Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Manic specialization is less intellect than symptom. It's a sign of desperation, having less to do with and interest in the complexity of the world than with a fixation on the complexity of the self.
Going back to recent comments and then farther: its more than adversarialism, what's necessary is divided loyalty. The new model of intellectual life is of the individual and the specialist, and the new model of democracy is the wisdom of crowds: the bundling of monads. But you won't understand the importance of conflict in itself [as such] if you don't have conflicts within yourself [don't recognize that they exist]. And the logic of specialization and atomization almost literally runs away from such awareness, encouraging a simplified telos that can only be countered by the telos of another. That's the dumbing down of intellectual life, its redefinition as unidirectional desire and as monomania and geekdom. And the ideal of the intellectual or citizen as technician finds it's parallel in the the ideal of soldier as technician of violence.

Divided loyalty is the definition of moral responsibility and full adulthood in a democracy. Lawyers are loyal to both their clients and to each other, to the justice system. Soldiers in the army must see themselves as both servants of military authority and free citizens. Citizens are loyal both to themselves and their community. The model of unidirectional telos is the logic of classical economics and the Chicago school but also of Noam Chomsky. It would be nice for someone to do a study of Chomsky and the theory of rational action. I've probably said that before. I've said almost all of this before.
Technicians are not paid to be curious but competent. Hyper-competency is not a value it's a surrogate.

note taking
Interesting that Shalizi refers to free market theory to defend the artificial manipulation of the academy.
Also of course the reference to markets presumes that markets are foundational. “Diversity of heuristics and perspectives tends to be linked to diversity of values and interests.” That’s a case for strengthening or reinforcing those systems that counter the market. There are those who say that individualism itself does not need a counter-force, but they would have to document the degree to which individuals are actual free agents, and so far the reach of that argument has far exceeded its grasp. In the meantime individualism can not counter itself.

There are two questions involved here: how to do things well, and what to do. Diversity and democracy are concerned with both. In the long run that requires not an understanding of complex systems but of the fact of overlapping and conflicting, even mutually exclusive complex systems: the definition of “consciousness”
and again
An another note returning to the discussion of Doormen. I looked through the book today and I'd guessed right. Aside from the mannerisms of social scientist as naif [is this supposed to imply objectivity?] he has no knowledge of the history of the city, and history is context. He makes some vague reference to the racial mix among doormen, but that’s it. The upper west side was built, literally to mirror the UES where wealthy Jews were not welcome (and in some buildings still may not be) Also my experience [as a workman in manhattan] is that the racial mix among the population of doormen on the UES is majority ethnic white. I’ve asked around and others I’ve worked with are of the same opinion. I’m willing to bet the author’s data would show the same thing, if he'd bothered to run the numbers.
But he didn't
"...the mannerisms of social scientist as naif" There's a whole book in that one.

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