Wednesday, June 01, 2005

RE: Harmful Books 

Yeah, Andrew, you knew this would provoke me. Sheesh. Let me just get it out and say that books are not in themselves harmful. You'd think conservatives, who are often arguing that guns are not in themselves harmful, but take a dangerous person using them to make them harmful, would notice such a similarity. Books are like guns in this way.

Well, let me say at least mostly. I don't hold Marx (and maybe Engels) responsible for the horrors of the twentieth century that were motivated by 'communism'. Marx merely had an interesting idea of how he thought history and economics worked, and he wrote about it. Good ideas can't be the only ones that are written. The process that creates knowledge is one of trial and error, one of discourse. Yeah, a lot of the ideas in these books are bad. But that doesn't mean we need to make a stupid list about it. Criticize the books individually, but don't reduce them to a paragraph of dogmatic giberish.

Continuing, I can say that Mein Kamf is not so nearly defensible. However, it was not widely read until after Hitler came to power. The book is really just what Hitler thought. That's not defensible itself, since the man was evil. However, I think that if he hadn't come to power, the book would be forgotten. So, the book itself was not evil, but the man willing to act on those ideas was.

A book is not evil if someone does not pick up the ideas, run with them, and act on them. If someone takes up bad ideas that they read and uses them as unthinking justification for their actions, that does not mean the book is bad, but that the person acting on them is a bad thinker.

Rrrrr....this entire idea of having a list of 'bad books' is pissing me off more and more as I think about it (hence the stream of conciousness babble you're now reading).

And Nietzsche. Beyond Good and Evil... Yeah, the Nazis liked using Nietzsche quotes, but that doesn't mean Nietzsche was a genocidal Nazi himself. I think the man was a styalistic genius and had a lot of interesting opinions. If you're not religious, what he says about moral constructs is interesting (in fact, if you are religious, it is still interesting). And a lot of his aphorisms contain valuable wisdom.

Somehow I have a feeling that the people that voted on these books haven't read most of them.

This is stupid. I'm done for now. Books are not evil.... The discourse about why an idea is wrong often yield valuable knowledge. Often, someone writing a provocative but wrong idea is as useful to the pursuit of knowledge as someone singing the praise of 'right' ideas.

The only way you can say these books are 'harmful' is if you're an idiotic, dogmatic conservative who views the books as having gotten in the way of indoctrinating people into believing what you think without and critical consideration. And if you think that, you're guilty of what you're complaining about a lot of the time.

I can understand why these ideas, when they've been taken up and run with, have been harmful. But I'm glad I've been able to read a lot of these books. Reading and interacting with them has made me a more intelligent person. I'm glad these books exist and that I've been able to read them. There are no bad books, every book can be learned from.

I don't understand the point of calling these books harmful unless the people that are doing so are wishing that they had never been published. I can't agree with such a proposition at all. The more print, the better.

Now Andrew, tell me why I'm wrong and these books are 'harmful'...

UPDATE: In summary, books do not kill people, people kill people.

these books are harmfull for their ideas. sure, a person like you or me who have enought sence to realize the fault in the idea can read the book and say 'yea this is stupid' and put it back on the shelf. the problem comes when the idiots come in (there are quite a few in this country alone) and say, 'hey, this kinda makes sence to me' and go off and change things from good to bad or start a revolution or something. thats what we mean by these books are harmful. if u really want these books to be labeled un-harmful or whatever, then write a book or create a site that informs ppl of the books and disclaims the ideas or something and post a permanent link on ur blog site. i do like your correlation b/t guns and books. guns can be used for good or evil, as can the ideas in books. the problem comes when you give the gun or book to an idiot who either doesnt think before he uses it or uses it and thinks hes doin some kind of good (i.e. gets revenge with gun/starts revolution to 'make gov't/country better'). most of those books have helped to lead to the downfall of our country--the way we are going now. these ppl(mainly the liberals) are slowly flushing this country down the toilet. its our job not to let this happen by warning ppl(mainly the idiots)of the harmful ideas in these books. that site just ranked the books in how harmful the ideas have been to the countries they have influenced.
wow, i didnt realize i wrote that much...
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