Several weeks ago I posted an admittedly overly lengthy commentary on modern day sophistry, political sophistry especially. So I suspect that few of you read it, daunted by its length. Or that those of you who may have read it in full got tired at the end and, as a result, may have missed (or misinterpreted) my arguments concerning what I called the Therapeutic Society and the Technological Society.
Accordingly, a quick note of clarification. I did not intend a blanket condemnation of psychology or technology. Rather, I sought to point out that the vague, often manipulative aspects of psychology, so-called popular psychology especially, provide many opportunities for sophistical deceptions. After all, vagueness and intellectual slopiness encourage those who thrive on misleading and/or outright deceptive rhetoric.
Similarly, the monumental complexities of our modern technological system provide a golden opportunity for those who seek to bamboozle us, to get us to accept half-witted, misleading explanations of complex issues.
But, of course, many who attempt to explain complex phenomena, technological, psychological or otherwise are both honest, well-meaning. Not sophists in any sense. Yet, we must remember a famous but cynical saying attributed to Voltaire: virtue is mostly lack of opportunity.
And, like it or not, our modern technological society and our tendency to revel in psychobabble, presents many, many opportunities for the sophists in our midst.