Link To Roger Scruton’s First Of Three Charles Test Lectures Hosted By Princeton University

In the Q & A afterwards, Scruton receives about as pointed a post-lecture questioning on his metaphysics as I’ve seen.

In the final moments, Robert George also posits that Scruton’s four presented categories actually rather resemble Aristotle’s Order of Nature and three of them Aristotle’s Practical Reason.

Interesting presentation by an interesting thinker, indeed.

Below is some criticism of Scruton from a Kantian-Friesian line of thinking.

Is there a turn back towards the Hegelian ‘we’ from the Kantian ‘I?’

However attractive and practical Scruton’s deployment of the ‘lebenswelt’ in describing the day to day relationships in which we find ourselves (a tissue of contingencies, possibilities and ‘I’ ‘thou’ relationships); however useful the ‘lebenswelt’ might be providing robust criticism of the totalitarian ideologies and scientism of post-Enlightenment ideological utopians, are the Hegelian dangers to abstract, absolutize and collectivize still present?

‘Now, I think that this is an accurate and honest presentation of Wittgenstein’s thought, except perhaps for the notion of “an independent world,” which sounds like a metaphysical assertion; but it also makes it look like Roger Scruton has fallen into the same kind of dark well as the “nonsense machine” of post-modernism that he examined in his other book.

First of all, if we have decided that the “emphasis” of Frege on truth is now to be replaced with the “more fundamental demand” that our language conform to “correctness,” alarm bells should go off. There is in fact nothing more fundamental than truth, if we are talking about knowledge or logic (and not just “communication”); and “correctness” could mean anything, varying with the standard that is applied to judge it. But we quickly get what the standard of “correctness” is, and that is the “common usage” that has “created the rules,” outside of which we cannot “look,” to govern our linguistic practice. These are rules that the invididual cannot decide for himself but that somehow “we,” collectively, in our “form of life” have created.

Key points there are that the autonomous individual and the “independent world” have both dropped out of the treatment. Scruton, as we might suspect for a Hegelian, does not speak up for the individual, but even his explicit invocation of the “independent world” is immediately voided by the assertion that only language itself, in its practice, correctness, and form of life, determines what is going to stand as the equivalent of truth. Thus, the chilling absurdity is that “the ultimate facts are language,” while, naively, we might think that facts are characteristics of the “independent world” that determine truth, as the Early Wittgenstein himself had said. In an objective world without facts, language is the substitute (whose status is somehow established by facts about the world).’

What are some dangers of the projects of reason in the wake of the Enlightenment, or stretching post-Enlightenment reason into a replacement for God, tradition, and Natural Law: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”Trolley Problems, Utilitarian Logic, Liberty, Self-Defense & Property

Leo Strauss tried to tackle that problem, among others with the reason/revelation distinction, did he succeed? How might this relate to the Heglian/post-Marxist project via ‘The End Of History’: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

Addition:  As a friend points out:  Strauss is trying to get around the 2nd Nietzschean crisis of modernity, and the cinching and tightening of moral, political, and philosophical thinking into only an Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment pursuit of truth under Reason alone.  The Natural Right and Natural Law Philosophies, including and a pursuit of the truth which can involve religion (Augustine?), or Greek conceptions of the good and the true as applied to the city-state vastly broaden and prevent the inherent nihilism in these waves of modernity as Strauss saw them…historicism being one of these Enlightenment pursuits, from political science to the social sciences to Hegelian and post-Hegelian historicism…the logic is followed to its inherently nihilistic ends.  This poses a threat to individual liberty among other things…

Radical Activism Often Cools Into Bureaucratic Authoritarianism-Also, A Case From The De Blasio Files

From FIRE: ‘One Man’s Fight Against Bureaucratic Tyranny Moves On Campus

Today’s activist vanguardian is very often tomorrow’s calcified, authoritarian bureaucrat (if they play the game right and come in from the cold).

‘Preserving that ability to recognize tyranny is at the heart of Silverglate’s second battle—protecting college students from ideological indoctrination and censorship. As co-founder of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, he is a fiercely litigious defender of free speech on campus.’

Thanks, Mr. Silverglate.

Meanwhile, at Yale…a nice mix of bureaucratese (radical placation) flirting with all the authoritarian consequences one wishes to imagine.

Yes, it’s a real thing:

The Commitee To Establish Principles On Renaming’

‘The charge of the Committee to Establish Principles on Renaming is to articulate a set of principles that can guide Yale in decisions about whether to remove a historical name from a building or other prominent structure or space on campus—principles that are enduring rather than specific to particular controversies.’

Then again, the Committee is probably safer for individual members than being surrounded a mob-justice shame-circle in the wilds of the quad.

Erika Christakis, whose husband can be seen below, had no help from the administration…

[Video updated]

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and left Yale of her own accord, because she had the temerity to write the following, which is the offense that purportedly incited the shame-circling, to students who had accused her of racial insensitivity:

‘Nicholas says, if you don’t like a costume someone is wearing, look away, or tell them you are offended. Talk to each other. Free speech and the ability to tolerate offence are the hallmarks of a free and open society.

But — again, speaking as a child development specialist — I think there might be something missing in our discourse about the exercise of free speech (including how we dress ourselves) on campus, and it is this: What does this debate about Halloween costumes say about our view of young adults, of their strength and judgment?’

As for Yale…

Full post here.

Reason post here.

NY Times piece here.

Christopher Hitchens on re-printing the cartoons that incited Islamic violence:

‘According to Yale logic, violence could result from the showing of the images—and not only that, but it would be those who displayed the images who were directly responsible for that violence

The De Blasio FilesFrom The Observer on that free WiFi for ‘The People

Hmmm….

From a technical standpoint, if we are asked by the police department and a subpoena is issued, we’ll give up the information,” Scott Goldsmith, president of media at Intersection, said. “We are not going to challenge the New York City police department if they ask us for information that we are legally required to give to them.’

As found on the Twitter:

https://twitter.com/Scruton_Quotes/status/760056189535346689

John Gray Reviews Francis Fukuyama At The Literary Review: ‘Destination Denmark’

Full review here.

Is modern democracy the best form of government, and if so, how did we get here?  Who is ‘we’ exactly?  All of Europe and the U.S.?

How do we really know that we are progressing toward some telos, or evolving our modern democracy to some point outside ourselves, and that the rest of the world ought to be doing the same?

Empirical evidence?

Via Hegel, Marx and Darwin?

Gray:

‘Fukuyama believes democracy is the only system of government with a long-term future, a familiar idea emerges: as societies become more prosperous, the growing global middle class will demand more political freedom and governmental accountability. Effectively a restatement of Marx’s account of the historical role of the bourgeoisie, it is an idea we have all heard many, many times before. In fact the political record of the middle classes is decidedly mixed.’

and:

‘While the book contains some useful insights, at the most fundamental level Political Order and Political Decay remains a morass of intellectual confusion and category mistakes. Slipping insensibly from arguments about the ethical standards by which governments are to be judged to speculative claims about the moving forces of modern history, Fukuyama blurs facts, values and theories into a dense neo-Hegelian fog. Liberal democracy may be in some sense universally desirable, as he maintains. That does not mean it will always be popular, still less that it is the normal destination of modern development.’

But he does acknowledge the following, which I’ve found reading Fukuyama, is that I come away enriched in many ways:

‘In some ways Political Order and Political Decay may be Fukuyama’s most impressive work to date. The upshot of his argument is that functioning democracy is impossible wherever an effective modern state is lacking. Since fractured and failed states are embedded in many parts of the world, the unavoidable implication is that hundreds of millions or billions of people will live without democracy for the foreseeable future.’

This blog much values Gray’s thinking as he upsets the apple-cart of many an assumption found in the modern West. If you’ve ever gazed upon the secular liberal political establishment, witnessing the gap between its ideals and daily operation, its claimed moral supremacy along with a lot of foreseeable moralism and bureaucratic bloat, then you might have some sympathy for such thinking.

As previously posted:

Kelley Ross responds to a correspondent on Isaiah Berlin’s value pluralism, while discussing John Gray as well:

‘Now, I do not regard Berlin’s value pluralism as objectionable or even as wrong, except to the extend that it is irrelevant to the MORAL issue and so proves nothing for or against liberalism. Liberalism will indeed recommend itself if one wishes to have a regime that will respect, within limits, a value pluralism. I have no doubt that respecting a considerable value pluralism in society is a good thing and that a nomocratic regime that, mostly, leaves people alone is morally superior to a teleocratic regime that specifies and engineers the kinds of values that people should have. However, the project of showing that such a regime IS a good thing and IS morally superior is precisely the kind of thing that Gray decided was a failure.

Thus, I believe Gray himself sees clearly enough that a thoroughgoing “value pluralism” would mean that the regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini is just as morally justified as the regime of Thomas Jefferson. Gray prefers liberalism (or its wreckage) for the very same reason that the deconstructionist philosopher Richard Rorty prefers his leftism: it is “ours” and “we” like it better. Why Gray, or Rorty, should think that they speak for the rest of “us” is a good question. ‘

and about providing a core to liberalism:

‘Why should the state need a “sufficient rational justificaton” to impose a certain set of values? The whole project of “rational justification” is what Gray, and earlier philosophers like Hume, gave up on as hopeless. All the state need do, which it has often done, is claim that its values are favored by the majority, by the General Will, by the Blood of the Volk, or by God, and it is in business.’

And that business can quickly lead to ever-greater intrusion into our lives:

‘J.S. Mill, etc., continue to be better philosophers than Berlin or Gray because they understand that there must be an absolute moral claim in the end to fundamental rights and negative liberty, however it is thought, or not thought, to be justified. Surrendering the rational case does not even mean accepting the overall “value pluralism” thesis, since Hume himself did not do so. ‘

Are libertarians the true classical liberals?  Much closer to our founding fathers?

Has John Gray turned away from value pluralism into a kind of ‘godless mysticism?’

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Here’s Fukuyama summing up his book for an audience:

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Related On This SiteUpdate And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’Update And Repost-Adam Kirsch Reviews Francis Fukuyama’s Book At The City Journal: ‘The Dawn Of Politics’

From Darwinian Conservatism: ‘Nietzsche–Aristocratic Radical or Aristocratic Liberal?’

Can Kant do all that heavy lifting…what are some of the dangers of Kantian reason?:  From Bryan Magee’s Talking Philosophy On Youtube: Geoffrey Warnock On KantA Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty” …

Peter Singer discusses Hegel and MarxFrom Philosophy And Polity: ‘Historicism In German Political Theory’

From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s WorkFrom The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel HuntingtonFrom Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are…upon a Kantian raft?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

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…See the comments Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was Successful

Daddy’s Gonna Make You Do It

Nick Gillespie’s piece at Reason here: ‘3 Cheers for Coercive Paternalism – Or, Why Rich, Elected Officials Really are Better than You’

Where did Mayor Bloomberg get his ideas?

A few ticks left of ‘Libertarian Paternalism,’ Gillespie links to Sarah Conly’s piece at the NY Times: ‘Three Cheers For the Nanny State‘ expanding upon her book ‘Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism.’

‘Coercive Paternalism’ has a nice ring to it. Continue reading

Hate Is A Strong Word-Some Links On The BBC, The CBC, & NPR

A mildly provocative link-roundup for a friend:

1. ‘Why I Hate The BBC‘-Libertarian Briton and climate skeptic James Delingpole at Ricochet.

From his own comments:

‘They’re self-selecting, Richard. The BBC does its recruiting through the pages of the (left-wing) Guardian, so its staff have the same bien-pensant world view. They would consider themselves centrist, moderate, reasonable, not politically biased. But that’s because everyone in the circles in which they move thinks the same way. Very few of them, I think, set out deliberately to distort the truth. It comes to them quite naturally and unconsciously.’

2. ‘How Do I Hate NPR?  Let Me Count The Ways‘-writes Glenn Garvin at the Chicago Reader.

‘It’s not that the network’s editorial brain trust meets each morning to plot the day’s campaign to rid America of Republican taint. It’s that the newsroom is composed almost entirely of like-minded people who share one another’s major philosophical precepts. When my sister says that she wants to hear news from people who think like me, she’s put her finger on the problem’

3.  100%* Of Canadians Hate The CBC-Satire,really, from The Network.

Bonus***Gavin McInnes, founder of VICE and Streetcarnage.com, goes on an entertaining anti-CBC rant on the Sun network:

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Extra special bonus***-Anti-multiculturalist provacateur of the Anglosphere!, Mark Steyn discusses complaints brought against Macleans, Canada’s largest publication, by the President of the Canadian Islamic Congress (who sent three representatives) to TVOntario.   They were upset at the pieces Steyn had published there.  The complaints went through the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for alleged “Islamophobia” and “promoting hate:”

The connection here is what happens in Canadian society in the wake of the ideas the CBC promotes, and beneath the umbrella of more Left liberal ideas:

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The CBC actually defends Steyn a bit, which is slightly remarkable as Canada does not have nearly the same broad definitions of free speech we have here in the U.S.

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Clearly, “hate” can get you viewers and make some fun.

My two cents:

Nationalization protects the BBC and the CBC from market competition and thus they remain less open to criticism, innovation, and the interests of large swathes of their taxpayers.  Those who have self-selected and made a niche for themselves in such institutions, can more easily discriminate on that basis, even unconsciously.  They don’t tend to be friendly to business interests and people in business because they don’t as directly depend on business for advertising dollars.  This insulation allows some to think of themselves as gatekeepers to higher culture and above such incentives in the first place.

Generally, all of them seem to put environmentalism and multiculturalism first, above other ideas.  A kind of world-mash humanism is the norm and it’s never hard to find a story that trades in the same stuff as the “studies” disciplines that have sprung up in our universities where an “expert” can always be found to comment on the story of the day.

In addition, there is coverage of the Sciences and world events which does the public good, but there seems to be a penchant for science coverage that supports the more liberal worldview along with a penchant for psychology, literary analysis and music criticism that usually favors their own interests:  feminism, equality between the sexes and among the races (multiculturalism and humanism again).

Higher culture, modern liberal assumptions and current events are usually combined into bite-sized, well-produced, reasonably thoughtful morsels.  A high-end product is produced, but at what cost?

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Related On This Site: They’ve got to keep up with the times:A Few Thoughts On NPR And Current Liberal Establishment Thinking Under Obama

 Ken Burns makes a good documentary, but he’s also arguing he absolutely needs your tax dollars in service of what he assumes to be a shared definition of the “common good” as he pursues that art.  The market just can’t support it otherwise. Repost-From ReasonTV Via Youtube: ‘Ken Burns on PBS Funding, Being a “Yellow-Dog Democrat,” & Missing Walter Cronkite’From NPR: Grants To The NEA To Stimulate The Economy?…We’re already mixing art and politics, so…
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Here’s a suggestion to keep aesthetic and political judgements apart-Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment
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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.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and trendy leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”