Showing posts from August, 2023

Stalin as Postmodernist

Postmodernism is often thought of as an anti-totalitarian movement, especially when "totalitarianism" is understood to describe an ideology that totalizes, that applies its worldview to every facet of human life without exception, and most especially when this worldview is in some way seen as derived from a dogmatic "meta-narrative" that explains and gives meaning to history.  Thus, the foremost theorist of postmodernism, Jean-Fran├žois Lyotard, describes postmodernism as a epoch characterized by a skepticism towards over-arching metanarratives, summing it up with the slogan "Let us make war upon totality."  Postmodern culture emphasizes the incomplete, the fragmentary, the pastiche, the intersectional, the patchwork of contrasting and sometimes incompatible worldviews that co-exist with a certain unavoidable tension.  Postmodernist politics are characterized by their focus on the local, the micro-level of politics, rather than any pretensions to the global

12 Levels of Learning

Level 1: Learn to do what works. For an organic, carbon-based lifeform, this primarily means learning to survive.  It's controversial in the scientific community, but some scientists claim to have observed even single-celled lifeforms learning to some extent - learning to find food, and to avoid harm.  In the early 20th century, Herbert Spencer Jennings claimed that stentor roeseli responded to stimuli differently, depending on earlier stimuli. Beatrice Gelber in the 50s and 60s continued such experiments, and though her work was often sidelined and ridiculed, recent attempts have largely replicated the earlier findings.  Similar experiments have been performed on paramecia.  More widely accepted in the scientific community is the evidence of learning by large plasmodia, slime-molds, and fungi.  The fundamental principle of learning is: if it works, keep doing it.  If it doesn't work, stop doing it. Level 1a: Learn to simplify.  I call this "1a," because, in a way, i
When I say that morality has a kind of grammar, or is a kind of grammar, I do not mean that it is grammar in the linguistic sense - still less do I mean that morality is a product of language, or that it comes from words like "should" and "ought" and "may" and "shalt".  I suspect the reverse is true, though I don't know.  I am merely making an analogy. As for the notion that morality, or ethics, cannot be put into words, or at least that cannot be expressed clearly and comprehensively in words, there may be a kind of truth to this.  Wittgenstein may have been right about this, but he draws the wrong conclusion.  Our attempts to articulate ethics may ultimately fail, but we must keep trying.  Indeed, we have a moral duty to do so.   It may be that moral grammar precedes linguistic grammar.  I suspect that many animals have a more highly developed and specialized moral grammar than they have a linguistic grammar.  Linguistic grammar may have