Saturday, May 08, 2010

An object lesson.
John Quiggin "The discussions here and elsewhere on agnotology/epistemic closure have established the existence of a set of mechanisms on the right for propagating ignorance and protecting it against factual refutation. These mechanisms have some obvious benefits, particularly in mobilising resistance against policy innovations, and tribal solidarity against outsiders of all kinds." 
John Mearsheimer "The story I will tell is straightforward. Contrary to the wishes of the Obama administration and most Americans – to include many American Jews – Israel is not going to allow the Palestinians to have a viable state of their own in Gaza and the West Bank. Regrettably, the two-state solution is now a fantasy. Instead, those territories will be incorporated into a “Greater Israel,” which will be an apartheid state bearing a marked resemblance to white-ruled South Africa. Nevertheless, a Jewish apartheid state is not politically viable over the long term. In the end, it will become a democratic bi-national state, whose politics will be dominated by its Palestinian citizens. In other words, it will cease being a Jewish state, which will mean the end of the Zionist dream."
Not a new point but becoming more popular because over time more obviously true. The two-state solution was always a racist one—liberal ethnic separatism is still an oxymoron—but it might have worked. You'll never understand how reason slips into unreason unless you can imagine yourself slipping. Quiggin's arrogance is laughable, more than that it's obscene: blithe superiority is a form of moral passivity. He's not thinking he's assuming, and since this was pointed out to him, politely at first, he's now lying, to himself and then everyone else.


  1. belle le triste8:22 AM

    SE, yr Quine argument is too compact for the non-expert (=me) to follow as is: perhaps you have explained it longhand elsewhere but -- based on the extract you cite and then mock -- I'm not following which is the bit we should be mocking.

  2. belle le triste8:31 AM

    (Sorry to pursue the question here, where you're not directly discussing Quine, but I don;t know where else to talk to you uninterrupted!)

  3. "One effect of abandoning them is, as we shall see, a blurring of the supposed boundary between speculative metaphysics and natural science."

    We don't argue about the meanings of numbers.
    I've said this before: If I tell a woman I love her and my tone is whining and pleading, she'd be right in doubting my word. The "content" is what she perceives it to be. Wanting someone to love you is not loving them, and if whiners can't tell the difference their audience can.

    We communicate in perspectives on language in use and each of us is the audience of others. Perspectives are substantive as much as experience is constitutive. Conservatives and idealists deny the existence of perspectives, but the data says they're wrong. Is it necessary for women to have positions in politics and policy-making for their interests to be represented? Are experts as such enough? The answer obviously is 'No'. What does that say about academic philosophy of 'reason'? What does it say about Quinean empiricism? The Best and Brightest thought they were empiricists too. The Vietnamese thought otherwise. And Quine's rationalist weakening of empiricism, "blurring the boundaries" by way of hypertrophied reason brought us closer to the defense of economics as formal science.

    The knife for the Gordian knot of a teenage boy's misery is a girl's contempt, for Quiggin's arrogance it's Palestinian anger. Both are grounded in perspectives and experience, not absolutes, but you can't debate what you ignore, and ignoring evidence is not empiricism.


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