Postcards:

For all things philosophical.

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d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sat Jul 21, 2018 6:31 pm

A big fan of politifact myself, Impertinent.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Fri Jul 27, 2018 8:29 pm

“Should, therefore, socio-cognitive conflict be prescribed in educational settings? We address these questions by drawing on research pointing out that socio-cognitive conflict is beneficial for learning to the extent that conflict is regulated in an epistemic manner; that is, by focusing on the task or on the knowledge at hand. On the contrary, socio-cognitive conflict can result in detrimental effects whenever conflict is regulated in a relational manner, that is, by focusing on status and on interpersonal dominance.” –from “Learning from Conflict”, Fabrizio Butera, Celine Darnon and Gabriel Mugny

I mainly quote this as a kind of anti-dote (an empirical one even (to quasi-intellectual trolls who come the boards and treat this like some kind of pissing contest. To them, it is not about growth or a process. It is rather about a search and destroy mission that will destroy anyone that might stand in the way of their total intellectual dominance. It’s not about finding out what’s right; it’s about making you wrong.

Of course, what they will often turn to is this common yet erroneous notion (this common doxa (that we are somehow obligated to make our case to them, even when there is clearly no hope of doing so. They may even play it off as a kind of “tough love”, their way of getting yourself beyond yourself. But all they really care about is their ego. It is a fantasy on their part. But they get away with it, at least in their own little world, because it is propped up by popular culture. Note, for instance, the popular American TV series House or JK Simmon’s award winning performance in Whiplash. We even see this fantasy at work in philosophy in the way we build the same kind of stigma around such figures as Heidegger and Wittgenstein. But why put up with either asshole when you could as easily get what you need from their books.

This kind of mentality might be useful in the military. But there is a big difference between trying to survive in a battle and trying to build a deeper understanding of the world. Unfortunately, as the article points out:

“We argue that, although mastery goals are inherent to education, educational organizations also promote performance goals through evaluation and selection. In this respect they create the conditions for conflicts to be regulated in a relational manner, which is detrimental for learning. We conclude the chapter by reflecting upon the goals promoted by educational organizations that may favor or hinder the constructive effects for learning of socio-cognitive conflict.”

In other words, the sensibility of the troll is basically bred in our education system – especially in America which mainly works under corporate values: the tyranny of the functional. As they also point out:

“This distinction is of importance with respect to the question of the usability of socio-cognitive conflict, as recent research has shown that the two forms of conflict regulation are predicted by different achievement goals. Epistemic regulation is predicted by mastery goals (the will to acquire knowledge and develop competences), and relational regulation is predicted by performance goals (the will to demonstrate competence relative to others). We argue that, although mastery goals are inherent to education, educational organizations also promote performance goals through evaluation and selection. In this respect they create the conditions for conflicts”

Will try to go into this deeper tomorrow.

Impenitent
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Re: Postcards:

Post by Impenitent » Fri Jul 27, 2018 11:06 pm

as opposed to the chaos of the un-functional?

-Imp

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:26 pm

“In the 1960s, Ayn Rand convened an intellectual salon that she called The Collective. Coming from the founder and articulator of Objectivism, a philosophy of radical individualism, this was a deliberately provocative, tongue-in-cheek name. Yet it captured an important truth about Rand’s followers: They were truly followers. They were influenced by her philosophy, her vision, and wanted to share their views with like-minded others. True, those views espoused the intellectual and moral primacy of the individual – the “virtue of selfishness,” as Rand and Branden (1964) termed it – but the intellectual movement that grew up around those ideas was formed and sustained by group processes. The Collective spawned numerous institutes, thinktanks, and newsletters designed to draw in new members; there were struggles for status within the group; and Rand herself became an extremely powerful figure, surrounded and protected by a fiercely loyal inner circle. Indeed, a number of commentators have likened the Objectivist movement to a cult (e.g., Shermer, 1993; Walker, 1999).

The Collective provides an excellent illustration of what we refer to as the independence
paradox. In groups that value individuality, ranging in scale from Rand’s Collective to North
American societies, acts of independence have a paradoxical status: They both challenge the
group’s power and conform to its norms. These acts signify personal freedom and, at the same
time, collective identification (see also Hornsey & Jetten, 2004; Jetten, Postmes, & McAuliffe,
2002).” –extracted from the article ‘The Independence Paradox’ by Jessica Salvatore & Deborah Prentice

I would humbly propose that at the heart of this paradox is the failure of such types to recognize that no matter what they achieve, it can never occur in a vacuum. They are always the benefactors of a social system in which we all participate.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:08 pm

"In the 4th century, the saying became popular among monastic leaders. According to the monastic author Cassian, as the monk goes about his day in silence, all sorts of thoughts enter into his mind. Some of these thoughts are clearly good ones, leading the monk to act virtuously and to contemplate God. But some of these thoughts come from demons, leading the monk to act wickedly and to turn away from contemplation and prayer. We must analyze the thoughts that occur to us, Cassian tells his fellow monks. “We must, as the Lord’s command bids us, become skillful money changers.”" -study notes from the Great Courses lecture The Apocryphal Jesus by David Brakke

"You simply cannot let your mind wander like that, son. You never know what it will get into." -a line from what I thought was going to be the latest great American novel, but I bogged down in the third chapter and never finished it.

While my quote was basically a secondary expression, the quote above gets at a dichotomy buried really deep in our world culture: that between the classicist and the romantic or what can be respectively described as the dichotomy between humans as civilized beings and humans as natural beings. And we see this in the classicism of Plato and his model of society. He utilizes the analogy of the human body in a hierarchical manner by delegating mind to the highest level (that of philosopher/kings), heart to a middle level (that of the military), and body to the lowest level: that of the unkempt masses.

(And I would digress here by pointing out how Plato’s putting military in the middle (that above the unkempt masses (has been repeated by pretty much by every tyrant history has produced. It’s just something to think about in terms of Trump’s insistence on a military parade.)

But the thing to think about here is that Plato was a result of civilization being relatively young, of having just crawled out of the muck. So it would make sense for people at that time to think: civilization good, nature bad. It was this sensibility that propped up Plato’s argument that poets should be banned from the republic. But, of course, after a series of tyrants justified by Plato’s model, we eventually came to the romantic break.

But you still see elements of the Platonic model (as well as Brakke’s description (in evangelical rightwing thought. But it can also be seen in Zen that (via proper meditation (seeks to quiet the brain chatter, to become pure quiet and calm: classical restraint.

But the main expression of this that I want to cover here is Carl Jung’s malady of the extrovert. The extrovert, being primarily orientated towards the world of objects, must contend with a subconscious that is always working in opposition to what is happening at a conscious level. And the extroverted position would seem the natural one for someone who put their civilized self over their natural self. And what would naturally result from putting too much emphasis on the world of objects is the subconscious attempting to overwhelm the conscious with “unruly thoughts”. Hence the hysteria that Jung attributes to it: that which results from the conflict between the classical and the romantic, the civilized and the natural, the focused and the wandering mind.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:12 pm

A couple more connections I want to make here. We can also see this guilt association at work in Coleridge’s distinction between fancy and imagination in Biographia Literaria: fancy being the product of natural bodily impulses while imagination stands as an expression of our higher cognitive functions. But it is a model that works and even has social/political implications: note, for instance, the role that fancy seems to be playing in the campaign and presidency of Donald Trump: the fanciful notions about deep states, what immigrants are out to do to us, as well Trump’s Rambo-like solutions to these problems, the Quentin Tarantino revenge fantasies at work in the minds of him and his followers.

At the same time, we have to be careful about dismissing the import and utility of fancy in our more analytic pursuits. Take the movies. What distinguishes more mainstream movies from more art house works is the mainstream’s tendency to play on fancy as compared to the art house which tends to take a more detached approach to things. In mainstream movies (Rambo, Several Shades of Grey, the Marvel and DC movies, and on and on and so on……. (we get a modern kind of mythology in which our most primal impulses are given expression. Art house movies, on the other hand (that is while still appealing to those primal impulses), tend to take a more god’s-eye-perspective on human activity. And that is of value and has rightfully earned the designation of fine art. At the same time, you cannot dismiss the analytic value of seeing human impulse and fancy manifested and expressed through mainstream cinema. In fact, I would argue that the groundwork for the Trump presidency has been being laid out there for some time. At the same time, I wanna make clear that when we’re talking about fancy and imagination, it’s not a binary thing. It is, rather, a spectrum between two poles.

The other point I want to make about this guilt of the wandering mind dynamic (or Jungian archetype (can even be seen in the work of those who actually embrace the wandering mind. If you look, for instance, at the New York Abstract Expressionist school or even the work of David Lynch, you can actually see this sense of the wandering mind as a path to hell. Look, for instance, at Jackson Pollack’s Full Fathom Five or Willam DeKoonig’s Door to the River. And it is all too obvious in the work of David Lynch in such movies as Blue Velvet (note the entrance and exit of the ear that caps the movie off (as well as Mulholland Drive which he described as a string of pearls just coming together during a lecture on transcendental meditation. “A beautiful thing”, as he described it.

The point (and I hope I’m not being redundant and superfluous here (is that, in order to truly understand our situation here, it would be anti-productive to completely dismiss (out of some kind intellectual snobbery or deeply buried guilt (the products of our fancy: our wandering minds.

Walker
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Re: Postcards:

Post by Walker » Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:18 pm

I will soon send a postcard.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:34 pm

Walker wrote:
Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:18 pm
I will soon send a postcard.
I look forward to it.

d63
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Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sat Aug 11, 2018 7:38 pm

“The basic celibacy plot appears in nearly all the apocryphal acts. A woman hears the message of a Christian apostle and gives up sex with her husband. The jilted husband is usually a powerful political man—a king, a Roman proconsul, a friend of the emperor—so he can get the apostle executed. The apostle’s message not only disrupts a marriage; it also seems to threaten the city or the empire.” –from, again, David Brakke’s Lecture series The Apocryphal Jesus

Just finished both the audio lecture and the study notes today. But before I move on, I really want to address this particular issue because, as serious as the subject of the lecture seems, it really did evoke a lot of chuckles in the same sense that one might chuckle at a lot of Greek and Roman myths. Believe it or not, as much as the writers of the apocryphal texts had serious religious and spiritual agendas, they were also out to entertain.

That said, excuse me for devolving to common male memes, but my first response was (and I am going by testimony from my married friends: isn’t that what women generally do anyway? It’s like the old joke:

?: what food has been shown to reduce a woman’s sexual drive by 80%....

Answer: wedding cake….

Now before I get an onslaught of testimonies from women about how great the sex has been with their husbands since they got married, I am not in a position question that. This is not some kind of red pill rally. It was just a facetious riff I couldn’t resist.

That said, there are two theories offered for this common theme. On one hand, there is the more feminist one that sees female celibacy as a form of liberation. And you have to think of that in the context of the paternalistic society that women were working under at the time. In fact, it was the encouragement of this female rebellion that, in many of these stories, led to execution of the apostles that encouraged these women to do so. And given that all of the apocryphal texts were centered around the apostles associated with Christ, it is easy to imagine Jesus having this same effect on women and, consequently, sealing his doom.

The other theory is that the motif was meant to highlight the superiority of the apostles as leaders of men –that is in opposition to the pagan leaders as represented by the husbands of the women that, having converted to Christianity, chose to refuse their husbands sex. And this is the more interesting theory in that it puts some shine on more contemporary theory that tends to elevate the feminine over the masculine much as the old apocryphal texts did. What likely made Jesus and the apostles so profound, and appealing to women, was their recognition of the value of the feminine in the face of the macho hubris of the Roman Empire.

And we can see the residual effect of that in thinkers like Lacan who made the distinction between the feminine (what he referred as the eternal (and the phallic: that which creates change in the temporal world.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Aug 12, 2018 7:08 pm

“I am not familiar with the definition of eco-system... typical of us humans to use words without knowing the depths of their 'government given' meanings. By eco-system, i mean nature all what naturally makes everyone and everything live together in harmony. Everyone and everything have their place, not all the hybrid, gene-changing man-made stuff. I wonder, has man went too far?” –Debbie Mathis

This is an important issue that I would address by focusing on the qualifying version of the concept: the ecological. The ecological, as I understand it, is a focus on the way various systems (and their various sub-systems (interact with other systems and their various subsystems. Hence the poem above:

I
am
a system.
you
?

And if you think about it, Debbie, we are basically systems that work from various sub-systems that, in turn, work from various subsystems and on and on. But the plot thickens. Through our interaction and discourse here, we have created yet another system based not only on the semiotic system we are communicating with but the supra-system of Facebook to which we, and our various sub-systems, have adapted to in order to achieve certain results as well. In short, what our discourse has created is a kind of eco-system in itself.

And I am not dismissing your more nature based (that is ‘nature’ as it is commonly understood (understanding of it. It is the popular understanding of the ecological. But I would humbly argue that the position fails to make the distinction between the ecological and conservation. While conservation is specifically focused on the preserving what we commonly think of as nature (is molar in nature), the ecological is more focused on how we, as systems in ourselves, are interacting with and affecting other systems. And in that sense, I fully sympathize when you argue:

“Everyone and everything have their place, not all the hybrid, gene-changing man-made stuff. I wonder, has man went too far?”

From the model I offer above, I would argue that man is a system that has increased its expectation to such an extent that it must basically steal resources from other systems in order to meet those expectations. Man has generally worked from a metaphysics of power in which everything is about overpowering the other. But if that were true, all systems would merely engage in a cosmic game of king of the hill until all that was left one simple system. And which would that be? Man? Or something less cognitive?

As recent evolutionary science has determined, evolution is not about “the survival of the fittest” –a popular meme among neo-liberals. It is, rather, a matter of eliminating systems that are unsustainable. So Debbie, it’s not just a matter of man going too far; it is also a matter of man making mankind an unsustainable system within a system that is far bigger than him.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:45 pm

“The latter "method" of philosophy is the same as the "method" of utopian politics or revolutionary science (as opposed to parliamentary politics, or normal science). The method is to redescribe lots and lots of things in new ways, until you have created a pattern of linguistic behavior which will tempt the rising generation to adopt it, thereby causing them to look for appropriate new forms of nonlinguistic behavior, for example, ple, the adoption of new scientific equipment or new social institutions.” -Richard Rorty. Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (Kindle Locations 196-199). Kindle Edition.

First of all, it is really nice to get back to my pragmatic roots (Steven!!!!!). As I have always said:

While I am drawn to continental concepts, I am equally drawn to the Anglo-American style of exposition.

And Rorty pretty much characterizes the latter draw while traversing the former. And this is the cool thing about Rorty: the way he kind of blue-collarizes the more obscure concepts of continental thinkers: Heidegger, Derrida, etc.: while demonstrating a command of the general sense of what was at work in them. He’s generous, a kindly old teacher much like Jaspers who, as I have found in my recent reading, is an incredible writer.

That said, what I want to mainly point to (that is in reference to the above quote (is Rorty’s clear recognition of the value of resonance and seduction in any discourse. And this where I see the pragmatic overlap between him and Deleuze –Deleuze being the writer for which the creative act was never that far from the back of his mind.

And as the prodigal son to my pragmatic board (it’s been a while since I’ve had anything to post on it), I have found things that support my pragmatic sensibility. In my immersion in the Great Courses lecture series, Argumentation: the Study of Effective Reasoning by David Zarefsky, I found out that legitimate argument is not so much about that which stays within the confines of logic (both formal and informal), but that which contributes to the productivity of the discourse, that which works towards the goal of a better understanding or a working compromise.

In other words, it is ultimately about what works. Beyond that, all there is who it is working for and why.

Anyway: good to be back for a while, guys. Steven???

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:24 pm

“I use "ironist" to name the sort of person who faces up to the contingency of his or her own most central beliefs and desires - someone one sufficiently historicist and nominalist to have abandoned the idea that those central beliefs and desires refer back to something beyond the reach of time and chance.” -Richard Rorty. Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (Kindle Locations 74-75). Kindle Edition.

Here again we see an overlap between Rorty and Deleuze as well as the provincial bourgeoisie postmodernism that Rorty represented –that is in Rorty’s healthy respect for the element of chance. Hence the term “contingency” in the title. And this is important to understand in order to place it all in the context of the history it was working in. It was, for instance, a reflection of the same sensibility at work in the Beat poets and the anti-classicism that has haunted our culture since. And I would further note that what Rorty seems to be getting at is the same model that Deleuze presented in Logic of Sense: that of series, events, and chancing. Rorty, like Deleuze, sees us as systems composed of various sub-systems with their relevant sub-systems interacting with various supra-systems. And given that model, it becomes easier to see how the element of chance (what Deleuze also referred to as the dice roll (would play an important role in that process.

And the import of that important role is that it undermines classicist attempts to establish (through pure willpower (some kind of all purpose model that will explain everything and, consequently, offer solutions to any problem we might encounter. This, I would argue, is a residual effect of the metaphysics of power that has haunted us since the earlier days of civilization (when we had just crawled out of the muck): the notion that “civilization good; nature bad”. And we can see it at work in Nietzsche as well as Smith and it’s culmination in Ayn Rand and Neo-Liberalism.

But in Rorty and Deleuze, we see a more honest and developed assessment of our evolutionary process that, by recognizing us as nodes in a complex system, offers a more efficient model (the Metaphysics of Efficiency as compared to the Metaphysics of Power (of not “the survival of the fittest”, but the elimination of systems that, due to higher expectations that cannot be met by the available resources (that is without taking resources from other more productive systems), are unsustainable.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:04 pm

“Habermas, and other metaphysicians who are suspicious of a merely "literary" conception of philosophy, think that liberal political freedoms require some consensus about what is universally human. We ironists who are also liberals think that such freedoms require no consensus on any topic more basic than their own desirability. From our angle, all that matters for liberal politics is the widely shared conviction that, as I said in Chapter 3, we shall call "true" or "good" whatever is the outcome of free discussion - that if we take care of political freedom, truth and goodness will take care of themselves.” -Richard Rorty. Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (Kindle Locations 1208-1211). Kindle Edition.

Of course, I’ve always been with Rorty and his loose criteria of what constitutes a legitimate argument: what I would call his anti-classicist position. (Or actually, it might be better to call it an a-classicist position since, while I (someone Rorty might refer to as an ironist (feel no commitment to classicist notions of eternal truth, I still have no problem with taking in classicist arguments to see what I can use. Trust me: Plato and Aristotle are on my reading wish list as well as Habermas.

But what Rorty is addressing here is an issue we are dealing with to this day. In fact, I actually saw it today at work on MSNBC in a respectable progressive commentator who attributed the mess we are in with Trump to the assault on truth coming from both the right and the left. But given my limited window here, I have to keep my focus and comment deeper on this later. Just let me say for now that it was more a matter of the right hijacking leftist strategies for ill gains.

That said, in support of Rorty’s position and in opposition to the notion that we require some kind final vocabulary or conceptual scheme to achieve justice, if you think about it, if we didn’t share a kind of instinctive sense of the desirability of freedom, we’d pretty much be fucked regardless of what sophisticated and compelling conceptual schemes our academics could come up with for us. And while I love theory and philosophy as a form of play, let’s face it: ideology and the theory it is based on follows basic human praxis and not the reverse.

Therefore, theory, at best, can only hope to participate in the sensibility of those who are open to it. To argue for some kind of truth to be found, as Habermas and even Žižek does, is only to set ourselves up for yet another authoritarian regime, not to mention a false understanding of what is required. As Rorty rightly argued:

“I want to dismiss the first of these objections fairly quickly, in order to concentrate on the second. The former amounts to the prediction that the prevalence of ironist notions among the public at large, the general adoption of antimetaphysical, antiessentialist views about the nature of morality and rationality and human beings, would weaken and dissolve liberal societies. It is possible that this prediction is correct, but there is at least one excellent reason for thinking it false. This is the analogy with the decline of religious faith. That decline, and specifically the decline of people's ability to take the idea of postmortem rewards seriously, has not weakened liberal societies, and indeed has strengthened them.”

Walker
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Re: Postcards:

Post by Walker » Wed Aug 22, 2018 4:22 pm

I haven’t forgotten. The right one has proven elusive but that may change. One already seen may become the right one, as could one yet unseen. I have discovered cards that feature inappropriate fish in the composition, the Poisson d' Avril postcards which I didn’t know about before. I didn’t pursue the knowledge to the source of the fish connection. Possibly, “new fish” is a derivative, which would account for the tradition of ritual hazing that permeates diverse cultures to the extent of possibly being an objective standard of humanness.

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