Friday, July 13, 2012

"The sociology of modern knowledge production empowers the scholar over the humanist, and the collective / communal enterprise of scholarship over the inspiration of the individual thinker."

Tying things together. The implications of the liberal/technocratic model of intellectualism.
Jodi Rudoren
NAZARETH, Israel — Three young Palestinian women sat on the floor at a summer camp this week surrounded by Legos and 3-year-olds. As the toddlers played, the women taught them the color of each block, repeating the words in Arabic, azrak for blue or akhdar for green.

But the seemingly simple scene here in the Galilee was actually caught up in some of the most contentious issues confronting Israeli society: How do Arabs reconcile their identity as citizens of a Jewish state? What is the appropriate role for a growing Arab minority in a state determined to be democratic and Jewish?
Even the idiots at Crooked Timber will have to face the obvious at some point. They could never bring themselves to write that last sentence, but they've never had to. The basic facts haven't changed much in 60 years, but it's taken that long for "objective reality" to find its way into "our" discourse.

What is the appropriate role for a growing Turkish minority in a state determined to be democratic and German?

"Liberalism" as an ideology and program is not synonymous with liberalism as a mode of behavior. Practice precedes theory; Sophocles did not read Aristotle.
Beinart: I'm not asking Israel to be Utopian... I'm not even asking it to allow full, equal citizenship to Arab Israelis, since that would require Israel no longer being a Jewish state. I'm actually pretty willing to compromise my liberalism for Israel's security and for its status as a Jewish state.
The asshole Shalizi from the the first time around. I'll include the quote from Batuman.
"Adventures of a Man of Science", Elif Batuman’s wonderfully-titled review of Graphs, Maps, Trees in n+1 magazine, is a quite nice essay but it also provides what looks like a typical example of the kind of mere plausibility I have in mind:
Perhaps the Holmes stories are not half-baked versions of the “correct” mystery story, but a different kind of mystery story, wherein the nondecodability of clues is not a bug, but a feature. Conan Doyle was writing during the conquest of England by industry and rationalism; perhaps his readers wanted stories about the kinds of magic that are possible within the constraints of science. Holmes categorically rejects the supernatural, not in order to show that the new, rational rules preclude magic, but in order to show that you can still have magic even if you play by the rules. Decodable clues came a “generation” later, with Agatha Christie and the first World War, and became more rigorous after the second—by which time readers wanted to be reminded that the world was still rational. [pp. 146--147]
First of all, it seems bizarre to say that Britain was being conquered by “industry and rationalism” in the 1890s, long after the scientific revolution, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution and all its social consequences, utilitarianism, etc. (Indeed, Mr. Lecky might want to have a few words...)
It gets worse as he goes on.

Fantasies of engineered utopia came of age only in the 20th century; Max Weber died in 1920; and in the age of Google, we have "steam punks". Shalizi is too arrogant and too stupid to imagine himself as part of a history, even as he and all his friends read nostalgic comic books.


Richard Lewontin, a scientist not a statistician, quotes Conan Doyle
“But the Solar System!” I protested.
“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently: “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or my work.”
Serendipity: a recent visitor reminds me of an earlier discussion of Carlin Romano, debating Jason Stanley, at Leiter's. I made a few comments, one of which was allowed in. Part of my response to Marcus Stanley, beginning with his own words, words that could have been written by Shalizi.
"The sociology of modern knowledge production empowers the scholar over the humanist, and the collective/communal enterprise of scholarship over the inspiration of the individual thinker."

You have that precisely backwards. The humanist is embedded in culture by calling, the mathematician only by default, while embedded by choice in a private world of universals. What would you call the communal enterprise of neoclassical formal economics? Would you call it worldly or unworldly? Formal philosophy is formal economics with no need to ignore evidence.
It was M. Stanley's reference to sociology that reminded me of the obvious vis-a-vis Shalizi.

To go back to the top. How can we model the changes in society?
Ideological liberalism, based on the primacy of the theoretical, cannot model outside pressure. It doesn't even try. Models are from above and change comes from below. The fight for civil liberties, of ethnic minorities, women and sexual and social minorities was not led from above. The new vogue for theories from above, from Bruno Latour to the "expanded mind" hypothesis, are all models of a benign authority embodying elements of the world outside itself.
As a model of liberalism it's a model for hypocrisy.
update: I should add a link to this

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