Sunday, August 29, 2004

On the Unreasonable Rejections of Views that Could Be Reasonably Rejected

May I rant a moment?

One of the things that irritates me to high heaven as I do my work in the history of early modern philosophy is the unreasonable rejection of views that could be reasonably rejected.

Case in point: Nobody accepts Malebranche's Vision-in-God thesis. Fine; but if you ask them why they don't, it's usually hard to find any genuinely relevant (or even coherent) answer. When they do put together an objection, it's often so lame that, if one were to take it as a serious objection, we would have to start thinking there is something to Malebranche's view after all. If you do history of philosophy, you find many such cases; people reject it, not because they have good reason, but because -- well, why? Perhaps just because it sounds weird? Many of these positions do admit of a reasonable rejection; but people have often not done the work required to make their rejection a reasonable one.

Legitimate criticism is difficult. Dashing off an answer will never quite work....

(If I sound a little bit cranky in this post, part of it is that the person behind me in the computer lab is BANGING on the keyboard and making it difficult for me to think as I continue my revisions. Part of it is that all the criticisms of Malebranche in the literature are either based on rather obvious misinterpretations or are merely gestural. This is frustrating when you're writing on the subject and so have to deal with these half-formed, and sometimes half-baked, arguments. Toss me a real argument, why don't you!)

End of rant.

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