Let’s say Person 1 thinks their hair dryer is talking to them, and is telling them to shoot every redhead who gets on the 9:04 train.
And let’s say that Person 2 thinks their hair dryer is talking to them, and is telling them to volunteer twice a week at a homeless shelter.
Is it better to volunteer at a homeless shelter than it is to shoot every redhead who gets on the 9:04 train? Of course it is.
But you still have a basic problem — which is that you think your hair dryer is talking to you.
The blogger does a word swap of “Hair Dryer” for “God” or “Deity”, where she demonstrates that one is whacko for taking direction from a Hair Dryer—whether that direction is good or bad. The blogger goes on to say,
You are still getting your ethics from a hair dryer. You are still getting your perception of reality and your ideas about how to live your life, not from the core moral values that most human beings seem to share, not from any solid evidence about what decreases suffering and increases fairness and happiness, not from your own observations and experiences of what does and does not work to make the world a better place… but from a household appliance.
The source of direction, not the substance, is pointed out as the problem. Now, I must say, my first reaction is to pontificate on why “core moral values that most human beings seem to share” is a very poor standard, and the philosophical difficulties in defining objectively “what does and does not work to make the world a better place.” But, after I calm down from getting all riled up, I know in my gut that that’s not a very effective way to go about it. So I wanted to put words to that gut feeling. There is a greater underlying misunderstanding or problem that my pontificating wouldn’t get near. See, by equating “Hair Dryer” and “God/Deity” and then going on to state what one should listen to for your perception of reality, the blogger is showing that she recognizes a different authority. The Hair Dryer is a linguistic and rhetorical tool and it is this linguistic swap that reveals that deeper misunderstanding or problem.
Hair Dryer is a household appliance --> inanimate, created tool
Hair Dryer does not talk --> does not give direction
Hair Dryer = God
And now, without needing to explicitly state it, the definition of Hair Dryer as an inanimate, created tool that doesn’t give direction, is transferred to God/Deity/Religion.
Therein lies the leap, and therein lies the problem. This rhetoric/logic issue points to the true problem at hand—that of axiomatic systems.
Tune in next week for Part Two, where I reveal the scandal of your high school geometry class!