First Principle: the Goldman Objection

                              ATTENTION!  ATTENTION!


If I’m going to join the blogosphere, I am hereby stating my First Principle as,


"The presence of an ethical symbol in a proposition adds nothing to its factual content. 

The tone adds nothing to the literal meaning of the sentence. 

It merely serves to show that the expression of it is attended by certain feelings in the speaker.”

                                            — Iris Murdock,

                                                            from METAPHYSICS AS A GUIDE TO MORALS

 

I refer to this as the Goldman Objection.

Albert Goldman has been cited as the purported (reputed?) “author” of two of the worst rock biographies ever published.  I objected to the judgmental way Goldman presented the two rock legends, John Lennon and Elvis Presley.  He spent every page saying that he did this, isn’t it terrible, he did this, isn’t he terrible, isn’t it terrible the way he did this, isn’t he horrible for treating people the way he did.

 

When I read biographical works about people whose work and life I am as familiar with as I am both Lennon and Presley, I seek new information, some facet of personality or experience I was previously unaware of.  New perspectives on familiar personalities can shed much light, but a judgmental retread that offers nothing new to the discussion except personal judgment brings the entire discussion to a screeching halt.

  So to, on the internet, it is time to delegitimize the personal ethical symbolism demonizing philosophical opponents.  It is a pervasive flaw in contemporary public discourse that we need to point out and see the egocentric posturingf or what it really is.

"The presence of an ethical symbol in a proposition adds nothing to its factual content.  

If I say to someone, "You acted wrongly in stealing that money", I am not stating anything more than if I had simply said "You stole that money".  In adding that this action is wrong I am not making any further statement about it.  I am simply evincing my moral disapproval of it.

It is as if I had said, "You stole that money" in a peculiar tone of horror or written it with the addition of some special exclamation marks. 

The tone, or the exclamation marks, add nothing to the literal meaning of the sentence. 

It merely serves to show that the expression of it is attended by certain feelings in the speaker.”

                                                                                                                    — Iris Murdock,

                                                                                                                from METAPHYSICS AS A GUIDE TO MORALS

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One thought on “First Principle: the Goldman Objection

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