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Jon Cogburn
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Fascinating post. It sounds like a blast. Some of the empirical work on anger does seem to verify the technique suggested by Marcus Aurelius in the beginning of Book II of the Meditations: "Begin the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busy-body, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil. But I who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful, and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not only of the same blood or seed, but that it participates in the same intelligence and the same portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him, For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away." If you prep yourself ahead of time in the way Aurelius suggests you are much less likely to get angry. Patrick Boleyn-Fitzgerald explains some of this research in What Should ‘Forgiveness’ Mean?” (The Journal of Value Inquiry, 36:4 (2002): 483-498) and “Angry Rhetoric,” (coauthored with Ken Zagacki, Philosophy and Rhetoric 39, no. 4 (2006): 290-309). I don't think he cites Aurelius but we talked about stoicism a lot when he was writing the papers and he thought that empirical work on anger did provide some evidence for various stoic strains. You have to be careful with empirical psychology because so much of the stuff relevant to clinical practice is a sort of unreflective virtue theory coated with a cracking statistical veneer. If they were more honest about this I think you would have dominant clinical models drawn straight from Seneca, Epictetus, and Aurelius. A wonderful project would involve trying to assay all of the extant empirical work that would be relevant to such a model. Again, I think the stuff on anger that Boleyn-Fitzgerald looks at would be a good place to start.
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on Stoicon 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
By Jon Cogburn A few days ago I begged for the authors of the anonymously posted rightly considered blog to not post private screenshots from people's facebook feeds. They responded to my post here claiming that they cannot detect a valid argument against the practice . I don't mean to... Continue reading
Posted Oct 13, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
Wonderful post. The final point about separation and D marginalization made me think of a lecture by my colleague in the history department, Gaines Foster. One of the strange things about the post Civil War, pre Civil Rights Apartheid United States is that while the de jure segregation was much greater in the American South, the de facto segregation was much less. And economic marginalization was part of the reason for this. From the 1890s on white Southerners used terrorism and group punishment to disenfranchise black voters. And then the white mandarins that controlled the political process acted consistently to ensure that black people were economically disadvantaged relative to white people. The end result of this is that white, middle class Americans in the South were overwhelmingly more likely to be able to pay for black women to clean their houses and raise their children. And white middle class men in the American South were much more likely to have children with poorer black women who they supported economically. This was such a part of Southern culture that the only way Roosevelt was able to get Social Security passed was for agricultural workers and maids not to receive it. The Southern Democrats then supported it because it would keep Southern black people's labor cheap enough for the social contract where Southern middle class white people could have black people raise their children. So in the South, de facto segregation, in the sense of people just being separate was less, yet the de jure segregation, in the sense of a bunch of Apartheid rules guaranteeing separation and privileges, was much worse. I think what this shows is that the analysis of D segregation can't just be in terms of how interwoven the lives are, but how exploitative are the relations. When we're talking about paid labor, this is an easy thing to provide a rough and ready measure for. As you note above though, I think it's probably a lot more complicated when we're talking about family structures. The pathologies of the American South are interesting here too, because there was this whole chivalry code of defending the honor of women. While that form of masculinity is I think objectively preferable to the kind of thing caught on the Donald Trump/Billy Bush tape last week, it's still obviously disempowering in all sorts of way. But people who think in terms of that chivalry code don't think that they are devaluing women. I think a solution to this is to help oneself to some objective criteria of valuing and devaluing. But I don't think there is going to be any strict linear order between sets of norms, whereas maybe there will be with respect to economic marginilization. Anyhow, I'm not trying to come up with counterexamples here. I think a virtue of your analysis is that it allows these two issues to be raised in the way I've tried to do here.
Wow, this is a wonderful comment! It really would be helpful to come up with a a theory of how conversations break down and to think about the resulting typology in ethical terms. The most startling part of Feyerabend's "Against Method" is when he writes, "And of course, when conversation breaks down, then we resort to violence." If one is liberal enough about what constitutes violence (cf. people who talk about doing violence to a text) I think this is surely true with Peikoffian and Simonian breakdowns at least to the extent that one of the interlocutors can only be understood as imputing either ill will or stupidity to the other. But I'm not sure it must happen with respect to the three kinds you bring up. This is surely important with respect to the continental/analytic split in philosophy, the theory/historiography split in language departments, and the quantitative/qualitative split in the social sciences. I think part of why we are so quick to resort to Peikoffian or Simonian disagreement is because all of these splits have resulted in allocation of a shrinking pool of difficult to get jobs (in all cases the latter side of the split developed a kind of hegemony by displacing the former side, though with analytic it was Hegelians, Pragmatists, and old school Kantians who were displaced - SPEP was developed as a reaction to this displacement). It's interesting to think of people who reject Peikoffian or Simondian disagreement with respect to the analytic split. Some want to deny that it is a difference that makes a difference. This can be a plea for a kumbaya moment, or it much more darkly, be a Dances with Wolves moment. You only make movies like that after the genocide has been successful and you have absolutely nothing to fear from the people you subjected to it. While of course there is nowhere near the moral stakes at work here, the same dynamic of the victor's condescending praise creeps into some analytics who claim to prize continental philosophy. I'm not saying anyone is doing this on purpose. Orientalism is not by and large committed by people of ill will (though often enough it is). I prefer Graham Harman's take, which is that they are distinct traditions and it is healthy for philosophy to have these two distinctions. We should praise people like Lee Braver who forge a path through the thicket and are actually able to enter thinkers in both traditions with dialogue with one another. But we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that doing this is basically like getting two PhDs, and that that's about the level of difficulty that should be required. [I'm putting this last bit in Harman's mouth here]. J. Ed Hackett has another interesting take from the continental side critiquing how the distinction is made. One that places him in a different place than either Leiterian orientalism or Harmanian non-lazy multiculturalism (we must use the sobriquet "non-lazy" to differentiate from the combination of vacuous non-judgmentalism and sometimes benign Orientalism that usually goes under title multiculturalism; Harman rather praises people who really do acclimate themselves to both cultures in a way sensitive to the differences and from that position are able to both work as translators an discover new philosophy). Ed? If you have any thoughts on this that would be cool. I know that you're crazy busy though, so cool if you don't have time too.
Thanks for the kind words. The blogosophere was new and none of us really knew what we were doing. It's sad that facebook has supplanted it so much and sadder too that screenshot doxing might now even take that away from us.
By Jon Cogburn If we had to vote for the The Onion's most successfully philosophically biting story, I would nominate ACLU Defends Nazis' Right To Burn Down ACLU Headquarters. It works as humor in part because it's just a little bit of an exaggeration of the fact that the American... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
Dear Justin, Thanks so much for sharing this. In the initial post above I didn't link to any of the Rightly Considered posts that included non-public screenshots, but I did link to the blog itself and the one with the David Dukeish thing about the APA being an "anti-white" group. However, after reading what you write here I took those links out too. I'm going to follow your policy of not linking to them until and unless they discontinue the practice and take down the screenshots. Without even discussing it I'm 99% sure the other philpercsers will also want to follow your lead here; but I'll get with them over e-mail today.
By Jon Cogburn Every few years somebody puts up a blog purporting to represent conservative academic philosophers. As far as I can tell, all such group efforts have imploded due to a combination of (a) the manner in which anonymity of either posters or commentators encourages abusive (sometimes defamatory) behavior,... Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
Great post. There's a tradition in aesthetics of taking difficulty to be goodmaking in itself. I think that Joyce's Finnegan's Wake is almost certainly 3c and that a certain number of critics take it to be great in virtue of that. In his Mass Art book Noel Carrol masterfully takes down the whole conceit (he has to, since it is used by snobs to denigrate popular art) by showing how it comes out of a misunderstanding of Kant's 3d Critique. For Kant, an experience of beauty requires a lot of mental machinery to work. Given the way he describes this it led neo-Kantian aesthetic theories to praise artworks the more they required mental machinery to work. But in Kant's own case he wasn't talking about high art, but appreciation of nature first and foremost, and in the examples he gives the processes are effortless. I think the actual reason that the conceit appeals to critics is because it ends up working to increase the importance of the critic, who is taxed with explaining the most valuable artworks to the rest of us. This led into Reader Response Theory, where the critic was the actual artist! Writers just produce words that don't mean anything until they are interpreted, which is the job of the critic. It was a generational revenge of failed fiction writers who washed up on the shores of academia against those who didn't need to do that.
Toggle Commented Sep 22, 2016 on On Aesthetic Confusion at Philosophical Percolations
Oops. Fixed "systemial". It is sad that it's not a real word. I know there was overlap between African-American and Scottish-American musical forms during the first bunch of railroad building. This shows up strongly in the music recorded in the 1920s just after the beginning of commercial recording and before the great depression killed the recording industry and prohibition killed a lot of music venues. Music of that era is so interesting because we are hearing the last crop of musicians who did not develop their talent by listening to other people's recordings. Lots of it just sounds like it's from outer space, and there are wonderful regional variations. One thing is clear though. Racist segregation never completely took among musicians. There are great, canonical black cajun players (especially Amédé Ardoin) and great, canonical white blues players (the 2 CD set - White Country Blues is a fantastic compilation) in the 1920s who learned from and taught people of the dominant ethnicities for those forms. You can hear strong African influences in the Appalachian music of the time as well (check out representative songs in Harry Smith's old Smithsonian Anthology of American Folk Music). But I think your main point is interesting and probably right, that bluegrass as we know it was fundamentally shifted by the experience of urbanization, perhaps as strongly as Chicago changed the blues (though I much prefer Delta blues and the Chicago musicians who had the strongest ties to the Delta). I want to learn much more about the history of the art.
By Jon Cogburn A few years ago NPR interviewed Dalton Conley on the occasion of the publication of his book Honkey, which is about growing up white in a predominantly African American housing project in New York City. Strangely, even though I grew up mostly in the American South, I... Continue reading
Posted Sep 21, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
It's very difficult for me to do that because honestly doing so would almost certainly have to make me think less of wrestling. I think this is something like when sportsball fans start to think seriously about head injuries. [Not being facetious.] Generally Trump is just low rent Caesarism. Democratic means get co-opted by squabbling elites, producing paralysis with respect to important policies necessary to help most people as well as just too much rent-seeking corruption for the system to hold. So the proposed autocrat tries to form a bond with the people to represent their interests. Unfortunately, this script worked really well for the Roman people during the eighty years of Augustus and Tiberius' rule, and it's been written into the world's DNA ever since. The record since then is below mixed though (cf. Venezuela today). The only interesting thing I conclude from this is about the Republican obstructionists who decided en block to oppose anything Obama did. These people were either horrible, horrible human beings or inexplicably ignorant concerning the history of the Republic ours is largely founded upon. Honestly probably some combination of both. Obstructionism in the service of unreasonably protecting entrenched interests is one of the most dangerous things in history, and this should not at all be controversial. Actually one more interesting thing. Trump is going nowhere, but Trumpism is here to stay. He's the warm up act for something much worse and more dangerous, though not necessarily worse *in the short run* (again, cf. recent Venezuela) for the people. Again, there are clear Roman analogues. I think there are actually important sociological and philosophical issues involving sports (and the kind of sports celebrity and narrative of which wrestling is the apotheosis) and the way all this works out, and I think there are Roman analogues too.
I know that your overall sympathy for the Allison type line makes what I'm about to write anathema to you, but I just think it's obvious that German Idealism wouldn't have happened if Kant's account of professional wrestling didn't contradict itself (cf. Fichte, building on Scholz et. al.). Incidentally, my thesis not only doesn't treat the German Idealists like fools, but also makes sense of Friedman's account of analytic and continental philosophy coming from distinct "back to Kant" movements (Marburg and Southwest schools, respectively). To really get this you have to follow the fate of German beerhall wrestling both in Europe over all *and* the United States (strands of Royce-like neo-Hegelian here) during that period. I'll stop kvetching about this. I think that we do agree that the only way to understand different varieties of anti *and* neo-Kantianism is in terms of categories imported from professional wrestling. It's just that we disagree in our evaluations of those movements. It's the same way we both recognize the importance of Starrcade 1985, but you continue to perversely route for Flair after all these years. At least that's how it seems to me.
I know this is pretty tangential to the point of your post, but let me please note that this whole constellation of issues illustrates clearly why professional wrestling is superior to sportsball, swimming, and life. In a just world, Lochte would (as a result of being a heel),* lose a hair match and have his head shaved by a virtuous opponent. And that would be it. Justice would be restored. I can't find the thing where Kant talks about the kingdom of ends and professional wrestling, but you can pretty much just insert that discussion here I think. [*Obviously, qua heel, not qua humanity in its purest form in itself.]
It was a weird synchronicity to read this the same day I read TaNahesi Coates' recent (or recently reposted, I don't know) reflections on the O.J. Simpson trial: Coates stresses a lot of themes, two of which I think connect strongly to your reflections. One of them is that O.J. was the first black American able to purchase for himself the same standard of justification that rich white Americans can purchase. Another is how the widespread police and prosecution mendacity with respect to evidence created a kind of Gettier example with respect to the evidence in O.J. Simpson's trial, analogous to Goldman's Barn Facade example.
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2016 on CSI Overconfidence at Philosophical Percolations
By Jon Cogburn I forget in which book of Primo Levi's that he recounts learning Russian from the soldiers that liberated him from Auschwitz. Weirdly, the surviving prisoners were brought by train back into Russia and then at the end of the war had to find their way back to... Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
Updating Stoic Theology for the Twenty-First Century Guest post by Eric Steinhart Massimo Pigliucci is working on updating Stoicism for the twenty-first century. You can read about it on his excellent blog, How to be a Stoic. But one controversial aspect of his revival of Stoicism is its atheism --... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
Guest Post by Julian Friedland Julian Friedland is the author of the new satirical campus novel American Steam. He teaches philosophy at the University of Hartford. I happened to catch Woody Allen’s Manhattan recently and was shocked at first to recall that Allen had cast himself in the leading role... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
By Jon Cogburn The internet was invented for basically two things: (1) sharing pictures/videos of cute animals, and (2) kvetching. I understand and celebrate this, and as a result feel a little bit guilty about using it to engage in meta-kvetching. If we kvetch too much about other people's kvetching,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
By Eric Steinhart Many philosophers have observed that philosophy of religion, especially analytic theism, has become extremely narrow-minded. It focuses obsessively on the Christian God, especially the God of classical theism. But classical theism isn’t the only concept of God in Christianity; and of course Christianity isn’t the only religion.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
By Jon Cogburn It's very instructive, albeit painful, to read anti-Trump conservative publications such as National Review. Trump is routinely derided for not being a "principled conservative" (sometimes "constitutional conservative") in a way that pats the anti-Trumpers on their own backs for their own supposed lack of opportunism. And some... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
P. Percs In view of recent events, we have decided that Dan Linford will no longer be a co-blogger at Philosophical Percolations. Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
I'm sorry, but you don't know what you're talking about and you're being even more offensive here. You didn't know either my dead friend or my friend who was institutionalized after getting tenure (who quit academia) nor my other friends who started taking happy pills for the first time in their lives after getting tenure. If you really want to "have a conversation" about "the horrors of depression" maybe start by not crapping up internet discussions mocking people for being friendless and anti-social and who don't have cool hobbies like you? Maybe not call people nobodies and circus animals? And you certainly should not assume that you have the infallible ability to differentiate whether a person falls under the metaphysical kind "having the blues" (and who thus deserves to be mocked for being lonely, uncool, etc.) versus "being clinically depressed" (and who you can then gaslight by dismissing their own and their actual therapists' reports of the causes of that depression). Seriously, please go back and read what you wrote. If you didn't at some level realize it was shameful you would have used one of your normal internet tags that your facebook and real life friends associate with you. When you run a blog you do see IP addresses and the set of the poster's previous internet comments from that address, even if they use different names. When we set up this blog we agreed that such information would always be kept private, and it is. I'm working like an idiot here not to write anything identifying about you and also working like an idiot (given our history) to be charitable. But seriously, check yourself; you're entering bad karma territory here. I'm out on this. Please know that any response you make will be the last word as far as me responding in public.
By Eric Steinhart I know a lot about disability, though I don’t know much about disability studies. I suffer from two seriously painful and sometimes very disabling medical conditions: osteoarthritis and major depressive disorder (MDD). But let’s start with the depression. After talking about that, I want to address obesity... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2016 at Philosophical Percolations
Ha! 10 Anonymous People Insulting You on Social Media