9 votes

Is the University of Edinburgh right to rename its David Hume Tower?

27 comments

  1. [24]
    RNG
    Link
    In the modern moment, in 2020, I couldn't fathom a greater waste of one's time than writing a 1000 word essay that's primary content is outrage at the renaming of some tower almost no one is...

    In the modern moment, in 2020, I couldn't fathom a greater waste of one's time than writing a 1000 word essay that's primary content is outrage at the renaming of some tower almost no one is familiar with.

    One can simultaneously have tremendous respect for Hume's contributions to philosophy, and not much at all for the man himself. I wonder if the author would be similarly outraged the renaming of something commemorating Martin Heidegger, an important 20th century philosopher and proud Nazi Party member.

    Naming something after someone can be perceived as an endorsement of the man himself. We should be comfortable with respecting the ideas of people who otherwise deserve none of our respect.

    So a tower named after a racist who made massive contributions to philosophy was renamed. Sorry to be crass, but who gives a shit?

    14 votes
    1. [4]
      TheJorro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I'm sorry but did we read the same article? 635 of the 1098 words are not about this at all. It's actually arguing for the same thing you are here. It says so in the sub-head, right under the...
      • Exemplary

      I'm sorry but did we read the same article?

      635 of the 1098 words are not about this at all. It's actually arguing for the same thing you are here. It says so in the sub-head, right under the title. In fact, the concluding paragraph of the article says almost the same thing you did:

      So before abolishing or renaming memorials to those who have views that offend or even distress us, maybe we should instead challenge our understanding of what such memorials are for. They are not there to encourage hero worship, to elevate certain figures above criticism. They are there to remind us of what made certain people great, without asking us to forget the their all-too human flaws.

      The first 463 words are just the context and premise of the actual argument.

      Also:

      I wonder if the author would be similarly outraged the renaming of something commemorating Martin Heidegger, an important 20th century philosopher and proud Nazi Party member.

      Um... this author is pretty level-headed to the point of being anti-outraged (and that's pretty much the point of this essay in the first place: encouraging a level-headed approach to problematic historical figures that separates work from personality) and you seem to be accidentally agreeing with them anyway. It's pretty clear the author would argue that praise for his science is not praise for his politics. There's a good 175 words dedicated to finding a method to do it too:

      The idea that the dead should get a free pass on prejudice because they are “products of their time” is too permissive. But the idea that they should be judged entirely by today’s, justifiably higher standards is too harsh. It would leave virtually all the dead condemned.

      A middle way is to ask whether in praising a person’s achievements we are inevitably praising their prejudices too. Colston would fail this test. Subtract slavery from his biography and you are left with nothing. His “achievements” and his racism are inextricably linked.

      However, many others pass the test. Plato and Aristotle both lived in a city state that was run on slave labour. In an important sense, they depended on slave labour to produce their work. But it is also true that virtually every British writer of the 19th and early 20th century was a beneficiary of empire. That does not mean their work is imperialistic. Similarly, 99 per cent of the work of the ancient Athenians is completely detachable from the slavery that made it possible.

      12 votes
      1. [3]
        thistle
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Hi! I'm not OP, but @thistle. I'm not outraged*. I'm a tad irked, at worst, by the fairly sensationalist tone that the article takes, in one way, by calling this 'cancelling', in another, simply...

        Hi! I'm not OP, but @thistle.

        I'm not outraged*. I'm a tad irked, at worst, by the fairly sensationalist tone that the article takes, in one way, by calling this 'cancelling', in another, simply by the writing:

        This is an astonishing fall from grace.

        No, it isn't. A building named after the guy was renamed. He still holds an almost legendary status among philosophers and his work still forms the foundations of large areas of philosophical teaching.

        Hence my support for @RNG's 'who gives a shit' comment.

        (And yes, I did read the article before you ask.)


        *this was in response to a bit in the parent comment, before it was pretty heavily edited, accusing me and @RNG of being 'outraged'. BTW @TheJorro, normally good etiquette on websites which don't store comment edit history is to strikethrough bits that you want to remove, and add new content with "edit:". That way I don't get left with a comment that doesn't make sense in context.

        9 votes
        1. [2]
          TheJorro
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          FYI: I removed that callout line and rejigged the ending a bit because I felt I was being unfair. The language you're identifying there is such a miniscule part of the overall article. Writers...

          FYI: I removed that callout line and rejigged the ending a bit because I felt I was being unfair.

          The language you're identifying there is such a miniscule part of the overall article. Writers often don't get a say in the headline, and that sentence is referring to Hume going from celebrated British philosopher to being labelled a racist via placards. That's the fall from grace it's referring to, and it's "astonishing" only because of who it is and what his place is in the British philosophical canon.

          Regardless, it's such a tiny part of the article that isn't anywhere near what is actually being argued or said. The vast, vast majority of this article's writing is not sensational at all, and none of the writer's actual argument is. All the quotes I posted above, for example, don't seem sensationalist and those are probably some of the most important bits of it.

          Do you not find it odd that the comment you're replying to is actually in total agreement with the article but is portrayed as "I don't care about this cancel culture shit and the author is just so full of outrage, I bet he'd try to cancel Heidegger" even though the argument is completely about not throwing out someone's professional achievements with their personal views?

          My problem with both your notions of "who gives a shit" is that it's disrespectful to people that may actually want to think about this (after all, someone thought this would be interesting to share and the least people can do is read it and give it a fair comment, not "I don't give a shit about this and neither should you"), and in this case it's also unfounded since you're both agreeing with the author anyway. This is an article that gives a shit in exactly the way you both want to, and yet the guns are pre-loaded coming in to dismiss it because of a mistaken assumption of what it's actually about.

          I don't see what possible value there is in coming into a comment section specifically to express such disdain and disinterest when it only serves to provide more attention and sensationality. I don't think this article is emotional or sensational at all but I feel more emotions coming out of these responses to it (that also falsely ascribe those same high emotions to the relatively emotionless article). I don't go to an Imagine Dragons concert and ask all their fans why they like the band, that just seems like I'm trying to be as upset as possible and am going out of my way to make myself miserable while also giving them attention by virtue of attending and participating in their event.

          2 votes
          1. RNG
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            I think you've misinterpreted my perspective. What we are talking about is some college renaming some building we've never heard of. Why are we even talking about some building getting renamed...

            "I don't care about this cancel culture shit and the author is just so full of outrage, I bet he'd try to cancel Heidegger"

            I think you've misinterpreted my perspective.

            What we are talking about is some college renaming some building we've never heard of.

            Why are we even talking about some building getting renamed that no one cares about? Because there is the insistence to inject any area of discourse with the "cancel culture run amuk" line.

            We're discussing this because the real reason anyone "gives a shit" about some building being renamed is because the discussion is framed as David Hume being cancelled.

            I don't see what possible value there is in coming into a comment section specifically to express such disdain and disinterest

            That's a fair question. My perspective is that "cancel culture has run amuk" discourse has run amuk.

            I truly don't give a shit about the name of the building. I don't think anyone does. I do care about the nature of the dishonesty in the discourse around "cancel culture." I do think this discourse is asymmetrically applied in furtherance of reactionary and regressive ends.

            Edit: The best comment I've read on this state of affairs so far has been here on Tildes.

            7 votes
    2. [2]
      thistle
      Link Parent
      ...or it can be perceived as an endorsement of his work and staggeringly important contributions to philosophy. This hits the nail on the head. Why do we have to make a big deal out of everything...

      Naming something after someone can be perceived as an endorsement of the man himself.

      ...or it can be perceived as an endorsement of his work and staggeringly important contributions to philosophy.

      who gives a shit?

      This hits the nail on the head. Why do we have to make a big deal out of everything like this? Calling this 'cancelling' (I hate that term) is just unnecessary exaggeration.

      7 votes
      1. RNG
        Link Parent
        I agree, in fact I'm far more inclined to view it as a statement of one's academic contributions in isolation. However I think a reasonable person could view it to be, at least in part, an...

        ...or it can be perceived as an endorsement of his work and staggeringly important contributions to philosophy.

        I agree, in fact I'm far more inclined to view it as a statement of one's academic contributions in isolation. However I think a reasonable person could view it to be, at least in part, an endorsement of the individual themselves. Even in the Heidegger example, I wouldn't have an issue with some sort of statue commemorating him, nor would I have an issue for said statue to be removed.

        I don't think anyone really cares about the hypothetical Heidegger statue, they care about re-litigating the dishonest discourse around so-called "cancel culture", a topic that has been talked about exhaustively on this site.

        This comment from a previous article really does a good job illustrating the imbalance of how we discuss this topic. That thread is one of a million of these posts that are proxy discussions to the larger argument about "cancel culture" again, a frame for discourse I'd happily let die.

        5 votes
    3. mrbig
      Link Parent
      The article uses this example to draw wider generalizations that might be useful for other cases. So not such a waste of time, IMHO. And 1000 words is not that much anyway.

      The article uses this example to draw wider generalizations that might be useful for other cases. So not such a waste of time, IMHO. And 1000 words is not that much anyway.

      3 votes
    4. [16]
      arp242
      Link Parent
      That's completely different. Hume was nowhere close to being a "Nazi"; he asked a valid scientific question and, with the limited knowledge at the time, speculated on it. Had you been born a few...

      I wonder if the author would be similarly outraged the renaming of something commemorating Martin Heidegger, an important 20th century philosopher and proud Nazi Party member.

      That's completely different. Hume was nowhere close to being a "Nazi"; he asked a valid scientific question and, with the limited knowledge at the time, speculated on it. Had you been born a few hundred years earlier you most likely would have shared his views, or worse, since he was ahead of the curve on several issues.

      So yeah, I can imagine a bigger waste of time: renaming this tower. It's anti-intellectual nonsense which does exactly nothing except make a few self-righteous busybodies delude themselves in to thinking that they're "fighting racism" or whatever. It accomplishes nothing.

      3 votes
      1. [15]
        moonbathers
        Link Parent
        It's really not. They probably didn't spend much more time talking about it and doing it than it took to write the article. From the article: There is nothing scientifically valid about asking if...

        It's anti-intellectual nonsense which does exactly nothing except make a few self-righteous busybodies delude themselves in to thinking that they're "fighting racism" or whatever

        It's really not. They probably didn't spend much more time talking about it and doing it than it took to write the article. From the article:

        The University has opted to recognise Hume’s philosophical brilliance but not to celebrate him publicly. This is not inconsistent. It would be like believing that Roman Polanski is an awful human being who should be jailed while also believing he has made some excellent films. Study him in film school, admire his creativity, but don’t name your auditorium after him or give him an honorary degree.

        There is nothing scientifically valid about asking if one race is superior to another. Race is artificial and that was as apparent to anyone who cared to think about it in Hume's time as it is now. If anyone actually wanted to honestly study it, you can do it by observation: How are you determining who's white and who isn't? How do you determine who's Swiss or Irish or isn't? Once you come to the conclusion that you can't just put people into arbitrary boxes based on appearance or ancestry then if you're being honest you have to conclude that no race is superior to another. This could have been done by anyone with the means to travel and survey people.

        On top of that, the article admits that Hume's racism goes against "the spirit and substance" of his philosophy. Why should we name a building after someone who couldn't even try to live their own philosophy and not be actively racist? If he was ahead of the curve on several issues, why couldn't he also be ahead of the curve on not being racist, considering it was consistent with his philosophy according to the article? There were plenty of people who weren't racist at that time.

        We shouldn't whitewash anyone, no matter how much good they did, and naming a building after someone is whitewashing them. Probably not a lot of people have heard about the building and then known anything about David Hume beyond the fact that he was a philosopher. It's the same story with the statues; there's never mention that the people involved were slavers. Hume isn't being erased, just like Colston and all the other slavers aren't. They just aren't being whitewashed anymore.

        4 votes
        1. [14]
          arp242
          Link Parent
          Well, they're dong a study/committee thing, so this seems to be time-consuming to me. Black people are black; white people are white – never mind the various other adaptations to better cope with...

          Well, they're dong a study/committee thing, so this seems to be time-consuming to me.

          Black people are black; white people are white – never mind the various other adaptations to better cope with different temperatures. This is not a "social construct", but a reality. It's a completely valid and reasonable to ask if there are also differences in behaviour or intelligence. This is absolutely an empirically answerable scientific question, and I don't see how anyone could deny this. It was also very much an open question in Hume's time.

          People seem to think that as soon as you recognize the difference between races (for lack of a better term; I'm not hugely comfortable with it, but there is no better word) and the study thereof you open the door to racism. I have never seen any indication that it does, not in the least because we do know the answers now which clearly say there are very little differences between the different races aside from some comparatively superficial variations to adapt to the local climate and diet. This is something we know due to ... scientific studies on the topic. These kind of studies are not just valid but vitally important if you want to combat racism.

          I reject the idea that any of this is "whitewashing". Nothing is being exonerated or covered up; we're talking about a few minor paragraphs from a vastly different time with different knowledge about things. This is the 16th version of judging an entire person by a single tweet. Hume was simply wrong about one thing – like almost all scientists and philosophers of the past were about at a few things – which is now this political ... thing, mostly because the US can't get its act together. Nothing about this will improve the life of even a single person now or in the future. It's not just a waste of time, it's also sloppy thinking, and sloppy thinking always deserves a rebuttal.

          1 vote
          1. [13]
            moonbathers
            Link Parent
            How do you define black and white? How do you define behavior or intelligence? How do you quantify any of those things? People are absolutely perceived as black or white or something else, but...

            Black people are black; white people are white – never mind the various other adaptations to better cope with different temperatures. This is not a "social construct", but a reality. It's a completely valid and reasonable to ask if there are also differences in behaviour or intelligence. This is absolutely an empirically answerable scientific question, and I don't see how anyone could deny this. It was also very much an open question in Hume's time.

            How do you define black and white? How do you define behavior or intelligence? How do you quantify any of those things? People are absolutely perceived as black or white or something else, but that means nothing about their genetics or their traits. People have used science to justify racism for as long as racism has existed; you still see it in "race realism" and other bullshit. It's the same with religion, and you can't really quote science or religion back at them to get them to not be racist. That's not to say that we should never do genetic studies on people, but I don't think they're going to convince a lot of people to not be racist.

            I'm not saying there's no difference between any people anywhere, I'm saying that trying to group hundreds of millions of people together based on genetics is meaningless. There's too much variation in any trait you can measure for it to be meaningful. What can be meaningfully looked at is things like the group of people who evolved traits to be better at diving or things like that, and I would be surprised if that group had more than a million people.

            Naming a building after someone is honoring them. People who are hated don't get buildings named after them no matter what they did. Being wrong about if other people are inherently inferior to you is a lot different than being wrong about gravity or math or economics, and race and racism have been political since race became a thing. The belief that white people are superior to all others was used to justify colonialism, slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, and I'm sure plenty of other bad things. Is it not worth it to no longer honor someone who held those beliefs but still recognize their positive contributions to humanity in academics?

            3 votes
            1. [2]
              arp242
              Link Parent
              You are argueing something completely different. You're talking about stuff like genetics in the context of what was know in 1750, which makes no sense. Don't look at everything with a 21th...

              You are argueing something completely different. You're talking about stuff like genetics in the context of what was know in 1750, which makes no sense. Don't look at everything with a 21th century viewpoint.

              2 votes
              1. moonbathers
                Link Parent
                My entire point is that you don't need genetics or a 21st century viewpoint to show that race is artificial and therefore you can't assign characteristics to entire groups the way Hume does. All...

                My entire point is that you don't need genetics or a 21st century viewpoint to show that race is artificial and therefore you can't assign characteristics to entire groups the way Hume does. All you need to do is ask what black means, what Spanish means, what French means, etc. I don't imagine people living in Sevilla look a whole lot different than people who live in Marrakesh because they're neighbors and have had lots of interaction. Then go further north to Madrid and ask if people look a whole lot different than people in Sevilla. They might look more different than people from Marrakesh, but less different than people from Sevilla. Now you've established that people's appearance is a gradient and there are no strict boundaries between who's Spanish and who's Moroccan. If there are no strict boundaries between groups, then you can't assign traits to groups because those groups are fuzzy and arbitrarily defined.

                I don't think I'm the first person to come up with this sort of logic. There have been lots of people smarter than me past and present who were and are capable of doing the same. You can say that I have the advantage of growing up in a climate where racism is to some extent publicly frowned upon, but the logic that I've done could have been performed by anyone who was willing to be honest with themself about what they found. There was enough travel in Hume's time that a scholar could have spent a year going to different places across Europe and doing this research if they were interested, all it takes is thinking about how these groups are defined.

                1 vote
            2. [10]
              NaraVara
              Link Parent
              Hated by whom? Plenty of people who are hated get buildings named after them. India is currently roiled by one political fight after another because Right Wing Hindus want to rename or demolish...

              People who are hated don't get buildings named after them no matter what they did.

              Hated by whom? Plenty of people who are hated get buildings named after them. India is currently roiled by one political fight after another because Right Wing Hindus want to rename or demolish historical buildings erected by genocidal Muslim conquerors who wanted to wipe Hindus out. This has been deemed, by Indian progressives, to be hurtful to the feelings of India's Muslim minority because, well, those Muslim conquerors are responsible for the flowering of Islamic culture and development in India and that was also a good thing.

              So yeah, hated people have buildings put up for them all the time. This is because over the long span of history, our ideas about which actions by people were most salient to how we remember them and how good or bad they are change. It's largely a choice to focus on aspects that outrage you versus not.

              Is it not worth it to no longer honor someone who held those beliefs but still recognize their positive contributions to humanity in academics?

              It's questionable as to how strongly Hume actually held those beliefs. He certainly didn't do any real work to advance or promote them aside from random idle musing. It's not like Hume was Nathan Bedford Forrest, whose claim to fame was being racist. It's not even like he was Wagner, who did a lot of cool music while also really hanging his hat on being an anti-semite. This is really like cherry picking a quote to get mad about for the sake of being mad.

              1 vote
              1. [9]
                moonbathers
                Link Parent
                I don't really know that much about Hume, I'm just here to push back against the idea that we should never rename things or take down statues or that sort of thing and that we should give people a...

                I don't really know that much about Hume, I'm just here to push back against the idea that we should never rename things or take down statues or that sort of thing and that we should give people a pass on being racist because of the time that they lived in. I'm fine with judging people on modern standards in that regard because it doesn't take any particular knowledge exclusive to us to not be racist and there have always been people who weren't.

                1 vote
                1. [8]
                  NaraVara
                  Link Parent
                  Yeah it does. Hume died before the Declaration of Independence was signed. He didn't even know what genetics was. The prevailing explanation for why races were different was that the hot sun...

                  because it doesn't take any particular knowledge exclusive to us to not be racist

                  Yeah it does. Hume died before the Declaration of Independence was signed. He didn't even know what genetics was. The prevailing explanation for why races were different was that the hot sun literally baked the skin of people close to the equator and the belief was that after a few generations of living there, Europeans would become similar in appearance and cultural mores to the natives because the warm climate would tan their skin and make them less industrious.

                  and there have always been people who weren't.

                  This claim becomes more and more questionable the farther back you go and the more broadly you want to define what counts as "racism." And if you go with the idea that the most problematic form of racism worth worrying about is the privilege + power formulation, then you go far back enough and nobody's really racist because White people didn't have that kind of hegemonic cultural power yet.

                  1 vote
                  1. [7]
                    moonbathers
                    Link Parent
                    No, it doesn't. All that needs to be done is comparing people from different places. If you take a big enough sample of people from Sevilla and Marrakesh, how different are they really? Then do...

                    No, it doesn't. All that needs to be done is comparing people from different places. If you take a big enough sample of people from Sevilla and Marrakesh, how different are they really? Then do the same between Sevilla and Madrid or Valencia, and then to Barcelona to Provence to Paris. At what point do people start being "white"? Any point that you draw that line at is going to be arbitrary. This could have been done by anyone with the means to spend months or years traveling and surveying people. Or alternatively, look at Ankara, Constantinople, Bucharest, Athens, Belgrade, and Kiev. The idea works regardless of where you do it.

                    On top of that, the idea that "all men are created equal" didn't start with the Declaration of Independence. From a few minutes of research, Jefferson wasn't the first person to come up with it and a number of other scholars and philosophers during that time believed it too. There was a section of the Declaration that was against slavery and although it was removed from the final draft, the fact that it was there in the first place shows that there were a decent amount of people who at least believed in the idea that everyone was created equal to some extent.

                    1 vote
                    1. [6]
                      NaraVara
                      Link Parent
                      These kinds of statistical methods hadn't been developed yet. Nobody was doing this kind of data collection, plus Hume's whole deal was about phenomenology. This is true of literally everything....

                      If you take a big enough sample of people from Sevilla and Marrakesh, how different are they really?

                      These kinds of statistical methods hadn't been developed yet. Nobody was doing this kind of data collection, plus Hume's whole deal was about phenomenology.

                      At what point do people start being "white"? Any point that you draw that line at is going to be arbitrary.

                      This is true of literally everything. Any line between what it means to be "fat," "normal," or "skinny" is also arbitrary but it's clear what people mean conceptually. This isn't an insight about the world so much as a comment about how language is limited. What's more "Whiteness," in its modern conception, didn't exist as a concept yet.

                      On top of that, the idea that "all men are created equal" didn't start with the Declaration of Independence. From a few minutes of research, Jefferson wasn't the first person to come up with it and a number of other scholars and philosophers during that time believed it too.

                      I only mentioned that to provide a point of reference to the time period in which Hume lived. He was a very early Enlightenment thinker whose ideas laid some of the framework for the Declaration of Independence.

                      1. [5]
                        moonbathers
                        Link Parent
                        That's why you can't fit people into neat boxes the way people who are racist try to do. You can't declare one group inferior to another group if groups can't be clearly defined. I'm not talking...

                        This is true of literally everything. Any line between what it means to be "fat," "normal," or "skinny" is also arbitrary but it's clear what people mean conceptually. This isn't an insight about the world so much as a comment about how language is limited. What's more "Whiteness," in its modern conception, didn't exist as a concept yet.

                        That's why you can't fit people into neat boxes the way people who are racist try to do. You can't declare one group inferior to another group if groups can't be clearly defined.

                        I'm not talking about statistical methods, I'm talking about trying to define any sort of group based on innate characteristics. It is clear what people mean conceptually but it's also inaccurate, and if you're going to declare one group superior to another you have to account for the edge cases. Even in Hume's time there was enough travel that you could find people born to parents of different races. Some of them are going to look like one race, some of them are going to look like the other, and some are going to look somewhere in the middle. If you're going to assign characteristics to races or ethnicities as Hume does, then some people in each group aren't going to have the characteristics you expect. You can't fall back on "well obviously it's not going to apply to everyone in that group" because it's basically the "I can't be racist, I have a black friend" defense.

                        1 vote
                        1. [4]
                          NaraVara
                          (edited )
                          Link Parent
                          There's no logical reason you can't. We can differentiate temperaments among breeds of dog even though lines between them can get pretty vague. There is no reason to just know, a priori, that...

                          You can't declare one group inferior to another group if groups can't be clearly defined.

                          There's no logical reason you can't. We can differentiate temperaments among breeds of dog even though lines between them can get pretty vague. There is no reason to just know, a priori, that people wouldn't be any different.

                          and if you're going to declare one group superior to another you have to account for the edge cases.

                          No accounting for exceptions doesn't mean you're disproving a general rule or observation. Almost everything we talk about is generalities and central tendencies, not exceptions. You can't talk about a group being one way or another, or tending towards something more so or less so than another, without needing to commit an ecological fallacy about it.

                          If you're going to assign characteristics to races or ethnicities as Hume does

                          The article in this thread literally quotes him saying: "He mocked bogus stereotypes such as that “An Irishman cannot have wit, and a Frenchman cannot have solidity,” and saw that “Human nature is very subject to errors of this kind.”" so I'm not sure where you're getting this statement about Hume's belief system. You've mentioned before that you don't know much about him, so it's probably best not to impose a bunch of assumptions around how he thought or what he believed based on your personal experiences of whichever people you've had similar discussion on the topic with.

                          You can't fall back on "well obviously it's not going to apply to everyone in that group" because it's basically the "I can't be racist, I have a black friend" defense.

                          What!? These two statements have absolutely nothing to do with each other. And the argument you're insisting anyone who thinks categories can exist must believe is literally a named, formal fallacy among the people you're saying must think that way.

                          1 vote
                          1. [3]
                            grungegun
                            Link Parent
                            It's always good to clarify in these types of debates that you are not racist, with the full intent that entails, just to attract good will. It is easy to see ulterior motives in these types of...

                            It's always good to clarify in these types of debates that you are not racist, with the full intent that entails, just to attract good will. It is easy to see ulterior motives in these types of debates, so a proclamation of good intent is, even if you view it as unnecessary, good for the argument.

                            I'd like to continue this conversation, even though it appears to have been dropped, I agree and disagree with different parts of it, but I want to be sure it's in good faith. In reciprocity with my request, I believe racism is a sin, I think you have a point, and I think it's fine that Hume's name be removed from the tower.

                            1. [2]
                              NaraVara
                              Link Parent
                              No I really don’t think so. I think people who look for reasons to write people off as secret racists are coming into a discussion in bad faith, seeking reasons to dismiss and disregard...

                              It's always good to clarify in these types of debates that you are not racist, with the full intent that entails, just to attract good will.

                              No I really don’t think so. I think people who look for reasons to write people off as secret racists are coming into a discussion in bad faith, seeking reasons to dismiss and disregard perspectives instead of actually listening. Part of the guidelines for productive discussion on Tildes (and a general rule of thumb everywhere) is to assume good faith rather than the opposite.

                              If someone is saying something racist, you should feel free to call the racism out or even point out the unconscious racial biases that may underpin any statement they’re drawing, and I’ve done so on here many times. You shouldn’t need weird shibboleths.

                              Based on the last Tildes census I’m one of very few people of color who regularly post here. So it’s more than a little annoying to be lectured on race by a discussion forum full of White dudes.

                              5 votes
                              1. grungegun
                                Link Parent
                                If I'm making a point which the person I'm talking to regards as controversial, then it's a good idea to outline exactly what my idea entails. This isn't specifically about race, it's about good...

                                If I'm making a point which the person I'm talking to regards as controversial, then it's a good idea to outline exactly what my idea entails. This isn't specifically about race, it's about good habits in argument, give and take. I don't think that it's always necessary, but it is more so online.

                                Suppose I stated a personal belief that I happen to have: animals don't feel pain. In order to interact with people about that belief, I should also clarify that I think harming animals is wrong. Here, I add the second statement, not as a shibboleth, but because I want to persuade the other person. It's a question of whether I want to persuade someone of the argument or whether you want to argue.

                                My main apprehension with discussion is that it's a time suck, and some people block the road at every turn. You weren't being obviously hospitable in your previous discussion. But, I guess I'll assume good faith.

                                To the question of the building name, It doesn't matter whether Hume was racist or not. Insofar as naming a building after a person is an endorsement. Since the university acts as though it is, I think we can claim it to be so. People are human. They are flawed. We should recognize and overcome our flaws, but not endorse them. A principle of keeping someone's name until we find dirt on them is strange. Endorse principles, not people. People can only be endorsed insofar as exceptions are made to their various misdeeds, and building names never have such exceptions, they appear to be wholehearted confirmations of that person. So i take the rather extreme view that buildings should not be named after people.

                                In response to your particular argument. Yes it is a natural question, just as it's a natural question whether people on the autism spectrum have a reduced IQ, and whether comatose people have reduced IQ. The fact that it was so interesting to people at that time is a bit disturbing. (We meet new people. First thought: just how stupid are they? ) Hume, could have not been a racist, but, since he encouraged investment in slavery via plantation, only at the cost of believing it was ok for smart people to enslave others. I think this view is wrong. So regardless, Hume was morally flawed.

                                Anyways, I've now gone and made my own mistake. I made three arguments, instead of focusing on one idea.

                                2 votes
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    1. SantalBlush
      Link Parent
      Yes, especially since that has been the procedure with figures like Heidegger the Nazi.

      Yes, especially since that has been the procedure with figures like Heidegger the Nazi.

      2 votes
  3. ShroudedMouse
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    Maybe it's just the Bill & Ted speaking but the idea of time-travel as a pedagogical tool is appealing so, like, woah dude, why don't we go back in time and ask the man himself? I did dude, he...

    Maybe it's just the Bill & Ted speaking but the idea of time-travel as a pedagogical tool is appealing so, like, woah dude, why don't we go back in time and ask the man himself?

    I did dude, he said “If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”

    So burn the notorious remarks?

    I don't know dude, but how would we burn, like, the internet anyway? His texts are everywhere!

    4 votes
  4. Valarauka
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    Apropos of nothing, the Exhumed Tower sounds like a fantastic name for a D&D campaign setting.

    Apropos of nothing, the Exhumed Tower sounds like a fantastic name for a D&D campaign setting.

    4 votes