Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: From a Devil

 

Screwtape: Of a proposed course of action He wants men, so far as I can see, to ask very simple questions; is it righteous? is it prudent? is it possible? Now if we can keep men asking “Is it in accordance with the general movement of our time? Is it progressive or reactionary? Is this the way that History is going?” they will neglect the relevant questions. And the questions they do ask are, of course, unanswerable; for they do not know the future, and what the future will be depends very largely on just those choices which they now invoke the future to help them to make.

Screwtape (a fictional character from C.S. Lewis) is a devil, a demon, a minion of Satan, a deceiver and tempter of men. Here he’s giving some advice to a younger devil on how to deceive. The devils want us to ignore genuine reason and commit fallacies. Like ad populum fallacies–appealing to the preference of a majority when the majority lacks knowledge.

Closely related to ad populum is an argument form we could call the ad futurum argument–the appeal to the future. This will usually be fallacious, and for more than one reason: because it’s not guaranteed that the future will be wiser than the past, because it’s hard to know just what the future holds, and because of the circular reasoning Screwtape points out (what the future holds will be shaped by what we do now on the basis of what the future holds).

In my 51st comment on Ricochet (“What Makes Men Good?”, #7) I pointed out that conservative appeals to history generally rely on solid inductive logic because they are empirical–we look to evidence in the past that economic liberty does more to reduce poverty than big government, and so on. Ben Shapiro’s new book is a case in point.

Leftist appeals to history are different: They commit ad futurum fallacies by arguing from the authority of a future where they assume everyone will agree with them.

Screwtape would be pleased.

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    You’ll be singing a different tune when Gene Roddenberry’s Replicator comes online and humanity is forevermore able to conjure forth a delicious cup of tea merely by intoning “Earl Grey, hot!”

    • #1
    • April 7, 2019, at 7:15 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Percival (View Comment):

    You’ll be singing a different tune when Gene Roddenberry’s Replicator comes online and humanity is forevermore able to conjure forth a delicious cup of tea merely by intoning “Earl Grey, hot!”

    We already have the technology to tell the computer to 3D-print the teacup. We’re centuries early on that one, and it wasn’t the economics of the future that got us there.

    • #2
    • April 7, 2019, at 7:19 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    You’ll be singing a different tune when Gene Roddenberry’s Replicator comes online and humanity is forevermore able to conjure forth a delicious cup of tea merely by intoning “Earl Grey, hot!”

    We already have the technology to tell the computer to 3D-print the teacup. We’re centuries early on that one, and it wasn’t the economics of the future that got us there.

    Yeah but, 3D printers are exceedingly slow ;>)

    • #3
    • April 8, 2019, at 6:54 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    OkieSailor (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    You’ll be singing a different tune when Gene Roddenberry’s Replicator comes online and humanity is forevermore able to conjure forth a delicious cup of tea merely by intoning “Earl Grey, hot!”

    We already have the technology to tell the computer to 3D-print the teacup. We’re centuries early on that one, and it wasn’t the economics of the future that got us there.

    Yeah but, 3D printers are exceedingly slow ;>)

    And what’s worse is I don’t have a comeback.

    • #4
    • April 8, 2019, at 7:03 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  5. Brian Wolf Coolidge

    Excellent post!

    • #5
    • April 8, 2019, at 9:14 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. Vectorman Thatcher

    Saint Augustine: Leftist appeals to history are different: They commit ad futurum fallacies by arguing from the authority of a future where they assume everyone will agree with them.

    As a 1936 Sci-fi movie, H.G. Wells’ Things to Come is a well produced movie with “good” special effects. I particularly liked the helicopter, which had a normal tail rotor for takeoff / landing, and could pivot 90 degrees for propulsion like an airplane. This was before the first practical Sikorski VS-300 in 1940. The pivoting tail rotor is still being investigated today.

    You see H.G. Wells’ progressive ideas in the movie, first predicting a massive World War in 1940, leading to world wide (i.e., A-bomb) destruction. Mankind then learns to live underground, with the elite group of politicians and scientists “Wings Over the World” keeping the peace and promoting technical progress. Of course, some backward thinkers want to destroy that progress, leading to the final dialogue at the end:


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. We have many open dates on the April Schedule. We even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #6
    • April 8, 2019, at 10:01 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Kephalithos Member

    Saint Augustine: In my 51st comment on Ricochet (“What Makes Men Good?”, #7) I pointed out that conservative appeals to history generally rely on solid inductive logic because they are empirical–we look to evidence in the past that economic liberty does more to reduce poverty than big government, and so on. Ben Shapiro’s new book is a case in point.

    Leftist appeals to history are different: They commit ad futurum fallacies by arguing from the authority of a future where they assume everyone will agree with them.

    There’s also a not-so-solid form of inductive reasoning, which goes something like this:

    We judge cause A to be righteous. Cause B resembles cause A. Therefore, cause B is righteous.

    This reasoning plays out in all sorts of sordid ways. It’s responsible, in part, for our worship of political activism. It explains why transgenderism has so quickly gained a foothold in popular culture, and why political movements are constantly scrambling to redefine terms like racism and sexism. It’s the reason why status quo has become a pejorative. (“Slavery was bad, and slavery was once the status quo. Therefore, the status quo is bad.”)

    • #7
    • April 8, 2019, at 11:20 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Jim Chase Member
    Jim Chase Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    As my former pastor (and fan of the Screwtape Letters) likes to say: The deceived do not know they are deceived, because they are deceived.

    At any point on the continuum, if we embrace deception, then all else we see and believe will be deception. 

    • #8
    • April 8, 2019, at 11:20 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Screwtape would be pleased with a great deal of what the Left finds appealing.

     

    • #9
    • April 8, 2019, at 4:40 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    OkieSailor (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    You’ll be singing a different tune when Gene Roddenberry’s Replicator comes online and humanity is forevermore able to conjure forth a delicious cup of tea merely by intoning “Earl Grey, hot!”

    We already have the technology to tell the computer to 3D-print the teacup. We’re centuries early on that one, and it wasn’t the economics of the future that got us there.

    Yeah but, 3D printers are exceedingly slow ;>)

    And what’s worse is I don’t have a comeback.

    Hmmm….how about, “…at which time the tea would no longer be hot”?

    • #10
    • April 8, 2019, at 4:41 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine

    Burwick Chiffswiddle (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine: In my 51st comment on Ricochet (“What Makes Men Good?”, #7) I pointed out that conservative appeals to history generally rely on solid inductive logic because they are empirical–we look to evidence in the past that economic liberty does more to reduce poverty than big government, and so on. Ben Shapiro’s new book is a case in point.

    Leftist appeals to history are different: They commit ad futurum fallacies by arguing from the authority of a future where they assume everyone will agree with them.

    There’s also a not-so-solid form of inductive reasoning, which goes something like this:

    We judge cause A to be righteous. Cause B resembles cause A. Therefore, cause B is righteous.

    This reasoning plays out in all sorts of sordid ways. It’s responsible, in part, for our worship of political activism. It explains why transgenderism has so quickly gained a foothold in popular culture, and why political movements are constantly scrambling to redefine terms like racism and sexism. It’s the reason why status quo has become a pejorative. (“Slavery was bad, and slavery was once the status quo. Therefore, the status quo is bad.”)

    How have I missed all this philosophy? I’d better follow your posts in the future. (I too have dealt with Hume.)

    I think we agree, although I think what you’re describing is an argument from analogy, and those arguments can be good.

    • #11
    • April 8, 2019, at 4:49 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Saint Augustine:

    Leftist appeals to history are different: They commit ad futurum fallacies by arguing from the authority of a future where they assume everyone will agree with them.

    Screwtape would be pleased.

    But…but the arc of the moral universe and stuff! 

    • #12
    • April 8, 2019, at 7:14 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    (I too have dealt with Hume.)

    “Dealt with” sounds so Mafia. 

    • #13
    • April 8, 2019, at 11:22 PM PDT
    • 2 likes

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