Sunday, February 19, 2006

A little fun with a high school science geek. It's rough but WTF (update: three comments for my records)
I wish Wieseltier had done a better job but Dennett's a purblind fucking idiot. With that in mind:
Why do you insist on arguing logic with priests? Priests begin from their definition of all meaning being social. They argue not only from tradition but from the moral imperatives of tradition: you arguing that blood cannot become wine is irrelevant. And yet you and Dennett wonder why you can't convince the faithful? That's simply illogical.

You're more interested in the world than in perception, but then perception is how we experience the world. Computers don't perceive, animals do, and you're an animal. Those of us who are observant animals- who do not therefore pretend to be machines- pay close attention to and question ourselves, our motives and intentions. We try to remind ourselves to doubt, lest we begin to respond only out of reflex or habit. Scientists are not science any more than policemen are the law. Dennett doesn't understand that simple fact and Wieseltier doesn't respond to that arrogant stupidity clearly enough. But he's right.

Science does not explain Brian Leiter's fixation on academic social status or his unwillingness to respond to the blatant contradictions between his semi-leftist politics and his dedication to the academic priesthood. He's a Nietzschean snob. His tastes and manner define him more than his 'philosophical ideas.'
Why is Brad DeLong so god damn phobic of anything that has to do with Noam Chomsky, when the have so much in common? Delong's responses are frankly irrational. He goes off like a loon. Science can't explain that. Or perhaps it can, but it's not a science that we have access to.

Try to explain out loud to yourself why we defend the rule of law and not of men. Laws are nothing but traditions written on parchment. Why not just have people like you or Dennett make decisions for us? Why go through all this absurd ritual? Since lawyers are nothing but amoral craftsmen (and con men) why not have scientists debate among themselves to resolve court cases?
Think about what the rule "of law" means and why we have it.
Then go back and take a high school literature class.
Philosophy is for adults son. Grow the fuck up,
and we can talk.
John C. Halasz "[Religion is] a socio-cultural phenomenon and it's not obvious that it requires or is amenible to natural-scientific explanation."

All functions of society are socio-cultural phenomena and one cannot simply use one such function to analyze another. Or rather one can argue for a scientific explanation of religious belief but that will never eliminate its roots in our animal tendency to pattern thought based on previous experience. My point about Leiter is that the tastes and manners that precondition his contradictory arguments are the equivalent of faith.

The laws of science are not socio-cultural phenomena, but the uses to which science is put are. What atheist humanists and religionists both are offended by in Dennett's form of secular anti-humanism is the putting forth of the tools od science as themselves answers to questions of morality. But his claims to observational clrity are belied by the fact that he can't realize that religion only concerns itself marginally with the study of the world: it's primary interest is in law and social order. To hear him lecturing the faithful is akin to listening to a mathematician lecture fans of literature for reading lies.
"What's with you people. Don't you know, stories aren't real!!?"

The defense of religion is the defense of social order. Dennett argues that science can displace that order- displacing an order of language with one of number- and be both moral and just. But the activity of scientists- as opposed to the "laws" of science- is a social activity and as much an order of language as is religion or a court of law. Human beings experience life as a function of a social reality. We do no experience the world as number and computers do not 'experience' the world at all.

Religion is not the problem, it is those who claim unmediated access to the 'real' world whether the world of numbers or of gods. Dennett makes Nino Scalia's arguments for clarity and order but bases them on science rather than Catholic doctrine.
The myth of a unipolar consciousness "I say what I mean and I mean what I say" is as American as Henry Ford and 'can-do' anti-intellectualism. And of course, the parallel to Dennett is not Scalia but Posner's Law and Economics. And Posner and Leiter are buddies of course.
But the rule of law is not the rule of reason; we choose the former because the latter is impossible. Dennett attacks not only religion but language itself; language which can not escape ambiguity.
Under the rule of reason, if it were possible, no one would ever get off on a technicality.

I looked up the Dr. Seuss reference just to make sure I was right, and look what I found: "A plea for the Humanities." by another Seth too!
I guess god must be smiling on me today.

update: DeLong eliminates comments on this item.

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