Discussing ideas, not people

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19 Mar 2019 16:23 #335871 by Manu
There tends to be a common adage used in TotJO that goes like this:

"Discuss ideas, not people".

I know that the "spirit" of the adage is to avoid ad hominem fallacies, and especially to deter personal attacks.

However, I do think the separation between "person" and "idea" can be a bit arbitrary (i.e., sometimes it "seems" the "person" is being discussed, when in reality it is a much deeper analysis of the idea - and the motivators and experiences behind it - which is being explored).

My question is: is it possible that by avoiding "discussing the person" we might be missing out on the opportunity to explore ideas, mindsets and deep motivations that might lead to exponential personal growth?

“Remember, rewards come in action, not in discussion.” Tony Robbins
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19 Mar 2019 16:45 #335873 by Tellahane

Manu wrote: There tends to be a common adage used in TotJO that goes like this:

"Discuss ideas, not people".

I know that the "spirit" of the adage is to avoid ad hominem fallacies, and especially to deter personal attacks.

However, I do think the separation between "person" and "idea" can be a bit arbitrary (i.e., sometimes it "seems" the "person" is being discussed, when in reality it is a much deeper analysis of the idea - and the motivators and experiences behind it - which is being explored).

My question is: is it possible that by avoiding "discussing the person" we might be missing out on the opportunity to explore ideas, mindsets and deep motivations that might lead to exponential personal growth?


Anything is possible...

But I'll also note the more common problem, and that is not everyone is prepared to handle that kind of questioning, or more importantly willing. There's the common phrase which I hate very much and that is "Do on to others as you would want done to yourself" or some other common tweaks like, instead of do on to, respect others, or treat others etc...

The problem with that is especially when you leave your local communities and connect with people from many different cultures and other communities they all have different ways of conversing, and exchanging ideas. What might may seem appropriate for one, is not going to be appropriate for the other.

So the idea is to reduce that conflict potential, by focusing on the idea's, and avoiding condescending language, such as "If not your writing style is incredibly lazy and infested with inuendo and syllogysm" could have better been written such as "I'm having difficulty with your writing style, bare with me, to understand my perspective it just appears to me to be loaded with inuendo and syllogysm, could you better explain what you have written?". The two essentially mean the same but the latter is less aggressive, and depending on the individual reading will read the former wrongly more times then correctly. The fault isn't so much on the interpreter as the writer, but both are participants. A more respectful writing style tends to be more welcoming of fruitful discussions then not.

But that's just my perspective.
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19 Mar 2019 16:56 #335874 by Proteus

Tellahane wrote:

Manu wrote: There tends to be a common adage used in TotJO that goes like this:

"Discuss ideas, not people".

I know that the "spirit" of the adage is to avoid ad hominem fallacies, and especially to deter personal attacks.

However, I do think the separation between "person" and "idea" can be a bit arbitrary (i.e., sometimes it "seems" the "person" is being discussed, when in reality it is a much deeper analysis of the idea - and the motivators and experiences behind it - which is being explored).

My question is: is it possible that by avoiding "discussing the person" we might be missing out on the opportunity to explore ideas, mindsets and deep motivations that might lead to exponential personal growth?


Anything is possible...

But I'll also note the more common problem, and that is not everyone is prepared to handle that kind of questioning, or more importantly willing. There's the common phrase which I hate very much and that is "Do on to others as you would want done to yourself" or some other common tweaks like, instead of do on to, respect others, or treat others etc...

The problem with that is especially when you leave your local communities and connect with people from many different cultures and other communities they all have different ways of conversing, and exchanging ideas. What might may seem appropriate for one, is not going to be appropriate for the other.

So the idea is to reduce that conflict potential, by focusing on the idea's, and avoiding condescending language, such as "If not your writing style is incredibly lazy and infested with inuendo and syllogysm" could have better been written such as "I'm having difficulty with your writing style, bare with me, to understand my perspective it just appears to me to be loaded with inuendo and syllogysm, could you better explain what you have written?". The two essentially mean the same but the latter is less aggressive, and depending on the individual reading will read the former wrongly more times then correctly. The fault isn't so much on the interpreter as the writer, but both are participants. A more respectful writing style tends to be more welcoming of fruitful discussions then not.

But that's just my perspective.


Also, the latter form of that response is more productive as it actively encourages the other person to work with you for clearer understanding. Synergistic cooperation, as far as I've observed, tends to go further than challenges toward someone's personal convictions, etc. It also (in my eyes) shows more social intelligence and maturity, which can convert into inspiring by example.

It seems that I know that I know.
What I would like to see is the 'I' that knows me when I know that I know that I know.
- Alan Watts
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19 Mar 2019 16:59 - 19 Mar 2019 16:59 #335875 by Manu
Replied by Manu on topic Discussing ideas, not people

So the idea is to reduce that conflict potential, by focusing on the idea's, and avoiding condescending language, such as "If not your writing style is incredibly lazy and infested with inuendo and syllogysm" could have better been written such as "I'm having difficulty with your writing style, bare with me, to understand my perspective it just appears to me to be loaded with inuendo and syllogysm, could you better explain what you have written?". The two essentially mean the same but the latter is less aggressive, and depending on the individual reading will read the former wrongly more times then correctly. The fault isn't so much on the interpreter as the writer, but both are participants. A more respectful writing style tends to be more welcoming of fruitful discussions then not.


I think these are actually two separate issues. It is entirely possible to discuss an idea so deeply as to explore a particular person's worldview without resorting to condescending or inflammatory language, just as it is quite easy to be very inflammatory when debating the shallowest of things (e.g. pizza on pineapple? are you a moron?!).

But I'll also note the more common problem, and that is not everyone is prepared to handle that kind of questioning, or more importantly willing. There's the common phrase which I hate very much and that is "Do on to others as you would want done to yourself" or some other common tweaks like, instead of do on to, respect others, or treat others etc...

The problem with that is especially when you leave your local communities and connect with people from many different cultures and other communities they all have different ways of conversing, and exchanging ideas. What might may seem appropriate for one, is not going to be appropriate for the other.


I get that, being a Temple, we are bound to have an influx of people who come from backgrounds that include verbal abuse, mental disorders, anxiety, etc., that might make deeper probing ver uncomfortable. But the alternative seems to simply stoop to the lowest common denominator of what we are allowed to discuss, similar to how PC culture has made communications a nightmare, because there is always someone we might be offending with something we say.

Why not take advantage of the fact that we have forum categories, to actually set aside those topics that are marked for casual conversation and endless head bobbing as we all agree with each other in our own little heavenly corner, and separate them from more serious topics, clearly marked for deeper exploration?

I for one, consider it invaluable when we can go deeper into something, even if that requires owning up to my own discomfort.

“Remember, rewards come in action, not in discussion.” Tony Robbins
Last edit: 19 Mar 2019 16:59 by Manu.

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19 Mar 2019 17:01 #335876 by Tellahane
If you come up with a list of suggested categories and rules you can pitch it for discussion and see if people agree, if the need is there the temple will provide, if it is capable of doing so.
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19 Mar 2019 17:05 - 19 Mar 2019 17:11 #335877 by Kyrin Wyldstar
Your perspective of course, but not mine. Why use 50 words to say something you can say in 25 and get a more precise point across? Once again, as I have said before, we need to be responsible for our own actions, not spend our time trying to change others into a version of themselves we think they should be. Pointing out the apparent flaw you see in a sentence and then engaging in an exercise to reword it but ending the whole thing with "just my opinion" is not very effective as it only serves to once again passively aggressively polarize a conversation into yet another game of persecution of the individual.




Do not Demean Others.
Do not Belittle Others.
Ideas, Not People.
Its simple



This is what I find so funny. These ideas are NOT simple. This is because they get skewed by followup individuals trying to once again correct wrongs and adjust people to their idea of who they should be and in the process often quote mine and take things out of context. Often times ideas are called insane not people, ideas are called idiotic, not people. But because those ideas are associated with people they get transposed from the idea to the person. Acting crazy does not make you crazy, it only makes you perceived as acting crazy over a specific context. That is not calling a person crazy, it is calling a behaviour into question, not an individual.

I love the most recent example in the media of this. Donald Trump typically calls out Fake News and he says "Reporters that report fake news should be silenced". This is a call out to suppress fake news reporters. However when the media gets ahold of this they conveniently leave out a portion and report that Donald Trump said "Reporters should be silenced". This is classic out of context quote mining and it happens quite frequently on this board as well. People are so quick to respond and correct someone they don't like that they never actually listen to what they said or they just deliberately misquote them. I had this happen to me about 5 times last night across two different threads.

I have said this before and I will say it again, stop trying to fix people or modify them into versions of people you think they should be and start celebrating them for who they already are. This is a natural process where we each take responsibility for our own actions and stop worrying about everyone else.

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Last edit: 19 Mar 2019 17:11 by Kyrin Wyldstar.

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19 Mar 2019 17:05 #335878 by steamboat28
I think part of the importance is the knowledge of what is and isn't an ad hominem.

For example, if you're discussing equality among people:
  • "George is wrong because he is mean" is not a valid criticism,
  • "George is wrong because he has a history of saying things that imply his position is not in our best interest" is a valid criticism.
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    19 Mar 2019 17:26 #335879 by Proteus

    Kyrin Wyldstar wrote: I have said this before and I will say it again, stop trying to fix people or modify them into versions of people you think they should be and start celebrating them for who they already are. This is a natural process where we each take responsibility for our own actions and stop worrying about everyone else.


    To be fair though, isn't this what your approach toward others here seems to be trying to do? When you challenge others to "stop all the the LARPing and be more genuine", it kinda sounds like the same thing you're claiming against.

    Something else I observe here is what I call "hypocrisy loopholes" which is what can manifest easily in a community like this. When just the right person spots these, they learn how to say pretty much whatever they want in just the right ways and not get in trouble because it exposes "hypocrisy" in the community. This loophole is frequently used to get away with being as "strait forward" as one would like to be.

    It seems that I know that I know.
    What I would like to see is the 'I' that knows me when I know that I know that I know.
    - Alan Watts
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    19 Mar 2019 17:41 #335880 by Tellahane

    Kyrin Wyldstar wrote: This is because they get skewed by followup individuals trying to once again correct wrongs and adjust people to their idea of who they should be and in the process often quote mine and take things out of context.


    I feel like I didn't word my statement correctly, I did not intend to change who people are, simply lay out a common ground to which we can better converse. There are many ways to communicate, not everyone can communicate via video, not all can send/receive text messages, some are blind, deaf, illiterate as broad examples. I'm not asking someone to change their perspective, I'm just asking to converse on a common respectful ground/medium to share and discuss your perspectives.
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    19 Mar 2019 18:39 #335881 by Arisaig
    It is simple.

    I do believe it was Gist who said it best, and its a rule I've been trying to go by.

    "Avoid the use of the word you."

    I find the second I use that word, I'm making it much more personal than it should be. Avoid it, and people coming out of the woodwork murmuring "Ideas, not People" will quickly stop, or at least lessen.

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