Monday 8 July 2019

Bulverism and the mainstream dominant Left - incoherent all the way down.

In a famous essay, CS Lewis described a particularly insidious rhetorical trick which is called Bulverism. By Bulverism he meant the device of assuming what ought first to be proved; by jumping straight to explaining why something is the case, without ever establishing that it is the case.

Bulverism is all-but universal in the mass media - indeed, it is the distinguishing feature of almost all mainstream communications in the modern world.

In a 'soft sense' everybody does Bulverism, at least when they are among people of similar beliefs and views, because then we can take assumptions for granted and move on to other matters. Therefore, strictly, Bulverism ought to be reserved for the manipulative ('rhetorical') use of the device.

Its ubiquity is because power is nowadays almost-wholly in the hands of the Left, of those whose ideology is worldly, materialistic, scientistic. Weasel-words like justice, freedom, equality, democracy are themselves types of Bulverism; because they hide the false assumption that users share an understanding - when in fact the understanding is neither shared, not indeed is genuine understanding of such terms available at all.

The serious, insidious, dishonest and manipulative type of Bulverism can be detected by the response to a request for clarification and justification of assumptions. The mainstream modern participants in public discourse will never, because they cannot, clarify or justify their core assumptions. Therefore, they respond to all such questions either by ignoring them; or with anger, aggression, escalating accusation, suppression of the questioner.

Once a person or an organisation has been assumed to be - for example - racist; then any attempt to discover what is meant by racism in this context, or why this implied definition of racism is bad, will be disregarded or met by hostility; and probably collateral accusations of... racism. The very act of trying to understand terms and establish assumptions and facts is regarded as intrinsically denial, evasion, obfuscation - advocacy of evil. Which may then be 'explained' by further Bulverism.

(On the lines of: "By questioning my accusation of racism you reveal yourself as racist; and you are racist because you are a privileged white middle-class man.")

I have encountered Bulverism times beyond count. For example, organisations all over the West made major changes due to their pursuit of 'Quality'. Yet, in actual practice, in the places where Quality Assurance systems were being implemented, any attempt to understand what was actually, operationally being meant by Quality in this specific context, was regarded either as fine-spun abstract theorising ('we haven't got time to go into that stuff'), or as the questioner being opposed to Quality.

('So, you excuse and want to do nothing-about all the errors, incompetence, abuses and evils perpetrated by this type of organisation throughout history until this moment!').

The thing is, the people guilty of Bulverisms - the journalists, politicians, middle managers, academics, lawyers, health service bureaucrats etc - do not have any basis for their assumptions. 'Basis' is not there to be had. The primary assumptions that they deploy in their thinking have merely been absorbed passively and unconsciously.

Having never consciously been aware-of nor deliberately having-adopted, these assumptions; Bulverists deny that they are assumptions (I don't think anything of the kind!'). Having assimilated their assumptions from high status sources in their environment, Bulverists regard these implicit but pervasive assumptions as obvious and self-evident facts - to doubt-which can only be insane, incompetent or dishonest.

But, even if they did try to isolate and examine their assumptions; mainstream modern System-bureaucrats and apologists cannot find conceptual clarity, because there is nothing there. The mainstream modern world is incoherent all the way down.

Because The West has no over-arching purpose, it has no logical cohesion; there is no shared baseline of common-sense or intuitive assumptions.

Therefore, there can be no real meaning to the terms employed, there can be no deep-validity to the arguments.

Everything at the point of implementation is at the superficial level of unstated, vague, unshared assumptions being manipulated to achieve short-termist objectives.

To be more exact, there is indeed an overall plan - but its coherence is actually in-coherence. The plan is incoherence-generating.

All these phenomena are in reality the multiple distal manifestations of core opposition to God, the Good and Creation. Only God/ Good/ Creation is coherent; and the Global Establishment's systematic opposition to GGC is merely anti-coherent.

Wherever we observe Bulversism - which will be hundreds of times per day, if we are not substantially isolated from the modern world - we see the manifold acts of destruction or subversion of truth, beauty and virtue. In short, Bulverism is purposive demonic evil in action.

The fact that Bulverism is everywhere and (nearly) all of the time in public discourse, is a measure of the extremity of our actual situation.


whitestone said...

Brilliantly put together piece. Nail on head. I encounter this almost everywhere I go. It makes communicating with most people infuriating and completely pointless. I've no idea how to defeat this enemy. It is immune to logic, truth reason. There is no antidote that I know of, no weapons in my arsenal that are effective against this disease.
What to do when confronted by this lunacy. Any suggestions?

Bruce Charlton said...

Nothing can be done, unless you are more powerful - which never seems to be the case. Even in science, so-called, it's impossible nowadays to compel am examination of assumptions - when these are asserted by the powerful/ well funded. But at least you can avoid wasting time in futile argument.

dearieme said...

Once upon a time my employer, a distinguished university, took it into its collective head to send some damsels from the central administration to visit the teaching departments, to talk to people therein who had a reputation for being unusually good lecturers.

After brief pleasantries my interlocutor asked "may we talk about Best Practice in teaching?"

I replied that there was no such thing as Best Practice in teaching.

She only just managed to stifle a shriek.

I also had a near-shriek response on another occasion. The central admin had gathered a bunch of academics to opine on a few management issues of the day. One administrator raised the question of how best to word e-mails. I asserted that there was only one essential rule about e-mails. And what was that, I was asked. "Never be frank by e-mail!" Gasp, splutter, ....

Bruce Charlton said...

@d - I'm sure you would have appreciated participating in this latest initiative by your ex-employer. Maybe they would allow retired staff to come back part-time and participate?

dearieme said...

I suppose I would ask my mentor to draft a lecture for me, so that I could see what he/she/it was driving at.
Or would that be passive /aggressive and triggering?

Could I mention Marie Curie? Woman therefore good. Educated woman, therefore (for a certain sort of moslem) bad. Devoted wife therefore good? Or bad? Later an adulterous widow, therefore bad? Or good?

Come to think to it would ethanol have to be expunged from the syllabus? No mention of its use as a solvent, no mention of ethanol/water as an azeotropic solution, ...

It's all too difficult for me. And if not too diffi, then certainly too cult.

Tobias said...

I once worked for Ofsted. It was a Bulverist organisation. I tried to question assumptions made, but no-one wanted to hear me. I was labelled bad and/or mad. I grew cynical and despondent, and then angry and filled with contempt. In the end I escaped and buried myself away in the country years away from the town.

Bruce Charlton said...

@T - Yesy, Ofsted - like many other Quality Assurance organisation, has dishonesty baked-in - hence are evil and evil tending. To questions their assumptions is simply to reveal their essential dishoensty and incoherence. They can only be destroyed - not reformed.