Many, Many Logics

Billy Beck throws up an interesting entry about the logic that underlies the conclusions many people come to: The thing I was pointing to is a difference in why certain people conclude the things that they do. It’s really an epistemic issue, rather than the sort of political implication that I think you just asked about. The Marxists don’t, for instance, hold facts to be of serious value. To them, the first thing to know about how (not “what”, but how) a person thinks is his class background. This is going to dictate his logic: the very rules of his thought. They really believe that the rules of thought are different for us, depending on our class background. This is what “polylogism” (“many logics”) is all about. Let me present another, which is a derivative, really, of what Billy has identified above. The religious left sees everyone as God’s creations, each different and unique. Some are endowed with great abilities, while some get the shaft. Those without are helpless to do anything about it themselves. Consequently, it’s the duty of those with abilities to uplift those without abilities. That’s the way to gain favor in the eyes of God. As…

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Freedom is a Two-Way Street

Forever have my ears been accustomed to hearing about how labor has the right to organize, seek to bargain collectively with management, enter into contracts, and withhold their labor if deemed necessary. Without quibbling with a derivative issue or two, above, I generally agree. But, how many see this as a two-way street? In other words, is your support of labor based on all the principles implied by men dealing with each other as free traders–to the one trading his dollars for labor as well as to the one trading his labor for dollars? Or, is your support of labor based only upon your disdain for “big business”? In Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, there’s a charming pub called the Hog’s Breath Inn. Created and owned by Clint Eastwood, we never fail to stop by when we go to Carmel, which is usually a few times per year. It has a wonderful sunken courtyard with trees, cobblestones, and brick fireplaces to sit around. I even modeled our cobblestoned backyard after it, with its magnolia tree in the center, in-ground spa, raised rock garden, fire-pit and teakwood furniture. Several years ago, he closed it abruptly. I was told by a proprietor of one of…

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Coming Home to Roost

Well; now, this certainly is cause for optimism. Anyone with a brain could have predicted it, of course, but I unfortunately just don’t find that much evidence of what I’d call brain activity, around. Seems that no matter what, nothing short of the cold hard slap of reality across the face does it for anyone, anymore. We all just keep trying to have our cake and eat it too, thinking that—somehow—it’s going to be different, this time. Here’s another interesting article having to do with Europe: about how they now have about a half dozen equivalents of Southwest Airlines blazing the skies and homogenizing the whole place. What a difference from when I lived there, in the early ’90s, where it cost as much to fly round trip Toulon-Hyeres to Paris on their national, fare-regulated airline as a round trip to New York on American Airlines. Who knows where this will lead? I don’t, but then again, humans exercising their freedom has never worried me in the slightest. Does it, you? Then you may just want to check your premises. (Let’s Try Freedom)

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Integrity and Maturity

I find that I must agree with Keith Burgess-Jackson in this case. Moreover, I’ll state that he exhibits his profound maturity in dealing with this topic. What I found most refreshing, here, is that Keith manifests a great lesson in honesty and integrity. Those who follow his blog, as I do, know that he has defended the tenure system in universities. He is, himself, a tenured professor. So, he has a bias in defending Ward Churchill, also a tenured professor. However, Keith has daily demonstrated his integrity in his own blog. For instance, and this is by no means the only example, he’s a vegetarian who speaks out regularly against the antics of animal-rights activists–much as I, an atheist, loath and speak out against the antics of atheist activists. Therefore, based on his reputation with me, I can disregard his bias in this case. Another sign of maturity is demonstrated by the fact that he understands what this all really means. I said as much, just a few days ago.

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Civil Discourse

I’ve never bought into the notion that vulgarity and civility in discourse are mutually exclusive. Nor do I agree that vulgarity signals a lack of education or a general incompetency at conveying ideas. I can be a potty mouth (ask my wife), and I’ve scribed a few naughty words on this blog. Sometimes, it’s rage; sometimes therapeutic; and sometimes (usually) for calculated effect. My wife tells me that she can’t access my blog from work (a public school), as it’s blocked. Oh, well. At any rate, what I do think is that vulgarity should be used with a high degree of discipline. It’s like a weapon, in that regard. Treat it with respect, discipline yourself, and use it effectively. Michelle Malkin has provided us with a perfect example of the undisciplined use of vulgarity. Read those excerpts. They have no meaning. They don’t reinforce any argument. They make no point stronger. Those who posted those comments are the blogosphere equivalent of teenagers whose stupid parents have left the guns and ammo unattended while neglecting to train them in their proper use. Consequently, all they know how to do is maraud around shooting up street signs and all manner of things…

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State of Fear

That’s the title of Michael Crichton’s new best-selling novel; the subject being Eco-Terrorism, this time around. I’m about two-thirds of the way through, and though my honest assessment is that the writing and character development is a little lacking, I don’t think that’s overly important, in this particular case. What’s clear is that Crichton’s purpose here is to raise serious questions as to the general integrity of the environmental movement—which is comprised largely of political-power brokers and seekers in green clothing; nothing more—and to educate people as to how legitimate science should be carried out. It also challenges the general popular (but false) notion, championed by academia, Hollywood, and the main-steam media, that environmental causes such as “global warming” and “abrupt climate change” are scientifically settled issues among reputable scientists. They are not; not by a long shot. Crichton also admonishes us to Stop Scaring Ourselves. It’s a novel with copious footnotes, referencing many academic works and scientific studies. These facts are woven into the techno-thriller storyline in a skillful manner, such that they are not out-of-place lectures, yet, are not so steeped in devices of story and dialog that the scientific and factual message is lost. I recommend it….

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False Dichotomies

My last entry, Materialism and Spirituality, was a thought-provoking email from a friend. I haven’t received comments as I’d have liked, but what follows is how I responded. This first excerpt was a preface to the original email that was not included in the aforementioned post. The problem is the way you think. You think in a material fashion. I don’t mean that’s what you think about, I mean that’s how you think. But here’s the real problem. While it is relatively easy to arrive at objective truth with regard to material reality, it’s not so easy with spiritual “reality,” because that part is just subjective. Cultures are different; religions are different; beliefs of every sort are different. Those beliefs come in conflict with individuals and groups who hold different beliefs. Nobody is arguing that such kind of beliefs (i.e., spiritual) should not be held. The question is: when there’s a conflict, who trumps whom? In matters of public policy, whose beliefs rule? Who gets their subjective values encoded into law, and who gets to be subject to it (and foot the bill)? As an individualist, I am perfectly content to leave people to their beliefs, whatever they may be….

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Materialism and Spirituality

A longtime friend emails the following. I’d appreciate any comments: Billy, Greg, JTK, John V, and anyone else. The market economy is shaped upon a material template, in which every individual is a particle interacting with other particles out of self-interest, i.e. a trader. Here the central operating principle is me vs. you, i.e. competition. There are several philosophies that enable this natural system. Capitalism grants individuals property rights, thereby empowering them to participate in the system; the free market allows traders to interact freely with one another; market values encourage participation. This economy is only one side of our social reality, however. It is the external, productive, material side, and no more. The other side of society is the internal, spiritual side, the culture. This is a very different template, in which the individual is not a self-contained, material particle, but part of a larger whole, us. The central operating principle of this side is moral, not productive. Instead of “productive becoming” (i.e. material progress) it is “good being.” This Good expresses itself in a variety of values, be they cultural, familial, aesthetic, institutional, or social. Here the individual is not acting as a trader, but as a person….

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Relax

Great news. In an email about individualism and freedom, I learn: “Freedom is spiritual, not political.” I guess I can relax, now, and take comfort that I have a free spirit. I responded: Everyone is spiritually free. Always has been. It’s a defining characteristic of humanity. That’s why political bondage is wrong. A lot of good it does to be “spiritually free” when you’re in political chains. Of course, there are degrees. We’re not in chains literally, but check this out: http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig6/amberg1.html Spiritual freedom is not the issue because nothing in the material world can change the fact of it. The issue is political freedom because it is completely out of sync with our spirit. (Two–Four)

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Uncloistered

The tongue-in-cheek title is for the purpose of announcing that I’ve decided to give Comments a try. To coincide with that, I’ve created a new list on the left-hand column called My Most Uncommon, which is to say, my best entries (from my point of view) going all the way back to the beginning. I’ve opened up Comments on all of those, too. G’day.

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Another Nail

Why you should be optimistic I recall about 10 years ago, just as the general public was catching onto the world wide web (I was on when it was still possible to view every website that existed), that there was a lot of hand wringing over porn, of course, but also over cultish propaganda, such as Neo-Nazism. I recall remarking at the time that it’s the best sort of thing that can happen. The way to render things like Neo-Nazism and other stupidities obsolete and irrelevant is to shine a light on them. In the moist darkness of cloistered “authority,” they can grow like mold and attract all sorts of idiot followers. Illuminate them, and they become clearly ridiculous to everyone that matters. They’re no longer interesting to the curious clueless, because they’re no longer mysterious. John Sabotta posts a great example of this phenomena. I will just humbly suggest to those with a pessimistic outlook, that perhaps the pessimism is brought on, in part, by all the idiocy we now have easy access to that we never had before, and that the real reason for optimism is that ultimately, Bullshit cannot stand.

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Anti-Individualism

Greg Swann emails to give me some input on my last post, Serving Ideals. Regarding individualism versus collectivism, it is more precise, I think, to speak of anti-individualism. Collectivism is a nice catch-all, but although Abel doesn’t necessarily always pursue collective ends, he is always opposed to individualism. Consider a cloistered nun, for example. The altruists would argue that her objective is selfish, but no one who understands the self would call her an egoist. Collectivism is a form of anti-individualism, and it is a very potent form because it is so hard to argue against. Environmentalism is another hard-to-argue-against form of anti-individualism that doesn’t even have any thing to do with people, either singly or in groups. The point of every superficially varied form of anti-individualism is simply that, an opposition to egoism that the advocate hopes is incontrovertible. To paraphrase Ayn Rand, roping her into my own metaphor: Abel doesn’t want to live. He wants for Cain to be prevented from living as he chooses, guided only by his own rational choices. It truly is a war against the mind as it really is. There is no way that Abel can win this war, not without killing every…

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Serving Ideals

I’ve got a whole thing brewing with respect to that title, but it’s going to take a while to work it all out, which will likely take several entries over the next few days. It was set off by a sequence of events. First, Greg Swann writes me sometime last December to remind me that the world actually isn’t going to hell in a handbasket. I think he cunningly waited until just before the Christmas holiday to tell me that, counting on the whole joy of life at that time of year just overwhelming me. It did, actually. Then, longtime mutual friends Billy Beck and Greg get into it over that “to-hell-in-a-handbasket” thing. I’m not going to rehash the debate in detail (see their websites). Essentially, Billy thinks things are getting worse and that we’re reversing the progress gained in the Enlightenment. He refers to this state of affairs as the Endarkenment. Greg thinks things are getting better because mankind is advanced by a few tremendously great people who come along to grace mankind from time-to-time, and in-between, most everything else is just noise that can be disregarded. To Billy, it matters greatly that so many people are so stupid….

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Getting Better all the Time

The Market Shall Set You Free Oddly, the underlying problem is that this Republican president doesn’t appreciate free markets. Mr. Bush doesn’t see how capitalism helps drive history toward freedom via an algorithm that for all we know is divinely designed and is in any event awesomely elegant. Namely: Capitalism’s pre-eminence as a wealth generator means that every tyrant has to either embrace free markets or fall slowly into economic oblivion; but for markets to work, citizens need access to information technology and the freedom to use it – and that means having political power. This link between economic and political liberty has been extolled by conservative thinkers for centuries, but the microelectronic age has strengthened it. Even China’s deftly capitalist-yet-authoritarian government – which embraces technology while blocking Web sites and censoring chat groups – is doomed to fail in the long run. China is increasingly porous to news and ideas, and its high-tech political ferment goes beyond online debates. Last year a government official treated a blue-collar worker high-handedly in a sidewalk encounter and set off a riot – after news of the incident spread by cell phones and text messaging. You won’t hear much about such progress from…

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The Difference: Good and Evil

I truly enjoy receiving email from strangers who’ve read an entry or two and want to share their comments–good or bad. My last entry, The Left Side of History prompted some email. To the guy who wrote to tell me that it was all “bullshit,” thank you. Thank you especially for informing me that the “Communists were the first to fight the Nazis.” Yes, I get it. Joseph Stalin was morally outraged at what an evil guy Adolph was. Thank you; thank you. Just goes to teach me yet another lesson in the utter folly of thinking in terms of underlying principles, essentials, and critical distinctions. To the nice gentlemen who wrote to compliment me in general, but complain about my ‘left/right partisanship,’ I have this article for you by Dennis Prager that boils the whole thing down to what I’m really talking about. The left is worth nothing February 1, 2005 “Someone who does not know the difference between good and evil is worth nothing.” — Miecyslaw Kasprzyk, Polish rescuer of Jews during the Holocaust, New York Times, Jan. 30, 2005 It took a Polish rescuer of Jews in the Holocaust, cited this week 60 years after the liberation…

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