Lions and Backstreet Boys

No, you won’t see the backstreet boys reunited here, and then put in a lion’s den.

This is Kevin Richardson, a guy who gets pretty close to lions, especially lions he’s known since birth.  

I’ll bet you have to be someone very in the moment and attuned to your senses to work with predators that have such deep instincts to kill, and can kill you so easily.  

Sadly, as I found out writing this, Kevin Richardson, is also the name of one of the Backstreet Boys.

I Don’t Love My Country

Here’s a very interesting discussion at Opino Juris, of a piece by Brian Tamahana. 

For many reasons, I feel fortunate to have been born in the United States, but I don’t love my country. It has no love for any of us. A cold, manipulative, object of affection, the state fans patriotism, then asks those who love it deeply to prove their love by dying or sacrificing their limbs for it. It will not happen in my lifetime, but I look forward to the day when states are no more.”

Brian Tamahana.

Note that Tamahana suggests nothing better if we were to actually dissolve states.  

Personally, I believe there are sacrifices that one makes out of moral duty that can benefit’s one’s country, and that such sacrifices are extremely important.  Abraham Lincoln is one example.  I don’t believe that many soldiers who act bravely in battle did so in vain, as the argument suggests.  You know, I see a lot of Nietzsche in this comment as well; not exactly a fan of democracy.   

What concerns me is something else, though.  It’s not that the left is any more pro-communist nor pro-socialist than it traditionally has been in my opinion, merely that it is more disordered and rudderless, and the democratic party will have to unite it.  This, in turn, will dictate much of the political scene, and what’s possible.

Immanuel Kant (all you ever wanted to know, and more)

Well, a friend of mine asked me to summarize Immanuel Kant in a few paragraphs.  Impossible task?  Not for a fool like me.   If anyone is reading this, and would like to help me make corrections, please do.

1.  Space and time are not inherent properties of the world, but rather preconditions of  experience.    It’s almost impossible for us to think of anything not being in time or space.  Imagine boundless space.  Imagine time indivisible.   It’s likely you can’t because they’re not inherent characteristics of what’s out there,  in the world, but because they are the basis of having any experience at all, and even knowing a world, according to Kant.    There may be reality beyond time and space, but we may never be able to know what it is, because experience is predicated upon time and space, and it is a part of our sensible intuition, not our intellects.  So we are not even aware it occurs.

2.  Ultimately, we can say that we have knowledge , but we can’t ever firmly begin at a beginning, and derive the source of our knowledge in the understanding, according to Kant.  Understanding is most important faculty, but’s it’s like a wheel in the sky, forever trying to figure out where its knowledge came from, forever unable to do so.  IT’s a turtles all the way down,  what’s the sound of one-hand clapping,  tree falling in the woods, kind of thing.

3.  It may be necessary to imagine, like Einstein, that we’re coming to know the mind of God, and that objects, like stars, are free from our knowledge of them, but this is not because we really be sure that God exists nor can we have absolute freedom.  Instead, it’s because these are part of the onboard equipment:  the ideas of reason.  Reason takes the form of three ideas: Freedom, immortality, and God.  which guide that wheel in the sky understanding toward GENUINE and the best knowledge we can have.

Scientists, feel free to disagree, or ignore this.  As a matter of fact, I trust that’s always an option.

**What I really like about Kant is that he resists any attempt to make his philosophy a part of any humanist or collectivist program.    There are very few “you should” arguments, or “we ought to” arguments, or you’ll “you’ll know God if” arguments, or the “revolution is just around the corner” arguments.  Most systems of thought are FULL of such arguments:  moral codes, unprovable theses, transcendant objects (heaven, the Platonic world of ideals, God).   If you want to avoid all of this for the time being, read Kant.

***What I really, really like about him is that he admits how little he has done.  Also, he recognized how little philosophy can do.   I would even go so far as so to say he could be wrong about some things.   At best, his system of thought can be used to avoid error, and get a good map, but that’s about it.  It goes on and on and on and on…..

Ok, that’s really it.  Thanks for reading.

Men and Women…

Here’s a link to a very good article on the Becker & Posner Blog:

A few criticisms: 

1. I  suspect that there’s some question on the value of comparing statistics on men and women’s representation in universities in both the US and Iran. 

2. Equity is not a goal to be pursued at the sake of freedom.  A little temperance would be nice.

3. Also, I’d like to retain my right to the same skepticism regarding female political leaders as I reserve for male political leaders.  It’s politics, let’s not too get starry-eyed.

Otherwise, it seems that through the achievements of science and technology, by way of the political structure of our country (as well as much of western Europe), and through lot of perserverance and commitment on the part of women, they have managed to not be merely in service of their own reproductive cycles, nor the deep social and moral codes that can often act to keep women from their potential.  This is remarkable.

But I just have to say, much of the emphasis on the individual, stemming from the enlightment, that has helped science break free from metaphysics, that has helped the founders do much to ensure property rights and individual rights, that has helped women achieve many of these freedoms, are conspicuously absent from feminism, one of the drivers of women’s freedoms.  Why can’t we talk about this? 

Here’s a woman that I admire, not because she is a woman, nor one of millions of college students, nor a good statistic, but because she really knows her Aristotle:  Martha Nussbaum works at a very high intellectual level. 

Richard Rorty wrote me back

About four years ago I wrote a rambling paragraph to him stating that I was not happy with the current trend of modern liberalism (feminism, diversity-ism) that was, and still is being institutionalized. I mean, feminism (especially) is kind of anti-rational, and often makes wild, neo-marxist power claims…I wrote. Isn’t your advocacy of multiculturalism just a cop out for all the real problems that will come out of this?

Anyways, the guy was nice enough to write me back:

“Thanks for your message. I am very glad to hear that you have found my stuff useful.”

Did I find it useful?  A good question.  But he did point me to his pragmatism.  I appreciated it.

The Culture is Collapsing

All of us have a desire to transcend our surroundings.  To become carried away by ideas seems like a pretty universal desire.  And when you live in a neighborhood where there are bad people who’ll do bad things to you, then rap is an appealing way to transcend your surroundings. 

 However, I came across an argument in Robert Bork’s book that uses rap as a sign of cultural decadence.    

Here it is: 

“The distance and direction popular culture has travelled in less than one lifetime… 

from these wholesome lyrics: 

“Oh, but you’re lovely

And your cheek so soft

There is nothing for me but to love you,

Just the way you look tonight”   

The Way You Look Tonight 

With the decadence of Snoop Dog lyrics in Horny: 

“I called you up for some sexual healing

I’m callin’ again so let me come get it

Bring the lotion so I can rub you

Assume the position so I can f… you.”  

…gives some idea of how rapidly popular culture is sinking into barbarism.”  

The culture is collapsing!  The culture is collapsing!

Ok, so why is Bork’s defense of his aesthetic preferences any more or less valid than Snoop Dog’s expression of his?  It seems like the worst kind of nostalgia, a nostalgia that seeks to justify the enjoyment of a song with the necessity of that song adhering to a moral code. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.