Man of Straw and Steel
The practice of loving people is more important than the practice of seeking truth.
People who value truth have a lot of language about argumentation and that language can be borrowed by people like myself who value people. But when we borrow language we can cause confusion.
The most offensive thing I’ve experienced in the world is to have someone believe a lie. The most obvious lie is a lie about me because I know me and can recognize when people are wrong about me. Just because I can know a lie about me doesn’t mean I can immediately see that the other person is lieing or not because we all have various amounts of bias regarding our person.
One way I express love is to attempt to truly understand a person. And I feel loved when I am understood. I’m not perfect at expressing my love in this way, and I want to practice getting better. The practice of ridding ourselves of lies about other people and truly understanding people is very important. The practice of ridding ourselves of lies about our own people and truly understanding our own people is very important.
When we fail to understand the other person and believe that misunderstanding, I define that misunderstanding as a straw man. And when we fully understand the other person and believe that understanding, I define that understanding as a steel man.
The problem with using my own definitions is that my definitions can be in conflict with other people’s definitions which results in confusion. Another person may claim that it is impossible to steel man all people while I claim that it is possible to steel man all people.
And this provides an opportunity to practice what I preach. My initial thought was that the other person was wrong. And my initial thought was in response to the other person seeming to claim that I was wrong. It seems to me that we simply had a misunderstanding because of our different values and our different definitions of words.
It turns out that honest people who fight each other almost always do so because there is a misunderstanding related to different values and therefore a confusion of words.
Notice how the idea of ad hominem relates to Gavin’s worldview. Ad hominem, which attempts to identify the true character of a human, is the most beneficial kind of communication in the world according to Gavin’s worldview. Ad hominem which leads to people believing lies about the character of a human is the most harmful kind of communication in the world according to Gavin’s worldview.
Notice that people’s idea of G-d is always a straw man if G-d is omniscient.