My previous post dealt with the concept of 'noetic glue.' An interesting comment on the topic was written by Andy, and he linked a slightly longer version of the comment to his blog, Under The Sun. At first his criticsims seemed to severely undercut my theory, but as I reflected on it I was not quite so ready to pronounce noetic glue dead. His first criticism was that the concept of noetic glue begs the question. "Is noetic glue rational?" he asks. "If so, then emotions-as-noetic-glue are redundant. If not, then emotions-as-noetic-glue are wrong."
At the risk of sounding like a moron, I'm not certain I follow his objection. Is he saying that if it is rational to believe in noetic glue then noetic glue keeps that belief in place and that is question begging? I think it is evident that this is false because noetic glue and the idea of noetic glue are two different things. Noetic glue can hold a belief in noetic glue or a concept of noetic glue in place without resorting to question begging. Since that seems evident, I doubt that was the true nature of his objection. Or if it was, perhaps he has some counter to the argument I just stated. The last thing I want to do is be uncharitable with my characterizations of someone else's idea.
What else could he mean? I'm not certain, so I'm going to depend on Andy here to expand on his objection.
Regardless, Andy goes on to say that he believes that noetic glue is not rational. He then says, "if a question is close enough then one should vacillate, or (usually better) suspend judgment." Lets deal with vacillating first. I don't think it's ever better to vacillate, but I also don't think I was clear about what I had in mind when I first mentioned it. I did not mean someone who might lean one way and then the other for a while but never settles on a position because they think the arguments on both sides are good. I was referring to the kind of person who is 'fully convinced' of one position until a rhetorician who holds the other comes along and then he switches because of smooth talk. Then the person could switch back to the first position whenever presented with a slick (not necessarily rational) argument. I don't think anyone believes that this is good.
As far as suspending judgment goes, I think noetic glue can be a good mechanism for just that purpose. There are times when arguments seem to weigh heavily in favor of the position one is against ('seem to' being the operative words). It is in this sort of circumstance that our emotions can actually keep us from being swept away to a false position. To remain tethered by emotions, however, is wrong. We have certainly surrendered rationality if we do that.
Johnny Dee also had some good comments. I think he is right to say that saying that these concepts are the glue is probably extreme. He then suggests that truth itself should probably fill that role, but it's the very point when the truth of a proposition is in doubt that noetic glue would be showing its effects the most. I'll have to do further research on the intellectual virtues (any book recommendations will be gladly received).
Most of what I've posted has come from the 'thinking out loud' mode. I had toyed with this idea for a long time, but never written anything or put it up for a challenge, so thanks to everyone who has contributed to the discussion. I hope it continues. You never know, we may be on the ground floor of discovering something exciting!