Skip to comments.The New Bulverism
Posted on 08/06/2018 11:08:48 AM PDT by Rurudyne
The New Bulverism
Recently Ive been commenting on how the idea of Bulverism as put forward by C.S.Lewis and how it has developed in the hands of the Left.
If you havent come across the term, Bulverism is a rhetorical tactic in any discussion that seeks to render any opinion or view as being the result of something about a person, and therefore render it invalid. So if someone were to say you only think that because youre a man or some other insert here "because you're (snip)" then they are positioning themselves to never have to deal with any reasons why you might actually subscribe to a view. They are essentially suggesting that your belief is an involuntary consequence of some fact about you.
Realize that Bulverism as described is used to basically make out everything disagreeable to the one engaging in it as mere conventionalities. "You believe that only because" really only works if the "that" you believe isn't totally off of the wall. If some belief is truly bizarre and rare, if it is unconventional, ascribing that to a mere fact about a person becomes more difficult unless you want to say someone is crazy ("you only believe that because you're crazy"), or demonicly possessed or something like that.
"Crazy" and things like it can in fact be used as basis for Bulverism because you are asserting a diagnosis; but, the problem is that the diagnosis is less sure. If I say "you just believe that because you're a man" I would be asserting a diagnosis too, it is just that the diagnosis that is ascribed as a cause is obvious. If I say, and therefore dismiss you outright, it is because you're crazy that may not be obvious at all. Things like "you're a man" normally has fewer question marks left open than "you're crazy" does. This means that Bulverism will mainly be useful to reject anything that seems conventional.
This rhetorical tactic, as put forth by Lewis, is actually quite egalitarian in that it is usable by anyone to outright dismiss whatever someone else might think simply by attributing it to a mere fact about them. I will here assert that this "egalitarian" aspect exists because Lewis described Bulverism as being used to invalidate anything, and not to try to validate anything.
This brings me to the New Bulverism, to what Bulverism has become.
The New Bulverism is not just used to invalidate views and beliefs by ascribing them to causes. The New Bulverism is also used to validate views and beliefs by ascribing them to causes too.
This is possible because the New Bulverism has become a servant to what might be called a Zeitgeist of the Age, or the spirit of the age, where the old Bulverism was simply a tool for whomever used it.
What is being claimed here is fairly simple: the old Bulverism depended on a point from philosophy that views ascribable to conditions rather than reasons are inferior, mere consequences. The New Bulverism no longer considers reasons a better cause for beliefs but instead conforming to a specific conventional way of thinking, ultimately this means facts about people as filtered through a specific sense of conventional thinking. The New Bulverism it is a consequence of abusing ideology where the old was a consequence of abusing philosophy.
So if a view is in accordance to the Zeitgeist of the Age ascribing it to a fact about a person is deemed a way to make it inherently valid, and no amount of reasons to disagree with the notion will ever make it invalid. And likewise if a belief is in anyway contrary to the spirit of the age they are invalid and the diagnosis is frequently given as things like "bigot", "homophobic", "Islamophobic", just being or the wrong race (on not reputed to be a victim) or the wrong sex (or straight).
The New Bulverism is the exclusive property of the spirit of the age. It can be used to validate things are are very unconventional, that are even outright bonkers, just as it can be used to invalidate anything against it that seems conventional. It is ideology that matters for the New Bulverism. As such it is not in any sines egalitarian as the old Bulverism was.
How has this transition happened?
Well, in a way it didn't. I don't think there was some moment in time when one Social Justice Warrior ever turned to another and said: "hey, wouldn't it be a hoot if we took this thing C.S. Lewis wrote of and made it serve us and only us" but rather it is an outflowing consequence of things like critical theory / Cultural Marxism and it just happens to line up with what Lewis wrote of so that one might see how a progression could have happened had it happened and thus become able to better describe "New Bulverism" that exists around us in our society.
This is in line with Lewis' own motivation for writing of Bulverism in the first place, for as he was seeing this peculiar abuse of philosophy being used around him it seemed to him to be unfortunate that it had no person as its inventor, someone who had some "a'ha!" moment and so he created a fictional man, Bulver, hoping to someday write his story. Sadly he never did.
For me, likewise, I'm looking at something going on in the culture around me and I'm trying to explain it.
When Lewis, a man of reasoning and judging for reasons, wrote of Bulverism he wrote in an environment where the ones engaging in Bulverism might reasonably still be perpretrators for rhetorical advantage rather than parrots conditioned by perpetrators to squawk on command.
In short he was dealing with people pushing things like critical theory and not those fashioned by it into weapons of the culture war.
But now we are all too frequently dealing with people who have not been educated so much as they have been indoctrinated. If you go back to things like School of Darkness by Dodd (it can be downloaded in PDF form online) you may see from what was written about a teacher Sarah Park (beginning on page 25) how easy it is to inculcate sentiment rather than thinking through the that it is relatively easy to indoctrinate with carefully placed criticism, abusing authority as a educator and even peer pressure (for Parks was herself not a much older woman). With these in mind we might look at Lewis own The Abolition of Man in clearer light.
In the hands of these, what Lewis called Bulverism ends up having a very different character, becoming an essential division between things that are approved of and things which are not approved of ... more tellingly between people who are approved of (victims) and those who are disapproved (those deemed in any class that victimizes). If a view is merely the result of some trait then it is, without a hint of contradiction, unquestionably valid if it is seem as an approved of consequence of X or trait Y, one that the zeitgeist of the age approves of, but inherently invalid if in any way against the age.
The "New Bulverism" is really just an outgrowth of Cultural Marxism, a way to resist any reasons contrary to critical theory, or even to resist Reason itself. It is an abuse of ideology ... but remember that the function of Cultural Marxism (critical theory) was not to create an enduring Socialist State but to bring the nations infected with it to ruin ... so there is nothing incidental about the New Bulverism as there was about the old. The old was the result of shoddy philosophy but the New is the result of applied indoctrination.
There is little accidental about the New Bulverism.
Also if you spot any typos.
I already spotted two ... Park instead of Parks and seem instead of seen.
You believe all that only because you read it.
You believe that only because you studied it.
In the old Bulverism, you give the example, “You only think that because you are _____.”
That really clarifies and simplifies the concept.
Perhaps if you could add a similar pithy example of the new Bulverism (right up front), it would help.
I’m not really assuming that the Left would be among my readers.
Yet to my mind you do bring up an interesting problem: if everything is about power as many on the Left say it is then there is no “education” but only different bents of indoctrination.
The idea of everything is about power, political power in particular, is a kind of intoxicant because once you drink deeply of it you have, in losing the ability to entertain refutation, lost the road back to where you were before when you were sober. All the sign posts are now unfamiliar and likely seem arbitrary. Even if you “recover” how could you be sure you’ve not merely submitted to a competing power?
Naturally, if your recovery was through Christ there is no issue with that last point because you actually have abandoned a squatter sitting on the throne of your heart for the Creator for whom that throne exists. But that’s clearly a matter of transcendant power vs a spirit what seemed like he has some at this time (but who has squ-doo in comparison).
I’m kinda at a loss right now about how to work that in or even if it needs to go in (it might broaden the topic too much and kill it by ambition).
Like Voltaire said, “Sorry for writing you such a long letter, I didn’t have time to make it shorter.
Small words and short sentences (like a slogan) can convey in a bolt.
An excellent point!
Where my problem lay is that the old assumes invalidity where the New may situationally assume validity or invalidity.
So the New Bulverism might give someone a pat on the back for believing something they “only think that because you are” even as it gives someone else the bird while asserting a philosophically similar cause.
This is ground I’ve mainly stumbled on before. I’m not a Jordan Peterson.
Yeah. I also like what Foghorn Leghorn once said: “that kid spits out more words than a dictionary caught in a shredder.”
Whatever I say is true, because I am _____?
Anything other than _____ism, may not be considered?
I am not clear enough on the concept to summarize it.
Essentially the New Bulverism doesn’t hold that believing something because “you are” is necessarily either valid or invalid.
Here I start beating my head against the wall in the editing trying to say something, anything well. And this post hereafter is one mess of editing.
Earlier in another post I brought up those who make everything about power, and how to them there may not really be education so much a different bents of indoctrination.
Before that there’s nature, or the bit “well, you believe that because you are” arises from. Or is said to arise from.
The ideology of much of the Left, which frequently seems one of power rather than reasons, really doesn’t seem to have problems with believing because you are. Are you black? Well you should have internalized certain attitudes and if you did so you did so because you’re black, you’re a victim. Are you a woman? Same kinda assumptions apply. And so forth. So long as the beliefs that are asserted to be yours because you are are the sorts of beliefs or ways of thinking that the Left thinks proper you’re good to go. All your Bulverisms are valid, and you don’t need reasons to believe those things at all.
(Which means you don’t have to defend your beliefs either, for refutation attempts are not just impossible but may be deemed aggressions themselves)
Conversely, if the things are are expected to believe aren’t believed, and you are from a group that has made victims of all these other groups: when they accuse you of believing this or that because you are (white, Asian, male, straight, cis-gendered, rich, etc) all you beliefs are invalid ... you bad Deplorable you!
And then there are those whose beliefs don’t line up with what they are expected to believe because of what they are ... even though they may otherwise be deemed victims.
The judgment about validity is ideological, not on if you have reasons to believe or not. What the New Bulverism adds to the ideology is that the “you are” that you are really determines what is valid for you to believe.
That’s why I say the old is an abuse of philosophy but the new an abuse of ideology.
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