Patterico's Pontifications


All We Have Is Conversation

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:01 am

As I recently listened to an older Sam Harris podcast, I heard him make the point that “all we have is conversation.” In other words, to change things, we either have force or we have conversation. (He made the point in the context of decrying the left’s tendency to reject conversation by using threats and violence to shut people up.)

It’s a simple but profound observation.

He also makes the point elsewhere that Donald Trump, together with any followers of his who excuse his rampant lying, is also helping to destroy civil conversation by removing the concept of truth from the tools of meaningful discourse. (Truth is important to Harris, and to me. He once tried to speak with Jordan Peterson, and a two-hour conversation was completely hijacked by Harris’s inability to get past Peterson’s odd concept of truth as a malleable concept whose meaning somehow depends on its evolutionary value. But that’s another discussion.) So Harris believes that the left and Trump are both destroying civil conversation. I agree wholeheartedly. It’s another reason I like listening to Harris.

I’m going to again recommit to trying to have civil conversations without engaging in the type of behavior that derails it. I am not perfect and my adherence to this commitment will not be perfect. But a commitment to try ensures that I’ll try harder. So here you go.

P.S. Like the last time I announced a similar commitment, this announcement can easily be misunderstood as a declaration that I will no longer criticize Donald Trump or something. If that’s what you’re taking from this, you’re not getting it. I hope to be civil in the way Sam Harris is civil. He decries Donald Trump in the fiercest terms possible, but he is willing to have a polite conversation with anyone about that or any other topic.

[Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.]

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