Showing posts from July, 2022

The Imaginary Magical Super-Robot Theory of Truth

I want to refine what philosophers call the "correspondence theory of truth," articulating it as, what I call, the "imaginary magical super-robot theory of truth".  Sometimes the correspondence theory of truth is regarded as untrue(!) or false(!) or meaningless, but I maintain that this stems from a misunderstanding, or more accurately an ambiguity - or more accurately still, a few ambiguities.  There are ambiguities about what we mean when we speak of the correspondence theory of truth, and there are ambiguities about what we mean when we say that something is "meaningless." Is the word "unicorn" meaningless?  No.  Nor is the word "dragon."  Unicorns and dragons don't exist, but that doesn't mean that these words are meaningless.  Similarly, "caloric" isn't meaningless, and it isn't meaningless to say "The atomic weight of mercury is 16."  That is a meaningful, yet false statement.  For a statement t

Super-imaginary Super-slugs

Step 1: Imagine a slug.  Okay, that should be no problem.   Step 2: Now imagine a slimy slug.  You probably already did that, in step 1, but just in case, now you're imagining a slug with a thin, shiny veneer of ooze.  Great. Step 3: Imagine a super-slimy slug.  I mean, really, really slimy.  So much slime.  Not just a thin veneer, but a thick wad of slime.  Imagine more slime than slug.  Like, the slime of the slug is double the width of the slug.  Triple.  Quintuple.  Imagine a giant ball of slime rolling down the street with a slug in the middle of it.  Imagine a wad of slime the size of Cleveland, with a slug at its center. Step 4: Imagine the slimiest slug you could possibly imagine.  Hmmm. Step 5: Imagine a slug so slimy that you can't imagine it.  This is what's known as a super-imaginary super-slimy slug.  "Super-imaginary" in the sense of "beyond your wildest imagination," or more accurately, "beyond all possible imagination."  Hm.  Ca

Why I Love Authority

I like Friedrich Engels, but I have to admit that the couple of pages he wrote in 1872, which have come down to us as "On Authority," is one of his worst, sloppiest, most slap-dash, ill-conceived writings.  There are indeed good arguments for authority, but Engels's essay is not one of them.  Even in its own time and context, the essay was not particularly useful or convincing, and it has little or no application outside that context.  It is especially useless to us in the 21st century.  Perhaps some day, I'll refute his essay point for point.  But this hardly seems like an urgent task, since anyone who reads it can see what a stupid argument it is.  Instead, I'll try to outline what seem like more effective and persuasive arguments for authority. Engels's tactic was to emphasize the pragmatic necessity of authority - which he merely asserted, without evidence, and without much of an argument.  It may be true that authority is a practical convenience under cer

Would Marx support multipolarism?

  In this time, when Russia is invading Ukraine, some people are trying to use a pseudo-Marxist argument to defend Putin's actions, and the Russian Federation generally.  Now, Russia is not a communist country, and Putin is not a Marxist.  He is a right wing, anti-communist dictator.  And these pseudo-Marxists know this.  But, they say, Russia should be defended because it acts as a counter to the imperialist west - the United States and the other countries of NATO.  Although the Russia Federation is not Marxist, they say, it should be defended because of the principle of "multipolarity," which serves to challenge the "unipolarity" of the United States and its allies.  But is this really a Marxist argument?  Would Marx support multipolarism? The answer is no. As painful as this may be to some people, the reality (which, incidentally, even " Realists " have recognized for decades) is that a multipolar world, with a geopolitical balance of power, is a r

Cosmology #622

  Under God, there are several angels. One angel, call them Orgion, is a kind of rage of creation.  They are restlessly creative, especially in moments of furious, inspired creativity, which are as destructive as they are creative.  They are never satisfied.  Everything can be made better.  They constantly change their mind as to what they are trying to build.  The process of creation itself leads to new insights into what the project means, so the project often has to be scrapped and started anew.  Orgion can be envisioned as a white, blinding light.  Certain mystics have at times caught a glimpse of Orgion.  Look to the stars, in the night sky, and see an aspect of a moment in the dance of Orgion. Another angel, which we can call Ypomonias, is attempting to carry Orgion's vision forward to fruition.  Where Orgion is fast, Ypomonias is slow.  Both are passionate in their own way - they both care , each in their own way.  But Orgion's passion is a kind of ruthless, burning pass

The Human Predicament

  Humans can't stop asking "Why?" about everything they come across, tormenting themselves until they come up with an answer.   So they come up with a story to try to answer the question.  But this never satisfies them, so they come up with another story.  And another.  And another. But the reason that they are never satisfied is that the truth is never a story. And there is no answer to the question "why" for most things, because most things don't have a "why".  Most things don't have a reason.  The fact that they are never satisfied - there's no reason for that. The truth is never a story. Everything I have just told you is a story.
  Plato's Republic is about justice - dikaiosynē , which is ambiguous in Greek - it can mean something like "moral righteousness," or it can mean something like "tradition" or "convention."  Plato's goal in the Republic is to disambiguate justice - to interrogate and ultimately destabilize the definition of justice as mere convention.  Plato associates this view of justice with the sophists, and he embodies it first in the figure of Thrasymachus, who argues angrily and unconvincingly for a purely relativistic, if not nihilistic, "might makes right" attitude.  Then the argument is picked up by Glaucon and Adeimantus, who offer a more subtle, sophisticated, genteel version of the debate.  If justice is mere convention, then however a city-state defines justice is equally justice - thus the relation between the signifier "justice" and its signified is fundamentally arbitrary.  But Plato attempts to argue that this is not so.  For

Was Hegel a Humanist?

    If, by "humanist," you mean secular, i.e., pertaining to the saeculum , the "age," as in the Biblical phrase in saecula saeculorum , then I think Hegel was one of the most profoundly "secular" thinkers who has ever lived, together with Heidegger.  This is a stance that does not deny eternity, but insists that eternity can only be understood, if it can be understood - indeed can only exist - through time.  The failure to conceive of eternity through time led to what Hegel called "bad infinity."  For Hegel, infinity cannot "set itself over and against" the finite.  Hegel was religious, but secular, and proved that Christianity is a profoundly secular religion.  Although he was extremely critical of what he called the "positivity" of the Christian religion, his attitude was different from that of, say, Christopher Hitchens, who simply thought that religion is bad ("God is not great").  Hegel's philosophy was mo

The existential origin of social determinism

  THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT, AND IT'S YOUR FAULT The Weltanschauung (worldview) in which everything is socially determined is the Weltanschauung of maximal anxiety.  Those who choose to believe that everything is socially determined do not do so because there is sufficient scientific evidence to prove that everything is socially determined (there isn't).  They choose to believe this, because they desire to live in a world of maximum anxiety, maximum dread. To get a feeling of this world, listen to Joy Division's "Day of the Lords," with careful attention to the lyrics. Social determinism is not a scientific theory, or even a logically coherent concept - that is not the goal of those who seek to live the social deterministic Weltanschauung .  What they are seeking is a life of maximum anxiety - an essentially aesthetic choice.  Therefore it is pointless to debate them, because they are not good faith interlocutors.  De gustibus non est disputandum ,

Metanarratives of Postmodernity

Perhaps my title sounds like an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms.  After all, there aren't supposed to be any metanarratives of postmodernism, at least as it is theorized by its foremost theorist, Jean-François Lyotard - a metanarrative ( métarécit ) here being understood as a narrative of narratives - that is, an overarching context for history - a story into which all of our smaller stories fit, and which gives them meaning. So we are told, postmodernism is an era characterized by incredulity towards metanarratives, an era in which no single metanarrative holds sway with absolute singleminded devotion.  Instead, postmodernists claim that postmodern culture is a pastiche of incompatible stories that coexist and recombine in perpetually destabilizing ways - a world of mutually nested, fragmentary and unreliable narratives, comparable to a collage or an experimental novel.  There are no universals, no all-encompassing framework or structure that can accommodate all of the facts an