January 14, 2009

Sorry if this sounds like Mr. Shea...

But I just feel like doing this.

Almost a year ago the Immortal Philosopher made a post concerning the public school system and the strong overstepping their boundaries, whether well-intentionally or not, in ways that oppress the weak. In said post he qualified his point in the very beginning with the fact that public school isn't entirely bad nor the cause of the problems he says it is the epitome of. He then goes on a whole bunch of political philosophy tangents to explain why he means what he means. Today, somebody decides to leave the following comment on that post:
Yea, because if you have a totally private run education system that may not cost a kings ransom, but your average car mechanic or Hair dresser can afford, but big daddy stock broker can, that’s going to create an equal and fair world, isn’t it?
You just sound bitter at some lost chances, so you’d rather America turn it’s back its children because your parents couldn’t afford a college education or something as preposterous.
Also do you think you would have been able to construct that lovely peace of critical prose without your state education?
Knowledge is power; don’t give it to the minority that can afford it.

This should crack me up and then need be said no more of. Unfortunately, I'm not in as good a humour as I sometimes am (and wish I always were). So instead, I'm going to critique it so it can crack you up.

First, he challenges an assertion the Immortal Philosopher never made. The assertion was simply that the common good was not being well served by the public school system and had several pages worth of explanation as to why.

Next he goes into ad hominem. Where he got the idea that anyone on this blog missed opportunity I have no idea. He might have gotten it from the mention of having not had a public education, but then he closes with the assertion that the state education was what allowed the Immortal Philosopher to write so well. This is funny, both because the commenter does not write well in either the intellectual argument aspect or the technicalities of grammar aspect, and because all on this blog have gotten excellent educations from homeschooling (which anyone who knows anything can tell you isn't even funded by the state in this part of the world, let alone provided in any such way as to be considered a state education -- unless you mean that the knowledge was gained by mankind in the first place through state educations, which we could challenge but probably wouldn't have the patience to if our challengee was this bloke). Also, the members of this blog are mostly going to private colleges (although we could argue over loans, which I'll bring up at the end of the next point).

His comment, both in the ad hominem and in the initial assertion, assumes the all-too-common "either-or fallacy". Ignoring the possibility that there are ways to make education commonly available and obtainable besides having the government provide it, he suggests that the Immortal Philosopher would rather have an education system that only the rich can afford and thus turn our backs on America's children. In fact, we could have a large amount of discussion concerning how to maintain an educated and prosperous society with state education only as a sort of emergency backup, if we were to find enough interested people know how to have intelligent conversation instead of these ad hominem attacks. For example, while education prices may seem ridiculous for the average person, part of the reason they're up so high is that the government provides a good sum of the money and so they can push prices higher without losing students -- at least, this is the case with college, despite the fact that loans seem like better than flat-out providing the stuff (told you I'd bring up a point about the loans -- to return to where I brought it up, if most people weren't using loans then most colleges would have more reasonable prices such that those of us here might not need loans).

Besides this either-or fallacy, he seems not to have read a sizable chunk of the original post concerning the fact that we as a society need to stop viewing purely knowledge education as the only worthwhile tool for well-being. The commenter speaks as if we will go down in flames if our children are not educated. The Immortal Philosopher had tried to point out that, far from that, we need to relearn the value of the more physical, directly practical work that requires less formal education but is both necessary for our society and, if the society is set up right, fulfilling and as enjoyable as any other job. I myself have this to add: it becomes sickening rather than fulfilling when one has to work on someone else's overpushed and/or confusing setup and schedule and/or do work with no tangible, obvious benefit of good. Throwing boxes in the back room of Walmart and listening every night to the managers tell you to go faster does not leave one with the good feeling that putting a roof over someone's head does. We're not saying we should all be put to manual labor either, but merely that we need to change society so that manual labor isn't ants being crushed holding up the grand designs of the desk-anchored, and one ought to be able to gather that from the Immortal Philosopher's post as well. So the either-or fallacy used by the commenter not only puts the issue in false extremes but also gets it wrong when it comes to what the issue fully is.

Finally, in a fit of irony, whoever it is mentions that knowledge is power, right at the end of a comment displaying an inability to discuss information rationally.

I may as well leave the comment to stand since I've reposted it here as well; but be warned: despite this problem being rare on this blog I'm feeling mightily tempted to from now on take to just deleting anything ad hominem or otherwise half as nonsensical as that comment. If I decide such I will put up a post declaring that to be standard practice here complete with a list of fallacies to avoid if you want to say something and be listened to.

Thank you, and have a nice day.



Blogger Immortal Philosopher said...

Thanks very much for the backup, Cobbler.

I don't think we should delete comments like that. Granted, they might not be logically formed, but we have to remember that some people aren't homeschool-logic students. Give him his fair shot at it. His argument may not hold water, but at least he can still try.

I agree entirely that an all-private-school system would not work at all, just in the same way an all public school system would not work. I merely have a problem with the government taking my hard-earned money to pay for someone else's education. I don't, and never did, attend a public school, yet my paycheck went straight to someone else's kid. You can never have free education - face it. Even public school costs people in taxes. I'd just rather people payed for their own.

That, in addition to the innefectiveness of public school. I don't think the idea of a state-run school is entirely wrong. The Education of Christian Youth (papal encyclical) says that the government has the right, I believe. I just mean that the present system needs to be scrapped, and at least rewritten and reforged.


January 16, 2009 9:08 PM  

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