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  • 0826498949.jpg There is an excellent discussion over on the Talking Philosophy blog about arguing which asks -- "Whose side are you on in this dialogue? And can you justify your allegiance?":
    JO: There's no point in arguing with you, I'll never win. TOM: No, because I'm right! JO: Not because of that, because you're better at arguing than me. TOM: Eh? You're not stupid. If I'm wrong, you should be able to show that I'm wrong. If you can't, then saying I'm better at arguing than you is just another of saying I'm right and you're wrong! JO: Not at all. Just because you can construct better arguments than me, that doesn't mean you're right. People can construct very good arguments for false positions. TOM: Sure they do, but if we're committed to rational debate, then you surely have to accept whatever the best argument leads you to. You wouldn't say "There's no point arguing with you, your evidence is better than mine". If I have better evidence, you should agree with me; likewise if I have better arguments. JO: It's not quite the same...
    I'm with Jo, I think! But I think I need to think about it some more! Or maybe I should just read and digest my copy of How To Win Every Argument and then I wouldn't need to worry about any of this! I do think that folk who debate regularly get better at it -- there are most certainly rhetorical skills that you can learn. And the issue of time is important here too -- some folk are just
  • Reading challenges

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    There are lots of reading challenges in the blogosphere where bloggers challenge themselves and their readers to read e.g. 52 books in a year. They are always a fun way to help you steel your resolve in sticking to your reading tasks ... Kate's Book Blog brings my attention to the In Their Shoes biography reading challenge:
    I'm hosting this challenge because I wanted to read memoirs and I didn't see a challenge for this genre. The rules are real simple: you pick the number of books that you want to read. You also pick the books you read. They just have to be either a memoir, autobiography, or biography. A memoir is a book dealing with a specific period in the author's life. A biography deals with another person's life from birth to death and an autobiography is written by someone that deals with their life from birth until near-death. You can cross challenge books from other challenges with this one and you can also re-read books...
  • Kindle mania

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    kindle.jpg Well, mania is a bit strong, and anyway this is very much still a US-centred phenomenon, but the web is awash with Kindle stories. Nice piece in the Independent
  • Do kids' books need an age classification system? Katya, over at The Hesperus Press Blog doesn't think so:
    I was horrified to read, in last week's Bookseller, an argument being put forward for the classification of children's books. The notion being that "People buying children's books desperately need guidance" and that "While the nation continues to concern itself with getting children reading, one of the most obvious tools, age-ranging on children's books, remains unexploited". There is a valid point here, true - children's literacy is an ongoing concern. But age-ranging? Surely this is counter-productive in the fight to improve the nation's literacy? Age-ranging by its very nature restricts one's options... Ellie and I were heated in our discussion of this on Monday morning: how would classification have affected our own childhood reading, reading which encompassed Lawrence, Hardy, Colette, and Burgess? At this level even Dickens and Austen enter the realms of "mature content". The reading of these "adult" texts didn't turn us into drug-addled, violent, sexually deviant twelve year-olds. I didn't understand the "adult" themes when I was ten, I read for a story. What the reading of these books did do was increase our vocabularies, encourage us to mimic the sophisticated use of language, and on an even more basic level, it taught us spelling and grammar: and not just words that some middle-aged writer somewhere in the world thought that a five year-old/ten year-old/fifteen year-old would or indeed should know (that's why I always got ten out of ten in spelling tests. And a far more enjoyable process it was than learning lists of words by rote...). Reading outside our age-range stretched us, and that's no bad thing.
  • Is Blogging Good for the Soul?

    Fri, 12 Dec 2008 06:24

    acquinas.jpg Some good fun over at the Talking Philosophy blog, where they ask: is blogging good for the soul?
    1. Blogging gives everyone a chance to write and publish, without having to pass muster with editors and publishers. Self-expression is good for the soul. 2. Blogging brings together people from all over the globe for debate and conversation. Global communication is good for the soul. 3. Blogging stimulates people to spend more time thinking, arguing, learning—all of which is good for the soul.
    However, it isn't all good news! Blogging pilgrims need to be cautious:
    Blogging distracts the soul from its higher calling—it destroys the calm that is needed for true contemplation. It is only seemingly sociable, but not actually. It draws human beings away from real friends and family toward connection with virtual people. It fosters clever, barbed speech instead of thoughtfulness or tact.
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