Right Order: Finish your schooling; find a job that promises to be satisfying over the long haul and stick with it; eliminate debts and save money; get married after due consultation with both heads, especially the big one; have children.
Wrong Order: Have children; get married; take any job to stay alive; get some schooling to avoid working in a car wash for the rest of your life.
I greatly admire Victor Reppert for a number of reasons - I think the Argument from Reason is pretty amazing and effective when formulated and defended well, and Victor remains one of the most soft-spoken and polite bloggers around.
But a number of thoughts occurred to me when reading his and your post.
Victor shows some deep distrust of law enforcement officials - he mentions how there's plenty of Mark Fuhrmans on the police force, and basically asserts that he doesn't trust them to enforce laws like this appropriately.
There is the beauty, the silence, the peace, the nonsocial reality of nature, but there is also the shift away from the mind back to the sweating, toiling body on earth. Exercise in an artificial environment is not the same, nor is 'windshield tourism.' You should take your Nature straight, in a direct encounter, boots to the trail, not mediated through glass.
Arizona Senate Bill 1070 "requires a reasonable attempt to be made to determine the immigration status of a person during any legitimate contact made by an official or agency of the state or a county, city, town . . . if reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the U.S." See here and here for the full text.
That illegal aliens and those who profit from them should object to this legislation comes as no surprise. But it does come as a bit of surprise to find native Arizonan Victor Reppert, who to my knowledge neither employs, nor defends in courts of law, nor otherwise profits from illegal aliens, saying this at his blog:
Police in our state have now been given the authority to demand papers on anyone of whom they have a reasonable suspicion that they are illegal aliens. The trouble is, about the only reason for suspicion that I can think of that someone is in the country illegally is if they have brown skin, or speak Spanish instead of English, or English with an Mexican accent.
I'm afraid Victor isn't thinking very hard. He left out the bit about " during any legitimate contact made by an official . . . ." Suppose a cop pulls over a motorist who has a tail light out. He asks to see the motorist's driver's license. The driver doesn't have one. That fact, by itself, does not prove that the motorist is an illegal alien; but together with other facts (no registration, no proof of insurance, speaks no English . . .) could justify an inquiry into the motorist's immigration status. Hundreds of examples like this are generable ad libitum.
S. B. 1070 is a reasonable response to the Federal government's failure to enforce U. S. immigration law. Border control is a legitimate, constitutionally-grounded function of government. (See Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.) When the Feds fail to uphold the rule of law, the states, counties, etc. must do so. If you don't understand why we need border control, I refer you to my longer piece, Immigration Legal and Illegal.
According to one 'argument,' Arizona Senate Bill 1070 disproportionately targets Hispanics and is objectionable for that reason. That's like arguing that the RICO statutes disproportionately target Italians. I don't know whether people of Italian extraction are disproportionately involved in organized crime, but if they are, then that is surely no valid objection to the RICO statutes. The reason Hispanics will be disproportionately affected is because they disproportionately break the immigration laws. The quota mentality is behind this 'argument.'
Alfred North Whitehead's The Aims of Education and Other Essays (Macmillan, 1929) begins with this paragraph:
Culture is activity of thought, and receptiveness to beauty and humane feeling. Scraps of information have nothing to do with it. A merely well-informed man is the most useless bore on God's earth. What we should aim at producing is men who possess both culture and expert knowledge in some special direction. Their expert knowledge will give them the ground to start from, and their culture will lead them as deep as philosophy and as high as art. We have to remember that the valuable intellectual development is self-development, and that it mostly takes place between the ages of sixteen and thirty. As to training, the most important part is given by mothers before the age of twelve. A saying due to Archbishop Temple illustrates my meaning. Surprise was expressed at the success in after-life of a man, who as a boy at Rugby had been somewhat undistinguished. He answered, "It is not what they are at eighteen, it is what they become afterwards that matters."
That few today understand what education is is betrayed by the readiness of all too many to use 'educate' in place of 'inform.' Suppose you tell me about some petty fact. You have not 'educated' me, you have given me a scrap of information. The educated person is not the one whose head is stuffed with information, but the one whose experientially-honed judgment is capable of making sense of information. To become well-informed is not difficult; to become well-educated is a task of self-development for a lifetime.
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Book One, Section Two (tr. Kaufmann):
. . . to stand in the midst of this rerum concordia discors [discordant concord of things: Horace, Epistles, I.12.19] and of this whole marvelous uncertainty and rich ambiguity of existence without questioning, without trembling with the craving and the rapture of such questioning, without at least hating the person who questions, perhaps even finding him faintly amusing -- this is what I feel to be contemptible . . .
Some covers are as good as if not better than the originals. Some examples, with the original first. Thanks to our old friend 'williamofockham' for uploading the Morissette number as well as for suggesting the McLachlan and Simon covers.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has signed into law Arizona Senate Bill 1070. Illegal aliens are of course up in arms over it. But why do the ruling elites tend to tolerate mass illegal immigration? Why are they not upholding the rule of law? James Kalb (The Tyranny of Liberalism, ISI Books, 2008, pp. 49-50) writes,
As to immigration, the people value the ties that make them a people and believe that the country should be run for their own benefit. Ruling elites, by contrast, are concerned with the power and efficiency of governing institutions, the status and security of those who run them, and maintenance of the liberal principles that support and justify their rule. It is in their interest to expand the human resources available to them, even at the expense of those who are already citizens, and to weaken the mutual ties that make it possible for the people to resist rational management and to act somewhat independently. In addition, any moderately self-seeking ruling class prefers cooperating with members of the ruling class in other countries to representing the interests of their constituents. The practical result of such influences has the suppression of immigration as an issue in the interest of an emerging borderless world order. Restrictionist arguments are scantily presented in the mainstream media, and concern with cultural coherence, national identity, or even the well-being of one's country's workers is routinely denigrated as ignorant and racist nativism.
Kalb's book is proving to be an insightful and stimulating read.
Everybody knows that when you say "I'm becoming very concerned about unsustainable levels of federal spending" that that's old Jim Crow code for "Let's get up a lynching party and teach that uppity Negro a lesson." Frank Richof The New York Timesattempted to diversify the Tea Party racism into homophobia by arguing that Obamacare opponents were uncomfortable with Barney Frank'ssexuality. I yield to no one in my discomfort with Barney Frank's sexuality but, with the best will in the world, I find it hard to blame it for more than the first four or five trillion dollars of federal overspending. Eschewing such cheap slurs, Time's Joe Klein said opposition to Obamawas "seditious," because nothing says sedition like citing the U.S. Constitution and quoting Thomas Jefferson. Unfortunately for Klein, thanks to "educator" William Ayers' education reforms, nobody knows what "seditious" means anymore.
So enough with all the punch-pulling about seditious racist homophobes.
It was time to go for broke, and bring out Bill Clinton to explain why the Tea Party is the new front in the "war on terror." Don't worry about Iran'snuclear program, but , if you meet a Tea Party supporter waving some placard about the national debt, try not to catch his eye and back away slowly without making any sudden movements lest he put down his placard and light up his suicide belt.
This is an addendum to our earlier discussion which I hope will advance it a step or two. We heard Alan Rhoda claim that the following sentence is false: 'If nothing exists, then it is true that nothing exists.' Let's think further about this. We first note that 'If nothing exists, then it is true that nothing exists' can be parsed in two ways:
1. If nothing exists, then it is true that (nothing exists).
2. If nothing exists, then it is true (that nothing exists).
Call (1) the operator construal. 'It is true that ( )' is a sentential operator the operand of which is a sentence. The result of the operation is itself a sentence. If the operand is true, then the resulting sentence is true. If the operand is false, then the resulting sentence is false. Please note that prefixing 'It is true that' to a sentence cannot change the truth-value of the sentence. In this respect, the truth operator 'It is true that ( )' is unlike the negation operator 'It is not the case that ( ).' Assuming Bivalence -- as I have been doing throughout -- if you negate a true sentence you get a false one, and vice versa.
Call (2) the predicate construal. The consequent of (2) is of course a sentence, but it is not the result or product of a sentential operator operating upon a sentence. For what is within the parentheses is not a sentence. 'That nothing exists' is not a sentence. It does not have a truth-value. If I assertively utter it I do not convey a complete thought to my audience. 'That nothing exists' is the name of a proposition. It follows that 'it is true' in the consequent of (2) functions as a predicate as one can more clearly see from the equivalent
3. If nothing exists, then that nothing exists is true.
In (2) and (3) a predicate is attached to a name, whereas in (1) this is not the case: a sentential operator is attached to a sentence.
Not only are the parsings different, the ontological commitments are as well. (2) commits us to propositions while (1) doesn't. And (1) seems to commit us to operators while (2) doesn't.
Here is the place to comment on my asterisks convention. Putting asterisks around a declarative sentence forms a name of the proposition expressed by the sentence. 'The Moon is uninhabited' is a declarative sentence. '*The Moon is uninhabited*' is not a sentence but a name. It names an entity that has a truth-value, but it itself does not have a truth-value. (2) and (3) can also be rendered as
4. If nothing exists, then *Nothing exists* is true.
With the operator/predicate distinction under our belts we may be in a position to see how one philosopher (Alan) could reasonably reject 'If nothing exists, then it is true that nothing exists' while another accepts it. The one philosopher gives the original sentence the predicate construal which is committed to propositions. This philosopher then reasons that, if nothing exists, then no propositions exist either, and are therefore not available to instantiate the property of being true. The other philosopher gives the original sentence the operator construal and finds it impossible to understand how anyone could reject the original sentence so construed. This philosopher insists that if nothing exists, then it is true that nothing exists; that this truth is not nothing, and that therefore it is something, which implies that it cannot be the case that nothing exists.
* Thales of Miletus: View from the Bottom of a Well * Anaximander of Miletus: Indeterminate Musings * Anaximenes of Miletus: Just Another Airhead Gassing Off * Xenophanes of Colophon: Tales of Wickedness in High Places * Heraclitus of Ephesus: The Upload and the Download are the Same.
Many environmentalists who reject traditional notions of the Godhead and who regard themselves as agnostics or even atheists nonetheless express feelings tantamount to religious awe when in the presence of wilderness—a fact that testifies to the success of the romantic project. Those who have no difficulty seeing God as the expression of our human dreams and desires nonetheless have trouble recognizing that in a secular age Nature can offer precisely the same sort of mirror.
To put (roughly the same) point with Maverickian aphoristic pithiness: Nature for the idolaters of the earth is just as much an unconscious anthropomorphic projection as the God of the Feuerbachians.
Thus it is that wilderness serves as the unexamined foundation on which so many of the quasi-religious values of modern environmentalism rest. The critique of modernity that is one of environmentalism’s most important contributions to the moral and political discourse of our time more often than not appeals, explicitly or implicitly, to wilderness as the standard against which to measure the failings of our human world. Wilderness is the natural, unfallen antithesis of an unnatural civilization that has lost its soul. It is a place of freedom in which we can recover the true selves we have lost to the corrupting influences of our artificial lives. Most of all, it is the ultimate landscape of authenticity. Combining the sacred grandeur of the sublime with the primitive simplicity of the frontier, it is the place where we can see the world as it really is, and so know ourselves as we really are—or ought to be.
The objector is inviting us to consider the possible situation in which beings like us do not exist and no truths either. The claim that this situation is possible, however, is equivalent to the claim that it is true that this situation is possible.
I think there's a mistake here. In general, p does not entail it is true that p. The envisioned scenario is a case in point. The sense in which the situation is admitted to be possible is purely negative in that absent truths, no contradiction results. To say, however, that it is true that the situation is possible, where truths are supposed to depend on cognizers, requires that the situation be possible in a positive sense, i.e., it requires that something be the case, not merely that contradictions not be the case.
Thanks, Alan. Let's rehearse the dialectic. I argued in a standard self-referential way that *There are truths* is not just true, but necessarily true. (For *There are no truths,* if true is false, and if false is false, hence is necessarily false, so its negation is necessarily true.) I then asked whether the necessity of its truth is unconditional or rests on a condition such as the existence of thinking beings. (In other words: is the necessity of truth merely a transcendental presupposition without which we cannot operate as thinking beings, or is the necessity of there being truths metaphysically grounded in rerum natura?) If the existence of truths is merely a transcendental presupposition, then it would seem that the following scenario is possible: there are no thinking beings and no truths either. If this scenario is possible, then the necessity of *There are truths* would be conditional. I then tried to show that the scenario is not possible by invoking the principle Necessarily, for any p, p --> it is true that p. My thought was that if it is possible that there be no thinking beings and no truths either, then it is true that this is possible. But if it is true that this is possible, then it is true independently of what anyone thinks. But then truth as something more than a transcendental presupposition is being presupposed.
I am afraid I don't understand your criticism of the reasoning. The principle p --> it is true that p strikes me as self-evident. Its 'intellectual luminosity,' if you will, will trump any putative counterexample. If snow is white, then it is true that snow is white; if grass is green, then it is true that grass is green; if it is possible that no thinkers and no truths exist, then it is true that it is possible that no truths and no thnkers exist. Now the point is that this last truth says how things are in a situation in which no thinkers exist; therefore it is a truth that cannot exist only if thinkers exist. It exists whether or not thinkers exist.
You write, "The sense in which the situation is admitted to be possible is purely negative in that absent truths, no contradiction results." I don't follow you. The situation is possible assuming that truth is a mere transcendental presupposition. Now suppose the possibility is actual. Then it will be true both that it is possible and that it is actual. So once again truth cannot be a mere transcendental presupposition.
You then say, " To say, however, that it is true that the situation is possible, where truths are supposed to depend on cognizers, requires that the situation be possible in a positive sense, i.e., it requires that something be the case, not merely that contradictions not be the case." But I am not claiming that truths are dependent on cognizers; I am refuting that view. If the existence of truths depends on cognizers, and cognizers exist contingently, then it is possible that there be no truths. But this is not possible since if, per impossibile, it were the case that there are no truths, then this would be the case, i.e., would be true.
The ComBox is open if you want to discuss this further.
In this post I first try to get clear about the truthmaker theory of predication proposed by Michael Bergmann and Jeffrey E. Brower in their A Theistic Argument Against Platonism. I then try to understand how it solves a certain problem in the doctrine of divine simplicity (DDS). Finally, I raise a question about the authors' solution.
The truthmaker theory of predication is a rival to the following theory of predication which, with a little inaccuracy, we can label 'Platonistic' so as to have a handy label:
P: The truth of all true predications, or at least of all true predications of the form "a is F", is to be explained in terms of a subject and an exemplifiable (however exemplifiables are themselves to be conceived). (p. 7)
This post will not address the authors' impressive theistic argument against P. For present purposes we can assume that it is sound the better to evaluate the alternative which Bergmann and Brower put as follows:
P*: The truth of all
true predications, or at least of all true predications of the form "a is F", is to be explained in terms of truthmakers. (p. 25)
To appreciate how the two theories differ, consider the proposition expressed by the true essential predication, 'God is divine.' The Platonistic theory explains the truth of this proposition in terms of the subject God and the exemplifiable, the property of being divine. The proposition is true because the subject exemplifies the property. By contrast, the truthmaker theory of predication explains the proposition's truth in terms of its truthmaker. Three questions: What is a truthmaker? What is the truthmaker of the proposition *God is divine*? What exactly is the difference between P and P*? The authors offer the following as a "partial analysis" of the notion of a truthmaker:
TM: If an entity E is a truthmaker for a predication P, then 'E exists' entails the truth expressed by P. (p. 22)
From TM and the fact that 'God is divine' is an essential predication it can be inferred that the truthmaker of this truth is God himself. For 'God exists' entails the truth expressed by 'God is divine.' This is because there is no possible world in which God exists and the proposition in question is not true. Thus God himself suffices as truthmaker for 'God is divine,' and there is no need for an exemplifiable entity or a concrete state of affairs (the subject's exemplifying of the exemplifiable entity.) This allows us to appreciate the difference between the Platonistic and the truthmaker theories of predication. The first, but not the second, requires that the explanation of a truth's being true invoke a subject and an exemplifiable. On the truthmaker theory it is not the case that every predication is such that its explanation requires the positing of a subject and an exemplifiable. The subjects of all essential predications of the form a is F suffice as truthmakers of the propositions expressed by these predications.
In the case of such accidental predications as 'Tom is tired,' the truthmaker cannot be Tom by himself, as the authors appreciate. (p. 26) Neither Tom nor Tom's existence nor *Tom exists* necessitates the truth of 'Tom is tired.' On one approach, the truthmaker of true accidental predications is a concrete state of affairs. On another, the truthmaker is a trope. I think it follows that P is a special case of P*. I don't find the authors stating this but it seems to be a clear implication of what they do say. According to the truthmaker theory of predication, the truth of every true affirmative monadic predication, whether essential or accidental, is explained by a truthmaker, an entity which can belong to any ontological category. The Platonistic theory is the special case in which the truthmaker either is or involves an exemplifiable. (A special case of this is the case in which the truthmaker is a concrete state of affairs.) The truthmaker theory is more general because it allows for truthmakers that neither are nor involve exemplifiables.
Application to Divine Simplicity
One of the entailments of the doctrine of divine simplicity (DDS) is that there is no distinction between God and his attributes. Thus God is (identical to) his goodness, his power, etc. We have discussed the motivation for this doctrine in earlier posts. But how could an individual be identical to its attributes or properties? If God is identical to one of his properties, such as the property of being divine, then it follows that he is a property or exemplifiable -- which is absurd. It is absurd because God is a person and persons are not exemplifiable entities. But if the truthmaker theory of predication is correct, then there is a way to make coherent sense of the notion that God is identical to his nature, goodness, power, wisdom, and other such attributes.
Consider 'God is his omnipotence.' If the abstract singular term 'God's omnipotence' is taken to refer to a property, then we get the unacceptable consequence that God is identical to a property. Proponents of the truthmaker theory of predication, however, can maintain that the referents of abstract singular terms are truthmakers. Accordingly, 'God's omnipotence' and 'God's divinity' refer respectively to the truthmakers of 'God is omnipotent' and 'God is divine' respectively. Because both of these predications are essential, the truthmaker of both is God himself. To say that God is identical to his omnipotence is to say that the referent of 'God' is identical to the referent of 'God's omnipotence.' And that amounts to the unproblematic claim that God is identical to God.
The authors have shown us a way to demonstrate the coherence of 'God is identical to his divinity' assuming we are prepared to accept P* and TM. But I wonder whether their demonstration 'proves too much.' Consider the parallel but presumably incoherent 'Socrates is identical to his humanity.' We now must ask whether the strategy that works in the case of God also works in the case of Socrates. If it does, then the radical difference between God and creature, which is part of the motivation for DDS, will not have been properly accommodated.
The authors will grant that Socrates is truthmaker enough for (the propositions expressed by) all essential predications about him. Thus Socrates himself makes true 'Socrates is human' by TM. Because they hold P* they will grant that no exemplifiable need be invoked to explain 'Socrates is human.' We needn't say that this is true because Socrates exemplifies the property of being human; we can say that it is true because 'Socrates' and 'Socrates humanity' have the same referent, namely Socrates. But then does it not follow that Socrates is ontologically simple, at least in respect of such essential predicates as 'human,' 'rational,' and the like? Does it not follow that Socrates is identical to his humanity, his rationality, animality, etc.? Rhetorical questions aside, I am arguing as follows:
a. Socrates is the truthmaker of 'Socrates is human' and like essential predications. (From TM)
b. Socrates is the referent of both 'Socrates' and 'Socrates' humanity.' (From P*) Therefore:
c. Socrates is identical to Socrates' humanity. (From b)
But we surely do not want to say that Socrates is identical to his humanity, rationality, etc. which would imply that his humanity, rationality,etc. are identical to one another. Socrates, unlike God, is a metaphysically composite being. So something appears to have gone wrong. The Bergmann-Brower approach appears to 'prove too much.' Their approach seems to imply what is false, namely, that both God and Socrates are ontologically simple in respect of their essential attributes.
America is experiencing immigration problems somewhat like Australia's. The idea of 'multiculturalism' some would say is beginning to show its flaws. Who do you believe should be allowed to enter your country? Please feel free to be as politically incorrect as you like.
1. First of all, one must insist on a distinction that many on the Left willfully ignore, that between legal and illegal immigration. (Libertarians also typically elide the distinction.) Legal and illegal immigration are separate, logically independent, issues. To oppose illegal immigration, as any right-thinking person must, is not to oppose legal immigration. So, to answer one of your questions, no one should be allowed to enter illegally. But why exactly? What's wrong with illegal immigration? Aren't those who oppose it racists and xenophobes and nativists? Doesn't everyone have a right to migrate wherever he wants?
2. The most general reason for not allowing illegal immigration is precisely because it is illegal. If the rule of law is to be upheld, then reasonable laws cannot be allowed to be violated with impunity simply because they are difficult to enforce or are being violated by huge numbers of people. Someone who questions the value of the rule of law is not someone it is wise to waste time debating.
3. There are several sound specific reasons for demanding that the Federal government exercise its legitimate, constitutionally grounded (see Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. constitution) function of securing the national borders, and none of these reasons has anything to do with racism or xenophobia or nativism or any other derogatory epithet that slanderous leftists and libertarians want to attach to those of us who can think clearly about this issue.
There are reasons having to do with national security in an age of terrorism. There are reasons having to do with assimilation, national identity, and comity. There are considerations of fairness in respect of those who have entered the country legally by satisfying the requirements of so doing. There are reasons having to do with the importation of contraband substances into the country. There are reasons having to do with increased crime. Last but not least, there are reasons pertaining to public health. With the concern over avian influenza, we have all the more reason to demand border control.
Borders are a body politic's immune system. Unregulated borders are deficient immune systems. Diseases that were once thought to have been eradicated have made a comeback north of the Rio Grande due to the unregulated influx of population. These diseases include tuberculosis, Chagas disease, leprosy, Dengue fever, polio, and malaria.
You will have noticed how liberals want to transform into public health issues problems that are manifestly not public but matters of private concern, obesity for example. But here we have an issue that is clearly a public health issue, one concerning which Federal involvement is justified, and what do our dear liberals do? They ignore it. Of course, the problem cannot be blamed solely on the Democrat Party. Republicans like Bush and McCain are just as guilty. On immigration, Bush was clearly no conservative; he was a libertarian on this issue. A libertarian on some issues, a liberal on others, and a conservative on far too few.
4. Many liberals think that opposition to illegal immigration is anti-Hispanic. Not so. It is true that most of those who violate the nation's borders are Hispanic. But the opposition is not to Hispanics but to illegal entrants whether Hispanic or not. It is a contingent fact that Mexico is to the south of the U.S. If Turkey or Iran or Italy were to the south, the issue would be the same. And if Iran were to the south, and there were an influx of illegals, then then leftists would speak of anti-Persian bias.
A salient feature of liberals and leftists -- there isn't much difference nowadays -- is their willingness to 'play the race card,' to inject race into every issue. The issue of illegal immigration has nothing to do with race since illegal immigrants do not constitute a race. There is no such race as the race of 'llegal aliens.' Opposition to them, therefore, cannot be racist.
"But aren't some of those who oppose illegal immigration racists?" That may be so, but it is irrelevant. That one takes the right stance for the wrong reason does not negate the fact that one has taken the right stance. One only wishes they would take the right stance for the right reasons. Even if everyone who opposed illegal immigration were a foaming-at-the-mouth redneck of a racist, that would not detract one iota of cogency from the cogent arguments against allowing illegal immigration. To think otherwise is to embrace the Genetic Fallacy. Not good.
5. The rule of law is a precious thing. It is one of the supports of a civilized life. The toleration of mass breaking of reasonable and just laws undermines the rule of law.
6. Part of the problem is that we let liberals get away with obfuscatory rhetoric, such as 'undocumented worker.' The term does not have the same extension as 'illegal alien.' I discuss this in a separate post. But having written thousands of posts, I don't quite know where it is.
7. How long can a welfare state survive with open borders? Think about it. The trend in the USA for a long time now has been towards bigger and bigger government, more and more 'entitlements.' It is obviously impossible for purely fiscal reasons to provide cradle-to-grave security for everyone who wants to come here. So something has to give. Either you strip the government down to its essential functions or you control the borders. The first has no real chance of happening. Quixotic is the quest of strict constructionists and libertarians who call for it. Rather than tilting at windmills, they should work with reasonable conservatives to limit and eventually stop the expansion of government. Think of what a roll-back to a government in accordance with a strictly construed constitution would look like. For one thing, the social security system would have to be eliminated. That won't happen. Libertarians are 'losertarian' dreamers. They should wake up and realize that politics is a practical business and should aim at the possible. By the way, the pursuit of impossible dreams is common to both libertarians and leftists.
8. Even though contemporary liberals show little or no understanding for the above arguments, there are actually what might be called 'liberal' arguments for controlling the borders:
A. The Labor Argument. To give credit where credit is due, it was not the conservatives of old who championed the working man, agitated for the 40 hour work week, demanded safe working conditions, etc., but liberals. They can be proud of this. But it is not only consistent with their concern for workers that they oppose illegal immigration, but demanded by their concern. For when the labor market is flooded with people who will work for low wages, the bargaining power of the U.S. worker is diminished. Liberals should therefore oppose the unregulated influx of cheap labor, and they should oppose it precisely because of their concern for U. S. workers.
By the way, it is simply false to say, as Bush, McCain and other pandering politicians have said, that U.S. workers will not pick lettuce, clean hotel rooms, and the like. Of course they will if they are paid a decent wage. People who won't work for $5 an hour will work for $20. But they won't be able to command $20 if there is a limitless supply of indigentes who will accept $5-10.
B. The Environmental Argument. Although there are 'green' conservatives, concern for the natural environment, and its preservation and protection from industrial exploitation, is more a liberal than a conservative issue. (By the way, I'm a 'green' conservative.) So liberals ought to be concerned about the environmental degradation caused by hordes of illegals crossing the border. It is not just that they degrade the lands they physically cross, it is that people whose main concern is economic survival are not likely to be concerned about environmental protection. They are unlikely to become Sierra Club members or to make contributions to the Nature Conservancy. Love of nature comes more easily to middle class white collar workers for whom nature is a scene of recreation than for those who must wrest a livelihood from it by hard toil.
C. The Population Argument. This is closely related to, but distinct from, the Environmental Argument. To the extent that liberals are concerned about the negative effects of explosive population increase, they should worry about an unchecked influx of people whose women have a high birth-rate.
D. The Social Services Argument. Liberals believe in a vast panoply of social services provided by government and thus funded by taxation. But the quality of these services must degrade as the number of people who demand them rises. To take but one example, laws requiring hospitals to treat those in dire need whether or not they have a means of paying are reasonable and humane -- or at least that can be argued with some show of plausibility. But such laws are reasonably enacted and reasonably enforced only in a context of social order. Without border control, not only will the burden placed on hospitals become unbearable, but the justification for the federal government's imposition of these laws on hospitals will evaporate. According to one source, California hospitals are closing their doors. "Anchor babies" born to illegal aliens instantly qualify as citizens for welfare benefits and have caused enormous rises in Medicaid costs and stipends under Supplemental Security Income and Disability Income.
The point is that you can be a good liberal and oppose illegal immigration. You can oppose it even if you don't care about about increased crime, terrorism, drug smuggling, disease, national identity, national sovereignty, assimilation, the rule of law, or fairness to those who have immigrated legally. But a 'good liberal' who is not concerned with these things is a sorry human being.
I hope I have been politically incorrect enough for my reader's taste.
Emile Chartier (1868-1951) was a French professor of philosophy among whose students were Raymond Aron and Simone Weil. Chartier's sunny disposition, however, did not rub off on the brooding Weil. Under the pseudonym 'Alain,' Chartier published thousands of two-page essays in newspapers. What follows is a striking sentence from the essay "Maladies of the Mind" in Alain on Happiness, F. Unger, 1973, p. 25:
An old man is not a young man who suffers from old age; a man who dies is not a living man who enters into death.
Political disagreement has become 'planetary': Right and Left occupy different planets. The proliferation of 'rights' is a central feature of Planet Left. If it were April Fool's Day I'd suspect the following of being a bad joke. But I fear it is not:
The European Union has declared travelling a human right, and is launching a scheme to subsidize vacations with taxpayers' dollars for those too poor to afford their own trips.
Near the end of Richard Weaver's essay, "Life Without Prejudice," he quotes Milton:
I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue unexercised and unbreathed, that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race, where that immortal garland is to be run for, not without dust and heat. Assuredly we bring not innocence into the world; we bring impurity much rather; that which purifies us is trial, and trial is by that which is contrary.
This fits nicely with Keat's notion of the world as a vale of soul-making.
As Michael Barone understands, " the issue on which our politics has become centered -- the Obama Democrats' vast expansion of the size and scope of government -- is really not just about economics. It is really a battle about culture, a battle between the culture of dependence and the culture of independence."
I’m hoping you can help me with an annoying question that came up in conversation recently. I’m sure you can answer it much better than me.
Statements are self-refuting when they are included in their own field of reference and fail to conform to their own criteria of validity. Thus ‘there are no truths’ is self-refuting because if it is false, then it is false. But if it is true, then it is false as well because then there would be no truths, including the statement itself. So what about the statement ‘all statements are self-refuting’?
You are right about 'There are no truths.' If true, then false. If false, then false. So necessarily false. Therefore, its negation -- 'There are some truths' -- is not just true, but necessarily true.
There is exactly the same pattern with 'All statements are self-refuting.' If true, then self-refuting and false. If false, then false. So necessarily false. Therefore, its negation -- Some statements are not self-refuting -- is not just true, but necessarily true.
Now an intriguing question arises. Are these necessities unconditional, or do they rest upon a condition? The second necessity appears to be conditional upon the existence of statements and the beings who make them. Statements don't 'hang in the air'; a statement is the statement of a stater, so that, in a world without rational beings, there are no statements. 'Some statements are not self-refuting,' therefore, is not true in all possible worlds, but only in those worlds in which statements are made. Given that there are statements, it is necessarily true that some statements are not self-refuting. But there might not have been any statements. The existence of statements is contingent.
Now what about 'There are some truths?' Clearly, this sentence (or rather the proposition it expresses) is not contingently true, but necessarily true. But is it true of absolute metaphysical necessity, or does its necessary truth rest on some condition? Suppose something gives the following little speech:
I see your point. There have to be truths. Forif you say that there aren't any, you are saying that it is true that there aren't any, and you thereby contradict yourself. So there is a sense in which there cannot not be truths. But all this means is that WE must presuppose truth. It doesn't mean that there are truths independently of us. WE cannot help but assume that there are truths. The existence of truths is a transcendental presupposition of our kind of thinking. But it does not follow that there are truths of absolute metaphysical necessity. If we were not to exist, then there would be no truths, not even the truth that we do not exist.
Is the little speech coherent? The objector is inviting us to consider the possible situation in which beings like us do not exist and no truths either. The claim that this situation is possible, however, is equivalent to the claim that it is true that this situation is possible. But, on the transcendental hypothesis in question, the existence of this truth is relative to our existence, which implies that it is not true independently of us that it is possible that beings like us not exist and no truths either. But then it is not really possible that beings like us not exist and no truths either: the possibility exists only relative to our thinking. So I conclude that the transcendental hypothesis is only apparently coherent, and that 'There are truths' is true of absolute metaphysical necessity. So it is not just that we cannot deny truth; truth is undeniable an sich.
What will you have on your death stand? Whose thoughts will occupy your mind in your final moments in the dying of the light, as the breath comes short and the cancer cells conquer organ after organ? Speaking for myself, I'll take Plato over Putnam, Boethius over Butchvarov, Aquinas over Quine, the Psalms over Sartre. Reading Quine at a moment like that would like looking for bread among the dusty and jagged shards in a stone quarry.
"We should love both: those whose opinion we follow, and those whose opinion we reject. For both have applied themselves to the quest for the truth, and both have helped us in it." St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics, Book XII, Lecture 9.
Bear in mind that the word 'consciousness' has several distinct meanings. 'Consciousness' can refer to the state of being awake, to the ability to introspect internal states, and to the phenomenon of attention. But 'consciousness' insofar as it poses a 'hard problem' for physicalists is the subjective quality of experience.
These subjective qualities can be features of sensations, but they need not be. Smashing my knee against a table leg elicits a certain unpleasant sensation. The felt quality of that sensation is an example of a conscious datum in the relevant sense. But so is the shimmering quality of a magnificent Saguaro cactus standing sentinel on a distant ridgeline as viewed in the lambent light of the desert Southwest. Qualia, then, can be associated with intentional objects and not merely with non-intentional states like sensations. Pressing some Husserlian jargon into service, we might distinguish between noematic qualia and hyletic qualia.
But the main question I want to pose is this: What good is consciousness from an evolutionary perspective? Owen Flanagan, Consciousness Reconsidered, MIT 1992, p. 42) has this to say:
What function might sensory or perceptual consciousness serve? Such consciousness could enable an organism to be sensitive to stimulus saliencies relevant to its suvival and to coordinate its goals with these saliencies. Informational sensitivity without experiential sensitivity (of the sort an unconscious robot might have) could conceivably serve the same function. Indeed, it often does. But the special vivacity of perceptual experience might enable quicker, more reliable, and more functional responses than a less robustly phenomenological system, and these might have resulted in small selection pressures in favor of becoming a subject of experience. At least this is one possible explanation for why Mother Nature would have selected a mind with capacities for robust phenomenological feel in the sensory modalities. It is good that reptiles are sensitive detectors of earthquakes. It enables them to get above ground before disaster hits. It is good that we feel pain. It keeps us from being burned, cut, and maimed. . . . Like photoreceptor cells designed for vision and wings for flight, the capacity to experience pleasure and pain is a design solution that Mother Nature has often used in different lineages of locomoting organisms.
I judge this to be a complete failure as an explanation of why consciousness has evolved. All the jobs Flanagan mentions might have been done 'in the dark' by unconscious processing. Yes, pain is good insofar as it keeps us from being burned, cut, and maimed. But pain in this sense is just the sum-total of physical events that play a certain causal role, that of causing the organism to withdraw or protect a part of its body on the occasion of a certain input. Think of a robotic arm equipped with heat sensors. It is designed to retract when the object it touches is at a certain temperature or above. The arm can function perfectly well without feeling anything.
Let's not forget that words like 'pain' lead a double life. 'Pain' is used to refer both to physical events and to their phenomenal manifestation. Phenomenal pain, far from being good, is evil, a form of natural evil. Insofar as it is (instrumentally) good, pain is not felt or phenomenal pain but the physical events that may or may not manifest themselves at the level of consciousness.
Consciousness is real -- eliminativism is for lunatics -- and so consciousness must be explained. But an evolutionary explanation is inadequate. Such an explanation must specify a survival function consciousness serves that could not be served without it. But what could that be? Thus I think David Chalmers (The Conscious Mind, Oxford 1996, p. 120) is on the right track:
The process of natural selection cannot distinguish between me and my zombie twin. Evolution selects properties according to their functional role, and my zombie twin performs all the functions that I perform just as well as I do; in particular he leaves around just as many copies of his genes. It follows that evolution alone cannot explain why conscious creatures rather than zombies evolved.
Chalmers also points out that
. . . the real problem with consciousness is to explain the principles in virtue of which consciousness arises from physical systems. Presumably these principles -- whether they are conceptual truths, metaphysical necessities, or natural laws -- are constant over space-time: If a physical replica of me had popped into existence a million years ago, it would have been just as conscious as I am. The connecting principles themselves are therefore independent of the evolutionary process. While evolution can be very useful in explaining why particular physical systems have evolved, it is irrelevant to the explanation of the bridging principles in virtue of which some of these systems are conscious. (p. 121)
This strikes me as an extremely important point. If we think of evolutionary genesis as proceeding 'horizontally,' then the arisal of consciousness can be thought of as 'vertical.' If we want to explain how consciousness arises from its physical substratum, it is simply irrelevant to be given an explanation of how certain traits were selected for. An evolutionary account might explain 'horizontally' how an organism became sufficiently complex to host consciousness, but such an account would do nothing to explain how consciousness arose 'vertically' from the organism.
The usual left-wing tilt of the NYT's Tea Party coverage is not so egregious in this recent piece. But even when they try to be fair they can't seem to pull it off. The piece opens with the following sentence:
The Tea Party Movement is a diffuse American grass-roots group that taps into antigovernment sentiments.
"Diffuse American grass-roots group" is just right: accurate and ideologically neutral. But then, right on its heels, two pieces of blatant bias.
First, the movement is not fairly described as "antigovernment." To be opposed to an ever-expanding government, one that recognizes few or no limits, constitutional or otherwise, to the extension of its powers, is not to be opposed to government as such. To put it in simple terms that even a liberal can understand: to oppose BIG government is not to oppose government. Tea Party supporters are for the most part conservatives, with a sizable admixture of libertarians. Neither conservatives nor libertarians are opposed to government as such, though they disagree as to its legitimate size and scope. But neither want no government. (The only exception to this is the extreme fringe of the libertarian movement that shades off into anarchism. But these fringe folk are few in number and negligible in political clout.)
Second, it is not "sentiments," feelings, emotion, anger, that are at the source of the Tea Party protests but legitimate concerns based in fact and reason. It is precisely the Tea Partiers arguments that lefties will never address. Their tactic is to deflect attention from the arguments by psychologizing their proponents. And so they go on ad nauseam about voter anger and the like.
The piece I am quoting from is not on the OP-Ed page. It is supposed to be a piece of reportage. But we cannot get through even the first sentence without banging into leftist bias.
The party line of the Democrats and their fellow travellers is that the Tea Party Movement is fueled by racism. The moral scum who make these absurd and scurrilous allegations ought to be ashamed of themselves. I name names and go into details in other posts which you will find in the Race and Leftism categories. But just to verify what I already had excellent reasons for believing, namely, that there is no racist motivation to speak of behind the Tea Party protests, I decided I'd better attend one, which I did today. I visited one of the lesser gatherings of the day here in the Valley of the Sun, one held at Freestone Park, Gilbert, Arizona. The main speaker was Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. There was no racism apparent in the signs, the speakers, or the people I observed and spoke with. No racism, no extremism, no xenophobia, no overheated rhetoric, no incitements to violence. Just trenchant political dissent in the good old liberty- and free speech-loving American style, something that leftists don't understand, laboring as they do under the strange conceit that they own dissent, as if dissent were something inherently leftist. Here are some amateur shots of the event by your humble correspondent.
I was interested to see your recent correspondence and post on the radical vs the conservative. I couldn't help but notice that there is a potential parallel between this and a common interest of yours [ours?], the productive tension between Aristotle and Plato. A radical may be liable to point out that it because Plato is prepared to build a state upon rational rather than traditional grounds that he is prepared to consider women as equally well qualified to rule the state on meritocratic grounds (a la Mill), a thesis which is well supported in the contemporary world though unthinkable in ancient Greece. They may also contrast this against Aristotle’s impression of women which appears indefensible in the modern era but natural in his own time, and they may also draw attention to Aristotle’s defense of slavery. The conservative Aristotle on these points alone appears monstrous to a modern audience against the radical Plato. In accord with the recent post, we might very well conclude that the conservative is a reality-based thinker (within his own environment), whilst the radical is a utopian (prepared to look beyond his environment). The conservative in reply would of course draw attention to the realistic and practical view of Aristotle on running a state and compare this to the proto-communist authoritarian and elitist Plato who would construct a state, mentally at least, that would appear equally monstrous to a modern audience.
This is very perceptive. Since I am first and foremost an aporetician keen to isolate and sharpen problems under suspension of the natural tendency to glom onto quick solutions, it interests me and indeed worries me that there may be a tension between my tendency to give the palm to Plato over Aristotle and my conservative tendency. As I said recently:
One cannot be a philosopher unless one believes that at least some important truths are attainable or at least approachable by dialectical and argumentative means. Thus there is no place in philosophy for the misologist, the hater of reason, and his close relative the fideist. Reasoning and argument loom large in philosophy . . . .
But now I must add that to the extent that I favor reason over experience and tradition, the universal over the particular, the global over the local, the impersonal over the personal, to that extent I am in some conflict with my conservative tendency. One of the differences between conservatives and their liberal/left/radical brethren is that they are skeptical aqbout the value of reason in the ordering of political affairs.
Here. ". . . it is clear that Flew’s repudiation of atheism was heartfelt and seems to have been largely rooted in his dislike of polemical atheism. His own atheism was always cautious, nuanced and respectful of Christian tradition. [. . .] Professor Antony Flew, philosopher, was born on February 11, 1923. He died on April 8, 2010, aged 87."
The most important questions, the existential ones, should not be left to the sloppiest and least able thinkers. Equally, careful and rigorous thinkers should not confine themselves to unworthy or merely preliminary topics.
For example, some of the best heads in philosophy work exclusively in the philosophy of science. But for a philosopher to be a a mere handmaiden of positive science is an unworthy use of his abilities. Better to be a handmaiden of theology. But best of all would be to be no handmaiden at all. Philosophy is ancillary to nothing, unless it be truth herself.
An aphorism that states its reasons is no aphorism at all. But the reasons are there, though submerged, like the iceberg whose tip alone is visible. An aphorism, then, is the tip of an iceberg of thought.
A friend of mine and I have ongoing discussions about consciousness. Some of his beliefs I have a hard time accepting. He believes for example that his cat doesn't have conscious experience. I can't put my finger on why I have such a hard time accepting this, but I do. One issue that has come up is whether you can have consciousness without self-awareness. In the discussions he has brought up the issue of blindsight, and claimed its an example of perception without consciousness. This doesn't make any sense to me. It seems to me that talk of perception presupposes consciousness. I was curious as to your thoughts on this matter.
There appear to be two separate questions here.
Q1: Are animals such as cats conscious? It would suffice for their being conscious that they experience pleasure or pain. Do cats experience pain? When I inadvertently step on my cat's foot, she exhibits pain-behavior (makes a certain characteristic sound, shrinks back, gives me a certain look, begins licking the foot.) Now that pain-behavior is not identical to the felt pain, if there is one; but it is evidence for its existence. Or so say I. But now we are approaching the problem of other minds which is too intricate to be discussed in this post. In any case, I don't believe this is what you are asking about. For my part, I no more doubt that my cat is conscious than I doubt that my wife is. Both are sentient beings! But how do I KNOW that? This, roughly, is the problem of other minds. Here is an organism in my visual field. I believe it has a mind more or less similar to my own (less in the case of the cat, more in the case of the wife). The problem is to provide the grounds for that belief. The belief goes well beyond what is strictly evident to the senses; so what justifies it? It is an epistemological problem. Not to be confused with the ontological question whether wife or cat could be philosophical 'zombies.'
Q2: Can there be consciousness without self-consciousness? This may be what you are really asking about. Can one be conscious of an object without being conscious of being conscious of it? I would say yes. The following sometimes happens to some people. They have been driving for some time, negotiating curves, braking, accelerating, etc. But then they suddenly realize that for the last few miles they haven't been conscious of doing these things. They've been 'blanked out.' And yet they were conscious of the road, the cars in front of them, etc., else they would have crashed. We could say that they were conscious of their environment and of the objects in its without being conscious of being conscious of all these things.
In a famous passage Kant says that "The 'I think' must be able to accompany all my representations." That is a good way of putting it. It must be possible for me to say 'I am now aware that the light is red' when I see that the light is red, but there needn't be this self-awareness for there to be the conscious perception that the light is red. So I suggest we say this: every consciousness is potentially self-conscious, but not every consciousness is actually self-conscious.
This is a murky topic due to the murkiness of the phenomenology. It is made even more murky when the first-person POV of phenomenology is blended with the third-person POV of neuroscience.
Walter Morris may count as an early bourgeois bohemian, a 'BoBo' to adopt and adapt a coinage of David Brooks. Morris is an exceedingly obscure diarist, known only to a few, but a kindred spirit. An e-mail from a distant relative of his caused me to dip again into the stimulating waters of his journal.
I have already presented his thoughts on solitude. That post also provided some information on the man and his writings. What follows is part of an entry from 8 February 1947. (Notebook 2: Black River, limited edition, mimeographed, Englewood NJ, 1949. It contains journal entries from 25 June 1942 to 3 August 1947.)
The Bohemian way of living has its points, but I am unable to appreciate Bohemia at full tilt. I have never had it that way and, except for a very youthful period, I have never much wanted it that way. I like cleanliness of body and living quarters, not a fanatical 100% cleanliness, not a sterile and perfect order, but such cleanliness as is compatible with normal comfortable living. I dislike messy emotional relationships and all kinds of exhibitionism. I dislike vomiting drunks, people with the monkey on their backs, flaunting homosexuality, financial dishonesty, irresponsibility, and puerile minds posing as advanced and liberated. This is the measure of my Respectability and middle-classness. Otherwise -- in being devoted to my own pattern, in quietly ignoring some White Cows instead of ostentatiously mounting a rebellion -- I don't mind at all being called Bohemian. Our family dish, as a matter of [f]act, could stand a dash of that kind of sauce. (p. 206)
I recall a quotation from Gustave Flaubert along similar lines: "Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work."
I like parties. I derive considerable satisfaction from not attending them. There is such a thing as the pleasure of conscious avoidance, of knowing that one has wisely escaped a situation likely to be frustrating and unpleasant. If others are offended by my nonattendance, that I regret. But peace of mind is a higher value than social dissipation -- which is no value at all.
The following excerpts are from Richard Weaver's 1960 essay, "Conservatism and Libertarianism," reprinted in Life Without Prejudice and Other Essays (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1965), pp. 157-167:
It is my contention that that a conservative is a realist, who believes that there is a structure of reality independent of his own will and desire. He believes that there is a creation which was here before him, which exists now not by just his sufferance, and which will be here after he's gone. This structure consists not merely of the great physical world but also of many laws, principles, and regulations which control human behavior. Though this reality is independent of the individual, it is not hostile to him. It is in fact amenable by him in many ways, but it cannot be changed radically and arbitrarily. This is the cardinal point. The conservative holds that man in this world cannot make his will his law without any regard to limits and to the fixed nature of things. (158-159, italicized in the original.)
[. . .]
The attitude of the radical toward the real order is contemptuous, not to say contumacious. It is a very pervasive idea in radical thinking that nothing can be superior to man. This accounts, of course, for his usual indifference or hostility toward religion and it accounts also for his impatience with existing human institutions. His attitude is that anything man wants he both can and shall have, and impediments in the way are regarded as either accidents or affronts.
This is very easy to show from the language he habitually uses. He is a great scorner of the past and is always living in or for the future. Now since the future can never be anything more than one's subjective projection and since he affirmed that he believes only in the future, we are quite justified in saying that the radical lives in a world of fancy. Whatever of the present does not accord with his notions he classifies as "belonging to the past," and this will be done away with as soon as he and his party can get around to it. Whereas the conservative takes his lesson from a past that has objectified itself, the radical takes his cues out of a future that is really the product of wishful thinking.
Compressing both passages into one sentence: The conservative is a reality-based thinker, whereas the radical is a utopian.
I really enjoyed your recent post on various ways to approach revelation. I, too, opt for something like option C. It is similar to Karl Barth's position: that the Bible is NOT the revelation of God, but a record of God's revelation to mankind. I find that shift to be vital. Many Christians engage in a kind of biblolatry, they seek to have a relationship with a book. I don't want to have a relationship with a book, I want to have a relationship with God. I am a minister, I love the Bible, I study it every day and I find it to be an important part OF my relationship with God, but it is NOT the sum total of that relationship.
Let me see if I understand the shift. You seem to be distinguishing between the (human) record of God's revelation of certain truths to man and God's revelation of these truths. That is a good distinction and I accept it. You may also be distinguishing between God's revelation of certain truths to mankind and God's revelation of himself. It could be that God reveals little or nothing about himself while revealing certain truths to mankind. (In the same way that an anonymous caller to the police could reveal the whereabouts of a bank robber without revealing anything about himself.) The phrase 'revelation of God' can be interpreted as either an objective or a subjective genitive. Thus one could deny that the Bible is the revelation of God (objective genitive) while maintaining that the Bible is the revelation of God (subjective genitive). Putting the two distinctions together, I interpret you to be saying that the Bible is the human record of the revelation by God to mankind of certain truths. If that is what you mean, then I agree. This allows us to rule out two notions that ought to be ruled out, namely, scriptural inerrancy and the notion that the Biblical revelation is final. Once we admit that the Bible is a human product, though not merely a human product, we will give up preposterous claims to inerrancy. And if we grant that God does not primarily reveal himself in the Bible, then we will have much less reason to think that there cannot be any further divine-to-human communications.
I think that 'finding God' within scripture takes place because we have access to revelation that is outside scripture. We find some passage, some moment that 'links up' to an experience we have in our own lives, and we say 'yes, this matches, this fits'. It is because the Bible deepens and enlightens my own encounter with God's revelation that it has the weight it does with me. Peter Berger talks about a 'nexus' forming between our own experiences and scripture.
So thank you for your thoughts on this matter. I think they are spot on. Peace and Blessings.
I well remember this one. Is there a blade in that razor? Would like to know the exact year. The theme music is David Rose, The Stripper. The tune in question became a hit in 1962, though it was composed earlier in '58, so I'd guess the commercial is from '63 or thereabouts.
Here is quotation by way of an addendum to my last post. John Gardner, On Writers and Writing, Addison-Wesley, 1994, p. 227:
What the writers I care most about do is to take fiction as the single most important thing in life after life itself -- life itself being both their raw material and the object of their celebration. They do it not for ego but simply to make something singularly beautiful. Fiction is their religion and comfort: when they are depressed they go not to church or psychoanalysis but to Salinger or Joyce, early Malamud, parts of Faulkner, Tolstoy, or the Bible as book.