Saturday, June 02, 2012

one, two, threefour

To add something to the previous post
I haven't read Hayek and see no reason why I should. Ironically/predictably he's taken as the master planner of non-planning, and the title itself describes the problem. It's absurd to talk about him as if he were the first to point to the inevitability of partial knowledge when that understanding is foundational to humanism. But again its important to remember that academic philosophers define humanism one way and historians another.

Philosophers make propositions before they ask questions. Interested in "truths" they search for laws and claim authority if only as the servants of a higher one. But historians and practicing lawyers know what most philosophers and all too often legal scholars choose to forget: democracy is procedural. Claims of truth are secondary to rules of process, less out of respect for individual freedom than as a function of a mode of enquiry founded on distrust both of people and assumption. Arguments for free speech are predicated less on morality than the evidence of history: better too much speech than not enough.

It took me some time to realize how shocked I was when I began reading about free speech as something the state should allow rather than something the state should not be allowed to restrict. As I said about Tushnet
It says something about the decline of this country that a specialist in Middle East Studies writing about Kuwait gives a better defense of free speech than a professor of American constitutional law does writing about The U.S.
You do not not need Hayek's simple inversions of vulgar assumption to understand the complexity of social life. And a return to humanism will not be lead by anti-humanists or helped by Cosma Shalizi's discovery of Sweden.

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