From Slate Star Codex: ‘All In All, Another Brick In The Motte’

Click through (great comments)

‘The original Shackel paper is intended as a critique of post-modernism. Post-modernists sometimes say things like “reality is socially constructed”, and there’s an uncontroversially correct meaning there. We don’t experience the world directly, but through the categories and prejudices implicit to our society; for example, I might view a certain shade of bluish-green as blue, and someone raised in a different culture might view it as green. Okay.’

From Remarks On Bertrand Russell’s Theory Of Knowledge:

“The following, however, appears to me to be correct in Kant’s statement of the problem: in thinking we use, with a certain “right,” concepts to which there is no access from the materials of sensory experience, if the situation is viewed from the logical point of view.

As a matter of fact, I am convinced that even much more is to be asserted: the concepts which arise in our thought and in our linguistic expressions are all — when viewed logically — the free creations of thought which cannot inductively be gained from sense experiences.”

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

Repost-Saturday Quotations: Bertrand Russell & Niccolo Machiavelli

“Government can easily exist without laws, but law cannot exist without government.”

Bertrand Russell

“It is necessary for him who lays out a state and arranges laws for it to presuppose that all men are evil and that they are always going to act according to the wickedness of their spirits whenever they have free scope.”

Niccolo Machiavelli

“We hold these truths to be self-evident:

That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

From the Declaration Of Independence.

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How PC Can You Be? A Few Links

First, a quote I keep putting up from Karl Popper:

“…and if there could be such a thing as socialism combined with individual liberty, I would be a socialist still. For nothing could be better than living a modest, simple, and free life in an egalitarian society. It took some time before I recognized this as no more than a beautiful dream; that freedom is more important that equality; that the attempt to realize equality endangers freedom; and that, if freedom is lost, there will not even be equality among the unfree.”

Now, some folks further Left are taking-on those in the more ‘liberal establishment’ in a contest of ideological purity:

Alex Pareene at Gawker on Jonathan Chait’s pushback against the PC crowd:

“[Political correctness] also makes money,” Chait says, using, as his example, one BuzzFeed post about microaggressions that has “received more than 2 million views.” I’m guessing that Chait makes quite a bit more money than the person who compiled that post. In fact, that’s true of nearly everyone who is presented as a victim of political correctness in Chait’s essay, from millionaire comedian Bill Maher to the anonymous professor at a prestigious university: They all enjoy superior social status to the people who are supposedly silencing or terrifying them. It’s hard to see how democracy was significantly harmed by Condoleezza Rice not giving a commencement address.’

PC isn’t just a vehicle for fame or money for the true believers. The truly ‘virtuous’ know all about the plight of the poor and the underclasses, and while they may not know exactly who’s deserving of power, they know the world as it really is and as it’s going to be.  The Bill Mahers and Jonathan Chaits of the world may share common ground, but they too, are either for or against the march to equali-topia.

When exactly did what I would call such a radical worldview became mainstream enough for Gawker?  I’m not sure exactly…

This blog is guessing that a good litmus test for how the ‘liberal establishment’ deals with the further Left, the radical and activist base, will be in Hilary Clinton’s behavior should she choose (still looking likely) to run for office again.  Can’t seem ‘warmongering,’ uncool, ‘racist.’

Political risk and calculation in dealing with this base, how much she will need those in this ideological camp, and most in the popular media who don’t often think beyond what’s popular and what gets ratings; all will likely be involved.

Where will that less radical liberal center be?

Libertarian editor of Reason Matt Welch took a look at the change of ownership at the New Republic under Chris Hughes, and the move further Leftward:

‘The great irony is that The New Republic is repudiating contrarian neoliberalism precisely when we need it most. Obama proposes in his State of the Union address to jack up the minimum wage to $9 an hour, and instead of surveying the vast skeptical academic literature, or asking (pace Charles Peters) whether such liberal gestures are “more about preserving their own gains than about helping those in need,” TNR columnist Timothy Noah declares, “Raise the Minimum Wage! And make it higher than what Obama just proposed.”

Adam Kirsch, Simon Blackburn, Martha Nussbaum, John Gray.  Here are a few links on this site to the New Republic:  Leon Wieseltier At The New Republic: ‘A Darwinist Mob Goes After a Serious Philosopher’Adam Kirsch At The New Republic: ‘Art Over Biology’

Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘Look Away From Europe’s Muslim Problem’

Full piece here.

But of course the most worrying aspect of the situation is the attraction of jihadi ideology for young Muslims. It is impossible to gauge exactly the degree or strength of support for it: opinion surveys are all but useless. The least one can say, however, is that jihadism attracts both those with bright and dim futures, and according to official calculations, some 2,200 youthful jihadis from France, Britain, and Belgium alone have gone to Syria. This is a far more than sufficient pool of murderous religious ideologues to cause untold havoc in Europe.’

Medieval Times-Roaming The Gloom With Theory: Interview With Michel Hollebecq

So, You’re Telling Me What’s Cool?-Theodore Dalrymple At The City Journal: ‘Banksy In Neverland’Terrifying News Story Of The Day-From The London Evening Standard: ‘Man Butchered By ‘Terror’ Pair’Horror And Hope-Some Links On Rebuilding After 9/11

Which Lens Are You Using? Some Links

David Hockney ‘On Secret Knowledge: On Rediscovering The Lost Secrets Of The Old Masters’:

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Optical devices were likely common practice more than is commonly known these days, way before the camera, the television etc.

As previously posted:

Just as optics revolutionized the sciences and the boundaries of human knowledge, from Galileo to Newton and onwards, Tim Jenison wonders if optics may have revolutionized the arts as well.

‘But still, exactly how did Vermeer do it? One day, in the bathtub, Jenison had a eureka moment: a mirror. If the lens focused its image onto a small, angled mirror, and the mirror was placed just between the painter’s eye and the canvas, by glancing back and forth he could copy that bit of image until the color and tone precisely matched the reflected bit of reality.’

Good Vermeer page here for a refresher on the Dutch master.

Penn & Teller helped make a documentary which has gotten good reviews, entitled ‘Tim’s Vermeer.

They discuss the project and Tim’s theory below (perhaps only the Girl With The Pearl Earring knows for sure if the painter used such a technique):

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Interesting quotation from Quora, on Richard Feynman’s discussion of light in ‘QED: The Strange Theory Of Light And Matter’:

‘Mirrors and pools of water work pretty much the same way. Light interacts with electrons on the surface. Under the laws of quantum mechanics, each photon interacts with ALL of the electrons on the surface, and the net result is the sum of all possible pathways. If the surface is perfectly smooth, then most of the pathways cancel each other out, except for the one where the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection. ‘

Click through for the illustrations to help explain Feynman’s theory, which fascinated me when I first came across it; much as I understand of it.

Have you ever seen sunlight reflecting off a body of water from a few thousand feet up in a plane?  A rainbow in a puddle with some oil in it?  A laser reflecting off a smooth surface like a mirror?

Related On This Site: In The Mail: Vivian Maier

Goya, that modern, had to make a living from the royal family: Goya’s ColossusGoya’s Fight With CudgelsGoethe’s Color Theory: Artists And ThinkersNASA Composite Image Of The Earth At Night…Beauty?Garrett Mattingly On Machiavelli-The Prince: Political Science Or Political Satire?

Repost-From The NY Times: Schlieren

Repost-Megan McArdle At The Daily Beast: ‘America’s New Mandarins’

Full post here.

‘In fact, I think that to some extent, the current political wars are a culture war not between social liberals and social conservatives, but between the values of the mandarin system, and the values of those who compete in the very different culture of ordinary businesses–ones outside glamor industries like tech or design.’

I’m still thinking some of those people in ‘the ruling class’ are going to need some support if the public backlash gets too strong (Washington D.C. is the ‘Hunger Games Capitol City‘).  To some extent they are us, after all, elected to do the necessary evil of hashing out our business within our Constitutional framework, even if many in our society’s vision of leadership is a group of insulated scholar-bureaucrats.  The sausage still needs to get made, and we’ve got to get the incentives right.

I wouldn’t exactly call tech ‘glamour,’ either, especially as it can be a kind of white collar wage slavery for coders and programmers.  Design, too, you know, has to work.  Usually, that isn’t glamorous.

Comments are worth a read.

Possibly Useful Links On This Site:

-Repost-Kenneth Anderson At Volokh: ‘The Fragmenting of the New Class Elites, Or, Downward Mobility’

Thoughts about our political class-Francis Fukuyama And Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘None Of The Above’

Angelo Codevilla’s polemic: America’s Ruling Class-And The Perils Of Revolution.

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Mentioned in the Comments

Jonathan Rauch at Reason takes a look at Charles Murray’s Coming Apart.

Are we going soft and “European”… do we need to protect our religious idealism enshrined in the Constitution….with the social sciences?…Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People

Some People In New York Are At The Center Of The Universe-A Few Links

From a reader: The New York Observer-The Trial Of Ryder Ripps: ‘An Embattled Artist On Haters, Angry Muses, And Threats:

One brander calling out another in the marketplace in a bid for fame, celebrity and self-promotion?:

‘The show is called “Ho,” as all the paintings are based on Instagram posts from the feed of model Adrienne Ho—the self-curated building blocks of her own personal brand—and to see the huge diptychs in person, the torrent of bilious blog posts hellbent on exposing Mr. Ripps as a misogynist, seems a little overblown. They’re just oil works on square canvas, but I was a tad surprised at how skillful they were, given that my exposure to Mr. Ripps had thus far been through the ad campaigns of his design firm, his internet hijinks, and his collaborations with fashion designers like Nicola Formichetti and rap producers like Mike Will Made It. Not through painting.’

Where post-pop, (some) art history and theory, meets coding and game design, meets post-Koons art marketeering?

Some people from Jeff Koons’ workshop were involved with the oil paintings.

Robert Hughes really didn’t like the lack of acquired skill and mastery of materials many moderns lack.

There have been a lot of virulent reactions to ‘modern’ life and technology ranging from utopian futurism to nihilism to consumerism and a kind of dejected anti-consumerism and spiritual malaise.

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Camille Paglia wants to tilt the culture more towards art education, but manages to resist the more virulent strains of secular ideology filling the modern hole, pushing back against the radicalism of feminist ideology when it encroaches upon aesthetics:

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Let’s suppose this isn’t your thing, not worth your time, and perhaps, you’re thinking, beneath you.  But let’s also suppose that each of us have our own personal, moral, ideological, aesthetic and various other reasons for those suppositions:  ‘I just don’t care,’ ‘Art should elevate the soul,’ ‘It’s not good art,’ ‘I don’t like what my ‘culture’ is producing,’ ‘This guy can’t even paint,’ ‘It’s a sham and a hustle,’ ‘Art for its own sake, technique and talent trump personality and celebrity…’ etc.

Perhaps you agree with at least one of these reasons, and I may agree with you, but whom do you trust to introduce new and good art to you and to maintain the pursuit of the good and the beautiful?

Anyone?

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On that note, here’s an unbold theory:  Tom Friedman is not really Tom Friedman:

Many years ago, a man named Jerry Ludkowitz was plucked from relative midwestern obscurity (struggling financial planner) for public appearances.  Behind the scenes, however, an algorithm was designed to explain environmental thinking and some particulars of Middle-Eastern wars and politics to large audiences.  Early on, a sweater-vest was decided upon as essential, and seeing as how no journalist could likely be so logical and strategic, the perpetrators remain at-large.

Many on the Left naturally distrust ‘Tom Friedman’s’ lack of commitment to the ideas, envying his journalistic establishment credibility and mainstream appeal, but loathing his watered-down commitment to ‘the People.’

Many journalists and those who may know something recognize perhaps some design there, some good data entered into the system, but remain baffled at the jumble of folksy analogy-jargonese.

Also On This Site:  Denis Dutton suggested art could head towards Darwin (and may offer new direction from the troubles of the modern art aimlessness and shallow depth…the money and the fame) Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

Denver’s Devil Horse may be flirting with kitsch: From The Wall Street Journal: Denver’s Mustang Or ‘Devil Horse’…and I like his work:…Joan Miro: Woman

From Grist.Org Via The New Republic Via The A & L Daily: ‘Getting Past “Ruin Porn” In Detroit’…Marketplace aesthetics in service of “women”: Dove’s Campaign For Real Beauty: Pascal Dangin And Aesthetics… Roger Scruton In The City Journal: Cities For Living–Is Modernism Dead?Brasilia: A Planned City

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