He Who Knows Only His Own Side of the Case
The liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill famously warned that “he who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that.” If you want to see what Mill meant by that, I submit as a practical illustration Sohrab’s Ahmari’s book The Unbroken Thread: Discovering the Wisdom of Tradition in an Age of Chaos.
Ahmari sets out to defend not just tradition but traditionalism, as opposed to the freethinking liberal ethos that animates the modern world. Yet he does so by knocking down a series of straw men, on the theory that if he seeks out the weakest arguments and makes his opponents look bad enough, a return to tradition will seem like the only viable alternative. In the process, he renders his own side of the argument vague, facile and unconvincing.