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Posted by Luis Hamburgh on May 10, 2002 18:44:25 UTC

Harvey,

>>>"It depends on what we mean by self-validation. If you mean that we seek to only justify our current position, then philosophy is corrupted."

I think you built your thread upon a different definition of 'self-validation' than mine -- I do not think at all that we seek to justify our current position. Instead, I think we seek to prove to ourselves that we are capable of holding the right (or most accurate) position.

Instinctively, the importance one attributes to oneself is greater than the importance he or she attributes to anyone else. By appealing to other "selves," a person is attempting to validate himself to himself (self-validation); i.e., it is not the position itself, but rather the individual's ability to recognize, understand, and enumerate the position's virtue that is constantly being validated.

The more passionate I become about a particular subject, the more I probably feel the need to justify myself to myself by swaying an outside party with a worthy challenge to my position. The more insightful the challenge of the outside party, the greater this feat becomes.

This is why folks like Stafford do not see the forest for the trees. Not only is his idea one he understands better than others, but it is his creation. A creation he's been perfecting for decades. He and his theory have virtually become one in the same. Even when he sees that it's his emotion driving him to prove his worth (by seeking the correct theory), he first must consider himself as one possible theory. Thanks to self-preservation -- the ultimate goal of self-validation (and everything else) -- he's stuck in a tight, two-pole loop (what I've accomplished vs. what I am) that is far too strong to escape after such a lengthy stay.

As for his ability to answer the handful of math fans who pop in and out of here with challenges to his work -- he's had forty years to mull over (and modify or 'talk around') the discrepancies in his work. Most likely, no one at this site (outside of Alex, maybe) has presented him with an unexpected challenge without immediately being ignored; most of us do not possess the math skills needed to back up the obvious faults, so we're quickly dismissed as stupid, uneducated, or simply not as brilliant as he.

Regardless, Stafford is a tremendously intelligent and imposing figure: when he's around, much of this forum revolves around him. Perhaps subconsciously he comes into rooms like this to divert his own introspection from dwelling on disappointment; at least in his time he has established a formidable fan club of some very bright people, most of whom happen to be interested in an area he knows better than anything else.

What were we talking about...?

:)

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