Showing posts with label Emerson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Emerson. Show all posts

Monday, August 22, 2022

It’s Iimi! Hobgoblins!

Ralph Waldo Emerson made a quote that gets paraphrased as “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” (The actual quote is “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”) Whenever someone points out that behavior is inconsistent, this gets dragged out as a strawman fallacy trying to claim that the person objecting is being small-minded. You may have seen a bumper sticker variant of this, saying “If you won’t change your mind, do you even have one?” 

 

But the real hobgoblins of “foolish consistency” is partisanship that assumes that whatever benefits me or harms my foes is good, and whatever disadvantages me or helps my foes is bad. That’s dangerous if left unchecked, and must always be opposed.