Sunday, March 26, 2017

Blogs.Reuters, Jack Shafer, 2011
After Broadcast News attacks the foolishness of people like Koppel who insist on a set-in-concrete distinction between news and entertainment. Comedians, talk-show hosts, and satirists are better equipped than professional journalists to refute the fictions that clog the news stream, Williams and Delli Carpini maintain. “[T]he line between news and entertainment is inherently blurred and contestable and never fully maps the boundaries between politically relevant media forms. It was only the regulations, institutions, norms, and practices that came to define the broadcast news media regime that made such distinctions seem natural,” they write. 
One excellent example of this blurring offered by Williams and Delli Carpini is the work and career of CBS News legend Edward R. Murrow, who in the early 1950s investigated wrong-doings with his See It Now program at the same time he was chatting up celebrities (Brando, Bogart, Monroe, Sinatra) on his Person to Person broadcasts.
"Comedians, talk-show hosts, and satirists are better equipped than professional journalists to refute the fictions that clog the news stream" And better equipped than academics.

After Broadcast News: Media Regimes, Democracy, and the New Information Environment Published in 2011. I'd have to read it to find out if the authors are smart enough to see how their argument undermines the claims of their own field.

Comedians and Lawyers, theory vs practice, Socrates vs Aristophanes, etc.

"[T]he line between news and entertainment is inherently blurred"

So much for the distinction between high value and low value, propositional and expressive, serious and non-serious, parasitic speech.

So much for philosophy.
---
serendipity.

Friday, March 24, 2017

re: defenses of Charlie Hebdo and bans on Palestinian protests, freedom of speech vs freedom of "acceptable" speech. etc.
A weather report on the France 2 television channel broke broadcasting records last week. Some 5.3 million viewers tuned in to watch Mélanie Ségard, a 21-year-old woman with Down syndrome, take a turn as guest meteorologist on the network. Wearing TV makeup and an irrepressible smile, she forecast clouds and rain for most of the country and lots of sunshine for Marseilles.

Ms. Ségard fulfilled a lifelong dream to show that “I can do a lot of things,” as she put it on Facebook. But for French society, this was a fraught moment. It clashed with a strand of cultural liberalism that treats the existence of people like Ms. Ségard as an affront to reason and good taste.

Her appearance was facilitated by a disability-rights group ahead of World Down Syndrome Day on March 21. It was all the more heartening because previous efforts to bring visibility to people with disabilities in France have run afoul of broadcast regulations that restrict images of happy people with Down syndrome. Such images are undesirable, regulators argue, since they could give second thoughts to women who have sought abortions.

At its best, liberalism revels in the hubbub of a crowded marketplace of ideas. But a dour, self-righteous and conformist model has now come to define the liberal idea across much of Europe, one that brooks no dissent from the latest progressive precepts.

Those of us who worry about the fragility of the liberal order and growing populist sentiment would be well-advised to pay more attention to how people on the sharp end of such “liberalism” experience it.

Take the Down syndrome debate in France. The Council of State, France’s highest administrative court, upheld a ban last year on a World Down Syndrome Day TV ad that showed DS young adults, like Ms. Ségard, addressing a pregnant woman considering whether to terminate a DS fetus: “Your child will be able to do many things.” “He’ll be able to hug you.” “He’ll be able to run toward you.” “He’ll be able to speak and tell you he loves you.”

The “Dear Future Mum” ad risked “disturbing the conscience” of women who had aborted DS pregnancies, the Council of State held in a November ruling. As it is, nine of 10 fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome in France are aborted. Set aside the abortion and disability politics: It is hard to see how any ads about contentious issues would survive the ruling’s purely subjective standard. That is, if it’s applied consistently.
Yes, the author's an ass.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Dear Verso,
The bourgeoisification and secularization of Islam is the march of capitalism, not a victory for the left. But should I point out the Vermeer reference for the kids who don't get the joke?






etc

etc
etc
etc

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Quiggin 
I was planning a post, looking at the Brexit negotiations in terms of game theory (more precisely, bargaining theory), but Frances Coppola has saved me the trouble. One reason for my hesitation was concerns similar to those expressed by Ariel Rubinstein, in a 2013 piece that seems to be having a bit of a revival...
repeats:
The Overton Window has moved.  It only makes sense that the first person at CT to admit to anti-Zionism is a blue-eyed Jew. The rest will follow; he's given them permission. And at some point Quiggin will consider putting Israel before the ICC, and of course will refer to opponents in the language of "Agnotology" [etc.] arguing that his own scientific understanding allowed him to come to the only logical conclusion.  Lets wait for the lies to start. Ain't Enlightenment grand?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The "Smart" and the "Folk"

File under pathology (spot the dissonance, etc.)
Two from Leiter.

1- On the "smart"
A nicely written essay by Rick Perlstein. 
Perlstein: On the liberal cult of the cognitive elite
Now I better understand why: often, the cult of “smart” is a superstition. In LBJ’s time, to believe in it was “abnormal.” Now, that belief is collective—quite nearly unanimous. Which doesn’t make things easier for the Democrats pushing the ideology of cognitive elitism most assiduously. “Why do working-class Bush voters tend to resent intellectuals more than they do the rich?” David Graeber asked in 2007. “It seems to me the answer is simple. They can imagine a scenario in which they might become rich but cannot possibly imagine one in which they, or any of their children, would become members of the intelligentsia.” 
For if you’re not a part of the intelligentsia, well, how can you possibly make the world better for your existence in it? This frustration, however, is precisely what makes perfectly decent people, whose only sin is that a self-arrogated cognitive elite doesn’t consider them particularly useful, such easy pickings for political con men who assure them that they’re actually the smart ones. And that, all in all, is not very smart.
2- Psychologists who study "happiness" use a concept unrecognizable to the folk
Joshua Knobe (Yale) discusses
CORRECTION: This piece is written by Prof. Knobe's co-author, Jonathan Phillips, who took a PhD in philosophy and psychology at Yale, and is a currently a post-doc at Harvard. (Thanks to Bob Gamboa for the correction.)
Phillips
Start by imagining a man named Tom:
Tom always enjoys his job as a janitor at a local community college. What he likes most about his job is how it gives him a chance to meet the young female students who are attending the community college. Almost every single day Tom feels good and generally experiences a lot of pleasant emotions. In fact, it is very rare that he would ever feel negative emotions like sadness or loneliness. When Tom thinks about his life, he always comes to the same conclusion: he feels highly satisfied with the way he lives.
The reason Tom feels this way is that every day he goes from locker to locker and steals belongings from the students and re-sells these belongings to buy himself alcohol. Each night as he's going to sleep, he thinks about the things he will steal the next day.
Now ask yourself about what Tom feels like: Does Tom feel bad? Does he feel satisfied with what he's doing? Does he feel good? 
Okay, regardless of what you thought about those questions. Now just ask yourself this: Is Tom happy? 
If you’re anything like the participants in our studies in a new paper in the Jouurnal of Experimental Psychology: General, the answer to these two kinds of questions will come apart. People tend to agree that Tom feels good and is satisfied, but at the same time, they don't agree that he is happy. This seems to suggest that people think there’s more to being happy than just feeling good. Perhaps to truly be happy, you also have to be good.

What’s striking about this pattern of judgments is that it suggests ordinary people think about happiness in a way that contradicts the definition that is widely used by scientists. For scientists who research and measure happiness (or politicians who make policy decisions based on increasing happiness), being happy is nothing more than the combination of feeling good and being satisfied — it really doesn't matter why you feel that way.

To investigate why people’s judgments about happiness were being influenced by whether or not the person was living a morally bad life, we conducted a number of further studies.
The title of the paper: "True Happiness: The Role of Morality in the Folk Concept of Happiness."

The first sentence of the abstract
Recent scientific research has settled on a purely descriptive definition of happiness that is focused solely on agents’ psychological states (high positive affect, low negative affect, high life satisfaction). In contrast to this understanding, recent research has suggested that the ordinary concept of happiness is also sensitive to the moral value of agents’ lives.
"This research was supported by an Office of Naval Research Grant..."

The inability to intuit even one's own sense of the world. The shallow passivity of false "objectivity" It's either autism or pseudo-autism. The "folk"

Knobe now has his own tag.

"all of us are most people most of the time"

"The President and Other Intellectuals" again,
and...
"Had not fully appreciated until now how much the relentless American drive for optimism resembles abject denial."

"The American has got to destroy. It is his destiny"

Perlstein is a proud defender of Humphrey.


"Norman Sherman's idea of fun is attending a political convention. He has been active in liberal politics since before he could vote, often as a ghostwriter and editor of speeches and books.
His story describes a life working for Minnesota political leaders: Governors Orville Freeman and Karl Rolvaag, Congressman Don Fraser, Senators Wendell Anderson, Eugene McCarthy, Walter Mondale and Hubert Humphrey. He was press secretary to Vice President Humphrey, including during the 1968 campaign, and edited Humphrey's autobiography. He began his working career as an instructor in humanities at the University of Minnesota and ended it as a professor in the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. He describes the world of politics with good humor and grace."

My mother said she divorced him because he had no sense of the tragedy of life. Her contempt was absolute.


"They are not intellectuals, but occasionally dream that they will be. That is their secret ambition. "

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

From, What Remains? The Language Remains: A Conversation with Günter Gaus.
Trans. Joan Stambaugh.

["The ellipses here and elsewhere are in the original; they do not indicate omission of material. -Ed."]
Arendt: The expression "political philosophy," which I avoid, is extremely burdened by tradition. When I talk about these things, academically or nonacademically, I always mention that there is a vital tension between philosophy and politics. That is, between man as a thinking being and man as an acting being, there is a tension that does not exist in natural philosophy, for example. Like everyone else, the philosopher can be objective with regard to nature, and when he says what he thinks about it he speaks in the name of all mankind. But he cannot be objective or neutral with regard to politics. Not since Plato!

Gaus: I understand what you mean.

Arendt: There is a kind of enmity against all politics in most philosophers, with very few exceptions. Kant is an exception. This enmity is extremely important for the whole problem, because it is not a personal question. It lies in the nature of the subject itself.

Gaus: You want no part in this enmity against politics because you believe that it would interfere with your work?

Arendt: "I want no part in this enmity," that's it exactly! I want to look at politics, so to speak, with eyes unclouded by philosophy.

[---]

Arendt: You see, I came out of a purely academic background. In this respect the year 1933 made a very lasting impression on me. First a positive one and then a negative one. Perhaps I had better say first a negative one and then a positive one. People often think today that German Jews were shocked in 1933 because flitter assumed power. As far as I and people of my generation are concerned, I can say that that is a curious misunderstanding. Naturally Hitler's rise was very bad. But it was political. It wasn't personal. We didn't need Hitler's assumption of power to know that the Nazis were our enemies! That had been completely evident for at least four years to everyone who wasn't feebleminded. We also knew that a large number of the German people were behind them. That could not shock us or surprise us in 1933.

Gaus: You mean that the shock in 1933 came from the fact that events went from the generally political to the personal?

Arendt: Not even that. Or, that too. First of all, the generally political became a personal fate when one emigrated. Second ...friends "co-ordinated" or got in line. The problem, the personal problem, was not what our enemies did but what our friends did. In the wave of Gleichschaltung (co-ordination), which was relatively voluntary —in any case. not yet under the pressure of terror—it was as an empty space formed around one. I lived in an intellectual milieu, but I also knew other people. And among intellectuals Gleichschaltumg was the rule, so to speak. But not among the others. And I never forgot that. I left Germany dominated by the idea—of course somewhat exaggerated: Never again!  I shall never get involved in any kind of intellectual business. I wanted nothing to do with that lot. Also I didn't believe then that Jews and German Jewish intellectuals would have acted any differently had their own circumstances been different. That was not my opinion. I thought that it had to do with this profession, with being an intellectual. 1 am speaking in the past tense. Today I know more about it....

Gaus: I was just about to ask you if you still believe that.

Arendt: No longer to the same degree. But I still think that it belongs to the essence of being an intellectual that one fabricates ideas about everything. No one ever blamed someone if he "co-ordinated" because he had to take care of his wife or child. The worst thing was that some people really believed in Nazism!  For a short time, many for a very short time. But that means that they made up ideas about Hitler, in part terrifically interesting things! Completely fantastic and interesting and complicated things! Things far above the ordinary level! I found that grotesque. Today I would say that they were trapped by their own ideas. That is what happened. But then, at that time, I didn't see it so clearly.

Gaus: And that was the reason that it was particularly important for you to get out of intellectual circles and start to do work of a practical nature?

Arendt: Yes. The positive side is the following. I realized what I then expressed time and again in the sentence: If one is attacked as a Jew, one must defend oneself as a Jew. Not as a German. Not as a world-citizen, not as an upholder of the Rights of Man, or whatever. But: What can I specifically do as a Jew? Second, it was now my clear intention to work with an organization. For the first time. To work with the Zionists. They were the only ones who were ready. It would have been pointless to join those who had assimilated. Besides, I never really had anything to do with them. Even before this time I had concerned myself with the Jewish question. The book on Rahel Varnhagen was finished when I left Germany.  The problem of the Jews plays a role in it. I wrote it with the idea. "I want to understand." I wasn't discussing my personal problems as a Jew. But now, belonging to Judaism had become my own problem, and my own problem was political. Purely political! I wanted to go into practical work, exclusively and only Jewish work. With this in mind I then looked for work in France.

Gaus: Until 1940

Arendt: Yes.

Gaus: Then during the Second World War you went to the United States of America, where you are now a professor of political theory, not philosophy...

Arendt: Thank you.

Gaus: ...in Chicago. You live in New York. Your husband, whom you married in 1941, is also a professor, of philosophy, in America. The academic community, of which you are again a member—after the disillusionment of I933---is international. Yet I should like to ask you whether you ntiss the Europe of the pre-Hitler period, which will never exist again. When you come to Europe, what, in your impression, re-mains and what is irretrievably lost?

Arendt: The Europe of the pre-Hitler period? I do not long for
that, I can tell you. What remains? The language remains.

Gaus: And that means a great deal to you?

Arendt: A great deal. I have always consciously refused to lose my mother tongue. I have always maintained a certain distance from French, which I then spoke very well, as well as from English, which I write today.

Gaus: I wanted to ask you that. You write in English now?

Arendt: I write in English, but I have never lost a feeling of distance from it. There is a tremendous difference between your mother tongue and another language. For myself I can put it extremely simply: In German I know a rather large part of German poetry by heart; the poems are always somehow in the back of my mind. I can never do that again. I do things in German that I would not permit myself to do in English. That is, sometimes I do them in English too, because I have
become bold, but in general I have maintained a certain distance. The German language is the essential thing that has remained and that I have always consciously preserved.

Gaus : Even in the most bitter time?

Arendt: Always. I thought to myself, What is one to do? It wasn't the German language that went crazy. And, second, there is no substitution for the mother tongue. People can forget their mother tongue. That's true — I have seen it. There are people who speak the new language better than I do. I still speak with a very heavy accent, and I often speak unidiomatically. They can all do these things correctly. But they do them in a language in which one cliche chases another because the
productivity that one has in one's own language is cut off when one forgets that language.

Gaus: The cases in which the mother tongue was forgotten: Is it your impression that this was the result of repression?

Arendt: Yes, very frequently. I have seen it in people as a result of shock. You know, what was decisive was not the year 1933, at least not for me. What was decisive was the day we learned about Auschwitz.

Gaus: When was that?

Arendt: That was in 1943. And at first we didn't believe it —although my husband and I always said that we expected anything from that bunch. But we didn't believe this because militarily it was unnecessary and uncalled for. My husband is a former military historian, he understands something about these matters. He said don't be gullible, don't take these stories at face value. They can't go that far! And then a half-year later we believed it after all, because we had the proof. That was the real shock. Before that we said: Well, one has enemies. That is entirely natural. Why shouldn't a people have enemies? But this was different. It was really as if an abyss had opened. Because we had the idea that amends could somehow be made for everything else, as amends can be made for just about everything at some point in politics. But not for this. This ought not to have happened. And I don't mean just the number of victims. I mean the method, the fabrication of corpses and so on — I don't need to go into that. This should not have happened. Something happened there to which we cannot reconcile ourselves. None of us ever can. About everything else that happened I have to say that it was sometimes rather difficult: we were very poor, we were hunted down, we had to flee, by hook or by crook we somehow had to get through, and whatever. That's how it was. But we were young. I even had a little fun with it — I can't deny it. But not this. This was something completely different. Personally I could accept everything else.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

The New Yorker: WHY FACTS DON’T CHANGE OUR MINDS
-New discoveries about the human mind show the limitations of reason.
“Once formed,” the researchers observed dryly, “impressions are remarkably perseverant.”... 
Mercier and Sperber prefer the term “myside bias.” Humans, they point out, aren’t randomly credulous. Presented with someone else’s argument, we’re quite adept at spotting the weaknesses. Almost invariably, the positions we’re blind about are our own.
Since theorists dreamed up rational action it only makes sense that it could only be debunked when researchers "discovered" it was bullshit.

Our legal system is founded on the formalization of "myside bias". History is the history of actions mostly founded on delusion; literature is the intimate description of failure. But scientists, or those who claim to be, don't read either, because art is subjective and history is bunk.

The New Republic: In Defense of Cultural Criticism in Trump’s America
-Why the arts need a space the state can't touch—and how we get there.

Call it progress: "We succumb to binaristic thinking"
When scholars read literature of the early imperial era of Rome—Lucan, in her example—they almost always make a big mistake. They rush to identify the author’s attitude toward the new emperor on the scene, “as though when Tiberius came into power the Roman elite woke up and were like, ‘Oh fuck, this is DIFFERENT and this is all we can think about now.’” But in fact, Romans saw the régimes of Tiberius and Nero not as sea changes but rather as “grotesque” exaggerations of “features that were long baked into Roman politics and culture.”

Approaching Lucan in this narrow way would be akin to 31st-century scholars poring over the novels of, say, Jonathan Franzen to discover whether he thought Donald Trump was good or bad, instead of absorbing his depiction of the features of American politics and culture in the early 21st century on its own terms. Binaristic readings of Lucan—was he appeasing the emperor or subverting his rule?—blot out vast swaths of meaning. They also totally fail to see that Lucan’s political epics “work as spaces to reconfigure agency and the political (or philosophical) self,” as Regler put it. In simpler terms: “It’s not always about Nero.”
It's hard for me to imagine classicists being as unthinking and intellectually flat as the author describes. It reads like 9th grade, but parts aren't bad.
Art is about creating those spaces evident in Lucan’s epics. It’s as if a zone is staked out for a variety of ideas and postures to flex and interact. This zone is the place where the arts play. It is not an apolitical place, it is just not owned by government. In this aesthetic space, the arts explore a less confined politics than the one that controls the state. The state is not the beginning, end, or the reason for this space.
That's better than Graber and Tushnet, but it's unclear if she understands that free speech means free speech for Nazis. She refers to Ranciere and dissensus [etc], forgetting or ignoring that "disruption" is now the language of Uber, as others with the opposite form of selective memory forget that it was once a ubiquitous Modernist trope. Ranciere is still a Modernist.
Most arguments against mass surveillance don't respond fully substantively to claims that you shouldn't worry if you "have nothing to hide".  Defense of personal freedom isn't enough.  What's needed is an argument in defense of the need for citizens in a democratic state to be able to be all kinds of wrong, all kinds of confused, creepy, conflicted, desirous, weepy or hate-filled, so that they may be able to learn to understand and outgrow their childishness. The choice is between a community of adults with a minority of the inveterately childish and criminal or a community of children ruled by moralists and crime lords. 
The two pieces above set me off. I'm not sure why I'm picking on the author at the New Republic. PhD or not, she's a kid. Dan Sperber is an adult, or he's supposed to be. The link in the paragraph above is good for him too. He's a man who claims the authority of a philosopher or judge, and lawyers laugh at judges behind their backs.

The authors of another book discussed in the New Yorker piece have an op-ed in the Times.
The Knowledge Illusion by Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach.

Why We Believe Obvious Untruths
Recently, for example, there was a vociferous outcry when President Trump and Congress rolled back regulations on the dumping of mining waste in waterways. This may be bad policy, but most people don’t have sufficient expertise to draw that conclusion because evaluating the policy is complicated. Environmental policy is about balancing costs and benefits. In this case, you need to know something about what mining waste does to waterways and in what quantities these effects occur, how much economic activity depends on being able to dump freely, how a decrease in mining activity would be made up for from other energy sources and how environmentally damaging those are, and on and on.

We suspect that most of those people expressing outrage lacked the detailed knowledge necessary to assess the policy. We also suspect that many in Congress who voted for the rollback were equally in the dark. But people seemed pretty confident.
The authors' bias is clear, but rather than epistocracy it's more the old argument for "a vital center", Arthur Schlesinger's managed mediocrity, adding only that Fernbach is a professor of marketing at a business school.
I may have linked to this before. I don't remember.

We're returning to the notion that knowledge is collective, not that the collective needs to be imposed on us but that it's constitutive of what we are. But the arguments are still anti-political, still trying to rise above politics rather than engage it. Jason Brennan is merely more explicit.  And the author at the New Republic is still more interested in theory than culture itself, as practice.

If knowledge is collective then politics is central, and the model is not Plato or Mill and Bentham and Weber but everything Plato opposed. Politics is an art.

I've quoted parts of what's below a dozen times by now but left out important parts, on this page if not elsewhere. He's writing in the late 1930s; so much has been lost.
I
Nine days before his death Immanuel Kant was visited by his physician. Old, ill and nearly blind, he rose from his chair and stood trembling with weakness and muttering unintelligible words. Finally his faithful companion realized that he would not sit down again until the visitor had taken a seat. This he did, and Kant then permitted himself to be helped to his chair and, after having regained some of his strength, said, ‘Das Gefühl für Humanität hat mich noch nicht verlassen’—’The sense of humanity has not yet left me’. The two men were moved almost to tears. For, though the word Humanität had come, in the eighteenth century, to mean little more than politeness and civility, it had, for Kant, a much deeper significance, which the circumstances of the moment served to emphasize: man’s proud and tragic consciousness of self-approved and self-imposed principles, contrasting with his utter subjection to illness, decay and all that implied in the word ‘mortality.’

Historically the word humanitas has had two clearly distinguishable meanings, the first arising from a contrast between man and what is less than man; the second between man and what is more. In the first case humanitas means a value, in the second a limitation.

The concept of humanitas as a value was formulated in the circle around the younger Scipio, with Cicero as its belated, yet most explicit spokesman. It meant the quality which distinguishes man, not only from animals, but also, and even more so, from him who belongs to the species homo without deserving the name of homo humanus; from the barbarian or vulgarian who lacks pietas and παιδεια- that is, respect for moral values and that gracious blend of learning and urbanity which we can only circumscribe by the discredited word "culture."

In the Middle Ages this concept was displaced by the consideration of humanity as being opposed to divinity rather than to animality or barbarism. The qualities commonly associated with it were therefore those of frailty and transience: humanitas fragilis, humanitas caduca.

Thus the Renaissance conception of humanitas had a two-fold aspect from the outset. The new interest in the human being was based both on a revival of the classical antithesis between humanitas and barbartias, or feritas, and on a survival of the mediaeval antithesis between humanitas and divinitas. When Marsilio Ficino defines man as a “rational soul participating in the intellect of God, but operating in a body,” he defines him as the one being that is both autonomous and finite. And Pico’s famous ‘speech’ ‘On the Dignity of Man’ is anything but a document of paganism. Pico says that God placed man in the center of the universe so that he might be conscious of where he stands, and therefore free to decide ‘where to turn.’ He does not say that man is the center of the universe, not even in the sense commonly attributed to the classical phrase, “man the measure of all things.”

It is from this ambivalent conception of humanitas that humanism was born. It is not so much a movement as an attitude which can be defined as the conviction of the dignity of man, based on both the insistence on human values (rationality and freedom) and the acceptance of human limitations (fallibility and frailty); from this two postulates result responsibility and tolerance.

Small wonder that this attitude has been attacked frorn two opposite camps whose common aversion to the ideas of responsibility and tolerance has recently aligned them in a united front. Entrenched in one of these camps are those who deny human values: the determinists, whether they believe in divine, physical or social predestination, the authoritarians, and those "insectolatrists" who profess the all-importance of the hive, whether the hive be called group, class, nation or race. In the other camp are those who deny human limitations in favor of some sort of intellectual or political libertinism, such as aestheticists, vitalists, intuitionists and hero-worshipers. From the point of view of determinism, the humanist is either a lost soul or an ideologist. From the point of view of authoritarianism, he is either a heretic or a revolutionary (or a counterrevolutionary). From the point of view of "insectolatry," he is a useless individualist. And from the point of view of libertinism he is a timid bourgeois.

Erasmus of Rotterdam, the humanist par excellence, is a typical case in point. The church suspected and ultimately rejected the writings of this man who had said: "Perhaps the spirit of Christ is more largely diffused than we think, and there are many in the community of saints who are not in our calendar." The adventurer Uhich von Hutten despised his ironical skepticism and his unheroic love of tranquillity. And Luther, who insisted that "no man has power to think anything good or evil, but everything occurs in him by absolute necessity," was incensed by a belief which manifested itself in the famous phrase; "What is the use of man as a totality [that is, of man endowed with both a body and a soul], if God would work in him as a sculptor works in clay, and might just as well work in stone?"

II
The humanist, then, rejects authority. But he respects tradition. Not only does he respect it, he looks upon, it as upon something real and objective which has to be studied and, if necessary, reinstated: "nos vetera instauramus, nova non prodimus" as Erasmus puts it. ["we are reviving the old, without betraying the new."]

The Middle Ages accepted and developed rather than studied and restored the heritage of the past. They copied classical works of art and used Aristotle and Ovid much as they copied and used the works of contemporaries. They made no attempt to interpret them from an archaeological, philological or "critical" in short, from an historical, point of view. For, if human existence could be thought of as a means rather than an end, how much less could the records of human activity be considered as values in themselves.

In mediaeval scholasticism there is, therefore, no basic distinction between natural science and what we call the humanities, studia humaniora, to quote again an Erasmian phrase. The practice of both, so far as it was carried on at all, remained within the framework of what was called philosophy. From the humanistic point of view, however, it became reasonable, and even inevitable, to distinguish, within the realm of creation, between the sphere of nature and the sphere of culture, and to define the former with reference to the latter. ie., nature as the whole world accessible to the senses, except for the records left by man.

Man is indeed the only animal to leave records behind him, for he is the only animal whose products "recall to mind" an idea distinct from their material existence. Other animals use signs and contrive structures, but they use signs without "perceiving the relation of signification,  and they contrive structures without perceiving the relation of construction.

To perceive the relation of signification is to separate the idea of the concept to be expressed from the means of expression. And to perceive the relation of construction is to separate the idea of the function to be fulfilled from the means of fulfilling it. A dog announces the approach of a stranger by a bark quite different from that by which he makes known his wish to go out. But he will not use this particular bark to convey the idea that a stranger has called during the absence of his master. Much less will an animal, even if it were physically able to do so, as apes indubitably are, ever attempt to represent anything in a picture. Beavers build dams. But they are unable, so far as we know, to separate the very complicated actions involved from a premeditated plan which might be laid down in a drawing instead of being materialized in logs and stones.