Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The "Smart" and the "Folk"

File under pathology (spot the dissonance, etc.)
Two from Leiter.

1- On the "smart"
A nicely written essay by Rick Perlstein. 
Perlstein: On the liberal cult of the cognitive elite
Now I better understand why: often, the cult of “smart” is a superstition. In LBJ’s time, to believe in it was “abnormal.” Now, that belief is collective—quite nearly unanimous. Which doesn’t make things easier for the Democrats pushing the ideology of cognitive elitism most assiduously. “Why do working-class Bush voters tend to resent intellectuals more than they do the rich?” David Graeber asked in 2007. “It seems to me the answer is simple. They can imagine a scenario in which they might become rich but cannot possibly imagine one in which they, or any of their children, would become members of the intelligentsia.” 
For if you’re not a part of the intelligentsia, well, how can you possibly make the world better for your existence in it? This frustration, however, is precisely what makes perfectly decent people, whose only sin is that a self-arrogated cognitive elite doesn’t consider them particularly useful, such easy pickings for political con men who assure them that they’re actually the smart ones. And that, all in all, is not very smart.
2- Psychologists who study "happiness" use a concept unrecognizable to the folk
Joshua Knobe (Yale) discusses
CORRECTION: This piece is written by Prof. Knobe's co-author, Jonathan Phillips, who took a PhD in philosophy and psychology at Yale, and is a currently a post-doc at Harvard. (Thanks to Bob Gamboa for the correction.)
Start by imagining a man named Tom:
Tom always enjoys his job as a janitor at a local community college. What he likes most about his job is how it gives him a chance to meet the young female students who are attending the community college. Almost every single day Tom feels good and generally experiences a lot of pleasant emotions. In fact, it is very rare that he would ever feel negative emotions like sadness or loneliness. When Tom thinks about his life, he always comes to the same conclusion: he feels highly satisfied with the way he lives.
The reason Tom feels this way is that every day he goes from locker to locker and steals belongings from the students and re-sells these belongings to buy himself alcohol. Each night as he's going to sleep, he thinks about the things he will steal the next day.
Now ask yourself about what Tom feels like: Does Tom feel bad? Does he feel satisfied with what he's doing? Does he feel good? 
Okay, regardless of what you thought about those questions. Now just ask yourself this: Is Tom happy? 
If you’re anything like the participants in our studies in a new paper in the Jouurnal of Experimental Psychology: General, the answer to these two kinds of questions will come apart. People tend to agree that Tom feels good and is satisfied, but at the same time, they don't agree that he is happy. This seems to suggest that people think there’s more to being happy than just feeling good. Perhaps to truly be happy, you also have to be good.

What’s striking about this pattern of judgments is that it suggests ordinary people think about happiness in a way that contradicts the definition that is widely used by scientists. For scientists who research and measure happiness (or politicians who make policy decisions based on increasing happiness), being happy is nothing more than the combination of feeling good and being satisfied — it really doesn't matter why you feel that way.

To investigate why people’s judgments about happiness were being influenced by whether or not the person was living a morally bad life, we conducted a number of further studies.
The title of the paper: "True Happiness: The Role of Morality in the Folk Concept of Happiness."

The first sentence of the abstract
Recent scientific research has settled on a purely descriptive definition of happiness that is focused solely on agents’ psychological states (high positive affect, low negative affect, high life satisfaction). In contrast to this understanding, recent research has suggested that the ordinary concept of happiness is also sensitive to the moral value of agents’ lives.
"This research was supported by an Office of Naval Research Grant..."

The inability to intuit even one's own sense of the world. The shallow passivity of false "objectivity" It's either autism or pseudo-autism. The "folk"

Knobe now has his own tag.

"all of us are most people most of the time"

"The President and Other Intellectuals" again,
"Had not fully appreciated until now how much the relentless American drive for optimism resembles abject denial."

"The American has got to destroy. It is his destiny"

Perlstein is a proud defender of Humphrey.

"Norman Sherman's idea of fun is attending a political convention. He has been active in liberal politics since before he could vote, often as a ghostwriter and editor of speeches and books.
His story describes a life working for Minnesota political leaders: Governors Orville Freeman and Karl Rolvaag, Congressman Don Fraser, Senators Wendell Anderson, Eugene McCarthy, Walter Mondale and Hubert Humphrey. He was press secretary to Vice President Humphrey, including during the 1968 campaign, and edited Humphrey's autobiography. He began his working career as an instructor in humanities at the University of Minnesota and ended it as a professor in the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University. He describes the world of politics with good humor and grace."

My mother said she divorced him because he had no sense of the tragedy of life.

"They are not intellectuals, but occasionally dream that they will be. That is their secret ambition. "

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