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Eric Schliesser
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[This is the last Digression before my annual Summer break. I thank you, loyal reader, for your continued interest. I hope to be back later around the end of August, or early September.--ES] Gute Nacht, Freunde, es wird Zeit für mich zu gehen. Was ich noch zu sagen hätte, dauert... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
The whole process spraying seems caught up in an endless spiral. Since DDT was released for civilian use, a process of escalation has been going on in which ever more toxic materials must be found. This has happened because insects, in a triumphant vindication of Darwin’s principle of the survival... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
Now let's take up the minorities in our civilization, shall we? Bigger population, the more minorities. Don't step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico. The people... Continue reading
Posted Jul 31, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
[This is an invited guest post by Abe Stone (Santa Cruz, Philosophy)--ES] I remember distinctly the moment I learned that David Lewis had died. It was during my years as a postdoctoral fellow, when I was more than a little isolated, and so it turned out to have been some... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
But that which is grounded to [proper] foundations does not wander around. [Non vagatur quod fixum atque fundatum est:] This is the blessed lot of the completely wise man, and also, to a certain extent, of him who is progressing and has made some headway. Now what is the difference... Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
[This is an invited guest post by David A. Haig (Harvard, Biology), which may, but need not, be read as a comment on this post--ES] Chickens come from eggs But they have legs. The plot thickens: Eggs come from chickens, But have no legs under 'em. What a conundrum! (Ogden... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
Lévi-Strauss claims that, for the isolated tribe with whom an anthropologist makes first contact -- the tribe who, after being studied, will be decimated by diseases to which they've no resistance, then (if they've survived) converted to Christianity and, eventually, conscripted into semi-bonded labour my mining and logging companies --... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
As will be seen immediately, inversion in this sense is a devise for reversing priorities. William James summarized his famous theory of emotions (The Principles of Psychology)...by the assertion, "...the...rational statement is that we feel sorry because we cry...not that we cry...because we are sorry. (p. 450). Many philosophies can... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
Despite what the Proclamation of Independence of the State of Israel states regarding the preparation of a constitution by the Constituent Assembly, Israel has no written constitution in the formal sense,even though it has a constitution in the material sense - in other words, laws and basic rules that lay... Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
Earlier in the week we went to watch Mozarts Don Giovanni at Covent Garden. The production was cleverly staged and, on the whole, well-paced. Much to my surprise, I was familiar with all the tunes, but not the story. I suddenly realized I had never seen it before. It has... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
All the greatness of men is founded on shame, made out of it. Ursula Le Guin, Tehanu, Eartsea Book IV, I have been meaning to write about the role of shame and masculinity, which I sensed is an important theme in Tehanu. After the Archmage Ged loses his powers, he... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex. It is now technically feasible... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
The key ingredients of modern racism are: a scientific or pseudoscientific theory of fixed differences between human “species”; an emphasis on group or collective identity; a stress on national culture and ephemeral spiritual differences rather than institutions to explain differences in societal outcomes. All of these were products of the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
Now Sparta in its hey day consisted of a relatively small number of Spartiates, the only full citizens, plus a somewhat larger number of second class individuals, the Perioeci, and a really large number of outright slaves, the Helots. The Helots outnumbered the Spartiates a matter of twenty to one,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 17, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
The US president turned up late and came with a different agenda....Trump charged forward, saying his predecessors in the White House had pushed for an increase by Europeans on defence spending and he was not going to put up with it. Dispensing with the usual diplomatic niceties, he pointed at... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
Die Art und Weise, wie die Polizei den Fall kolportierte, verstört mich sehr. Der Vorfall mit dem jungen Mann, der mich beschimpfte, das war natürlich schlimm. Aber nichts im Vergleich mit der Gewalt, die von den Polizisten ausging. Sie können es mit der Polizei von Baltimore aufnehmen, die für ihren... Continue reading
Posted Jul 14, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
Most of the problems they discuss would be significantly remedied under a simple proposal: there should be many more short articles/letters/notes, of 2000 words or less, published in philosophy journals, either in existing journals or in new ones dedicated to short pieces, and we should have a disciplinary norm not... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
Enthusiasm comes from the degree to which our soul is able to represent to itself at the same time and in an indeterminate manner, all the pleasures or all the pains that we would gain from a particular situation, or from a certain person, and our relationship with him or... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
When a storm begins, it is only a little cloud on the horizon.--Ursula Le Guin, in The Farthest Shore, Earthsea, III. Regular readers know (recall) that I am an admirer of Ursula K. Le Guin. (I have blogged about Earthsea, here and here.) The Farthest Shore is, in addition to... Continue reading
Posted Jul 10, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
One of the virtues of a first past the post system with (of the sort the Brits have) parliamentary sovereignty is that it delivers decisive government, by the standards of democratic norms, perhaps, too decisive government. For, it's quite possible that with about a third of the votes cast one... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
A mechanic from Nebraska knows it is highly unlikely that his son or daughter will ever become an Enron executive. But it is possible. There is virtually no chance on the other hand that his child, no matter how talented, will ever become an international human rights lawyer, or a... Continue reading
Posted Jul 3, 2018 at Digressions&Impressions
Thomas, you are the one that *critically* introduced the celebration of "race, gender, sexual tastes..." so you can't cry uncle when people ask focused questions about your attitudes toward historical baselines and discrimination. Your reading of MLK is rather partial and reductive. (I have offered a few blog posts on that very point during the past year.) More pertinent, it's quite possible -- as I argued in the posts you don't seem to wish to engage with -- that a meritocracy is fully just (even somewhat egalitarian) and yet deeply miserable/non-flourishing. I make no claims that meritocracy is reactionary.
Dear Masahiro Yamada (and Brian, perhaps you have suggestions), This is truly awful. Is there anything we can do? Do you need money for a lawyer? Sincerely, Eric Schliesser
Aaron, thank you (yes!). You are right (c) that the incentives need not be monetary exclusively. If I imply that in the post, I am wrong. But if you can place (a) correlated bets on outcomes, you do flatten the value space, and that's what I need for present purposes.
Thank you for your comment, Thomas, but I am actually disagreeing with Dennett and your comment fails to do justice to my position (which is qualified in all kinds of ways). In addition, you seem to have ignored my posts on why the embrace of meritocracy may be a mistake. So appeal to experimental work on what the public thinks is neither here nor there in this context. A few points. You write: "But our economy has taken a terrible anti-meritocratic turn over the last ~35 years." That's a peculiar claim because racial discrimination in the economy was legal until about ~40 years ago. For example, the legal framework to challenge redlining was really only in place by 1977. (Enforcement is another issue.) So this makes me wonder to what degree your historical sense is so ideologically informed as to be unworthy of serious discussion. Also, you assume that "We now have the worse intergenerational mobility in the developed world" is evidence for violation of "equal opportunity tenet of meritocracy, (1))." But that's, in fact, not the only explanation of such data (as defenders and critics of the status quo and meritocracy will point out, and as I hope you explore in the book). On merit see the next point, too. You also claim that merit is inversely connected to "a culture which constantly celebrates race, gender, sexual tastes, and appearance," -- you seem to be a critic of affirmative action, aren't you?*--,but that really depends on the baseline we start from (vis a vis historical injustice), and one's criterion of merit. [And the whole point of the post is to make clear that this criterion has been flattened.] In addition, your list conflates a bunch of social categories and the rewards that accrue to them, so that does not inspire confidence. As it happens, I know how difficult it is to be nuanced in blog posts and comments, and so will keep in open mind once I engage with your book. *Your claim about the public culture seems at odds with the culture of success Stateside that is also well documented.