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Old 08-16-2012, 08:26 AM   #7
Jim Sorrentino
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Dojo: Aikido of Northern Virginia, Aikido Shobukan Dojo
Location: Washington, DC
Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 247
Re: Aikiweb as a "Big Tent"

Hi Jun,
Jun Akiyama wrote: View Post
My requests are simple. Be respectful in your discussions. Keep your discussions directed toward the topic and not toward the people behind the topic. Contribute positively to the discussion.


So, please, folks. Let's steer these discussions away from divisive and polarizing language but towards a rich and meaningful exchange of ideas, experiences, thoughts, and opinions.

I appreciate your attention and welcome your thoughts regarding any of this.
I have a few suggestions to help implement your requests and enrich the exchanges:

1) Avoid argument from authority. The fact that X-Shihan said something that supports one's own position in a discussion is interesting, but is not, in itself, rational discourse.

2) Avoid argument from anonymous authority. Asserting that "A high-ranking or very experienced person who must not be named said something significant," is worth even less than argument from authority, because the anonymity of the source prevents anyone else from meaningfully examining the rational basis of the assertion. Similarly, stating something along the lines of "X-Sensei decided turn down an invitation to teach at Y-Dojo for reasons that are public - and a lot more that are private," is not really helpful. By definition, if it's private, it does not belong in a public forum, and a reference to it serves only to imply that the writer has some special, secret knowledge.

3) If using sources other than one's own experience and rationally supported opinions to support one's arguments, cite those sources so that others may look at the text and interpret it for themselves. This is especially helpful if the source is in a foreign language, and open to differences in translation.

4) If the discussion concerns a video, and one wants to criticize the quality of the movement which the video shows, then one should post another video showing a demonstration of the movement performed in a better way. Further, the critic should be able to state clearly why the movement in the second video is better. ("Behold!" is not a reason. ) The "answering" video need not be of the person who is criticizing the video in question, but it should show movement similar enough for the people in the discussion to use it to compare and contrast with the video in question. If one is not willing to take the risk that AikiWeb's readers may mimic movement that they view in a video, but do not understand, then one should not not participate in the discussion.

5) Remember that mystery is not a substitute for rational discourse. Stating something like, "We have never seen an Aikido teacher --- to include over a dozen shihan --- be capable of surviving or successfully pulling off our first warm up exercise," does not advance the discussion if there is no accompanying description or depiction of the warm-up exercise. (Please notice that this quote is also an example of argument from anonymous authority, with its reference to a dozen nameless shihan.)

Rational discussion is, in its own way, as difficult as anything we may attempt on the mat --- especially when the subject of the discussion is physical experience.


Last edited by Jim Sorrentino : 08-16-2012 at 08:37 AM.

I mistrust all systematizers and I avoid them. The will to a system is a lack of integrity. Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols
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