#5 atheism vid: the problem of evil. the final two should come tomorrow. one is a conclusion and basic statement of unreasonable atheism. the other is an application to the issue of teachhing intelligent deign.
(1) Non-dogmatic physicalism: the world is a system of physical things/events. (2) The world is not a product of the human mind; the human mind is a product of the world. (3) Truth = the world. "True" and "real" are, more or less, synonymous. True propositions emerge from a reality-preserving relationship between world and consciousness, mediated by public language. (4) Individuals are constituted by their relations to other persons/things, in an accumulation over time. But each such set of accumulated relations (each individual) is massively unique. (5) Perception is a process by which the human body is penetrated by the world. (6) Content-externalism: the mind actually encompasses external situations. The content of human mental states is not merely in the head. (7) Communication is a process by which human bodies penetrate one another. (8) Beauty is neither in the eye of the beholder nor (merely) a feature in the things beheld, but is a feature of the situation in which object is juxtaposed with perceiver, in which the integrity of each is cherished and compromised. (9) Ethics concerns relations between persons, animals, things that compromise their distinctness from one another, or is a form of perception/communication understood as mutual permeation. This is captured in basic experiences/principles such as empathy, golden rule: extensions of the self into the other, and of the other into the self. (10) Politics concerns the juxtapositions of individuals that constitute interpersonal and environmental situations/arrangements; a decent politics starts from a situation of individuals in relationship/juxtaposition, distinctness/merging.
alright, still working on the ism. i need a name for the ideology to which i expect everybody to conform, or face re-education. it's a view that is at the center of my approach to epistemology/theory of truth, ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy: that human beings are penetrated by the world, that perception is incorporation, actually taking the world into one's body. back in the era of "obscenity, anarchy, reality," i used to say: being in the world is like being impaled on a huge spike. now i'm less frantic. the best formulation is emerson's: "A man is a bundle of relations, a knot of roots, whose flowers and fruitage is the world. His faculties refer to natures out of him, and predict the world he is to inhabit, as the fins of the fish foreshadow that water exists, or the wings of an eagle in the egg presuppose air."
let me say a few words about the impeachment move by dennis kucinich. i think an impeachment is richly justified, but i would narrow down the indictment. kucinich's 35 articles throw the kitchen sink. here's a piece by fred hiatt trying to show, with reference to the rockefeller report on prewar intelligence "failures," that bush did not lie about saddam's weapons programs. now hiatt, among other things, is still trying to defend his own position at the time, which is kind of sad. i think hiatt's conclusions are basically right, however. the admin did not contradict its own intelligence. it manufactured the intelligence, in the following way: it demanded evidence for a certain point of viewe. then it regarded every scrap that supported its position as being credible and ignored every bit that undermined that position as implausible. this is actually a process that is typical for human beings, albeit this is a particularly clear case with particularly disastrous consequences. i've been, um, married to people whose main hobby could be described in the same way. they work so hard on believing what it serves their purposes or self-interests to believe that they can convince themselves of absolutely anything. the commitment is to the conclusion, not the process. we can call this rationalization, perhaps, or self-deception, although the bush admin case is so extreme that one must wonder whether they believed what they were saying. certainly they cannot have believed in as unqualified a way as they purported to. the powell performance at the un, for instance, just had all these glaring holes and weaknesses and contradictions. these could not have been completely invisible to anyone, i hope. nevertheless, the question of "lying" in a case like this is complex and obscure - that's one reason one engages in the process of rationalization to begin with: so that one does not have to lie straight out. it's worth saying that in some ways the procedure is worse than lying because it puts you in a globally problematic relation to the truth: it falsifies a whole system, personality, government, rather than a mere assertion. the only solution for this kind of procedure in a democracy is political: people have to say "huh"? but they often don't. another example would be gulf of tonkin. blame bush. blame powell. blame the pussies in the senate, like hillary clinton and john kerry. and blame the, um, people. but the impeachment case on those grounds would be difficult, turning on who actually believed what crap when. sadly, those people's own accounts are all you really get on matters like that. at any rate, i would focus like a laser on illegal prisons, illegal detentions, illegal interrogations. there is no doubt, i tell you, that the administration starting with bush and cheney commanded a series of obvious fundamental violations of the constitution and international law; they commanded a series of outright felonies. it is irrelevant that some monsters, idiots, or weaklings in the justice department delivered "legal" opinions that such things were within the scope of presidential power; john yoo would have justified bush in selling crack in the oval office, and alberto gonzales would have acquiesced. i'm telling you that knowledge of a single black site interrogation facility or abduction is more than enough to impeach a president. here we have a true embarrassment of riches: hundreds of inyourface high crimes.
i'm trying to figure out a good "ism" for my kind of anarchism. it is an individualist anarchism that emphasized the constitution of the individual out of its relations. "individualism" to me, is conflated with egoism or anarcho-capitalism; the term has been kind of polluted. so it could be "relationism," i guess. i would use "situationism" but that's already taken. "mutualism" is not too bad too, and is historically connected to the kind of thing i'm talking about (which you can find out about here). so among these what do you think? or are there other ideas?
judith warner's juxtaposition of sexism with regard to the hillary clinton campaign and with regard to sex and the city strikes me as extremely odd. blame men for the former, but surely you can't blame men for the values embodied in sex and the city, values even its devotees refer to by the summary term "manolo." and i don't think she makes any connection. well, what is the connection? i'm pondering. so the "ball-busting" thing indeed captures a big male anxiety. but what has that got to do with women buying tickets for sex and the city? it can't be that women deserve sexism or something. whether they do or not, all the connections are displaced in this juxtaposition. or if they do, do they deserve it in virtue of their preternatural castrating power or their frivolous commitment to cosmetics and cosmopolitans? it can't be both. or it could be, but how could it be? or maybe the connection is that sex and the city represents the false consciousness of the victims of misogyny? i don't know, surely not, exactly. hillary, more and more, seems squarely second-wave ms-mag feminism. what kind of feminism does sex and the city represent, if any? well it also doesn't represent mere happy capitulation in subservience. got no idea, brothers and sisters.
ok here's the second in the series developing the history of a certain sort of anarchism. this one is about american reform movements of the first half of the 19th century: abolitionism, feminism, and pacifism, among others, especially william lloyd garrison and nathaniel rogers.
ok i seem to be addicted to making youtube videos. i'm doing a series, probably three, on the history of the kind of anarchism with which i'd associate my own positions. this is not the "communism" or kropotkin, emma goldman etc. nor is it the "egoism" or "anarcho-capitalism" of stirner, rothbard, ayn rand. it begins in reformation religious individualism, most beautifully expressed (late) by kierkegaard. then with abolitionism and other 19th-century american reform movements, including feminism and the peace movement. then with the secular individualism and anti-authoritarianism of josiah warren, emerson, and thoreau. this variety of anarchism affirms the importance of the individual, but also of the individual's connections to others and to nature. and it does not treat people as fundamentally or exclusively a bundle of economic interests. here's the first installment.
been watching the obama and clinton speeches at aipac. they are disgusting and cowardly: pure uncritical support for whatever israeli policies may be, pandering like mofos to the jewish vote. well. first of all, this "we don't talk to hamas" thing simply precludes a peace settlement. they both support the precise situation that stands today, have no interest in any policy that could actually lead to peace, which would be in israel's interests, of course. there is all this condemnation of hamas's terroism, missiles, holding israeli soldiers, etc, and i think that is appropriate. but not a single word about the devastating effects of israeli policies on all those families and children in gaza: trying literally to starve them into submission, bulldozing their homes, and, of course, killing them, whether in some mistargeted retribution or not (which at this point is an impossible equation to elucidate). there is not a single candidate this time around who will make any difference, and it will be walls, oppression, and terroristic violence at the end of the next administration just as at the beginning. they both talked of "hope." but they are helping to kill any trace of it.
here's the third of the "against the state" videos, this one addressing "decision theory" approaches to arguments for the legitimacy of the state, a la james buchanan. yes that's my daughter jane, who's been outside playing in the hose, flitting about on the periphery in her underwear. she's such a child!
many people have been responding to the challenge to give a good argument for the legitimacy of the state, without having read the book, which is among other things sold out on amazon (you can get it here). so i'm doing a series of youtube videos summarizing some of the main arguments from the book. the first is an attack on classical social contract theory.