Some Saturday Links-Hilary Putnam & Thomas Leonard With A Mention Of Hayek & Sowell

Via Edward Feser:

‘Hilary Putnam, who died a couple of months ago, had some interest in the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition, even if in part it was a critical interest.’

R.I.P. Post and comments worth a read.

Some of Bryan Magee’s series has been made available on youtube. Putnam on the Philosophy of Science.

Moving along, via a reader, via bloggingheads: Thomas Leonard and Glenn Loury discuss ‘The Power Of The Progressive

Leonard’s book can be found here: ‘Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics & American Economics In The Progressive Era.’

Glenn Loury via the comments:

‘Hayek’s argument against planning was rooted in his views about how to assimilate the knowledge relevant to economic decisions that, necessarily in a modern society, is dispersed among millions of distinct individuals. What feasible mechanisms of social action would allow this diffused information to be most efficiently brought to bear on decisions about the use of scarce resources? How can the actions of myriad individual producers and consumers be so coordinated as to exploit most effectively the specialized knowledge which each possesses about their respective circumstances?

His answer, of course, was that central planning could not improve upon — and invariably would lead to outcomes much worse than — what can be achieved via the price system operating within competitive markets where institutions of private property and freedom of contract are respected, and where individuals enjoy liberty to puruse their own best interests, as they understand them.

This, I wish to insist, is a profound insight into the functioning of economic systems which — though subject to qualification and exception — is largely a correct conclusion with far-reaching implications for the design of economic institutions and the conduct of public affairs. To my mind, the world’s history since publication of The Road to Serfdom has largely vindicated Hayek’s concerns…’

Interview with Thomas Sowell here.

Sowell speaks about his then new book, ‘Intellectuals And Race’, and speaks against multiculturalism:

‘What multiculturalism does is it paints people into the corner in which they happen to be born. You would think that people on the left would be very sensitive to the notion that one’s whole destiny should be determined by the accident of birth as it is, say, in a caste system. But what the multiculturalism dogma does is create the same problems that the caste system creates. Multiculturalism uses more pious language, but the outcome is much the same.’

Heavily influenced by the Chicago School, here he is arguing that the welfare state maintains some of the same dependence in the black community that slavery required.

Within the embrace of political coalitions promising a better world to come, ever on the horizon, uniting individuals beneath the ‘-Isms,’ against ‘the system’ in perpetuity, the maps don’t always line-up with the terrain.

The moral sentiments are engaged, certainly, and there are truths to tell, but not all the truths, and within groups on the march under a professed political banner, many important truths have already been ignored, trampled or passed on by.

Ideals, abstractions, self, professional and political interests are often no match for one’s own doubt in moments of quiet and honest reflection: The simple pleasures and patient work of the home and family. The lessons great works in the humanities can offer, the years-long deep dives into data and the mathematical patterns one didn’t expect to find in one’s backyard or on Mars; the long, bloody struggles of the past and the wisdom of experience, speaking to you directly after hundreds or thousands of years.

Freedom and thinking for one’s self is often harder, lonelier, more challenging and more rewarding than the modern ideals, moral crusades, and political activists would have you believe.

In pursuit of truth, your work is never done.

Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

Robert Hayden

Yeah, I don’t think this is so much about (S)cience.

On the Sam Harris/Ezra Klein debate:

Related On This Site:   What about black people held in bondage by the laws..the liberation theology of Rev Wright…the progressive vision and the folks over at the Nation gathered piously around John Brown’s body?: Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’……Robert George And Cornel West At Bloggingheads: “The Scandal Of The Cross”

Race And Free Speech-From Volokh: ‘Philadelphia Mayor Suggests Magazine Article on Race Relations Isn’t Protected by the First Amendment’

Repost-Eugene Volokh At The National Review: ‘Multiculturalism: For or Against?’

The Categorical Imperative And Some Links On Saudi Arabia and Iran

Via Edward Feser via BBC Radio 4–Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how, in the Enlightenment, Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) sought to define the difference between right and wrong by applying reason…

Kantian metaphysics can lead to problems in the public square, or at least something of an aesthetic retreat, by individuals, from the public square.  Part of the Anglo-talent for governance has roots in the Humean empiricism Kant was to synthesize within his own platform, and I’d argue this empiricism is culturally much deeper within the Anglo-sphere.  There is often more deference to the uniqueness of each of our experiences and the uniqueness each that case can bring within common-law jurisprudence.

Repost-Appeasement Won’t Do-Via A Reader, ‘Michael Ignatieff Interview With Isaiah Berlin’…A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”…Repost-Classical Liberalism Via Friesian.Com-‘Exchange with Tomaz Castello Branco on John Gray’

Inside every Iranian is a Western peace activist waiting to get out…Via Mick Hartley via The National-Iran’s long-cherished Tehran to Beirut land-bridge moves closer to reality.

From Intelligence Squared: Two people on either side debating whether ‘Obama’s Foreign Policy Is A Failure‘ (some rather unsurprising anti-Trump sentiment is expressed by the panelists at the outset, to some applause by the audience in NYC).

What just happened in Saudi Arabia?  Adam Garfinkle: ‘The 1002nd Arabian Night?

‘Contrary to what the vast majority of Americans seem to think, Saudi Arabia is not a traditional Muslim country. Saudi Arabia is an attenuated neo-fundamentalist country from having been taken over, by force of arms in the early 20th century, by a “revitalization movement”—to use Anthony F.C. Wallace’s classic 1956 description of the type. The Wahhabi movement’

and:

The Trump Administration, just possibly, had one sensible idea in foreign policy: stop playing footsie with the Iranians and organize the Sunnis to confront the real threat—creeping Iranian imperial recidivism—and to whack ISIS at the same time. But having a decent idea and knowing how to make it happen are two different things. The Saudis did not whack ISIS; if any locals did, it was the Kurds, and look where their efforts have got them.

And more broadly: It’s quite possible to bring the problems of other parts of the world into your own neighborhood along with the people you are bringing in.  This can, and and unfortunately, sometimes does, include the worst elements.

Right now, service members and special forces are acting in your name as a U.S. citizen abroad, and local and federal law enforcement officials here at home, and there are many good reasons why.

When we focus on these harsh truths and bear some of the burden they carry, the conversations about freedom and responsibility tend to go better.

Wahhabism in the Balkans?:

With whom can we do business against these worst elements?

and

Previously on this site: Henry Kissinger & George Schulz Via The WSJ: ‘The Iran Deal And Its Consequences’

From Edward Feser: ‘Nagel And His Critics Part IV’

Full post here.

‘Continuing our look at the critics of Thomas Nagel’s recent book Mind and Cosmos, we turn to philosopher Alva Noë’s very interesting remarks over at NPR’s 13.7: Cosmos & Culture blog.  Noë’s initial comments might seem broadly sympathetic to Nagel’s position.’

Link from a friend: What’s it like to be a human, (instead of a bat?)

Related On This Site:  From The Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy Entry On Eliminative Materialism

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Via YouTube: “Cosmic Journeys-Is The Universe Infinite?”

Towards the end of the video, it’s suggested that the physical sciences have now separated themselves from the binds of metaphysics (or as I presume, the binds of certain kinds of metaphysics:  Aristotelian, in the case of Galileo and cosmology in the 16th century and onwards).

We have perhaps returned to open questions of infinity as posed by the pre-Socratics, and freed such high-end mathematical thinking from many a metaphysician, or natural philosopher, or theologian; thus establishing natural science as a confluence and continuance of Enlightenment development.  Onward we go.  Of course this view, while possibly accurate, relies on its own assumptions.

As sent in by a reader: Kelly Ross makes the Kantian metaphysical argument here:

“Kant does not think we can know, or even imagine, the universe as either finite or infinite, in space or in time, because space and time are only forms of perception and cannot be imagined or visualized as absolute wholes. The universe, as the place of things in themselves, is not in space or in time and so is neither finite nor infinite in space or in time. Thus there cannot be an a priori, rational or metaphysical, cosmology.”

And while this may have freed Kant from the metaphysical disputes of his day, especially both Rationalist and Empiricist as he synthesized both, what do the current thinkers about such matters stand to gain by being tied into Kantian metaphysics (his Copernican revolution)?

Addition:   As I’ve discussed with many people, I don’t have a specific answer as of now.  Kant was deeply tied in to Newton’s laws, and stayed abreast of the developments of his day (Any metaphysician of similar weight would probably have to deal with Einstein, QED etc) .  He wanted to put metaphysics on the same footing as the sciences, and it’s doubtful he succeeded.  The rest of us are picking through what he did achieve, which has been highly influential.

Related On This Site:  Via The University Of British Colombia: Kant-Summary Of Essential PointsFrom Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On Youtube: Geoffrey Warnock On KantSunday Quotation: From Jonathan Bennett On KantRoger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’

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From The Nation Via The A & L Daily: ‘God, Science, And Philanthropy’

Full piece here.

Isn’t this always the dilemma when you accept money from someone else?:

“Though some critics refuse to go near anything associated with Templeton, others are forced by its ubiquity to make compromises. Sean Carroll, for one, will work only on scientific projects funded by Templeton (such as the FQXi) that aren’t solely under the foundation’s banner. “It represents a serious ethical dilemma,” says A.C. Grayling, a British philosopher and former columnist for New Scientist magazine; he accuses the foundation of “borrowing respectability from science for religion.”

Templeton site here.   Does it frame the questions in the right way?  And the final paragraph:

“John Templeton did want to hijack the meaning of life; he meant to remake the human race’s moral and cosmic toolbox in some scientific revolution of the spirit. His money has given new life to ancient questions that matter to all of us. But there is also an inescapable curiosity—or for some, like Margaret Poloma, good luck—in the idea that how we think about the most lofty things has become so much at the mercy of an eccentric investor’s later-life dreams.”

Duly noted.  Of course, funding for The Nation comes from somewhere as well…

Also On This Site:  From Nextbook: Philosopher Of Science Hilary Putnam On The Jewish Faith

—Martha Nussbaum suggests re-examining the religious roots of the founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams (Williams College)…perhaps to prevent excessive and ideological secularism?:  Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder.

—Daniel Dennet (Christianty paved the way for much of science, it’s time to keep moving on) debates Dinesh D’Souza (who ironically brings up both Nietzsche and Kant to support his religious arguments…to his detriment?): Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy.

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From Bloggingheads: Metaphysics Of The Hangman

Discussion here.

At UNC, both Joshua Knobe and Jesse Prinz are making deep arguments for morality having its origin in the emotions.   Knobe brings up Nietzschean metaphysics of the hangman.

I have some doubts about the aims of experimental philosophy, though it’s interesting.

It seems philosophy is at its best in the pursuit of metaphysics (going deeper than physics), not necessarily in the pursuit of emulating physics through empiricism, or scientific method, or experimentation.  Metaphysics has deeper legitimacy problems enough as it is…and I’m wondering if this type of thing will advance the field (if there is a field).

It may, however, likely provide some philosophical depth for evo-biologists and cognitive scientists across the land.  The pursuit of a secular morality?

Addition:  My ignorance shows:  I should say, through deep, often rationalist metaphysics pursing “empirical research.”  As for Prinz, he has made a case for directing cognitive sciences back toward emipricism.

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Kantian Metaphysics and J.S. Mill’s Utilitarianism

As to the last post on Allan Bloom, if there are potential dangers in a Nietzschean reading on the Greeks, surely there are dangers in mixing Kantian metaphysics with politics?

In part, synthesizing Kantian metaphysics with political science is what Daniel Deudney has done in his book Bounding Power (addressed to Republicans), and he’s come up with some deep moral thinking and practical advice in an arena of global politics where greater depth is always needed.  However, there is also a certain idealism I’m extremely wary of.

Kant’s metaphysics is successful enough but his political philosophy isn’t that impressive to me, especially in light of the success of our forefathers and British philosophers like John Locke.  The moral imperative doesn’t work so well “on the ground. ”

In fact, I’ve suggested some ideas for those of us frustated with the current state of liberal ideas, or at least how they might benefit from a return to Mill and a more classical liberalism/utilitarianism.

Perhaps it’s wise to keep the two separate: Kant’s metaphysics and a functioning, American utilitarianism.

Thanks for reading, your comments are welcome.

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