Tuesday, March 30, 2010

note taking [my comments] same post as before
"The problem in UK universities is that the government are putting them under pressure to demonstrate their 'social and economic impact', and this includes the Humanities as well as the Sciences,"

But the humanities have played into that. "Theory" attitudinizes itself as science as much as economics does. Even the fine arts are taught in terms of "theory" and "practice." Follow the language of contemporary design and it's all modeled on the terminology of "research." And recently it's infected the language of foodies. Cooks now conduct research. Outside of popular -and thankfully still vulgar- culture every aspect of taste is now treated in the manner of objective knowledge. And manner is all it is.

The humanities are founded in this: that every 29 years or so someone will write another book on Abraham Lincoln, George III, or Plato. And each book will be different from the last. There was a "Lincoln for the first half of the 20th century" and there will be a Lincoln for the second of of the 22nd, if anyone is alive to write it. People will be writing histories of the important figures of their culture long after the last facts about those people are known, because in each and every case, those histories describe the periods in which they're written. For the humanities the description of things is the description of our relation to them, not the "things themselves" whatever they're supposed to be. The humanities oppose the sciences. That's their job and moral responsibility.

We test ourselves against the world in order to gauge what we are. The most important thing history and literature and the arts give us is a more objective understanding of ourselves. The world is a MacGuffin. We fill it with desire, And we can do it knowingly or not.

There are two kinds of narcissist, the one who spends his life staring in the mirror and the other who's never looked at his reflection even once, and can't even imagine being looked at. For him what he is is normal, even universal. That others might think otherwise is unthinkable or irrational. The telos of science is as absurd as any other but its internal logic makes it seem superior to its enthusiasts. But technological progress is just that, no more. The culture of progress in the humanities gives us this

The culture of moral exceptionalism in the sciences gives us this. See chapter 15. It's unreconstructed racism, straight out of the 19th century.
The only reason it's in the book is the irrationalism of its author and the obeisance of his editors.

The proper study of mankind is man. Perhaps if Weinberg had been better trained he wouldn't have made such basic errors of logic and morality.
I've linked to Weinberg's book enough, but most people don't even know it.

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