There is dying, there is being dead, and there is the momentary transition from the one to the other.
While we rightly fear the suffering and indignity of dying, especially if the process is drawn out over weeks or months, it is the anticipation of the moment of death that some of us find horrifying. This horror is something like Heideggerian Angst which, unlike fear (Furcht), has no definite object. Fear has a definite object; in this case the dying process. Anxiety is directed -- but at the unknown, at nothing in particular.
For what horrifies some of us is the prospect of sliding into the state of nonbeing, both the sliding and the state. Can Epicurus help?
If the Epicurean reasoning works for the state of being dead, it cannot work for the transition from dying to being dead. Epicurus reasoned: When I am, death is not; when death is; I am not. So what is there to fear? If death is the utter annihilation of the subject of experience, then, after death, there will be nothing left of me to experience anything and indeed nothing to be in a state whether I experience it or not. Clearly, a state is a state of a thing in that state. No thing, no state.
This reasoning strikes me as cogent. On the assumption that physical death is the annihilation of the person or self, then surely it is irrational to fear the state one will be in when one no longer exists. Again, no thing, no state; hence no state of fear or horror or bliss or anything. Of course, coming to see rationally that one's fear is irrational may do little or nothing to alleviate the fear. But it may help if one is committed to living rationally. I'm a believer in the limited value of 'logotherapy' or self-help via the application of reason to one's life.
I suffer from acrophobia, but it hasn't kept me away from high places and precipitous drop-offs on backpacking trips. On one trip into the Grand Canyon I had to take myself in hand to get up the courage to cross the Colorado River on a high, narrow, and swaying suspension bridge. I simply reasoned the thing out and marched briskly across staring straight ahead and not looking down. But then I am a philosopher, one who works at incorporating rationality into his daily life.
Why then do so many find the Epicurean reasoning sophistical? To Philip Larkin in "Aubade" it is "specious stuff":
This is a special way of being afraid No trick dispels. Religion used to try, That vast moth-eaten musical brocade Created to pretend we never die, And specious stuff that says No rational being Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing That this is what we fear — no sight, no sound, No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with, Nothing to love or link with, The anaesthetic from which none come round.
It seems clear that our boozy poet has failed to grasp the Epicurean reasoning.
Still, there is the moment of death, the moment in which the self helplessly dissolves, knowing that it is dissolving. My claim is that it is this loss of control, this ego loss, that horrifies us. Ever since the sense of 'I' developed in us we have been keeping it together, maintaining our self-identity in and through the crap storm of experience. But at the moment of dying, we can no longer hold on, keep it together. We will want to cling to the familiar, and not let go. This I suggest is what horrifies us about dying. And for this horror the reasoning of Epicurus is no anodyne.
So I grant that there is something quick and specious about the Epicurean cure. If one is rational, it has the power to assuage the fear of being dead, but not the fear of dying, the fear of ego loss.
I consider it salutary to cultivate this fear of dying. It is the sovereign cure to the illusions and idolatries of worldliness. But the cultivation is hard to accomplish, and I confess to rarely feeling the horror of dying. It is hard to feel because our natural tendency is to view everything without exception objectively, as an object. The flow of intentionality is ever outward toward objects, so much so that thinkers such as John-Paul Sartre have denied that there is any subject of experience, any source of the stream of intentionality. (See his The Transcendence of the Ego.)
Everyone knows that one will die; the trick, however is not just to think, but to appreciate, the thought that I will die, this unique subjective unity of consciousness and self-consciousness. This is a thought that is not at home in the Discursive Framework, but straddles the boundary between the Sayable and the Unsayable. My irreducible ipseity and haecceity of which I am somehow aware resists conceptualization. Metaphysics, just as much as physics, misses the true source of the horror of death. For if metaphysics transforms the I or ego into a soul substance, then it transforms it into an object. (Cf. the Boethian objectifying view of the person as an individual substance of a rational nature.) An immaterial object is still an object. As long as I think of myself from the outside, objectively, from a third-person point of view, it is difficult to appreciate that it is I, the first person, this subjective center and source of acts who will slide into nonbeing.
Now we come to "that vast moth-eaten musical brocade," religion, "created to pretend we never die." Although this is poetic exuberance and drunken braggadocio, there is a bit of truth that can be squeezed out of Larkin's effusion. The religious belief in immortality can hide from us the horror and the reality of death. It depends on how 'platonizing' the religion is.
Christianity, however, despite its undeniable affinities with Platonism (as well appreciated by Joseph Ratzinger, the pope 'emeritus,' in Introduction to Christianity), resolutely denies our natural immortality as against what is standardly taken to be the Platonic view. On Christianity we die utterly, and if there is any hope for our continuance, that hope is hope in the grace of God.
Is there then any cure for the horror of death? In my healthy present, my horror is that of anticipation of the horror to come. The real horror, the horror mortis, will be upon us at the hora mortis, the hour of death, when we feel ourselves sliding into the abyss.
In extremis, there is only one cure left, that of the trust of the little child mentioned at Matthew 18:3. One must let oneself go hoping and trusting that one will get oneself back. Absent that, you are stuck with the horror.
Nothing would be more foolish and futile than to take the advice of a different drunken poet, and "Rage, rage against the dying of the light." The dim light of the ego must die to rise again as spirit. In fact, it is the ego in us that 'proves' in a back-handed sort of way that we are spiritual beings. Only a spiritual being can say 'I' and saying it and thinking it isolate himself, distancing himself from his Source and from other finite selves even unto the ultimate Luciferian conceit that one is self-sufficient.
Not everything in the NYT is leftist crap. The new Scorsese effort is based on the novel “Silence,” by Shusaku Endo.
My copy should be arriving today. A tip of the hat to Karl White for informing me of it.
“The novel poses a very profound theological question,” Peter C. Phan, a Jesuit theologian at Georgetown who was born in Vietnam, told me. “The question is this: Are we allowed to do an essentially evil act to obtain a good result?
The attitude of gratitude conduces to beatitude. Can it be said in plain Anglo-Saxon? Grateful thoughts lead one to happiness. However you say it, it is true. The miserable make themselves miserable by their bad thinking; the happy happy by their correct mental hygiene.
Broad generalizations, these. They admit of exceptions, as goes without saying. He who is afflicted with Weilian malheur or clinical depression cannot think his way out of his misery. Don't get hung up on the exceptions. Meditate on the broad practical truth. On Thanksgiving, and every day.
Liberals will complain that I am 'preaching.' But that only reinforces my point: they complain and they think, strangely, that any form of exhortation just has to be hypocritical.Besides not knowing what hypocrisy is, they don't know how to appreciate what actually exists and provably works. Appreciation is conservative. Scratch a liberal and likely as not you'll find a nihilist, a denier of the value of what is, a hankerer after what is not, and in too many cases, what is impossible.
Even the existence of liberals is something to be grateful for. They mark out paths not to be trodden. And their foibles provide plenty of blog fodder. For example, there is the curious phenomenon of hypocrisy-in-reverse.
We need spiritual exercises just as we need physical, mental, and moral exercises. A good spiritual exercise, and easy to boot, is daily recollection of just how good one has it, just how rich and full one's life is, just how much is going right despite annoyances and setbacks which for the most part are so petty as not to merit consideration.
Start with the physical side of your life. You slept well, and a beautiful new day is dawning. Your breath comes easy, your intestines are in order. Your mind is clear, and so are your eyes. Move every moving part of your body and note how wonderfully it works, without any pain to speak of.
Brew up some java and enjoy its rich taste, all the while rejoicing over the regularity of nature that allows the water to boil one more time, at the same temperature, and the caffeine to be absorbed once more by those greedy intercranial receptors that activate the adrenalin that makes you eager to grab a notebook and jot down all the new ideas that are beginning to percolate up from who knows where.
Finished with your body, move to your mind and its wonderful workings. Then to the house and its appliances including your trusty old computer that reliably, day after day, connects you to the sphere of Nous, the noosphere, to hijack a term of Teilhard de Chardin. And don't forget the country that allows you to live your own kind of life in your own kind of way and say and write whatever you think in peace and safety.
A quotidian enactment of something like the foregoing meditation should do wonders for you.
It is called the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Issue date: 15 December 1791. Expiration date: Never.
Motto: Fear the government that fears your guns.
On this Thanksgiving we have much to be thankful for, including the defeat of the mendacious Hillary Clinton who, while paying lip service to the Second Amendment, had every intention of undermining it.
The book arrived yesterday via Amazon and I began reading it this morning. Looks good!
Oxford University Press, 2001. Foot essays "a naturalistic theory of ethics: to break really radically both with G. E. Moore's anti-naturalism and with the subjectivist theories such as emotivism and prescriptivism that have been seen as clarifications and developments of Moore's original thought." (p. 5)
A 36-year-old biological male dominated the women’s division of the El Tour de Tucson last weekend, an annual cycling competition in Arizona that attracts thousands of amateur and professional cyclists.
Jillian Bearden — who identifies as a transgender woman — won the 106-mile race in 4 hours and 36 minutes, the Arizona Daily Star reported.
[. . .]
The International Olympics Committee recently changed its ruled to allow biological men to compete as women without first undergoing a sex-change operation. [emphasis added]
Let me see if I understand this. A biological male, who identifies himself as a woman, is allowed to compete against biological females in an athletic event. Am I missing something? Bear in mind that the competitor in question, at the time of the event, has the standard male 'equipment': he hasn't had a sex change operation. And with that equipment come the sorts of muscles useful for powering a bicycle.
When we conservatives refer to liberals as loons, examples like this are what we have in mind. Don't you have to be unhinged from reality to suppose that a biological male who merely fancies himself a biological female can thereby transform himself into one?
The paradox here is that while biological reality is being denied, it is at the same time being used to gain an unfair advantage over women.
There is a denial of biological reality if you imagine that your being male or female is simply a matter of a free self-construal or self-construction via thoughts and feelings. But it is that very same biological reality which gives the biologically male cyclist who fancies himself a woman the edge over biological females.
How would it be any different if a 25-year-old male runner were to enter a footrace in the 60-70-year-old male division on the ground that he 'identifies' as an old man?
Another paradox is that feminists are typically constructivists; but in a case like this it comes back to bite them. Shouldn't they be howling over the unfairness of a biological male's domination of women in a women's event? But their political correctness has them hamstrung.
What is ultimately at the bottom of all this nonsense? The denial of reality and the substitution for it of various types of constructions, both social-collective and individual. It is a long story.
Catholicism is true enough to provide moral guidance and spiritual sustenance for many, many people. So if you are a lapsed Catholic, you could do far worse than to return to the arms of Holy Mother the Church. And this despite the deep post-Vatican II corruption. Better such a reversion than to persist in one's worldly ways like St. Augustine who, at age 30, confessed that he was "still caught fast in the same mire by a greed for enjoying present things that both fled me and debased me." (Confessions, Bk. 6, Ch. 11, Ryan tr., p. 149)
But if you are a Protestant like Tim McGrew or James Anderson, should you 'swim the Tiber'? Some branches of Protestantism are also good enough and true enough to provide moral guidance and spiritual sustenance. And this despite the problems of Protestantism.
I should think that practice is more important than doctrine. Better to remove the lust from your heart than to write an erudite blog entry about it. The doctrines will always be debated and contested. Does the Incarnation make logical sense? Is it perhaps true whether or not it makes sense to the discursive intellect? We will never know here below.
Would it not be folly to postpone the reform of one's life until one had solved intellectual difficulties that we have good reason to believe cannot be solved in our present state? Orthopraxy trumps orthodoxy. Three elements of Christian orthopraxy: follow the Ten Commandments; avoid the Seven Deadly Sins; try to live by the Two Greatest Commandments.You won't get very far without grace, but the trying may precipitate the grace.
Blacks need to learn from Jews, Italians, the Irish, and others who have faced abuse. Don't whine, don't complain, don't seek a government program. Don't try to cash in on your 'victim' status, when the truth is that you are a 'victim' of liberal victimology. Get the needle out of your arm, and that soul-killing rap noise out of your ears. Listen to the late Beethoven piano sonatas. May I recommend Opus #s 109, 110, and 111? We honkies want you to be successful. And we don't care what color you are. It's not about color anyway. It's about behavior. Work hard, practice the ancient virtues, and be successful. If you can't make it here, you can't make it anywhere. Don't let Brother Jesse tell you otherwise. Don't get mad, be like Rudy Giuliani. Can you imagine him making a big deal about being called a greaseball, dago, goombah, wop, guinea . . . ? Do you see him protesting Soprano-style depictions of Italian-Americans as mafiosi?
Lefties like to point out that the college-educated favored Hillary over Trump. But so what? Apart from the STEM disciplines, the colleges and universities of the land have become leftist seminaries, hotbeds of political correctness, and centers of Higher Infantilization. They have strayed far from their original charter.
So of course the college-indoctrinated will favor Hillary the leftist nanny-stater.
Leftists also crow over the fact that Hillary won the popular vote. But again, so what? Lefties congegate in certain densely populated enclaves wherein 'correct' views are enforced and 'incorrect' ones excluded. Most people, being highly suggestible, simply imbibe the circumambient suggestions. Few people form their political and social beliefs by any process of deep study and hard thinking. The more impressionable people crammed into places like San Francisco and New York City, the more leftist group-think. People naturally want to be liked, accepted, and get ahead. They go along to get along.
So how significant is it that Hillary won the popular vote?
But the finally trumping consideration is that our great system of government bequeathed to us by the greatest generation, that of the founders, prescribes that it is the members of the Electoral College, not the populace at large who decide presidential elections.
John F. Kennedy was assassinated 53 years ago today. Here is The Byrds' tribute to the slain leader. They took a traditional song and redid the lyrics. Here Willie Nelson does a great job with the traditional song. You Dylan aficionados will want to give a listen to young Bob's rendition of the old song.
I was in the eighth grade when Kennedy was gunned down. We were assembled in an auditorium for some reason when the principal came in and announced that the president had been shot. The date was November 22, 1963. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was seated behind my quondam inamorata, Christine W. My love for her was from afar, like that of Don Quixote for the fair Dulcinea, but at the moment I was in close physical proximity to her, studying the back of her blouse through which I could make out the strap of her training bra . . . .
Since those far-off and fabulous days of 'Camelot,' we have learned a lot about Kennedy's dark side. But every man has his 'wobble,' and who among us would want to be exposed to the full light of day? He was a boyhood hero of mine, "the intrepid skipper of the PT 109," as I described him in a school essay. My assessment of him has been dialed downward over the years, but there were traces of greatness about him. He was a resolute commie fighter and a lifetime member of the NRA and Second Amendment defender. In those days, a decent, patriotic American could be a Democrat.
And if it weren't for his inspiration we wouldn't have beaten the Evil Empire in the space race.
It was a tale of two nonentities, Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby. Both were little men who wanted to be big men. Oswald, acting alone, shot Kennedy. Ruby, acting alone, shot Oswald. That is the long and the short of it. For details, I refer you to Bugliosi.
And let's not forget that it was a commie who murdered Kennedy.
. . . the fact that all men feel at ease in philosophy, wishing to dedicate their whole lives to the pursuit of it by leaving behind all other concerns, is in itself weighty evidence that it is a painless pleasure to dedicate oneself wholeheartedly to philosophy. For no one is willing to engage in exhausting work for a long time. (#53, p. 24)
To set the Stagirite straight, I should like to shunt his shade into some Philosophy 101 classroom for a spell.
The National Science Foundation has spent more than $400,000 on a study that published scientific results on the “relationship between gender and glaciers.”
The paper “Glaciers, gender, and science,” published in January 2016, concluded that “ice is not just ice,” urging scientists to take a “feminist political ecology and feminist postcolonial” approach when they study melting ice caps and climate change.
Yet another reason to rejoice and be thankful this Thanksgiving over the defeat of the hilarious Hillary and her Pee Cee ilk. Leftists politicize everything they touch, and they touch everything.
"The object of Parliament," observed Winston Churchill at election time in 1951, "is to substitute argument for fisticuffs."
How's that holding up after November 8th? The object of at least a proportion of those on the streets is to substitute fisticuffs for argument, and indeed for Parliament: The less self-aware even chant "This is what democracy looks like!" - by which they mean not the election but the post-election riots and looting and assaults. Some among these self-proclaimed champions of women and immigrants wish to substitute rape for argument, a cause of such broad appeal that the ideological enforcers at the monopoly social-media cartels breezily permitted the hashtag "Rape Melania" to "trend" on Twitter.
Excellent background to current developments. I may be missing something, but the subtitle seems poorly chosen. 'Toward X,' like the German Zur X,' signals that the author is for X, that he advocates it. But I take it that Gottfried is against secular theocracy. Call me a quibbler and a pedant if you like. A couple of quotations to whet your appetite:
European nation-states have become "feminized" bureaucracies, heavily staffed by women engaged in feminist politics. States no longer talk about heroic pasts nor evoke the kind of national loyalties that had marked them well into the last century. (128)
No doubt, which is why the defeat of Hillary the Feminizer, she who is so concerned for 'the children,' except for the not yet born ones, is such a theme for rejoicing and thanksgiving this Thanksgiving.
The following passage strikes me as prescient by 14 years:
The by now feared populist movements also feature leaders who claim to speak both to and for historical nations or besieged regionalists, against media-administrative elites. A cult of the leader seems inevitably attached to all such movements, partly related to the emphasis they place on circumventing ordinary party politics and enacting plebiscitary democracy. [. . .] Depicting the opponents of populism as "liberal' and the populists as unreconstructed Nazis or fascists is dishonest and misleading. [. . .] the confrontation that has erupted is not between liberals and antiliberals bur between two postliberal concepts of democracy, one, managerial-multicultueal, and the other, plebiscitary national or regional. (122)
It is as if Gottfried saw the face of Donald J. Trump in his crystal ball back in 2002.
Beef is the flesh of a formerly sentient being, a dead cow. And of course beef is edible. For present purposes, to be edible is to be ingestible by mastication, swallowing, etc., non-poisonous, and sufficiently nutritious to sustain human life.
But is everything that is edible food? Obviously not: your pets and your children are edible but they are not food. People don't feed their pets and children to fatten them up for slaughter. So while all food is edible, not everything edible is food.
What then is the missing 'ingredient'? What must be added to the edible to make it food? We must move from merely biological concern with human animals and the nutrients necessary to keep them alive to the cultural and normative. Sally Haslanger: "Food, I submit, is a cultural and normative category." ("Ideology, Generics, and Common Ground," Chapter 11 of Feminist Metaphysics, 192)
This is surely on the right track, though I would add that food is not merely cultural and normative. Food, we can agree, is what it is socially acceptable to eat and/or morally permissible to eat. But food, to be food, must be material stuff ingestible by material beings, and so cannot be in toto a social or cultural construct. Or do you want to say that potatoes in the ground are social constructs? I hope not. Haslanger seems to accept my obvious point, as witness her remark to the effect that one cannot chow down on aluminum soda cans. As she puts it, "not just anything could count as food."(192) No construing of aluminum cans, social or otherwise, could make them edible to humans.
Could it be that certain food stuffs are by nature food, and not by convention? Could it be that the flesh of certain non-human animals such as cows is by nature food for humans? If beef is by nature food for humans, then it is normal in the normative sense for humans to eat beef, and thus morally acceptable that they eat it. Of course, what it is morally acceptable to eat need not be morally obligatory to eat.
Haslanger rejects the moral acceptability of eating beef but I don't quite find an argument against it, at least not in the article under examination. What she does is suggest how someone could come to accept the (to her) mistaken view that it is morally acceptable to eat meat. Given that 'Beef is food' is a generic statement, one will be tempted to accept the pragmatic or conversational implicature that "there is something about the nature of beef (or cows) that makes it food." (192)
For Haslanger, 'Beef is food' is in the close conceptual vicinity of 'Sagging pants are cool' and 'Women wear lipstick.'
Surely there is nothing intrinsic to sagging pants that makes them 'cool': 'coolness' is a relational property had by sagging pants in virtue of their being regarded as 'cool' by certain individuals. It is not in the nature of pants to sag such that non-sagging pants would count as sartorially defective. We can also easily agree that it is it not in the nature of women to wear lipstick such that non-lipstick-wearing women such as Haslanger are defective women in the way that a cat born with only three legs is a defective cat, an abnormal cat in both the normative and statistical senses of 'abnormal.' One can be a real woman, a good woman, a non-defective woman without wearing lipstick.
These fashion examples, which could be multiplied ad libitum (caps worn backward or sideways, high heels, etc.), are clear. What is not clear is why 'Beef is food' and 'Cows are food' are like the fashion examples rather than like such examples as 'Cats are four-legged' and 'Humans are rational.'
Cats are four-legged by nature, not by social construction. Accordingly, a three-legged cat is a defective cat. As such, it is no counterexample to the truth that cats are four-legged. 'Cats are four-legged' is presumably about a generic essence, one that has normative 'bite': a good cat, a normal cat has four legs. 'Cats are four-legged' is not replaceable salva veritate by 'All cats are four-legged.'
Why isn't 'Cows are food' assimilable to 'Cats are four-legged' rather than to 'Sagging pants are cool'? I am not finding an argument. Haslanger denies that "cows are for eating, that beef just is food":
Given that I believe this to be a pernicious and morally damaging assumption, it is reasonable for me to block the implicature by denying the claim: cows are not food. I would even be willing to say that beef is not food. (192)
Beef is not food for Haslanger because raising and slaughtering cows to eat their flesh is an "immoral human practice." But what exactly is the argument here? Where's the beef? Joking aside, what is the argument to the conclusion that eating beef is immoral?
There isn't one. She just assumes that eating beef is immoral. In lieu of an argument she provides a psycholinguistic explanation of how one might come to think that beef is food.
The explanation is that people believe that beef is food because they accept a certain pragmatic implicature, namely the one from 'Beef is food' to 'Beef has a nature that makes it food.' The inferential slide is structurally the same as the one from 'Sagging pants are cool' to 'There is something in the nature of sagging pants that grounds their intrinsic coolness.'
Now it is obvious that the pragmatic implicature is bogus is the fashion examples. To assume that it is also bogus in the beef example is to beg the question.
We noted that not everything edible is food. To be food, a stuff must not only be edible; it must also be socially acceptable to eat it. Food is "a cultural and normative category." (192) But Haslanger admits that "cows are food, given existing social practices." (193) So beef is, as a matter of fact, food. To have a reason to overturn the existing social practices, Haslanger need to give us a reason why eating beef is immoral -- which she hasn't done.
Here is an invited essay of mine at Rightly Considered. I am told that RC is snagging around 2,000 page views per day, which is very good for such a young weblog. It is infuriating all the usual suspects.
My contribution is the first in a series of reflections on the presidential election.
Feeling chagrined at being on the wrong side of history, you Never Trump conservatives could conceivably argue that by 'Never Trump' you just meant that you would never support him in his presidential bid, not that if he became president you would not support or even embrace him.
C.J. F. Williams told me a [Richard] Swinburne story. Swinburne offered to give him a lift to some philosophy conference, but warned him ‘I only drive at 30 miles an hour’. Christopher thought he meant that he strictly abided by the urban 30 mph speed limit, and accepted the lift.
It turned out that Swinburne never ever drove more than 30 mph, even on the freeway, where in the UK the limit is 70 mph. It took a while to get to there.
Slow is not safe on freeways. Swinburne is lucky to have lived long enough to be insulted by the Society of Christian Philosophers.
I have heard rumors to the effect that David Lewis was 'automotively challenged.'
My old friend Quentin Smith didn't drive at all.
One of the reasons that philosophers from Thales on have been the laughingstock of Thracian maids and other members of hoi polloi is that many of them are incompetent in practical matters.
Quentin was just hopeless in mundane matters. The tales I could tell, the telling of which loyalty forbids.
Me? I'm an excellent driver, a good cook, a pretty good shot, competent in elementary plumbing, electrical, and automotive change-outs and repairs, and well-versed in personal finance.
A life well-lived is a balanced life. You should strive to develop all sides of your personality: intellectual, spiritual, artistic, emotional, and physical.
Here is an obituary of C. J. F. Williams by Richard Swinburne.
It came as news to me that Williams spent most of his life in a wheelchair. It testifies to the possibilities of the human spirit that great adversity for some is no impediment to achievement. I think also of Stephen Hawking, Charles Krauthammer, and FDR.
So stop whining and be grateful for what you have. You could be in a bloody wheelchair!
Your blog post "Philosophers as Bad Drivers" brought back to memory a philosophy professor that I had as an undergrad and a story he told us about himself.
Dr. Ken Ferguson (https://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/ugcat/philFaculty.cfm) told us a story one day about his time in one of the branches of the military. While serving, an officer instructed him to move a jeep. Ferguson says he objected and explained to the officer that he simply could not drive. The officer wasn't sympathetic to his excuse and doubled down on his request. Ferguson said that he attempted to follow the orders and ended up wrecking the jeep and some other equipment. He was not asked to drive again.
Ferguson said that he simply does not drive. Multiple times I remember seeing him walking down one of the main streets leading to campus in what I suspect was a distance of at least over two miles in the morning, and while always wearing a full suit at that!
Thanks for the story! Ferguson is a counterexample to the famous Stirling Moss quotation: “There are two things no man will admit he cannot do well: drive and make love.”
One of the reasons philosophy and philosophers get such bad press among the general public is because of the high number of oddballs and incompetents in philosophy. Your former professor mught have had a number of good reasons for never learning how to drive. But I would argue that there are certain things every man ought to know how to do and they include knowing how to drive cars and trucks of various sizes and operate a stick shift. Like it or not, we are material beings in a material world and knowing how to negotiate this world is important for us and those with whom we come into contact.
We should develop ourselves as fully and many-sidedly as possible so as to be worthy acolytes of our noble mistress, fair Philosophia. We represent her to the public.
True, Hillary won the popular vote. But the popular vote is irrelevant. One reason you already know: the President is elected by the members of the Electoral College. The other reason is explained by Jonathan Adler:
In the election concluded Tuesday, Hillary Clinton received more popular votes than Trump. This does not mean, however, that Clinton would necessarily have prevailed in an election that was determined solely by the popular vote. This is because the popular vote total is itself a product of the electoral college system. As a consequence, we do not know what the result would have been under a popular vote system, let alone whether Clinton would have prevailed.
The reason for this is because the electoral college system encourages the campaigns (and their surrogates and allies) to concentrate their efforts on swing states — those states in which the electoral votes are up for grabs — at the expense of those states in which one party or the other has no meaningful chance to prevail. [. . .]
So dry your tears you wimps and wussies of the Hillary brigade. Put away your cuddly toys and accept the defeat you so richly deserved. There is always next time.
Too many labor under the misapprehension that the purpose of the freeway on ramp is merely to get one to the freeway. Not so. It is also a 'safe space' for acceleration so that one can safely merge with freeway traffic.
'One' above refers to the driver-vehicle composite.
Suppose you are behind some old lady tooling along at 35 mph when she should be doing 50-60 in preparation for a smooth merge. You may be tempted to pass her to the left thereby violating the gore lane.
Don't do it. Or else a hefty fine may be in your future.
The old are too cautious. The young are too reckless. These sentences are examples of generic generalizations.
As I often tell you, we all live in our own movies inside our heads. Humans did not evolve with the capability to understand their reality because it was not important to survival. Any illusion that keeps us alive long enough to procreate is good enough.
Adams is telling us either directly or by implication that
a. The ability to understand reality is not important to survival.
b. We don't have this ability because we cannot transcend the "movies inside our heads."
c. Knowledge of truth (understanding of reality) is not necessary for procreation; illusions are good enough for procreation.
d. The foregoing propositions are all true.
I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to show that this is an inconsistent tetrad.
Minervic flights and the consolations of philosophy cannot be enjoyed when the barbarians are at the gates of one's stoa.
Conservatives, especially those of them given to contemplative pursuits, need to make their peace with activism in order to secure and defend the spaces of their quietism. And this with blood and iron if need be.
The owl of Minerva is a tough old bird, but no phoenix capable of rising from its ashes.
And the Left continues to melt down over the election result.
A curious exercise in hyperventilation from the pen of Andrew Sullivan. Here are a couple of gasps:
In the U.S., the [populist] movement — built on anti-political politics, economic disruption, and anti-immigration fears — had something else, far more lethal, in its bag of tricks: a supremely talented demagogue who created an authoritarian cult with unapologetically neo-fascist rhetoric.
Anti-political politics? That's like saying that proponents of limited government are anti-government. To oppose the politics of the Left is not to oppose politics unless the only politics is the politics of the Left -- which is not the case.
Anti-immigration fears? Andy is as mendacious as Hillary. Few conservatives, populist or not, oppose immigration. Conservatives oppose illegal immigration and an immigration policy that does not discriminate between those who share our values and are willing to assimilate, and those who do not and are not. Conservatives hold that immigration must have a net positive benefit for our nation.
That Sullivan elides the distinction between illegal and legal immigration shows that he is intellectually dishonest.
And then there is the endlessly deployed leftist tactic of reducing the political opponent's view to a mere product of emotion, in this case fear. Probably the only effective response to this shabby tactic is to reply in kind. "Look, Sullivan, you are just a hate-America leftist scumbag who wants to undermine the rule of law."
By the way, Trump understands that it does no good to respond to a leftist with a learned disquisition (not that Trump could produce one); he understands with his gut that punching back is far more effective. He understands that the leftist thug will ignore your careful and polite arguments and go right back to name-calling: racist, sexist, homophobe, Islamophobe, bigot, deplorable . . . .
This is now Trump’s America. He controls everything from here on forward. He has won this campaign in such a decisive fashion that he owes no one anything. He has destroyed the GOP and remade it in his image.
This is delusional. How delusional? An army of proctologists in a month of Sundays could not bring Sully's head into the unsullied light of day.
Trump controls everything? False: the Left controls almost all mainstream media outlets, the courts, public education K-12, the universities, and many of the churches. (Think of all the leftist termites in the Catholic Church.)
He won in a decisive fashion? False: he lost the popular vote, a fact the liberal-left crybullies trumpet repeatedly.
He has destroyed the GOP? False: The GOP retained both houses of Congress. The truth is that he destroyed the Dems and the legacy of Obama.
Sully's rant does not get better as it proceeds, as you may verify for yourself.
M.B. of Alexandria, VA writes:
You said: "Trump controls everything? False: the Left controls almost all mainstream media outlets, the courts, public education K-12, the universities, and many of the churches. (Think of all the leftist termites in the Catholic Church.) "
You could add: the federal bureaucracy, most charitable foundations (Rockefeller, Ford, Soros etc), and, not least, the human resources (HR) departments of most corporations, which are now heavily staffed with ideological diversicrats.
Excellent points which I shouldn't have omitted, especially the one about the HR departments of most corporations. Why can't leftists see the extent of leftist control of the culture? Well, why is the fish unaware of the medium that sustains it?
Now half-priced! The perfect complement to the race card. No true liberal leaves home without both. Gives new meaning to 'card-carrying Democrat.' And it secures access to ladies' rooms throughout the land, regardless of the bearer's sex!
Statements divide into the singular and the general. General statements divide into the universal, the particular, and the generic. Generic statements are interesting not only to the logician and linguist and philosopher but also to critics of ideology and conservative critics of leftist ideology critique. For example, leftists will find something 'ideological' about the generic 'Women are nurturing' whereas conservatives will hold that the sentence expresses the plain truth and that some sort of obfuscation and chicanery is involved when leftists deny this plain biologically-based truth and try to tie its very meaning to the legitimation and preservation of existing power relations in society.
In this entry, perhaps the first in a series, I confine myself to presenting examples of generic statements and to giving a preliminary exegesis of the linguistic data, noting some features of generic generalizations, and some philosophical questions that arise.
Examples of Generic Statements
Some of the examples are my own, some are culled from the literature. Some of the following are true, some false, and some politically incorrect. Trigger Warning! All girly girls and pajama boys out of the seminar room and into their safe spaces! Uncle Bill will visit you later with milk and cookies and cuddly animals.
Dutchmen are good sailors. (Arnauld)
Germans are industrious.
Jews are very intelligent.
Chickens lay eggs.
Germans make better soldiers than Italians.
Cigars are what Bill smokes these days.
Men are taller than women.
Blacks are more criminally prone than whites.
Priests don't ride motorcycles.
Reducing taxes leads to increased economic growth.
Turks are hospitable.
Turks are very bad drivers.
Analytic philosophers do not know the history of philosophy very well.
Humanities departments are lousy with leftists.
The dodo is extinct.
Schockley invented the transistor.
The lion has a mane.
Blacks are not good at deferring gratification.
Conservatives are racists.
Women are nurturing and better with children.
Fred drinks wine with dinner.
The potato is highly digestible.
Some Features of Generic Statements
One obvious feature of generic statements is that they are not replaceable either salva veritate or salva significatione by either universal or particular quantified statements. It is true that Germans are industrious, but false that all are. That some are is true, but 'Some Germans are industrious' does not convey the sense of 'Germans are industrious.' The generic and the particular generalization agree in truth value but differ in sense.
In a vast number of cases, if I assert that the Fs are Gs I do not mean to endorse the corresponding universal generalization. No doubt birds fly, but it is false that all birds fly: the penguin is a bird, but it doesn't fly. And I know that. So if I say that birds fly, you can't refute me by bringing up the penguin. And if I say that Italians and those of Italian extraction are frugal and masters of personal finance, which is manifestly true, you cannot refute me by bringing up your cousin Vinny, the spendthrift of Hoboken. The same goes for 'Humanities departments are lousy with leftists.' 'Chickens lay eggs' has the interesting property that all the roosters strutting around in the world's barnyards cannot counterexample it into falsehood.
It is interesting to note that one can make a generic statement (express a generic proposition) using a sentence with 'all' or 'every.' My example: Omnis homo mendax. 'Every man is a liar.' An assertive utterance of this sentence in normal contexts expresses the proposition that people lie, not the proposition that all people lie. Or if someone says, unguardedly, or Trumpianly, 'All politicians are crooks,' he won't be fazed if you point out that the late Patrick Daniel Moynihan was no crook. The speaker may have engaged in a hasty generalization, but then again he may have intended a generic statement.
On the other hand, we sometimes omit the universal quantifier even though the proposition we intend to express is a universal quantification. An assertive utterance of 'Arguments have premises' intends Every argument has premises. The possibility of counterexamples is not countenanced. Contrast this with the generic 'Chickens lay eggs' which is plainly true even though only hens lay eggs.
'Arguments have premises' is non-generic and elliptical for 'All arguments have premises.' But what about 'Men are mortal'? Is it replaceable salva significatione with 'All men are mortal'? Perhaps not, perhaps it is a generic statement that admits of exceptions, as generics typically do. After all, Christ was a man but he was not mortal inasmuch as he was also God.
A clearer example is 'Man is bipedal.' This cannot be replaced salva veritate by 'All men are bipedal' since the latter is false. Nor can it be replaced salva significatione by 'Some man is bipedal, which, though plainly true, is not what 'Man is bipedal' means. And the same holds for translations using the quantifiers 'many' and 'most' and 'almost all.'
We are tempted to say that 'Man is bipedal' by its very sense cannot be about individual humans, whether all of them, most of them, many of them, or some of them, but must be about a common generic essence that normal, non-defective humans instantiate. But how could this be? No generic essence has two feet. It is always only an individual man that has or lacks two feet. Here, then, is one of the philosophical puzzles that arise when we think about generic statements. It is the problem of what generic statements are about, which is not to be confused with the question whether they have truth makers.
And then there is 'Man is a rational animal.' Let us agree that to be rational is either to possess the capacity to reason or to possess the second-order capacity to develop this first-order capacity. Aristotle's dictum is true, while 'All humans are rational animals' is false. So Aristotle's dictum is a generic sentence that cannot be replaced by a quantified sentence. It is false that all humans are rational animals because an anencephalic human fetus, while obviously human (not bovine, canine, etc.), having as it does human parents, is not rational in the sense defined.
And of course we cannot replace 'Man is a rational animal' with 'Most men are rational animals.' For the dictum plainly intends something like: it the nature or essence of man to be rational. What then is the dictum about? If you tell me that it is about the generic essence man, then I will point out the obvious: no abstract object reasons, is capable of reasoning, or has the potentiality to acquire the power to reason.
Some philosophers hold that every truth has a truth-maker. What then are the truth-makers for the vast class of true generics? Do they have any?
Panayot Butchvarov, Anthropocentrism in Philosophy: Realism, Antirealism, Semirealism, de Gruyter, 2015, Chapter 8, "Generic Statements," pp. 151-168.
I posed the question in the aftermath of the election and because of the pleasure many of us are feeling at the Left's comeuppance:
Is there a righteous form of Schadenfreude or is it in every one of its forms as morally objectionable as I make it out to be here?
Edward Feser supplies an affirmative Thomistic answer. Ed concludes:
Putting the question of hell to one side, though, we can note that if schadenfreude can be legitimate even in that case, then a fortiori it can be legitimate in the case of lesser instances of someone getting his just deserts, in this life rather than the afterlife. For example – and to take the case Bill has in mind -- suppose someone’s suffering is a consequence of anti-Catholic bigotry, brazen corruption, unbearable smugness, a sense of entitlement, groupthink, and in general from hubris virtually begging nemesis to pay a visit. When you’re really asking for it, you can’t blame others for enjoying seeing you get it.
Members of the party of 'tolerance' and 'inclusion' go on the rampage as captured in this collection of videos.
Trump won fair and square despite all the chicanery of the Dems. Now just as most Muslims are not terrorists, most Dems are not street anarchists. But the latter constitute a significant subset of Dems. What does it say about them that they breed elements who reject the very system of government that allowed for Obama's accession to power for two disastrous terms?
'Interesting' days up ahead. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.
We 'deplorables' have much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. My hat is off to every one of you who did his bit to defeat Hillary and "fundamentally transform' her into a political nonentity, thereby delivering a stinging rebuke to the destructive Obama and all he stands for. We conservatives now have to keep up the attack on the Left and hold Trump's feet to the fire so that he accomplishes at least some of what he has promised.
On C-SPAN this morning I watched part of a re-run of a program from last Wednesday. A bunch of leftists were bemoaning Hillary's defeat. One Steve Cobble uncorked a real doozy to the effect that long lines at polling places are a form of 'voter suppression.'
This is too stupid to waste time refuting, but it's good for a laugh.
Turns out this Cobble character writes for the The Nation. Surprise!
For articles of mine on 'voter suppression,' see here.
Here is the delusional Paul Krugman soiling, once again, the already piss-poor Op-Ed pages of The New York Times. His title is the hyperventilatory "Thoughts for the Horrified."
The political damage will extend far into the future, too. The odds are that some terrible people will become Supreme Court justices. States will feel empowered to engage in even more voter suppression than they did this year. At worst, we could see a slightly covert form of Jim Crow become the norm all across America.
Terrible people? Voter suppression? Jim Crow? This is crazy stuff, beneath reply. And Krugman's outburst is no isolated incident. Lefties can't seem to grasp that we reject their ideas and policies and that we have good grounds for doing so.
And then we have the leftist punks clogging the highways and byways. What are they protesting? The proper functioning of a democratic republic in which a bloodless transfer of power has occurred? The brainwashed punks have no legitimate grounds for protest. They simply don't like the outcome.
But we conservatives didn't like the outcome when Obama beat Romney in 2012. I don't recall any right-wing gangs in the streets protesting. Yet another difference between the Left and the Right. Perhaps now you understand why I often refer to the Left as destructive.
The Left's long march through the institutions has been successful. We now have hordes of young people with no understanding of the greatness of America. The punks have been brainwashed, and we conservatives can blame ourselves for retreating into our private lives and not battling the Marxist cultural termites early on.
But the focus on what really matters, the private, is of the essence of conservatism, and so it is our conservative attitude that unfits us for battle with the totalitarians of the Left who work to destroy the institutions of civil society.
Are there any valid arguments that satisfy the following conditions: (i) The premises are all factual in the sense of purporting to state only what is the case; (ii) the conclusion is normative/evaluative? Alasdair MacIntyre gives the following example (After Virtue, U. of Notre Dame Press, 1981, p. 55):
1. This watch is inaccurate.
2. This is a bad watch.
MacIntyre claims that the premise is factual, the conclusion evaluative, and the argument valid. The validity is supposed to hinge on the functional character of the concept watch. A watch is an artifact created by an artificer for a specific purpose: to tell time accurately. It therefore has a proper function, one assigned by the artificer. (Serving as a paperweight being an example of an improper function.) A good watch does its job, serves its purpose, fulfills its proper function. MacIntyre tells us that "the concept of a watch cannot be defined independently of the concept of a good watch . . ." and that "the criterion of something's being a watch and something's being a good watch . . . are not independent of each other." (Ibid.) MacIntyre goes on to say that both sets of criteria are factual and that for this reason arguments like the one above validly move from a factual premise to an evaluative conclusion.
Speaking as someone who has been more influenced by the moderns than by the ancients, I don't quite see it. It is not the case that both sets of criteria are factual. The criteria for something's being a good watch already contain evaluative criteria. For if a good watch is one that tells time accurately, then that criterion of chronometric goodness involves a standard of evaluation. If I say of a watch that it is inaccurate, I am not merely describing it, but also evaluating it. MacIntyre is playing the following game, to put it somewhat uncharitably.
He smuggles the evaluative attribute good into his definition of 'watch,' forgets that he has done so thereby generating the illusion that his definition is purely factual, and then pulls the evaluative rabbit out of the hat in his conclusion. It is an illusion since the rabbit was already there in the premise. In other words, both (1) and (2) are evaluative. So, while the argument is valid, it is not a valid argument from a purely factual premise to an evaluative conclusion.
So if the precise question is whether one can validly move from a purely factual or descriptive premise to an evaluative conclusion, then MacIntyre's example fails to show that this is possible.
I think what MacIntyre needs is the idea that some statements are both factual and evaluative. If (1) is both, then the argument is valid, but then it is not an argument from a purely factual premise to an evaluative conclusion.
The Opponent supplies the above-captioned sentence for analysis. He reports that a female family member was widely defriended (unfriended?) on Facebook for agreeing that it is true. Of course the sentence is true as anyone with common sense and experience of life knows.
It is an example of a generic statement or generic generalization. It obviously does not mean that all women are better at looking after children. The Opponent writes,
I think the PC brigade would claim that any utterance whatsoever of ‘women are better at looking after children’ has a separate implicature, i.e. ‘what is suggested in an utterance, even though neither expressed nor strictly implied.’ Something like ‘women belong in the home’, i.e. the normative 'women ought to be at home looking after the children.'
The Opponent and I agree that the sentence under analysis is true. This leaves three questions.
First, does the non-normative sentence conventionally imply the normative one? Is there conventional implicature here? We of course agree that we are not in the presence of logical implication or entailment.
Second, is there conversational implicature here?
Third, is the normative sentence true?
As for the first question,I find no conventional implicature. A conventional implicature is a non-logical implication that is not context-sensitive but depends solely on the conventional meanings of the words in the relevant sentences. For example, 'Tom is poor but happy' implies that poverty and happiness are not usually found together. This is not a logical implication; it is a case of conventional implicature. Same with 'Mary had a baby and got married.' This is logically consistent with the birth's coming before the marriage and the marriage's coming before the birth. But it conventionally implies that Mary had a baby and then got married. This implicature is not sensitive to context of use but is inscribed in (as a Continental philosopher might say) the language system itself.
What about conversational implicature? This varies from context of use to context of use. Consider my kind of conservative, the traditional conservative that rejects both the conservatism of the neo-cons and the white-race-based identity-political conservatism of the Alternative Right. My brand of conservatism embraces certain classical liberal commitments, including: universal suffrage, the right of women to own property in their own names, and the right of women to pursue careers outside the home.
So if conservatives of my type are conversing and one says, 'Women are better at looking after children,' then this does not conversationally imply that women ought to be at home looking after the children. But among a different type of conservative, an ultra-traditional conservative who holds that woman's place is in the home, then we are in the presence of a conversational implicature.
Finally, is it true that women ought to be at home looking after children? I would say No in keeping with my brand of conservatism, which I warmly recommend as the best type there is, avoiding as it does the extremism of the ultra-traditional throne-and-altar, women-tied-to-the-stove conservatism (men are better cooks in any case), the namby-pamby libertarian-conservative fusionism of the Wall Streer Journal types, and the race-based identity-political extremism of the 'alties' and the neo-reactionaries.
Now if this were part of a journal article, I would not preen like this. But this ain't no journal article. This here's a blog post, bashed out quickly.
Why do we disagree so fundamentally about so many things? And can anything be done about it? Jonathan Haidt offers a solution in terms of more proximity and interaction and less separation; if people in opposing camps just got to know each other they would find common ground. Really? Consider the following opposing views of Trump's election triumph. The first passage is the opening paragraph of An American Tragedy by David Remnick writing in The New Yorker:
The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.
Had she been elected it would have said much more about us than about her. We would have shown ourselves a soulless and heartless people, beyond hope, beneath contempt.
There was so much at stake. Much of our work here at The Remnant, for example, would have been criminalized over the next four years. Our home schools would have become illegal enterprises in the village Mrs. Clinton had in mind. Even our ability to move about freely would have been exponentially undermined. (As the “leader of a hate group”, according to the infamous Southern Poverty Law Center, it isn’t difficult for this writer to imagine how enthusiastically President Hillary would have enforced hate crime legislation against Christian America.)
So, yes, like everyone else, we’re still trying to process the news of this truly awesome political and moral and even spiritual upset (if Trump repeals the Johnson Amendment, even the Catholic Church in this country might become relevant again). There’s much to learn from what we saw last night, not the least of which is that the mainstream media, far from omniscient, are in fact clueless ideologues never to be trusted again.
No matter what happens with a Trump presidency, we now know that a substantial percentage of the American people are not beyond hope—that they still have enough Christian sense to recognize and reject the demonic when they see it. And what’s the takeaway from that? Demons are not invincible. In fact, last night they had their tails handed to them by a “buffoon” they’d mercilessly mocked for 18 months, and who decided he’d be the first politician in decades to give God-fearing Americans a voice again—a comparative small concession that nevertheless silenced the left-half of this country for the first times in decades. Donald Trump let pro-life, pro-God, pro-family America loose from their shackles—and the demons scattered before them like roaches.
My thesis is that the differences exemplified above run so deep as to be irreconcilable. No amount of conversation, however well-intentioned and amicably conducted, could possibly lead to agreement on fundamentals.
What then is to be done?
I suggest that what we need to mitigate tribal hostility is not more proximity and interaction, pace Haidt, but less, fewer 'conversations' not more, a government restricted to essential functions, more toleration, voluntary segregation, a return to federalism, a total stoppage of illegal immigration, and a reform of current immigration law to favor people who share our values. (Sharia-supporting Muslims are an example of a group that does not share our values.)
You have enough worldly success if it enables you to advance the project of self-realization on the important fronts including the moral, the intellectual, and the spiritual. The vita contemplativa cannot be well lived by the grindingly poor, the sick, the politically and socially oppressed, the sorely afflicted and tormented. Boethius wrote his Consolations of Philosophy in prison, but you are not Boethius.
You have too much worldly success when it becomes a snare and a burden and a distraction.
We need some social acceptance and human contact, but fame is worse than obscurity. Reflect for a moment on the character of those who enjoy fame and the character of those whose fickle regard confers it.
We need a modicum of worldly wherewithal to live well, but more is not better. Only the terminally deluded could believe, as the saying goes, that "You can't be too thin or too rich." You could be anorexic or like unto the New Testament camel who couldn't pass through the eye of a needle.
We need health, but not hypertrophy.
We need power, but not the power over others that corrupts, but the power over oneself that does not.
I smoked my fair share of the stuff back in the day, and so I know whereof I speak: more potheads will only hasten the Decline of the West in its prime instance, the U. S. of A.
Libertarians often argue that drug legalization would not lead to increased drug use. I find that preposterous, and you should too. There are at least three groups of people who are dissuaded from drug use by its being illegal. See Libertarians and Drug Legalization.
I don't know how much dope Gary Johnson smokes but he seems to suffer from traces of amotivational syndrome as one might have gleaned from the collapse of his campaign. (The Aleppo business, the sticking-out-of-tongue incident, his general dopiness.) Even in dope-friendly Colorado, a good place to get Rocky Mountain high, he snagged only 4.9 % of the vote.
As for the AZ pot prop, 47.9% voted for legalization, and 52.1% against.