What the hell's going on in Florida? The other day an oven shot a woman, and now a dog has shot a man, with an 'unloaded' gun no less.
Tragedies like these show the need for Dog Control. Members of the Dog Lobby such as Duane LaRufus of the National Hound Association will scream in protest, but moral cretins like him and Leroy Pooch of Dog Owners of America are nothing but greedy shills for the Canine Industrial Complex. They routinely oppose all sensible Dog Control measures. Follow the money!
Reason dictates that all dogs must be kept muzzled at all times, and when transported in a vehicle containing a gun, must be kept securely locked in the trunk. Assault dogs, whose only purpose is to kill and maim, such as Doberman Ass Biters and Pit Bulls, must be banned. Such breeds are inherently evil and no one ouside of law enforcement and the military has any business owning them. Food magazines for all breeds must be kept strictly limited lest any dog become too rambunctious. Dog owners should be 'outed' and their names published in the paper. Special taxes must be levied on all things canine to offset the expenses incurred by society at large in the wake of the rising tide of dog violence.
Such reasonable measures will strike extremists as draconian, but if even one life can be saved, then they are justified. We must do something and we must do it now so that tragedies like the one in Florida never happen again.
Will liberals call for oven control? Or perhaps demand that ovens come with warning labels: Do not store ammunition in ovens! Or perhaps: Remove all ammo, fuels, cats and babies before preheating!
Is there anything so stupid that some liberal won't jump to embrace it?
That last sentence is an example of a rhetorical question, which I define as follows. A rhetorical question is an interrogative form of words utterance of which is used to make a statement or issue a command. For example, suppose you are the father of a teenage daughter. It gets back to you that she was texting while driving. You utter this grammatically interrogative sentence: 'Do you have to text while you drive?' You are not, logically, asking a question or making a statement. You are, logically, issuing a command: Do not text while driving! Depending on the proclivities of the lass you might add: And do not 'sext' while driving!
'Is there anything so stupid that some liberal won't jump to embrace it?' is grammatically interrogative but logically declarative.
Light. It is a fire that does not burn. (Notebooks, 21)
Just as the eyes are the most spiritual of the bodily organs, light is the most spiritual of physical phenomena. And there is no light like the lambent light of the desert. The low humidity, the sparseness of vegetation that even in its arboreal forms hugs the ground, the long, long vistas that draw the eye out to shimmering buttes and mesas -- all of these contribute to the illusion that the light is alive. This light does not consume, like fire, but allows things to appear. It licks, like flames, but does not incinerate. ('Lambent' from Latin lambere, to lick.)
Light as phenomenon, as appearance, is not something merely physical. It is as much mind as matter. Without its appearance to mind it would not be what it, phenomenologically, is. But the light that allows rocks and coyotes to appear, itself appears. This seen light is seen within a clearing, eine Lichtung, which is light in a transcendental sense. But this transcendental light in whose light both illuminated objects and physical light appear, points back to the onto-theological Source of this transcendental light.
Augustine claims to have glimpsed this eternal Source Light upon entering into his "inmost being." Entering there, he saw with his soul's eye, "above that same eye of my soul, above my mind, an unchangeable light." He continues:
It was not this common light, plain to all flesh, nor a greater light of the same kind . . . Not such was that light, but different, far different from all other lights. Nor was it above my mind, as oil is above water, or sky above earth. It was above my mind, because it made me, and I was beneath it, because I was made by it. He who knows the truth, knows that light, and he who knows it knows eternity. (Confessions, Book VII, Chapter 10)
'Light,' then, has several senses. There is the light of physics, which is but a theoretical posit. There is physical light as we see it, whether in the form of illuminated things such as yonder mesa, or sources of illumination such as the sun, or the lambent space between them. There is the transcendental light of mind without which nothing at all would appear. There is, above this transcendental light, its Source.
One could characterize a materialist as one who is blind to the light, except in the first of the four senses lately mentioned.
1. Care about truth. 2. Care about grammar. 3. Care about eloquence in speaking.
4. Develop refined tastes in everything you can. 5. Develop a masterful BS detector. 6. Speak truths that no one else will, but which need to be heard. 7. Never flatter. 8. Don't sell character for success. 9. Be skeptical of whatever "the herd" likes. 10. Do not watch TV. In fact, turn them off whenever possible. 11. Lament stupidity, inanity, and insanity. They are everywhere.
See the triangle-like piece of roadway where the routes diverge? That's called the gore lane. Gore lanes are also found near on ramps and exit ramps. Driving across such a lane is a moving violation. The gore lane is not, strictly, a lane, nor is it named after Al Bore Gore.
This scintillating topic came up in conversation with Peter L. yesterday morning after we had done with Thomas Nagel's Mind and Cosmos. Peter maintained that the 'lane' was so-called because of one Officer Gore, a motorcycle cop who supposedly had been killed in a gore lane near an entry ramp to a freeway. But I learned this morning that the noun 'gore' has among it meanings, "a small usually triangular piece of land." This leads me to suspect that Peter's explanation is a bit of urban folklore.
It was my pleasure to meet science writer and long-time reader and friend of MavPhil, John Farrell, in Flagstaff Friday evening. He was in town for a conference on the origins of the expanding universe, as he reports in Forbeshere. Flag is a lovely dorf sitting at 7,000 feet amongst the pines and home to the Lowell Observatory. It is an excellent retreat from the heat of the Valle del Sol where you would never catch me this time of year in long pants, jacket, and beret.
John and I are standing in front of an excellent Mexican eatery on old Route 66. I first heard about this joint on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. As luck would have it, Farrell the Irishman is enthusiastic about Mexican chow. Our tequila-fueled conversation was so good that I failed to clean my plate, a rare occurrence as my companions (literally those with whom one breaks bread, L. panis) know.
Perhaps the best thing about maintaining a weblog is that it attracts like-minded, high-quality people some of whom one then goes on to meet in the flesh.
Despite the attempts on Hitler's life, in particular Claus von Stauffenberg's of July 1944, the Leader of the 1000 Year Reich died by his own hand.
Addendum. I woke up in the middle of the night and asked myself how Hitler could have known how Mussolini and his girlfriend ended up. After all, the execution of the two Italians occurred on 29 April, 1945, the day before Hitler's murder of Eva Braun and his suicide. Could Hitler in his Berlin bunker have gotten word that quickly? Apparently yes, as I discovered when I pulled Antony Beevor's The Fall of Berlin 1945 (Penguin, 2002) from the shelf of my well-stocked library:
Apart from Himmler's betrayal, Hitler's other great preoccupation remained his fear of being taken alive by the Russians. News had come through of Mussolini's execution by partisans and how the bodies of the Duce and his mistress, Clara Petacci, had been hoisted upside down in Milan. A transcript of the radio report had been prepared in the special outsized 'Fuehrer typeface' which saved Hitler from wearing spectacles. It was presumably Hitler who underlined in pencil the words 'hanged upside down.' (p. 357)
It is important to rub one's nose in the horrors of history as prophylaxis against the dangerous utopianism of progressives with their Rousseauean fantasies about man as inherently good. Man is capable of some good, but he is not inherently good. The study of the history of just the 20th century should disabuse one of that notion once and for all.
The following is from the Powerblogs archive. Originally posted 5 November 2005.
Can't get a job teaching philosophy? Perhaps you can market yourself as a talk show umpire. There is a dire need for argumentative quality control on the shout circuit.
Last night I was pleased to see my favorite gun-totin' lesbian on Hannity and Colmes, the irrepressible Tammy Bruce. (That's her above with her pal 'Snubby.' The gal needs a lesson in trigger discipline: 'Get yer booger-hooker off the bang switch!') At one point, Bruce came out against governmental wealth redistribution via the tax code. Colmes the liberal replied in effect: So you're opposed to taxation!
At this point, a competent umpire would have called a timeout and thrown Colmes into the penalty box. For he committed a truly grotesque conceptual mistake by gratuitously assuming that it is somehow built into the very concept of taxation that it should involve redistribution of wealth. Taxation is the process whereby monies are extracted from the populace to offset the costs of government. There is nothing in the nature of taxation as such to require a 'progressive' scheme of taxation. Otherwise, a flat tax would be a contradiction in terms.
Here is an analogy. Suppose I warn you not to confuse insurance with investment and advise you to buy a term life insurance policy. An insurance agent, eager to line his own pockets, objects: So you're opposed to insurance! The counterresponse is that there is nothing in the concept of life insurance to require that it have any investment features. An umpire on the scene would slap a penalty on the greedy agent.
Of course, my umpire proposal is utopian. Average viewers apparently like shouting and mindless contention. They wouldn't put up with any close analysis or careful argument assessment. Ratings would plummet. Hannity and his sidekick would be out of a job.
This begs raises the question: Are the masses inherently stupid, or have they been stupefied by the media? The answer, I suspect, is both: thinking is hard work and even people with an aptitude for it are not inclined to engage in it. But it is also the case that the media do not encourage thoughtfulness and are quite willing to pander to their audiences to turn a buck.
It is the ugly side of capitalism; but socialism and government control of the media would obviously be a disaster.
The solution? C-Span and cyberspace. (By the way, I apologize for my uses of 'masses'; I thereby violated my own rule that a conservative should not talk like a leftist. So maybe I shouldn't have used 'capitalism' either.)
Regalia, as its etymology suggests (from L. rex, regis), are the king's insignia. By a natural extension, anyone's insignia, colors, banners. We like to fly the colors to the point of identifying with them. We identify with flags and labels and logos and certain words. There is a stupid satisfaction one gets from flaunting logos like 'Trek' and 'Jeep.' See? Me ride Trek bike. Just like Lance Armstrong.
The name of my Bell bicycle helmet model is 'Paradox.' That clinched the purchase for me.
Philosophers hate a contradiction but love a paradox.
One's own genealogy, for example. What does it matter who begat whom in one's line? Most of us will discover the names and dates of insignificant people who have left nothing behind but their names and dates.
Or is it just a philosopher's prejudice to be concerned more with timeless universals than with temporal particulars? To thrill to the Thoreauvian admonition, "Read not The Times, read the eternities"?
London Ed quotes neurologist Steven Novella who makes an insightful observation in Cranks and Physics (the whole of which is well worth reading):
... cranks around the world have been able to form their own “alternative” community, publish their own journals, and have their own meetings. There is just one requirement in this alternative community – acceptance. All ideas are accepted (there is no chaff, all is wheat), that is except for one. Whatever is accepted by mainstream science is wrong [my emphasis]. That is “the one ring” of crank mythology, that brings all crank theories together and in the darkness of their community binds them together. Otherwise they are largely mutually incompatible. Each crank’s “theory of everything” is a notion unto itself, and is mutually exclusive to every other crank’s own theory of everything (unless there is some incidental overlap). So they get together, present their theories without criticism, and all agree that the evil conspiracy of mainstream science must be taken down. Of course, if any of them got their way and their ideas became accepted, they would instantly become rejected by the rest of the crank community as mainstream physics.
Correct. My enemy's enemy is my friend, whatever my enemy believes. I have seen this effect in Wikipedia a number of times. Cranks unite to defeat the mainstream, orthodox view. Orthodox editors get blocked or banned. Cranks then war with each other, and get banned themselves. The orthodox editors mount appeals to the powers that be - the arbitration committee, none of whom have any expert credentials as far as I can see, and get unbanned. Or they just open 'sockpuppet' accounts and start editing again under a different name. So do the cranks, and the whole nightmare begins again. Another difficulty that Novella omits is 'mainstream' crankery. That is, bad science or quackery that unites its practitioners by financial interest. Homeopathy and 'Neurolinguistic programming' are good examples of this.
This would not matter at all, if Wikipedia were not increasingly used as a 'reliable source' by students, and even some medical researchers, as I noted in an earlier post.
One of the (very minor) drawbacks of having a Web presence is that one becomes the target of crackpot e-mail from people like this. He describes himself as an autodidact, thereby illustrating the perils of autodidacticism.
And yet some negotiate the straits of autodidacticism quite well, Eric Hoffer for example. In general, however, he who educates himself has a fool for a pupil. That being said, I advise a modicum of skepticism concerning academic credentials.
If you expect to have 'cred' in the 'sphere, it helps to have established credibility in peer-reviewed venues. Some of my publications are listed here, at PhilPapers.
60 Minutes last night did a segment on the Khan Academy, an online source of short tutorials in mathematics, science, and other subjects. A wonderful resource for homeschoolers and anyone interested in filling in the gaps in his education. I viewed a couple of algebra and a couple of probability lectures last night and found them to be of high quality. Recommended by Bill Gates.
As a follow-up to Anti-Intellectualism in Conservatives, here is an old post from the Powerblogs site. A surprising number still languish there in cyber-limbo awaiting their turn to be brought back to life.
The charge of hairsplitting has always been one of the weapons in the arsenal of the anti-intellectual. One root of anti-intellectualism is a churlish hatred of all refinement. Another is laziness. Just as there are slugs who will not stray from their couches without the aid of motorized transport, there are mental slugs who will not engage in what Hegel calls die Anstrengung des Begriffs, the exertion of the concept. Thinking is hard work. One has to be careful, one has to be precise; one has to carve the bird of reality at the joints. It is no surprise that people don't like thinking. It goes against our slothful grain. But surely any serious thinking about any topic issues in the making of distinctions that to the untutored may seem strained and unnecessary.
Consider the question of when it is appropriate to praise a person.
Should we praise a person who has merely done his duty? Should we praise people who feed, clothe, house, and educate their children? Should wives praise their husbands for being faithful, as I once heard Dennis Prager recommend? Of course not. For this is what they ought to do. We ought not praise them for doing such things; we ought to condemn them for not doing them. Praise is due only those actions that are above and beyond the call of duty. Such actions are called supererogatory. So we have a distinction between the obligatory and the supererogatory. The former pertains to those actions that must be done or else left undone, while the latter to those actions that are non-obligatory but such that if they are done they bring moral credit upon their agents.
Is that hairsplitting? Obviously not. We are in the presence of a genuine distinction. One would have to quite obtuse not to discern it. Clarity in moral matters demands the making of this distinction, and plenty of others besides.
A second example. The phrase, 'the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,' will strike some as containing redundant verbiage. But there are three distinct notions here since one can tell the truth without telling the whole truth, and one can tell the whole truth without telling nothing but the truth. This is not hairsplitting, but the making of necessary distinctions. Necessary for what? Necessary for clarity of thought. Why is that a good thing? Because clarity of thought is required for ethical action and for prudent action.
So what is hairsplitting if this is supposed to be something objectionable? One idea is that it is to make distinctions that correspond to nothing real, distinctions that are merely verbal. The 'distinction' between a glow bug and a fire fly, for example, is merely verbal: there is no distinction in reality. A glow bug just is a firefly. Similarly there is no distinction in reality between a bottle's being half-full and being half-empty. The only possible difference is in the attitude of someone, a drunk perhaps, who is elated at the bottle's being half-full and depressed at its being half-empty.
But this is not what people usually mean by the charge of hairsplitting. What they seem to mean is the drawing of distinctions that don't make a practical difference. But whether a distinction makes a practical difference depends on the context and on one's purposes. A chess player must know when the game is drawn. One way to draw a chess game is by three-fold repetition of position. But there is a distinction between a consecutive and a nonconsecutive three-fold repetition of position, a distinction many players do not appreciate. When it is explained to them, as it is here some react with hairsplitting!
The truth of the matter is that there are very few occasions on which the charge of hairsplitting is justly made. On almost all occasions, the accuser is simply advertising his inability to grasp a distinction that the subject-matter requires. He is parading before us his lack of culture and mental acuity and his churlish refusal to be instructed.
In daily language destiny and fate are synonymous, but with regards to 20th century philosophy the words gained inherently different meanings.
For Arthur Schopenhauer destiny was just a manifestation of the Will to Live. Will to Live is for him the main aspect of the living. The animal cannot be aware of the Will, but men can at least see life through its perspective, though it is the primary and basic desire. But this fact is a pure irrationality and then, for Schopenhauer, human desire is equally futile, illogical, directionless, and, by extension, so is all human action. Therefore, the Will to Live can be at the same time living fate and choice of overrunning the fate same, by means of the Art, of the Morality and of the Ascesis.
For Nietzsche destiny keeps the form of Amor fati (Love of Fate) through the important element of Nietzsche's philosophy, the "will to power" (der Wille zur Macht), the basis of human behavior, influenced by the Will to Live of Schopenhauer. But this concept may have even other senses, although he, in various places, saw the will to power as a strong element for adaptation or survival in a better way. In its later forms Nietzsche's concept of the will to power applies to all living things, suggesting that adaptation and the struggle to survive is a secondary drive in the evolution of animals, less important than the desire to expand one’s power. Nietzsche eventually took this concept further still, and transformed the idea of matter as centers of force into matter as centers of will to power as mankind’s destiny to face with amor fati.
The expression Amor fati is used repeatedly by Nietzsche as acceptation-choice of the fate, but in such way it becomes even another thing, precisely a “choice” destiny.
Ed tells me that the above strikes him as "gibberish." Well, if not pure gibberish, then very, very bad. First of all, the writing is awkward and inept and in places incoherent.
In the first sentence the author mentions 20th century philosophy and then immediately goes on to speak of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, both 19th century thinkers. Could the author be so clueless as not to know when these gentlemen lived and wrote?
"Will to Live is the main aspect of the living." Sentences like his are part of why I rejoice in no longer being a professor. First of all, Will cannot be described as an aspect of anything: 'aspect' suggests a view, an appearance, a representation (Vorstellung), a phenomenon. Schopenhauer's Will, however, plays in his system the role that the thing-in-itself (Ding an sich) plays in Kant's. Will is noumenal, not phenomenal, and so cannot be coherently described as an aspect. One ought to have gathered this just from the title of Schopenhauer's magnum opus, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung. Second, Will is what everything is at bottom, not just living things.
I won't continue through the passage. It is bad throughout. What I hated about teaching was having to wade through garbage like this. How does one explain to an incompetent writer what competent writing is? It is like trying to explain to a nerd why his pocket protector is a sartorial outrage or why pulling your pants up too high is 'uncool' or why socks with sandals don't make it. Or how do you explain to a socially lame person why she is socially lame? What do you do? Give her rules to follow? But such rules come too late.
I do not take as harsh a view of Wikipedia as Ed does. There is much of value in its pages, and plenty of the material is arcana that cannot be found elsewhere. But one cannot really trust anything one finds there since there is no way of knowing who wrote what and what his credentials are.
Let Caveat lector! be your watch-phrase, then, when you make use of this online resource.
W. V. O. Quine's famous collection of essays is named after this song. "From a logical point of view always marry a woman uglier than you." Jimmy Soul extends the thought, ripping off some of the lyrics of the calypso tune.
Bernard Goetz, mild-mannered electronics nerd, looked like an easy mark, a slap job. And so he got slapped around, thrown through plate glass windows, mugged and harrassed. He just wanted to be left alone to tinker in his basement. One day he decided not to take it any more and acquired a .38 'equalizer.' And so the black punks who demanded money of him on the New York subway in December of '84 paid the price to the delight of conservatives and the consternation of liberals. To the former he became a folk hero, to the latter a 'racist.' It was a huge story back then. One of the miscreants, James Ramseur, has been found dead of an apparent drug overdose.
Ramseur was freed from prison last year after serving 25 years for a rape, according to NBC NewYork.com. He was one of four black teens shot by Goetz on a train on Dec. 22, 1984, in a shooting that earned Goetz the nickname of "subway vigilante" by city newspapers.
Meanwhile Goetz, 64, flourishes and runs a store called "Vigilante Electronics."
A heart-warming story on this, the eve of Christmas Eve.
Jewish Philosophers. Jewish Chess Players. Other lists are accessible via these links. Roots of Jew hatred? One is undoubtedly envy. Jews have made contributions to culture far in excess of their numbers. No wonder they are so hated in the Muslim, and not onlyin the Muslim, world. And you say you don't believe that man is a fallen being? I would argue that failure to perceive one's fallen status is part of the Fall. I will be coming back to this topic. For now I point out that even Michael Ruse takes it seriously, to his credit, and to the displeasure of the very bright boneheads of the New Atheism, one of whom has recently passed from our midst.
I found no lists for Jewish Hikers or Jewish Outdoorsmen. Does that help explain Peter Lupu's and Grandpatzer Ed Yetman's utter incomprehension of my hiking and backpacking and running activities? It is not only that they would never do such a thing; they express astonishment that anyone should want to do such a thing.
One of the pleasures of blogging, for me at least, is re-reading what I have written. But then I discover the typographical errors. I seem to be almost blind to them: I see past words to their sense, though sense is not something literally to be seen. (Here, in nuce, is yet another argument against physicalism.)
How can I fail to see a typo in a two-sentence post that I have re-read many times? Here is what I just now discovered and corrected:
Aporeticians qua aporeticians do not celebrate Christmas. The celebrate Enigmas.
We see what we want to see. We also sometimes see what we don't want to see. I went hiking with a guy once. We took his car. A third guy persuaded the first to drive to a trailhead that didn't interest him. He was in a bad mood as a result. After the hike, he looked at a rear tire and cursed his having a flat. I said, "No flat, it's just the way the tire is distended by its contact with that rock." He began to argue with me. I insisted there was no flat. I was right. Obviously, he didn't want there to be a flat, but that's exactly what he, or his bad mood, saw.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot down in the streets of Dallas, Texas on this day in 1963. Yes, I remember exactly where I was and exactly what I was doing when I heard the news. But I won't bore you with that. Here are Part One and Part Two of a couple of interesting video clips about Jack Ruby who shot Lee Harvey Oswald who shot JFK.
I feel moved to comment on parts of R. J. Stove's statement. Maybe later. But at the moment I am more strongly drawn to the pleasures of the mountain bike. There is nothing quite like cranking a mountain bike through the foothills of a beautiful mountain range at sunrise. And the high I get after 1-2 hours of this is qualitatively different from the types of euphoria induced by hiking and running, though these are exquisite as well.
"Study everything, join nothing." I am sometimes asked for examples. Here are some from Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary under the entry Regalia. (Borrowed from Gilleland the Erudite):
. . . Knights of Adam; Visionaries of Detectable Bosh; the Ancient Order of Modern Troglodytes; the League of Holy Humbug; the Golden Phalanx of Phalangers; the Genteel Society of Expurgated Hoodlums; the Mystic Alliances of Gorgeous Regalians; Knights and Ladies of the Yellow Dog; the Oriental Order of Sons of the West; the Blatherhood of Insufferable Stuff; Warriors of the Long Bow; Guardians of the Great Horn Spoon; the Band of Brutes; the Impenitent Order of Wife-Beaters; the Sublime Legion of Flamboyant Conspicuants; Worshipers at the Electroplated Shrine; Shining Inaccessibles; Fee-Faw-Fummers of the Inimitable Grip; Jannissaries of the Broad-Blown Peacock; Plumed Increscencies of the Magic Temple; the Grand Cabal of Able-Bodied Sedentarians; Associated Deities of the Butter Trade; the Garden of Galoots; the Affectionate Fraternity of Men Similarly Warted; the Flashing Astonishers; Ladies of Horror; Cooperative Association for Breaking into the Spotlight; Dukes of Eden; Disciples Militant of the Hidden Faith; Knights-Champions of the Domestic Dog; the Holy Gregarians; the Resolute Optimists; the Ancient Sodality of Inhospitable Hogs; Associated Sovereigns of Mendacity; Dukes-Guardian of the Mystic Cess-Pool; the Society for Prevention of Prevalence; Kings of Drink; Polite Federation of Gents-Consequential; the Mysterious Order of the Undecipherable Scroll; Uniformed Rank of Lousy Cats; Monarchs of Worth and Hunger; Sons of the South Star; Prelates of the Tub-and-Sword.
Here are my two favorite examples of telephonic foolishness.
1. Leaving a message on the wrong answering machine. This has happened more than once. One time, a guy calls and hears our message: "This is Bill and Mary. We are either unable or unwilling to come to the phone at this time. Please leave a message after the beep."
So he proceeds, "Hi Jack, this is Clyde. I'm down at the Glass Crutch bar and grill and plan to stay until closing time. Why not come down and join me? We'll hoist a few."
2. Failure to grasp the concept of a wrong number. A guy calls asking for Dave. "No Dave here," I reply, "you must have the wrong number." Guy calls again an hour or two later, asking for Dave, and I give the same response. The pattern repeats itself several times over a few days. Concluding that the caller's contact with reality is minimal and drug-mediated, I finally say, "Hey man, haven't you heard? Dave OD'd on smack about a month ago." Caller: "Wow, far out!"
Almost anything can be made into a 'religion.' (I am using the term very loosely!) Survivalism, for example. See J. W. Rawles' SurvivalBlog.com for a taste. This post provides some insight into the mentality of a distaff survivalist. It is quite revealing, I think, of both the 'logic' and the propensity for extremism of the survivalist type. But extremism is everywhere, in the longevity fanatic, the muscular hypertrophy nut, and so on.
But don't get me wrong. A wise man, while hoping for the best, prepares for the worst. But the prepping is kept within reason, where part of being reasonable is maintaining a balanced perspective. A balanced approach, for me, does not extend to the homemade rain barrels that the linked-to survivalist lady mentions. But I do keep a lot of bottled water and other non-alcoholic potables on hand. Here are some questions you should ask yourself.
1. Are you prepared to repel a home invasion? 2. Do you have sufficient food and water to keep you and your family alive for say three weeks? 3. Do you have the battery-operated devices you will need to survive the collapse of the power grid, and enough fresh batteries? 4. Can you put out a fire on your own? 5. Do you have a sufficient supply of the medications you will need should there be no access to pharmacies?
These are just some of the questions to consider. But how far will you go with these preparations? Will you sacrifice the certain present preparing for a disastrous future that may not materialize? Wouldn't that be foolish? Wouldn't it be as foolish as the ostrich-like refusal to consider questions like the above?
And then there is the question of suicide, which you ought to confront head on. Do you want to live in the state of nature after the collapse of civil society? Under what conditions is life worth living? Civilization is thin ice, a crust easy to break through, beneath which is a hell of misery. (Yes, I know I'm mixing my metaphors.) When the going gets unbearable, can you see your way clear to shooting your spouse and then yourself? Are there good moral objections to such a course of action?
Think about these things now while you have time and enjoy peace of mind.
The extraordinary eclecticism of the Maverick Philosopher blog has struck me with unusual force just recently. This diversity of interest is what keeps me reading - though sometimes I stare at your commentaries in ignorant awe.
I'll never get up to speed with many of your discussions, and give up on some of them. I've wondered how many of your readers are capable of understanding at whatever level you choose to communicate.
Although the kind reader praises my eclecticism, his comment provides me an occasion to mount a defense of it.
I've had people ask me why I don't just stick to one thing, philosophy, or, more narrowly, my areas of expertise in philosophy. Some like my philosophy posts but cannot abide my politics. And given the overwhelming preponderance of liberals and leftists in academe, my outspoken conservatism not only reduces my readership but also injures my credibility among many. I am aware of that, and I accept it. Leftists, being the bigots that many of them are, cannot take seriously anything a conservative says. But conservatives ought nevertheless to exercise their free speech rights and exercise them fearlessly, standing up for what believe to be right. Surely, if liberals are serious about diversity, they will want a diversity of ideas discussed! Or is it only racial and sex diversity that concern them?
I should add that I do not hold it against any young conservative person trying to make his way in a world that is becoming ever more dangerously polarized that he hide his social and political views. It is easy for a tenured individual, or one like me who has established himself in independence, to criticize those who hide behind pseudonyms. I hesitate to criticize, not being exposed to the dangers they are exposed to. That being said, I hate pseudonyms. Do you have something to say? Say it like a man (or a woman) in your own name. Pseudonyms are for wimps and cyberpunks, generally speaking. I am reminded of Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signatory to the Declaration of Independence. He signed his name 'Charles Carroll of Carrollton' which leaves little doubt about his identity. There is such a thing as civil courage.
My weblog is not about just one thing because my life is not about just one thing. As wretched as politics is, one ought to stand up for what's right and do one's bit to promote enlightenment. Too many philosophers abdicate, retreating into their academic specialties. (Cf. The Abdication of Philosophy: Philosophy and the Public Good, ed. Freeman, Open Court, 1976) Not that I am sanguine about what people like me can do. But philosophers can contribute modestly to the clarification of issues and arguments and the debunking of various sorts of nonsense. Besides, the pleasures of analysis and commentary are not inconsiderable.
"But why the polemical tone?"
I say polemics has no place in philosophy. But it does have a place in politics. Political discourse is unavoidably polemical. The zoon politikon must needs be a zoon polemikon. ‘Polemical’ is from the Greek polemos, war, strife. According to Heraclitus of Ephesus, strife is the father of all: polemos panton men pater esti . . . (Fr. 53) I don't know about the 'all,' but strife is certainly at the root of politics. Politics is polemical because it is a form of warfare: the point is to defeat the opponent and remove him from power, whether or not one can rationally persuade him of what one takes to be the truth. It is practical rather than theoretical in that the aim is to implement what one takes to be the truth rather than contemplate it. 'What one takes to be the truth': that is the problem in a nutshell. Conservatives and leftists disagree fundamentally and nonnegotiably. We won't be able to achieve much if anything by way of convincing each other; but we will clarify our differences thereby coming to understand ourselves and our opponents better. And we may even find a bit of common ground.
"OK, you've explained the admixture of politics. But you talk about such a wide range of philosophical topics. Isn't there something unprofessional about that? Surely you are not an expert with respect to every topic you address!"
There is no good philosophy without a certain amount of specialization and 'technique.' Not all technical pilosophy is good, but most good philosophy is technical. Too many outsiders wrongly dismiss technical philosophy as logic-chopping and hairsplitting. That being understood, however, specialization can quickly lead to overspecialization and a concomitant loss of focus on the ultimate issues that brought one to philosophy in the first place, or ought to have brought one to philosophy in the first place. There is something absurd about someone who calls himself a philosopher and yet devotes most of his energy to the investigation of anaphora or epistemic closure principles. There is nothing wrong with immersing oneself in arcana: to each his own. But don't call it philosophy if burrowing in some scholarly cubbyhole becomes your be-all and end-all.
One of the elements in my personal liturgy is a reading of the following passage every January 1st. I must have begun the practice in the mid-70s.
Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, Book Four, #276, tr. Kaufmann:
For the new year. -- I still live, I still think: I still have to live, for I still have to think. Sum, ergo cogito: cogito, ergo sum. Today everybody permits himself the expression of his wish and his dearest thought: hence I, too, shall say what it is that I wish from myself today, and what was the first thought to run across my heart this year -- what thought shall be for me the reason, warranty, and sweetness of my life henceforth. I want to learn to see more and more as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who makes things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all and all and on the whole: someday I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.
Nietzsche found it very difficult to let looking away be his only negation. And so shall I.
Looking for some high-quality conservative culture critique anent the antics of the late Captain Beefheart who died last week, I typed 'New Criterion Captain Beefheart' into the Google engine. I was forthwith conducted to the stoa of Professor Mondo, presumably because he links to New Criterion and recently posted about Beefheart. Noting that he also links to me, I thought it would be nice to direct some traffic his way.
I’m a medievalist at a small college in a small college town. I like reading, writing, music, and thinking — practicing any of these individually or in combination. Turnoffs include Brussels sprouts, bad music, and creeping totalitarianism.
As for the Brussels sprouts, de gustibus non est disputandum; but steaming the hell out of them and drenching them in a good Hollandaise sauce laced with Tabasco works wonders for me. Ditto for broccoli and other stinkweeds.
UPDATE 12/21: Apparently my linkage caused a 'Mav-alanche' at Mondo's site. My pleasure.