Is it even possible for rhetoric to bind infinity? And, what happens when you let go of the axioms and begin to think, rather than regurgitating things you got from someone else. On this episode of The Axiom Amnesia Theory, Heit & Cheri welcome philosopher and independent thinker, Daniel Coffeen, for a discussion on modern rhetoric–the art and practice of navigating the world while in motion, negotiating circumstantial propriety.

Topics discussed include the concept of “affect as knowledge”, irony, words shaping discourse, a unique definition of rhetoric, the concept of “bound infinity”, narrowing individuals down to just one aspect of their infinite shape, the the illusion of choice and the notion that there is a finite way to view a particular issue when it comes to politics and society, how the different news outlets all talk about the same things, the challenging of explaining ideas that seem very radical to other people who cannot conceive of what you’re suggesting, the pervasive trend of anti-intellectualism, Coffeen’s suggestion of voting on an idea rather than a particular thing to happen, the pros and cons of representational government, voting, interpretation of language, voting, the pros and cons of representational governments, issues with the trend of simplification versus allowing complex views, and more!

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    infinity

  • Heit explains how he first came to hear one of Daniel Coffeen’s lectures. One day at work, he discovered Coffeen’s Berkley course “Rhetoric 10”, and listened to the entire course within a few days.
  • Discussion about Coffeen’s rare use of the title “Dr.”–he reserves it for humor. His PhD is in rhetoric.
  • Discussion about how he used to only use the title “Dr.” for one of his college professors when he was taking a stab att their position of “authority.”
  • Discussion about the concepts in Coffeen’s video “Affect as Knowledge,” which talks about unspoken knowledge during communication.
  • Discussion about irony as a great mode of resisting power. You say all the right things, but you’re meaning something entirely different.
  • Words are more than their meaning. Words are also their affect–their performance.
  • The words you use shape the discourse of how you’re dealing with people. All language does this.
  • Coffeen’s definition of rhetoric is “The art and practice of navigating a world in motion while in motion.” It is negotiating circumstantial propriety–always truing to figure out the best thing for you and/pr the situation while everything is constantly changing. Thinking is never done and the answer is never permanent.
  • Discussion about the concept of “bound infinity”. Although something may be infinite, there are different “shapes” of infinity.
  • Rhetoric introduces time and circumstances into philosophy–it addresses the question of what is right and true. Everything is infinite in its own way because it is in time.
  • The whole universe is these shapes in motion, these “bound infinities”.
  • Discussion about a person’s legacy as an individual who is an infinite amount of things. People try to narrow individuals down to just one aspect of their infinite shape.
  • Discussion about how something that seems like a fixed thing–a person, a book, etc.–is in fact an open and infinite thing because it is always going to be shaped by how it interacts with with other people and things in the world. At the same time, the shapes are still limited or bound to a certain extent.
  • Discussion about the respect for the infinite number of things that a person can be simultaneously.
  • Discussion about the the illusion of choice and the notion that there is a finite way to view a particular issue when it comes to politics and society.
  • Discussion about how the different news outlets all talk about the same things. There are so many ways to interpret news, but we seem to get it all from the same perspective.
  • The need to identify with a particular political party forces people away from independent thinking. In fact, there doesn’t even seem to be a way to start posing different kinds of questions to move the discourse to a more productive area.
  • Discussion about how political comics like Stephen Colbert and John Stewart still operate within the same paradigm of the “either or” and the two-party system. They mock what is without fundamentally questioning the system.
  • Discussion about the challenging of explaining ideas that seem very radical to other people who cannot conceive of what you’re suggesting.
  • Discussion about the pervasive trend of anti-intellectual.
  • Discussion about one of Coffeen’s suggestion of voting on an idea rather than a particular thing to happen.
  • Discussion about the pros and cons of representational government. Shouldn’t we all be involved.
  • Coffeen discusses finding the idea of voting very confusing and alienating.
  • Legislation is language that is open to interpretation. In the political discussion they simply say they are doing this or that, but the question is whether the proposed action is actually doing what they think it is doing.
  • Discussion about the gray area of legislation that allows politicians and others to basically do as they please.. Is this purposeful or simply one of the gray areas of language itself.
  • Everything can be argued.
  • There is a difference between the law and what actually happens in real life. If things are not being forced, then they are de facto legal. A law is just something on paper. It is not until someone with a gun comes and enforces the law that it actually kicks into gear.
  • Just because the law says that you cannot do something doesn’t mean you cannot do it. The law doesn’t prohibit–it’s just a piece of paper.
  • Discussion about the idea that you can go to court and say you’re guilty but have a good excuse.
  • Discussion about the benefit of complexity. People want to reduce everything to an “either-or”. Life is complex and beautiful, and better for it.
  • The multiplicity of perspectives is life. Rather than moving toward simplifying everything, embrace uncertainty and complexity.

More From Daniel Coffeen:

Contact Daniel Coffeen
Daniel Coffeen’s Blog: An Emphatic Umph
Daniel Cofeen’s YouTube Channel
Daniel Cofeen’s Vimeo Channel
Anonymity Freaks Me Out” – Daniel Coffeen via An Emphatic Umph
Daniel Coffeen’s UC Berkley Course – Rhetoric 10 (Podcasts)

Sources:

Daniel Coffeen – “Bound Infinity” – TheArcherofire via YouTube
Daniel Coffeen – “Affect As Knowledge” – Daniel Coffeen via YouTube
Daniel Coffeen – “Affective Resonance” – Daniel Coffeen via YouTube
Daniel Coffeen – “The Boy Thinks, Critically” – Daniel Coffeen via YouTube
Daniel Coffeen – “Everything Is In Motion” – Daniel Coffeen via YouTube

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