Further Clarifications on the Idea of Art

It is our intention to help make this subject thinkable to man, visible and feelable to man.

The primal may be automatically grasped, as in some steady, pulsating rhythm in music, distorted or contorted faces in pictures, and so on. But these must call to mind some already known experiences or ideas of experiences.

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Science, Pt. 2

In thinking about this science thing, I've gotten a little side-tracked by something I heard Leonard Bernstein say a while back in a Norton Lecture on music and language.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3HLqCHO08s
The whole thing is good, but the highlights:
Starting at 15:10 - 16:20 - Substantive Universals
Starting at 16:36 and following - Etymology and monogenesis of language
Especially 27:00 and following, certain notes may be universal

What is "Science"?

Science... what is meant by the word "science"? Etymologically, science comes from a Latin noun "scientia" which is a kind of knowledge, and this noun comes from a present participle "sciens", which is "a knowing or understanding", and that comes from the verb "scio", "I understand or know". So, science is "a knowing" of some kind, distinguished from a belief or intuition. It is a factual kind of knowing, in the sense of knowing a pot is hot, the sun is shining, or that we call frozen water "ice". It is not the kind of knowing that is involved with knowing you are healthy, or knowing the sun will rise tomorrow. This kind of knowing is concrete. I suspect that it is knowledge tied to the senses, therefore something demonstrable.

Close Reading

On the Art of Horsemanship


Nietzsche

After reading more and more Nietzsche, I have decided to start, if possible, a discussion of Nietzsche, his themes, his ideas, his way of writing, and his effect on the reader. To that end, I invite anyone to start a discussion anywhere on the site, in the forums, in blogs, in articles, in polls... I will link them all together under this book. I thought we'd let the organization be organic, just to see how it goes.

Libertarianism and Personal Responsibility

We are told, and told rather smugly, that one of the main flaws in libertarianism is to be found in its inability process personal responsibility and then assign it accordingly. This criticism is altogether incorrect. To the libertarian responsibility is always of a personal nature. It is many of the other ideologies that seek to diminish individual culpability by demanding that responsibility become a communal affair. It is many of the other ideologies that choose to punish the innocent so as to relieve the guilty from the consequence of their action.

On the difference between Captitalism and Socialism on the Matter of Greed

There are those that deride capitalism as an economic system on the basis that it is one predicated upon greed. Most of these persons are disqualified from being taken seriously in any discussion as they time and again demonstrate an inability to distinguish between the system of capitalism extinguished circa 1913 and the system of socialism (corporatism) that replaced it.

Models

I was originally going to write a book review of David Bolotin’s An Approach to Aristotle’s Physics, but I decided not to do so… instead, I’d like to share a problem with you.

I have been, over the past few weeks, increasingly agitated by physics, specifically physics understood as (tentative) descriptions of the world around us. Arriving at difficulties, the problem more and more appears to be our language. I am a big fan of English, but it does have its limitations, which is why it is always a good idea to study other languages, because they have different constructions, different words for different phenomena, such that one may be at a loss significantly less than one would otherwise find themselves.

Dawkins, Probability, and Language

I am still reading and still digesting. This repose is meant to be a discussion of things only so far. Let us start with probability. Everyone has some understanding of probability, and everyone knows a few things about the probability of some cause having some effect. If I drop a brick, it will, with incredibly high probability fall toward the earth’s center, assuming that I am on the earth and every condition is normal from our current perspective. If I flip a coin, assuming it is a fair coin, will have a probability of landing on heads half the time.

Dawkins II

I have a deep respect for Richard Dawkins after reading his work. I can't seem to stop reading The Selfish Gene. The only thing I can say as any criticism can best be said in the words of Karl Popper. "Are we justified in reasoning from [repeated] instances of which we have experience to other instances [conclusions] of which we have no experience?" So... one has to ask how science may proceed and still be honest with itself. I have grappled and grappled with my objection to Dawkins, because I agree with most of what he says.

Dawkins

I wanted to let you know that I haven't forgotten my pledge. I am right now working on a discussion of my understandings of the few works I have at my fingertips by Richard Dawkins. I can't deny that I find myself agreeing with most of what he says. My objections are with his position and his presentation. I am embarrassed presuming to argue with Mr. Dawkins. He is a very educated man, and it is this height of presumption that will be the most difficult to overcome while raising my sincere and serious objections.

Pledge

I pledge to write at least one article per week, after I finish tweaking the site a bit, that will be either a commentary on a scholarly article, an insightful commentary on a current event or pop-culture phenomenon, or perhaps just a thoughtful musing on a serious, eternal topic.

I invite others to take such a pledge with me.

The Old and New Sites

Welcome to the Weaker Speech Network

In an attempt to make the site more user-friendly, faster, better, stronger, cheaper, more expensive, and generally awesome... as awesome as a site such as this can be, I have decided to re-do it. My apologies go out to all the people that liked the way it was before, but I did not, and a few people that I spoke with also did not care for the slowness, the unreliability of the Zikula code, and the overall blandness of the "look", so I killed that incarnation and am looking for a better format that accomodates my needs and the needs of others.

So, with that said, the articles I had up have been killed, and to my regret some of the articles written by others are also dead. I apologize a lot for this (in the sense of magnitude rather than multitude). Sorry. I will supply links in an attempt to make it up to you, but I know it won't really.

The Great Wallet of China

There are at least two certainties concerning addictions. One is that they can only be sustained by escalation. The other is that escalation is ultimately unsustainable.

As a nation we are beginning to find this out. Currently we have an addiction to cheap goods and even cheaper money. And it just so happens we can get both of these from the same place. That place is not called the great wallet of China, but it would be rather funny if it were, and not entirely inaccurate.

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On Pauline Kael on Star Wars

Somehow, someway I came across the information that Pauline Kael had not liked the movie Star Wars. I did not know what to do with this information. Or that I should really care now that I had it.

What was more intriguing was the information that I did not have. That information was the identity and even the smallest of biographies concerning this person Pauline Kael.

A Tightrope Between Beast and God - The Crisis of the Last Man: A Commentary on Zarathustra’s Prologue in Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Part I: Our Crisis

Zarathustra is a man who has spent much time in the mountains, contemplating the meaning of life and where society will go, for it is important to realize that he was once a part of society but withdrew, presumably because he found something distasteful about it, something that didn't sit well with him. He has two pets, an eagle and a snake - the eagle represents nobility and strength, and the snake represents wisdom or craftiness. The eagle is respected, because it is the exemplar of virtue or strength, something we can look to because it looks beautiful; how majestic is flight! The eagle is in the sky, and always looked up to quite literally. However, the snake, or wisdom, is something that we tend to hold in disdain, quite literally looked down on... wisdom is something we can't trust and maybe even beneath us. Do not forget that it was a snake that ruined us in Eden! We are naturally afraid of snakes, just as we are naturally afraid of wisdom, and especially those that are, or at least seem, wise... we are constantly afraid they will rob us, cheat us, or outsmart us. Rather than becoming wise, however, we tend to reject it and fear it, ultimately forsaking it. I am compelled to hold back the interpretation of Zoroaster in this, which the earnest student can take up on his/her own time.

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Really Insane Acts of Avarice

Frantz and Bourge were good to music. And after some reasonable considerations music was good to them. That is why they were spending a perfectly lonesome Saturday night at home. That is not why they didn’t hear the knock at the door.
One:

Frantz and Bourge were good to music. And after some reasonable considerations music was good to them. That is why they were spending a perfectly lonesome Saturday night at home. That is not why they didn’t hear the knock at the door.

Jefferson’s advice to the French Revolutionaries and a hope that Some People Somewhere are Listening

Sometime before the revolution (the French one . . . not the American) US Ambassador to France –Thomas Jefferson- was invited to hold a discussion as to the future of the revolutionary activities in his host nation. Jefferson reluctantly agreed to the event out of deference to patriot (both French and American) Jean Lafayette.
Jefferson’s participation was merely and mostly as host and facilitator . . . even so he still reported his activities to the court of Louis XVI in effort to avoid any compromised condition this action might have caused to the United States.

On the Price of Silver and Tea in Once Upon a Time China

For the following to be of its appropriate worth we must consider a number of likewise appropriate things. The first is that there is a serious amount of error involved with an old adage. The error is that this particular phrase assumes knowledge of history can somehow spare us the suffering of its repeat. This is often not so. A specific, or even general, knowledge of history does not indemnify you against its repeat.

On The New Ugly American

There used to be this notion of the ugly American. The ugly American was this guy that went to other countries and had no respect for the locals or their culture. He refused to learn or speak their language. He derided their architecture and cuisine. He belittled their history, philosophy and customs. He considered everything in the world to be inferior to what he had left. And then he went back home.

On Thinking

Here is a little piece I'm working on on thinking. It isn't much, but I've been working on it for a couple of days, which is probably evident from my disjointed continuity... What continuity? Anyway, this isn't the final draft, but a gathering together of notes, and I'd welcome any useful comments. I hope you get something out of it.

On Orwell, Austen, Amazon, once being fifteen and the portable ebook revolution that has -so far- not been televised.

Years ago, and by some unremedied method, i was introduced to the -then- curious notion of a paperless society. I met the prospect with a healthy trepidation. This trepidation was tempered with a likewise healthy incredulity. Both of these were understandable. Both of these still are. The proposition was mostly theoretical at that point. I was 15 or so. Almost all of life was theoretical back then.

Humanizing the Dehumanized: Understanding Fred Phelps' Frame of Reference

Foreword:

While my intent is to provide something useful to whomever wishes to understand Pastor Fred Phelps better, I must tell you that there is no substitute for getting the information for yourself from the Westboro Baptist Church, or Fred Phelps himself. Whenever we see or hear someone presenting something that is so offensive to us, we often make a very hurried attempt to dehumanize the person that offends us. Such it is with Pastor Fred Phelps. When he preaches “God Hates Fags,” we hear that and label him a hatemonger and pat ourselves on the back for not being so hateful as he. We don’t usually think about why he does what he does, what he might mean, or what motivates him. We quickly make an effort to dismiss him as a hatemonger, a closet homosexual, or anything else that will allow us to go on with our lives and not give him much thought other than a dogmatic anger and disgust for the fact that he is allowed to spew hate, and what shocks us more is that people actually buy into it. We don’t think about his frame of reference. We don’t think about his motivations. All we can think about is what a bad person he is. It’s normal. People have been doing it for a long time now, and we’ll probably continue to do it. What I want you, the reader to be able to say, after reading this, is that you can understand, maybe not agree with, but at least understand where Phelps is coming from, and that you remember that he is, after all, a finite, fallible human being. We all are. The question you need to ask yourself when examining Fred Phelps, or anybody, for that matter, is “What problems does he see that he is trying to solve?”

I'm a Liberal

This is something I wrote during the Kerry/Bush election campaign of '04. I saw everyone getting swept up in the din of election hysteria. While I do not identify with Liberals or Conservatives, from what little I know about them both I produced this little esoteric piece. I got interesting reactions from it. Conservatives tended to leave it alone and ignore it - usually just saying "hmm..." but the Liberals got positively pissed! I originally wrote it with the two types facing each other, and later, because people thought I was actually saying that I was a Liberal or a Conservative at the same time, I explained that it was a work of fiction - a very early attempt at esoteric writing... but I later wrote an explanation of what I was trying to get across to people, but then I got even more vitriol from Liberals. Apparently they don't like it said of them that they know nothing. Go figure.

Bush's Talk at UNT, 11.17.10

I will not write a report or give an objective account of what I saw. It was not momentous or earth-shattering, nor was it eye-opening or deeply spiritual. It was a lie – a noble lie.

A noble lie is a lie, but it is also at the same time noble. I do not believe that a world can exist devoid of such lies. When I look back on the event, I feel detached. It was not a profound experience for me. Whether anyone agrees with his policies, or even acknowledges the truth of what he said is finally unimportant. To love Bush or hate Bush is even less important. All that is important is the message of what he said – even more than what he said. I saw nothing on the lectern; I saw no teleprompters or note-cards. I saw a man addressing people with a message of hope. Only a pessimist would overlook such a message to find fault with mere fact. He is not a great speaker. He was witty and amusing, and even charming. He is not a demagogue by any means. Those that “love” him are equally as likely to “hate” him if it suits their own interests.

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