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Are extremes or non-moderation to be avoided?

  1. Feb 19, 2004 #1
    Many people like to think it wise to take the moderate position-squarely between the two extremes. I have noticed attitudes of people trying to stake out a middle ground for themselves when discussing a hot topic.

    But can't we imagine an alternate situation in which the previous middle ground is an extreme, or in which the idea of taking a middle ground is generally thought extreme? In light of that, does refusing to take one side or the other on an issue lose validity?

    I must say here that I am not saying to throw out caution. I just think that sometimes people cling too much to wanting to dismiss all "extremes" of viewpoints.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 19, 2004 #2
    2 people pick a different number between 1 and 10. The choice closest to a concealed predetermined number in that range wins. What is the best selection scheme if you are first - or second - to choose?

    Sometimes what seems a moderate choice is relatively extreme.
  4. Feb 19, 2004 #3
    i think you are right - one person's moderation is another (or sometimes the same) person's extreme depending on the time and place.

    moderation was considered a good idea in lost horizon's shangri-la, however, there are some issues it is probably not a good idea to be moderate about (eg human rights, animal rights, war, environment ...)

    martin luther king made a poignant plea for extremism

    Letter from Birmingham Jail (April 1963)

    ... Was not Jesus an extremist for love -- "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice -- "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the gospel of Jesus Christ -- "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist -- "Here I stand; I can do none other so help me God." Was not John Bunyan an extremist -- "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." Was not Abraham Lincoln an extremist -- "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." Was not Thomas Jefferson an extremist -- "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." So the question is not whether we will be extremist but what kind of extremist will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice--or will we be extremists for the cause of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill, three men were crucified. We must not forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thusly fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. ...

    as far as 'staking out ground', i seem to recall the observation that when you stand in the middle of the road, you can get hit from both sides
  5. Feb 19, 2004 #4
    well dan...

    i will speak of the middle-man as neutral from here->

    based on what i understand so far i think the neutral (IMO also more rational) person is working out the confliction from more than one point of view... this person is not easily persuaded with flawed arguments, but a valid, sound argument will in my opinion be enough for the neutral/rational person to be persuaded to agree with an extreme eventually (if this isnt achieved then i dont think the person really gives a hoot about the topic)...

    im not implying that people that are not neutral are not rational, but i feel the neutral person has a better grip on what is rational, and less likely to steer off of the track of rationality. this may be a general statement, but i think it applies to most situations atleast...

    i will add too that rationality is key to a healthy argument.

    the neutral, rational position in a discussion in my opinion usually concludes with both parties coming to some mutual understanding and respect to what each person may end up standing by when the matter can no further be resolved.

    this can be achieved between two extremist, but is unlikely in my opinion... he is not extreme on his views for no reason, he obviously believes something and stands strongly by what he believes. and in most cases determined to persuade the other person. however i also think it is near impossible to change the opinion of the person he is arguing with, assuming this other person is on the other scale of his extreme.

    that being said, what are they arguing for? to "prove" one another wrong? maybe it is to gain the neutral persons belief...

    physiciscitsophrenic (just playin) and booda both make good points, one mans moderation is anothers extreme. i guess its really relative based on the person...

    i am tired, sorry if i went off track too much, but very good topic to bring up in my opinion. it sort of relates to the philosphy of philosphy... i donno if that was your intention though... the argument on how one should argue...

    my conclusion is that extremes should be avoided! all the way...even though i am being extreme in being neutral! hah, the irony in this is sweet...

    but then again i really dont feel you should try to avoid anything, but this may just be the discomfort the word "avoid" produces for me...

    also i'll add this reply to phsysicsisisiphsrihalre dude, u said:
    "moderation was considered a good idea in lost horizon's shangri-la, however, there are some issues it is probably not a good idea to be moderate about (eg human rights, animal rights, war, environment ...)"

    with these topics it is important to really know what is right, and i think me and you will agree on what is right in all of the topics you mentioned, but without having a neutral look on the matter, you not only have less material to work with, but i believe persuading the negative extremist is a much more complicated task when you take an extreme on the matter... you dont want the person to think you misunderstand him/her, or havent looked at the matter from his/her perspective. this shouldnt just be to trick the person, i think if you care enough about the topic you should look at the matter from his/her perspective and what not. by keeping this neutral ground you are less threatening, and appear to be more of a helping hand (which is what you are really doing when it comes to such important topics).

    the positives on these topics are for the better well being of everyone in the world and no one individual... which is important to REVEAL to the negative extremist rather try to prove or tell him wrong.

    ok thats all, i promise ;)
  6. Feb 19, 2004 #5
    i understand what you are getting at and it is a valid point - certainly, when discussing/negotiating with someone from the 'otherside' one should present oneself as rational not radical, passionate not paranoid.

    however, i believe that dan's post isn't about debate, but about what we value and the way we conduct ourselves, in short, how we choose to be.

    it is rarely a good idea to engage in endless, neutral debate with our conscience.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2004
  7. Feb 19, 2004 #6
    I think that these are all very good points. Elibol's post reminded me of why we have conflict mediators.

    It's always good to question your confidence, to have some amount of second-guessing.

    I think that I have noticed in some coversations a tendency (sometimes within myself) to take care that one ends up squarely in the middle in a debate, especially when it's a question of diamtrically-opposed viewpoints such as say abortion. There is a prejudice (the word has more meaning that just racial prejudice) towards neutrality. It's an effort to reduce conflict, increase harmony. There is often a tendency in people to want to come to agreement, and the neutralizing phenomenon that I have just described seems to be a manifestation of that when there are other people with extremely opposed viewpoints, and what position the neutralist person ends up taking depends on where the extremes are.
  8. Feb 19, 2004 #7
    i see... a very deep topic... hmm, it seems to me that it comes down to how u straight up feel about a topic at the time... whatever it may be, you have your beliefs/disbeliefs, and no beliefs...

    my reaction was to what you originally wrote physicsisphirst. i think what i stated was necessary for further clarity on the topics you felt extremity is necessary to manifest...

    if you notice i think the majority of my reply was pretty on topic with whether we should avoid extremes or non-moderations...

    dan said:
    "It's an effort to reduce conflict, increase harmony." is this what the prejudice towards neutrality does? or being neutral?

    if it is the former, then it makes no sense, could you be more descriptive?... the latter makes sense...
  9. Feb 19, 2004 #8
    I think that sometimes people have a tendency to avoid conflict--it's just a psychological thing. When there are two polar opposites, you don't really want to be in too much conflict with either person, so you seek a middle ground. At the same time, you might say negative things about others' extremism because you want to see the conflict between them reduced.
  10. Feb 19, 2004 #9
    Actually, I see a lot of moderation in conservatism attempting to maintain a homeostasis, with liberalism seeking out limits. I have heard, though, that one political spectrum's opposites, communism and fascism, meet full-circle in totalitarianism.
  11. Feb 19, 2004 #10
    Hmmm…I think what physicsisphirst says is excellent: When we walk the middle of the road, we are likely to get hit on both sides!

    I think it takes courage to be an “extremist.” Many of history’s remarkable people were seen as “extremists” in their times.

    I think most people in society have lost touch with their conscience and therefore don’t know why or even where they stand. Once we put our whims, egos and desires aside we are in a clearer space through which to be guided by our conscience. Many live their lives fighting their conscience because their wants take them elsewhere, hence we see people wandering purposeless in a world so full of purpose, afraid to take a stance lest status quo is shaken.

    Having said this, I think “extremists” points of views (when on the side of good) can be liberating. But it is always important to have an open mind, however not so open that that it can’t retain important values! [b(]

    Dan, I think when you talk about noticing people’s attitudes trying to stake out middle ground in discussing a hot topic is true to some degree…often though some people won’t even know why they’ve picked a certain extreme and argue for arguments sake…I’m sure we’ve all met people like that. However, I think that there is a way to meet people on this “middle ground” without compromising our values, which I think you are trying to address.

    I’ve been in social advocacy movements for sometime and understand the challenge when faced with people with good intentions who take a stance without understanding why. In these situations I like to meet them where they are at, while not compromising my stance. Empathy is the best way to do this…understanding where the person is at, perhaps why they think what they do, and listening to what they are saying. I think in this way we can really see someone’s humanity and not just argue with someone to win them over to your side. When we see the person for who they are and genuinely befriend them, then I think each can grow from the others views…friends can lift each other to new heights and new ways of thinking and in a similar way, I prefer to do this in my advocacy work. I see this sincere and genuine way work wonders on the most staunch adversaries

    Last edited: Feb 19, 2004
  12. Feb 19, 2004 #11
    man, i had to look up like 10 words from those two setences....

    mr. smarty pants...
  13. Feb 20, 2004 #12
    lol !!

    and i've been trying all day to figure out


    i got the first variation you made, but can't make head nor tail with this. please decipher if you get the chance.
  14. Feb 20, 2004 #13
    Re: Re: Are extremes or non-moderation to be avoided?


    yours has to be one of the most beautiful posts i have seen.

    you redefine the word 'compromise' - in fact, there should be another word:


    the promise of calm!

    there is a saying:

    "moderation in temper is always a virtue; moderation in principle is always a vice"

    what you have written, does honour to these wise words.

  15. Feb 20, 2004 #14
    haha, dude don't try too hard...

    i couldnt remember how it was written so i just hit a buncha keys... hehehe

    i could have been cruel enough to leave you with the impression that there was a hidden code in there somewhere

    physic!daehgooseyllisyoudroweachesreveranddaerjust ;)

    i decided not to make it SO hard to decipher... there is however a pattern to catch on to!

    games are fun huh?
  16. Feb 20, 2004 #15

    well thanks for clearing that up!!
    all i can say is that i sympathize with you - i'm sure glad i don't have to type my nick

    oh yes - i almost forgot - your encryption

    would indeed be very helpful to any from the anatidae family (and possibly beyond).
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2004
  17. Feb 21, 2004 #16

    everything after the !

    just read in reverse each word you silly goose head

    each word is reversed based on whether the former word was reversed or not...
  18. Feb 21, 2004 #17
    thank you, my friend. it was good of you.
  19. Feb 26, 2004 #18
    Extremism isn't set. A person can assume you are an extremist because of your beliefs and you could consider this person and extremist because of his counter beliefs. Also remember that a person can choose to be ignorant to further his personal gain and so become an extremist and be 'rational' at the same time. In fact a lot of people do.

    It can be seen that extremists come into two categories.

    1: Liars
    2: Lunatics

    Lunatics of course being people who are convinced that their 'extremist' beliefs are true. Though bear in mind that we believe them to be lunatics because their version of reality is so warped form ours we cannot possibly understand why they choose to believe in their extremist ideals. So this poses a problem in defining, what is lunacy and what is not lunacy. This problem can be solved using reasonning and scientific method. Of course this requires some sort of absolute proof to be developped in order that the most critical person cannot deny that he is a lunatic.
  20. Feb 26, 2004 #19

    Sounds like C. S. Lewis's "logical" argument for Jesus' Godliness.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2004
  21. Feb 29, 2004 #20
    You wish to ignore the extremes as you cannot disprove them or they do not appeal to you, this is called ignorance.
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