David Horowitz Escorted From The Stage At Emory

It’s tough to defend David Horowitz for his arguments alone, though they deserve much more credit than many leftist groups on campuses give them.  Here’s a link covering a recent speech of his as part of IslamoFascism Week.  

Horowitz seems satisfied to stir up controversy, and also opportunistically challenge (and bait) the lack of reasoned debate that some factions at college campuses display.    He thrives on making anti-academic arguments while visiting academies.

Horowitz is smart enough to realize that PC ideas at universities are stretched pretty thin.  Many college students suspect that equality arguments go only so far, (link to where an interesting Thomas Sowell essay can be found), and that arguments for freedom lose their luster when supported by actions that do little to show responsibility for that freedom. 

But David Horowitz?

Addition:  Here’s a recent post about what some leftist groups may have in common.

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Theodore Dalrymple In The City Journal: Atheism’s Problems

Here is the link to Dalrymple’s article, which claims that the new round of atheists, (or at least some of the  current spokesmen of popular atheism) are glossing over the deep metaphysical questions surrounding the existence of God.

If one is going to study science for example, one’s metaphysics or religious beliefs don’t matter so much.  It’s only when scientists, or in this case anyone else (by not understanding or not honoring the intellectual tradition from which they come) attempt to address the depth of the God arguments do they often fall short.

Many religious people are often thrilled that a successful scientist is also a Christian.   Many athesists wish deeply that what they believe is true, and that they should rather smugly attend meetings and have their beliefs echoed back.

Isn’t the desire to believe, perhaps in a God, precisely what is questioned deeply that creates new boundaries of knowledge?

Isn’t one of the reasons people leave the church the defunct metaphysics?

Naomi Wolf’s New Book On Fascism

Here is a link to a speech given by Naomi Wolf at the University of Washington in Seattle, and here is her new book.

Her argument, as she says, is based largely on her “reading”, not on her limited experience in government nor actually living in a fascist society.   She does not attempt to apply arguments that can be found here, for example, to her own thinking.

Wolf is arguing that all fascist governments have these ten things in common, and surprise, surprise, they all apply to our current government!  Wake up, people!

No, she’s not a historian…she’s not known as a political thinker…nor for her rigorous analysis….

She’s a writer, where unfounded metaphysical claims and even amoral thinking can be in service of beauty, and truth.   Though, in this case, mostly to vague political ideas whose time has yet to come.

Can’t you just feel it?  Click here, and your college, university or rotary club can feel it too.

Apparently, Naomi Wolf is satisfied to be in service of neither art nor clear thinking.

Addition:  Of course clear thinking and art aren’t mutually exclusive.

Another Addition: Althouse has a post about Wolf working for Gore. 

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Roger Scruton on Kant: A Response To Hume?

It is a common empiricist assumption that I can know my experience simply by observing it.  But this is not so.  I do not observe my experience, but only its object.  Any knowledge of experience must therefore involve knowledge of its object.  But I can have knowledge of the object only if I can identify it as continous.  Nothing can have temporal continuity without also having the capacity to exist when unobserved.  Its existence is therefore independent of my perception.”

-Roger Scruton here.

This is part of a brief summary of Kant’s transcendental deduction, of which Scruton later says:

It is fair to say that the transcendental deduction has never been considered to provide a satisfactory argument (boldface mine).  In all its versions it involves a transition from the unity of consciousness to the identity of the subject through time.  Hume pointed out that the slide from unity to identity is involved in all our claims to objective knowledge; he also thought that it could never be justified.  Kant did not find the terms with which to answer Hume.”

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Steven Pinker at Google

Here is a link to Stephen Pinker’s presentation at Google.

Here is a post I put up recently about Bob Wright’s idealism during one of his diavlogs.

It seems that Pinker is applying some of the ideas of physics or spatio-temporal thought to the rules of grammar and language.  It would be an excellent lesson for a non-native speeaker of English, and it’s also very interesting.  Perhaps no one has done so before. 

The point I want to make is that in doing so, Pinker is likely engaging in thought that is philosophically ideal.  He may be assuming (by taking ideas from other disciplines, physics, for example) that the knowledge of those disciplines is fixed.    In fact, he may be assuming that knowledge itself is fixed (in these disciplines), but not in his own.  

Most Christians believe in an afterlife.  Plato argued for the existence of a world of forms.  Some physicists argue that Math is pure.    Many people deny the existence of a world beyond their knowledge (life is a dream), but act every day as though there were.

Idealism is a matter of deep debate.

Addition:  This is from Christine Kenneally, at Slate, on Pinker’s new book:

How then should we view language? If it’s not the case that language determines how we see the world, and it’s not true that the world itself determines language, what is it? If you’re adept enough with it, then language is a paradox: revealing the universal concerns of our species, while at the same time enabling us to see, at least a little bit, beyond them.”

Ah…Slate.

Addition: Douglas Hofstadter reviews Pinker’s new book here.

Another Addition:  Here is a Pinker NY Times article, The Moral Instinct

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The Becker-Posner Blog, Free Speech in American Universities

Here is the link.  Interesting post.

Briefly, here are some of the reasons discussed as to why parts of our universities may be further left than much of the general population:

1.  A lack of understanding of the often counter-intuitive principles of economics and open markets; that two parties in a trade can benefit despite pursuing mutual self-interest, for example.   A whole body of thinking exists that contributes to the success of our society of which some in our universities remain ignorant.

2.  After Joseph Schumpeter, intellectuals who do not take part in business tend to believe that a socialist-communist sytem would allow them to be more influential, and so often have a deep need to embrace such ideas, (or find themselves in departments where such ideas are embraced.)

3.  A certain idealogical hostility toward capitalism that can’t really embrace socialism (because of its dismal record) but also can’t criticize “capitalism” head-on moves instead to criticize private systems’ treatment of any oppressed class.

Universities seen through an economic and legal analyisis, at least….

…though, to me,  the argument that free speech is ultimately threatened by the push to make freedom absolute is nothing new.   Sooner of later such thinking is going to have a wider impact, and consequences. 

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