Alas, What Were You Hoping For?

Simon Blackburn at the University of Toronto discussing the minimalist or deflationist view:

‘Along comes someone like Pilate, Pontius Pilate, and says something like: ‘What is truth?’ and everybody goes sort of dizzy, and you look to the philosopher to provide a suitably abstract and highfalutin answer. The minimalist says you shouldn’t answer Pilate, or rather, if you answer Pilate, you answer should take the form of a question…which is “What are you interested in?’

So basically, you throw the question ‘What is truth?’ back until the person who’s interlocuting you… gives you an example and says ‘Well, I’m interested in whether penguins fly’ and you say ‘Okay well the truth there…the truth would consist in penguins flying…’

…that’s very disappointing:’

Blackburn on Richard Rorty here.

From Kelley Ross, who takes a step back from moral relativism and good ‘ol American Pragmatism:

‘It is characteristic of all forms of relativism that they wish to preserve for themselves the very principles that they seek to deny to others. Thus, relativism basically presents itself as a true doctrine, which means that it will logically exclude its opposites (absolutism or objectivism), but what it actually says is that no doctrines can logically exclude their opposites. It wants for itself the very thing (objectivity) that it denies exists. Logically this is called “self-referential inconsistency,” which means that you are inconsistent when it comes to considering what you are actually doing yourself. More familiarly, that is called wanting to “have your cake and eat it too.” Someone who advocates relativism, then, may just have a problem recognizing how their doctrine applies to themselves’

And on Richard Rorty:

‘Pragmatism is really just a kind of relativism; and, as with Protagoras’s own strategy, it is a smoke screen for the questions that ultimately must be asked about what it means that something is “better,” or now that something “works.” Something “works,” indeed, if it gets us what we want — or what Richard Rorty wants. But why should we want that? Again, the smoke screen puts off the fatal moment when we have to consider what is true about what is actually good, desirable, worthy, beneficial, etc. All these responses are diversions that attempt to obscure and prevent the examination of the assumptions that stand behind the views of people like Rorty. It is easier to believe what you believe if it is never even called into question, and that is just as true of academic philosophers like Rorty as it is for anybody else. Being intelligent or well educated does not mean that you are necessarily more aware of yourself, what you do, or the implications of what you believe. That is why the Delphic Precept, “Know Thyself” (Gnôthi seautón) is just as important now as ever.’

Larry Arnhart At Darwinian Conservatism is skeptical of the Nietzchean influence: ‘Prinz’s Deceptive Silence in His Arguments for Emotivism and Cultural Relativism:’

‘In Beyond Human Nature, Jesse Prinz argues for emotivism and cultural relativism in his account of human morality.  In doing this, he employs the rhetorical technique of deceptive silence.  What I mean by this is that in presenting the research relevant to his topic, he picks out those findings that seem to support his arguments, while passing over in silence those findings that contradict his arguments.  For example, he sets up a stark debate between Kantian rationalism and Humean emotivism in explaining the basis of human morality; and he argues that empirical research supports emotivism by showing that moral judgment is purely emotional and not rational at all (293-95).  This is deceptive in two respects. ‘

Also On This Site: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”Repost-Some Thoughts On Noam Chomsky Via The American Conservative: ‘American Anarchist’

Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’ 

Roger Scruton On Moral Relativism And Ross Douthat On Bill Maher

From David Thompson: ‘Postmodernism Unpeeled’

Full interview here.

From Dr. Steven Hicks:

‘In the shorter term, postmodernism has caused an impoverishment of much of the academic humanities, both in the quality of the work being done and the civility of the debates. The sciences have been less affected and are relatively healthy. The social sciences are mixed.

I am optimistic, though, for a couple of reasons. One is that pomo was able to entrench itself in the second half of the twentieth century in large part because first-rate intellectuals were mostly dismissive of it and focused on their own projects. But over the last ten years, after pomo’s excesses became blatant, there has been a vigorous counter-attack and pomo is now on the defensive. Another reason for optimism is that, as a species of skepticism, pomo is ultimately empty and becomes boring. Eventually intellectually-alert individuals get tired of the same old lines and move on. It is one thing, as the pomo can do well, to critique other theories and tear them down. But that merely clears the field for the next new and intriguing theory and for the next generation of energetic young intellectuals.

So while the postmodernism has had its generation or two, I think we’re ready for the next new thing – a strong, fresh, and positive approach to the big issues, one that of course takes into account the critical weapons the pomo have used well over the last while’

Related On This Site:  Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’ Classical Liberalism Via Friesian.Com-’Exchange with Tomaz Castello Branco on John Gray’

Ed West At The Telegraph: ‘Conservatives, Depressing Everyone Since 500BC’Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on Conservatism

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”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.…  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

Roger Scruton In The American Spectator: The New Humanism…From Nigel Warburton’s Site: A Definition of Humanism?…From The City Journal Via Arts And Letters Daily: Andre Glucksman On “The Postmodern Financial Crisis”

Repost-From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’

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In the video Burns discusses how he is primarily an artist, not an historian.  He does, believe, however, that his work has other goals besides art.  He sees himself as:

“…rooted in a humanist tradition of American History..that includes not just the old top down version, but the bottom up version that acknowledges women and labor and minorities….”  

Well, if you’ve ever watched his work you would might recognize an underlying Left-Of-Center political philosophy, which tends toward moral relativism.  It is usually meticulously crafted, has exquisite still photography, and is carefully researched and gives pleasure to watch.

To his credit, he has also made his chosen form and subject matter popular.  Burns wants to be recognized as an artist striving for higher aesthetic and technical goals in his work (his influences range from Martin Scorsese to Henri Cartier-Bresson) in addition to the “social conscience.”  He also has an instantly recognizable style and as he summarizes:

 “The style is essentially the authentic application of technique”

For other documentarians, especially, he probably has a lot to teach, and the programs aren’t a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Politically, though, Burns makes the argument that he absolutely needs government funding to remain free enough to pursue his art in pure enough fashion to benefit of the rest of us.  This is arguable, though if he wants to do his work, the money has to come from somewhere.  I suspect Burns’ beliefs are typical to many in public radio and broadcasting:  they are often politically Left, humanists, often universalists, many post-modern.  Many are artistically inclined as they are presenters and performers of a sort.  They are popularizers,  and many, I suspect, see themselves as cultural gatekeepers for the unwashed masses.

While they put together shows like NOVA and clearly offer a public good with such programming and information, what unites many of them them is likely a certain conception of how society ought to be (more equal, more just, more humane) which goes hand-in-hand with a social and philosophical philosophy that can lead to Statism, a more closed society, regulated markets, and at its worst, a society that doesn’t just use art for didactic purposes, but also as political propaganda (of which Burns I don’t think is in any way guilty).  Art, and not just popular art forms, has a troubled relationship with religion, politics, humanists, philosophy and often the artists themselves.

Addition: As a friend points out.  Bill Moyers, “working-man” populist though he is, strives for journalistic excellence.  But as for history, perhaps no one should aim for a Zinn-like state.

Another Addition:  Perhaps also one purpose of art is to frustrate religion, politics, and other civilized structures and norms.  And Burns “Prohibition” gets deep into the often disparate groups, alliances, political bedfellows and turmoil below the surface of received opinion regarding Prohibition. He also paid his NEH grants back.

Related On This Site  Via Reason: ‘Salvador Allende’s Cybersocialist Command Center’ 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

Philosopher Of Art Denis Dutton of the Arts & Letters Daily says the arts and Darwin can be sucessfully synthesized: Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

How might Nietzsche figure in the discussion, at least with regard to Camille Paglia.  See the comments:  Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was Successful…Here’s Nietzsche scholar J.P. Stern on Nietzsche’s anti-Christian, anti-secular morality (Kant, utilitarians), anti-democratic, and anti-Greek (except the “heroic” Greek) biases…

Repost-From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?

Goya, that modern, had to make a living from the royal family: Goya’s ColossusGoya’s Fight With Cudgels

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Repost-From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’

Full post here.

Our author responds to the debate:

“This impression was not helped by his tendency to answer specifics with generalities.  Ramadan’s favorite word seems to be “diversity” and it was trotted out with numbing regularity to serve as many masters as there were sentences that night.  It was the answer to every question, which is to say, once again, not an answer.”

Ramadan knows how to play the Western end of the debate.  One of his arguments that resonates with me is that human nature itself is flawed.  Any religion, secular group, moral philosophy, human rights campaign etc….any person really…ought to be concerned with has been done (and what people are doing) in the name of any set of ideas or principles, which is often violence.  This has some weight.

Hitchens, however, remains unmoved and maintains that the metaphysics of Islam will ultimately create and encourage violence through its moral absolutism and its total metaphysical prescription for all aspects of life, including politics and the public square (though Hitchens was clearly anti-religion, a materialist through and through, on a broader basis).  Muslims are the ones right now in Europe and the Middle-East, he points out, who are violent and threatening violence and it must be stood up to.

I suspect on Hitchens’ view, one of the products of Europe is the secular multiculturalism to which Ramadan often appeals, but which the adherents of secular multiculturalism are not always fully willing and able to defend (free speech for example) against Muslim threats of violence.  This secular tradition has also not been fully integrating Muslims successfully under its banner nor through public policy, the economy, or Europe’s political institutions, often creating fiefdoms and ghettoes.

Many Americans want this to be our approach as well.

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Here’s a further debate from Intelligence Squared with Ayan Hirsi Ali on one side, arguing that Islam is the problem (the same absolutism in Islam that will not tolerate questioning of its tenets, and its many violent passages).  A member of the opposing side suggests that Muslim alienation in British life, combined with a European influenced fascist inspired-Islamism is the problem, not Islam itself (yes, it’s colonialist Europe’s fault).  He proposes a more human-rights based Islam.

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R.I.P to the victims of 09/11.

Addition:  Interesting post here from A Reluctant Ombudsman on The Church Of Atheism.  You can be civil, and not bash religion from within your own atheism and stand up against the evils and infringements upon liberty that both religious groups and non-religious groups pose.

Also On This Site: There are American traditions which do not seek a holy war, but naturally seek to oppose enemies, defend our citizens, and expand our reach without secular multiculturalism:  Richard Fernandez At PJ Media: ‘The New Middle East’..Daniel Greenfield definitely thinks Islam is the problem: From Sultan Knish: ‘The Mirage Of Moderate Islam’

Virtual Philosophy has a series on free speech and some links and notes to J.S. Mill’s ‘On Liberty’ among others.  Is Mill’s utilitarianism enough?:  From virtual philosopher: ‘Free Speech: notes and links for course at Free Word Centre’

A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea…as a more entrenched radical British Left and Muslim immigration don’t mix too well: From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’… Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’

Free speech (used both well and unwell) meets offended Muslims: Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks HeadbuttedDuring Lecture’From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’

It’s a big assumption to make: From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

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Repost: Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’

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Hitchens was both a serious anti-theist (a former-ish Trotskyite Socialist, “God Is Not Great“) as he charted a course out of those ways, as well as quite anti-leftist (supporting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan).

Here in America, we have freedom of speech.  Some people will believe and say unwise, foolish and dangerous things as a result.  Some, for example, will merely taunt religious and political leaders without substantive criticism, while others will use humor and reasoned discourse to level pointed and profound criticism against them (and anyone, who in their profession of ideas, would seek to implement those ideas).   This freedom of speech (including the mockery and steady stream of anti-Christian imagery that has resulted) is a vital component of our political freedom.

In the above video, Younis is claiming that we put a limit to that freedom in order to achieve dialogue and “strategic discourse” with the Muslim world (I assume like Obama might believe this to help address the reasons our militiary has deployed in two questionable wars to root out a small but violent group of people, who, in the name of Islam, killed 3,000 Americans on American soil).  As the argument goes:  Our quarrel is not with Islam, but a small group of people acting in the name of Islam, who would represent a dead-end interpretation of their own religion and historical events.  Al-Qaeda would like nothing more than a religious war, for that would validate their own ideology.  We should tread lightly, and more intelligently and respectfully. As regards freedom of speech, citizens of Western countries who would act mockingly, disparagingly, or critically of the religious beliefs of Muslims must be held to a higher standard to prevent the kinds of conflict already taking place on this view.

Yet, as Hitchens points out, the elephant in the room is the fact that some Muslims and Muslim leaders actually kill, or threaten to kill, anyone who engages in such activity.

What are the limits of freedom of speech?  Do you have an obligation to protect our troops?  to stand up for cartoonists threatened with death?  to recognize the loss of Iraqi life (addition: morally…diplomatically…in order to make better policy)?

Addition:  An emailer suggests it is only on the back of extreme multiculturalism and diversity and on the European Left and the far American Left that such ideas get any traction.  Muslims are a small minority in the U.S., and they have to earn, over generations of following the laws and demographic representation, a seat in our legislatures and in the public mind.  As for now, the U.S. is pursuing its security interests through military force and diplomacy to protect itself against Al-Qaeda in the Muslim world…this is the problem to be either solved or gotten through and has political, diplomatic, military as well as cultural dimensions.   Education…stronger economies…and more representative governments are developments the West would like to see, but as for my part I believe belongs to the will of Muslims.

Another Addition:  A signed defense of free speech by American and Canadian Muslims

Also On This Site:  Ebrahim Moosa At Bloggingheads Discusses Islamic Reform

Many libertarians stand firm on freedom of speech:  Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra LevantFrom Reason: ‘Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks Headbutted During Lecture’From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale SurrendersYale concluded that the risk of violence and the potential consequences that stemmed from their decision to publish a scholarly work about the Mohammed cartoons (reprinting those cartoons) was not worth the risk.

Hirsi Ali has her own agenda, and will use the political right in Europe to frame the debate (and she’s on a personal mission against Islam), but notice non-Muslims are not the ones threatening her with death: Tunku Varadarajan Reviews Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ‘Nomad’ At The Daily BeastRepost-Ayan Hirsi Ali At The CSM: ‘Swiss Ban On Minarets Was A Vote For Tolerance And Inclusion’

A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea: From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’

L.A.’s New Public Art Piece ‘The Levitated Mass,’ Or As The American Interest Puts It: ‘A Moving Rock’

Full piece here.

Perhaps you haven’t heard about the Levitated Mass at the Los Angeles County Art Museum:

‘…an artwork by Michael Heizer comprised of a 456-foot-long concrete-lined slot constructed on LACMA’s campus, upon and at the center of which is placed a 340-ton granite megalith. As visitors walk along the slot, it gradually descends to fifteen feet deep, running underneath the megalith before ascending back up.’

This is L.A., but…still.  Our author at the American Interest wonders:

‘It would be interesting to know whose idea was to move the 340-ton rock from a quarry (at a distance of almost a hundred miles) to the Los Angeles County Museum—an operation costing millions, necessitating extra police forces to deal with the traffic problems caused by the slow progress (five miles per hour) of a gigantic truck (“196-wheel transporter”) specially made for this project.’

Wonder no further:

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Well, at least it was paid for by private donations.  Even so, a great nation deserves great art.  This piece fills a spiritual and cultural void at the heart of the Angelino multicultural experience, creating a communal space (absence) in which the public can find meaning through public Art by incorporating Nature itself (a large rock…prescence) into their rootless, isolated, traffic-weary daily lives.  It is a mass for the masses!

While passing under the megalith, it may slowly dawn on some Californians that what seemed like levitation or another mildly interesting new art installation actually has a terrible weight to it, and could potentially crush them to death.  This may even inspire fear or resignation (like the California debt burden), or perhaps like the Hajj it will become a pilgrimage destination, even uniting people in a state of passive reverence for something so mildly holy (as only good, secular, public Art projects can do).

There was also a gala opening for the rock as though it were Oscar night.  From the American Interest:

“In the final analysis, moving this rock to a museum may be seen as an apt symbol of the cultural/aesthetic relativism that has of late engulfed much of our society. Admiration of the rock also illustrates a rare agreement between elite groups (such as curators and benefactors of museums) and ordinary people about what should be regarded as an object of art. Perhaps most importantly it reflects a growing incapacity of many Americans to distinguish between events which are appropriate occasions for reaffirming social bonds and experiencing exhilaration and those which are meaningless and wasteful spectacles.”

Indeed, but I suppose that’s up to the people of Los Angeles to decide.  They may like it.  The L.A. Times blog writes more here (comments are worth a read).

See also:  Tergvinder’s Stone, a poem by W.S. Merwin.  Maybe you could see this coming.

Addition:  Apparently not everyone recognizes an attempt at postmodern public art blurb satire when they see it.

Related On This Site:  Via Reason: ‘Salvador Allende’s Cybersocialist Command Center’…Left of Center politics and art: From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’Repost-From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?

Joan Miro: WomanGoya’s ColossusGoya’s Fight With Cudgels

Philosopher Of Art Denis Dutton of the Arts & Letters Daily says the arts and Darwin can be sucessfully synthesized: Review of Denis Dutton’s ‘The Art Instinct’

How might Nietzsche figure in the discussion, at least with regard to Camille Paglia.  See the comments:  Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was Successful…Here’s Nietzsche scholar J.P. Stern on Nietzsche’s anti-Christian, anti-secular morality (Kant, utilitarians), anti-democratic, and anti-Greek (except the “heroic” Greek) biases…

Nothing that Allan Bloom didn’t point out in the Closing Of The American Mind: Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

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Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘History Repeats: In Europe, They Want Jewish Blood’

Full post here.

On Tariq Ramadan’s response to the Toulouse Mohammed Merah attack:

‘Ramadan in no way condones or approves of these murders, but his response still falls short. Ramadan sees no anti-Semitic executioner here, only an oppressed soul driven inexorably by unfair social forces to murder others — most of whom, irrelevantly, happened to be Jews.’

Well, the European Left, multiculturalism, and moral relativism don’t require it of him and neither do the Muslim world nor the Muslim brotherhood (he bridges the two worlds), so why should he?

‘Europe and France should either have kept the immigrants out or welcomed them in as they prepared a place for them. They did neither, and the payback will hurt.’

Very high unemployment, poor living conditions, high birth rates, cultural exclusion into ghettoes and fewer opportunities to really be French (or German, or British) leave men like Merah in no man’s land (and he is by all means accountable for his actions).  A few, like Merah, choose this cowardly path.

Smaller, more regulated and indebted economies, low birth-rates, more culturally homogenous societies united under a technocracy and anti-nationalist post World War II governance (which is understandable and has good reasons but which stuffs nationalist impulses into the shadows, sometimes unreasonably and makes them self-righteous and inflamed) could likely make Europeans face some uncomfortable choices regarding its Muslim immigrants.

And some folks in America want to have a similar set of principles be the highest things around over here.

Comments are well worth reading.

Related On This Site:  A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea: From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’

For anyone,it takes moral courage to stand up to the messianism, Islamic moral absolutism, and dark theocratic tendencies of the Middle East…liberty is key as well as moral responsibility to think in terms of the legitimacy of rule here at home.  It is often the Left, the materialists (anti-religious) who stand up: …From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’From Michael Totten: ‘An Interview With Christopher Hitchens’

‘Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks Headbutted During Lecture’……From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’

What kind of threats to free speech do the justice and rights crowd pose?:  Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant

Materialism and Leftism Paul Berman On Bloggingheads: The Left Can Criticize Iran… Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’

Western societies are becoming less violent overall? We’ll see about that-Steven Pinker curiously goes Hobbesian and mentions an ‘international Leviathan’:   At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas Hobbes

Are we back to a clash of civilizations…or are there are other options: From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s Work

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Repost-From Virtual Philosophy: A Brief Interview With Simon Blackburn

Full interview here.

I just wanted to focus on an interesting problem:

“Nigel: Has relativism had its day as an influential philosophical position?

Simon: No – and I don’t think it should ever die. The danger is that it gets replaced by some kind of complacent dogmatism, which is at least equally unhealthy. The Greek sceptics thought that confronting a plurality of perspectives is the beginning of wisdom, and I think they were right. It is certainly the beginning of historiography and anthropology, and if we think, for instance, of the Copernican revolution, of self-conscious science. The trick is to benefit from an imaginative awareness of diversity, without falling into a kind of “anything goes” wishy-washy nihilism or scepticism….”

It looks like we’ve been dealing with such a problem for a long time, in one form or another.

See Also On This Site:  Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…of England?:  From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…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

From Wikipedia’s Page On Leo Strauss: A Few Quotes:  From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?

Repost-From Scientific Blogging: The Humanities Are In Crisis-Science Is Not

Full post here.

A brief response by our author to this NY Times Op-Ed piece:

“Graduate education in the humanities may have its problems, but don’t try to tar science with the same brush.”

and:

“The humanities aren’t sciences, they don’t solve problems like sciences, and they shouldn’t try to be sciences.”

Is the public lens currently being focused on the problem in a way that does justice to neither the humanities nor the sciences?   There has been some successful modeling of some scientific rigor in the past.

There are still a few rigorous teachers of the canon, but they’ve often been replaced by a more fractured group of interests, continental leftists, and semi-politicized groups in many a liberal arts program (and it’s important as ever as a discipline in my opinion).  I think this helps explain the corner some people in our culture have painted themselves into; clutching at the remnants of moral relativism with an all too earnest scientism (the people who need climate science to be true for various reasons other than scientific ones), multi-culturalism and a sadly politicized set of goals for higher ed.  Clearly, there’s been a lot of change, and little discussion of the reasons behind the change.

On This Site:  From Bloggingheads: Shakespeare and The Second Law Of ThermodynamicsStanley Fish At The NY Times Blog: ‘The Last Professors: The Corporate Professors And The Fate Of The Humanities’From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’,,

Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment

See the comments Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was SuccessfulUpdate And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’

Did Strauss have it entirely right? Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy’Some Tuesday Quotations From Leo Strauss

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Repost-From Virtual Philosophy: A Brief Interview With Simon Blackburn

Full interview here.

I just wanted to focus on an interesting problem:

“Nigel: Has relativism had its day as an influential philosophical position?

Simon: No – and I don’t think it should ever die. The danger is that it gets replaced by some kind of complacent dogmatism, which is at least equally unhealthy. The Greek sceptics thought that confronting a plurality of perspectives is the beginning of wisdom, and I think they were right. It is certainly the beginning of historiography and anthropology, and if we think, for instance, of the Copernican revolution, of self-conscious science. The trick is to benefit from an imaginative awareness of diversity, without falling into a kind of “anything goes” wishy-washy nihilism or scepticism….”

It looks like we’ve been dealing with such a problem for a long time, in one form or another.

See Also On This Site:  Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…of England?:  From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…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

From Wikipedia’s Page On Leo Strauss: A Few Quotes:  From The Philosopher’s Magazine Via The A & L Daily: ‘My Philosophy: Alan Sokal’

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