • Can there be some clear guidelines on what type of disapproval is allowed?

The last point is important, because I can't ask a question about something I find abhorrent without at least distancing myself from it. So if I quote a racist or anti-semitic passage, I have to make clear that I don't find it reasonable in no uncertain terms. Perhaps the wording I use is sub-optimal, but I prefer proletariat-speak to bourgeoise-speak, due to my Marxist upbringing (I have not held Marxist positions since I was a teenager, but some habits are hard to break)

  • Again... why the downvote? There's nothing here but a very constructive invitation for discussion which I think is excellent. A downvote really only says that you disagree with those three reasonable requests; even his first is reasonable, because he is actually asking for discussion prior to edits, unlike before. – commando Apr 14 '12 at 2:19
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    @commando: People are not downvoting me because they really disapprove of my stuff. They are downvoting me because they want to protect nietzsche and heidegger, and every philosopher who has ever had anything positive to say about those two, from criticism based upon the fascist associations. This is only because of the professional embarassment, because it really is a mark of shame on the whole field that anyone took these mental midgets seriously. As evidence, there are 12 upvotes on your answer regarding racism in nietzsche which is completely completely wrong. – Ron Maimon Apr 14 '12 at 3:16
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    @commando: Actually, voting works a little bit differently on Meta. That is, it is typically used to signify agreement or disagreement. And dear god am I tired of this claim that people are downvoting Ron's posts in order to shelter or protect Nietzsche or Heidegger or whatever philosopher he chooses to attack. Nobody cares about that. It's not professional shame, I feel no personal responsibility for the actions of anyone else in the history of philosophy, and I don't think anyone else should either. – Cody Gray Apr 14 '12 at 9:03
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    But, a +1 from me anyway; bringing this to Meta is precisely what we encourage people to do. – Cody Gray Apr 14 '12 at 9:06
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    In general, people are likely downvoting you because they dislike you, not because they care about Nietzsche. That may not be what voting is meant for, but it's bound to happen on a site like this when you make enemies. In this particular case, they probably disagree with your first assertion that "Cody Gray has all but said that I am calling him a fascist"; it was a tongue-in-cheek jab at best. – stoicfury Apr 14 '12 at 15:33
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    @stoicfury: he edited my answer, then locked in his version! I want it unlocked so that I am not associated with the idea that "nietzsche might never have read Sade", because I find it impossible to believe that any major writer in the 19th century did not read Sade. They all read Sade. He was the 500 lb gorilla in the room. – Ron Maimon Apr 15 '12 at 17:52
  • Wait, so I'm not a fascist, but I am a "500 lb gorilla"? :-) – Cody Gray Apr 16 '12 at 1:08
  • @CodyGray: I see the smiley, but Sade is the 500 lb gorilla--- an English expression meaning an unacknowledged immense presence that casts a shadow on everything. Same as "elephant in the room". Sade dominated 19th century literature like Shakespeare dominated 17th century literature. – Ron Maimon Apr 16 '12 at 2:55

I assure you that a significant fraction of the downvotes have absolutely nothing to do with nietzsche* and heidegger and everything to do with your aggressive, idiosyncratic, and emotionally-laden posting style and, to a lesser extent, with the one-sidedness of the content. For example, I have exactly zero emotional attachment to Nietzsche (personal view: from the little I know of him, it seems he did an okay job at identifying various problems with existing systems, but then almost invariably charged off in the least helpful possible direction to "solve" the problem, and regardless, he's essentially irrelevant now), and yet I have found the large majority of your posts on Nietzsche unconstructive to the point where either downvoting or removal seemed appropriate. (I haven't bothered touching them, as far as I recall, since I don't care or know enough about Nietzsche to make a good judgment in the amount of time that I want to spend, but I likely would have had I cared to spend more time on it.)

Because of this, it is very difficult to bury the hatchet, since it seems incredibly likely that you're just going to dig it up again and start swinging it around, possibly without realizing what you're doing.

If you're genuinely interested in trying to contribute to Philosophy.SE--and you seem reasonably perceptive and well-read, so it seems likely that you have the capability--here are a few tips that in my opinion would make a huge difference.

First, note that thinking carefully about things is, for very many people if not everyone, actually really hard to do. It is exceedingly easy to fall victim to confirmation bias and other forms of rationalization (see 5th paragraph). In particular, emotional content inhibits the ability to reason. Therefore, if you are going to make a statement of disapproval where the reader ought to use reason to come to an agreement, there are inadvisable ways to do it:

nietzsche is a moron, a plagiarizing fascist racist moron, and ...

and ways that still convey strong disapproval without battering the poor reader with such intense emotional content:

Although I strongly disagree with Nietzsche's personal views, and do not find his works of intellectual value, ...

The key point here is one does not adopt this tone in order to be a highbrow elitist bourgeois. One does it specifically to aid in the intellectual endeavor, to try to distance oneself from intense emotions that will render the reader (and, very likely, the writer) unable to reason clearly about the content. Worse yet, if the text does have considerable emotional content, after the reader goes off to read something else, they'll still be impaired!

Use simple words or complex ones as you please, but avoid highly emotional language.

Also, keep in mind when you write an answer that you will probably be asking the reader to accept something that you say as true without verifying it. Therefore, it is preferable (though not absolutely required, IMO) to demonstrate an attitude that is consistent with accuracy. For example, if you appear in the grip of strong emotions--e.g. if you were to insist on replacing all instances of "Nietzsche" with "my-least-favorite-so-called-person-nietzsche"**, you would be signaling readers that you're very likely incapable of thinking rationally about anything to do with Nietzsche, and therefore, everything you say regarding him is probably riddled with all sorts of errors, and if what you say has any value at all, the reader will have to check out every single detail him- or herself. What a chore!

Also, if you are aware that people have alternate views, and you disagree, the best way to deal with the alternative viewpoints is to first explain what the views are and then why they are invalid (and, if it helps clarify how to avoid the logical error that was made, where the thinking of those who hold the alternate view likely went amiss).

So, in summary

  1. Avoid emotionally-charged language.
  2. Demonstrate an ability to think calmly about the issue at hand.
  3. Present competing viewpoints and explain their flaws.

and your posts of disapproval will be greatly improved.

That is, write everything more like you wrote this question. (That you were able to do so for this question is why I suspect that at some level you actually know all this.)

Now, back to the question regarding Nietzsche and Marquis de Sade: I think the question is basically fine. However, questions and their answers are supposed to provide a resource, not just be instantiations of personal ego. Therefore, some level of editing is to be not just tolerated but expected and encouraged, as long as it improves the question. (Ego is allowed to the extent that you are allowed to ask your question, not someone else's.) I do hope the changes or lack thereof can be resolved here, but I want to stress that it is not a black and white issue of "get your hands off my post" or "I find the premise faulty so I'm going to edit it".

Faulty premises can be addressed in answers also; some issues of personal style (e.g. if I prefer random indentation of my source code) pose a sufficient barrier to comprehension that they should be fixed even over the preferences of the original poster.

Anyway, I hope this is resolved amicably and quickly, but either way, some substantive changes in style would help considerably going forward.

* Why settle for merely lower case if you're trying to make a point?

** Note that this avoids highly emotional language, but still signals that the poster must be highly emotional about the topic. Also, note that this answers the rhetorical question in (*).

  • I see your point, and I agree to a certain extent, I will try to be reasoned. However, nietzsche doesn't return the favor. I have been reading the geneology, and his discourse involves terms like frail, weak-minded, buffoons, etc. This is also the tone adopted by hitler, and in a less successful way by mussolini and franco. If your response to this type of violent rhetoric is level-headed, you are fighting ebola with aspirin. If you allow a freer vocabulary, you can find a balance, so that speech hateful of hate-speech kills the hate-speech. – Ron Maimon Apr 14 '12 at 6:43
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    "[hateful] hate-speech kills the hate-speech." No, this is just you lashing out. This is not about some "equivalence" sentiment. – stoicfury Apr 14 '12 at 15:51
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    @RonMaimon - Whether or not Nietzsche returns the favor is immaterial because, firstly, he is dead and thus can't engage in genuinely reciprocal interactions, and secondly, because your interaction is not with Nietzsche but with people reading the questions and answers and commenting and replying. If you find that he clouds issues by raising powerful emotions, point this out as a flaw of his! "X is poorly reasoned, and you can see so because of Y and Z, if you ignore invalid argumentation technique W" is the kind of argument philosophers appreciate. – Rex Kerr Apr 14 '12 at 17:28
  • @RexKerr:accepted, I'll keep it in mind. – Ron Maimon Apr 14 '12 at 19:25
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    +1 Good answer. It gets the the point concerning the OP's "style" and offers good advice. Concerning the problem of "one-sidedness of the content" my suggestion (@RonMaimon) is the following: Try to turn your arguments, particularly those strongly felt, emotionally laden arguments, into conditional arguments: If you want to make the case that Q because you strongly believe that the set of premises P are obvious, do not just state Q. Instead, try to argue Q hypothetically from P. This way others can agree that P->Q even if the do not necessarily agree with P. – DBK Apr 15 '12 at 20:54
  • Accepted--- but one thing: it is absolutely required to check everything for yourself as much as possible, always, without exception. If one does not do this, one falls prey to establishing false doctrines on the basis of scholarly authority, and history teaches us if it can happen it will. Therefore, one must check and recheck, as much as humanly possible. Otherwise agree with the answer, but please unlock the locked thing, and I'll remove emotional stuff. – Ron Maimon Apr 17 '12 at 1:48
  • Yes, I and I'm sure most of us agree that one should verify things as we can whenever possible. Of course, most of the time it isn't possible, and that's why we have to use good judgment in most cases. Alas, I wish I had the time to become an expert in all fields and independently verify all findings, but I can't. :( – stoicfury Apr 17 '12 at 21:24
  • @stoicfury: yes you can, you just choose not to. – Ron Maimon Oct 6 '12 at 6:56
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    @RonMaimon - Areas of expertise are added faster than anyone (anyone I know at least) can learn them. You can cover many important fields, but being an expert in all fields is no longer possible (at least not for the overwhelming majority of people). – Rex Kerr Oct 6 '12 at 18:23
  • RexKerr: The only time consuming stuff is mathematics, the rest you can learn by skimming. – Ron Maimon Oct 11 '12 at 18:08
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    @RonMaimon - I don't think there's even time to skim everything. Nor is there time to learn mathematics (assuming you include applied mathematics like machine learning). – Rex Kerr Oct 11 '12 at 18:29

The point of removing passion from discourse is so that one can focus on logic and reason. The validity of an argument is not altered whether your whisper it quietly or shout it expletive-laced in someone's ear. Additionally, emotional discourse has a way of clouding one's judgment from the primary issues at hand, and ultimately cultivating an environment that is toxic to communication.

Most simply, StackExchange is a system which functions under a set of rules determined to be most beneficial for sharing knowledge. Whether you believe them to be the most ideal set of rules (or not) is irrelevant; to stay here at this particular website you must abide by them. Otherwise, you are free to make your own Q&A site and devise any set of operating guidelines you desire.

It is really that simple.

  • But this doesn't answer the question--- why are my expletive-free answers, which simply express an unpopular point of view in the philosophy literature--- attacked and deleted? I don't agree that passion is in conflict with logic or reason, they are completely independent--- one can reason logically in boring words or in expletive laced profanities, the result is the same in my experience, and the second leads to faster progress. – Ron Maimon Apr 16 '12 at 2:51
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    Sure it does — those expletive-free answers obviously still broke the rules in some way. And yes, some people can reason logically and passionately at the same time, but not everyone is so capable. Somewhere, a line was drawn and that's that. If you want to redrawn the line, like I mentioned you are free to make your own Q&A site. – stoicfury Apr 16 '12 at 3:03
  • No one has told me what rules I broke! This is an ex-post-facto justification for deletion. You just made up rules-breaking to justify the deletion. There were no problems with the deleted answers, or at least, no obvious broken rules. What rules did I break? I have asked many times, and all I have gotten is mealy mouthed nonsense that doesn't help me make a single edit to make these answer compliant. I have never encountered such violent resistance to such technical stuff. – Ron Maimon Apr 16 '12 at 4:32
  • I edited one of my question to remove the one sentence that was deemed most objectionable. Is this sufficient? – Ron Maimon Apr 16 '12 at 5:16
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    "This is an ex-post-facto justification for deletion." False. These rules have existed since before philosophy.SE was even an Area51 suggestion. "What rules did I break? I have asked many times, and all I have gotten is mealy mouthed nonsense that doesn't help me make a single edit to make these answer compliant." False. You've been told what you're been doing wrong many, many times now. CodyGray has given clear responses to all your meta posts, and RexKerr as well on this one. Many others have left constructive comments. – stoicfury Apr 16 '12 at 6:26
  • As this appears to be the "meta-meta" of your meta posts (and does not specifically reference any particular questions on the site that you are concerned about), I provided you with a "meta-meta" answer. – stoicfury Apr 16 '12 at 6:30
  • This one there is nothing wrong with it that I can see, except for perhaps one sentence, which I fixed. Yet it was deleted. My question on Sade is locked at Cody Gray's edit. Neither is correct behavior, it is the behavior of politicians, not thinkers. You can't think honestly and do politics at the same time, they are mutually exclusive. – Ron Maimon Apr 16 '12 at 12:35
  • I have not had a single deleted post un-deleted. They are all ok, with the possible exception of the more profane nietzsche answers, and here the only rules-problem is the profanity. If I asterisk the profanity, I doubt it will be restored – Ron Maimon Apr 16 '12 at 12:48
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    That's correct. The problems go far beyond the profanity. This is not merely a superficial issue. I feel like I've explained it adequately here and elsewhere, and see absolutely no point in rehashing it again. Yes, you've not had a single post undeleted because none of them merit undeletion. You haven't yet understood the purpose of this site and the motivation behind the moderation. Until that point, we won't be undeleting anything. There are no politics here. I've said repeatedly I couldn't care less about the positions you hold personally. The issue is your presentation of them. – Cody Gray Apr 17 '12 at 2:39

I couldn't give a hoot whether you like Nietzsche or not, whether you agree with his writings, whether you think he should be burned at the stake, or whether you think he is the ultimate bastion of evil in the world and the symbol of everything that is wrong with philosophy. I seek neither to protect nor deify him.

Seriously. That is not the issue here—we're not disagreeing about content. This is a moderation issue regarding style and behavior. I'm not here to change your opinions or your world view. In fact, you're entitled to your opinion just like everyone else. And that highlights the fundamental issue, what appears to be the central aspect of your misunderstanding and indecorum:

This is a Q&A site, not a blog.

That has a couple of notable consequences; in particular,

  1. While you're entitled to possess your own opinion, you need to realize that this site was not established as a bully pulpit for you to express that opinion.

    If you're looking for such a place, you need to create a personal website. I promise if you choose to do so, I will not campaign to have your site removed from Google or suppress your voice in any way whatsoever.

    But as long as you're a participant on this site, I can promise you that I will come down hard on any attempts to treat this site like your personal bully pulpit. In fact, that's my job as a moderator.

    It ultimately comes down to the fact that other people need to be allowed to hold their own opinions as well, and that means that you need to be respectful and tolerant of those opinions, whether they agree with your own (dearly-held) or not. You admit to intentionally creating a hostile environment through your stylistic and linguistic choices, and that is completely inappropriate here.

    Other people need to feel welcome to contribute, they need to be able to read this site in the presence of professional or familial company, they need to feel like they're learning something through the give-and-take required of all participants. Not only are you explicitly abstaining from the required give-and-take, you're acting in such a way as to prevent others from doing so, and that is something I simply cannot allow. And of course, nor can any of the moderators. This is not a personal vendetta that I am pursuing against you or your ideas.

  2. This Q&A site is collaboratively edited, both for moderation/quality control purposes and to enhance clarity.

    This a fundamental tenet of the Stack Exchange model, one that we hold so dearly as to give a special home in the site FAQ:

    All contributions are licensed under Creative Commons and this site is collaboratively edited, like Wikipedia. If you see something that needs improvement, click edit and help us make it so!

    All edits are tracked in a public revision history. To view revisions, click the edit date on the post.

    If you are not comfortable with the idea of your contributions being collaboratively edited by other trusted users, this may not be the site for you.

    You might want to re-read that last paragraph, because I think it applies here.

    The rollback feature does exist, but it's intended to be used sparingly. You have rolled back every single one of the edits I've made to your posts, as well as the edits made by other moderators. That's a giant red flag—a certain indication of a problem, either with the content itself, with the attitude of the user, or perhaps both.

    As I mentioned in a comment, I'm more than willing to make the required edits and give you the benefit of the doubt with regards to phrasing, etc. I interpreted the questions you asked as a gesture of good faith, while understanding that not everyone is good at phrasing things in just the right way. Good writing is hard, and some of us are just naturally confrontational (yes, us; that means me too). It's easier for an outsider to see the problems and fix them.

    And if there is any doubt whether or not I actually "fixed" anything, I think there's ample evidence of that to be found. Not only did the community express their agreement with my sentiments by upvoting comments I left on your answers, but all of the downvotes that had been cast on your questions were reversed after my edits. This issue of downvotes was one of your initial concerns, expressed here, but we had that solved. You even seemed to appreciate my efforts, and noted the turn-about in community opinion regarding your question. A few hours later, this turned around entirely when you decided to roll back my edits. I did and do perceive this as not being in good faith.

    Moreover, as I've said numerous times in other comments like this one, if you think that an edit is fundamentally changing the meaning of your question, then you need to express that clearly and coherently. At that point, we have something concrete to discuss and we can figure out what it is about your wording that is concerning and weigh that against the opinion you want to express. Maybe I missed something. Maybe there's yet another alternative form of expression that is constructive while remaining sufficiently illustrative. But none of that can happen when you leave comments like:

    @CodyGray: don't like yr edits, don't touch.

    Sorry, not going to happen. I've tried to work with you, but you keep working actively against me.

    At this point, if you don't like how this site is run, I'm ready to tell you to go bully some other online community. Wikipedia would shed no tears in banning you from making edits if you came in and repeatedly defaced their Nietzsche article.

    I'll be honest—the other moderators of this site and a number of other sites in the Stack Exchange network have already suggested that your account be banned for the type of behavior that you've been engaging in here. I've argued in your defense, but you're stretching my patience to the limit.

As for the "fascism" comment, don't worry; you didn't offend me. I didn't actually interpret your comment as literally calling me or anyone else a fascist. I simply chose to interpret it that way because it was convenient. I'm not offended by labels, and I'm certainly not going to infer a priori evil from a particular type of philosophy, political or otherwise.

The point is simply that if you choose to interpret the type of moderation going on here as "fascist", then that's fine by me. In fact, I'll embrace it—we're fascists here. If you don't like it, you can go elsewhere. And as long as you're going to insist upon ranting and posting unconstructive inflammatory hate speech, I'm going to insist that you do.

However, you'll be pleased to know that I, as a matter of principle, do not hold grudges against people. The hatchet is pre-emptively (pro-actively?) buried. All you have to do is stop engaging in the abusive behavior, or failing that, act in good faith and accept the attempts made by me (and others) to address the problem.

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    Wikipedia has already banned me, despite the fact that I wrote many of their best physics articles. My communication style is my automatic test of whether your community deserves to have me as a member. So far, your community is only marginally passing. The physics community here has passed with flying colors (their leading scorer is Lubos Motl, whose even a bigger asshole than me). By me saying blunt things, I don't prevent anyone else from speaking, and when I'm wrong, believe me, I catch all kinds of hell. You should learn: politeness is of negative value. This is Pauli's lesson. – Ron Maimon Apr 14 '12 at 15:24
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    @RonMaimon: I see. Well, I have absolutely no interest in taking (much less passing) your "tests". In fact, I wish you would have made that clear at the outset. This community wasn't set up to please you, and that explains why there's been friction from the beginning. I would have felt guilty about banning a user who might have something positive, useful, or educational to contribute. But I have absolutely no guilt about banning someone who is uninterested in following the rules of decorum of a particular community, or worse yet, is "testing" them to see if they're good enough for him. – Cody Gray Apr 15 '12 at 9:07
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    And no, of course being blunt doesn't prevent others from speaking. Not in a physical way. But it certainly does affect the environment in which you choose to speak. It's not appropriate in this environment to speak in a hostile, inflammatory, unconstructive way. There are rules of engagement—albeit pretty simple ones—that require you to respect the thoughts & opinions of others, regardless of whether you agree with them. Sorry you find that impossible or burdensome. That's a personal problem, one neither me nor this site are prepared to deal with. – Cody Gray Apr 15 '12 at 9:12
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    I, for one, don't agree that politeness is of negative value; quite the contrary-- I think it is possible (and important) to disagree with people respectfully. I'm happy to participate in scholarly communities that maintain a respectful tone, but I have no time for sites that reward (or tolerate) assholishness as an appropriate means of scholarly communication. Just my $.02. – Michael Dorfman Apr 15 '12 at 12:50
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    @MichaelDorfman: Well, physicists tried that, and realized it makes no progress, and now they are trained to be rude. It is counterintuitive, and rudeness is not accepted in the humanities, and this is why the humanities never make progress. – Ron Maimon Apr 15 '12 at 17:46
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    @CodyGray: All other stackexchange communities automatically pass the test, so it's only yours that fails. The "test" is "do you tolerate honest expression of reasoned ideas?" It's not much to ask. You must not respect wrong ideas, it makes a discourse which is balanced halfway between the infinitely many variations of wrong ideas and the one unique right one. Stupid ideas are not given a politeness free ride in physics, and they shouldn't be in the humanities. – Ron Maimon Apr 15 '12 at 17:47
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    @RonMaimon "Rude" and "blunt" are very different terms in their implications. Having a little experience in the field, I'm pretty sure physicists don't call ideas that they disagree with "stupid because it's obviously wrong" but "incorrect given this evidence." Of course, you also have to realize how much more subjective disagreement there is in philosophy as opposed to physics - I may think you're wrong and feel completely justified, and you might likewise. We would get nowhere through rudeness-we'd just argue eternally. If we were polite though, we would be more inclined to listen. – commando Apr 15 '12 at 21:04
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    @RonMaimon: "My communication style is my automatic test of whether your community deserves to have me as a member." OK, this explains alot. Please (don't?) be offended if I do not take further complaints from you on Meta seriously, particularly your puzzled attitude as to why certain postings were closed/deleted, as it seems to me now completely insincere. I completely share Cody Gray's comment above. – DBK Apr 15 '12 at 22:17
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    Sorry, this isn't a physics site. I don't know what those ♦ clowns are doing over there on Physics if you interact like this on their site (although they tell me you don't and that what you're doing here is decidedly different both in scope and tone), but it simply doesn't work here. However, do note that if your arguments that physicists are "trained" to act in an uncivilized fashion with regard to the ideas and suggestions of others is, in fact, true, then that explains a lot. Philosophers are not trained that way, and certainly are not amateur philosophers. This is a place for both. – Cody Gray Apr 16 '12 at 1:13
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    @RonMaimon: … Also, as you admitted time and again, most of your claims on Phil.SE are neither controversial nor original (Nietzsche as an antisemite!). So that can't be possibly the problem. The problem is your über-polemic tone on Phil.SE, which you do not employ on Physics.SE (if you did, I think you would have been suspended long time ago there). Nice aside: while trying to find the posting you attributed to Motl ("counting of the intersection dimension", which I couldn't find), I came across this: half of "crap" and "bullshit" usages come from your postings. – DBK Apr 16 '12 at 10:14
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    @RonMaimon - You are forgetting the essential distinction between physics and philosophy. In physics, essentially everyone agrees on almost all facts, and on the endeavor of coming up with compact theories that quantitatively organize those facts. Therefore, regardless of whether you call something "crap" or not, it's at least possible to check whether it works or not, and to do so in a completely emotion-insensitive way. But in philosophy there is no such common ground, and no such emotionally-immune computation to stop incessant argumentation. (to be continued...) – Rex Kerr Apr 16 '12 at 14:39
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    @RonMaimon - (...continued) Unfortunately, humans are masters of retrodicting premises to generate desired results (n.b. my earlier points about confirmation bias), and they can do so in an almost entirely subconscious way. How, then, can you make progress? You obviously can't tiptoe delicately around wrong ideas, but you also can't blast away with emotional rhetoric or you won't get the point across. If you maintain a polite tone while still showing no deference to stupidity and bad ideas--just civility to the people who (hopefully temporarily!) believe them--there is some hope. – Rex Kerr Apr 16 '12 at 14:48
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    Uhhh, I'm not sure how everyone has missed it so far, but Ron repeatedly admits of the central problem when he attempts to defend himself. Note, in particular, how disparaging of a tone he adopts toward all philosophers, fairly explicitly condemning them as unthinking, polemical, political dimwits: "There is nothing "polemical" in what I wrote, at all, it is a very reasoned sentiment, which is only phrased in a thorny way because I recognize my audience is philosophers, which are a problematic kind of thinker, since they have no rigor and no experiment. Their only tool is politics." – Cody Gray Apr 17 '12 at 2:33
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    Sorry, that's not going to go over big. Have I mentioned yet that this site is not a personal blog, and it's not the critical juncture of your resistance project to the hegemony of unidimensional thought in philosophy? I've read the critical literature, probably more extensively than anyone here, and I'm familiar with the tactics. My position from the beginning has been that such is not appropriate here, on a Q&A site. You need to consider the venue. You're speaking with philosophers and answering philosophy questions. If you don't like that, then don't participate. It's not obligatory. – Cody Gray Apr 17 '12 at 2:35
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    Or, if your intention is actually disruption, then you need to realize that we are, in fact, fascists here, and that this kind of radically disruptive project will not be tolerated. It doesn't matter that you adopt a non-mainstream ideology. It matters the way in which you present it. As I've said numerous times, you've adopted an incredibly user-hostile attitude, magnified exponentially in your attempts to defend/explain yourself on Meta. This is something that's going to cause you to butt heads with everyone here, and it's something you need to lose or learn to control. – Cody Gray Apr 17 '12 at 2:37

I'm a new participant here myself and have been following this issue on Meta with much interest.

I can appreciate the moderators' wish that this be a Q&A site and can see the rationale behind that decision. You want this to build to a respectable and useful resource.

But I like it when people inject passion into their words, even if they're words I disagree with. If it's not just a personal attack, and there is content there to engage with, some avenue through which that opinion can be explored, I find that style the most engaging and the most conducive to further research and learning.

I understand that this site is geared towards specific question, leading to specific answer by expert, to be taken as authoritative... but I wonder if philosophy is a subject area that lends itself well to that approach. I'm trying to picture what this site would look like if it was being used just by the academics in the philosophy department at the university I attended... those who lean towards the analytic style would dominate, and those who lean towards the continental style just wouldn't bother participating.

I wonder if maybe the moderators might consider a revision of the Q&A model and retain the best bits of this site whilst also creating room for argument. I think the best approach to philosophy is to take a stance, and the injecting of emotion seems critical to that (or its removal too politically correct, evasive, or at worst dishonest). The dispassionate Q&A model seems to either assume objectivity and consensus where there is none, or makes all of philosophy meta-philosophy.

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    Unfortunately, this is a personal attack, not only against Nietzsche (whom I don't really care about), but against those users who hold opinions that run counter to Ron's own. He either doesn't know how or doesn't wish to constructively engage with those users by making arguments supported by facts and citations, he just wants to make ad hominem attacks. And when he actually tries to substantiate his claims, you end up with something that is so filled with vitriol and hatred that all of the useful content gets lost among the rage and unconstructive slander. – Cody Gray Apr 15 '12 at 9:26
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    When you try to clean it up by editing it out, he gets mad and rolls back the edits, acting as if you're trying to censor him or suppress his personal expression. And yes, this is a Q&A site, that format is not going away. Note that this isn't something imposed by your friendly site moderators on the local level, it's something imposed by the Stack Exchange network that designs and hosts all of these Q&A sites. It's a network-wide policy, one that we don't have the authority or desire to deviate from. Remember that we're not here to create philosophy. – Cody Gray Apr 15 '12 at 9:28
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    It should also be noted that the Stack Exchange system does provide a place for doing philosophy: chat. Being informal, you can really talk about almost anything there so long as you stick to common rules of etiquette. – commando Apr 15 '12 at 14:00
  • @commando: I am sorry, but I am behaving here no different than I behave on physics.stackexchange, or math.stackexchange or math.overflow, or biblical.hermeneutics, including the offensive outrageous statements and "personal attacks" on people who hold contrary positions (which basically amount to saying "you're wrong"), (you might not recognize these statements as outrageous if you aren't familiar with the literature in these fields). In all cases except for here, these answers have been read, analyzed, upvoted/downvoted, and tolerated. The only exception is here. So it's you guys's fault. – Ron Maimon Apr 15 '12 at 17:41
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    @CodyGray: We are here to create philosophy, in those cases where the literature does not contain adequate answers. This is not a "literature summary" site, that's Wikipedia. This is a Q&A site. And if the Q has an A which is original, you are welcome to post the original A. I do not read philosophy, I don't like the field, I think it is dominated by charlatans, so I always try to do original thinking here. You are free to downvote (you have), but not to remove constructive reasoned answers. I have never said anything ad-hominem about anybody. Calling an idea stupid does not insult a person. – Ron Maimon Apr 15 '12 at 17:45
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    I can't speak for the other sites, but your statement that "the only exception is here" is simply not true. We've hashed over and over exactly the same issues on Christianity and you've been approached about similar problems on Biblical Hermeneutics. Please take to heart the lengthy posts above that identify the problem and offer solutions and consider that you really will need to enact an attitude adjustment to contribute constructively on these sites. – Caleb Apr 15 '12 at 18:56
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    @Caleb: I have been gently approached (but not censored) on Hermeneutics, because the people from Christianity came to Hermeneutics to get me to shut up there too. There are people on Christianity whose religious faith leads them to believe that one should not hear the position of others who interpret faith un-biblically and without the supernatural. The problems on Christianity reveal a major problem in Christian discourse. The analogous problems on philosophy are symptomatic of the problems in philosophical discourse. These are diseases in the fields, and should not be diseases of this site. – Ron Maimon Apr 15 '12 at 22:58
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    Well, then take my seriousness as an extra incentive, @Ron. We're not here to fix diseases in philosophy, or even to repair the field. Heck, I don't know how we'd do that on a Q&A site even if it were part of our mission. I've said this before: I'm not here to censor your views on philosophy, but I am here to moderate a site with an explicitly different purpose than the one you've envisioned for it. Fighting it out "in the trenches" isn't going to work; I'll win every time. If you want to escalate it to a group of people who have power over me, ask on meta.stackoverflow.com. – Cody Gray Apr 16 '12 at 1:06
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    @CodyGray: The very fact that you see it as a battle of some kind is worrisome. It must not be a power-trip, or a battle of egos, but an attempt to give precise answers to questions. I have no interest in accruing power (or preventing you from doing so), but in providing accurate answers that cut through the fog of b******* in the philosophy literature. This requires doing some honest speaking and honest thinking. – Ron Maimon Apr 16 '12 at 3:10

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