Welcome to the latest incarnation of Maverick Philosopher. I began this weblog in May of 2004 and have kept it up continuously on different servers, missing only a few days. I'm in this game 'for the duration,' as long as health and eyesight hold out. It has proven to be deeply satisfying, not the least reason for which being that my scribbling has attracted a large number of like-minded individuals, some of whom I have met in the flesh, and have come to value highly as friends.
And for that I am deeply grateful.
What you need to know is that this weblog is just one philosopher's online journal, notebook, workshop, and on occasion sandbox. A lot of what I write is unpolished and tentative. I explore the cartography of ideas along many paths. Here below we are in statu viae, and it is fitting that our thinking should be exploratory, meandering, and undogmatic. Nothing human, and thus nothing philosophical, is foreign to me.
I write about what interests me whether I am expert in it or not. Some find this unseemly; I do not. I oppose hyperprofessionalization and excessive specialization. Every once in a while I post something that is mistaken, someone corrects me, and I learn something. I admit mistakes if mistakes they be. See how modest I am? On the other hand, this rarely happens. My PhilPapers page currently lists 61 entries and will give you some idea of what I am more or less expert in.
I allow comments on only some posts, usually the more technical ones. And to keep the cyberpunks at bay, Comment Moderation is always on. Comments must address what I say in my posts. If you go off on a tangent, I will most likely not allow your comment to appear.
I suppose that in these decadent days of the Decline of the West I should issue a TRIGGER WARNING: this is no place for the politically correct. It is not a 'safe space.' Here you will find free speech, trenchancy of expression, and open inquiry.
I was purchasing shotgun ammo at a gun store a while back. The proprietor brought out a box of double-aught buckshot shells which he recommended as having "the power to separate the soul from the body." The proprietor was a 'good old boy,' not someone with whom a wise man initiates a philosophical discussion. But his colorful phraseology got me thinking.
The words 'soul' and 'spirit' carry a cargo of both religious and substance-dualist connotations. And that is the way I will use them. The soul is that in us which thinks in the broad Cartesian sense of 'think.' it is the subject of consciousness and self-consciousness and moral sense (conscience). It is the thinker of our thoughts and the agent of our actions. It is the ultimate reference of the first person singular pronoun 'I' in its indexical use. But I must add that the soul is these things construed as capable of independent existence, as having not only an immaterial nature, but also an immaterial nature capable of existing on its own apart from these gross physical bodies with which we are all too familiar. So 'soul' is a theoretical term; it is not datanic or theory-neutral. 'Consciousness,' by contrast, is theory neutral. If you deny that there are souls, you will be forgiven, and you may even be right. If you deny that there is consciousness, however, then you are either a sophist, a lunatic, or an eliminativist, which is to say, a lunatic. Sophists and lunatics are not to be debated; they are to be 'shown the door.'
A substance, among other things, is an entity metaphysically capable of independent existence. The soul is a substance. It does not require some other thing in which to exist. (Nulla res indiget ad existendum.) So it is capable of independent existence. We encounter it as 'attached' to the body, but it can 'separate' from the body. The question is what these words mean in this context. The problem is to ascribe some coherent sense to them. What is the nature of this strange attachment?
1. Only physical things can be physically separated and physically attached. (The toenail from the toe; the stamp to the envelope; the spark plug from the cylinder; the yolk from the white, etc.) The soul is not a physical thing; ergo, souls cannot be physically separated from or attached to anything. So in this context we are not to take 'separation' and 'attachment' in any physical or material sense, whether gross or subtle. So don't think of ghosts or spooks floating out of gross bodies. Spook-stuff is still stuff, while what we are talking about now is not 'stuffy' at all.
2. It follows from this that every physical model is inadequate and just as, or more, misleading than helpful. The soul is not like the pilot in the ship, the man in his house, the oyster in the shell, the prisoner in his cell. These analogies may capture certain aspects of the soul-body relation, but they occlude others so that on balance they are of little use. But they are of some use. The morally sensitive, for example, experience a tension between their higher nature and their animal inclinations. There is more to the moral life than a struggle against the lusts of the flesh, but that is part of it. Thus the resonance of the Socratic image of the body as the prison-house of the soul.
3. The soul-body relation cannot literally be an instance of a physical relation, nor could it be an instance of a logical or mathematical or mereological or set-theoretical relation. We can lump these last four together under the rubric 'abstract relations.' Presumably the soul-body relation is sui generis. It's its own thing. Just as it would be absurd to say that entailment is an instance of a physical relation, it is absurd to suppose that soul-body is an instance of a physical or a logico-mathematical relation. The soul is neither a physical entity nor an abstract entity.
4. It seems to follow that if the the soul-body relation is sui generis, then there can be no model for it borrowed from some more familiar realm. The relation can only be understood in 'soulic,' or as I will say, spiritual terms. It can only be understood in its own terms. So let's consider mental or spiritual attachment. I am attached to my cat in the sense that, were he to die, I would grieve. Clearly, this is not a physical relation. Whether he is on my lap or far away, the attachment is the same. Spiritual attachment is consistent with physical separation. And spiritual non-attachment (spiritual separation) is consistent with physical proximity and indeed contact.
We allow ourselves to become attached to all sorts of things, people, and ideas, especially our own ideas. Attachments wax and wane. Many are foolish and even delusional. We become attached to what cannot last as if it will last forever. We become attached to what has no value. We have trouble apportioning our degree of attachment to the reality and value of attachment's object. As has been appreciated in many religions and wisdom traditions, much of our misery arises from desire and attachment to the objects of desire. For Pali Buddhism it is desire as such that is the problem; on more moderate views inordinate and misdirected desire. We are also capable of non-attachment or detachment, and this has been recommended in different ways and to different degrees by the religions and the wisdom traditions. There can be no doubt that non-attachment is a major component in wisdom.
5. None of this attaching and detaching would be possible without intentionality. The spiritual self, by virtue of its intentionality, flees itself and loses itself among the objects of its attachment. Chief among these is the mundane self: the body, the personality, their pasts, and the myriad of objects that one takes to be one's own. My car, my house, my wife, my children, my brilliant insights . . . . And now I come to my speculation. The soul attaches itself to this body here in a manner similar to the way it attaches itself to everything else to which it attaches itself. So attaching itself, my soul makes this body here my body. I come to 'inhabit' this body here, thereby making it my body, by my having chosen this body as the material locus of my subjectivity, as the vehicle of my trajectory through space-time. But when" Where? How? I chose this fall into time?
I am telling a Platonic story. I am penning yet another footnote to Plato. Who can believe it? Well, consider the alternatives! You are not your body and yet you are attached to it. What is your theory as to the nature of this attachment? I know what you will say. And I will have no trouble poking holes in it.
What follows is largely a summary and restatement of points I make in "The Moreland-Willard-Lotze Thesis on Being," Philosophia Christi, vol. 6, no. 1, 2004, pp. 27-58. It is a 'popular' or 'bloggity-blog' version of a part of that lengthy technical article. First I summarize my agreements with J. P. Moreland. Then I explain and raise two objections to this theory. I post the following on account of hearing from a student of Moreland who is himself now a professor of philosophy. He has some criticisms to make. I should like to hear them in the ComBox. Another student of Moreland says he agrees with me. He may wish to chime in as well. The other day a third student of Moreland surfaced. The Moreland text I have under my logical microscope is pp. 134-139 of his 2001 Universals (McGill-Queen's University Press).
Common Ground with Moreland on Existence
We agree on the following five points (which is not to say that Moreland will agree with every detail of my explanation of these five points):
Existence is attributable to individuals. The cat that just jumped into my lap exists. This very cat, Manny, exists. Existence belongs to it and is meaningfully attributable to it. Pace Frege and Russell, 'Manny exists' is a meaningful sentence, and it is meaningful as it stands, as predicating existence of an individual. It is nothing like 'Manny is numerous.' To argue that since cats are numerous, and Manny is a cat, that therefore Manny is numerous is to commit the fallacy of division. Russell held that the same fallacy is committed by someone who thinks that since cats exist, and Manny is a cat, that therefore Manny exists. But Russell was mistaken: there is no fallacy of division; there is an equivocation on 'exists.' It has a general or second-level use and a singular or first-level use.
There are admissible first-level uses of '. . .exist(s).' It is not the case that only second-level uses are admissible. And it is only because Manny, or some other individual cat, exists that the concept cat is instantiated. The existence of an individual cannot be reduced to the being-instantiated of a property or concept. If you like, you can say that the existence of a concept is its being instantiated. We sometimes speak like that. A typical utterance of 'Beauty exists,' say, is not intended to convey that Beauty itself exists, but is intended to convey that Beauty is exemplified, that there are beautiful things. But then one is speaking of general existence, not of singular existence.
Clearly, general existence presupposes singular existence in the following sense: if a first-level concept or property is instantiated, then it is instantiated by an individual, and this individual must exist in order to stand in the instantiation nexus to a concept or property. From here on out, by 'existence' I mean 'singular existence.' There is really no need for 'general existence' inasmuch as we can speak of instantiation or of someness, as when we say that cats exist if and only something is a cat. The fundamental error of what Peter van Inwagen calls the 'thin theory' of existence is to imagine that existence can be reduced to the purely logical notion of someness. That would be to suppose, falsely, that singular existence can be dispensed with in favor of general existence. Existence is not a merely logical topic ; existence is a metaphysical topic.
Existence cannot be an ordinary property of individuals. While existence is attributable to individuals, it is no ordinary property of them. There are several reasons for this, but I will mention only one: you cannot add to a thing's description by saying of it that it exists. Nothing is added to the description of a tomato if one adds 'exists' to its descriptors: 'red,' round,' ripe,' etc. As Kant famously observed, "Being is not a real predicate," i.e., being or existence adds nothing to the realitas or whatness of a thing. Contrary to popular scholarly opinion, Kant did not anticipate the Frege-Russell theory. He does not deny that 'exist(s)' is an admissible first-level predicate. (See my "Existence: Two Dogmas of Analysis" in Novotny and Novak, eds. Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives in Metaphysics, Routledge 2014, pp. 45-75, esp. 48-50.)
Existence is not a classificatory concept or property. The reason is simple: there is no logically prior domain of items classifiable as either existent or nonexistent. Pace Meinong, everything exists. There are no nonexistent items. On Meinong's view, some items actually have properties despite having no Being at all.
Existence makes a real difference to a thing that exists. In one sense existence adds nothing to a thing. It adds nothing quidditative. In another sense it adds everything: if a thing does not exist, it is nothing at all! To be or not to be -- not just a question, but the most 'abysmal' difference conceivable. In this connection, Moreland rightly speaks of a "real difference between existence and non-existence." (137)
Existence itself exists. This is not the trivial claim that existing things exist. It is the momentous claim that that in virtue of which existing things exist itself exists. It is a logical consequence of (4) in conjunction with (3). As Moreland puts it, "[i]f existence itself does not exist, then nothing else could exist in virtue of having existence." (135)
The above five points are criteria of adequacy for a theory of existence: any adequate theory must include or entail each of these points. Most philosophers nowadays will not agree, but I think Moreland will. So he and I stand on common ground. I should think that the only fruitful disputes are those that play out over a large chunk of common ground.
But these criteria of adequacy also pose a problem: How can existence belong to individuals without being a property of them? Existence belongs to individual as it would not belong to them if it were a property of properties or concepts; but it is not a property of individuals.
Moreland's theory gets off to a good start: "existence is not a property which belongs, but is the belonging of a property." (137) This insight nicely accommodates points (1) and (2) above: existence is attributable to individuals without being an ordinary property of them. Indeed, it is not a property at all. I infer from this that existence is not the property of having properties. It is rather the mutual belongingness of a thing and its properties. Moreland continues:
Existence is the entering into the exemplification nexus . . . . In the case of Tony the tiger, the fact [that] the property of being a tiger belongs to something and that something has this property belonging to it is what confers existence. (137)
I take this to mean that existence is the mutual belonging together of individual and property. It is 'between' a thing and its properties as that which unifies them, thereby tying them into a concrete fact or state of affairs. The existence of Tony is not one of his properties; nor is it Tony. And of course the existence of Tony is not the being-exemplified of some such haecceity property as identity-with-Tony. Rather, the existence of Tony, of that very individual, is his exemplifying of his properties. The existence of a (thick) individual in general is then the exemplification relation itself insofar as this relation actually relates (thin) individual and properties.
Moreland implies as much. In answer to the question how existence itself exists, he explains that "The belonging-to (exemplification, predication) relation is itself exemplified . . ." (137) Thus the asymmetrical exemplification relation x exemplifies P is exemplified by Tony and the property of being a tiger (in that order). Existence itself exists because existence itself is the universal exemplification relation which is itself exemplified. It exists in that it is exemplified by a and F-ness, a and G-ness, a and H-ness, b and F-ness, b and G-ness, b and H-ness, and so on. An individual existent exists in that its ontological constituents (thin particular and properties) exemplify the exemplification relation which is existence itself.
The basic idea is this. The existence of a thick particular such as Tony, that is, a particular taken together with all its monadic properties, is the unity of its ontological constituents. (This is not just any old kind of unity, of course, but a type of unity that ties items that are not facts into a fact.) This unity is brought about by the exemplification relation within the thick particular. The terms of this relation are the thin particular on the one hand and the properties on the other.
Moreland's theory accommodates all five of the desiderata listed above which in my book is a strong point in its favor.
A Bradleyan Difficulty
A sentence such as 'Al is fat' is not a list of its constituent words. The sentence is either true or false, but neither the corresponding list, nor any item on the list, is either true or false. So there is something more to a declarative sentence than its constituent words. Something very similar holds for the fact that makes the sentence true, if it is true. I mean the extralinguistic fact of Al's being fat. The primary constituents of this fact, Al and fatness, can exist without the fact existing. The fact, therefore, cannot be identified with its primary constituents, taken either singly, or collectively. A fact is more than its primary constituents. But how are we to account for this 'more'?
On Moreland's theory, as I understand it, this problem is solved by adding a secondary constituent, the exemplification relation, call it EX, whose task is to connect the primary constituents. This relation ties the primary constituents into a fact. It is what makes a fact more than its primary constituents. Unfortunately, this proposal leads to Bradley's Regress. For if Al + fatness do not add up to the fact of Al's being fat, then Al + fatness + EX won't either. If Al and fatness can exist without forming the fact of Al's being fat, then Al and fatness and EX can all exist without forming the fact in question. How can adding a constituent to the primary constituents bring about the fact-constituting unity of all constituents? EX has not only to connect a and F-ness, but also to connect itself to a and to F-ness. How can it do the latter? The answer to this, presumably, will be that EX is a relation and the business of a relation is to relate. EX, relating itself to a and to F-ness, relates them to each other. EX is an active ingredient in the fact, not an inert ingredient. It is a relating relation, and not just one more constituent that needs relating to the others by something distinct from itself. For this reason, Bradley's regress can't get started.
The problem, however, is that EX can exist without relating the relata that it happens to relate in a given case. This is because EX is a universal. If it were a relation-instance as on D. W. Mertz's theory, then it would be a particular, an unrepeatable, and could not exist apart from the very items it relates. Bradley's regress could not then arise. But if EX is a universal, then it can exist without relating any specific relata that it does relate, even though, as an immanent universal, it must relate some relata or other. This implies that a relation's relating what it relates is contingent to its being the relation it is. For example, x loves y contingently relates Al and Barbara, which implies that the relation is distinct from its relating. The same goes for EX: it is distinct from its relating. It is more than just a constituent of any fact into which it enters; it is a constituent that does something to the other constituents, and in so doing does something to itself, namely, connect itself to the other constituents. Relating relations are active ingredients in facts, not inert ingredients. Or we could say that a relating relation is ontologically participial in addition to its being ontologically substantival. And since the relating is contingent in any given case, the relating in any given case requires a ground. What could this ground be?
My claim is that it cannot be any relation, including the relation, Exemplification. More generally, no constituent of a fact can serve as ontological ground of the unity of a fact's constituents. For any such putatively unifying constituent will either need a further really unifying constituent to connect it to what it connects, in which case Bradley's regress is up and running, or the unifying constituent will have to be ascribed a 'magical' power, a power no abstract object could possess, namely, the power to unify itself with what it unifies. Such an item would be a self-grounding ground: a ground of unity that grounds its unity with that which it unifies. The synthetic unity at the heart of each contingent fact needs to be grounded in an act of synthesis that cannot be brought about by any constituent of a fact, or by the fact itself.
My first objection to Moreland's theory may be put as follows. The existence of a thick particular (which we are assaying as a concrete fact along the lines of Gustav Bergmann and David Armstrong) cannot be the fact's constituents' standing in the exemplification relation. And existence itself, existence in its difference from existents, cannot be identified with the exemplification relation.
Can Existence Exist Without Being Uniquely Self-Existent?
I agree with Moreland that existence itself exists. One reason was supplied by Reinhardt Grossmann: "If existence did not exist, then nothing would exist." (Categorial Structure of the World, 405) But I have trouble with the notion that existence itself is the exemplification relation. Existence as that which is common to all that exists, and as that in virtue of which everything exists cannot be just one more thing that exists. Existence cannot be a member of an extant category that admits of multiple membership, such as the category of relations. For reasons like these such penetrating minds as Martin Heidegger, Roman Ingarden, and Panayot Butchvarov have denied that existence itself exists.
In my 2002 existence book I proposed a synthesis of these competing theses: Existence exists as a paradigm existent, one whose mode of existence is radically different from the mode of existence of the beings ontologically dependent on it. From this point of view, Moreland has a genuine insight, but he has not taken it far enough: he stops short at the dubious view that existence is the relation of exemplification. But if you drive all the way down the road with me you end up at Divine Simplicity, which Moreland has good reasons for rejecting.
Hillary took a shellacking yesterday in the New Hampshire primary, losing to Bernie Sanders by 20 or so points. Time to pull out the race card:
Clinton is set to campaign with the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, unarmed African-Americans who died in incidents involving law enforcement officers and a neighborhood watch representative, respectively. And the campaign, sources said, is expected to push a new focus on systematic racism, criminal justice reform, voting rights and gun violence that will mitigate concerns about her lack of an inspirational message.
Remember Trayvon Martin? He was the black child on the way to the candy store who was brutally murdered by the racist white Hispanic, George Zimmerman.
Bret Stephens applied it to Hillary in today's Wall Street Journal. The meaning, I take it, is that she can move either right or left in pursuit of her personal ambitions depending on the circumstances.
But we ought to consider whether 'ideologically ambisinistrous' might fit her better, given her being a two-fisted lefty.
I am happy to see that Ed is back to blogging. It have reproduced his latest entry and added some comments.
Peter Geach (“Intentional Identity.” Journal of Philosophy 64, 627-32, reprinted in Logic Matters. Oxford: Blackwell, 1972) argues that the following sentence can be true even if there are no witches, yet can only be true if Hob and Nob are, as it were, thinking of the same witch.
Hob thinks that a witch has blighted Bob’s mare, and Nob wonders whether she killed Cob’s sow.
But how it could be true? If we read it in the opaque way of reading indirect speech clauses then each that-clause must stand on its own syntactically, but there is no way of interpreting the pronoun ‘she’ as a bound variable. The two thoughts add up, as it were, to ‘for some x, x has blighted Bob’s mare, and x killed Cob’s sow. But we can’t split them up into two separate thoughts, because of the second part of the conjunction. I.e. the following is not well-formed.
* Hob thinks that for some x, x has blighted Bob’s mare, and Nob wonders whether x killed Cob’s sow.
On the other hand, if we render the original sentence in the transparent way, we have to presume the existence of a real witch, i.e. some witch such that Hob thinks that she has blighted Bob’s mare, and Nob wonders whether she killed Cob’s sow. Neither of these are satisfactory. I don’t propose any answer yet, but I will start by noticing that the same problem attaches to saying what sentences say, rather than what people think.
(1) A witch has blighted Bob’s mare. (2) She killed Cob’s sow. (3) Sentence (1) says that a witch has blighted Bob’s mare. (4) Sentence (2) says that she (or the witch) has blighted Bob’s mare.
Clearly sentences (3) and (4) are true, even though sentences (1) and (2) are false. Yet the problem is exactly the same as the problem involving different thoughts. Thus we have simplified the problem. We don’t have to worry about explaining thoughts in different minds, but only how we express the meaning of different sentences. Meanings are a little easier than thoughts.
Ed maintains that the problem of intentional identity can be put as a problem concerning what sentences say rather than as a problem concerning what people think. Ed thinks that this reformulation renders the problem simpler and more tractable. But here I object.
Strictly speaking, sentences don't say anything; people say things using sentences. For (1) to express a thought or proposition, it must be assertively uttered by a definite person in definite circumstances. What's more, the assertive utterance has to be thoughtful, i.e., made by a thinker who intends to express a proposition by his assertive utterance of (1). So we are brought right back to people and their thoughts. We have turned in a circle. (Out of respect for Ed, I will not comment on the 'diameter' of the circle.)
To exfoliate or unwrap what I just wrote:
a. Strictly speaking. In philosophy we must speak and write strictly and avoid the sorts of shorthand expression that are perfectly acceptable in ordinary discourse. Philosophy is not ordinary discourse. It is (in part) an attempt to understand ordinary discourse, its logic, its ontological commitments, and its connections with thought.
b. Utterance. To utter a sentence is to produce a token of it consisting of sounds or phonemes. If x is a token of y, then y is a type. So (1) above represents a sentence-type. What your eyes see is of course a token of that type, a token that deputizes for the type, which you cannot see with your eyes. The token you see is of course not an utterance, but an inscription consisting of visible marks. To utter a sentence is only one way of tokening it. To token is to produce a token in some medium.
c. Assertive utterance. Not every tokening is assertive. If I write or say 'Cats are animals' in English class to illustrate, say, noun-verb agreement, I have not asserted that cats are animals. Assertion is a speech act. I can utter a sentence without asserting anything even if the sentence is grammatically declarative.
d. Circumstances. There are many people in the world who rejoice under the nickname 'Bob.' A context of utterance, or, more broadly, a context of tokening is required to know which Bob is being referred to when (1) is assertively uttered.
e. Thoughtful. To say something I cannot merely mechanically produce a token of a sentence even if the sentence upon being heard by a hearer conveys a proposition or thought to the hearer. Voice synthesizers never say anything, even when they produce such sentence tokens as 'Your prescription is ready at Walgreen's pharmacy at the corner of Fifth and Vermouth.' Saying involves a person or thinker's intention to express a thought or proposition.
As for solving Geach's puzzle, I have nothing to propose with confidence. But how would Ed counter the following suggestion? Ed tells us that, "if we render the original sentence in the transparent way, we have to presume the existence of a real witch, i.e. some witch such that Hob thinks that she has blighted Bob’s mare, and Nob wonders whether she killed Cob’s sow."
Ed is assuming that the particular quantifier is an existential quantifier. He is assuming that 'Some witch is such that _______' is logically equivalent to 'There exists a witch such that ________.' The assumption is entirely plausible. But it could be rejected by a Meinongian. If 'a witch' picks out a nonexistent item from the realm of Aussersein, then what would be wrong with a transparent reading of the original sentence? If there are nonexistent items, then one can quantify over them using quantifiers that are objectual (as opposed to substitutional) but not existentially loaded.
Might Geach's puzzle dissolve on a Meinongian approach? Is there any literature on this?
A tip of the hat to Karl White for pointing us to this article which includes a critique of Francis Beckwith's contribution to the debate. Craig concludes:
So whether Muslims and Christians can be said to worship the same God is not the truly germane question. The question is which conception of God is true.
I would allow that the latter question is the more important of the two questions, but it is not the question most of us were discussing. In my various posts, I endeavored to remain neutral on the question of the truth of Christianity while pursuing the former question. See the first two related articles infra.
Among other things, Bernie Sanders supports free tuition at all public colleges and universities, medicare for all, and an increase in the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. Are such socialist proposals implementable? Are they economically feasible? A necessary but not sufficient condition of practical implementation would have to be a major curtailment of the influx of illegal immigrants and a serious reform of the system of legal immigration. And yet when we look at his immigration policy, we see that Sanders wants to allow all immigrants, legal or illegal, to purchase health care under the Affordable Care Act; that he supports sanctuary cities, and that he opposes building a physical barrier along the southern border.
It's a bit of a paradox: you cannot combine socialism with porous borders and sanctuary cities. 'Freebies' such as free tuition will attract too many legal and illegal immigrants. If you want to be 'liberal' with citizens, you cannot also be 'liberal' with non-citizens. And of course what is free for some will not be free for others, for those who are footing the bill. There are only so many fat cats, and they will not allow themselves to be fleeced.
A second, sharper, form of the paradox. A welfare state cannot work without strict border control. Equally, a welfare state cannot work without large numbers of people willing to work at physically demanding and relatively low-paying jobs such as re-roofing houses in Phoenix in the summer. Where are these people going to come from? Presumably from outside: the existing population, having had their work ethic eroded by welfare state benefits, will not want to work at the demanding jobs. So a welfare state needs strict and also lax immigration controls. There is also the problem that an aging population the members of which will most of them live for many years in retirement on supposed 'entitlements' is not sustainable without plenty of young immigrants.
Feel the 'Bern' yet? Feel the tension? It would be wonderful if turkeys flew around ready-roasted or were delivered by government drones on major holidays. But who is going to foot the bill?
At the other end of the political spectrum, the libertarians are also in a bit of a bind. "Open the borders!" John Stossel once said. That would work only on condition that you first dismantle the welfare state. But the welfare state is here to stay. The only question is whether we can contain it or roll it back a little.
So choose. You can't have both a robust welfare state that provides 'free' health care, education, and so on while also having a liberal immigration policy. You will have noticed, if you went to Sanders' site, that he refuses to distinguish between legal and illegal immigrants. After all, that would be 'xenophobic' as liberals (mis)use the word.
But the question of Sanders' socialism is moot. He won't get the Democrat nomination. Hillary will get the nod. And no, she will not be indicted, no matter what further evidence of her wrongdoing turns up. It is really very simple. Obama will not allow his 'gains' to be overturned or be in any way mitigated by a Republication administration. The rule of law counts for nothing for those who believe that their ends -- noble and worthy in their own eyes -- are to be achieved by any means.
So it will come down to a contest between Hillary and Rubio, and Hillary will win. Cruz is a brilliant man and would make a good president, but he is not electable because of his personality. Rubio is more personable, more of a regular guy. Trump will flame out. He is essentially an empty suit riding a short-term populist wave, to mix some metaphors. In any case, there is no way the Republicans would allow his nomination.
Those are my predictions. I hope I'm wrong about Hillary winning. She is Sanders writ small, a gradualist Sanders if you will, who cunningly hides her true convictions in the manner of the stealth ideologue that Sanders is too honest to be. I am assuming, perhaps falsely, that Hillary has convictions and is not merely out for personal gain. It might be better to say that she either has no convictions or leftist convictions.
A neo-reactionary I was arguing with a while back claimed in effect that I have more in common with Muslims than I do with contemporary liberals. This entry will begin an exploration of this theme.
A reader the other day referred me to to Sayyid Qutb (Milestones p.120):
If the family is the basis of the society, the basis of the family is the division of labour between husband and wife, and the upbringing of children is the most important function of the family, then such a society is indeed civilized. In the Islamic system of life, this kind of a family provides the environment under which human values and morals develop and grow in the new generation; these values and morals cannot exist apart from the family unit. If, on the other hand, free sexual relationships and illegitimate children become the basis of a society, and if the relationship between man and woman is based on lust, passion and impulse, and the division of work is not based on family responsibility and natural gifts; if woman's role is merely to be attractive, sexy and flirtatious, and if the woman is freed from her basic responsibility of bringing up children; and if, on her own or under social demand, she prefers to become a hostess or a stewardess in a hotel or ship or air company, thus spending her ability for material productivity rather than in the training of human beings, because material production is considered to be more important, more valuable and more honourable than the development of human character, then such a civilization is 'backward' from the human point of view, or 'Jahili' in the Islamic terminology.
The emphases were added by my reader. He asks: "Is Qutb right or wrong? In which version of conservatism would this doctrine fit best?"
Five years ago, on 11 February 2011, unaware of the above passage, I wrote, in an entry occasioned by the death of Maria Schneider of "Last Tango in Paris" fame/imfamy:
Islamic culture is in many ways benighted and backward, fanatical and anti-Enlightenment, but our trash culture is not much better. Suppose you are a Muslim and you look to the West. What do you see? Decadence. And an opportunity to bury the West.
If Muslims think that our decadent culture is what Western values are all about, and something we are trying to impose on them, then we are in trouble. They do and we are.
Militant Islam's deadly hatred of us should not be discounted as the ravings of lunatics or psychologized away as a reflex of envy at our fabulous success, despite the obvious presence of lunacy and envy. For there is a kernel of insight in the ravings that we do well to heed. Sayyid Qutb , theoretician of the Muslim Brotherhood, who visited the USA at the end of the '40s, writes in Milestones (1965):
Humanity today is living in a large brothel! One has only to glance at its press, films, fashion shows, beauty contests, ballrooms, wine bars and broadcasting stations! Or observe its mad lust for naked flesh, provocative pictures, and sick, suggestive statements in literature, the arts, and mass media! And add to all this the system of usury which fuels man's voracity for money and engenders vile methods for its accumulation and investment, in addition to fraud, trickery, and blackmail dressed up in the garb of law.
A wild exaggeration in 1965, the above statement is much less of an exaggeration today. But setting aside the hyperbole, we are in several ways a sick and decadent society getting worse day by day. On this score, if on no other, we can learn something from our Islamist critics. The fact that a man wants to chop your head off does not mean that he has nothing to teach you. We often learn more from our enemies than from our friends. Our friends often will spare us hard truths.
Turning now to the topmost passage from Qutb, what should we say about it? Here are some points where this conservative agrees with Qutb and some points where he disagrees.
Points of Agreement
1. The family is the building block of a societal order that deserves to be called civilized. The central function of the family is the education and socialization of children. Human offspring need to be brought from the animal to the social level. This requires the cooperation of husband and wife, man and woman, and a division of labor reflecting the different natural abilities of men and women.
2. The transmission of life-enhancing values and the inculcation of morality must occur primarily at the family level, starting when children are very young. This is where the transmission and inculcation is most effectively achieved.
3. The effects of the 'sexual revolution' have been largely negative. The 'revolution' has not led on the whole to human liberations but rather to enslavement, to the destruction of families, and the degradation of the entire culture so much so that television and popular culture can be described, without too much exaggeration, as an open sewer.
4. The "training of human beings" and "the development of human character" are more important and more honorable than "material production."
Points of Disagreement
1. Qutb goes too far with his claim that the transmission of values and the inculcation of morality cannot occur apart from the family unit.
2. My main disagreement with Qutb is that he assigns women a social role which, while reflecting the natural strengths and abilities of women, is oppressive for many women in that it prevents them from developing as persons in the way men are allowed to develop themselves as persons and not merely as fathers. Clearly, many women have what it takes to become competent physicians, lawyers, engineers, university professors, etc. and among these women, some are better at their chosen fields than many men. This is not to say that women as a group are equal to men as a group with respect to ability in any of these fields; it is to say that women as a group should not be discriminated against on the basis of sex. The same goes for voting. While women as a group are too much influenced by their emotions and thus not as well-suited as men to make wise choices at the polling places, the franchise is overall good and it is just wrong to deny women a political say on the basis of their sex.
Of course, in some areas women should be discriminated against on the basis of sex. If you say that all combat roles in the military should be open to women, then I say you are a p.c.-whipped, crazy leftist. The fact that a handful of amazons could overpower a Navy SEAL cuts no ice.
So this makes me a paleoconservative who yet takes on board the best of the classically liberal tradition while avoiding the latter-day lunacies of contemporary liberalism as well as the extremism of the neo-reactionary paleocons. My reader asked: In which version of conservatism does Qutb's doctrine best fit? Answer: that of the neo-reactionary paleocons.
I expect to be, and have been, attacked from both sides. This is something a maverick philosopher should take pride in. The maverick philosopher navigates by the Polaris of Truth Herself, avoiding extremes, and shunning herds.
Time for my annual Super Bowl Sunday rant. But perhaps I should not be so harsh on the masses who need their panem et circenses to keep them distracted from matters of moment, both secular and spiritual. The Latin could be very loosely translated as 'food stamps and football.'
I won't be watching the game. I don't even know which teams are playing. Undoubtedly there is more to football than I comprehend. But the games are nasty, brutish, but not short, and I know all I need to know about the implements of shaving.
As for the buxom wenches who strut their stuff during the half-time show, the less I stoke the fire below the better.
I am no fan of spectator sports in general. We have too many sports spectators and too many overpaid professional louts. I preach the People's Sports, despite the leftish ring of that.
Remove your sorry tail from the couch of sloth and start a softball league with your friends and neighbors. Play volley ball whether in a pool or on dry land. Engage your fellow paisani in a game of bocce. (But don't call it bocce ball. Do you call tennis tennis ball?)
Or take the Thoreauvian high road, leave the People behind, and sally forth solo into the wild. As Henry said, "A man sits as many risks as he runs." Old Henry puts me in mind of Cactus Ed, the Thoreau of the American Southwest.
In Vox Clamantis in Deserto Edward Abbey has it right:
Football is a game for trained apes. That, in fact, is what most of the players are — retarded gorillas wearing helmets and uniforms. The only thing more debased is the surrounding mob of drunken monkeys howling the gorillas on.
The gods had given me almost everything. But I let myself be lured into long spells of senseless and sensual ease. I amused myself with being a FLANEUR, a dandy, a man of fashion. I surrounded myself with the smaller natures and the meaner minds. I became the spendthrift of my own genius, and to waste an eternal youth gave me a curious joy. Tired of being on the heights, I deliberately went to the depths in the search for new sensation. What the paradox was to me in the sphere of thought, perversity became to me in the sphere of passion. Desire, at the end, was a malady, or a madness, or both. I grew careless of the lives of others. I took pleasure where it pleased me, and passed on. I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber one has some day to cry aloud on the housetop. I ceased to be lord over myself. I was no longer the captain of my soul, and did not know it. I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace. There is only one thing for me now, absolute humility.
Compare the words Plato puts in the mouth of Socrates in the Phaedo:
. . . every pleasure and pain has a kind of nail, and nails and pins her [the soul] to the body, and gives her a bodily nature, making her think that whatever the body says is true. (tr. F. J. Church St. 83)
From Oscar Wilde to Plato to Hank Williams here channeled hauntingly through Kurt Nilsen and Willie Nelson:
I'm a rollin' stone all alone and lost For a life of sin I have paid the cost When I pass by all the people say Just another guy on the lost highway
Just a deck of cards and a jug of wine And a woman's lies make a life like mine On the day we met, I went astray I started rollin' down that lost highway
I was just a lad, nearly 22 Neither good nor bad, just a kid like you And now I'm lost, too late to pray Lord I paid the cost, on the lost highway
Now boys don't start your ramblin' 'round On this road of sin are you sorrow bound Take my advice or you'll curse the day. You started rollin' down that lost highway.
'Homophobic' is a coinage of leftists to prevent one of those famous 'conversations' that they otherwise call for. It is a question-begging epithet and semantic bludgeon meant to close down debate by the branding of their opponents as suffering from a mental defect. This is why only a foolish conservative acquiesces in the use of this made-up word. Language matters. One of the first rules for successful prosecution of the Kulturkampf is to never let the enemy distort the terms of the debate. Insist on standard English, and always slap them down when they engage in their notorious 'framing.' He who controls the terms of the debate controls the debate.
As for 'gay,' that too is a word we ought not surrender. Use the neutral 'homosexual.' Same with 'queer.' 'Queer' is a good old word. Nominalists think abstracta are queer entities. There is no implication that the analysis of such is in any way proctological.
It seems to me that the theory [the Millian theory of proper name] must fail as soon as its psychological implications are considered (those about beliefs are among them). In a judgement "Peter is wise" Peter must be somehow represented, not just linguistically but mentally. And since we are not omniscient, Peter-qua-represented will not equal Peter-qua-real ("warts and all"). In other words, there will have to be some conceptual content corresponding to "Peter" through which Peter will be represented; i.e. a "Sinn" or imperfect "Art der Gegebenheit" of Peter.
BV: I agree. The human mind is finite. So when I make a judgment about Peter, it cannot be Peter himself who is before my mind, Peter with all his properties. And yet something must be before my mind if I am to affirm that Peter is wise or even just to entertain the proposition that Peter is wise. Furthermore, this thinking reference or mental reference is prior to any linguistic reference. We can call this the primacy of the intentional over the linguistic. Chisholm championed it, but it is a controversial thesis. Now what it is that I have before my mind if it is not Peter himself?
Here very difficult questions arise. It seems we need some intermediary item to mediate the mind's commerce with the thing in reality. One vexing question is whether this intermediary item is or is not an ontological constituent of the infinitely-propertied thing in reality. If the intermediary item is a Fregean sense, then it is not such a constituent, but belongs in a third world (Third Reich?) of its own, a realm of Platonica, sealed off from the realm of primary reference (the first world) containing things like Peter. If the intermediary item is a Castanedan guise, then it is an ontological constituent of Peter.
Connected with this is the dispute whether Husserl's noema is something like Frege's Sinn.
I agree that "there will have to be some conceptual content corresponding to 'Peter' through which Peter will be represented."
This seems to me completely unrelated to the question of rigidity/non-rigidity of reference. It seems to me that all Kripke & Co. can (and do) prove is that names (normally) refer rigidly. But in my opinion rigidity/non-rigidity is not part of the semantics of an expression (Kripke's tacit assumption), but a way of its usage. Undeniably, you can use even a description rigidly, if you choose so. ("The president of the U.S. might very well not be a president" is perfectly meaningful and true, if "the president of the U.S." is meant to rigidly refer to whomever satisfies the description in the actual world.).
BV. Now you have lost me, Lukas. Suppose sense determines reference. And suppose the sense of 'Socrates' is specified by the definite description, 'the wisest Greek philosopher.' Used attributively as opposed to referentially (Donnellan), this definite description is non-rigid: it picks out different individuals in different possible worlds. So if the sense of 'Socrates' is given by 'the wisest Greek philosopher,' then the reference of 'Socrates' will be non-rigid. What then do you mean by "completely unrelated"?
But IMHO there is something true in the "mere label" intuition about names. I take names to have a dual role: First, they serve as imagined labels we use to mark individuals in order to be able to uniquely identify them. So far Kripke's intuitions are correct. But this role of a name is non-linguistic; in this role the name is not a sign but an imagined quasi-property of the individual. We could as well use real labels, real or imagined colours, numbers etc. Once an individual is named ("baptized"), we always have a descriptive content the one who (in this context) bears the name so-and-so uniquely representing that individual at our disposal. If we marked our individuals by means of colours, we would need a special linguistic item to represent such a description: the linguistic phrase "the one who (in this context) is marked by the colour so-and-so". But since we used words and not colours as our labels, we can use these very words as shorthands for such descriptions - and this is (usually) the other, properly linguistic role of proper names. Just like all other categorematic (extra-logical) terms, names in this role stand for a mental content, a "something-qua-mentally-represented" and in virtue of this can linguistically refer to the named individual. Note that this relation of "referring to" is distinct from (and conditioned by) the extra-linguistic relation of "naming" or "being a label of". This is why the theory is not circular (pace Kripke). Many names have this "minimal" meaning; but there are others, like "Jack the Ripper", that are shorthands for more substantial descriptions. But this does not preclude their capability to be used to refer rigidly - which, I would say, is the same thing as to supposit de re (in modal and other (hyper)intensional contexts). You need not expel the "reference-fixing descritpion" from the sphere of meaning in order to save the possibility of rigid reference.
BV: You are on to something important here. We need to distinguish the tagging/labeling function of names from their properly linguistic function. Suppose you and I each have a black cat and that the cats are practically indistinguishable. To tell them apart, to identify them, to refer to them, I put a red collar on mine and you put a blue collar on yours. The collars are tags or labels. As you point out, in effect, these collars are not signs of the cats, but something like properties of them or features of them. The collars by themselves have no semantic or referential function. The collars are, in themselves, senseless tags. The baptizing of a cat is the attaching of a collar. Corresponding to the physical act of my attaching a red collar to my cat is the sense expressed by the sentence, 'the cat with the red collar is Bill's cat.'
What makes the red collar signify Bill's cat cannot be the merely physical fact that the cat wears a red collar. We are brought back to intentionality and sense. A mind (my mind) must intend to mark my cat with a red collar, and to communicate this intention to Lukas I must use some such sentence as 'the cat with the red collar is my cat.'
The semantic function of a name cannot be exhausted by the object to which it refers since no physical item (whether a cat collar or sounds in the air or marks on paper) refers to anything. There has to be more to the semantics of a name than the object to which it refers. A name that actually names something cannot be a senseless tag.
The old man's libido on the wane, he thinks more clearly and more truly about sexual matters. And when the waning of all his physical forces and endowments reaches its term -- will he then think best of all, or not at all?
The dove soars through the air and imagines it could soar higher and with less effort if there were no air to offer resistance. But the dove is mistaken. The dove on the wing does not understand the principle of the wing, Bernoulli's principle. Are we like the dove? The dove needs the air to fly. Do we need the body to think? Is the body necessary for thought? Pascal says that our whole dignity consist in thought. Is our dignity tied of necessity to the flesh ?
Or are we like the rocket whose propulsion has nothing to do with wings, the rocket the principle of whose propulsion is Newton's Third Law of Motion: To every action there is an equal but opposite reaction?
Barack Obama suffers from serious case of the real Islamophobia -- fear of telling the truth about Islam. Even though a "progressive," he says nary a word about the rampant misogyny and homophobia in Islam or about Sharia law whose medieval strictures are preferred by 51% of American Muslims. Nor does he seem to care that so few of these same American Muslims actively oppose radical Islam. The president prefers the Hamas-linked CAIR to courageous reformers like Dr. Zuhdi Jasser. But that's no surprise. For Obama, radical Islam doesn't even exist.
I also note a confusion that has been running through this discussion, about the meaning of ‘contradiction’. I do not mean to appeal to etymology or authority, but it’s important we agree on what we mean by it. On my understanding, a contradiction is not ‘the tallest girl in the class is 18’ and ‘the cleverest girl in the class is not 18’, even when the tallest girl is also the cleverest. Someone could easily believe both, without being irrational. The point of the Kripke puzzle is that Pierre seems to end up with an irrational belief. So it’s essential, as Kripke specifies, that he must correctly understand all the terms in both utterances, and that both utterances are logically contradictory, as in ‘Susan is 18’ and ‘Susan is not 18’.
Do we agree?
Well, let's see. The Maverick method enjoins the exposure of any inconsistent polyads that may be lurking in the vicinity. Sure enough, there is one:
An Inconsistent Triad
a. The tallest girl in the class is the cleverest girl in the class. b. The tallest girl in the class is 18. c. The cleverest girl in the class is not 18.
This trio is logically inconsistent in the sense that it is not logically possible that all three propositions be true. But if we consider only the second two limbs, there is no logical inconsistency: it is possible that (b) and (c) both be true. And so someone, Tom for example, who believes that (b) and also believes that (c) cannot be convicted of irrationality, at least not on this score. For all Tom knows -- assuming that he does not know that (a) -- they could both be true: it is epistemically possible that both be true. This is the case even if in fact (a) is true. But we can say more: it is metaphysically possible that both be true. For (a), if true, is contingently true, which implies that it is is possible that it be false.
By contrast, if Tom entertains together, in the synthetic unity of one consciousness, the propositions expressed by 'Susan is 18 years old' and 'Susan is not 18 years old,' and if Tom is rational, then he will see that the two propositions are logical contradictories of each other, and it will not be epistemically possible for him that both be true. If he nonetheless accepts both, then we have a good reason to convict him of being irrational, in this instance at least.
Given the truth of (a), (b) and (c) cannot both be true and cannot both be false. This suggests that the pair consisting of (b) and (c) is a pair of logical contradictories. But then we would have to say that the contradictoriness of the pair rests on a contingent presupposition, namely, the truth of (a). London Ed will presumably reject this. I expect he would say that the logical contradictoriness of a pair of propositions cannot rest on any contingent presupposition, or on any presupposition at all. Thus
d. Susan is 18
e. Susan is not 18
form a contradictory pair the contradictoriness of which rests on their internal logical form -- Fa, ~Fa -- and not on anything external to the propositions in question.
So what should we say? If Tom believes both (b) and (c), does he have contradictory beliefs? Or not?
The London answer is No! The belief-contents are not formally contradictory even though, given the truth of (a), the contents are such that they cannot both be true and cannot both be false. And because the belief-contents are not formally contradictory, the beliefs themselves -- where a belief involves both an occurrent or dispositional state of a person and a belief-content towards which the person takes up a propositional attitude -- are in no theoretically useful sense logically contradictory.
The Phoenix answer suggestion is that, because we are dealing with the beliefs of a concrete believer embedded in the actual world, there is sense to the notion that Tom's beliefs are contradictory in the sense that their contents are logically contradictory given the actual-world truth of (a). After all, if Susan is the tallest and cleverest girl, and the beliefs in question are irreducibly de re, then Tom believes, of Susan, that she is both 18 and not 18, even if Tom can gain epistemic access to her only via definition descriptions. That belief is de re, irreducibly, is entailed by (SUB), to which Kripke apparently subscribes:
SUB: Proper names are everywhere intersubstitutable salva veritate.
A Second Question
If, at the same time, Peter believes that Paderewski is musical and Peter believes that Paderewski is not musical, does it follow that Peter believes that (Paderewski is musical and Paderewski is not musical)? Could this conceivably be a non sequitur? Compare the following modal principle:
MP: If possibly p and possibly ~p, it does not follow that possibly (p & ~p).
For example, I am now seated, so it is possible that I now be seated; but it is also possible that I now not be seated, where all three occurrences/tokens of 'now' rigidly designate the same time. But surely it doesn't follow that it is possible that (I am now seated and I am now not seated). Is it perhaps conceivable that
BP: If it is believed by S that p and it is believed by S that ~p, it does not follow that it is believed by S that (p & ~p)?
Has anybody ever discussed this suggestion, even if only to dismiss it?
I have spoken before, romantically no doubt, of the mother tongue as our alma mater, our dear mother to whom we owe honor. Mater and matrix of our thoughts, she is yet deeper and higher than our thoughts, their sacred Enabler.
So I was pleased to come across a similar, albeit more trenchant, observation in Karl Kraus' Beim Wort Genommen, Koesel Verlag, 1955, pp. 134-135:
Ich beherrsche die Sprache nicht; aber die Sprache beherrscht mich vollkommen. Sie ist mir nicht die Dienerin meiner Gedanken. Ich lebe in einer Verbindung mit ihr, aus der ich Gedanken empfange, und sie kann mit mir machen, was sie will. Ich pariere ihr aufs Wort. Denn aus dem Wort springt mir der junge Gedanke entgegen und formt rueckwirkend die Sprache, die ihn schuf. Solche Gnade der Gedankentraechtigkeit zwingt auf die Knie und macht allen Aufwand zitternder Sorgfalt zur Pflicht. Die Sprache ist eine Herrin der Gedanken, und wer das Verhaeltnis umzukehren vermag, dem macht sie sich im Hause nuetzlich, aber sie sperrt ihm der Schoss.
I do not dominate language; she dominates me completely. She is not the servant of my thoughts. I live in a relation with her from which I receive thoughts, and she can do with me what she will. I follow her orders. For from the word the fresh thought springs, forming retroactively the language that created it. The grace of language, pregnant with thought, forces me to my knees and makes a duty of my expenditure of trembling conscientiousness. Language is a mistress of thought. To anyone who would reverse the relationship, she makes herself useful but denies access to her womb.
I might have translated Herrin as dominatrix if I wanted to accentuate the masochistic tone of the passage. 'Mistress' is obviously to be read as the female counterpart of 'master.'
The faults of Trump the vulgarian are legion. He is nasty, petty, petulant, egomaniacal . . . no true conservative . . . . So why do so many conservative Christians support him? Here is the answer.
By the way, he acquitted himself well last night, coming in second to Ted Cruz. And he graciously allowed that he was "honored" by his fine showing in Iowa. I would like to see a Cruz-Trump ticket, or a Trump-Cruz ticket. What I'd really like to see is an indictment of Hillary for her crimes. That won't happen, however. Obama's Department of Social Justice won't allow it.
This, the third main incarnation of MavPhil, commenced operations on Halloween, 2008. Since then it has racked up 3,501,215 page views. Daily average: 1,321.21. Total posts: 6,357. Total comments: 8,775.
Will I ever hang up the keyboard? I've been at this, almost daily, since May of 2004.
I can't see myself quitting as long as health and eyesight hold out. Blogging is just too deeply satisfying.
For one thing it satisfies the need to teach of someone who hated most classroom teaching. Philosophy is a magnificent, beautiful, and noble thing, but it is wasted on the typical undergraduate. In a class of 35, five might be worth teaching. And I taught at good schools. That is one of the reasons I resigned a tenured position at the age of 41. If you are reading this, you want to be here, and I'm glad to have you.
Second, blogging attracts the like-minded. Isolation is relieved and friendships are made, the genuine friendships of spiritual affinity as opposed to the superficial ones of mere propinquity. Ralph Waldo Emerson would have been a blogger for sure. "The good of publishing one's thoughts is that of hooking you to like-minded men, and of giving to men whom you value . . . one hour of stimulated thought." (Bliss Perry, The Heart of Emerson's Journals, p. 94.)
Third, blogging is superior to private journal writing because the publicity of it forces one to develop one's ideas more carefully and more thoroughly.
Fourth, the blogger has a reach that far exceeds that of the person who publishes in conventional ways.
I will try to explain it as clearly and succinctly as I can. I will explain the simplest version of the puzzle, the 'monoglot' version. We shall cleave to English as to our dear mother.
The puzzle is generated by the collision of two principles, one concerning reference, the other concerning disquotation. Call them MILL and DISQ.
MILL: The reference of a proper name is direct: not routed through sense as in Frege. The meaning of a name is exhausted by its reference. The semantic value of a name is just the object to which it refers. (Gareth Evans plausibly recommends 'semantic value' as the best translation of Frege's Bedeutung.)
DISQ: If a normal English speaker S sincerely assents, upon reflection, to 'p,' and 'p' is a sentence in English free of indexical elements, pronominal devices, and ambiguities, then S believes that p.
The puzzle is interesting, and not easily solved, because there are good reasons for accepting both principles. The puzzle is puzzling because the collision of the two principles takes the form of a flat-out logical contradiction.
And as we all know, philosophers, while they love paradoxes, hate contradictions.
(DISQ) strikes this philosopher as a principle than which no more luminous can be conceived. How could one who is competent in English and familiar with current events sincerely and reflectively assent to 'Hillary is a liar' and not believe that Hillary is a liar? The intellectual luminosity of (MILL), however, leaves something to be desired. And yet it is plausible, and to many experts, extremely plausible. Brevity being the soul of blog, I cannot now trot out the arguments in support of (MILL).
The collision of (MILL) and (DISQ) occurs at the intersection of Mind and World. It comes about like this. S may assent to
a. Cicero was a Roman
while failing to assent to
b. Tully was a Roman
c. Cicero = Tully.
Given (DISQ), S believes that Cicero was a Roman, but may or may not believe that Tully was a Roman. But how is this possible given the truth of (c)? Given (c), there is no semantic difference between (a) and (b): the predicates are the same, and the names are semantically the same under (MILL). For on the latter principle, the meaning of a name is its referent. So sameness of referent entails sameness of meaning, which is to say: the semantic content of (a) and (b) is the same given the truth of (c).
How can S believe that Cicero was a Roman while neither believing nor disbelieving that Tully was a Roman when the sentences express the very same proposition? This is (an instance of) the puzzle. Here is another form of it. Suppose S assents to (a) but also assents to
d. Tully was not a Roman.
On (DISQ), S believes that Tully is not a Roman. So S believes both that Cicero was a Roman and that Tully was not a Roman. But Cicero = Tully. Therefore, S believes that Cicero was a Roman and S believes that Cicero was not a Roman. This certainly looks like a contradiction.
It seems that our governing principles, (MILL) and (DISQ), when applied to an ordinary example, generate a contradiction, the worst sort of intellectual collision one can have.
The Paderewski case is similar. On different occasions, Peter assents to 'Paderewski is musical' and 'Paderewski is not musical.' He has no qualms about assenting to both since he supposes that this is a case of two men with the same name. But in reality he is referring to one and the same man. By (DISQ), Peter believes both that Paderewski is musical and that Paderewski is not musical. Given (MILL), Peter believes contradictory propositions. How is this possible given that Peter is rational?
Given the luminosity of (DISQ), one might think the solution to Kripke's puzzle about belief is simply to jettison (MILL).
Not so fast. There are powerful arguments for (MILL).
Before one is a conservative or a liberal ideologically, one is a conservative or a liberal temperamentally, or by disposition. Or at least this is a thesis with which I am seriously toying, to put it oxymoronically. The idea is that temperament is a major if not the main determinant of political commitments. First comes the disposition, then come the theoretical articulation, the arguments, and the examination and refutation of the arguments of adversaries. Conservatism and liberalism are bred in the bone before they are born in the brain.
If this is so, it helps explain the bitter and intractable nature of political disagreement, the hatreds that politics excites, the visceral oppositions thinly veiled under a mask of mock civility, the mutual repugnance that goes so deep as to be unlikely to be ascribable to mere differences in thinking. For how does one argue against another's temperament or disposition or sensibility? I can't argue you out of an innate disposition, any more than I can argue you out of being yourself; and if your theoretical framework is little more than a reflection at the level of ideas of an ineradicable temperamental bias, then my arguments cannot be expected to have much influence. A certain skepticism about the role and reach of reason in human affairs may well be the Oakeshottian upshot.
But rather than pursue the question whether temperament is a major if not the main determinant of political commitments, let us address, with the help of Michael Oakeshott, the logically preliminary question of what it is to be conservatively disposed. Here are some passages from his "On Being Conservative" (from Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, Basic Books, 1962, pp. 168-196, bolding added):
The general characteristics of this [conservative] disposition are not difficult to discern, although they have often been mistaken. They centre upon a propensity to use and to enjoy what is available rather than to wish for or to look for something else; to delight in what is present rather than what was or what may be. Reflection may bring to light an appropriate gratefulness for what is available, and consequently the acknowledgment of a gift or an inheritance from the past; but there is no mere idolizing of what is past and gone. What is esteemed is the present; and it is esteemed not on account of its connections with a remote antiquity, nor because it is recognized to be more admirable than any possible alternative, but on account of its familiarity: not, Verweile doch, du bist so schoen, but Stay with me because I am attached to you.
[. . .]
To be conservative, then, is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss. Familiar relationships and loyalties will be preferred to the allure of more profitable attachments; to acquire and to enlarge will be less important than to keep, to cultivate and to enjoy; the grief of loss will be more acute than the excitement of novelty or promise. It is to be equal to one's own fortune, to live at the level of one's own means, to be content with the want of greater perfection which belongs alike to oneself and one's circumstances.
[. . .]
The disposition to be conservative is, then, warm and positive in respect of enjoyment, and correspondingly cool and critical in respect of change and innovation: these two inclinations support and elucidate one another. The man of conservative temperament believes that a known good is not lightly to be surrendered for an unknown better. He is not in love with what is dangerous and difficult; he is unadventurous; he has no impulse to sail uncharted seas; for him there is no magic in being lost, bewildered, or shipwrecked. If forced to navigate the unknown, he sees virtue in heaving the lead every inch of the way. What others plausibly identify as timidity, he recognizes in himself as rational prudence; what others interpret as inactivity, he recognizes as a disposition to enjoy rather than to exploit. He is cautious, and he is disposed to indicate assent or dissent, not in absolute, but in graduated terms. He eyes the situation in terms of its propensity to disrupt the familiarity of the features of his world.
[. . .]
. . . what makes a conservative disposition in politics intelligible is nothing to do with natural law or a providential order, nothing to do with morals or religion; it is the observation of our current manner of living combined with the belief (which from our point of view need be regarded as no more than an hypothesis) that governing is a specific and limited activity, namely the provision and custody of general rules of conduct, which are understood, not as plans for imposing substantive activities, but as instruments enabling people to pursue the activities of their own choice with the minimum frustration, and therefore something which it is appropriate to be conservative about.
[. . .]
And the office of government is not to impose other beliefs and activities upon its subjects, not to tutor or to educate them, not to make them better or happier in another way, not to direct them, to galvanize them into action, to lead them or to coordinate their activities so that no occasion of conflict shall occur; the office of government is merely to rule. This is a specific and limited activity, easily corrupted when it is combined with any other, and, in the circumstances, indispensable. The image of the ruler is the umpire whose business is to administer the rules of the game, or the chairman who governs the debate according to known rules but does not himself participate in it.
[. . .]
. . . the office he attributes to government is to resolve some of the collisions which this variety of beliefs and activities generates; to preserve peace, not by placing an interdict upon choice and upon the diversity that springs from the exercise of preference, not by imposing substantive uniformity, but by enforcing general rules of procedure upon all subjects alike.
Government, then, as the conservative in this matter understands it, does not begin with a vision of another, different, and better world, but with the observation of the self-government practised even by men of passion in the conduct of their enterprises; it begins in the informal adjustments of interests to one another which are designed to release those who are apt to collide from the mutual frustration of a collision. Sometimes these adjustments are no more than agreements between two parties to keep out of each other's way; sometimes they are of wider application and more durable character, such as the International Rules for the prevention of collisions at sea. In short, the intimations of government are to be found in ritual, not in religion or philosophy; in the enjoyment of orderly and peaceable behaviour, not in the search for truth or perfection.
[. . .]
. . . politics is an activity unsuited to the young, not on account of their vices but on account of what I at least consider to be their virtues.
Nobody pretends that it is easy to acquire or to sustain the mood of indifference which this manner of politics calls for. To rein-in one's own beliefs and desires, to acknowledge the current shape of things, to feel the balance of things in one's hand, to tolerate what is abominable, to distinguish between crime and sin, to respect formality even when it appears to be leading to error, these are difficult achievements; and they are achievements not to be looked for in the young. Everybody's young days are a dream, a delightful insanity, a sweet solipsism. Nothing in them has a fixed shape, nothing a fixed price; everything is a possibility, and we live happily on credit. There are no obligations to be observed; there are no accounts to be kept. Nothing is specified in advance; everything is what can be made of it. The world is a mirror in which we seek the reflection of our own desires. The allure of violent emotions is irresistible. When we are young we are not disposed to make concessions to the world; we never feel the balance of a thing in our hands - unless it be a cricket bat. [Jim Morrison: "We wnat the world, and we want it now!"] We are not apt to distinguish between our liking and our esteem; urgency is our criterion of importance; and we do not easily understand that what is humdrum need not be despicable. We are impatient of restraint; and we readily believe, like Shelley, that to have contracted a habit is to have failed. These, in my opinion, are among our virtues when we are young; but how remote they are from the disposition appropriate for participating in the style of government I have been describing. Since life is a dream, we argue (with plausible but erroneous logic) that politics must be an encounter of dreams, in which we hope to impose our own. Some unfortunate people, like Pitt (laughably called "the Younger"), are born old, and are eligible to engage in politics almost in their cradles; others, perhaps more fortunate, belie the saying that one is young only once, they never grow up. But these are exceptions. For most there is what Conrad called the "shadow line" which, when we pass it, discloses a solid world of things, each with its fixed shape, each with its own point of balance, each with its price; a world of fact, not poetic image, in which what we have spent on one thing we cannot spend on another; a world inhabited by others besides ourselves who cannot be reduced to mere reflections of our own emotions. And coming to be at home in this commonplace world qualifies us (as no knowledge of "political science" can ever qualify us), if we are so inclined and have nothing better to think about, to engage in what the man of conservative disposition understands to be political activity.
Saul Kripke's Paderewski puzzle put me in mind of a rather similar puzzle -- call it the Ortcutt puzzle -- from W.V. Quine's seminal 1956 J. Phil. paper, "Quantifiers and Propositional Attitudes" (in The Ways of Paradox, Harvard UP, 1976, pp. 185-196). Back to Ortcutt!
The ordinary language 'Ralph believes that someone is a spy' is ambiguous as between the de dicto
a. Ralph believes that (∃x)(x is a spy)
and the de re
b. (∃x)(Ralph believes that x is a spy).
To believe that someone is a spy is very different from believing, of a particular person, that he is a spy. Most of us believe the former, but few of us believe the latter.
Despite Quine's queasiness about quantifying into belief contexts, and intensional contexts generally, (b) is intelligible. Suppose (b) is true: someone is believed by Ralph to be a spy. This existentially general sentence cannot be true unless some particular person is believed by Ralph to be a spy. Let that person be Bernard J. Ortcutt.
Now suppose Ralph has several times seen a man in a brown hat hanging around dubious venues, a man Ralph takes to be a spy. There is also a man that Ralph has seen once on the beach, an elderly gray-haired gent who Ralph takes to be a pillar of the community. (Assume that, in Ralph's mind at least, no pillar of a community is a spy.) Unbeknownst to Ralph, the 'two' men are one and the same man, Ortcutt.
Does Ralph believe, of Ortcutt, that he is a spy or not?
Suppose de re belief is irreducible to de dicto belief. What we then have is a relation (possibly triadic) that connects Ralph to the concrete individual Ortcutt himself and not to a name or description or a Fregean sense or any doxastic intermediary in the mind of Ralph such as a concept or idea, or to any incomplete object that is an ontological constituent of Ralph such as one of Hector-Neri Castaneda's ontological guises, or to anything else other than Ortcutt himself, that completely determinate chunk of extramental and extralinguistic reality.
It would seem to follow on the above supposition that Ralph believes, of Ortcutt, that he is both a spy and not a spy. It seems to follow that Ralph has contradictory beliefs. How so? Well, if there is de re belief, and it is irreducible to de dicto belief, then there is a genuine relation, not merely an intentional 'relation' or a notional 'relation' that connects Ralph to Ortcutt himself who exists. (A relation is genuine just in case its holding between or among its relata entails that each relatum exists.) Under the description 'the man in the brown hat,' Ralph believes, of Ortcutt, that he is a spy. But under the description 'the man on the beach,' he believes, of Ortcutt, that he is not a spy. So Ralph believes, of one and the same man, that he is a spy and not a spy. Of course, Ralph does not know or suspect that the 'two' men are the same man. But he doesn't need to know or suspect that for the de re belief relation to hold.
The above seems to amount to a reductio ad absurdum of the notion of irreducible de re belief. For if we accept it, then it seems we must accept the possibility of a rational person's having contradictory beliefs about one and the same item. Why not then try to reduce de re belief to de dicto belief? Roderick Chisholm, following Quine, attempts a reduction in Appendix C of Person and Object (Open Court, 1976, pp. 168-172)
A Reductio ad Absurdum Argument Against a Millian Theory of Proper Names
c. If a normal English speaker S, on reflection, sincerely assents to a sentence 'a is F,' then S believes that a is F. (Kripke's disquotational principle) d. If a Millian theory of proper names is correct, then the linguistic function of a name is exhausted by the fact that it names its bearer. e. Peter sincerely assents to both 'Paderewski is musical' and 'Paderewski is not musical.' (Kripke's Paderewski example) Therefore f. Peter believes both that Paderewsi is musical and that Paderewski is not musical. (From c) Therefore g. Peter believes, of one and the same man, Paderewski, that he is both musical and not musical. (From f, d) h. Peter believes a contradiction. (From g) i. Peter is rational, and no rational person believes a contradiction. Therefore j. Peter is rational and Peter is not rational. (From h,i) Therefore k. (d) is false: Millianism about proper names is incorrect.
Interim Tentative Conclusion
Millianism about proper names entails that there are cases of de re belief that are irreducible to cases of de dicto belief. This is turn entails contradictions, as in Paderewski-type cases. Therefore, Millianism about proper names entails contradictions. So we have here a powerful argument against Millianism. But there are also poweful arguments against the alternatives to Millianism. So I conjecture that we are in the presence of a genuine aporia, an insoluble problem (insoluble by us), that is yet genuine, i.e., not a pseudo-problem.
Not a pretty sight: the representatives of a superior culture abasing themselves before the representatives of an inferior one.
Decadent Europe may already be lost. But we still have time to learn.
Do you think Italy might contain a few cultural treasures worth preserving? Then you may want to inform yourself of the fact that Muslims are not known for their preservation of antiquities. See The Destruction of the Middle East for starters.
There is a deep paradox here that would require a lot of writing to set forth properly. Roughly, it is the very superiority of our culture with its philosophy, science, free speech, open inquiry, toleration of dissent, freedom of religion, and the whole panoply of Enlightenment values together with the advanced technology and prosperity that they make possible that has led and is leading us into decadence. Our superiority is thus breeding inferiority so that we become easy marks for an inferior culture that believes in itself and its benighted values and is, insofar forth, superior to us in its will to dominate us by any and all methods.
UPDATE (2/1): Malcolm Pollack (HT: Bill Keezer) writes:
I meant to comment on this when it happened a few days ago:
In further concession to Iranian president, official dinner with Italian PM does not include wine on the menu
What a craven, flabby, neutered thing our civilization has become. This is what ACID syndrome does to its victims: it sickens and enervates them with doubt; it destroys and disables their confidence, potency, and virility; it paralyzes them in the face of peril; it turns their bones and sinews to jelly.
In contrast: Winston Churchill, who was to host a dinner attended by ibn Saud, was told by the Arabian king that those attending must not drink or smoke in his presence. His response?
I said that if it was his religion that made him say such things, my religion prescribed as an absolute sacred ritual smoking cigars and drinking alcohol before, after and if need be during, all meals and the intervals between them. Complete surrender.
The Dead Smokers' Society hereby registers its opposition to this anti-tobacco Islamo-wackery. Carpe fumam!
London Ed wants to discuss the Paderewski example in Saul Kripke's "A Puzzle About Belief." But before doing so we should see if we agree on some preliminary points. Knowing Ed, he will probably find a way to disagree with a good chunk what I am about to say. So I expect we will get bogged down in preliminaries and never proceed to Paderewski. We shall see. Kripke references are to Philosophical Troubles, Oxford 2011.
Belief de re and belief de dicto
Kripke makes it clear that he is concerned only with belief de dicto in the paper in question (128). So we need to understand the restriction. The following I take to be constructions expressive of belief de re.
Cicero is believed by Tom to be a Roman Cicero is believed to be a Roman by Tom Cicero is such that Tom believes him to be a Roman Tom believes, of Cicero, that he is a Roman
De re means: of or pertaining to the res, the thing, where 'of' is an objective genitive. De dicto means: of or pertaining to the dictum, that which is said (dico, dicere, dixi, dictum), where the 'of' is again an objective genitive. A dictum is the content of an assertive utterance. It is a proposition, what Frege called a thought (ein Gedanke), not a thinking, but the accusative of a thinking. I am not assuming a Fregean as opposed to a Russellian theory of propositions. But we do need to speak of propositions. And Kripke does. For the time being we can say that propositions are the objects/accusatives/contents of such propositional attitudes as belief. Of course they have other roles to play as well.
What makes the above sentences de re is that they ascribe a property to Cicero as he is in himself, and not as he appears before the mind of Tom. Or at least that is the way I would put it. Because of this the following argument is valid:
Cicero is believed by Tom to be a Roman Cicero = Tully Ergo Tully is believed by Tom to be a Roman.
The presiding principle is the Indiscernibility of Identicals: if x = y, then whatever is true of x is true of y and vice versa. So if Cicero = Tully, and the former is believed by Tom to be a Roman, then Tully is also believed by Tom to be a Roman. This is so even if Tom has never heard of Tully, or has heard of him but has no opinion as to his identity or non-identity with Cicero. But the following argument, whose initial premise is expressive of belief de dicto, is invalid:
Tom believes that: Cicero is a Roman. Cicero = Tully Ergo Tom believes that: Tully is a Roman.
The conclusion does not follow in the de dicto case because (i) Tom may never have heard of Tully and neither believes nor disbelieves anything about him, (ii) or Tom has heard of Tully but has no opinion about his identity or non-identity with Cicero. What this example suggests is that codesignative singular terms are not everywhere intersubstitutable salva veritate. The Latin phrase means: in a truth-preserving manner. De dicto belief contexts are thus contexts in which intersubstitutability of coreferential names appears to fail. Thus if we substitute 'Tully' for 'Cicero' in the initial premise, we turn a truth into a falsehood despite the fact that the two names refer to the same man.
What this suggests, in turn, is that there is more to the semantics of a proper name than its reference. It suggests that names have both sense and reference. It suggests that what Tom has before his mind, the proposition toward which he takes up the propositional attitude of belief, does not have as subject-constituent Cicero himself, warts and all, but a mode of presentation (Frege: Darstellungsweise) of the man himself, a sense (Sinn) that determines the reference to the man himself.
Before proceeding, we note the difference between the de re
There is someone Tom believes to be a faithful husband
and the de dicto
Tom believes that: there are faithful husbands.
The first entails the second, but the second does not entail the first. For if one believes that there are faithful husbands, one needn't believe, of any particular man, that he is a faithful husband. What one believes is that some man or other is a faithful husband. Tom: "I'm sure there are faithful husbands; I just can't name one."
A problem for a Millian theory of proper names
Kripke tells us that on a "strict Millian view . . . the linguistic function of a proper name is completely exhausted by the fact that it names its bearer . . . ." (127) Whether or not this is the view of the historical J. S. Mill is of no present concern. The Millian view contrasts with the Fregean view according to which names have reference-determining senses. The problem posed for Millian names by de dicto belief may be set forth as an aporetic tetrad:
a. There is no semantic difference between codesignative Millian proper names. b. If (a), then 'a is F' and 'b is F' express the same proposition where 'a' and 'b' are both Millian and codesignative. c. A person who believes a proposition cannot doubt or disbelieve that same proposition. d. There are countless cases in which a person believes a proposition of the form a is F while doubting or disbelieving a proposition of the form b is F even when a = b.
This foursome is clearly inconsistent. But each of the limbs, with the exception of the first, is extremely plausible if not undeniable. So the natural solution is to jettison (a) and with it Millian semantics for proper names. But this is what the Millian Kripke is loath to do. He has already convinced himself that ordinary proper names are rigid designators whose designation does not depend on reference-determining senses.
I support the superannuated socialist Sanders for president -- of Sweden.
(Adapted from a Rubio riff from last night's Republican debate. Always give credit where credit is due. Thou shalt not steal.)
Sanders is a decent human being as far as I can tell. He is not a stealth ideologue like the disgusting Hillary who hides her actual views behind a tsunami of blather. And unlike Hillary the Mendacious, he is not just out for his own advancement. Sanders is sincerely concerned for the welfare of working men and women. But while he has the courage of his convictions, he has the wrong convictions. Like so many leftists, he will not learn from experience. Socialism has proven to be a miserable failure, and worse than that: in many places it has led to mass murder and the gulag. But the Left is utopian in addition to being totalitarian, and so you cannot expect leftists to learn from experience.
Experience is of the present and the past; leftists live in and for the future. Incapable of appreciating a genuine Transcendence, they believe is an ersatz transcendence to be attained by 'progressive' politics. It's an illusion, but one definatory of the leftist worldview.
The former mayor of New York City threatens to run on a third-party ticket. I just now heard Hugh Hewitt on the Charlie Rose show encourage him on the ground that he would siphon votes from Hillary. Hewitt might be right given Bloomberg's leftist views. Herewith, an edited re-post from 18 June 2012.
Michael Bloomberg on the Purpose of Government
(CBS News) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg shrugged off criticism of his controversial public health initiatives, saying that "if government's purpose isn't to improve the health and longevity of its citizens, I don't know what its purpose is." [emphasis added.]
Bloomberg most recently put forth a plan to ban the sale of sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces from the city's eateries, street carts and stadiums. The proposal has been sharply criticized, in some cases by beverage and fast food companies as a case of government overreach.
He's also been criticized for previous efforts to, among other things, ban smoking in public places and the use of trans-fats in restaurant foods. Some have gone so far as to mock has as being like a "nanny."
But on "CBS This Morning," Bloomberg fired back, saying, "We're not here to tell anybody what to do. But we certainly have an obligation to tell them what's the best science and best medicine says is in their interest.
In this startlingly incoherent outburst, Bloomberg betrays the liberal nanny-state mentality in as direct a way as one could wish. And it is incoherent. He wants to ban large drinks, pop corn, milk shakes and what all else while assuring us that "we're not here to tell anybody what to do." He blatantly contradicts himself. Does the man think before he speaks?
But the deeper problem is that he has no notion of the legitimate functions of government. Apparently he has never heard of limited government. Border control is a legitimate constitutionally-grounded function of government. One reason the borders must be controlled is to impede the spread of contagious diseases. So government does have some role to play in the health and longevity of citizens. Defense of the country against foreign aggressors is also a legitimate function of government and it too bears upon health and longevity: it is hard to live a long and healthy life when bombs are raining down.
Beyond this, it is up to the individual to live in ways that insure health and longevity if those are values for him. But they might not be. Some value intensity of life over longevity of life. Rod Serling, for example, lived an extremely intense and productive life. Born in 1925, he died in 1975 at age 50. His Type A behavior and four-pack a day cigarette habit did him in, but was also quite possibly a necessary condition of his productivity. That was his free choice. No government has the right to dictate that one value longevity over intensity.
A government big enough and powerful enough to provide one with ‘free’ health care will be in an excellent position to demand ‘appropriate’ behavior from its citizens – and to enforce its demand. Suppose you enjoy risky sports such as motorcycling, hang gliding, mountain climbing and the like. Or perhaps you just like to drink or smoke or eat red meat. A government that pays for the treatment of your injuries and ailments can easily decide, on economic grounds alone, to forbid such activities under the bogus justification, ‘for your own good.’
But even if the government does not outlaw motorcycling, say, they can put a severe dent in your liberty to enjoy such a sport, say, by demanding that a 30% sales tax be slapped on all motorcycle purchases, or by outlawing bikes whose engines exceed a certain displacement, say 250 cc. In the same way that governments levy arbitrary punitive taxes on tobacco products, they can do the same for anything they deem risky or unhealthy.
The situation is analogous to living with one’s parents. It is entirely appropriate for parents to say to a child: ‘As long as you live under our roof, eat at our table, and we pay the bills, then you must abide by our rules. When you are on your own, you may do as you please.’ The difference, of course, is that it is relatively easy to move out on one’s own, but difficult to forsake one’s homeland.
This is why we shouldn't surrender our country to nanny-state, gun-grabbing, liberty-bashing soda jerks like Bloomberg and Hillary.
The nub of the issue is liberty. Do you value it or not? How much? Over nanny-state security?
Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Vatican II, states that the Mohammedans “profess their faith as the faith of Abraham, and with us they worship the one, merciful God who will judge men on the last day” (par 16). At first sight, that statement appears friendly and matter-of-fact; the “faith” of Muslims is evidently thought to be the same “with us”. We “agree” about a last judgment and a merciful God who is one. This mutual understanding apparently comes from Abraham. This way of putting the issue argues to a common origin of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, each of which “appeared” in history at different times—the New Testament some twelve hundred years after Abraham and Islam some seven hundred years after the time of Christ.
[. . .]
In the West, Islam refers to the religion preached in Arabia by Mohammed beginning in the seventh century. But the Muslims themselves consider their religion to be much older than Mohammed. Indeed, it is said to go directly to Allah, passing through nothing, not even the interpretation of Mohammed. In this sense, Mohammed was in no sense an “author” of the Qur’an as the evangelists were said to be “authors” of their respective Gospels, or as the prophet Samuel was said to be the author of the Books of Samuel.
[. . .]
The Qur’an also relativizes the Old and New Testaments as faulty documents that have stolen or mis-interpreted the original Qur’an text properly located in the mind of Allah. The most obvious comment on this understanding is that the opposite is what happened. The Qur’an was itself a selection and interpretation from earlier Jewish and Christian sources. When this became obvious, a theory developed of a prior revelation in the mind of Allah that was only later spoken through Mohammed. This view became the device to save Islam from incoherence.
This is relevant to the question whether Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
Some seem to think that the common Abrahamic origin of Christianity and Islam shows that one and the same God is worshiped, albeit in different ways, by the two religions. But this is not the Muslim understanding of things given that they hold that the Old and New Testaments are based on theft and misinterpretation of the original Qu'ranic texts in the mind of God . The common origin for Muslims is in the eternal, pre-existent Qu'ran with Judaism and Christianity being falsifications.
It is not as if God progressively reveals himself in Judaism, Christinaity, and Islam. For Muslims, the Qur'an pre-exists eternally in the mind of Allah. Muhammad merely takes dictation. The eternal Word of God is not a person but a book -- in Arabic, no less. God does not freely reveal himself to man as in Judaism and Christinaity: the divine revelation is already there in final form in the mind of God.
These considerations seem to put considerable stress on the notion that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
Despite their name, liberals seem uninterested or insufficiently interested in the 'real' liberties, those pertaining to property, money, and guns, as opposed to the 'ideal' liberties, those pertaining to freedom of expression. A liberal will go to any extreme when it comes to defending the right to express his precious self no matter how inane or obnoxious or socially deleterious the results of his self-expression; but he cannot muster anything like this level of energy when it comes to defending the right to keep what he earns or the right to defend himself and his family from the criminal element from which liberal government fails to protect him. He would do well to reflect that his right to express his vacuous self needs concrete back-up in the form of economic and physical clout. Scribbler that I am, I prize freedom of expression; but I understand what makes possible its retention.
Taxation then is a liberty issue before it is a 'green eye shade' issue: the more the government takes, the less concrete liberty you have. Without money you can't get your kids out of a shitty public school system that liberals have destroyed with their tolerate-anything mentality; without money you cannot live in a decent and secure neighborhood. Without money you can't move out of a state such as California which is 'under water' due to liberal fiscal irresponsibility.
Taxation is a liberty issue. That is one thought as April 15th approaches. Another is that the government must justify its taking; the onus is not on you to justify your keeping.
Government exists to serve us, not the other way around.
"I am grieved by the transitoriness of things," wrote Friedrich Nietzsche in a letter to Franz Overbeck, dated 24 March 1887. (Quoted in R. Hayman, Nietzsche: A Critical Life, Penguin, 1982, p. 304)
What is the appropriate measure of grief at impermanence?
While we are saddened by the transience of things, that they are transient shows that their passing is not worthy of the full measure of our sadness. You are saddened by loss, but what exactly did you lose? Something that was meant to last forever? Something that could last forever? Something that was worth lasting forever?
Sadness at the passing of what must pass often indicates an inordinate love of the finite, when an ordinate love loves it as finite and no more. But sadness also bespeaks a sense that there is more than the finite. For if we had no sense of the Infinite why would we bestow upon the finite a value and reality it cannot bear?
Sadness thus points down to the relative unreality and unimportance of the world of time and change while pointing up to the absolute reality and importance of its Source.
But Nietzsche, of the tribe of Heraclitus, could not bring himself to believe in the Source. His bladed intellect would not allow it. But his heart was that of homo religiosus. So he had resort to a desperate and absurd measure in reconciliation of heart and head: the Eternal Recurrence of the Same, as if the redemption of time could be secured by making it cyclical and endless.
This is no solution at all.
The problem with time is not that it will end, but that its very mode of Being is deficient. The problem is not that our time is short, but that we are in time in the first place. For this reason, more time is no solution. Not even endlessly recurring time is any solution. Even if time were unending and I were omnitemporal, existing at every time, my life would still be strung out in moments outside of each other, with the diachronic identifications of memory and expectation no substitute for a true unity.
To the moment I say, with Faust, Verweile doch, du bist so schön (Goethe, Faust) but the beautiful moment will not abide, and abidance-in-memory is a sorry substitute, and a self diachronically constituted by such makeshifts is arguably no true self. Existing as we do temporally, we are never at one with ourselves: the past is no longer, the future not yet, and the present fleeting. We exist outside ourselves in temporal ec-stasis. We are strung out in temporal diaspora. The only Now we know is the nunc movens.
But we sense and can conceive a nunc stans, a standing now. This conception of a standing now, empty here below except for the rare and partial mystic fulfillments vouchsafed only to some, is the standard relative to which the moving now is judged ontologically deficient. Time is but a moving and inadequate image of eternity.
So we of the tribe of Plato conceive of the divine life as the eternal life, not as the omnitemporal or everlasting life.
We too weep with Heraclitus, but our weeping is ordinate, adjusted to the grade of reality of that over which we weep. And our weeping is tempered by joy as we look beyond this scene of flux. For as Nietzsche says in Zarathustra, "all joy/desire wants eternity, wants deep, deep, eternity." All Lust will Ewigkeit, will tiefe, tiefe, Ewigkeit!
This longing joy, this joyful longing, is it evidence of the reality of its Object? Great minds have thought so. But you won't be able to prove it one way or the other. So in the end you must decide how you will live and what you will believe.
Grandmaster Larry Evans, in his column "Evans on Chess" (Chess Life, September 2005, pp. 46-47), reproduces a letter from an anonymous high school science teacher from Northwest Louisiana. It seems that this fellow introduced his students to chess and that they responded enthusiastically. The administration, however, issued a policy forbidding all board games. In justification of this idiocy, one of the PC-heads argued that in chess there are definite winners and losers whereas educators need to see that everyone succeeds.
Please note that it is bad preparation for a world in which there are definite winners and losers to ban games in which there are definite winners and losers.
GM Evans points out that this lunacy has surfaced elsewhere. "In 1998, for example, Oak Mountain Intermediate School in Shelby County, Alabama (a suburb of Birmingham) banned chess (because it is too competitive!) but had two baseball stadiums with night-lights for evening play." (CL p. 47)
One of the things that liberals have a hard time understanding is that competition is good. It breeds excellence. Another thing that is not understood is that competition is consistent with cooperation. They are not mutually exclusive. We cannot compete without cooperating within a broad context of shared assumptions and values. Competition need not be inimical to cooperation. 'Competition is good' is a normative claim. But competition is also a fact of life, one not likely to disappear. A school that bans competitive activities cannot be said to be preparing students for extramural reality.
Competition not only breeds excellence, it breeds humility. When you compete you become better, but you also come to know your limits. You come to learn that life is hierarchical. Competition puts you in your place.
Part of the problem is that liberals and leftists (is there any difference nowadays?) make a fetish of equality. Now I'm all for equality of opportunity, equality before the law, treating like cases in a like manner, and all the rest of what may be subsumed under the broad rubric of formal or procedural equality. I am opposed to discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and creed. I want people judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. (And precisely for that reason I judge your typical rapper and your typical race hustler to be a contemptible lout.)
But as a matter of fact, people are not equal materially viewed, and making them equal is not a value. In fact, it involves injustice. It is unjust to give the same grade to a student who masters algebra and to a student who barely understands it. People differ in ability, and they differ in application. Some make use of their abilities, some let them lie fallow. That is their free choice. If a person makes use of his abilities and prospers, then he is entitled to the outcome, and it is unjust to deny it to him. I don't deserve my intelligence, but I am entitled to what I gain from its legitimate use. Or is that a difficult distinction to understand?
There will never be equality of outcome, and it is fallacious to argue as many liberals do that inequality of outcome proves inequality of opportunity. Thus one cannot validly infer
1. There is no equality of opportunity from 2. There is no equality of outcome except in the presence of some such false assumption as 3. People are equal in their abilities and in their desire to use them.
People are not equal in their abilities and they are not equal in their desire to use them. That is a fact. Liberals will not accept this fact because it conflicts with their ideology. When they look at the world, they do not see it as it is, but as they want it to be.
Causal theories of reference strike me as hopeless, which is not to say that descriptivist theories are in the clear. (There are also hybrid theories that we ought to discuss.) For now let's see how causal theories fare with the problem of negative existentials. Not well, I shall argue. In particular, how might a causal theorist makes sense of the negative existential, 'God does not exist'?
There are clear cases in which 'exist(s)' functions as a second-level predicate, a predicate of properties or concepts or propositional functions or cognate items, and not as a predicate of individuals. The affirmative general existential 'Horses exist,' for example, can be understood as making an instantiation claim: 'The concept horse is instantiated.' Accordingly, the sentence does not predicate existence of individual horses; it predicates instantiation of the concept horse.
This sort of analysis is well-nigh mandatory in the case of negative general existentials such as 'Flying horses do not exist.' Here we have a true sentence that cannot possibly be about flying horses for the simple reason that there aren't any. (One can make a move into Meinong's jungle here, but there are good reasons for not going there.) On a reasonable parsing the negative existential in question is about the concept flying horse, and says of this concept that it has no instances.
The same analysis works for negative singular existentials like 'Pegasus does not exist.' Pace Meinong, everything exists. So, given the truth of 'Pegasus does not exist,' 'Pegasus' cannot be taken as naming Pegasus. Since 'Pegasus' has meaning, contributing as it does to the meaning of the true sentence, 'Pegasus does not exist,' and since 'Pegasus' lacks a referent, a natural conclusion to draw is that the meaning of 'Pegasus' is not exhausted by its reference: it has a sense whether or not it has a referent. So, along Russellian lines, we may analyze 'Pegasus does not exist' as, 'It is not the case that there exists an x such that x is the winged horse of Greek mythology.' Or we can take a page from Quine and say that nothing pegasizes. What we have done in effect is to treat the singular term 'Pegasus' as a predicate and read the sentence as a denial that this predicate applies to anything.
In this way the paradox attaching to singular negative existentials is removed. But the Russell-Quine analysis is based on the assumption that names are definite descriptions in disguise (Russell) or else transformable into predicates (Quine). But how does one deal with the problem of negative existentials if one denies the Russell-Quine approach to proper names, holding instead that they refer directly to their nominata, and not via the sense of a definite description or Searlean disjunction of definite descriptions?
Keith Donnellan tackles this problem in "Speaking of Nothing" (reprinted in S. P. Schwarz, ed., Naming, Necessity, and Natural Kinds, Cornell UP, 1977, pp. 216-244).
Consider 'Santa Claus does not exist.' What does a child come to learn when he learns this truth? He does not learn, as a Russellian would have it, that nothing in reality answers to (satisfies) a certain description; what he learns is that the historical chain leading back from his use of 'Santa Claus' ends in a 'block':
When the historical explanation of the use of a name (with the intention to refer) ends in this way with events that preclude any referent being identified, I will call it a "block" in the history. In this [Santa Claus] example, the block is the introduction of the name into the child's speech via a fiction told to him as reality by his parents. (237)
Having defined 'block,' Donnellan supplies a rule for negative existence statements, a rule which he says does not purport to supply the meaning of negative existentials but their truth-conditions:
If N is a proper name that has been used in predicative statements with the intention to refer to some individual, then 'N does not exist' is true if and only if the history of those uses ends in a block. (239)
'God' would appear to satisfy the antecedent of this conditional, so Donnellan's theory implies that 'God does not exist' is true if and only if the history of the uses of 'God' ends in a block.
There is something wrong with this theory. If 'God does not exist' is true, then we may ask: what makes it true? What is the truth-maker of this truth? The most natural answer is that extralinguistic reality makes it true, more precisely, the fact that reality contains nothing that could be referred to as God. Reality is godless. There is nothing linguistic about this truth-maker. Of course, if 'God does not exist' is true, then 'God' does not refer to anything, and if 'God' does not refer to anything then the sentence 'God does not exist' is true. But the wholly nonlinguistic fact of God's nonexistence is not identical to the partially linguistic fact of 'God''s not referring to anything. Why not? Consider the following modal argument:
1. God's nonexistence, if it obtains, obtains in every possible world. 2. The fact of 'God''s not referring to anything obtains in only some possible worlds. (Because the English language exists in only some worlds.) Therefore 3. The two facts are distinct.
The argument just given assumes in its initial premise Anselm's Insight: if God exists, then he necessarily exists, and if he does not, then he is impossible. But I don't need this assumption. I can argue as follows:
5. God's nonexistence, if it obtains, obtains in some possible worlds. 6. Among these possible worlds, some are worlds in which English does not exist. Therefore 7. There is at least one world in which neither God nor the English language exists, which implies that God's nonexistence in that world cannot have as truthmaker any fact involving the name 'God.'
Let me put it another way. If 'God does not exist' is true, then the same fact can be expressed in German: 'Gott existiert nicht.' This is one fact expressible in two different languages. But the fact of 'God''s not referring to anything is a different fact from the fact of 'Gott''s not referring to anything. The facts are different because they involve different word-types. Therefore, neither fact can be identical to the fact of God's nonexistence.
Since the two facts are different, the wholly nonlinguistic fact of God's nonexistence cannot have as a truth-condition the partially linguistic fact of the history of uses of 'God' ending in a block, contrary to what Donnellan says. If one assertively utters 'God does not exist,' and if what one says is true, then extralinguistic reality must be a certain way: it must be godless. This godlessness of reality, if it indeed obtains, cannot be tied to the existence of any contingent language like English.
Note that the descriptivist need not fall into Donnellan's trap. When he assertively utters 'God does not exist' he says in effect that all or most of the properties associated with the use of 'God' -- such properties as omniscience, etc. -- are not instantiated: nothing in extralinguistic reality has them. Since these properties can be viewed as having an objective, extralinguistic existence, the descriptivist needn't tie the existence/nonexistence of God to the existence of any contingent language.
When the men on the chessboard Get up and tell you where to go And you've just had some kind of mushroom And your mind is moving low. Go ask Alice I think she'll know. When logic and proportion Have fallen sloppy dead, And the White Knight is talking backwards And the Red Queen's "off with her head!" Remember what the dormouse said: "Feed your head. Feed your head. Feed your head"
. . . Make the white queen run so fast she hasn't got time to make you a wife
'Cause it's time, it's time in time with your time and it's news is captured for the queen to use Move me on to any black square Use me anytime you want Just remember that the goal Is for us all to capture all we want, anywhere
Don't surround yourself with yourself Move on back two squares Send an instant karma to me Initial it with loving care Don't surround yourself
'Cause it's time, it's time in time with your time and it's news is captured for the queen to use . . .
The other night I caught a bit of the debate in the House of Commons about whether Donald Trump should be let into the U. K. for a visit. That's rich. A bizarre straining at a gnat while swallowing a camel of unassimilable elements who spell the eventual doom of the host culture. Am I exaggerating? By how much? Am I just plain wrong? I hope so!
In other news, in the land of poets and thinkers, an imam in Cologne blames the rapes and assaults of women and girls on their mode of dress and olfactory attractiveness. "They were half-naked and wearing perfume." That Koelnisch Wasser will do it every time.
Sami Abu-Yusuf agrees with Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker, who also blamed the victims and promised to give the women of Cologne “guidance” so they could “prepare” next time. Presumably she will direct them not to be “half naked and wearing perfume.” A hijab might set off their ensemble quite nicely, and avoiding provoking the poor Muslim migrants.
We'll have to see what happens. Perhaps as Europe and the U. K. go under, we will wake up in time. If the hate-America leftists let us.
It is actually a great time for a philosopher to be alive. Grist for the mill, owl of Minerva, all those by now overworked MavPhil tropes.