Friday, August 31, 2007

Sounding a bit pompous, but still...
"Confident rationalists are at best an annoying bunch. At worst they’re a threat to the republic."
And someone, who I agree with a lot, responds:
"President Bush shares your sentiments. As does Ayatollah Khomeini."

A community of people may build a formally consistent social sytem founded on nothing more than shared assumptions, and label it "rational scientific secularism." It's up to others to point out that its just bourgeois.
Nothing ever changes.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

note taking. posted (by me) elsewhere:

A "serious" university education should not be based upon assumed foundations. The incorporation of the research model into the humanities means that the humanities are now governed by a (spurious) foundationalism. We all know what we value, there's no need to question it. Academic rationalism whether in economics or philosophy is pseudoscience predicated on the desire for neat and tidy order. Chomskian linguistics, Posnerite economics and scholastic philosophy all come from the same source. And even people who think the American press sucks dream of an ideal world where the press is rational and objective.
Transcendental logic. the method of discovery for the mind, was to become also the method of evolution in nature and history. Transcendental method, so abused, became transcendental myth. A conscientious critique of knowledge was turned into a sham system of nature. We must therefore distinguish sharply the transcendental grammar of the intellect, which is significant and potentially correct, from the various transcendental systems of the universe which are chimeras.
It's all well and good, in fact it makes perfect sense, to recognize that all perception begins with the self. It makes no sense at all the think that the self is therefore the center of the universe.
Liberalism, as neoliberalism, has become no more or less than the institutionalization of optimism, cribbed from the sciences and transformed into the joy of an autistic child staring at the rotating motion of a window fan.
Why question it if it makes you happy?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

note taking/record keeping:

Religious fundamentalists view all questions through the lens of their simplistic moral philosophy. Libertarians and other market fundamentalists think moral philosophy pointless to discuss since all questions have been resolved already. The two fundamentalisms were born to mirror each other. But arguing with someone about the meaning of the words on a page whether that page is from the bible or the constitution leads eventually to conversation and compromise. it may take a while, even decades but it happens. Arguing with someone who claims to have reason on their side cuts off all contact.
Posner’s utilitarianism is more dangerous than the rantings of all but the most apocalyptic of our religious fanatics. Restrictive social roles can be and always are relaxed over time. Posner’s philosophy is anti-social, it has nowhere to go. And Cowen and Tabarrok are two of the most offensively unsophisticated minds that I have ever come across: offensive only in that they imagine themselves to be sophisticated, and dangerous in that as with Posner so many others agree with them.

I’m actually almost optimistic that a secularizing and modern Islam will bring a rigorously argumentative kick to this debate. Islam is or will be the new judaism in western intellectual life. Fundamentalist christianity is anti-intellectual by comparison.

“both libertarians and statists”
That’s the popular dichotomy but it’s not that useful; both assume a natural individualism that requires liberty or restraint. On the other hand anarchism, socialism and social democracy all assume the constitutive base of the social. That division is also the basis [I’ll make this brief since I say it all the time] of the division between Anglo American and “Continental” thought. The popularity of libertarianism in the/our academy says a lot about the unwillingness or inability of people to imagine themselves as products of their linguistic and political environment; Europeans and most other cultures take this for granted. American political intellectuals are so terrified of determinism that they refuse to see it as a category and refuse to recognize it. And our conservatism is absurdly contradictory, since it’s made of market liberals and religious reactionaries.
But in general Americans don’t see themselves as “Americans” though everyone else does That’s our problem. Libertarianism is just an extension of that logic.

I'll add here, since I'm reading and reading about Santayana: the American descriptions of his focus on individualism miss the point. His focus is on a European notion of the individual as a creature of the collective. The model of the scholar is of one who looks at others while seeing them as akin to himself, and who studies himself in them. The social "scientist" studies others as others, as foreign, again: contra argument as collective activity, contra craft and the art of judgment. The artist/poet even as individualist is the individual bound. The intellectual as autonomous is both a model of atomization and fallacy.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Arab Links

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

"You anti-war people have got to admit, Ignatieff has you nailed. You dumb-asses who were right about everything for the wrong reasons, instead of wrong about everything for the right reasons. You lose."

Monday, August 06, 2007

… But now we have another problem.

What is that?
What if we find out what makes each of us internally consistent? What if I find your proper name, that thing which describes exactly what you are?
Than I will always be honest, or predictable at least. And you will be able to interpret everything I say and never be wrong. And of course I’ll know your name as well.
No dishonesty, no subterfuge, no Freud, no art… Then we can all be logical positivists.
But it doesn’t matter. That dream’s irrelevant.
I want unification.
It’s an illusion.
I want the illusion.
Do you want the illusion or do you want the illusion to be real?
What’s the difference?
One means that you have an appreciation of the arts. The other means that you’re a fascist.

Just to add there's something telling in the failure of people to understand the importance of unresolved contradiction, in the arts and elsewhere. And the criticisms of epiphenomenalism from the the standpoint of natural selection are almost obscene in their stupidity. We're constantly inventing narrative closure where none exists. It's called wishful thinking, and at its worst it's the definition of kitsch. At its best it's is what we call art. The professionalization of intellectual life and the banal assumptions of utilitarianism mean not that contradictions are overcome, but that they're denied. It's intellectually corrupt, politically it's bad shit and in general terms it's just stupid.
Tony Karon
Arab Links
Recent posts
Pan's Labyrinth. Posted elsewhere but expanded a bit. in most art the conclusion succeeds as an elision or a papering over of contradiction by means of rhetoric and sensibility and opposed to [that is denying the applicability of] the either/or of Aristotelian logic.

How does one do justice to the pleasure and even the need for fantasy in a world of cruel political reality? How do you defend intellectual awareness while defending dreams? How do you respect the dreams of a child, and the child herself, while taking seriously the obligations of adulthood? Guillermo del Toro allows us an emotionally satisfying acceptance of contradiction.
It’s the only fantasy movie I’ve seen recently, and definitely the only one full of special effects wizardry, that’s actually made for adults.

Reading Chomsky and Searle on Chomsky (from 1971). Amazing how Chomsky's extremist rationalism parallels that of Posner and the Chicago school. A brittle brilliance, a very specific branch and subset of Judaic secularism. And C. as I said recently is known mostly in the wider world for his rigorously empirical news reporting. In the long run it's all he's good for.

I may write something later. Note the franchise owner is South Asian also that the article is about Brooklyn and not Queens. Actually, that's all there is to say, you can infer the rest.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I'm not in the mood to explain much.
My YouTube page is growing.

From tape #1 1985, Blue Skull

Friday, August 03, 2007

Klaus Nomi sings Purcell

What power art thou, who from below
Hast made me rise unwillingly and slow
From beds of everlasting snow?
See'st thou not how stiff and wondrous old,
Far unfit to bear the bitter cold,
I can scarcely move or draw my breath?
Let me, let me freeze again to death.