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On “Stephen Walt: Trump Has Already Blown It – Foreign Policy

(thanks for this discussion - also gives me a nice at hand basis for implementing the discussion "snake" at this site... in a bit)



Undoubtedly there is a temperamental courage, a warlike blood, which loves a fight, does not feel itself except in a quarrel, as one sees in wasps, or ants, or cocks, or cats.

Very nice bit there by Emerson. Should have been a blogger, though the passage you pick might give the impression he defined courage without reference to that which might be feared.


Yeah, courage is perhaps a particularly fraught virtue. Emerson asserts that one must have "practical power" to have courage, so one unaccustomed to giving a speech is not faulted for being afraid t do so. He also writes:

It is plain that there is no separate essence called courage, no cup or cell in the brain, no vessel in the heart containing drops or atoms that make or give this virtue ; but it is the right or healthy state of every man, when he is free to do that which is constitutional to him to do. It is directness, – the instant performing of that which he ought.

A lot hangs on that "ought". Terrorists, snipers and ambushers all can be characterized as either courageous or cowardly depending on how one construes that "ought".


They wouldn't have to go down this road if they would lean on emphasis of organizing labor regardless of time of arrival. Open the borders & organize the workers from the world.

Anything that legally prevents such needs to be targeted for destruction. Let's see a capital L LEFT for once. Means of production talk even!

On “Stephen Walt: Trump Has Already Blown It – Foreign Policy

OK - I think I've got you now, and can see your argument.

I'm unsure about it. If problem or possible problem didn't occur to me before, that might be because I'm so disinclined to attribute any noble purpose or higher virtues to Trump at all. The question of tragedy in the highest sense would never even come up for me, but I can see that you might imagine it an open question for some.

I do think, however, it would be wrong to think of him as utterly devoid of virtues - or, for instance, to call him a "coward" as some do. I do think he possesses courage to some degree. It might be a foolish and inconsistent courage, but he's still "unafraid" in situations where angels fear to tread.

I suspect that a few people I've seen calling him a coward in social media would tremble before the prospect of, say, giving a speech to a room full of friends, much less before taking on all that Trump has taken on. More to the larger point, for better or I think much worse, of all of the individuals who put themselves forward for the presidency last year, he possessed spiritedness (thymos), expressed as machismo (and hard to separate from it), more than any of the others. Among the Rs, he often came across as a man (a deranged one) among boys. Clinton stood up to him, but couldn't overawe him: Perhaps she was calculating where we needed her to be indignant.

But if you're saying that blustering his way to the top of our heap doesn't make him a potentially tragic figure, and no one should be confused about that, I agree.


Just so. That's my point - he didn't seem to mean precisely "tragic", but only as you say "profoundly bad outcome." My poorly made point is that, given the care he takes in the rest of his essay, he should continue it to the final word.


Well, I guess we disagree then about what Walt seems to be trying to say. I'm not aware of any point where he ever has taken Trump on his own terms seriously enough to speculate about him as a (classically) tragic figure, nor do I see any other evidence that Walt's means us to understand the term in a precise, literary sense.


Certainly there is many who voted for that fellow will meet a tragic impasse - enabling the outcome they sought to avoid. But it seems to me that Walt isn't making this point - or only in passing.

In the passage you quote he writes "By that standard, in short, Donald J. Trump is already a failure. Didn’t take him long. I would say it was “Sad!” but it’s not. It’s tragic." That is he himself is the tragic figure.

As I said, I would normally let the causal use of "tragic" pass without comment. But here, if we are to understand anything about the unfolding events, I think we should use a group of words, "tragic" among them both judiciously and precisely.

On “The Data That Turned the World Upside Down – Motherboard

I got some near real-time self loading scheduled for tonight!

On “Stephen Walt: Trump Has Already Blown It – Foreign Policy

I think if Walt has any classical definition in mind, then tragedy for him would be in this case on behalf not of Trump and the core Trumpists, who are more the villains in the play, but of foreign policy Realists and everyday Americans who'd staked any hope at all in the Trump disruption delivering a more Realist American strategy. Walt doesn't say whether he ever held such hopes himself, but he does lay out the, from his or his school's point of view, lost potential of the moment. So, if you believe there was such a potential, and if you believe failure to reach it is likely to equate with great waste in American blood and treasure, damage to the American interest, vast human suffering in war, and risks of global cataclysm, then the effect would probably satisfy two definitions of tragedy, and certainly the looser one - of a profoundly bad outcome.


Normally I let the casual use of "tragic" pass without comment. But here, and I suspect increasingly, what we mean by "tragic" when we say "tragic" matters.

Is it the Oedipal, earnest pursuit of doing the right thing only to have the disaster we sought to avoid be the result? Or is it an expression of the soteriological distaste of bad things happening to good people?

Walt guesses that that fellow has no endgame in mind, relying on esoteric plans that have no exoteric correlate. That fellow says he will save us all, we need only to believe.

If so it seems to not even have the good faith of hubris. If so it is not tragic, only mere dementia.

On “The Data That Turned the World Upside Down – Motherboard

Thanks for all the clarifications.

Yeah, not only am I a Twitter holdout but FB as well. Both Karen and Emma are on FB and get a lot out of it, but it sounds like the overload would outweigh any benefits for me.

My guess yesterday when I saw the comment was in moderation was that the changes you've made inadvertently meant that having to re-enter my name etc, meant it went into moderation. In the past I've had to re-enter name etc if I hadn't commented in some shortish period, but that did not mean it went into moderation.

So let's see...


Plus another crappy thing about my description: "Near real-time auto-loading" might read like your is going right from you fingers into the void for all to see before you're done with it. All the phrase really means or is meant to mean is that, while you're reading or writing, OTHER people's comments will be loaded without your having to refresh the page.

It's currently set at "polls every 30 seconds." Going any faster imposes a load on the server, especially at a busy site. Alternatives include a message-link that alerts you to, for example, the existence of 3 new comments that you could load. You may have run across that approach elsewhere. Less resource-ravenous, but don't have enough traffic here to worry about it, I don't think.


Since you're an anti-Twitter holdout, I don't expect you to get what the rest of us deal with. Anyway, I should have said "new comment format for some threads."


Aktuelly, my fiendish plan is to keep the normal comments normal, but to continue to look for ways to narrow the gap between Twitter conditions and blog conditions, for a certain type of discussion. I would need a more expensive account than I wish to rent at this time to close it completely in terms of immediate gratification, but the idea is to get close enough for the kind of discussions that break out from time to time in the Twitterzone, but also make them accessible to people like you and me who actually prefer to keep things literary-like and to be able to go over 140 characters at will.


I see you got "moderated" - wondering if it's going to be a one-time thing - veteran commenters having to put up with moderation - or whether it's a bug. What happens if you try commenting again?


"near real time self loading"? My occasional insight and rhetorical success usually depends on taking my time - some times a lot of it. And, as you note in Extraordinary Comments "Comments that add as much to this site as the posts do". Many of these, and other, more ordinary, but enjoyable comments and exchanges here are longish to quite long.

And of course there's the comments here I've written and didn't post because I realized I hadn't thought it through as much as I thought I had, or were not really how I wanted to represent myself.

So I look t any effort to keep things brief as a bit of a loss. I suppose there's a self loading time that strikes a balance. I look forward to the experiment.


Will do a full-fledged post introducing the new commenting format when it's a little more tested and refined, and when I've decided on whether to incorporate two or three additional features. I think the linked article happens to be quite interesting in its own right, however - and from a side perspective follows up on a Twitter Colloquy from a few days ago - which, like most good ones, soon got overwhelmed with name-tags and hard to follow.

This Commenting Beta features Ajaxed (near-real-time self-loading) comments, a standing inducement to keep things brief, comment shareability via Twitter, comment-up/down voting, and commenter ignore button, in-reply-to linking, comment subscriptions, comment-editing, and thread sorting.

In addition to adding some social services, I expect to be integrating comment and commenter highlighting, comment snaking, commenter archives, comment formatting, comments-since-last-visit, and probably some other things I've forgotten.

On “Citizen Trump’s Path of Least Resistance to a Classy Profitable Exit

Trumpigula appreciates the recognition. You can read his official biography at

On ““Human nature only really exists in an achieved community of minds.” – Hegel

NB: A bit of initial research suggests that wissen refers back etymologically to seeing and brightness - "enlightenment" - while "scientia" refers back to "separating," "distinguishing." Though eventually the two are inseparable - since to be seen a thing must be distinguished/separated from what it isn't (Hume devotes significant attention to this) - they do seem to me to suggest two different orientations toward orientation or perspectives on perspective. It is in this sense not possibly a coincidence that Hegel devotes the first section of the Phenomenology to explaining or questioning (Hegel-splaining!) the problems with notions of a simple seeing or sensing of a thing, or the fallacy of immediate mediation of being, or the nonsense of common sense about sensation...


I assume you're joking a bit with the last: Hegel doesn't express any noticeable fear regarding the common sense man, just rejects the significance as philosophy of his statements. They might be categorized as non-philosophic in this sense, and become anti-philosophic or inimical to philosophy only to the extent that anyone insists on treating them otherwise, in particular as a substitute or replacement for philosophy.

Hegel devotes much more time in the Preface to critiquing the precursors or different types of precursor of contemporary "scientific realism" or materialism or scentism, etc., and returns to the subject in the main text and in other works. It qualifies as a if not, understood broadly, the major theme of his work, as to what is authentically "scientific." Even the difference between the English and German words for "science" or "Wissenschaft" point to the division, or struggle for superiority, apparent in your example, since the etymology in the German is so much closer to the surface - a compound of two common words, Wissenschaft suggesting "enterprise/way/art/project/making of knowledge/knowing" vs. the to English speakers more obscure derivation from "scientia" (i.e., a loan word from Latin). You could say the Anglo-American tendency is to idealize (or even spiritualize) materialism, to transubstantiate substance, while the Continental tendency is the reverse. Absolute knowing as grasped by Hegel obviously would encompass both tendencies and the motion from one to the other... and other things and non-things.


Thanks for contextualizing the context. It reminds me of a discussion I've been running across that places philosophy in the same inferior position to neuroscience as Hegel places common sense to philosophy.

In this discussion, philosophy become an extension of the heuristic approach begun by common sense. This approach, as subtle and nuanced as it may be in some of its iterations, is still armchair thinking about thought. This is the source of thinking of consciousness as the "hard problem".

Neuroscience tends toward a reductionism toward consciousness that renders the skeptic-centerism of philosophy as only another heuristic.

So here, Hegel's observation, as resonant as it is (and even I think it is), falls in on itself as an example of what it criticizes.

So for example, that fellow is a pure example of Hegel's common sense man as we are likely to find. And he indeed is frightening and anti-the-human as we are likely to find. To analyze him as a neuroscience specimen is unsatisfying and probably useless. So we are left only with our common sense.


I'd invite you to read the larger-larger context.

¶   69. On the other hand again, when instinctive philosophy follows the more secure course prescribed by healthy common sense, it treats us to a rhetorical mélange of commonplace truths. When it is charged with the triviality of what it offers, it assures us, in reply, that the fullness and richness of its meaning lie deep down in its own heart, and that others must feel this too, since with such phrases as the “heart’s natural innocence”, “purity of conscience”, and so on, it supposes it has expressed things that are ultimate and final, to which no one can take exception, and about which nothing further can be required. But the very problem in hand was just that the best must not be left behind hidden away in secret, but be brought out of the depths and set forth in the light of day. It could quite well from the start have spared itself the trouble of bringing forward ultimate and final truths of that sort; they were long since to be found, say, in the Catechism, in popular proverbs, etc. It is an easy matter to grasp such truths in their indefinite and crooked inaccurate form, and in many cases to point out that the mind convinced of them is conscious of the very opposite truths. When it struggles to get itself out of the mental embarrassment thereby produced, it will tumble into further confusion, and possibly burst out with the assertion that in short and in fine the matter is settled, the truth is so and so, and anything else is mere “sophistry” – a password used by plain common sense against cultivated critical reason, like the phrase “visionary dreaming”, by which those ignorant of philosophy sum up its character once for all. Since the man of common sense appeals to his feeling, to an oracle within his breast, he is done with any one who does not agree. He has just to explain that he has no more to say to any one who does not find and feel the same as himself. In other words, he tramples the roots of humanity underfoot. For the nature of humanity is to impel men to agree with one another, and its very existence lies simply in the explicit realisation of a community of conscious life. What is anti-human, the condition of mere animals, consists in keeping within the sphere of feeling pure and simple, and in being able to communicate only by way of feeling-states.

Hegel, Georg. Phenomenology of the Spirit (Kindle Locations 1096-1114). Pettis-Lovell Independent Publishers Ltd.. Kindle Edition.

Eventually, you might have to read the three paragraphs on "Natural philosophizing"... and then the entire Preface, and then the entire Phenomenology of Mind, and so on, and so on, in the effort to reach a fair judgment, but, failing that, the type to which Hegel is here referring seems familiar enough to me. The end of the passage points to what MacIntyre calls "emotivism" and what in our own time further underlies the "post-Truth" political world (and the "post-modern" stance and condition often mis-attributed to Hegel via uses of "historicism" against which Hegel warned). Nor in that passage does Hegel question the "humanity" of the common man, but rather the latter's commitment to the human as Hegel (somewhat like Aristotle and somewhat anticipating Heidegger, among others) defines the human.

In an event, my intended uses for the main sentence have to do with my theory of discourse, a subject or one subject in which my interests as a web developer, writer, and political observer happen to coincide. I've outlined or begun to outline the framework at other times - for instance in the Read the Comments series (as much in the accompanying diagrams as in the argument), and have intermittently begun work on more direct treatments that would need to be gathered together, from fragments deposited over decades (ever since that etymological diagram first occurred to me...), occasionally re-expanded whenever I ran across something, like Levinas's ideas on dialogue or Hegel's description of the reception of a work of art or literature in a later section of the Phenomenology, but there always seems to be a mountain of lesser supporting tasks to climb over first... having to do with keeping body and soul together...

So... back to the grindstone for now...


I'll be interested to see how you make use of this. To me, it seems like a straw man argument. "The man of common sense" as described, resembles my drunken relatives trying to have a political discussion during a holiday dinner. Sober, most of them were reasonably reasonable people. Yet I came to recognize their humanity in both modes. The "roots" and "nature" of humanity surely include both impulses, manifesting at different times, to different degrees, in the same individual according to the ebb and flow of both nature and nurture.

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