Christopher Hitchens & William F Buckley On Anglo-American Relations

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Subject: ‘Is England Still Influencing America?’ on Hitchens’ book ‘Blood, Class, & Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies‘ when Hitchens’ was pushing the idea that ’empire’ was the primary transmission, apparently due to his ideological commitments at the time. America must have seemed a classless paradise with institutions well-functioning and ripe to achieve justice and equality for the whole world…for some folks in the Generation of ’68.

*Includes the Firing Line opening theme of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 (those damned Germans influencing us) followed by a Michael Kinsley introduction (founding editor of Slate, which has since gone more progressive under recent management).

Update & Repost-A Reaction To Jeff Koons-For Commerce Or Contemplation?

Koons has a retrospective at the Whitney going on right now:

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Koons’ site here.

I often find myself reacting to modern art and pop art, like many people, with my bullshit detector continually sounding at a low buzz. Are these great artists? What has happened at the intersection between art, money, and media in the ‘modern’ world?  Is there any ‘there’ there?

Koons’ Made In Heaven only amplifies that sound, blurring the line between art and porn, private experience and public show, innocence (so easily corrupted) and naive, narcissistic indulgence.

I suspect Made In Heaven explores previous themes of high and low that were already emerging in his kitsch work, fleshed out in pieces like Michael Jackson And BubblesWinter Bears and on this site: ‘St John The Baptist’.

Modern Art by gps1941.

Excellent photo found here…gps1941 photostream here. More on the original St. John The Baptist here.

This is kitsch par excellence, exquisitely rendered.  I admit that I can still break out into laughter while staring at it, admiring Koons’ ability to use his materials to realize a very particular concept, and to execute that concept and evoke what might even be a particular emotion in onlookers.  The quality and finish of these pieces is high and Koons works in various materials, including porcelin, metal, wood, and mixed media.  Like Warhol, he’s set up a studio with workers churning out his art.   There is no doubt some genuine artistic ability there, creative imagination, vision, and devotion to his craft.

Great art?

On what he was trying to achieve:

‘This type of dislocated imagery is what motivates people. They’re amused by it, but they have a lot of guilt and shame that they respond to it.  I was trying to remove that guilt and shame.’

Another quote which highlights an idea of some import to the nation:

Coming from a suburban, middle-class background, as he did, he felt that there was something, if not dignified, at least, too easily discarded about this kind of imagery and this kind of sentiment.’

In a way, Koons could be seen as quintessentially American, taking the country, its lack of refinement as an artist might see it, its marketing and advertising, the products of its egalitarian spirit and consumer culture into his embrace. By recalling his own experiences and trying to provide deeper context (and by constantly self-promoting and with a lot of marketing bulls**t), he certainly has a commitment to America. This raises questions of perpetual interest to those who see their duty in making, criticizing, curating, buying and enjoying art. It also coincides with a larger movement.

From the video:

‘I think that Warhol, as radical as he seems, still very much prized the idea of originality at the core of his working process, and it’s hard not to see him as being a very original artist in that sense.  The idea of Koons rejecting all originality, I think, is central to understanding what his work was about.’

and:

‘The way Andy predicted celebrity, Jeff predicted branding.’

I don’t doubt for a second there’s a bright, aesthetically inclined teenager out there laying under the illuminating glow of a Thomas Kinkade signed print.

As posted before, Camille Paglia is a child of the 60’s, wants better art education, and is sympathetic to themes found on this blog:

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Such artistic impulses also have to deal the rest of America’s bustle and mass culture, as well as the traditional and religious moral teachings with which it often comes into conflict. Some of our best-known exports to the world are made by groups of us here at home, organized in certain ways. Examples abound, from Hollywood movies to McDonalds and Starbucks to our politics to Mars exploration, but we Americans have a real talent for this kind of thing, and Koons seems to be trying to hold up a mirror to some of our desires and the culture. Naturally, this creates tension between the individual and the society, what kind of society we have, and what kind of society we ought to have.

Here’s another quote from the video:

‘Koons like to fill things, blow them up, and make his own breath last forever.  He’s interested in eternity, in immortality.’

That’s probably worth thinking about.

***Robert Hughes wrote a review for Time entitled the “Princeling Of Kitsch.”

***The day that Damien Hirst put up his works, selling them for $111 million dollars, the market crashed.

Related On This Site:  Martha Nussbaum wants to take religion out of the laws, and also has ideas about shame and disgust.  I’m not necessarily convinced by the type of secular moral thinking she wants to guide society.  From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum

From The City Journal Via Arts And Letters Daily: Andre Glucksman On “The Postmodern Financial Crisis”

Roger Scruton says keep politics out of the arts, and political judgment apart from aesthetic judgment…this includes race studies/feminist departments/gay studies etc.:  Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

Goya’s Fight With Cudgels and Goya’s Colossus.  A very good Goya page here.

Joan Miro: Woman… Goethe’s Color Theory: Artists And ThinkersSome Quotes From Kant And A Visual Exercise

A Reaction To Jeff Koons ‘St John The Baptist’

Denis Dutton suggests art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

The Call To Jihad Is Global, But A Lot Of Politics And Fighting Is Local-Some Friday Links

Adam Garfinkle at the American Interest: ‘To Strike Or Not To Strike, That Is The Question:’

‘The point is, limited airstrikes might be justified—and very soon—if we’re playing ordnance keep-away with ISIS, but it’s hard to see how airstrikes alone can do much good from a macro-military or political point of view, given the situation in Baghdad.’

A piece from Mashable on ISIS gains:

https://twitter.com/MsIntervention/status/482580268684173314

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Theodore Dalrymple at The City Journal: ‘The French (Jihad) Connection:’

They’re out there:

‘What they found instead in Nemmouche’s possession was a Kalashnikov rifle, a revolver, lots of ammunition, a gas mask, a short video of the weapons in his possession accompanied by a verbal commentary (probably in his voice) on the recent murder of four Jews at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, clothing similar to that worn by the perpetrator of that attack, and a white flag with the words Islamic State of Iraq and of the Levant in Arabic inscribed on it.’

France and Algeria have a complicated relationship, to say the least, but when even French ‘rock-star intellectual’ of the Left, Bernard-Henri Levy notes the anti-semitism in France these days…

Perhaps North-African Arab Muslims imported for cheap labor, many of whom live in ghettoes, coming into contact with an underlying native anti-semitism, French nationalism and somewhat fascistic far Right and socialist Left in a huge State complex…isn’t so great for a small French Jewish minority.

Paul Berman had a piece on Albert Camus and Algeria a while back.

Interesting note from Wikipedia (I know…it’s Wikipedia) from Berman on European nihilism:

‘Berman tries to trace the influence of these European movements into the modern Muslim world. He identifies two principal totalitarian tendencies in the Muslim countries, Baathism and radical Islamism – mutually hostile movements whose doctrines, in his interpretation, overlap and have allowed for alliances. Berman regards suicide terror and the cult of martyrdom as a re-emergence of totalitarianism’s nihilist strand.’

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On that note…some further speculation:

George W. Bush had commitments to a vision of human-freedom-based economic liberalism and democracy promotion in Iraq, along with I’m guessing a personal religious faith, social conservative alliances and the neo-conservative application of military force to achieve our aims there. His support of the unpopular surge to give the Iraqi government a monopoly on power in 2007 managed to stabilize the country somewhat, which has since been squandered by a sectarian Maliki coalition and no real follow-up during our withdrawal (whatever your thoughts on the war and invasion itself).

I wouldn’t be surprised if, via Bernard Lewis (and similar to Berman’s analysis above), Bush shared a view that the nihilist and totalitarian exports from the West grafted onto the Middle-East (Saddam party Ba’athism, Gadhafi’s Green Book and ultimately Islamism and Islamic terror) manage to constitute a very important threat to American liberty and security here at home. After all, 9/11 happened on his watch.  Hence, the War On Terror and the global hunt for bin Laden.  It was time to root out the threat and fight for a global vision of liberty against a global vision of Islamism.

As Bernard Lewis argued, perhaps an Islamic caliphate that isn’t radicalized and Islamist may be the Muslim’s world’s version of  power-sharing. This is something to think about:  The Muslim world may not really be that compatible with Western liberal democracy, but at least the Ottomans weren’t as bad as what we’ve got now.

Barack Obama seems to possess a kind of further-Left, pro-peace (and by my lights, impossibly ideal and utopian) democratic activist vision which often finds Clintonesque humanitarian intervention too much to swallow (as in Bosnia). The Obama foreign-policy coalition is pretty hostile to neo-conservatism, social conservatism etc.and frankly suspicious of even the humanitarian interventionists at times. Obama aims to, and has largely withdrawn, U.S. forces and influence from the region entirely, arguably without much strategic consideration or competence, by the looks of our State Department spokespeople and hashtag activism.

What do we do next?  What’s most important and how do we get there from here?

Feel free to highlight my ignorance.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Addition:  There are many factions to think about, neo-conservatives, many of whom haven’t properly examined their assumptions for the original invasion and have careers to protect, pro-peace Democrats who seem as angry at neo-conservatives as dealing much in foreign policy reality and have political power to maintain for progressive aims, anti-war libertarians and Hayekians with wisdom to offer, paleo-cons who want to return to a vision of conservatism at home and don’t support any more engagement abroad, middle-of-the-road Americans riding a surge of isolationism on foreign matters and showing disgust with D.C. here at home…

Thursday Quotation: Arthur Schopenhauer

“Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.”

Arthur Schopenhauer

A re-post.

Iraq, Islamism & Terrorism-The National Defense-Some Wednesday Links

Yes, there’s oil involved and the policing of the global marketplace for it (oil which we would do well to get more of here at home, but which won’t likely happen with a ballooning EPA and an activist-sympathetic administration). There’s also Israel and the larger region to think about strategically, as well as our national security.  Should ISIS/ISIL be able to control and hold any territory, like other Islamist held territories or those sympathetic to Islamist causes, this will create a genuine threat to our interests and safety pretty soon afterwards.

Thousands of fighters from the Western world have joined their ranks. This is dangerous stuff.

Vice magazine has another dispatch up from the Kurdish controlled territories of Iraq. Perhaps the Kurds would not easily give up Kirkuk after taking over its defense from fleeing Iraqi Army forces and defending it from ISIS/ISIL.

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https://twitter.com/MsIntervention/status/481798600092286976

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Walter Russell Mead tears into the current administration’s unraveling foreign policy, while Jeffrey Goldberg takes a rather bleak, non-interventionist stance, and tries to redirect focus away from the Obama blame (whom most of the press is just getting around to judging more objectively after exhausting all other options):

I’ve often thought of real neo-conservatives as liberals who’ve left the fold. Many Left-liberal loyalties and underlying liberal humanist sympathies remain, but now married to American military power and a more realist look at international affairs. The use of force is justified to promote those ideals, especially regarding Israel.

So, perhaps the more Left-liberal and ‘progressive’ our culture drifts, an eventual backlash out of the grad schools, social sciences, and policy-halls of liberal humanitarian thought awaits.

Just as many libertarians are most vocal about criticizing liberal collectivism and Statism, neo-conservatives are often most vocal about criticizing Left-liberal and non-interventionist foreign policy.

What am I missing?

The Personal Ain’t Political-Holding The Line Against Rape Ideologues-Conor Friedersdorf On George Will

Friedersdorf at The Atlantic here-‘Rage Against The Outrage Machine.’

Will’s original column here.

As the house libertarian in a publication where feminist discontents have increasingly become settled, I’m guessing Friedersdorf knows he has to get his facts right in an atmosphere where his position is not likely to be popular.

Worth a read:

‘These commentators are doing Will and their own readers a disservice. At best, they are construing his argument in the least charitable way possible. More often, they’re outright mischaracterizing Will’s actual argument in a way certain to maximize the offense, outrage, and umbrage-taking from their readers. If I were a rape victim, and a writer I trusted informed me that a Washington Post columnist said people like me wanted to be raped, or that we deserved to be raped, or that being a rape victim makes one fortunate or privileged, I’d be upset. But it ought to be clear enough that Will isn’t actually making those arguments’

As I’ve gotten a few nasty e-mails myself on this subject, I want to reiterate this is not a dismissal of the seriousness of the moral horror and crime that is rape, but a freeing of such a horrible crime to be discussed in the public square calmly and reasonably by differing points of view.  The crime is bad enough without the cult of victimhood out to morally and ideologically dominate the issue.

This ‘holding the line’ is more an appeal to keep civil society civil, and wrenching a very serious subject away from ideologues who traffic in often questionable statistics, gin up moral outrage and panic, and gain advantage by using blind, rabid emotion to their advantage to shun, shame and attack anyone who disagrees. That’s really all it can take to have a less free society, and it’s really all some people have.

After six years of an administration which also benefits from bringing further Left activists into the public square (gun-rights, Keystone pipeline, Organizing For Action), and will likely do little to turn those ideologues away, some media outlets which have drifted in the same direction lately will find it hard indeed to even criticize the ideologues among them.

This ain’t liberal, nor open, nor civil.

Here’s George Will reasonably explaining his position, and the reasons for it:

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This blog continues to support civil libertarian feminists, often ex-feminists, or even continuing feminists who criticize feminist ideology in good or bad faith because they are free to do so. They are free to bring-up the often shoddy use of statistics by many feminists, the cultural Marxism and troubling tendencies of victimhood/oppressor theories, the controlling impulses on display in the video below.

Via David Thompson, from Canada via the Agenda with Steve Paikin, notice how two panelists just can’t bring themselves around to the idea of other people speaking their minds, thinking differently and critically, and pursuing ideas freely in an open debate.

They really don’t seem to see a problem with where the logic of their own ideology leads:  To silence and shout-down opposing points of view, to constantly try and control the speech and thoughts of others.

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Related On This Site: Cathy Young At Minding The Campus: ‘The Brown Case: Does It Still Look Like Rape?

Christina Hoff Sommers (wikipedia) is trying to replacing gender feminism with equity feminism. She also wrote The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men.

Are You Man Enough? Nussbaum v. MansfieldFrom The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

Defending Eliot Spitzer…as a man who ought to be free of prostitution laws…but didn’t he prosecute others with those same laws?: Repost: Martha Nussbaum On Eliot Spitzer At The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A very Harvard affair: The Spelke/Pinker debate-The Science Of Gender And Science

Repost-Revisting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?

From The NY Times: ‘Harvard Business School Case Study: Gender Equity’

Two Monday Links On Syria And Iran

Michael Totten interviews Lee Smith, who has spent time looking at Syria in his new book:

The Syria policy is likely part of the Iran policy to negotiate with people we probably can’t do business with in order to withdraw from the region. There are few if any scenarios in which a nuclear-armed Iran is a good outcome.

Smith:

‘When people worry that Sunni Islamists want to create a caliphate in the Middle East they seem to forget that we already have a clerical regime in Iran. What they’re afraid might happen has already happened. And the concern coming out of Tehran isn’t sharia, but the fact that a nuclear weapons program in the hands of an expansionist regime gives them a dangerous say in the flow of energy resources through the Persian Gulf. They don’t have to actually use a bomb to destabilize the region and raise the price of energy around the world. That’s the danger—that Iranian hegemony in the Persian Gulf will affect how Americans, and our trading partners, live.’

To help understand a different point of view, I recommend this interesting piece by Najat Fawzy Alsaeid:

‘If one were to ask an Arab what has happened to the Arab countries, and why the terrorism and extremism we see today did not exist in the 1950s and 1960s, the answer would probably point to the frustrations and struggles of dual identities: Arab nationalism and Islamism.’

Our foreign policy will have its hands full these coming decades, whether we want to or not.  She goes on:

‘Moreover, books by Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328), Sayyid Qutb and others, which reject pluralism and promote extremism, should be studied in context, alongside works by Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani, Muhammad Abduh, Ali Abderraziq, and other, more modern and open-minded commentators. The Shias in Sunni-majority countries should also be given more equal opportunities and should have the right to study moderate Shia scholars such as the Iraqis Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr (1935-80) and Abu al-Qasim al-Khoei (1899-1982), who favor separation of clerical and state authority.’

The old faultlines are wide open, and American interests are still in retreat, often times without much more of a strategy than that.

Related On This Site: Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘The Once Great Havana’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’James Kirchik At The American Interest: 

Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient:  “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”.  It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire

From Larry Arnhart At Darwinian Conservatism: ‘Does the Moral Flynn Effect Support Flynn’s Democratic Socialism or Murray’s Classical Liberalism?’

Full post here.

Readers may recall the James Flynn/Charles Murray debate about IQ a while back.  More on that Flynn Effect.

The nub of the argument as Arnhart sees it, in terms of political philosophy:

‘Here is the fundamental disagreement between Flynn’s socialism and Murray’s classical liberalism.  Flynn’s socialism assumes that human beings must be forced by governmental coercion to solve social problems.  Murray’s classical liberalism assumes that force is bad, and cooperation is good, and that if people are prohibited from using force, they will tend to cooperate voluntarily.’

Do you trust people to take care of themselves and others on their own? Which incentives and/or punishments do you create for those who can’t/don’t/won’t?  Do you trust people acting on behalf of government to be willing/able (by force of law) to administer your tax dollars to oversee institutions which presume to take care of others?

I suppose this partly depends upon your view of human nature, your responsibilities and moral obligations to others, and whether the products of Enlightenment Reason guiding the institutions of liberal democracy are enough to raise others up through those institutions and assist individuals in leading a more moral life…:

‘So, again, it’s a question of empirical evidence. When government is limited to deterring and punishing the initiation of force, to enforcing laws of contract and private property, and to providing those few public goods that cannot be provided by the market, will human beings cooperate voluntarily to solve their social problems, as Murray believes?  Or will human beings have to be forced by government bureaucracies to solve their problems, as Flynn believes?’

The libertarian/classically liberal vs. Left-liberal divide opens up again.

Here’s another take, the entirety of which can be found here. Thomas Sowell rejected Marxist economics and political philosophy in favor of classically liberal thought:

“[Thomas] Sowell’s argument is a relatively simple one:  “innate” mental abilities do not develop spontaneously but must undergo development, which is differentially fostered by different cultures, even when the abilities are general and abstract and do not consist of items of cultural knowledge.

“…Sowell’s approach splits the difference between “nature” and “nurture“…

Arnhart from the piece above on Steven Pinker who veered classically liberal in the The Better Angels Of Our Nature:

‘Pinker thinks this improvement in intelligence has brought improvement in morality, as manifested in our modern commitment to a liberal social order based on nonviolence, toleration, peaceful coexistence, and voluntary cooperation.’

Pinker’s empirical claim is that violence has gone down in the Western world as a result of these changes.

Briton John Gray argues against such a humanist vision (not necessarily the empirical claim), and argues that while science may proceed and real progress is taking place, in the realms of ethics and politics, things are learned but they don’t stay learned.

The religious and secular humanist missionary has a kind of faith in progress which doesn’t necessarily line-up with reality, according to Gray.

Mistah Kurtz-he dead‘ is a pretty dark vision.

Thomas Nagel reviewed Gray’s book ‘Silence Of Animals’ here.

Are we rational beings?  Rational animals?  What can the powers of reason do?:

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When it comes to political philosophy, in partial response to Gray’s claims to Isaiah Berlin’s value pluralism, Kelly Ross thought the moral claims need to be deeper (which I think is why Mill’s utilitarianism is often thrown out to ground environmental debates), otherwise you end-up with the activism of progressive politics, the majoritarianism and totalitarian impulses to control speech and thought in a quasi-religious way:

‘J.S. Mill, etc., continue to be better philosophers than Berlin or Gray because they understand that there must be an absolute moral claim in the end to fundamental rights and negative liberty, however it is thought, or not thought, to be justified. Surrendering the rational case does not even mean accepting the overall “value pluralism” thesis, since Hume himself did not do so. ‘

Are libertarians the true classical liberals?  Much closer to our founding fathers?

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

From Darwinian Conservatism: ‘The Evolution of Mind and Mathematics: Dehaene Versus Plantinga and Nagel’John Gray Reviews Jonathan Haidt’s New Book At The New Republic: ‘The Knowns And The Unknowns’Race and IQ: Malcolm Gladwell On The Flynn Effect

Steven Pinker somewhat focused on the idea of freedom from violence, which tends to be libertarian. Yet, he’s also skeptical of the more liberal human rights and also religious natural rights. What about a World Leviathan?: At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas HobbesFrom Reason.TV Via YouTube: ‘Steven Pinker on The Decline of Violence & “The Better Angels of Our Nature”‘Simon Blackburn Reviews Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial Of Human Nature” Via the University Of Cambridge Philosophy Department

From Darwinian Conservatism: ‘Nietzsche–Aristocratic Radical or Aristocratic Liberal?’

Here’s Nietzsche scholar J.P. Stern on Nietzsche’s anti-Christian, anti-secular morality (Kant, utilitarians), anti-democratic, and anti-Greek (except the “heroic” Greek) biases…See the comments Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was SuccessfulUpdate And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

Out of the Valley of modernism, post-modernism, and relativism…one path from Nietzsche’s nihilism is through Leo Strauss and Allan Bloom: Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’Some Tuesday Quotations From Leo StraussFrom Peter Berkowitz At Harvard: ‘The Reason Of Revelation: The Jewish Thought Of Leo Strauss’

Can Kant do all that heavy lifting…what are some of the dangers of Kantian reason?:  From Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On Youtube: Geoffrey Warnock On KantA Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” …

Peter Singer discusses Hegel and MarxFrom Philosophy And Polity: ‘Historicism In German Political Theory’

From Foreign Affairs: ‘Kurds To The Rescue’

Full piece here (published 06/17/14)

Not so fast.

Why would ISIS fight against the Peshmerga (Kurdish military forces) and the fleeing Maliki troops, and any opposition they face on the way to Baghdad?

As for the Kurds, why not just defend your land and interests, lay low and angle for the best, especially without provoking Turkey:

‘The Kurds have drawn their battle lines north of Mosul, across the south of Kirkuk province, and through northern Diyala province. So long as ISIS respects that line, Kurdistan would have very little reason to invite war.’

Why support American forces now when you’ve been burned in the past and America has so little influence?

Another VICE dispatch, talking to an Iraqi Army member having fled to Erbil, in Kurdish-controlled territory:

We could do much worse.  This blog is generally sympathetic to Kurdish aims: Independent Kurdistan-A Good Outcome For American Interests?

In his book Where The West EndsMichael Totten describes visiting Northern Iraq briefly as a tourist with a friend, and the general feeling of pro-Americanism in Kurdish Northern Iraq that generally one can only feel in Poland, parts of the former Yugoslavia etc.

Related On This Site: Longer odds, lots of risk: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest’s Via Media: “The Rise Of Independent Kurdistan?”From Reuters: ‘Analysis: Syrian Kurds Sense Freedom, Power Struggle Awaits’

Repost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”Repost-’Dexter Filkins In The NY Times: The Long Road To Chaos In Pakistan’

Update And Repost: ‘From The Philosopher’s Magazine Via The A & L Daily: ‘My Philosophy: Alan Sokal’

Interview here.

Do you remember the Sokal hoax?

A few thoughts on the relation of philosophy, philosophy of science, and physics:

“Certainly Einstein spent a lot of time doing conceptual clarification in his own mind, leading him to general relativity and special relativity, and that played a crucial role. You can call that philosophy or you can call it deep thinking about physics. Quantum mechanics was born mostly without that kind of conceptual clarification, so it shows that you can get instrumental physics without clarifying the concepts – it can go both ways.”

Yet:

“Sokal is very positive about philosophy’s potential to help physics with its conceptual clarification in principle, but in practice, there is a long pause when I ask him if he can give any examples of when this has actually happened.”

And of postmodern literary theory:

“I should make clear that I don’t think my parody article settles anything,” says Sokal. “It doesn’t by itself prove much – that one journal was sloppy. So it wasn’t the parody itself that proved it, it was the things that I and other people wrote afterward which I believe showed the sloppiness of the philosophy that a lot of postmodernist literary theory types were writing.”

So what’s going on with postmodernism…where can you trace its roots?  Also, Sokal has use the following quote in his lectures:

A German can look at and understand Nature only according to his racial character.”

“This of course is a quotation from Ernst Krieck, a notorious Nazi ideologue, who was rector of the University of Heidelberg in 1937-38. I was flabbergasted – well maybe not flabbergasted – when I came across it. This doesn’t show that postmodernists are Nazis or anything. What it shows is a kind of uncanny overlap of ideas between, on the one hand, left-wing postmodernists, and the other hand, extreme right wing nationalists, whether they’re German or Hindu nationalists.”

Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

Interview regarding postmodernism here.

From Dr. Steven Hicks:

‘In the shorter term, postmodernism has caused an impoverishment of much of the academic humanities, both in the quality of the work being done and the civility of the debates. The sciences have been less affected and are relatively healthy. The social sciences are mixed.

I am optimistic, though, for a couple of reasons. One is that pomo was able to entrench itself in the second half of the twentieth century in large part because first-rate intellectuals were mostly dismissive of it and focused on their own projects. But over the last ten years, after pomo’s excesses became blatant, there has been a vigorous counter-attack and pomo is now on the defensive. Another reason for optimism is that, as a species of skepticism, pomo is ultimately empty and becomes boring. Eventually intellectually-alert individuals get tired of the same old lines and move on. It is one thing, as the pomo can do well, to critique other theories and tear them down. But that merely clears the field for the next new and intriguing theory and for the next generation of energetic young intellectuals.

So while the postmodernism has had its generation or two, I think we’re ready for the next new thing – a strong, fresh, and positive approach to the big issues, one that of course takes into account the critical weapons the pomo have used well over the last while’

Also On This Site:  Simon Blackburn Reviews Alan Sokal’s ‘Beyond The Hoax’ In The New Republic

From Bloggingheads: Adam Frank And Eliezer Yudkowsky Discuss The Epistemology Of Science

Hilary Putnam On The Philosophy Of Science:  Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On YouTube

A quote from Leo Strauss’ Wikipedia page:  From Wikipedia’s Page On Leo Strauss: A Few Quotes:

“Strauss taught that liberalism in its modern form contained within it an intrinsic tendency towards extreme relativism, which in turn led to two types of nihilism. The first was a “brutal” nihilism, expressed in Nazi and Marxist regimes. In On Tyranny, he wrote that these ideologies, both descendants of Enlightenment thought, tried to destroy all traditions, history, ethics, and moral standards and replace them by force under which nature and mankind are subjugated and conquered. The second type – the “gentle” nihilism expressed in Western liberal democracies – was a kind of value-free aimlessness and a hedonistic”permissive egalitarianism”, which he saw as permeating the fabric of contemporary American society.”

Perhaps, and did De Tocqueville see the same thing?

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

From The City Journal Via Arts And Letters Daily: Andre Glucksman On “The Postmodern Financial Crisis”