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?’

More On Identity Politics From Volokh: ‘On A Bus In Kiev’

Full post here.

I don’t have much to say about a Harvard 3L student who expressed in an email that she has doubts about the intelligence of blacks on a genetic level (what did she say exactly, and who leaked it?), and has now had a personal email exposed for all to see, and could suffer potential career implications.  I suspect there are many people who think and have thought the same.  Personally, I don’t think the argument holds up (though I think there are obviously genetic differences between groups of people, skin color and susceptibility to certain diseases being two).

But instead of having that debate out in the open, it will stay pushed down if the dean of the law school’s response is any indication:

‘We seek to encourage freedom of expression, but freedom of speech should be accompanied by responsibility. This is a community dedicated to intellectual pursuit and social justice. The circulation of one student’s comment does not reflect the views of the school or the overwhelming majority of the members of this community.’

It looks like Minow is taking a particularly narrow view of intellectual pursuit.  My guess is that does potentially reflect the views of some members of the school (we know of at least one).

In addition, one could take the political angle, and argue that Minow is using the terms ‘community’ and ‘social justice’ to placate certain people who might be reading her communication;  for these are words used to indicate a certain politically left fellow-feeling.  This is damage control.

I also suspect it’s motivated by guilt, a guilt based on the knowledge that many black students are often socially and culturally at a disadvantage when competing at Harvard Law.

Addition:  A friend suggests that the real target of grievance here is not even excessive relativism nor backing our way into ideas with such obvious internal contradictions (e.g the intolerance of those who preach tolerance), but simply the growing progressive political platform that benefits from it, and the mixing of such idealism with politics, and the ideas of class, gender, anti-and sub-nationalism, protest and identity politics that become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Also On This Site:  Revisiting Larry Summers: What Did He Say Again?

Race and IQ: Malcolm Gladwell On The Flynn EffectFrom Slate: William Saletan’s ‘White Men Can’t Jump’

This is law school, where analysis, and critical thinking are key…the humanities have arguably become grounds for all manner of race and identity politics, and desperate attempts to serve some direct social purpose:   Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To JudgmentMartha Nussbaum saw this coming a while ago, but is her platform broad enough to define liberal education?From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.

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