Wednesday, October 28, 2020

You can't always get what you want

I'm not sure why I called her a sociopath. I guess I just had to up the ante. She's obviously autistic. Leiter says "you've never seen anything like it". A lot of people have, but I was so annoyed I missed the obvious. It's almost comic that a non-autistic academic should be discovering the richness of the stimulus alongside a woman with a cognitive disability. Like a seeing person learning to appreciate vision alongside a blind woman slowly regaining some level of sight. As a narrative it could be lovely, but as philosophy it's absurd. Wittgenstein's desperate formalisms were part and parcel of fin de siècle Vienna. Callard belongs with Leiter, G.A. Cohen, Cowen and the rest. But I've added the Robert Wilson tag.

Leiter: philosophy and autism; philosophy and sociopathy.

And again. This time Leiter links to Cowen 

COWEN: Let’s turn now to your new book, Aspiration: The Agency of Becoming. There’s a sentence from the book. Let me read it, and maybe you can explain it. “Proleptic reasons allow you to be rational even when you know that your reasons aren’t exactly the right ones.” What’s a proleptic reason?

CALLARD: What I’m trying to explain is, how do people get themselves to care about things that they don’t yet care about? Suppose that you want to come to appreciate a certain kind of music — that’s the example I use in the book — more than you do.

Then there’s the question, why should you do that? Why should you take the music appreciation class? You might say, well, the value of music. Classical music is this great thing, but you don’t see it as valuable, presumably. That’s why you have to take a class.

So there’s a kind of paradox that would suggest we should never try to get ourselves interested or into new things because, in order to have a reason to do that, we’d already have to have the interest. 

Proleptic reasons are supposed to solve this problem. They are the reasons that you act on when you are working your way into a new domain of value. What I say characterizes these reasons is that they have two faces. They’re kind of divided. They have two parts.

The one part is like if you were to say, “What’s your reason? Why are you taking this class?” You might say, “Well, the intrinsic value of classical music is one of the great goods that our civilization has produced.” Something like that.

But when you say that, your words are going to be a little bit hollow. If they ask you to say more, you won’t be able to say much. That’s not all of your reason. That’s what I call the distal face of your reason, the face that looks away to the person you’re going to become.

But then there are also going to be bits of your motivation that are a little more embarrassing, like, “A bunch of people I admire are in the class.” Or “I think that people will like me more.” “I have some ideal of, or some image or some fantasy of, a kind of enriched life, and I see classical music as part of that.” I think those are also parts. That’s the proximate face of the proleptic reason, the part that you can now grasp. But you can see that that’s not all of it.

Again Leiter: Callard and Paul win a prize. "Personal Transformation and Practical Reason"

The twists some people have to go through to justify curiosity, and the fact that they're influenced by the choices of others. 

there are also going to be bits of your motivation that are a little more embarrassing, like, “A bunch of people I admire are in the class". 

"embarrassing" Some people are interested in mathematics. Maybe I should find out why.

Callard, Aspiration: The Agency of Becoming, OUP, 2018 (my underlining)

Becoming someone is a learning process; and what we learn are the new values around which, if we succeed, our lives will come to turn. Agents transform themselves in the process of, e.g., becoming parents, embarking on careers, or acquiring a passion for music or politics. How can such activity be rational if the reason for engaging in the relevant pursuit is available only to the person one will become? How is it psychologically possible to feel the attraction of a form of concern that is not yet one’s own? How can the work done to arrive at the finish line be ascribed to one who doesn’t (really) know what she is doing or why she is doing it? These questions belong to the theory of aspiration. Aspirants are motivated by proleptic reasons, reasons they acknowledge to be defective versions of the reasons they expect to eventually grasp. The psychology of such a transformation is marked by intrinsic conflict between aspirants’ old point of view on value and the one they are trying to acquire. They cannot adjudicate this conflict by deliberating or choosing or deciding—rather, they resolve it by working to see the world in a new way. This work has a teleological structure: by modeling herself on the person she is trying to be, the aspirant brings that person into being. Because it is open to us to engage in an activity of self-creation, we are responsible for having become the kinds of people we are.

Life is responding to events. People transform themselves because they're forced to. Agents are transformed. Adapt or die. Positivist pseudoscience is based on anti-scientific priors.  

L.A. Paul and the discovery of experience

"It is no secret that contemporary philosophy is under the spell of the Other." 

The desperate, pathological, need for there to be a "rational, single self"

The false distinction between cognitive and affective. Computers have no desires.  The subject came up yesterday.

“Well, the intrinsic value of classical music is one of the great goods that our civilization has produced.”

Classical music is man-made form, in a natural medium within physical and cultural parameters.  An intelligent little green man from Mars would find more of interest in Bach than in most philosophy, and not just because of the math. Aesthetics is such a stupid, useless fucking word.

Everything is nonsense. The history of nonsense is scholarship.

Science is the study of facts and philosophy the study of values. Conflating the two in favor of facts, values become assumed. Values being assumed, all questions are seen as those of expertise. With expertise as the means, terms of measurement are assumed. [with expertise as the means, expertise becomes the goal.] Curiosity becomes defined by the frame, values defined by the frame moral worth defined by the frame.

I wrote that years ago. It's less a defense of a distinction between values and facts than an attack on the presumption of the equivalence of facts and truths. Facts are for argument. All argument is political. Truths are metaphysical. 

"Rationalism is low-information rationality" 

Autism and sociopathy are disabilities. Philosophy is not a formalism. It's not technical. Being a tone deaf violinist is a limitation. Callard claims to be a Kantian, but she renders it meaningless. An honest defense of tribalism would carry the weight of a conviction, the acknowledgment of a burden and a cost. 

Read the first interview with Callard. Her happy, cold, blankness, and the blank acceptance of her enablers. Amy and Leon Kass, Burkean conservatives, are the exception, though obviously they were blind to her for years. Maybe it's less a matter of their disapproval than their realization that their friend and friendship weren't what they'd thought. For the rest it's like the celebration of Aaron Swartz, and to some extent, Graeber, without the tragedy. Callard isn't hiding anything.

Kass, "old fashioned humanist". See the references to Joshua Lederberg, there, and here

Cowen in 2009, in The CHE: "Autism as Academic Paradigm"
Pedantry is neurological. NFS means no fucking shit.

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