A Link To Tom Wolfe’s ‘The Kingdom Of Speech’ And A Further-Left Cry Against ‘The Mythos Of The Mast Brothers’

Via a reader:  Caitlin Flanagan reviews Tom Wolfe’s new book ‘The Kingdom Of Speech.

Darwin and Chomsky have gotten it wrong, according to Wolfe, it’s speech that gives man his edge.

This will have its appeal, as does an apparent attack on many intellectuals in general:

‘Wolfe’s attack on Chomsky — whom he calls “Noam Charisma” — is precise, scathing and not undeserved. But what, Lord, does this have to do with the topic of language? Precious little. Thank God. But soon enough we’re back on the long march, learning about a Chomskyan principle called — ZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!! — “recursion” and how the language of a Brazilian tribe called the Pirahã presents a significant challenge to that principle.’

Jerry Coyne, ecologist, writing in the Washington Post, was not impressed:

But in fact Wolfe doesn’t even understand the theory he so despises. Evolution, he argues, isn’t a “scientific hypothesis” because nobody’s seen it happen, there’s no observation that could falsify it, it yields no predictions and it doesn’t “illuminate hitherto unknown or baffling areas of science.” Wrong — four times over.

If you’ve read the book, please share your thoughts.

Related On This Site: Where I agree with Chomsky on political matters: Down-twinkles to Stalin.

I often agree with Wolfe’s social conservatism.

“Noam Chomsky: The Last Totalitarian”


You may be familiar with the Mast Brothers, perhaps capitalizers on the desire for a return to craft over mass-production, communalism over ‘impersonal’ market forces.

Well, they were re-examined by the reporter who was previously on a mission against nail-salon social injustice, against whom Reason blogger Jim Epstein pushed-back, to which the Times eventually responded.

That is to say, a reporter, probably, who places value in lots of secular ‘-isms’:

Rick Mast said the backlash had come as a surprise. “To be boiled down to how you dress or how you wear your beard, or where you live — I think it’s a distraction,” he said. “Our chocolate is our No. 1 focus.” On a tour of the main factory next to the Brooklyn Navy Yard alongside his brother on Sunday, the Masts stressed their transparency

Behind the beards are actual men, you know, chocolate-makin’ men who have mingled their business model with the hipster yawp heard over many a rooftop garden in Brooklyn during the last few decades.

Of course, $7.50 chocolate bars may not actually be necessary, but the Mast Brothers invite customers into their process.  They’re giving you bits of their individual Selves to mix with your individual Self as you band together towards the future that awaits….

Few chocolate-makers take pains to mention Mark Twain & Ralph Waldo Emerson in their promo videos:

I’ve been thinking that upon examination, hipsterdom (not necessarily the Mast Brothers) may reveal DNA strands of previous American counter-cultural movements: Some hipsters have adopted milder forms of the bohemianism and cultural withdrawal of the Beats, others the collectivism, activism and ‘social conscience’ of the Hippies (along with many tenets of the feminist and environmentalist movements). Some others still the disposable income and professional ambition of Yuppies (see: Park Slope).

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As postedA similar, but different debate.

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-Steven Pinker, Harvard experimental psychologist and cognitive scientist wrote a piece in the New Republic, entitled: ‘Science Is Not Your Enemy

-Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of the New Republic since the 80′s, responded at The New Republic:  ‘No, Science Doesn’t Have All The Answers.

-Ross Douthat, conservative Catholic columnist at the Times jumped in the fray: ‘The Scientism Of Steve Pinker’ 

-Jerry Coyne, evolutionary biologist, responded to Douthat.

-Wieseltier jumped back in with: ‘Crimes Against Humanities: Now science wants to invade the humanities.  Don’t let it happen.

-Now Daniel Dennett, philosopher, cognitive scientist, one of the New Atheists and Boston-based secularist responds to Wieseltier:

‘Pomposity can be amusing, but pomposity sitting like an oversized hat on top of fear is hilarious. Wieseltier is afraid that the humanities are being overrun by thinkers from outside, who dare to tackle their precious problems—or “problematics” to use the, um, technical term favored by many in the humanities. He is right to be afraid. It is true that there is a crowd of often overconfident scientists impatiently addressing the big questions with scant appreciation of the subtleties unearthed by philosophers and others in the humanities, but the way to deal constructively with this awkward influx is to join forces and educate them, not declare them out of bounds.’

Related On This Site:  Perhaps after Kant’s transcendental idealism, Chomsky really does believe that morality, like Chomsky’s innatist theory of language, is universal and furthermore hard-wired into the brain.  This could lead to a political philosophy of either universalism or nihilism, or at least his retreat into anarchism or anarcho-syndicalism away from such idealism.  There’s little to no room for the individual in such a vision.  Perhaps Chomsky has never seen life, liberty and property and the individual except from such a vantage point:  Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge

What about value pluralism…positive and negative liberty?: 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”

A reader points out that I’ve put forth no real arguments…: The Politics Of Noam Chomsky-The Dangers Of Kantian Transcendental Idealism?

Martha Nussbaum criticizing Chomsky’s hubris in Martha Nussbaum In Dissent–Violence On The Left: Nandigram And The Communists Of West Bengal

Perhaps Chomsky and Strauss both flirted with Zionism, but they were very different thinkers:…From Peter Berkowitz At Harvard: ‘The Reason Of Revelation: The Jewish Thought Of Leo Strauss’From Darwinian Conservatism By Larry Arnhart: “Surfing Strauss’s Third Wave of Modernity”

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