The notion of ad hominem is a borrowed phrase from Latin. It basically means “against the man.” One of the specifics that philosophers and rhetoricians seem to miss is the accusative subjugation of the word in context. The specificity of hominem has a certain semantic import that would be absent in a phrase like ad homo.
The ad hominem fallacy is one which is pervasive in our society, and this is unfortunate. I could probably make a fair case that it is used most often by feminists and other moral degenerates; but, it didn’t spring from their camp. (Feminists aren’t generally smart enough to create new, effective, rhetorical devices.) It denotes the fallacy of attacking the proponent of a proposition, rather than subjecting the proposition forwarded to analysis. It is almost always a fallacious device, inasmuch as painting your ideological opponent as a moral degenerate is simply irrelevant to their ideas. As an irrelevant device, ad hominem is particularly destructive. In terms analogous to those used by Kripke’s Skeptical Wittgenstein, this fallacy has the potential to turn every proposition into a private language, inasmuch as it collapses the cooperative project of inquiry and peer-review, and replaces it with an immoral combat zone, in which every participant must necessarily self-censor.
Over on Dalrock, we can see these tactics at work quite often. Whoever the author is, he is quite skilled at rhetoric; and he’s something of a quick study, but he doesn’t seem too concerned with fallacious reasoning. For example, here he is creating a caricature of a participant named Skyler Wurden.
In the first place, Skyler Wurden may be wrong in his analysis of the St. George story. Unfortunately, Dalrock doesn’t address his underlying concerns, so we shall never know. Dalrock finds it more effective to imply that Skyler is either an idiot or an apostate, and alludes to the possibility that he pedestalizes women over taking his holy book at face value.
Despite my criticism, I actually like whoever writes Dalrock. He’s a very skillful writer, and he has a sense of humor. I find this method of attacking one’s critics to be ultimately unproductive, as it makes rational communication among antifeminist men impossible, while it diverts attention from interesting issues that such men ought to explore. In this regard, I question Dalrock’s motives. He seems to want people to agree with him, and he prioritizes an ideological unity over fighting our feminist enemies. Garnering ass-licking sycophants at the expense of long-term goals is an important strategic error.
This is, incidentally, not the first time Dalrock has done this. He did it to me, not too long ago, when I cornered one of his asslicking sycophants in a looney screed against any author who wrote a book featuring “female warrior heroes.” I had several counterexamples readily available, one of which was Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls. Let’s see Dalrock at work:
If you go to that thread, make sure you take some time to read the entire conversation. It’s a pretty interesting case study in bad reasoning.
In any case, Cane Caldo’s proposition, that “anyone who writes female warrior heroes is either a satirist, a fool or a degenerate,” can be taken to deprecate the author of the Bible, inasmuch as Cane’s God is credited with authoring a book featuring women like Deborah and Esther. I didn’t want to be disrespectful at the time, but this was the first thing that popped into my head.
Given that Cane Caldo could never excuse or explain away his looney claim, Dalrock had to step in to set me straight. In the process, he never addressed the original contention (though he handwaved it away contemptuously). He merely alluded to the fact that I must be a communist for liking the book, and called the book’s author a degenerate. He also set up a straw-man, in that he suddenly reframed Cane’s expansive condemnation as only applicable to those authors who “wrote from a feminine POV.”
Cane’s original allusion was that any author who wrote about women doing brave stuff must be a feminist. Hemingway was not a feminist. For the record, Hemingway was probably a drunk and a womanizer; but, there is no evidence that either of those concerns had anything to do with his underlying motivations for writing the book, and this is what makes Dalrock’s claim fallacious. Hemingway’s character flaws are logically independent of the content of his work, and of the propositions he puts forward. Nor were either of those character flaws predominant in his life. Moreover, there is no “Stalinism” in the title in question, so Dalrock has either never read the book (almost impossible to believe) or he’s simply being dishonest, in a lame attempt to cover for his suck-up. Likewise, even if I were some sort of communist (newsflash: there are no communists any more…) it would be irrelevant to why I’m laughing at the true-believers on Dalrock’s blog.
By the same token, Skyler Wurden’s interpretation of the St. George story has nothing to do with whether or not he is a phony, fake-christian, a crypto-feminist, or a pedestalizer of pagan women. I actually thought his interpretation was interesting, but we’ll never get to explore it over there, since he’s now being dogpiled into submission. Incidentally, Skyler alludes to the fact that he has seen this sort of dishonesty play out on Dalrock before, and he’s wise to the scam.
The ad hominem fallacy… it’s cheap fun, but also an unproductive waste of time. That’s why I don’t do it here.