Thursday, July 16, 2020

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."



Jilani is on a first name basis with Bari Weiss, and with Ungar-Sargon. Rationalists rationalize
"universal norms", in polite society.  Rationalists vs empiricists, philosophers vs lawyers, anti-politics vs politics: math is clean; language is dirty. Jilani thinks Chomsky won. He didn't. But Foucault couldn't see beyond the romance of irrationalism and individualism. He's still a philosopher, a neoliberal an ironic inquisitor fantasizing an extended mind.

Adversarialism is partial consciousness, divided-consciousness. Du Bois' double-consciousness isn't a problem; it's a necessity. Lawyers are paid not to care if their client is guilty. Their job is to represent their interests.  Frederick Douglass was a supporter of John Brown. I'll take Iran over Israel and Soliemani over Henry Kissinger. And the US almost certainly signed off on the UAE deal. Jilani is the loyal opposition. I'm betting his father was a cop, ex-US military or both.

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FOUCAULT:
But I would merely like to reply to your first sentence, in which you said that if you didn’t consider the war you make against the police to be just, you wouldn’t make it.

I would like to reply to you in terms of Spinoza and say that the proletariat doesn’t wage war against the ruling class because it considers such a war to be just. The proletariat makes war with the ruling class because, for the first time in history, it wants to take power. And because it will overthrow the power of the ruling class it considers such
a war to be just.

CHOMSKY:
Yeah, I don’t agree.

FOUCAULT:
One makes war to win, not because it is just.

CHOMSKY:
I don’t, personally, agree with that.

For example, if I could convince myself that attainment of power by the proletariat would lead to a terrorist police state, in which freedom and dignity and decent human relations would be destroyed, then I wouldn’t want the proletariat to take power. In fact the only reason for wanting any such thing, I believe, is because one thinks, rightly or wrongly, that some fundamental human values will be achieved by that transfer of power.
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In the past seven years, S.S.C. has become perhaps the premier public-facing venue of the “rationalist” community, a group of loosely affiliated writers and respondents who first coalesced, in the mid-two-thousands, on sites dedicated to the prospect that, with training and effort, our natural cognitive biases can be overcome. Many of these people work in or around Silicon Valley—as mathematicians, programmers, or computer scientists—and their common interests tend to include artificial intelligence, transhumanism, an appreciation for the subtleties of statistical thinking, and the effective-altruism movement.

Alexander’s role in the community is difficult to encapsulate—an e-book of his collected S.S.C. posts runs to about nine thousand pages—but one might credit him with two crowning contributions. First, he has been instrumental in the evolution of the community’s self-image, helping to shape its members’ understanding of themselves not as merely a collection of individuals with shared interests and beliefs but as a mature subculture, one with its own jargon, inside jokes, and pantheon of heroes. Second, he more than anyone has defined and attempted to enforce the social norms of the subculture, insisting that they distinguish themselves not only on the basis of data-driven argument and logical clarity but through an almost fastidious commitment to civil discourse. (As he puts it, “liberalism conquers by communities of people who agree to play by the rules.”) If one of the bedrock beliefs in Silicon Valley is that the future ought to be determined by a truly free market in ideas, one emancipated from the influence of institutional incumbents and untainted by the existing ideological polarities, Slate Star Codex is often held up as an example of what the well-behaved Internet can look like—a secret orchard of fruitful inquiry.

Alexander’s appeal elicited an instant reaction from members of the local intelligentsia in Silicon Valley and its satellite principalities. Within a few days, a petition collected more than six thousand signatories, including the cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker, the economist Tyler Cowen, the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, the cryptocurrency oracle Vitalik Buterin, the quantum physicist David Deutsch, the philosopher Peter Singer, and the OpenAI C.E.O. Sam Altman. Much of the support Alexander received was motivated simply by a love for his writing. The blogger Scott Aaronson, a professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote, “In my view, for SSC to be permanently deleted would be an intellectual loss on the scale of, let’s say, John Stuart Mill or Mark Twain burning their collected works.”

...Alexander has described himself as an “asexual heteroromantic,” and has also practiced polyamory, which is mentioned on the blog, and lives in some form of intentional community. He takes an annual survey of his readership and frequently reports on the patterns he discovers, especially when they diverge from expectations. “The average IQ is in the 130s,” he wrote, in 2016. “White men are overrepresented, but so are LGBT and especially transgender people.”

On the blog, Alexander strives to set an example as a sensitive, respectful, and humane interlocutor, and even in its prolixity his work is never boring; the fiction is delightfully weird and the arguments are often counterintuitive and brilliant. He has frequently allowed that a previous position he’s taken is wrong—his views of trans people are a major example—and has contributed to the understanding, among people who like to be right about everything, that the gracious acceptance of one’s own error (or “failure mode”) ought to be regarded as a high-status move rather than something to be stigmatized. Alexander’s terminal commitment, he has said repeatedly, is to the “principle of charity,” a technical term he has borrowed, from the analytic philosophers W. V. O. Quine and Donald Davidson, and slightly repurposed to mean, as Alexander once put it, “if you don’t understand how someone could possibly believe something as stupid as they do, that this is more likely a failure of understanding on your part than a failure of reason on theirs.”

Many rationalist exchanges involve lively if donnish arguments about abstruse thought experiments; the most famous, and funniest, example, from LessWrong, led inexorably to the conclusion that anyone who read the post and did not immediately set to work to create a superintelligent A.I. would one day be subject to its torture. Others reflect a near-pathological commitment to the reinvention of the wheel, using the language of game theory to explain, with mathematical rigor, some fact of social life that anyone trained in the humanities would likely accept as a given. A minority address issues that are contentious and at times offensive. These conversations, about race and genetic or biological differences between the sexes, have rightfully drawn criticism from outsiders. Rationalists usually point out that these debates represent a tiny fraction of the community’s total activity, and that they are overrepresented in the comments section of S.S.C. by a small but loud and persistent cohort—one that includes, for example, Steve Sailer, a peddler of “scientific racism.”

...The mind-set of logical serenity, for all of the rationalists’ talk of “skin in the game” and their inclination to heighten every argument with a proposition bet, only obtains as long as their discussions feel safely confined to the realm of what they regard, consciously or otherwise, as sport. The sheer volume of Alexander’s output can make it hard to say anything overly categorical (epistemic status: treading carefully), but there is some evidence to support the idea that he, like anyone, is wont to sacrifice rigor in moments of passion. (The rationalists might describe the relationship as inversely proportional.) One of Alexander’s most notorious essays was a thirteen-thousand-word screed called “Untitled,” a defense of Scott Aaronson, the Austin computer scientist and rationalist fellow-traveller. Aaronson had written that the charge of “male privilege” obscures and demeans the suffering of nerds in the sexual marketplace, and had been subject to online scorn by some Internet feminists. Alexander, moved to anger by Aaronson’s plight, rebukes the feminists. 
What's not mentioned in the piece: Aaronson writes that guilt made him once consider medical castration as a cure. The link also includes Aaron Swartz.

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Senior investment bankers don't care what others think of them and don't see their work as part of their identities, according to a study from Queen Mary University of London.

While many of us search for meaning in our professional lives, none of the bankers interviewed for the study attached any personal value to their work. Instead, the ambition to make money allowed the interviewees to effectively bypass any concerns about incompatibility between their work activities and sense of self.

So extreme was this disassociation that the researchers invented a new term: teflonic identity manoeuvring, a process to avoid any difficult encounters or experiences 'sticking'.

Each of the six investment bankers were interviewed between 10 and 12 times, over an 18 month period.

Co-author Professor Maxine Robertson, based at QMUL's School of Business and Management, comments: "Investment bankers work in difficult, demanding and often sexist environments. We'd expect to find at least some evidence of anxiety, concern about being 'out of sync' with one's values, and discomfort among women with displays of overt sexism.

In fact, we found none of these things. The group was entirely immune from any association between their personal identity and their work. We found that making money, and the motivation of making more, relegated other issues to the point of insignificance."
Rationalism against empiricism.
"Eosphoros elsewhere identifies her/himself as a "Trans Mexican" and as a "White Mexican."
On Storify: "I Literally Do Not Understand Non-Utilitarian Morality" 
at the link: the videographer at Mizzou who screamed about free speech is autistic, racist, and later came out as trans.

Trannies and incels are rationalists. Fascism is utopian. Utopias are fascist.
In the end it all dovetails. It always will.

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