Creationists who try to replace the theory of evolution with “scientific” creationism have the same narrow mind-set as the naturalist and materialist scientists who debunk religion. Creation and the Garden of Eden need to be understood in a theological way as the entrance into history of God’s plan of salvation. But this is not an attempt to reduce the grandeur of God. God created the heavens and the earth, but the Bible is not intended to be a scientific textbook.
July 31st, 2017: The Nephilim: Giants in the Earth: Genesis 6:1-4
What do you think of the speculation about the Sumerian 12th planet Nibiru, the Nephelim, and the Anunnaki? I looked at the biblical passages that these Internet apocalyptic scenarios come from and have quite a different interpretation.
January 10, 2017 Blogging my thoughts:
Meryl Streep rebukes President-elect Trump on moral grounds, but he seems all about win or lose and being in a power-defensive mode without seeming to indicate that he has a conscience. Let me give him the benefit of a doubt. He probably knows that he is vulnerable on moral grounds coming into the glass-bowl nature of the modern presidency from the sordid environment of the entertainment industry. The sordid side of powerful men could remain hidden when women knew their place and did not share positions of power. Women now have a say-so. So, he figures that he can’t afford to be truthful. Meryl no doubt represents a real threat as opposition to him, just like the disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski was. (I’m getting these details from this morning’s New York Times.) This New York Times reporter has a rigid and bent right arm, a condition due to arthrogryposis, a congenital fusion of joints.
But the president-elect should know that beyond win and lose, beyond power, there is human decency and truth involved with arguing an issue rather than turning it into an ad hominem argument. This fallacy in argumentation for him goes off the deep end and becomes tantamount to character assassination for anyone who dares to point out the truth. But if the shoe fits, wear it. When we are immature we often have to experience correction and taking it to heart makes for self-improvement.
Is lying all right in order not to be politically correct? Does being truthful constitute being politically correct? If the issue is a rebellion against political correctness, then are racist, sexist, misogynist statements allowed and to be celebrated because they are not politically correct? What don’t I understand about all this opposition to political correctness? Does it mean one can’t criticize a Black person and not be racist? Or to criticize right-wing Israeli politics immediately makes a person anti-Semitic? That could be explored. But “law and order” are racist code words: the law discriminates against Black people and our present order excludes them, for the most part.
Don’t forget that racist language for some may be cathartic, but for others it is a speech act rehearsal calling for action. (Dylan Roof probably also considered Obama the worst president we ever had.) Is aversion to bullying, misogyny, and racism merely being politically correct? If so, then stands taken for human decency, truth, and justice become trivialized into mere, milk-toast expressions of political correctness. Thus, when a woman confronts him on his misogyny, he can counter that she must be having her period, and wow! He becomes a champion in the fight against political correctness! Even a boxer, a fighter not into argumentation, would be penalized for hitting below the belt. And ad hominem-s and in his case, character assassinations, assert speech act violence rather than honest and truthful argumentation and communication.
To pick up another issue: critical thinking easily exposes a fallacy when one person’s plagiarism is defended by saying someone in the opposition also plagiarized. That is a “you, too” fallacy. And it is unethical as well, because two wrongs do not make a right and something does not become right because everybody does it.
Then there is the ethical problem when a broken law is relativized by pointing out all the other good in a person. If someone murders another person, it does not matter if they are a good husband or father. The guards in German concentration camps seemed to love their children. Breaking a law can be compared to falling through a hole in the ice. If there is a hole in the ice and the whole person falls through it, it does not matter how thick the ice is in other places. Breaking a law is like that. There may be mitigating circumstances due to considerations of equity. For example, putting a Black man in prison, when Black families are bereft of men may make the punishment a greater injustice than the crime committed. Using jury nullification or imposing community service or a financial penalty may be more just and the wiser course of action.
How about some feedback and critique?
Blogging my thoughts on January 7, 2017 by Peter Krey
Numbers are sometimes problematic in the literature of antiquity. Could they have indicated some kind of qualities and symbolic meanings before they really indicated determinations of quantity? Before Pythagoras conceived of forms and thus could attach numbers to them and count them, how could calculations and numbers in the sense of quantitative determinations have been thought? The quantitative may have well have been preceded by a symbolic meaning of numbers. (Pythagoras, of course, is one of the first philosophers, whose reasoning about forms and numbers and his conception of them is recorded in history, there may have been thinkers before him that have been forgotten, of whom we have no record, and who therefore never made history.)
In the case of the symbolic meaning of numbers: in Noah’s flood, it rained forty days and forty nights, the children of Israel wandered forty years in the wilderness before reaching the promised land, and there are four hundred years of slavery of the Hebrews in Egypt, the House of their Bondage. These numbers refer to qualitative degrees of suffering in a symbolic way rather than being real quantitative determinations. Other examples of primordial use of numbers, perhaps for the sake of prestige, are the ages of the patriarch, e.g., Methuselah lived 969 years and died in due time. Nero’s 666 may have stood for tyranny, and what can on make of 153 large fish in the miraculous fish-catch, when Jesus asks the disciples, “Have you no fish?”
Plato criticized Pythagoras for not conceiving of pure numbers, but always attaching them to geometric space or musical tone; the latter, e.g., in his study of music. Thus, for him mathematics could become a description of the universe, but music could as well, in terms of the music of the spheres.
Numerology must have preceded mathematics, like astrology preceded astronomy, and alchemy, chemistry. But How could the people of antiquity think about numbers before forms were conceived? At that point, the ability to count could not have been possible. But on the other hand, I believe that old cuneiform records count items of trade, so counting may have been possible long before Pythagoras reasoned about forms and numbers. It would be interesting to compare how a child learns to count (ontogeny) versus how the human species learned to count in a phylogenetic sense. This would be analogous to how a child learns to speak versus how our species learned to speak and created language. It may be fun to research the history of mathematics, but how does one research its pre-history?
Blogging my thoughts on April 10th, 2015 by Peter Krey
I just tweeted about Churchillian drift: this expression refers to attributing an apothegm (a pithy saying or instruction) to a well-known authority, rather than to an unknown writer. I just learned this concept by reading this morning’s newspaper. That could well have happened to biblical books. A gospel could have been attributed to the apostle Matthew and John, for example. But schools that follow an apostle or a prophet could also be an explanation. In philosophy, Plato speaking as Socrates can be an example. He may have identified completely with his teacher. Some mathematical insights attributed to Pythagoras may have been those of his students. A collective identity, where individuation has not yet taken place, could also be an explanation. Before I personally individuated, I really identified very much with my family. I felt as if I had a collective identity, being the eleventh of sixteen children.
 See Erin McKean’s OP-Ed piece in the New York Times (April 10, 2015, A21), “The Wise Words of…Who Again?”
by Nathaniel Bates in Memory of Jason Zarri
To read Nathaniel’s thoughts in a PDF:
Part 1: Introducing the Idea
In this post I introduce the idea of reference-making, which I take to be more-or-less undefined, and use it to account for the idea of truth-making for subject-predicate sentences. I take a truth-maker to be a reference-maker for a sentence. In Part 2 I’ll give a quasi-formal account of how it can be applied to truth-functional compounds and quantified sentences, and in Part 3 I’ll discuss some of its philosophical implications.
Let us say that the reference-maker for a noun or a noun-phrase is just what is ordinarily called its referent, the thing that it “corresponds to” or ‘”picks out” in the world. Nothing interesting so far. For predicates, however, the idea is different: Just as sentences can have many truth-makers–“Planets exist” being made true by each planet–on this view a predicate can have many reference-makers, without thereby becoming ambiguous (as nouns/noun-phrases would become if they had many reference-makers). This is a key difference between predicates and nouns/noun-phrases. We will therefore say that predicates have reference, but not that they have referents. We could say that every reference-maker for F is a referent of F, but that would be misleading in that it would suggest that F was ambiguous. (This is a terminological point introduced to prevent confusion. Nothing beyond that hangs on our choice of terms.) A reference-maker for a predicate is something that it is true of, or that satisfies it. Any red thing is a reference-maker for the predicate ‘red’ or ‘is red’. In this ‘red’ and ‘is red’ differ from ‘redness’, whose reference maker, if any, is redness; i.e., the property of being red.
Since I take the relation of predicates to reality to be, in general, one-many, I think it would be a mistake to take the “referent” or the semantic value of a predicate to be its extension, the set of things of which it is true. On my view, any reference-maker for a predicate can be said to be a semantic value of the predicate. Still, most predicates of a given language will have but one meaning.
What of relational predicates? Their reference-makers can indeed be taken to be sets, namely ordered n-tuples. Still, we will not identify “the” semantic value of a predicate with its extension (nor with the property, if any, that it expresses): A reference-maker for an n-ary predicate is any ordered n-tuple of which that predicate is true, not the set of all such n-tuples–unless that set is one of the things of which the predicate is true; but still it would only be only one reference maker among many.
We can now say what a truth-maker, which is a reference maker for a sentence, is for subject-predicate sentences. An object x (‘object’ being broadly construed as anything that exists) is a truth-maker for a subject-predicate sentence p iff x is a reference-maker for p’s subject term and is also a reference-maker for p’s predicate term. Similarly, for relational sentences: An ordered n-tuple o is a truth-maker for an n-ary relational sentence p iff the objects ordered in o are each reference makers for one of p’s subject terms, and o is a reference-maker for p’s predicate term. In Part 2, I’ll extend this account to define truth-makers for truth-functional compounds and quantified sentences.
A Problem for Hume’s Problem of Induction
Could Hume consistently believe that his argument to the effect that inductive inferences are not justified is successful? In this post I put forward reasons to think the answer is “no.”
Hume, very basically, argued that inductive inferences are not justified because there are only two ways that that they could be supported: Either through a priori reasoning, or through further inductive inferences. A priori reasoning cannot support inductive inferences, because there is no contradiction in the supposition that the course of nature may change, and hence it is possible that it could. Nor could inductive inferences rest on further inductive inferences for their support, for they all rest on the supposition that the course of nature will not change, and cannot support that supposition without begging the question. Hence, inductive inferences are not justified.
Let’s see what happens when we apply Hume’s Fork to the conclusion of Hume’s argument. We get the following result:
“Inductive inferences are not justified” states either a relation of ideas, or a matter of fact.
If we accept the first alternative, then, if it’s true, it only states a relation between certain of our ideas–namely, our ideas of justification and inductive inference–and says nothing significant about matters of fact. It is no more informative, in any real sense, than “a = a”. If we accept the second alternative, it states a matter of fact, which according to Hume’s own principles could only be confirmed or refuted through induction. If inductive inferences are justified, or justified for the most part, it cannot establish that they are unjustified. And if they are unjustified, they cannot justifiably establish their own lack of justification. Thus it seems that even if inductive inferences are not justified, Hume cannot justifiably believe that they are not. If one is inclined to accept Hume’s argument, one should reject Hume’s Fork as a false dichotomy; conversely, if one is inclined to accept Hume’s Fork, one should either reject Hume’s argument as unsound, or conclude that it may be sound, but if so, we cannot know that its premises are true.
Towards A Kinder, Gentler Verificationism
A Sketch of a Research Project
It often happens, for various reasons, that philosophers defend radical views which, first, are too radical to be plausible, and second, are such that a less radical and more plausible view would satisfy the underlying motivations. Here is a historical example. The logical positivists famously sought to eliminate traditional metaphysics by arguing that the statements metaphysicians make are meaningless because of being unverifiable. Much of the ensuing discussion concerned whether verifiability is really necessary for meaningfulness. But clearly, even if the logical positivists were wrong about this, they could still have a strong case for the elimination of metaphysics. For already if they could establish that the statements made by metaphysicians are unverifiable, they could argue for the pointlessness of the enterprise. If we cannot obtain good evidence for or against the statements of metaphysics, surely metaphysics is a pointless enterprise.
—Matti Eklund, “Rejectionism About Truth”, p. 1, https://courses.cit.cornell.edu/me72/reject_truth.pdf
I think it may be advisable to follow a wise point that lies buried in Logical Positivism: Though it may very well be that unverifiable statements are meaningful, and so true or false, this does nothing to prove they are legitimate objects of inquiry. For the statements the positivists sought to ban are, after all, unverifiable, and where there is no possible method of verifying a statement, there is seemingly no means of resolving disputes concerning it. Save in those cases where our psychology compels our universal assent, such as, perhaps, our belief in the existence of other minds, there is, short of force, coercion or sheer coincidence, no way to reach a consensus with respect to unverifiable statements, and given this it appears unwise to argue over them. For if we do not aim to achieve consensus, to what purpose do we argue? However, it must be admitted that verifiability comes in degrees, and there are perhaps no statements which are conclusively verifiable. Still, one can say that the harder it is to verify or refute a given statement, the less reasonable it is to argue over it. And of course to say that we shouldn’t bother arguing over something is not to say that we cannot have our own, private opinion on the matter.
None of this is to say that the positivists were correct in determining which statements are verifiable and which are not, only that we should not try to assess the truth value of statements which are genuinely unverifiable. I differ from the positivists in my estimation of the scope of the unverifiable. I think there may be a great many metaphysical, religious, and ethical claims which are verifiable. Furthermore, the methods of verification employed need not be empirical; they need only be capable of deciding the issue under examination, of resolving it one way or another. In light of this, I will henceforth talk of decidability instead of verifiability.
In spite of the above qualifications, one might think that any verificationist-inspired project is doomed to failure for much the same reasons the Logical Positivists’ was. As hard as they tried to hammer out a workable verification criterion, everything they came up with proved to be either too strict or too liberal to suit their purposes. If one makes the criterion too strict, it will turn out, for example, that the notion of a natural law is meaningless, since one cannot verify that it holds in an infinite number of instances. Statements about the remote past, the far future, and theoretical entities would also go by the board. But if one liberalizes the criterion so that we count as meaningful statements about things that experience only renders probable, then one will have to admit things into one’s ontology that would make a positivist shudder, such as the “élan vitale” of the vitalists or the Absolute of the Absolute Idealists, if their existence would have any implications, however slight, for our experience. The verification criterion would then seem to impose no real constraints on the meaningfulness of statements. The simple fact is that no verification criterion could do what the positivists wanted it to do. One objection to my proposal, then, is this: Is not my “decidability criterion” dangerously close to a liberalized verification criterion? What, exactly, does the “decidability criterion” rule out?
My reply is that we should not try to deduce a priori that certain classes of statements are undecidable; for there is, I think, no single form or subject matter that unites all undecidable statements and makes them undecidable. In my opinion, the positivists’ failure to recognize this point is a major reason why their repeated attempts to formulate a workable verification criterion failed. And even if there were a single form or subject matter which all undecidable statements had in common, it seems unlikely that a priori reflection could discover it. (One reason to think this is that the sustained a priori reflection of the positivists failed to discover it.) Instead, we should look to the past to see what kinds of statement have proved easy to decide and which have not. My criterion, then, would counsel us to reject statements which are of the same kind as those which history has shown to systematically resist attempts at resolution. In future work, my task will thus be to show that this criterion imposes non-trivial constraints on philosophical practice.
I intend to develop my own kinder, gentler verificationism by using the views of Rudolf Carnap as a foil. Though I sympathize with several facets of his position, and with the motivation behind them still more, I think there are a few important points about which he was mistaken. First, his conception of what philosophical practice should be is excessively formal; it focuses too much on language, and it seems to allow no room for the vagueness or open texture of words and concepts; and it also seems to rule out Wittgensteinian “family resemblances”.
Second, his distinction between “internal” and “external” questions is too sharply drawn. If we consider “frameworks” that are actually in use, in both the sciences and in the humanities, I think we will find that it is not always so clear what counts as part of a framework and what doesn’t. Also, I doubt very much that pragmatic considerations are the only things relevant to the selection of a framework. Furthermore, there may be an objective truth—one transcends any particular framework—even if we can’t know what it is.
Finally, Carnap’s views were bound up with the philosophy of language of his day, before the advent of externalism and causal theories of reference, and stand in need of substantial modification.
As for my own account, I will try to accommodate the lessons we learned about language and categorization from Wittgenstein and the theories in cognitive science that his work helped to inspire, such as prototype and exemplar theories of concepts. Also, on my view, we might be able to attain knowledge of objective truth without having to “step outside” of our various frameworks—though we might also be able to know the objective truth by doing so, if doing so is possible—by comparing our frameworks themselves against each other and seeing what, if anything, they have in common. If all the viable, mutually comparable frameworks concerning a given subject matter agree about something, I think that is good evidence that it is probably true, provided that the different frameworks come close to exhausting the possibilities. (This is, in essence, a generalization of my approach for getting ethical guidance from ethical theories.) And I see no reason why our frameworks need to be (solely) linguistic. I will also try to give an account which is consistent with causal and externalist views on reference and mental content. And on my view, what counts as evidence for what is in part determined by what “context of inquiry” one belongs to, among other things, and so my view of evidence is in some sense externalist.
In spite of the differences I have just spelled out, Carnap and I have something important in common: we both put great stress on engaging in disputes only if there is some way of resolving them.
6/13/13 To Scholardarity:
Cromwell Wu, who is writing in the first person in this article, is a graduate of the interdenominational Fuller Theological Seminary, in Los Angeles County, California, USA and used to be a pastor and teacher.
I hold two ideas of mine to be unique, whereas some other thinkers or scholars in world history, (as far as I know) may not have publicized these ideas. Let me share these ideas with other scholars on the [Scholardarity] website in order to let other scholars respond to me. Please let me know if my ideas are unique insights.
Here are my two great insights:
1. “That sinning just by thoughts must surely be less sinful or evil than sinning by deeds.” Thus when we just have evil thoughts (such as anger) as long as we can get rid of them soon or control them and never express them in evil deeds, then we have not committed a grave sin or a Deadly Sin (and don’t have to feel real guilty about them).
2. “Of all sins or evils, to seriously harm or even kill or murder some person for no good reason must be a most heinous sin or evil in God’s sight.” (Because people in Noah’s time were destroyed by the Deluge due to their violence.)(Genesis 6:11-13)
Appendix: July 10th 2013
When I stated that to harm seriously or even kill or murder some person (for no good reason) it must be a most heinous sin or evil in God’s sight, I mean that as a rule, you can seriously harm or kill some person or people only in the case of your having to defend yourself, because you are attacked, (that is, in self-defense). The first strike preemptive strategy certainly cannot be considered as “self-defense,” as a good reason.
I would also state that to try to overthrow an evil government by violent riots and battles, such as in a revolution, cannot be considered a good reason for harming and killing others either. Neither the Lord Jesus Christ nor the Apostles ever taught that it is all right to fight using armed force for freedom, as far as I know. In my opinion, only in the case when eliminating one or just a few evil rulers, one could overthrow an evil regime (such as what the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer tried to accomplish with some accomplices by trying to assassinate Adolf Hitler, then murder (assassination) can be considered as a good reason.
I really think if my “great” insights (ideas) could be spread widely and believed throughout the world, world peace would be enhanced and the world could be helped to become a better place.
Thanks a great lot!
Mr. Cromwell Wu
c/o Pastor Champ Traylor
St. John’s United Church
480 St Anselmo Ave. North
North San Bruno, CA 94066, USA
Document that May Have Been Leaked from Alan Sokal’s Desk
Posted by Anonymous
The following document is a few months old. It is dated April 1, 2013. It is believed to have been leaked from the desk of Physicist Alan Sokal, whose critique of scientific hegemony has rocked the world of Philosophy. Here at Scholardarity we cannot vouch for the accuracy of this document, or whether it actually came from the desk of Dr. Sokal, but we found it challenging enough to the dominant paradigm that we decided to publish. Please be advised that the following views do not necessarily reflect those of Scholardarity, and may not actually reflect the views of Dr. Sokal himself:
A Zetetic Critique of the Imperialist Globularism of Christopher Columbus
The science of every age represents the dominant hegemony of the ruling class not only as it extends to material conditions but also as it represents the ownership of the ruling class over the mental landscape and its subsequent exploitation. Not only does the ruling class deliberately mold science to legitimize its control of natural resources, but also its control of Earth. The attack against human ecology mirrors an attack against the natural ecology, as evidenced by the rape of indigenous culture by Christopher Columbus. Christopher Columbus represents the intersecting origin point for both modern science and the beginnings of European imperialism. Neither can be understood outside of an institutional analysis that is willing to challenge the social constructs of early stage capitalism.
Today we live in a globalized world in which capital can destroy cultures at the push of a computer button. The foundation of a globalized world can literally be found in “globularism,” a seemingly objective standard by which Astronomy, Physics, Geology and Evolutionary Biology have been predicated upon. Globularism formed the basis of European imperialism, and it served as a justification for European rule not only of the New World, but also of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The very construct of the Globe, with Europe at its very apex, is strongly indicative of racism and hegemony.
We cannot undermine the foundations of modern capitalism without also undermining its founding myths, its primary rationale for exploiting the New World. It is inconsistent for Marxist radicals, whose scientism has its roots in Ricardo and Darwin, whose scientism in turn has its roots in Uniformitarianism, with roots in Newton, who in turn has roots in Galileo, whose Astronomical model is founded in the Globular narrative promoted by Columbus, to claim to be free of the constructs of imperialism, racism, sexism or homophobia. Our Marxist allies (and most other socialists, including Left Opposition Anarchists) cling to the outmoded Globularist scientism promoted by Columbus as though it were objective truth and not a means of legitimizing oppression.
Even Deep Ecologists are not immune from the intellectual hegemonic culture promoted by Columbus. The idea that we live on a “beautiful ball of white and blue” may liberate animals from human domination, but it does nothing to address the power imbalances created by the conquest of the New World. In particular it does nothing to critique the ideological hegemonic superstructure that defines modern science since the time that “Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” Even the very language constructed by the progressive and liberal bourgeoisie to define the American and French Revolutions derives its semiotics from Spanish and Portuguese imperialism. The American Revolution is begun by the “shot heard ‘round the world.” The French Revolution attempted to measure “the globe.” Even Marx and Engels accepted the truth claims of English imperialism and its inconsistent claim that the “sun never sets on the British Empire” while it apparently does set on smaller countries.
Some radicals who cling to scientism might point to the Foucalt Pendulum and the Coriolis Force as objective truths that are not semiotic constructions. This is a valid objection to a point, but these comrades may wonder whether or not it is sound. We have not properly explored culturally varied schema for explaining the Foucalt Pendulum. We have accepted the Coriolis narrative, a narrative based on mathematical semiotics which are constructed by a set of functionaries of bourgeois capitalism with all of the prejudices of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment is only one way of viewing Nature and her ways. But, more to the point, even Renaissance Humanism has its implied cultural and ideological biases. Christopher Columbus never broke free from those biases. His “science” should not be beyond critique.
To my knowledge, no radical has ever challenged the dominant Globularist assumption. This may well be what has prevented genuine radical change from spreading across the Earth. Indeed, the oppressed may be limited in getting together if they take it as grounded in the “State of Nature” that some must be asleep at night while others are awake during the daytime. Instead of seeing this as the attempt of the ruling class at thwarting genuine popular democracy for the sake of preserving the limited representative republicanism of the Lockean tradition, working people assume that their oppressed comrades “on the other side of the Earth” (a divisive construct if there ever was one) would be asleep. Globularism has its roots in patriarchy, racism, chauvinism, anthropocentrism, and homophobia. “Anthropocentrism” may be somewhat beyond the scope of this essay, but remember that the Earth as Mother may have a gynocentered gendered recalcitrance to any attempt to give her a third spatial dimension that is equivalent to her other two dimensions. More to the point, Globular imperialism has its roots in the very system that has colonized not only “the globe” but even our symbolic representations of Earth.
Let me end with a critique of those who would demand that we accept the “truth” promoted not only by Columbus but also by later explorers such as Magellan or Captain Cook, whose claims to have affirmed the Globular imperial narrative are presumably much firmer. Indeed, for indigenous cultures around the world, we can only assume that they would have wished have fallen off the world. That very wish may also contain a truth that we should explore. The United Nations was founded as the collective will of global imperialism, both western and Stalinist. We can assume that the western capitalists and (counter-revolutionary) Stalinists alive during the various Bretton Woods conferences may have been privy to modes of knowledge kept among themselves that public education, representing ruling hegemony, would have suppressed. Let us look at the United Nations flag that formed from many of their efforts:
Studying this image may give a sense of purposeful exploration on the parts of the elites of Earth of the boundary between language and Nature not readily explored with the globes that are manufactured for popular conception. We do not endorse conspiratorial narratives, but one should notice that Terra Firma does not “look fat” in this picture.
This is not a call to suppress Globularism. Rather, it is a call to explore other educational narratives to do not claim the western “objectivity” model but which are honest in being culturally grounded. In particular, we would hope to expand the educational opportunities of minorities and indigenous youth by allowing them to explore a Zetetic model of Astronomy to enhance their learning. Objections that “employers do not want employees” that challenge the theory and praxis of Globularity, in particular employers in the sciences, are valid to a point. However, any proper critique of capitalist hierarchicalism requires that employer demands no longer run education, any more than State Bureaucrats. Education needs to be run outside of Structure, outside of Method, and yes, outside of Hierarchy itself. Indeed, “Workers of the World Unite” would be a lot easier to obtain without the “curved Earth” construct getting in the way of everyone joining hands for a better tomorrow, the sunrise of social justice that all can view together.
Scholardarity: It is here that the document seems to end. While we are not certain that its author is Alan Sokal, and while we are ourselves “Globularists” and not Zetetic in our beliefs, we still present this viewpoint for the sake of intellectual freedom. We publish this in the hopes that we break through the Ice Wall of intellectual debate. In the event that this is in fact a hoax, and that Alan Sokal did not write it, we hope that Dr. Sokal and the Flat Earth Society would at least have a sense of humor.
The Utilitarian Stance
~ Section 1 ~
The Pursuit of “Pleasure”:
What Utilitarianism Could Not Be
There are many things that people strive to obtain: Wealth, power, jobs, friends, material goods, loving relationships… . Is “pleasure” one of them? Well, if by ‘pleasure’ one simply means pleasant experiences, I think the answer is “yes, of course.” But it has sometimes been thought that there is a thing called ‘pleasure’ which is a distinguishable but inseparable element in all pleasant experiences, and furthermore, that this element is the sole thing that is desired for its own sake, and that obtaining it is the one true motive that drives all our actions. I will call this belief ‘psychological hedonism,’ and in the present section my goal is to argue that it is misguided.
It is undeniable that there are pleasurable experiences, but I see no reason to think that the term ‘pleasure’ denotes a distinguishable element within them. For my part, when I examine what I consider to be a pleasurable experience—the sweet taste and crisp-yet-gooey texture of a caramel apple; the cool, wet feeling of an ocean wave breaking over me on a warm summer day; looking up and seeing the subtle, mesmerizing glow of the Milky Way against a dark, moonless sky—I can observe nothing but the experience itself, and though I call all of them ‘pleasurable’, I can find no one thing that is common to them all. When I bite into a caramel apple, I do not experience sweetness and crispness and gooey-ness and pleasure; I experience only the first three, and they are enough to satisfy me. I desire the sweetness, crispness, and gooey-ness themselves, not as a means to something that accompanies them. I may have a feeling of contentment upon this desire’s satisfaction, but this does not make that feeling the object of that desire. In any case the feeling is an emotion with a phenomenology of its own, and while its qualities are not as easily describable in words as are those of my experience of the apple, they can still be identified in consciousness. It seems to me that what makes the feeling one of contentment is that I like the qualities themselves, not something else which is conjoined both with them and with the taste and texture of the apple.
If one feels inclined to disagree with me about this sort of case, consider the emotional experience of loving someone or feeling loved by them, of feeling proud of one’s accomplishments or one’s children’s, or of feeling hopeful about the future after one’s favored candidate has just won the presidential election. These are all powerful emotions with quite different phenomenologies. One likes all of these experiences and desires to have them, but beyond this liking or this desiring, is there really some one thing which is common to them all in virtue of which one likes or desires them? Others may, after reflecting on their experience, discover some such thing which they choose to call ‘pleasure’, but I am certain there is no such principle in me. But if experience should turn out to prove that others are like me in this respect, we may say that matters are quite the reverse of what a psychological hedonist imagines: We do not desire something because we find it pleasurable; we rather call something ‘pleasurable’ because we do in fact desire it.
“All well and good,” one might say, “but what is the significance of this?” Well, for one thing, it shows that human actions are not motivationally unified in the way that psychological hedonists think they are. There is no one, simple, overarching explanation for why people do what they do. One variety of psychological hedonism, which I will call ‘psychological egoism’, holds that people always desire their own pleasure. If you donate to charity, a psychological egoist would say that either you did it to gain the pleasure resulting from the esteem and good favor of others, or because you get pleasure from the act of giving itself. If you protest that you didn’t give in order to obtain any feeling of contentment or self-satisfaction, but simply to help others, they will reply that it is the pleasure you get from the thought of helping others that makes you act as you do. The betterment of others’ lives can at the most be desired as a means to your own pleasure, it can never be desired for its own sake.
If I’m right, this kind of simplistic explanation of your behavior is wrong: There is no such thing as “pleasure” pure and simple, so it can never be an object of your desire. The claim that one always desires to help others as a means of producing pleasant experiences in oneself is an empirical one, and one that is almost certainly false. It may be true that some always desire to help others as a means of producing pleasant experiences in themselves, but it is by no means necessary that all should do so, for it is perfectly possible to desire to improve the lives of others for its own sake. One can take pleasure in their welfare as such; not, or not just, in the experiences that their welfare or the thought of it produces in oneself.
For another thing, the truth of my thesis would show that the distinction between “hedonic” or “pleasure” utilitarianism and “desire” or “preference” utilitarianism is not a very sharp one. If we construe hedonic utilitarianism as the idea that we should produce the greatest amount of pleasure for the greatest number; ‘pleasure’ being understood in the way that the psychological hedonist understands it, then it is misguided, for it tells us to produce the greatest amount of something that does not exist. This is what utilitarianism could not be.
If, however, we construe it as the idea that we should produce the greatest amount of pleasant experiences for the greatest number, it might be true; but if so, it would not, I think, be the whole truth. For if one can take pleasure in things besides experiences, and utilitarianism is about maximizing pleasure, shouldn’t those things be promoted as well? This is basically what is called “desire” or “preference” utilitarianism, but if the obtainment of what we desire or prefer is just what pleasure is, there are no grounds for distinguishing between it and hedonic utilitarianism, provided that we understand the latter to include the production of the greatest amount of non-experiential as well as experiential pleasures. It is this kind of utilitarianism that I wish to explore in what follows.
Edward Snowden: Letter to the Editor of Scholardarity
To Whom It May Concern:
Concerning the attempt of the entire media establishment and political class to label Edward Snowden a traitor, I want to try to shed the light of logic and a firm grasp of history. Firstly, let us remember that massive data collection has nothing to do with terrorism. The idea that the two would be connected is illogical. The way to fight terrorism is a narrow focus on key markers, not a broad based surveillance of millions of people. Such a sloppy method would be the least likely way to capture a terrorist. Indeed, terrorists assume that they are potentially monitored at all times, as do criminals. Terrorists are not the focus of such a broad method of eavesdropping, contrary to the pretexts given by Washington DC. The issue is the mass surveillance of entire groups of people for data collection purposes is an issue of social intelligence, not an issue of curtailing terror. Studying human history we can only assume that governments want to know as much about their people as possible in order to govern populations more effectively. This is true of all governments, dictatorships and “democracies” alike.
If Edward Snowden is a traitor for revealing a mass violation of the Fourth Amendment, then who is the enemy? It is a logical question. Generally we consider a traitor someone who reveals plans to the enemy. But if we concede that terrorists already know that they are potentially monitored, if we concede that for all of their feigned surprise foreign governments know that they are being monitored (they return the favor), then who is the enemy that Snowden alerted?
Mr. Snowden did nothing other than reveal an illegal activity. He did nothing to aid any enemy. He also did nothing to violate any Oath because no Oath supersedes the Constitution. As for the idea that he should have gone to Congress or the FBI, it would appear that both entities have been made aware of the NSA program after the leak and neither have done anything to stop it. Going to either would have been ineffectual as they both currently know of the operation and neither have done anything to curtail it. As for the objection that Mr. Snowden fled to Russia or China instead of standing his ground, I can only surmise that it is a strange time when an American must flee to China or Cuba in order to be free of arbitrary and capricious power. We are indeed in strange times.
By Jason Zarri
David K. Lewis opined
Possibilia should never be quined:
Accept possible worlds, and a paradise unfolds
None greater than which you can find.
And just so you know, I think that’ll be it on the limericks for a while. 😉
By Jason Zarri
Ayn Rand had an ideology
To found philosophy on a tautology:
All A are A, at the end of the day
And therefore, you must do things her way!
Willard V. Quine had a plan
To put analyticity under the ban
He scotched the Two Dogmas, and fought ever onwards
To show modality was a sham