Internet Etiquette Is Not Internet Morality. Academia, Tribes Fighting Like Rats:
Morality is technology dependent. Always has been, always will be. Indeed, morality, the mores, are the behaviors which have proven sustainable. As technology varies, so does sustainability.
Having a rapacious attitude can also be sustained for centuries. Many said that about Rome. It was viewed to be the case of the Assyrian civilization, around 27 centuries ago. The Aztecs similarly had made moral, even divine to cut their enemies in pieces and eat them.
The USA’s morality is founded not just on “Jesus” and his “Bible”, but also on the most sacred “philosophers” of the so-called (Anglo-Saxon!) Enlightenment. In the USA, to be “enlightened” traditionally means to believe in the established order, racist, enslaving, and the so-called “free market” with its “invisible hand” (Pluto!). One has to be an “empiricist”, following “pragmatism” (and that means having no moral principles, but for those of the Bible).
So, naturally enough, having defied the philosophical foundation of the USA, I was immediately “banned” from a “philosophy” site.
This is not the first time this happens. Once a site where Searle, a “philosopher” famous for his “Chinese Room” thought experiment, banned me. Searle’s site claimed I was culprit of “intellectual property theft”, because the site claimed it owned all and any of my ideas, once they were published there. I was also accused of “fantastic Logic”. Part of the truth, of course is that the Chinese Room is itself a duplication of the so-called “Turing Test” which (idiotically) claims a computer to be intelligent if it can pass for a human in a conversation. Searle, a professor at a university where I taught, use to force his students to buy his fantastically overpriced tiny and worthless books. The same university is now involved into a tidal wave of sexual harassment cases: a professor forcing students to buy his fantastically overpriced books is also a rapist, methinks.
Another of my crime, yesterday was to claim that Kuhn, author of “The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions”, a revered figure of American philosophy of science, never said anything special.
Instead I was told that philosophy is “Discursive Rational Argumentation”. This is highly redundant: ratio (from which reason comes), comes from “logic”, which itself means discourse, which is not different from “argumentation”.
Instead I hold that philosophy is “Disruptive Rational Art”
Insults themselves can be an art: Obama flew to Saudi Arabia, flying 12,000 kilometers. He was welcomed by the governor of Riyadh. No minister, no king.
Saudi ire is mostly caused by the US rapprochement with Iran, although Obama’s artful inefficiency is also a legitimate cause of irritation. (Not to say Iran is innocent: Iranian psychology is a study in the deepest contradictions imaginable, due to the rape of Iranian civilization by much beloved Arabian engineered Islam; a classical case of the Stockholm syndrome, which should be re-baptized as the Iranian syndrome…)
The alliance between the US presidency and the king of Saudi Arabia dates from 1945. It has proven quite sustainable, although it’s a spiral descending as a co-dependency with hell. In a way, the USA did with Saudi Arabia what it did with Hitler: encourage the worst, and milk it (the argument that Britain, Germany and France have done the same is entirely valid… but they followed the US lead, and their reward is Wahhabist terror all over Europe).
The Internet is a new technology. It empowers completely new behaviors: potentially all can communicate with all, and talk about anything. Thus it requires, and will evolve, a new morality. But there are many possibilities. Some good, some evil.
The Internet allows intellectual exchanges, gifts we make to each other called ideas. The wisest behavior, among intellectuals, in tentative debate, consist in getting inspired by the best ideas others have to offer, and forget the rest. This is the best first order approach.
However when the most impactful ideas are deleterious, such as a stealth advocacy of slavery or greed, it is another matter entirely. When John Locke teaches hypocrisy as the highest mood (condemning slavery in his writing, while investing in it and fostering it, in his actions), he deserves strident condemnation.
I am banned from many sites, from the Huffington Post, to the Guardian (for the unexpected sin of “blogging the Qur’an!”). I view “banning” and censoring unwise. The New York Times, since before the invasion of Iraq, has literally censored thousands of my comments (I have been a full subscriber for decades). Said comments’ positions were later embraced by the New York Times.
I have never banned anybody from my site (including Jihadists, Fundamentalists, and the occasional Nazi). I put just one crazed maniac in moderation, and he gave up. I systematically contradict offensive material, though, in appropriate, thus scathing, terms (it’s generally enough to make miscreants give up).
I don’t “make things up”. Except for the occasional rare joke. I don’t make things up, to the best of my knowledge, I never do, and never did, because reality, my way, always beats fiction (especially fiction the way others have it, which puts me to sleep).
Mary Beard, a professional Roman historian, in her SPQR, brazenly claims the Common Wisdom that Marcus Aurelius was the first emperor in a long while to have a live official son, but a cursory research reveals that Hadrian (likely), and Antoninus Pius (certainly) had two official sons. I did not make it up.
The devil starts with getting the details wrong… and learning to live with that.
Long ago at Stanford I was scolded by the finest and brightest, for “meditating” on Black Hole theory. My “meditation” became standard lore only recently. I had a somewhat similar experience in pure mathematics. Ultimately, what motivates academics and scientists, and philosophers the most, is their own advancement, and that means the advancement of their tribe. Richard Feynman discovered this, he said, after being elected to the American Academy of Sciences. He decided that was not acceptable, and resigned.
The greatest, oldest, most human, and most noble trading, is that of ideas.
And where do ideas come from? Not just the pulling of oxen, but the spur of the moment. This is why Internet spontaneity is sacred. Academia was a grove Plato liked. With the Internet, the grove is the world.