Friday, February 23, 2007

Argument and Personality

Well, here I am about to go all bloggy again, but this video exchange between Eric Alterman and Mark Schmitt caught my attention. Alterman criticizes Andrew Sullivan for putting too much personal information in his blogs:
Too many bloggers feel that their private lives are intrinsically interesting. And maybe they are. But in a very unhealthy way. In a very Us Magazine, not even a People way. In an Us Magazine way. And I think that interferes with the quality of ... the ability of one to make one's argument on the quality of one's argument.... like Andy, Andy, curling up... I just noticed this because last week he wrote about Valentine's Day, how happy he was to be curling up in bed with his boyfriend to watch a DVD. I'm like: Why do I have to read this?
This is what Sullivan wrote on Valentine's day:
We watched "Basic Instinct" last night with a bottle of champagne and freshly-made brownies. I'd never seen it before. It was washed down by a HD Sunrise Earth special on Machu Picchu. Life is good when you're in love and have a widescreen television.
Alterman has a very narrow definition of what argument is. Aristotle said there were three categories: logos, the appeal to reason, pathos, the appeal to emotion, and ethos, the use of authority. One of Andrew's major themes is the right of gay people to marry. It seems to me that, probably without even being conscious of it, he is establishing ethos -- he's making clear that he's in a committed relationship with another man, which after all, doesn't seem to be too much different from a straight relationship. He is making a testament in favor of an argument that is very important to him.

And heck, it makes for more interesting writing anyway. Ann Althouse has more.

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