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Language needs something outside of language in order to function in much the same way that a propeller cannot function without air.  Language needs something to push against.

Degrees and Kinds of Stupidity

Many stupid ideas take the form "There is nothing outside ____". One thing that makes ideas stupid is their capacity to capture a brain, to render it incapable of thinking certain thoughts.  We can thus measure the stupidity of ideas in at least two ways: (1) the scope and range of brain function that a stupid idea prevents you from having, and (2) the "grip," so to speak, that this idea has on your brain - that is to say, the degree of difficulty of removing this idea from your brain and liberating yourself from it.  Stupid ideas can be awfully clever.  Wittgenstein is a perfect example of a thinker that was capable of producing ingeniously clever stupid ideas - that is, ideas that, once they have locked themselves onto a person's brain, become fiendishly difficult to dislodge. On the low stupidity end of the spectrum, we have a statement like "There is nothing outside of my mind."  That is to say, solipsism. A significantly stupider idea would be som

The Problem with Political Mandates

    Let's say candidate A and candidate B are running for office on a specific issue or policy.  Specifically, let's say candidate promises that if he is elected, he will make sure that X will happen, and candidate B, for her part, promises that if she is elected, she will make sure that X will not happen.  We could also assume that A comes from a political party that overwhelmingly supports X, and B comes from a political party that overwhelmingly opposes X.  Let's further assume that X is a popular thing that lots of citizens want.  Indeed, it is so popular, and people so fully believe that A is committed to X that it makes a decisive difference on the results of the election, and indeed A wins, and is duly sworn into office.  Generally, at this point, we tend to say that candidate A - or rather, elected official A - has a political "mandate" to do X. Now that the people have voted in A to do X, is X more likely to happen, or less likely?  Let's think about

Doxastic Voluntarism and the Insufficiency of Language

Can I choose to believe what I want to believe? You shout at me: "2+2=5!" You hold up 2 fingers in front of my face, and then you raise 2 more.  You're now holding up 4 fingers. You shout at me: "I'm holding up 5 fingers! Say it! Say it!" Now, I can say , "2+2=5."  But can I believe it? I can say: "You're holding up 5 fingers."  But can I really believe it? It's not up to you to decide what I believe. Is it up to me? Can I decide what I believe? Let's say I really want to agree with you.  Is that the same thing as agreeing with you? As I already said, I can say, "2+2=5".  Can I believe it? I can even say, "I believe that 2+2=5."   I can even say, "I believe that 'I believe that 2+2=5.'" Or, "I believe that 'I believe that 'I believe that 2+2=5.''" I can also say, "2+2=5 is true." Or "'2+2=5 is true' is true." Or "''2+2=5
[posted on facebook as an answer to a question, 5/21/24] There's a lot of worthless crap in Lacan (and the Lacanians). I think his stuff is most interesting the further away it gets from Freud. (He's more of a poet, or a priest, or an entertainer, than a scientist. But that applies to Freud, too.)    But anyway, here's a few things that I thought were worth thinking about, all of them so brutally simplified as to be wildly inaccurate (I'm sure Lacanians would hate this):   1. The difference between "aim" and "goal". As Lacan sees it, the aim of the drive is not to achieve the goal, but rather to perpetuate itself as drive. You don't really want to solve your problems, you want to maintain your problems. (i.e., maintain your desire, maintain your longing, maintain your sense of incompleteness.)   2. Lacan doesn't go the (Buddhist?) route of trying to achieve happiness by having no desires. Unfulfilled desire is a necessar
Quite often, when people are humble, it's just a form of contrariness - under which, one can unmistakably recognize the ego.

The Internet as the Unconscious

One of the most interesting ways that the internet has changed day-to-day human society is the following experience: let's say you interact with a specific person a lot on social media. Then you see them in "real" life. You see them, they see you, you see them see you, they see you seeing them. But you have very little interaction, at most a "hey". It's almost like we have become 2 (or more) separate people: our online identity, and our irl identity. The online versions of ourselves are friends, but our meatspace doppelgangers are at best acquaintances, awkwardly shuffling past each other. To me, this experience is just one example of a larger phenomenon: the internet is surrounded by a complex psychological scaffolding of disavowals. You "know" (people, subcultures, information) online, but you *pretend not to know* elsewhere. You pretend to be "innocent," so to speak. The internet has become the (quasi-)permanent repository of di