I sent this excellent post at Titanic Deck Chairs to a friend, who forwarded it to another and got a reply that started with
Well the blog post reads like a propaganda piece. But thats not my argument. …
I will answer his actual argument later. But first, what is propaganda? Here are the relevant meanings of the word from the merriam webster dictionary
2: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person
3: ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause or to damage an opposing cause ; also : a public action having such an effect
So yes, the blog post linked to is propaganda, i.e, it is a deliberate attempt to propagate ideas that the author believes in. In fact, by that definition, almost every post I have written on this blog qualifies as propaganda too. Why does the word have a negative connotation? It is because ideas are supposed to be held in a disinterested, dispassionate manner. But is that possible? I write about ideas because I believe they are essential to my life. Having the right ideas and spreading them is crucial to my interest. I do not write about ideas that do not interest me. I consider them a waste of my time. In fact, it is the disinterested pursuit of ideas, a pursuit cut off from any contact with reality or from any any attainable purpose that is disingenuous. It is precisely the disinterested nature of much of dominant philosophy that gives philosophy a bad name, that allows schools of thought such as pragmatism (a rejection of all abstract principles) to exist. What is more genuine – a passionate and interested expression of an idea the author believes in or a disinterested, dispassionate analysis of information with no specific purpose? As long as man has a purpose in his life, he cannot divorce interest and passion from the ideas which he entertains. And interest, passion and purpose are not bad things. They are what make life meaningful and enjoyable.