On Hume...

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KLewchuk
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On Hume...

Post by KLewchuk »

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-ed ... e-54138247

One could pose several questions on this but let's try a few:

What level of "distress" should be required to eliminate the name of one of, if not the, greatest Scottish philosophers from a Scottish Uni?

To what extent should something unrelated to an area of endeavor be a factor in considered whether to give an honor?

I could go on but will open up...
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Immanuel Can
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Re: On Hume...

Post by Immanuel Can »

KLewchuk wrote: Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:12 pm https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-ed ... e-54138247

One could pose several questions on this but let's try a few:

What level of "distress" should be required to eliminate the name of one of, if not the, greatest Scottish philosophers from a Scottish Uni?

To what extent should something unrelated to an area of endeavor be a factor in considered whether to give an honor?

I could go on but will open up...
I'm no sympathizer with Hume, obviously.

But it is wrong, anti-educative, totalitarian and downright foolish to try to purge history using the "lights" of whatever current generation is around. So what if Hume was a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, an Islamophobe, and an ice-creamophobe? What if he were the devil himself? None of that makes the slightest difference to how a historical figure should be treated. The truth should be told about him, and about what he said. And that's all that should be done. And if a building was once, for some mistaken reason, named for Hume, too bad. That's the name of the building.

I think we've all lost our nerve, our belief in our own powers of rationality, as well as in the dignity of creating independent powers of judgment in others. We think people have to be "protected" from "dangerous ideas," because the poor, stupid little lambs cannot be trusted to come to a sound opinion, and we won't help them learn to reason either. That's the dead-wrong approach, obviously. How can we think critically, when the genealogy of ideas has been artificially purged of everything some Leftist doesn't want us to know about? Then we don't actually know at all where ideas developed. The bad stuff is one of the most important elements of any true telling of the history of ideas.

Whatever we think of Hume, we still ought to take on his ideas and learn how to think about them. What's to be "critical" about, when nothing you ever know about is actually true, or actually happened the way the PC set say it did? How do (the wrongly-named) "critical theorists" expect us to think genuinely critically without ever confronting a challenging perspective? :shock:

Quite simply, they don't. They want us to apply to them for "truth," and that is why they are so earnest we should have a falsely "purged" history, one that suits their agenda and doesn't reflect where anything actually came from, and that's why they have no interest in teaching individuals to have genuine critical faculties or to know what really happened in history.
KLewchuk
Posts: 101
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:11 am

Re: On Hume...

Post by KLewchuk »

Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:13 am
KLewchuk wrote: Sun Sep 13, 2020 11:12 pm https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-ed ... e-54138247

One could pose several questions on this but let's try a few:

What level of "distress" should be required to eliminate the name of one of, if not the, greatest Scottish philosophers from a Scottish Uni?

To what extent should something unrelated to an area of endeavor be a factor in considered whether to give an honor?

I could go on but will open up...
I'm no sympathizer with Hume, obviously.

But it is wrong, anti-educative, totalitarian and downright foolish to try to purge history using the "lights" of whatever current generation is around. So what if Hume was a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, an Islamophobe, and an ice-creamophobe? What if he were the devil himself? None of that makes the slightest difference to how a historical figure should be treated. The truth should be told about him, and about what he said. And that's all that should be done. And if a building was once, for some mistaken reason, named for Hume, too bad. That's the name of the building.

I think we've all lost our nerve, our belief in our own powers of rationality, as well as in the dignity of creating independent powers of judgment in others. We think people have to be "protected" from "dangerous ideas," because the poor, stupid little lambs cannot be trusted to come to a sound opinion, and we won't help them learn to reason either. That's the dead-wrong approach, obviously. How can we think critically, when the genealogy of ideas has been artificially purged of everything some Leftist doesn't want us to know about? Then we don't actually know at all where ideas developed. The bad stuff is one of the most important elements of any true telling of the history of ideas.

Whatever we think of Hume, we still ought to take on his ideas and learn how to think about them. What's to be "critical" about, when nothing you ever know about is actually true, or actually happened the way the PC set say it did? How do (the wrongly-named) "critical theorists" expect us to think genuinely critically without ever confronting a challenging perspective? :shock:

Quite simply, they don't. They want us to apply to them for "truth," and that is why they are so earnest we should have a falsely "purged" history, one that suits their agenda and doesn't reflect where anything actually came from, and that's why they have no interest in teaching individuals to have genuine critical faculties or to know what really happened in history.
No material points of disagreement. What do you think is the ethical path forward?
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Immanuel Can
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Re: On Hume...

Post by Immanuel Can »

KLewchuk wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:26 am No material points of disagreement. What do you think is the ethical path forward?
Good question. Well, what would you say?

Personally, I think it's very simple. It's summed up in the axiom "Tell the truth."

The truth is that history has been pretty ugly, at times. And if we are in any good place now, it's been bought at the cost of making a lot of mistakes and doing a lot of things wrong. I think Hume is an important step in our intellectual history, though I disagree with him on many, many things. And I do not want to see him, or his mistakes, purged out of our memories. He is part of our history, part of the reason we are who we are, and are where we are.

Why would we do anything else? Indeed, why would anybody who professed to want to be "critical" of history want people not to know history? But that's exactly what they do.

Take the "black" issue. Is its cause well served if we pretend slavery and segregation never happened? Should we encourage today's young people not to know the South was Democrat and the North was Republican in the civil war? Do we want them to understand the origins of things like the KKK? Do we want them to know about life in Africa, and how the West Africans colluded with slave traders, and do we want them to know anything about the trans-Saharan slave trade, which was far larger, far more vicious and far more enduring, and killed far more people than the trans-Atlantic trade? Do we want them to know who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and where the "underground railroad" ran, and why. And so we want them to know about how African Americans got to the situation they're in today? Do we want them to know about Frederick Douglas, and the many other African-American success stories, or do we want them imagining that they are inheritors of a legacy of nothing but failure, powerlessness and abuse?

Keeping people historically ignorant is politically useful to them in the present: but it has nothing to do with liberation, or the betterment of black folks, or any positive way forward for anybody. And will they be more or less manipulable if we keep them historically ignorant?

I think the answer to that last one is why the PoMo crowd, the crit. theory set and the modern Leftists want to eradicate history. They can't manipulate crowds effectively with a complex and ambiguous historical narrative. They can only manipulate them with simple-minded stories of oppression, and can use those to gin up self-righteous, irrational rage. That rage can be directed to destroy the status quo, raze the ground, salt it, and then pray for the worker's paradise or the just society to spring from the sterilized earth. That's their plan, the only one they've really got.

But the truth is more complex, more nuanced, and less instrumental to the Left than that sort of myth-making. So they despise it, accuse all history of being hopelessly and utterly biased ("a story told by the winners," etc.), reject even the possibility of a partial or broken truth, and then use that as license to lie without compunction. They despise all history except the collocation of simple-minded canards serviceable to the Left itself, in other words, and have no conscience about using stories to delude the masses. After all, they tell you, that's all anyone has ever done anyway.

So we need to keep all of history. As much as we know. We can revise as we go, improving our stock of knowledge. We don't have to tell a static, singular view of history. That too would be mere propaganda. But the very last thing we should ever do is purge somebody like a Hume, or a Jefferson, or a Rodin, or for that matter, even a Hitler or a Stalin or a Marx from our historical memories. As wretched as they may have been, it's the impact they had on our own history that we cannot cut ourselves off from. That, we need to know.

So let Hume Hall remain Hume Hall. And when people ask, "Who was Hume?" we tell them. And when they ask, "Well then, why did people dedicate a hall to him," then we say, "Because people are sometimes fallible, and they have celebrated as many villains as heroes in our past. But most people are a mix, or neither. And we still need to know about all of our history."

That's the truth.
KLewchuk
Posts: 101
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:11 am

Re: On Hume...

Post by KLewchuk »

Immanuel Can wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:53 am
KLewchuk wrote: Mon Sep 14, 2020 1:26 am No material points of disagreement. What do you think is the ethical path forward?
Good question. Well, what would you say?

Personally, I think it's very simple. It's summed up in the axiom "Tell the truth."

The truth is that history has been pretty ugly, at times. And if we are in any good place now, it's been bought at the cost of making a lot of mistakes and doing a lot of things wrong. I think Hume is an important step in our intellectual history, though I disagree with him on many, many things. And I do not want to see him, or his mistakes, purged out of our memories. He is part of our history, part of the reason we are who we are, and are where we are.

Why would we do anything else? Indeed, why would anybody who professed to want to be "critical" of history want people not to know history? But that's exactly what they do.

Take the "black" issue. Is its cause well served if we pretend slavery and segregation never happened? Should we encourage today's young people not to know the South was Democrat and the North was Republican in the civil war? Do we want them to understand the origins of things like the KKK? Do we want them to know about life in Africa, and how the West Africans colluded with slave traders, and do we want them to know anything about the trans-Saharan slave trade, which was far larger, far more vicious and far more enduring, and killed far more people than the trans-Atlantic trade? Do we want them to know who issued the Emancipation Proclamation, and where the "underground railroad" ran, and why. And so we want them to know about how African Americans got to the situation they're in today? Do we want them to know about Frederick Douglas, and the many other African-American success stories, or do we want them imagining that they are inheritors of a legacy of nothing but failure, powerlessness and abuse?

Keeping people historically ignorant is politically useful to them in the present: but it has nothing to do with liberation, or the betterment of black folks, or any positive way forward for anybody. And will they be more or less manipulable if we keep them historically ignorant?

I think the answer to that last one is why the PoMo crowd, the crit. theory set and the modern Leftists want to eradicate history. They can't manipulate crowds effectively with a complex and ambiguous historical narrative. They can only manipulate them with simple-minded stories of oppression, and can use those to gin up self-righteous, irrational rage. That rage can be directed to destroy the status quo, raze the ground, salt it, and then pray for the worker's paradise or the just society to spring from the sterilized earth. That's their plan, the only one they've really got.

But the truth is more complex, more nuanced, and less instrumental to the Left than that sort of myth-making. So they despise it, accuse all history of being hopelessly and utterly biased ("a story told by the winners," etc.), reject even the possibility of a partial or broken truth, and then use that as license to lie without compunction. They despise all history except the collocation of simple-minded canards serviceable to the Left itself, in other words, and have no conscience about using stories to delude the masses. After all, they tell you, that's all anyone has ever done anyway.

So we need to keep all of history. As much as we know. We can revise as we go, improving our stock of knowledge. We don't have to tell a static, singular view of history. That too would be mere propaganda. But the very last thing we should ever do is purge somebody like a Hume, or a Jefferson, or a Rodin, or for that matter, even a Hitler or a Stalin or a Marx from our historical memories. As wretched as they may have been, it's the impact they had on our own history that we cannot cut ourselves off from. That, we need to know.

So let Hume Hall remain Hume Hall. And when people ask, "Who was Hume?" we tell them. And when they ask, "Well then, why did people dedicate a hall to him," then we say, "Because people are sometimes fallible, and they have celebrated as many villains as heroes in our past. But most people are a mix, or neither. And we still need to know about all of our history."

That's the truth.
Well written; do not disagree but there is another matter afoot. Why would the University of Edinburgh allow less than 2,000 students with some apparent combination of ignorance and emotional fragility, dictate culture at the University of Edinburgh? Are there no adults in the room to tell the children to behave? Perhaps I've seen Braveheart too many times, but I thought the Scots would stand up!

Telling the truth requires knowledge of the truth, but it also sometimes requires courage. Methinks that is a missing ingredient.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: On Hume...

Post by Immanuel Can »

KLewchuk wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:28 am Well written; do not disagree but there is another matter afoot. Why would the University of Edinburgh allow less than 2,000 students with some apparent combination of ignorance and emotional fragility, dictate culture at the University of Edinburgh? Are there no adults in the room to tell the children to behave? Perhaps I've seen Braveheart too many times, but I thought the Scots would stand up!
Rightly said.

We are becoming a society that is dominated by the most strident, petulant, ridiculous and adolescent voices. Why were are allowing that is as much a mystery to me as it is to you, I guess.
Telling the truth requires knowledge of the truth, but it also sometimes requires courage. Methinks that is a missing ingredient.
Methinks what you thinks. :wink:
KLewchuk
Posts: 101
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 12:11 am

Re: On Hume...

Post by KLewchuk »

Immanuel Can wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:58 am
KLewchuk wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:28 am Well written; do not disagree but there is another matter afoot. Why would the University of Edinburgh allow less than 2,000 students with some apparent combination of ignorance and emotional fragility, dictate culture at the University of Edinburgh? Are there no adults in the room to tell the children to behave? Perhaps I've seen Braveheart too many times, but I thought the Scots would stand up!
Rightly said.

We are becoming a society that is dominated by the most strident, petulant, ridiculous and adolescent voices. Why were are allowing that is as much a mystery to me as it is to you, I guess.
Telling the truth requires knowledge of the truth, but it also sometimes requires courage. Methinks that is a missing ingredient.
Methinks what you thinks. :wink:
I kid you not, but I was listening to a philosophy podcast today and at the end the interviewer ask the question of which philosopher from the past the interviewee would like to travel for a week with, and to where.

He picked Hume (is working on a book about him). He mentioned the current racist controversy belt felt that in 2020 Hume would have changed his mind since he was susceptible to evidence.

Perhaps the University of Edinburgh should have consulted with other than the department of diversity, inclusion and equity.
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Immanuel Can
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Re: On Hume...

Post by Immanuel Can »

KLewchuk wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 1:18 am Perhaps the University of Edinburgh should have consulted with other than the department of diversity, inclusion and equity.
Perhaps the University of Edinburgh should have consulted with good sense before it established any department of diversity, inclusion and equity.
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