Here are some replies.
Hello! Your Dutch is completely comprehensible and almost correct. And
I would guess myself - without fiirm relevant knowledge - you'd be
better of with ME in Belgium, so I suppose you have no choice.
Thank you, and I agree with you - broadly speaking - on psychological
motivation. But my point about moral or intellectual competence is a
perfectly valid and fair one, namely that one has a right to demand
both from people who claim to be medical doctors and get paid as
medical doctors. Also, it is not so much a philosophical as a legal,
moral and commonsensical point, and indeed the same goes for somebody
who pretends to be plumber: such a person must know something about
plumbing and be capable of fairly keeping contractual agreements (and
also should not harm his customers).
But indeed I do agree kindness and politeness are virtues, as is
speaking the truth. It depends on the situation, though, and as I
indicated, there is e.g. a difference between communicating with the
people on this forum, most of whom are patients with a serious medical
problem, and communicating with the people one meets as medical doctors
who are supposed to help or judge one, and get paid for that, and did
study for that.
However, I suppose we agree (mostly) on this, and I was writing this
out to insist there is a difference. (Also, sometimes - e.g. between
doctors and patients - kindness is or may be a con-game.)
I reply with some quotations to make some points clearly. You wrote (I
quote by indenting with 5 dots, as I can't find the quotation-operator
and as indenting is undone):
....."As you suggest, we are very far apart philosophically."
I don't know whether I suggested this, but we may be. Well, don't be
....."Of course, Logic is so much easier to apply in a world that has
an objective reality."
Logically speaking that is not relevant, in as much as logic is
concerned with what is true in all possible worlds. And besides, I
myself would guess that speaking nonsense is a lot easier when there
are no contraints on what is nonsense, truth, logic a.s.o. You continued
....."Unfortunately, I do not live in that world."
How do you know? If you know, then how could you - who seem to deny
there is anything to know - come to know that you know? In brief, you
make a claim that to me seems false, and that has been also very ably
discussed by Plato in his "Theaetetus".
You should also realize that the one advantage deniers of an objective
reality and an objective truth have is that they cannot possibly be
mistaken about reality, truth or knowledge, and that therefore this
strategy that there is no truth of the matter, that all is relative, is
quite popular among fanatic believers of all kinds.
Mind you: I am neither saying nor implying you are - I am only noting I
have been facing this in the University of Amsterdam for many years, in
the shape of postmodernism, which used to be quite popular in the
eighties and nineties, also in the USA, except in the best
universities, and that I totally disagree with it.
I am willing to discuss it because it involves a number of dangerous
illusions - by my lights - but on a forum such as this I will not do
this in an argumentative spirit (unless I am forced to). And yes, you
being a phenomenological existentialist may well have derived or
imbibed it from Sartre or Heidegger. (If you go to the interesting
Arts&Letters Daily site you'll find two or three articles related
to Heidegger that should give you some pause.)
As to Paul Vincent Spade: If you are interested in Medieval Philosophy
his is a very fine site. I've known it for some years, and to find his
stuff on Sartre - there is quite lot of it - you have to dig a bit, but
you may like it. I liked it with a number of provisos, such as that I
don't like Sartre nor his philosophy, because Spade writes well, knows
a lot about logic and philosophy, and doesn't grow literate on you as
soon as things get difficult, as Sartre himself liked so much to do.
I am glad we agree (more than not) on the qualities and motives of some
medical doctors. In this context you wrote
....."See, this is where realism lets you down: you expect that a
provable, viable explanation is just
..... sitting there waiting to be revealed if someone just makes an
honest effort. I don't think so!"
Neither do I. It may take thousands of years to get a beginning of an
inkling of a shape of a possible explanation (though I hope to know of
a plausible causal explanation for ME before I die). Indeed, things may
be so complicated that the human mind cannot get it, or can only get it
by simplifying and schematizing whatever there is to get, to something
that may be very close to a parody of it.
Indeed, the main difference between my position and yours - at this
moment - seems to be that (1) I admit the possibility that one may be
really mistaken i.e. that reality may turn out to be other than I (or
you) think it is and (2) I admit the possibility that this is
rationally arguable and regularly provable, if not with certainty then
with a high degree of probability (as indeed happens daily in real
....."Reality, I think, is in a constant state of creation."
Do you hold that is true? Or that I should believe it or would believe
it if I was as intellectually agile as you may think Heidegger was?
Don't you believe you make a claim here about what is really there? (I
believe you do.) Suppose it is as you say. How does or would that make
a difference for me or for logic? Then you continue with
....."There is no objective truth."
And therefore what e.g. Wessely wrote and what Cheney wrote about M.E.
is equally false, equally true, equally plausible, equally tenable, and
just as good as the opposites of what they claim? And also there was no
Holocaust, because actually there is no objective truth? (I am not
saying you think this. But personally I learned first of this line that
there is no objective truth - that indeed may have been derived from
Heidegger - in the late fifties or early sixties as the dominant line
of thinking in the groups of former Nazis in Germany. Clearly, they had
a vested interest in such a doctrine, and indeed some are still
peddling it. And as you may find if you google "Heidegger", that
philosophical worthy was a fanatic Nazi himself for quite a long time.)
Also, if there is no objective truth, lets play a fair game: You bring
a 100 dollars, I bring a 100 dollars, and since you know there is no
truth you know that 1=100 ought to be - at least - as permissible for
you and me to entertain as its denial. I suggest we entertain it, in
happy personal agreement, and that I tender you then 1 of my dolllars
for 100 of yours - 1=100, you see, as there is no truth - and
afterwards I will praise your philosophy fulsomely. I may even buy you
a beer, from the 99 dollars I gained if, contrary to your teaching,
arithmetical truth keeps existing, in spite of messrs. Heidegger,
Sartre and Derrida also.
You continue with
....."If you depend on someone other than yourself, you are bound to be
But why? Is THAT true?! It may be true, but it need not be true. Not
everyone I have depended on has disappointed me, and indeed if they
would have, I would never have survived childhood.
You continue with
....."The "objective" reality of others is not your objective reality."
How do you know? How could someone with your notion that there is no
objective truth come to know this, or come to know evidence for this?
How come so many physicists and mathematicians agree on a whole lot of
physics and mathematics? Experimentally or because of logical argument?
And why couldn't people come to agree on what's out there - outside of
their skins, say - on the basis of evidence, investigation,
experimentation and argument, even if they agree each carries his or
her own private version of all there is between his or her ears, and
can only feel his or her own feelings?
You continue with
....."It will always seem disingenuous and false."
Again, why? It may be so, but it needs not be so, not "always", and it
is not so in my experience.
Now don't be flustered Denn, because I am not attacking you. The reason
I react as copiously as I do is that you did articulate rather a lot
that I find both characteristic for the day and age and place I live
in, that I deeply deplore and think is fundamentally mistaken, if only
because it takes away all rational and reasonable standards, and
replaces them - this is not what you said, but what it tends to come
down to - by the current majority opinion, for no better reason also,
usually, than a dose of Derrida or Foucault plus bland insistence that
truth is dead, and God is dead, and that is progress, in this
So... shifting it back to ME: It really seems important to me to hold
on to the notion that there is a real cause of it to be discovered, and
also a real cause it is quite possible to be quite mistaken about, and
that one can also fairly and honestly criticize medical doctors for
malfeisance, ignorance, lying, misrepresenting etc. (about the causes
of what ails one, for example, or about their own abilities, knowledge
or certainties) all because there are rational standards to base such
judgments on. And indeed, if there is no truth, is it not true that
there can - in truth - be no ME either? And aren't we there very close
to doctor Wessely's many pronouncements? That is: you are not ill, I am
not ill, you have no pain, I have no pain, all because there is no
truth of any matter, simply because there is no truth? And we are just
deluded about our supposed ME and its pains? And we can all come to see
this and live in everlasting happiness if only we got this inside our
skulls - which happily we can, namely with just a few thousands pounds
worth of CBT? Cherry-topped for intellectuals with three hours a day of
seminal passages of Heidegger for two weeks? And of course daily hours
of GET, to cure us from our wimpiness, for in truth there is no truth
and so no ME either? Reality is a delusion, truth an illusion, and ME
is both? As Heidegger would have taught us, if only he had lived? And
as droves of psychiatrists and osychotherapists in England and Holland
try to impose on patients with ME, for money for them, if necessary
with the force of the law?
Aahh well... as I said, I am not out to get you, Denn, but only to
contradict a few things I have been hearing for some 35 years now, and
for which I was also removed three times from the University of
Amsterdam, for indeed I insisted there really is truth at a time and a
place those who ruled the place found it very convenient to say that
people who said so were in fact - shades of Glenn Beck and Rush
Limbaugh, but some 30 years earlier - "fascists", for that is what
happened to me, and was the fashionable monicker to stick on one's
opponents then and there, especially if they wrote or spoke like I did.
Probably, you have started seeing why I was not popular in the faculty
of philosophy: I care for the truth. Meanwhile... much of this is old
hat, and those who care to know more about what moves me here and moved
me then should consult the Wikipedia, under "Alan Sokal" and "Norman
Anyway... I am a logical philosopher, and one of the difficulties for
me, as regards M.E. and as regards science, is that so many people are
convinced that there is no truth, that all is relative, that science is
on a par with religion etc. I don't think these convictions make it
easier to find a good causal explanation for ME and I also don't think
these convictions makes it easier to defend one's own human dignity and
sanity against the likes of Wessely.
And that's the reason for the present philosophical mini-exposition.
Best regards, Maarten.