Insults can help, to abstract deeper logic, not to replace it.
Insults can arise for many reasons. Some are good, some are bad. It is bad, when politicians, throughout the West, replace cognition and logic by insults, after they lose elections (as the US “Democrats” did). Or even before they do.
To augment the fun, as droll troll of thought, I proposed the following aphorism: Extreme vegetarians, vegans, elect to eat foods invented and manufactured in the last 10,000 years, rejecting prehistoric foods. Veganism haughtily claims to respect all life, yet they feed technologically. Verily , vegans do not know that life respects nothing!
In reply to this, my friend Karen Eilbeck, a biology university professor, ventured the following scathing remark: “Patrice, sometimes you sound like a chatbot.” Maybe I should heed Mark Twain’s advice:
Karen’s chatbot comparison intrigued me, because, fortunately, as all those who aspire to forge new wisdom, are extremophiles! (Extremophiles are organisms which can live where no one else can; to establish wisdom beyond that of the Commons require to trample on others’ minds, souls and hearts… even if it is for their own good.)
I use critiques to progress. All genuine thinkers should. Send me the flames, I am at home! Real philosophy is scorching hot, therefore it scathes. We are confronting a system forged by self-interested idiots (no I am not alluding to the 60 million dollars contract the “Hope You Can Believe” Obamas got for books others will write).
Aphorism can be mystifying, I must recognize. As Nietzsche, king of aphorisms, could have said:
The more mystifying it is, the better the aphorism.
(I will defend the preceding aphorism in its own essay, as it rises intriguing questions in all sorts of directions, from morality to biology.)
Recently I was adorned with all the insults flung at Trump, plus others that even Trump was not graced with. (From the usual epithets having to do with race to “optimist… blind… to the Trumpocrat”, to going back to “Breitbart News” … which I don’t read. The converse, Breitbart reading me, is likely: I have written and published millions of words in more than a decade).
In the abstract, there is nothing wrong with JUSTIFIED insults. Unjustified insults are another matter. Calling Clinton a corrupt plutocrat after justifying it in hundreds of pages, as I have, is an (insulting) conclusion: an insult, and yet, the justified truth. In France, the center-right candidate is indicted for corruption, because his family got a million Euros for work possibly not performed in the last 30 years. In the USA, countless politicians made fortunes, sometimes beyond a billion dollars (the family of Senior Senator of California Diane Feinstein, pillar of the Democratic Party, made more than a billion, influence-peddling in China, or so it seems to me: where are insults, when we need them?)
At their best, insults are the angry theorems emotional intelligence needs to perform so well that disgust will steer us right, without wasting brain power.
Rousseau sent Voltaire a copy of his famous book “The Social Contract”, a mandatory reading for students in forsaken places such as France. Voltaire (author in anti-Islam theater, and many attacks against Christian terror) wrote back the following:
“I have received your new book against the human race, and thank you for it. Never was such a cleverness used in the design of making us all stupid. One longs, in reading your book, to walk on all fours. But as I have lost that habit for more than sixty years, I feel unhappily the impossibility of resuming it. Nor can I embark in search of the savages of Canada, because the maladies to which I am condemned render a European surgeon necessary to me; because war is going on in those regions; and because the example of our actions has made the savages nearly as bad as ourselves.”
Actually said savages, in North America, thought, having spent millennia pondering it, that several days of atrocious tortures were the best sent-off one could dream of. Greatness was found in the fortitude of ignoring suffering. The deep morality of this escapes the Commons today, that goes without saying.
But it does not escape me. And I approve this message.
Voltaire was too kind to Rousseau: basically, Rousseau claimed that civilization was a disease. So doing, he provided with the mood to destroy civilization. Various fascists (Leninists, Stalinists, Nazis, Francoists, Maoists, Khmers Rouges, fossil fuel fanatics, American supremacists, etc. can be viewed as followers of Rousseau.
Personal experiences, even the injurious ones, especially the injurious ones, can be most instructive to the philosophical mind. Therefore I should welcome the vicious attacks I was submitted to. And I do. Regretfully.
Francois Luong, a self-described “poet”, called me a racist” and “racist troll” all over the Internet, coolly writing even university physics professors to warn them they should “block [me]” because, as he insisted “it was the only way to stop [me]”. (This sort of defamation, to proclaim public lies about people not from genuine opinion, but to hurt them, is actually against the law, in Europe, or the USA. Nasty Internet bullies, unsurprisingly, are unaware of the law!)
Why I should be stopped by “poets” was not clear to me. Is it because I am against hypocrisy, and those who bark up the wrong tree? Why insulting those who point at the right tree?
I had friends in England who liked very much what I wrote, until they realized I was dead set against Brexit. They had confused my hostility to the European Union as it is organized, with just hating Europe (as they do).
Insults can be good, but one better make sure first, that they are justified. Insults address emotional intelligence, but intelligence can’t be, if not emotional. Insults slice, as knives do. Just be careful! As with knives…