Saturday, 17 May 2014

The Cosmopolitan GM

The word "cosmopolitan" can be literally translated as "citizen of the world", and it is used to denote, in philosophy, a viewpoint in which one's polis (literally "city") is the world.  The idea is that one owes the same obligations, and should give the same respect and rights to, everyone, as though they were a member of your own citizen ("denizen of the city") group.

Taking a cosmopolitan view means that you understand that there are many ways of doing things, and that your way may not be the best.  It means that you understand that you may be wrong in your beliefs, and, moreover, even when you are not wrong, other viewpoints may be equally valid.

The converse of taking a cosmopolitan view is taking a parochial ("related to a single [church] parish") view, effectively taking an extremely narrow view of what is right.  In this case, one views one's own opinions to be right and true, and is not interested in examining other ways of doing things.  If it is not part of "our" gaming culture, it isn't worth looking at.  The parochial GM says, "This is about how I do things; if we are not discussing how I do things, I don't want to hear it."

I personally think that the cosmopolitan GM is at an advantage over the parochial GM here.  That is not to say that we should change our opinions on a whim, merely because something new comes along.  For instance, I do not advocate fudging, and I think it is a bad idea overall.  I have written at length on the subject.  I have given reasons why I believe this to be so, I have experienced the converse directly, and I have examined arguments that countered my position.  I am also, however, willing to grant that any particular GM might differ.  There are times when my reasoning may not apply.

(My experience has also shown me that, in most cases where someone claims that my reasoning does not apply, they are incorrect.  That is not the same as saying in all cases, however.  Anyone reading the Comments section on this blog will note that I do not always agree with every comment, and I will not be shy about pointing out poor arguments, but a poor argument does not mean that the conclusion is wrong...or that the person making it has nothing else interesting to say.)

What does this have to do with anything?  I have taken comments off of this blog because they were spam, or because they were simply abusive (and then after warning).  But it is very simple to decide that something is abusive simply because it disagrees strongly with the position that you are asserting.  It is improper to decide that someone's comments are equivalent to "dog poop", but that they are "blameless" because they "don't know better", and then to wonder why people find you abusive.

You may, of course, then note that people are still reading your blog, even people who do not share your parochial viewpoint.  Well, of course there are.  The cosmopolitan GM is not merely interested in his own ideas, and takes an active interest in the ideas of others, even where they are in opposition to his typical viewpoint.  This doesn't mean that he will necessarily agree with you....and, if you have decided not to accept contrary comments, you will never know what he things of your argument.  You have chosen not to be challenged.  That doesn't mean what you write is never interesting; it's just intellectually lazy.  And you are allowed to be intellectually lazy if that is what you want; let's just not pretend that you haven't made that choice.

I imagine that most of my readers already know who I am talking about here, and which post(s) I refer to, so that I need not drive traffic in that direction for those posts.

In any event, I look forward to the comments of those who read this blog.  I look forward to comments that I can agree with, that point me in new directions, and that challenge my arguments and views.  But then, while I think that I do have a good handle on this joy we call GMing, I don't think that I know it all.


  1. I really liked this post so I added a link to it through my Best Reads of the Week series. I hope you don't mind.

    1. Not only do I not mind, but that is the 1,000th comment on this blog. If you shoot me your mailing address, I'll send you a prize,

  2. Whooooo Hoooooo! Where's you e-mail link?