Friday, January 04, 2013

Scientists are now going to teach us the importance of studying history, something historians could never do because they're not scientists.
…They called this phenomenon the “end of history illusion,” in which people tend to “underestimate how much they will change in the future.” According to their research, which involved more than 19,000 people ages 18 to 68, the illusion persists from teenage years into retirement.

“Middle-aged people — like me — often look back on our teenage selves with some mixture of amusement and chagrin,” said one of the authors, Daniel T. Gilbert, a psychologist at Harvard. “What we never seem to realize is that our future selves will look back and think the very same thing about us. At every age we think we’re having the last laugh, and at every age we’re wrong.”
As with scientists, so with philosophers. The "Euthyphro dilemma" is one of the founding themes of any literature.  In the "western canon" that means from the story of Moses and Aaron through Euripides' Alcestis, Plato's dialogue, and up to the present.  But it's named by philosophers after the words of a philosopher.

Literature is made of  characters and their authors observing the foibles of others and themselves; literature is the history of its present. If science is going to be credited with discovering the need for retrospective observation that says more about the slow fading of the culture of science, as scientism, than it does about facts of our behavior in the world. We now have the geek's critique of geekdom

Bertram reads the same article.
This wouldn’t have come as any surprise to Montaigne, whose whole project was predicated on the idea of constant change in the self:
I am unable to stabilize my subject: it staggers confusedly along with a natural drunkenness. I grasp it as it is now, at this moment when I am lingering over it. I am not portraying being but becoming: not the passage from one age to another … but from day to day, from minute to minute. I must adapt this account of myself to the passing hour. (“On repenting”, Screech trans 908-9)
But how much this contradicts the central presupposition of much intellectual biography, which is to find as much consistency as possible among the attitudes and doctrines adopted by a person throughout their life.
Even with the quote -from Montaigne!-  he misses the point: it's not how we interpret the works and lives of the past it's how we live in the present.  I spend far too much time documenting the drift of liberalism to the left over the past 10 years. Liberals have drifted away from neoliberalism without noticing or at very least acknowledging the change (as they drifted towards it years before).  Zionists are learning, finally, that they cannot be both zionist and liberal, but it's taken a long time, and those who've spent the same time drifting towards fascism won't admit it till they get there. These idiots read Tolkien, you'd think they'd learn something at least.  Duncan Black's anti-intellectual, know-nothing, knee-jerk, arrogant "common sense" tone hasn't changed, even as his tastes have, as have Farrell's.

Repeats of repeats of repeats. Bertram 2003
But even walking a few streets around my home and looking at the posters urging people to demonstrate, I’m quickly reminded why I would not. “Bush” is represented on many of them with a swastika in places of the “S”—an absurd implied equivalence anyway, and a grotesque one a few days after the synagogue bombings in Istanbul. The stunt with the statue also suggest the triumph of theatre over political and moral judgement. And then there’s the fact that the Stop the War Coalition calls for an immediate end to the occupation of Iraq and that some of its components even support what they call the “resistance”. Since the imperative now is to stop Britain and the US from “cutting and running” and to insist that they ensure a transition to stable and constitutional Iraqi self-goverment (and put the infrastructure back together again) what the demostrators largely want is the opposite of what ought to be done.
Berube in 2002
The antiwar left once knew well that its anti-imperialism was in fact a form of patriotism -- until it lost its bearings in Kosovo and Kabul, insisting beyond all reason that those military campaigns were imperialist wars for oil or regional power. And why does that matter? Because in the agora of public opinion, the antiwar left never claimed to speak to pragmatic concerns or political contingencies: for the antiwar left, the moral ground was the only ground there was. So when the antiwar left finds itself on shaky moral ground, it simply collapses.
To his credit in some sense, Berube hasn't changed.

Determinism should argue that the decline of scientism was as inevitable as its rise. I can't think of a logical argument against physicalism.

A determinist will or will not be soft on crime but he will have no choice either way. He will or will not write books or teach philosophy or have a drink at 5pm on April 23rd 2112, but he will have no choice. He will or will not coin the term "nice nihilism" but he has no choice.
Physicalism requires that Alex Rosenberg and Lady Gaga have no choice but to be what they are. Lady Gaga might agree, but she's smarter than he is.
Rosenberg (2009)
As for the disenchanted naturalist’s take on ethics, it certainly has no interest in undermining Tamler Sommers’ love for his daughter, Eliza. It’s no part of the disenchanted naturalists agenda to explain away the reality of love or any other emotion. Indeed, emotions are essential to the disenchanted explanation of how norms motivate us.
I tried to explain to Rosenberg. "Love is a form of enchantment. Why backtrack?" Physicalism demands not just that history is bunk but that consciousness is bunk: ideas, explanations, and ethics are bunk.
If you want to be a full on materialist then do so. But then even your arrogance is just a function of some determined series of events (and as such does not exist).
It makes no sense to claim to undermine everything and then back away from it just to keep friendships. Or if you want to keep friendships, you should acknowledge that friendship like love has a function. Again: enchantment has a function for you and everyone else. But that's not to say that love or that ideas "exist" outside of that function.
Of course compatibilism is a joke. But then this letter is the pretense at free will.
If there are no beliefs there are no ideas. I tend to think that's true. And behaviorism and physicalism are not in conflict. So we live the need to eat and reproduce supported by calculation (a mechanical process) and behavioral conditioning.
That was in an email. He sent a two word response more polite than Protevi's "fuck you". His operant conditioning is stronger than his drive to follow the calculational imperative. His "nice nihilism" as he calls it is either a monument to faith or to mechanics.

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