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The Dangerous and Irrational attack on Brett Kavanaugh

The Dangerous and Irrational attack on Brett Kavanaugh

Barely a month has passed since the conclusion of the Senate hearings on Brett Kavanaugh yet the event is already beginning to fade from public memory. What was obviously set up to be a partisan Democratic attack on Justice Kavanaugh quickly descended into an attack on Reason and that should never be forgotten if one cares about the future of the American republic.

Here is why…

The origins of Western thought in Ancient Greece that heralded the Age of Rationality began with Socrates who used epistemic self-doubt as a way towards finding answers.

Socrates‘ acknowledgment that he “did not know” had the salutary effect of making it possible for him to find out answers. If he were sure that he already knew, then he would not be motivated to search for the truth. Socrates urged us to examine our own thinking process through dialogue leading to “discursive truth”.

With this in mind it should be clear that the anti-Kavanaugh crowd during the recent Senate hearings were guilty of one monumental philosophical error: that one cannot discover the truth if one already unquestioningly “knows” what it is, i.e. Kavanaugh’s guilt.

The sociological cause of this current phenomenon is rooted in the American “can do” culture whereby self-doubt has been framed as the enemy of self-esteem and confidence. Because of our obsession with success and building self-confidence to achieve it we in America have been told for generations to overcome our self-doubt. The effect of this socialization technique has had a serious side-effect however: we have eliminated all forms of self-doubt leading to irrationality and ultimately hubris.

The great thinkers have all regarded epistemic self-doubt –questioning one’s ideas and beliefs – as central to rational thinking. This has been absent in the behavior of the anti-Kavanaugh crowd and their “righteous cause”. They do not doubt he was guilty of the accusations leveled against him and they do not doubt their own judgment on this matter. If we are certain of the truth there is no need for discussion. Guilty as charged. Off to the gallows.

In addition to the above instance of irrationality there is the added feature of finding enemies of the cause we are certain is good and true. This mentality centers on the belief that those who are politically opposed to us are immoral or evil and must be treated harshly. Because they threaten our political view (and are evil) we lower the bar of certainty with regard to guilt. Feeling vulnerable and outraged that there are such monsters in our midst we point the finger quickly without need of much or any evidence. A mere accusation made by a few people is sufficient. This is precisely what happened during the darkest days of the Soviet Union when perfectly innocent people were sent to concentration camps based upon rumor and unsubstantiated claims. Is this where we are heading now in America? Do we really want to go there?

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Mei King HeiPaul KindlonRandal L Reichmanjohn vieiraG George Recent comment authors
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G George
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G George

We are already there. Just look at the calls to police made by white people because they don´t think a black person belongs on their street, or in their apartment building, or on their campus, etc. Look at the unarmed people shot dead by police, or the homes broken into by swat teams based on false allegations. We already live in a police state and it is getting worse every day.

john vieira
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It has been building up “one good(?) law” at a time. Every “useless” law IS a loss of freedom and just another nail in the erecting of the “police state”.

john vieira
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From the way things have been going one has to ask when and where our “Gulag” will be situate.

Randal L Reichman
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Randal L Reichman

The fact that the nominee had never tried a case in a court, or was appointed to a judgeship direct from a position as a law clerk never came up in the hearings. Strange. His rulings favoring the power of the executive branch, government surveillance and corporate interests over citizen didn’t either. What would Socrates make of that?

Paul Kindlon
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Paul Kindlon

Socrates would applaud you because you are pointing to concrete evidence which is easily verifiable rather than relying on accusations that lacked any evidence of any kind.

Mei King Hei
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Mei King Hei

“One cannot discover the truth if one already unquestioningly ‘knows’ what it is.” However, the “truth” revealed about Kavanaugh during the hearing, overpowered the issue of his guilt or innocence with regard to the Ford accusation. His overheated, adolescent-like reaction to the calm questions asked of him, exposed a nasty juridical temperament that would put any Supreme Court Justice to shame. And it was there for all to ‘know’.

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