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Home for the heteronomous

Sunday Cavell: Strike -cracy, keep demos (4)

Continued from here (quotes taken from “The Claim of Reason”, Stanley Cavell, reprinted 1999, Oxford University Press).

“You don’t have to talk to everyone about everything.” (p. 197)

I’m pretty sure this was not originally intended to have a political meaning. I’ll try to give it one all the same. The problem with democracy – and, as lofty the ideal is, there clearly is a problem with democracy – isn’t that it assumes a possibility of overlapping consensus in a Rawlsian sense. The democratic problem rests entirely with its suffix: the idea that such a consensus needs to be arrived at by a public discussion involving all, resulting in external institutions exercising power in the name of the people.

Let’s unpack this.

“He (the traditional philosopher) admits as much explicitly when he says that he is, in the context of his philosophizing, using the word “see” in a special, or “stricter than ordinary” sense. He wishes to effect that reconciliation, offer that concession. And this is another way of saying that, perhaps of beginning to see why, his conclusions are “unstable”. (p. 199)

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April 24, 2016 Posted by | boredom, Tuesday Quought | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Sunday Cavell: Strike -cracy, keep demos (4)

Sunday Cavell: Skepticism of science (3)

Continued from here (quotes taken from “The Claim of Reason”, Stanley Cavell, reprinted 1999, Oxford University Press).

“What experience? Well, of course, an experience or sense that one may know nothing about the real world. But what kind of an experience is that? How or when does it emerge?” (p. 140).

I wrote in the margin: ‘Nothing: so close to everything.’ There’s a sense in which the sign of the times is that we know everything. What kind of an experience is that? Being certain, so certain that no room is left for doubt, means that there’s no room left for others – at least not if these others are unlike you. This experience used to be reserved for faith but now it’s more and more associated with science. If we don’t know, it’s just because we didn’t try to know. It sounds a lot like: ‘If we don’t believe, it’s just because we didn’t try to believe.’ In the two cases skepticism is reserved for others and the prize is certainty for themselves. It is a neat and comfortably conservative split. The more nuance you put (the higher cultural or moral construct in a Carnapian sense), the easier it is dismissed. Nobody doubts objects anymore because they are established by science. If there is such a thing as minds they are of the type that can be read of by a suitably complex imaging device.

I’m as scientific as the next guy (probably a lot more scientific, in fact) but I won’t have it. Shit ain’t simple, mathematics is. It’s not because something is hard to understand that it is complex Neither vice versa: it is not because something is everyday common sense that it is simple to get to the bottom of.

Meet philosophy.

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March 28, 2016 Posted by | boredom, Tuesday Quought | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Sunday Cavell: Skepticism of science (3)

Sunday Stories: Looking back at puberty

Remember those awkward days when your every move was dependent on being independent. Your laundry was done for you, dinner was still served and your presence at it was a sacrifice to the elders. You are ashamed now about the future you predicted for your self and that of others. You should be. It was naïve and self-centered on wishing ill on others. You had as little room for others in your heart as there was for yourself in your room.

I’m talking about the years 2015-2016. Years of stupidity that are by now mostly forgotten. Ape years paling in comparison to the big fires scarring the century before. Religion was a hot item again. Can you imagine? God was long pronounced dead. The notion of humanity was born long before His epitaph was written. But here we were: each boxed in their own room of right, sulking about the unfairness of it all.

In the end, it was all about being independent.

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January 28, 2016 Posted by | boredom, Sunday Stories | , , | Comments Off on Sunday Stories: Looking back at puberty

Sunday Stories: Paideia (1?)

I had visitors yesterday: an old friend who moved abroad and visited his home country with his kids. His eldest is a year younger than mine is. The discussion came to choosing the right path for their higher education. My son chose politics. His son is about to chose civil engineering. There is no discussion these choices are the right ones for the two respective adolescents. The interesting part of the conversation was my friends’ sons’ question to my son on his choice: “Qué es la salida?” (could have been ‘Cuál’, my Spanish is kind of rusty).

This sums up the modern view of education: you learn to be able to land the right job. But whilst the job may be the right one, is this the right conception? Continue reading

December 29, 2013 Posted by | shameless self-promotion, Sunday Stories | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Sunday Stories: Paideia (1?)

Philosophy according to JoB: objective 3

I started here with an overview of the objectives. I continued here with the second one dedicated to our prior art. It is now time to finish this with the third and final objective which, when reached, will ensure a common context (foundation) for the real work we’d like to do later on.

This is what we said before about this objective:

3. Acquire the ability to integrate the prior art with the goals

Now this was probably not the most fortunate way of putting it. Acquiring an ability is an activity. Unless we believe all of the nonsense of brain scientists, there is no way of monitoring whether such a process takes place let alone whether it takes place successfully. To put it more directly: we can all think we are acquiring all kinds of abilities whilst we are just acquiring the ability of procrastination combined with that of complacency. The flip side of this is that anybody can attest to anybody else of us ‘doing our best’ or ‘putting in a lot of work’ but whilst all of that may have ‘merit’, neither has a direct link with that ability we want acquired.

So the better formulation would have been ‘to demonstrate the acquisition of the ability to integrate the prior art with the goals’ (even if it sounds horrible, as a sentence). How to demonstrate this? Via language of course. In our case specifically by using language to demonstrate we can create original links between the 8 philosophers reviewed and the conjecture of progress being the nature of language.

Below the fold you will find the concrete steps to do this in this community. Your contribution could well demonstrate in concrete fact an example of progress by language. In fact, that is the third objective.

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June 16, 2013 Posted by | Tuesday Quought | , , , , | Comments Off on Philosophy according to JoB: objective 3

Tuesday Quought: Adaptive Thinking

“(..) insight can come from outside the mind.”
G. Gigerenzer, Adaptive Thinking, Oxford University Press, 2000, p. vii (a.o.).

There’s something deeply unnerving about scientists, especially neuroscientists: it is the idea that whatever there is can be located somewhere. Localized so as to make it a candidate for treatment of some sort. In this sense, neuroscience took over the world because the world is filled with people who believe things can be pinpointed and then addressed. Forget about the butterfly effect, the butterfly is in our current world view pinned down where it can be examined.

Nothing can be farther removed from the ecological point of view (this includes most people who see themselves as the ‘advocates of ecological preservation’). It may well be that this world view of pinning down, setting apart and solving is the root cause of us not applying evident solutions to the issues we have, in a broad sense, with our environment. Continue reading

October 2, 2012 Posted by | Tuesday Quought | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Tuesday Quought: Adaptive Thinking

Tuesday Quought: “0. Worüber man spricht, schweigt man nicht.”

“7. What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (p. 89), Routledge Classics, 1961.

Allow me to have some innocent fun by messing up a popular quote. I attended a three-hour lecture on ‘Satz 7’ a week or so ago. The only thing I could keep on thinking was why not the other way around? – it is highly probable, by the way, that this is the side effect of an overdose of Musil ‘look for the opposite’-irony. It’s also of some value to add here that it is difficult to keep focused on what basically is just one sentence – no matter how valiant the effort is on the part of the lecturer to uncover layers and layers of deeper meaning in it.

Anyway, somewhere halfway the above ‘Satz 0’ (please try to pronounce in German) had lodged itself in my brain. It has been there ever since. I tried to Google it to find one million people who came to the same sentence and found none. So I couldn’t remove ‘Satz 0’ because of lack of originality (you might argue that not every sentence once thought is on the internet but you really shouldn’t think so blasphemous a thought).

I struggled a couple of days more. I wanted to believe that ‘Satz 0’ was at least trivial, if not just obviously grammatically incorrect. I did not succeed in convincing me of either. ‘Satz 0’ was so damned sticky that I even numbered it and slowly realized it was absolutely cool to imagine it pronounced in German.

So what is the matter with ‘Satz 0’? Let me tell ya, below the fold. Continue reading

September 11, 2012 Posted by | Tuesday Quought | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Tuesday Quought: “0. Worüber man spricht, schweigt man nicht.”

Tuesday Quought: La parte de Archimboldi

“Esa noche, mientras trabajaba en la puerta del bar, se entretuvo en pensar en un tiempo de dos velocidades, uno era muy lento y las personas y los objetos se movían en este tiempo de forma casi imperceptible, el otro era muy rápido y todo, hasta las cosas inertes, centellaban de velocidad. El primero se llamaba Paraíso, el segunda Infierno, y lo unico que deseaba Archimboldi era no vivir jamás en ninguno de los dos.”
Roberto Bolaño; 2666, p. 1001-1002, Anagrama, Collecion Compactos, Barcelona 2009.

[My English translation: “That night, whilst he worked the door of the bar, he whiled away the time, thinking of time at two speeds, one of them was very slow and persons and objects moved in this time in a way that was barely noticeable, the other was very fast and everything, up to and including the non-living things, was moving with scintillating speed. The first was called Paradise, the second Hell, and the only thing Archimboldi wished for was not to live in any of them.”]

Why is Paradise slow? I guess because it gives you the time to think things through, and to appreciate what happens instead of merely playing along.

Why is Hell fast? Presumably because its speed is unforgiving. Shit happens – and you are a part of ‘that shit’. No time to write about it. Nor to expand on it.

Why doesn’t Archimboldi want to live in either? I haven’t got the faintest of clues, as I do not think Archimboldi is one of the best worked out characters in this (or indeed in any other) regard, & whether that’s a good or a bad thing you will have to work out for yourselves. But I do know that Paradise is boring and Hell is painful. And therefore that neither is better than reality, even if reality cannot truthfully be spelled with this or that capital letter (which is an interesting application of truth, said in passing).

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August 28, 2012 Posted by | Tuesday Quought | , , , , , | Comments Off on Tuesday Quought: La parte de Archimboldi

Tuesday Quought: A Contrast between Individualistic and Social Theories of the Self

“The difference between the social and individual theories of the development of mind, self, and the social process of experience or behavior is analogous to the difference between the evolutionary and contract theories of the state as held in the past by both rationalists and empiricists. The latter theory takes individuals and individual experiencing – individual minds and selves – as logically prior to the social process in which they are involved, and explains the existence of that social process in terms of them; whereas the former takes the social process of experience or behavior as logically prior to the individuals and their individual experiencing which are involved in it, and explains their existence in terms of that social process. But the latter type of theory cannot explain that which is taken as logically prior at all, cannot explain the existence of minds and selves; whereas the former type of theory can explain that which it takes as logically prior, namely, the existence of the social process of behavior, in terms of such fundamental biological or physiological relations & interactions as reproduction, co-operation of individuals for mutual protection or for the securing of food.”
George Herbert Mead, On Social Psychology, The University of Chicago Press, 1977, p. 242.

I wanted to edit and shorten this but I didn’t. In fact, I needed to battle the urge to go on quoting the next page. It is what it needs to be: the sober discovery of an inescapable truth we could not but evolve to discover. Nevertheless, evolution works in mysterious ways; after half a century the fact is that the traditional (and false) position still prevails. Whatever. Continue reading

June 21, 2012 Posted by | Tuesday Quought | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Tuesday Quought: Evropa (in dieser grossen Zeit)

“The press exaggerates the state of the world after having created it.”
Karl Kraus (free translation of), In dieser grossen Zeit (Auswahl 1914-1925), Langen-Müller, 1977, p. 18. (original below)

A hundred years on and here we are again: living in depressingly decisive times. We have to do this. They have to do that. Public opinion goes that way and then it slings back to hit us right in the back of our heads. Everybody disagrees except on what is crucial: that the objects of their disagreements are crucial. Europe will split because it can’t unite and if it splits the very idea of uniting is exposed as the hogwash that some people need it to be in order for them to be as prophetic as they have others proffer they are.

Each decisive time has its surface where the generals of public opinion will make our decisions. Each surface conceals the nature of the terrain that in the end will determine the outcome. God has been sacrificed in one of the former battles – there being nothing concrete to stand on, nor in heaven nor in hell; the goal of those dividing us is to terminate once for all the concept of unity. For man should not be able to migrate but the flow of money should be as fluid as the diarrhea it really is. Continue reading

May 29, 2012 Posted by | Tuesday Quought | , , , | Comments Off on Tuesday Quought: Evropa (in dieser grossen Zeit)