Re: the cult of personality

On Tue, 3 Jul 2001, Patrick Crosby wrote:

> The short answer to your question is that in the case of the majority of
> books, technical papers, and essays I read, I know absolutely nothing the
> author personally, yet I read them with profit.

i never said one couldn't read a book and get something out of it if they
knew nothing of the thinker's life, i merely said that some biographical
information can sometimes shed insight into a thinker's ideas.

> The long answer is that I am not saying that, as a general principle, it
> is not helpful to use details of an author's personal life as a basis for
> assessing the quality or merit of his work: I am saying that it is dangerous
> to do so--- dangerous to the advancement of science, to academic freedom, and
> an impediment to ones own intellectual advancement.

nobody ever said that knowledge was safe.

> The simple reason for this
> is that in doing such, one ventures outside the realm of science, theory, and
> intellectual discourse and into the realm of superstition, bias, and
> prejudice.

but science, theory, and intellectual discourse are not distinct from
supersition, bias, or prejudice.

> If what you suggest were ever to become accepted as a general principle,
> book publishers would have the right to know everything about the personal
> life of a book's author, just as students would have a right to know
> everything about the personal lives of their professors.

i never said there was a "right" to know everything about a thinker's
life. i only said that knowing about it can inform one's interpretation of


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