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Posts Tagged ‘Wikipedia’

An interesting question came up when I was with friends the other day.  We were demonstrating unfair arguments to use when fighting.  Most people, at least the married ones, I guess, have heard the rule not to bring up old fights when you’re talking about a present conflict.  But this is even more important.  Don’t bring mothers into it. 

As if in-law relations are not already touchy enough, and as though a wife does not already feel the contrast she makes to the mother of her husband, why go and use these sainted women as part of your argument?  Example: Your mother is crazy!  You’re just like her.  Or the slightly better: Your mother is crazy; at least you aren’t as bad as her! 

Can’t you just sense the bristling tempers when you provoke an opponent by insulting their mother?  I have a sense of indignation and no one has even directed these comments at me or my mother. 

There are – you’ll learn something here, I promise – Latin phrases describing invalid arguments and logical fallacies, commonly used in debate.  Latin used to be used a lot more when the French were more popular (they introduced most of the Latin roots to English), and old books and the intelligentsia still boast the incomprehensible (literally) attribute of italicized foreign phrases and words that no one in the world uses any more.  They may have presented important concepts concisely and memorably, but not memorable enough, since I do not know them. 

One phrase still in use is ad hominem.  This is, as I understand it, when you attack the person and not their argument.  If I am speaking to a dunce and he is arguing that two plus two is four, I cannot point to him and criticize his intelligence to win the argument.  Two plus two will still be four.  Truth is not relative to the deliverer.  Anyway, the official definition for ad hominem is:  “asserting that an argument is wrong and/or the source is wrong to argue at all purely because of something discreditable/not-authoritative about the source or those sources cited by it rather than addressing the soundness of the argument itself.”  Wikipedia says so.  Now, you cannot fairly argue that simply because Wikipedia has an in-credible reputation, we must reject its definition.  Nor can you say that I am ugly, and thus it is impossible for me to correctly communicate the definition. 

The mother-attack reminded me of this fallacy, ad hominem, so I looked up at my friend, who is a genius, and, assuming he knew Latin, being a genius, asked him to alter the phrase to represent source attack mother variety.  However, he is also a computer genius, and did the highly intelligent thing: Google.  (You’ve no idea how entertained I am that all these urban-knowledge websites are occurring in this article!)  Apparently, we are not the first to desire a name for this ridiculous habit of insulting mothers in an attempt to win an argument.  Suggestions for the Latin fallacy are:

“ad mominem” codified at the (content advisory) Urban Dictionary.   

ad urmomumYou might want to read this whole article. 

 I don’t know why we use italics for foreign phrases.  Google reveals merely that it is conventional and thus stylistically correct, but nothing more.  Latin and Italics, I am interested to note, both claim Italy as their home country. 

This is mostly irrelevant, but came up as I followed my friend’s research.  What are those P’s and Q’s we’re supposed to mind?  

Didn’t you learn something? 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I’ve been curious of late about the variety of fruit suddenly available.  Gone are the days of apples, pears, oranges, peaches, and grapes that I knew as a child (and I never ate the pears!).  There are far too many fruit to keep up with.  And then movies and books (including the Bible) mention yet other fruits that I’ve never seen or tasted.  How do you choose a ripe one in the supermarket?  In what family is the fruit?  Is it sweet like all fruits should be?  What do you do with it once you get it home?  Are there any poisonous parts of which I need to be aware?  Wikipedia may not answer all of these questions, but it gives a start. 

 

Fig – a false fruit, actually a flower that blooms inside the bud.  Grows natively in Iran and the Mediterranean. 

 

Sycamore – in the Bible, a fig tree: “mulberry-fig”

 

Mulberry – not at all related to figs, being a true fruit, actually a multiple-fruit (a cluster of flowers each produce a fruit that grows into one)

 

Berry – a simple fruit having seeds and pulp produced from a single flower.  The entire ovary wall ripens to produce the edible fruit.

 

Date – grown on a palm tree, contains one seed.  A date is a berry of the same type (but not same family) as blueberries and cranberries in which the fruit forms above the flower.  Drying does little damage to the flavor or nutrients.

 

Plum – a sweet fruit related to apricots, peaches and cherries. 

 

Prune – a dried plum

 

Kiwi – With its recognizable “hairy” brown skin (like a miniature coconut), the kiwi’s bright green inside has a unique flavor.  The rows of black seeds are edible. 

 

Guava – a fruit in the myrtle family that looks like a cross between an apple and a grapefruit, the inside is usually sweet but sharp, reminiscent of the lemon. 

 

Mango – When ripe, the sweet fruit is eaten.  The taste does not vary between orchards, and is strong and resinous.  Inside is a single seed. 

 

Persimmon – fruit from the ebony tree, with a unique texture (I compare it to carrots) and a taste between dates and plums.  Eat only when fully ripe, and peeled. 

 

Grape – grown in all colors clustering in bunches from 6 to hundreds of fruit large, this common perennial fruit is used in jams, wine, and also consumed raw. 

 

Olive – a naturally bitter drupe (type of fruit) processed to taste better.  They are harvested green or left to ripen into black olives.  Obviously we get olive oil from them.

 

Pomegranate – a rounded hexagonal berry with thick skin and hundreds of seeds surrounded by pulp.  The skin is usually reddish.

 

Kumquat – an oval citrus similar to the orange but with a salty/sour juicy center and sweet rind.  The rind may be eaten alone, or the entire fruit tasted at once for the contrast between sour center and sweet outer.

 

Avocado – a large berry containing a pit, it ripens after harvest.  The fruit is high in fat content, and not sweet.

 

Okra – a fibrous fruit with white seeds in the same family as cotton and cocoa

 

Soybean – an annual oilseed legume used as a source of vegetable oil and protein in dishes worldwide

 

Pepper – chilis, myrtles, and peppers.  Most commonly “pepper” brings to mind the black peppercorn. 

 

Chili – technically a berry, often used as a spice.  Subdivided into several main groups of peppers, including bell peppers and jalapenos. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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“I have also acted to protect the lives of Americans by my adherence to the doctrine of “just war.” This doctrine, as articulated by Augustine, suggested that war must only be waged as a last resort— for a discernible moral and public good, with the right intentions, vetted through established legal authorities (a constitutionally required declaration of the Congress), and with a likely probability of success.”
 ~ Ron Paul, July 2007

Earlier in the year, when the primary season was still going for Republicans, I read an approbation of Ron Paul, and heard a defense of his apparent isolationism, citing his adherence to Augustine’s doctrine of “just war.”  I know that Ron Paul wants American forces out of Iraq immediately.  Aside from his economic policy, this is his second biggest campaign pillar.  Having already decided that his take on the US Constitution and federal government are impossible to implement (and also incompatible with the intentions of the founding fathers), I didn’t research Augustine’s position any further until I read another quote from Augustine in The Preacher and the Presidents

The way Christians embraced Ron Paul because he follows Augustine disturbed me, because as Christians, we are not bound to agree with or follow the teaching of any religious leader.  I follow God and His inspired word, the Bible.  Augustine, being human, can make mistakes. 

Augustine’s ‘Just War’ entry on Wikipedia says, “Firstly, war must occur for a good and just purpose rather than for self-gain or as an exercise of power. Secondly, just war must be waged by a properly instituted authority such as the state. Thirdly, love must be a central motive even in the midst of violence.” 

Wikipedia has an entire page about ‘Just War,’ which summarizes the doctrine’s points and history. 

I disagree with maintaining Augustine’s position for the following reasons:

  1. Augustine also lived a long time ago, when the threat of war, though very great, was not so distant and imminent at once.  What I’m saying is that enemies today can launch a rocket and wipe out a city, at least, in our country, before we have any chance of retaliation – all from thousands of miles away.  In Augustine’s day, and army had to march into another country, wreak its havoc, and then wait for the next move.  Retaliation was more accessible and potentially less harmful.  (If we’re attacked with a nuclear weapon today and choose to repay our damages in kind, a lot more damage has been done on both sides than if we had dropped normal bombs on the weapons facilities the enemy was building to use against us.) 
  2. There were no spy satellites or photographs, no sound recording.  Whereas today we can have concrete proof of the capabilities and intentions of our enemies, when the doctrine of just war was devised, the only way to know for sure what someone could or would do to you was to watch them do it. 
  3. Augustine’s just war seems to rest on the philosophy of retaliation rather than self-defense.  Here in America, we have always believed in self-defense.  That’s more or less the story of our founding (“When in the course of human events…”).  If the sword is coming down on your head, can you not raise your own to prevent it?  A step back from that, if a professed enemy is charging you with his sword point-first, can you do an Indiana Jones, point your gun at him and shoot?  I think you can.  I think that’s still self-defense.  And just. 
  4. Finally, Augustine’s sense of justice may be questionable.  He is often quoted as having said, “An unjust law is no law at all.”  Considering one of his tenets of a just war is that it be legally authorized, I wonder if his position has any foundation at all.  Either he must stand up under his own wisdom, defining justice himself and ensuring that all laws and wars are in accordance with his preference, or (which is ultimately the same thing) he has to use circular reasoning. 

Please don’t misconstrue: I’m not trying to attack any candidate or defend any one decision in history.  I am not telling you about any event that has happened.  Only as a matter of principle, of philosophy, am I warning against an outdated view of the world.  Perhaps if Augustine’s doctrines were grounded in eternal truth, rather than temporal and temporary fact, he would have remained relevant.  When Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself, that did not rest on technology. 

For further consideration, should a Christian support even a just war?  Or did Jesus not command all our conduct to be based in love and mercy – a turn-the-other-cheek approach to world affairs?  My friend Brian at The Philosophy of Time Travel is wrestling, if I understand it correctly, with this question, and has compiled a list of resources on his post, To Everything there is a Season.  Take a look. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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