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November 13th, 2004

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05:06 am - while commenting elsewhwere...
It occurred to me one of the reasons I have found this election, my mother's choice to vote for Bush, and the general tenor of discourse lately to be so upsetting. It's that a fair number of things I'd thought generally taken for granted in rational discourse seem suddenly under argument again. In addition, logic as a supporting requirement for a tenable philosophical position appears to have been waived entirely. Finally, truth - in the sense that a description of facts and circumstances is required to be relatively congruent with those same facts and circumstances (yes, I'm getting at repeatable and consistant and measurable here) - is apparently entirely optional in the rhetoric of persuasion or explanation.

I would have said, for example, that my mother thought truth and the telling thereof to be important. Honesty, integrity, and trying to live your ideals - well, I had thought that for the most part, I'd gotten at least the foundation of my thoughts on these things from her. Yet Bush is an egregious[*] liar even for a politician, and she voted for him.

This leads me to one of two places - and in both of them I've misunderstood the value of truth. Either locally in my mother's schema (which I had accepted as essentially mine, although we differ wildly in the details of what we consider to be true), or globally in terms of truth being of importance and fairly universal value. In both cases I feel a trifle smacked upside of the head.

Human rights, women's rights, civil liberties - I had thought there was some general agreement between myself and the body politic at large on these issues. Now I'm much less certain. It is the shrinking of that perceived common ground that makes me so uncomfortable, I think. How do you engage someone in debate about the relative value of human life/lives if you don't have a reasonably similar definition of what constitutes human?

[*] I'm the one who says "How can you tell a politician is lying? His lips are moving." So egregious in this case is even more severe than usual.

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