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Comments by bob

On “Does anyone really hold those truths to be self-evident?


Ay yes, the legions of materialism are many.

Nihilism being the main charge.

Functionally, I think nihilism is the emotional acting out of those who are frustrated and thwarted in their relation with the world.

The implications of recognizing ourselves as completely contigent beings are no more nihilistic than any version of eternalism anyone has discussed here. If anything, those in the throes of nihilism often implicitly believe they themselves exist - how can "anything is permitted" be true for some one who doesn't exist?

The issue is how we understand what it means to exist, rather than the existence of existence or non-existence.

The issue is how do we reconcile our manifest contingency with the compelling experience of our point-of-viewedness.

The word most used to do this is "embodied" - experience is a physical phenonomen embedded in our bodies which are embedded in the world.

This of course suggests that the word "individual" could use some redefining.

I think this approach is different enough from our hapbitual patterns of thought that we might have a chance of using it to better out situation rather than conducting a little mental interior decorating.


Evolutionary psychology provides another direction for locating the basis of rights - our biology.

In a pluralistic society it has the appeal finding rights in the bodies we all posess.

Just as our physical form is the result of adaptation, so are the structures of our individual and group psychologies. Indeed, religion then becomes an adaptation.

The ontology of this will be disturbing to many. The evidence is controversial. But I think it is worthy of consideration.



"Regardless, movies reached a never since duplicated level when Moe, Larry and Curly performed."

Which is why, I'm guessing, we all such fans of politics.



The stooges clip is exactly what I was talking about and it still makes me laugh.

The MP clip though is so true to life - well, just now watching it, my wife rushed in the room to make sure I was all right.


I've been enjoying the images you put up here.

I was never one for the movies until about 15 years ago when I suffered a brain injury (explains a lot, doesn't it?). At first, I just lay in bed watching TCM.

The only movies I'm sure I watched during that period were "The Big Clock" and some Three Stooges film involving plumbing.

Anyway... keep 'em coming!

On “Forgetting Wilson (Reply to Jonah Goldberg)


The literary critic Harold Bloom years ago said the defining characteristic of the post WWII literarature was its "belatedness" ie that the giants of literary Modernism had done all that could be done with the Modernist appraoch. Living in the shadow they cast, and all that was left to writers and poets was to admire and imitate. He compared this dynamic to Milton's relationship to Shakespeare.

That belatedness is what defines Post-Modernism and post Cold war politics.

The lack of access you point out that conservatives have to the feudal is an expression of that. The Consolation of Philosophy no longer provides the comfort it used to.

The progressive version of the belatedness is cause proliferation. For some time now, conservatives could outflank progressives with very little effort.

My point about Goldberg's "here and now" comment wasn't well thought out, but to the extent that it had substance it is this: the discoveries of neuroscience wil more and more remove discussion of the nature of the self from the metaphysical to the physical.

This will more and more undercut the authority of subjective experience.

Surely that would have a profound impact on us. Neither conservatives nor progressives will be safe. We will have no giants of any persuasion on which to rely, or evil geniuses to blame.

Even our self delusions may be quantifiable. But even then, I think our responsibilites will remain.


Goldberg's not everything post Enlightenment is Progressive observation is obviously correct, but incomplete. Cultural Modernism, provides an additional framework for analyzing this period.

The self awareness/consciousness of early Modernism helped to form Progressivism in the US in its "can do" evolutionary form.

In Europe, Modernism had already begun to embrace a deconstructivist approach before WWI actually broke out.

Both approaches though, fundamentally relied on a rejection of tradition. I think this is the mostly unarticulated part of all the drama about Wilson and the progresives.

The anti-communism of the Cold War right carried the freight for the right's anti-modernism. This enabled the right participate in the technological, "can do", part of modernism while rejecting its political (progressive/technocratic) expression.

The religious right now provides the cultural answer to modernism for the right, but not as successfully. The religious right's form of religion tends to feel threatened by some scientific findings or directions of research. This leaves the right open to the attack of being "anti-science".

Commentators have struggled to find a term to describe the cultural era we are in now. "Post-Modern" is generally used, but is not very satisfying.

I believe neuroscience will increasingly come to culturally define the near future. If so, Goldgerg's "here and now" will truly be uncharted territory.

On “Light posting… some soundings…

I ran across this recently positing "Neuro-capitalism" as a new stage of capitialism.


A point of clarification, any interest in for example free will is probly from neuroscientists, who may or not be medical doctors.

Clinical neuologists do tend toward being more mechanic like.

But the reseachers get pretty wild. For example some have posited that consciousness is a quantum mechanics process.

I don't pretend to understand this, but just for fun:

This is not some nut job. People take him seriously.

The main issue with these ideas coming from science is that they are potetially verifiable and repeatable. magine, scietifically verafiable philosophy!

Thanks for the compliment about the depth of my knowledge about this. I assure you, it's completely misplaced.

As this stuff begins to enterthe popular awareness, global warming will look like a field with overwhelming consensus.

I have seen some on the left try to incorporate some of the research into their thinking, but not really on the right.


"My brain made me do it!" defense already has a substantial foothold in the justice system.

The practical ramifications of all this go to the very basis of eg our legal system. is a start in understanding this emerging field.


The existence of free will is a hot topic now in neuroscience. I think more properly, it is a matter of comming to a coherent definition.

In any event, neuroscience, while still in its infancy, is sufficiently advanced to have pretty much eliminated the need for the ghost in the machine.

So the focus has shifted to describing the existence, or nature (depending on one's inclinations) of consciousness.

The thing is, mere reductionism doesn't make any more sense than the idea of a changeless, eternal soul. So some have taken to talking about the embodied or encultured brain to convey the dynamic web in which our consciousnesses are embedded.

History is an artifact of consciousness.

If, against the emerging evidence, we see consciousness itself as a thing in some neo-platonic sense, then we will naturally reify the components of history. That is the norm.

To see consciousness, and therefore history as a "becomingness", presents more interesting possibilities.

I just needed to get that off my chest.

On “CONTENTION OF THE DAY – National Poetry Month

The last of the flyway hawks had been keeping me company this morning on the first leg of my hike through a nearby nature preserve. As I rounded a bend in the trail 4' high stakes with pages of paper attatched appeared.

I thought they must be nature facts for some elementary school field trip, but no, each page had written on it a poem. About 15 of them altogether.

A few I thought good, a couple used "suck" liberally.

Undoubtedly, an echo of National Poetry Month.

On “Soon to be lapping up on a shore near you…


Sure, but the “regulators” are more geared by their natural tendancy to “fix” everything,to “fix” a disaster.

The point I'm pursuing, is that these regulators are in fact the embodied expression of the people's desire to remedy a problem.

Pointing out the imprefections of regulators and regulations does not refute this, but rather points to the imperfectability of life, at least on this plane of existence.

Antiboitics have saved many lives. The overuse of antibiotics is a serious problem that imperils many lives in the context of us assuming antibiotics exist and are effective. The answer to their overuse is not to not use them at all.

The professed conservative strategy that it is better to just wait out a problem, is similar to just waiting out a bacterial infection.

The problem is not the existence of regulations, but rather their inappropriate use. What constitutes inappropriate here is harder and messier to figure out than the case of antibiotics to be sure. But life is hard and messy.


@ CK

Because there will be headlines, and those who are invested, or taken to be invested, in denial and in seemingly unbounded confidence in technology, corporate responsibility, or maybe theoretically self-correcting market mechanisms are going to be at a distinct disadvantage when the public is alarmed and furious.

In recent days here, there has been discussion about Progressivism and progressivism and how those inclined in either direction have their heads up their asses.

Well, this spill is where it all comes from. You can talk about Wilson and the Teddys (both R and K), but it takes and event or a series of events to actualize the ideas. This may be such an event.

As I leftie, I hope so. But I also try to be aware of my confimation biases not to mention the possibility of over reaction.

So what is the conservative policy path here?

From theCato Institute this:

As damaging as the spill is, one major accident every 40-plus years (the Santa Barbara channel spill was in 1969) is something we can live with, given that we get about one-third of our oil from offshore platforms, which provide an enormous benefit to our economy and to everyone who drives.

Now, while I strongly disagree with this, I can understand it. I can even admire the "this is where the rubber hits the road" quality of it.

But I wonder if it is what CK is talking about in the above quote.

On “Sarah Palin shouldn’t be pretending Glenn Beck is normal

JoeNS, If the income tax, SS and Medicare were enacted with popular support, and continue to have popular support, where is the despotism?

If Health Care reform was lawfully enacted by properly elected officials, where is the depotism? If it does not have popular support, what prevents its repeal? Do we really want to have a call to arms every time somebody doesn't like a law?

If the people transform the country into a progressive society, and retain the Contitutional mechanisms for the continued alteration of our govt, where is the depotism? Are the people only sovereign if their govt conforms to your point of view?

Jefferson approved of the alteration of govt. The Constitution is, if anything, a blueprint for the continual alteration of govt so as to make the extreme step of its removal, unnecessary. The Constitution does not specify ideology, its specifies function and process.

Get upset. Rally your confreres. Raise money. Engage the political process. Use hyperbole, distortion and rhetoric. Vote.

Then maybe, consider getting off your high horse.

*Comment archive for non-registered commenters assembled by email address as provided.


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