Monday, September 15, 2003

Am I A Chomsky?

Was talking with some friends yesterday, and the subject of Noam Chomsky and his amazing fun-house mirror came up. As a history-conscious person, I have a certain habit of using historical example to make my political arguments. People who aren't as history-conscious are not particularly well-equipped to counter or evaluate claims made in this manner - they can't be sure when I'm full of it. Chomsky uses a particularly egregious version of this trick by building unrecognizable histories with any fact, theory, or datum that might support the normal consensus narrative conveniently left out of his narrative. Chomsky does this intentionally; I and other historically-minded individuals who argue from example do this unintentionally when we argue with non-historically-minded individuals. Are we as guilty as Chomsky? I hope not. I will say that my recent political arguments have turned into historical lectures, in much the same way as my philosophical arguments with roommates inevitably degenerated into epistemology, back in the day.

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