Experience is Not an Argument

Today on Facebook, Breitbart News posted the following quote from Holocaust Survivor Martin Greenfield:

“The United States is the best damn country the world has ever known. Anyone who disagrees with that hasn’t been where I’ve been, hasn’t seen what I’ve seen.”

As lovely as that sentiment might seem, and though I respect Holocaust survivors immensely, the assertion is really nothing more than a non sequitur. In a couple of ways.

First, it is a categorical fact that no one has been where anyone else has been nor has seen what anyone else has seen. This is because any given person, by definition, cannot be anyone else. Everyone, simply by virtue of their being born, has their own absolute frame of reference by which they experience life.  The very fact that I am not you means that I cannot and will not experience existence as you do. I will never be where you are or see what you see, because we are infinitely different.  And because this is a simple ontological axiom, and therefore is universal to human experience, one cannot base an assertion upon it. Because the presupposition of such an assertion is that if you had seen what Mr. Greenfield had seen, and had been where Mr. Greenfield had been, you would, in fact, agree that the United States is the best damn country the world has ever known. But the infinite distinction of individual experience makes this an impossible scenario. And because it is an impossible scenario, precluded by the facts of rank existence, it is an illegitimate argument. It is irrelevant.

Next, we should remember that experience is not the equivalent of reason. What you have seen or where you have been is not a legitimate substitute for what you think about what you have seen and where you have been. You simply cannot base an argument upon perception alone; you must base it upon a rationale.  That is, a philosophical interpretation of reality (how you define what is true), which is rooted in your belief system.

So, when Mr. Greenfield says “America is the best damn country the world has ever known”, he is not, in fact, arguing from experience…because this is impossible. Why? Again, because observation is not reason. He may think his experience as a Holocaust survivor suffices as an argument, but reason demands that this cannot be so.

If Mr. Greenfield wants to argue that the U.S. Is the world’s greatest country he must provide an actual reason, not merely a perception. And if his reason, rooted in his fundamental beliefs, is not rationally consistent, then it is false. Period. Full stop. And no amount of experience, no matter how profound, can make it true.

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