The Four Quadrants

The  Four Quadrants
The Four Quadrants

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The "If then" Fallacy

Very very often people will formulate an argument based on an "if" that to some degree simply begs the question. These arguments when simplified sound something like: "if people would change they would be able to change" or "if something was different than what it was, it would be different than what it was". In some ways these kind of contributions can be meaningless. It is like saying " if my grandmother had wheels she'd be a trolley car".

If the "if" part is not very implementable, then the "then" part is not very implementable. Statements like: "If everyone voted responsibly we would not elect incompetent people" and "If we all listened to each other more, there would be less chance of war" are not very productive because the "if" part is not very implementable. Despite this, go to any group discussion and you'll hear plenty of contributions in this format. This is one reason why committees tend to have the reputation of not getting very much done.


When I go to the supermarket and look at the physiques of the people around me; when I look in their shopping carts, I get a sense of the average person being seduced. Seduced by their own appetites, seduced by the advertising, seduced by their own self talk & propaganda, seduced by the media, seduced by their peers, seduced by their own "contentment", seduced by strong resistances to eating what one should eat, seduced by the comfort of their own traditions and habits, seduced by what they see everyone else doing.

I then wonder if the process of seduction is one of the main destroyers of our society. People who try to change our society, like politicians, make the mistake of resorting to further seduction. Perhaps the problem is seduction itself.

It seems to me the main counter to this toxic seduction is the feeling of healthy discontent. I then have to ask: what have I been seduced by and what is my unfelt discontent?


A newborn, and toddler are supposed to be seduced by their parents. In a healthy "safe" family, they're supposed to be seduced by their mothers tit, their mothers touch, their mother's voice, their own needs and appetites. They also have the means of letting the mother know when they don't want something, when they've had too much of something and when they're discontent. In a healthy family the mother responds appropriately and the child develops appropriately.

In an unhealthy family with a toxic mother the infant's "yeses" and "no's" are not heeded properly and the infant develops defenses and resistances against its own yeses and no's. It still however longs to be "seduced" by its mother and its own needs. Eventually this longing breaks through in adult behavior. The adult is either seduced by his own original longings or seduced by his resistances to his own original longings.

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