Comment at American Creation on Strauss and the Problem of Belief

Sorry I didn’t get back to you on this earlier, JR – although what I mainly have to say is that I think we handled the question about as well as we’re going to handle it on that other thread. My main point is that a remark about philosophers isn’t the same thing as a philosophical remark, and that considering it philosophically is different from considering it in terms of, say, intellectual history. Strauss took a certain position on philosophy v revelation or Athens v Jerusalem, and it’s a position both on the practice of philosophy and on the essence of philosophy or of the truth. The two positions within the one position are intimately connected and even mutually defining, but they are not the same: What philosophers are “paid” to do, or what the accepted uses of the role of “philosopher” are, and what philosophy is or should be, or what we could confidently state about what philosophy is or what is philosophy, might be very different things. As for what a philosopher can believe, Strauss’s position on the essence of philosophy amounts to a belief that it is a practice in denial of belief. A true philosopher cannot believe in God, and cannot believe in the absence of God, because a true philosopher questions all belief and so in effect questions belief itself. So, except for the sake of making a kind of sociological point or a point about common speech – in which the vagueness of the god concept is overlooked, as though everyone somehow knows what everyone else means by the word “God” – he might as well have said, “No philosopher believes,” and left it there: “Belief in God” would be a redundancy, properly speaking: The problem is a willingness to accept revelation at all as authoritative or possibly authoritative, as prior to and determinative for its own interpretations, which, to the extent they are philosophically serious interpretations, interpretations which philosophy would be capable of taking seriously, would be interrogations at least admitting the possibility of doubt, offered in the mode and from the standpoint of possible falsification, which for the true believer is unacceptable: blasphemy, poisoning the minds of the young, and so on.

Source: American Creation: Sully is Back


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President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics.

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The texts, posted on a darknet website run by a hacktivist collective, appear to show Manafort’s family fretting about the ethics, safety and consequences of his work for Yanukovych. And they reveal that Manafort’s two daughters regarded their father’s emergence as a key player on Trump’s presidential campaign with a mixture of pride and embarrassment.

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If there's anything mitigating the bad news for the White House here, it is that Comey may have also sent subtle signals that the matters under investigation are not principally about the personal conduct of Trump himself. While this is speculation, I do not believe that if Comey had, say, validated large swaths of the Steele dossier or found significant Trump-Russia financial entanglements of a compromising variety, he would have said even as much as he said today. I also don't think he would have announced the scope of the investigation as about the relationship "between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government" or "coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts"; these words suggest one step of removal from investigating the President himself. If the latter were the case, I suspect Comey wouldn't have used words suggestive of the Flynn-Manafort-Page cabal.

But that's reading a lot into a relatively small number of tea leaves. What is clear is that this was a very bad day for the President. In it, we learned that there is an open-ended Russia investigation with no timetable for completion, one that's going hang over Trump's head for a long time, and one to which the FBI director is entirely committed.

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State of the Discussion

bob
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+ Yeah, I read C's comments as trying to do a variety of things at the same time, having the effect of making interpretation more difficult. Any [. . .]
Benjamin Wittes: How to Read What Comey Said Today – Lawfare
bob
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+ Sure, so why do they have "work Phones" they take home? Even if they don't have fate of the world responsibilities, who they work [. . .]
Isenstadt and Vogel: Paranoia seizes Trump’s White House – POLITICO

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