Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animal

Q & A with Mark Lilla via The Chronicle of Higher Ed:

‘They’re too obsessed with identity. There’s a subtle distinction. Diversity as a social goal and aim of social reform is an excellent thing. But identity politics today isn’t about group belonging; it’s about personal identity.’

Taking a stand against identity politics at Columbia must take some courage, for cries of ‘Heretic!’ can be heard over rooftops maintained by the Office of the Physical Plant.

On that note, revisiting Martha Nussbaum on Judith Butler might be instructive.

For my part, someone called me a Postmodern Conservative the other day, and I’d just like to say that there are many identities juxtaposed at the intersectionality of bodies in space. Dominant narratives, meta-narratives, and counter-narratives serve to liber…

Merry Christmas!

In the drunk tank…!

Some previous links on this site for your intellectual (dis)pleasure:

-The Sokal hoax…Alan Sokal has apparently been busy ruminating since his paper, and Simon Blackburn, a Cambridge philosophy professor, reviews his ruminations.

-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.’

Deep in the German weeds…it’s all just nothing, man, and nothing needs to change:

Roger Scruton suggests keeping political and aesthetic judgments apart in the humanities, via a lot of German philosophical idealism:

“In the days when the humanities involved knowledge of classical languages and an acquaintance with German scholarship, there was no doubt that they required real mental discipline, even if their point could reasonably be doubted. But once subjects like English were admitted to a central place in the curriculum, the question of their validity became urgent. And then, in the wake of English came the pseudo-humanities—women’s studies, gay studies and the like—which were based on the assumption that, if English is a discipline, so too are they.”

Keep politics (and business) out of academia, when you can?-Repost-Stanley Fish At The NY Times Blog: ‘The Last Professors: The Corporate Professors And The Fate Of The Humanities’

-Just read for its own sake, man, it doesn’t need an endpoint, because art’s pretty useful and useless: Why Should You Get A Liberal Education? From The ASAN Institute Via Vimeo: ‘Michael Oakeshott’s Cold War Liberalism 1’

-Tim Kavanaugh at Reason: Every Man A Derrida

From The City Journal: The Roar Of Justice-Philosopher Raymond Geuss, An Idealist In Realist’s Clothing

Full article here.

Well, the City Journal’s pretty far out on the right (sometimes a little nutty, resuscitating compassionate conservatism?), so you likely know where you’ll end before you begin.

What it seems Kirsch defends are forms of transcendentalism (i.e. Plato’s World Of Forms, or the possibility of knowledge beyond experience) against Raymond Geuss’s idealism, neo-Marxism and Leninism (as Kirsch has him: narrow-mindedly analyzing who has the power and the means of production).

From Plato’s Republic, Kirsch raises Plato’s extensive discussion with Thrasymachus:

“When one looks at justice clearly, Thrasymachus insists, he finds that it’s nothing but the disguise worn by power: “I proclaim that justice is nothing else than the interest of the stronger.”’

There are likely many who think like Thrasymachus among us.  In fact, we have all probably found ourselves thinking like this at times…

However, Kirsch implies that Geuss is not even as consistent as Thrasymachus:

“The unjust is lord over the truly simple and just: he is the stronger, and his subjects do what is for his interest, and minister to his happiness, which is very far from being their own,” Thrasymachus says…

It follows that the only logical course for any human being is to try to be happily unjust, rather than simple—that is, stupid—and just.'”

Join in the game, or be a useless crank or a coward?  Bottle it all inside like Thrasymachus and then when you see Socrates discussing the idea in public, unleash all of your anger at such an idealistic fool?  Or maybe like Geuss, you put it all in your philosophical idealism and encourage others to overthrow a common enemy?  Kirsch ends with:

“The world of Thrasymachus is a war of all against all, in which the powerful will always win. If Geuss does not want to inhabit such a world—and who does?—he should acknowledge that the inquiry into the nature of justice, which has occupied philosophers from Socrates to Rawls, is not an ideological trick, but the necessary beginning of all attempts to make the world more just.”

Not a bad point, though I’m already sympathetic to the theme.


Just A Thought-Of course “justice” is not merely a code for “social justice” and the neo-marxists, feminists and postmodern American left.  Obviously, it’s a central concept to the church.  The origin of many of our laws comes from the moral thinking of the church and the assumption of transcendance (it comes from God, and God is outside of us).  These laws, in turn, protect many of our freedoms.

Here is a quote from John Locke that could be quite relevant to someone like, say, Dr. Martin Luther King…who obviously thought about the nature of justice quite often:

For wherever violence is used, and injury done, though by hands appointed to administer Justice, it is still violence and injury, however colour’d with the Name, Pretences, or Forms of Law, the end whereof being to protect and redress the innocent, by an unbiassed application of it, to all who are under it; wherever that is not bona fide done, War is made upon the Sufferers, who having no appeal on Earth to right them, they are left to the only remedy in such Cases, an appeal to Heaven.”

See Also:  Just because the law comes from a belief in a transcendant God doesn’t necessarily follow that one can’t be moral, law-abiding, and Godless:  Martha Nussbaum Channels Roger Williams In The New Republic: The First Founder

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