Republican Neoliberalism is Touching Us All.

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Antifascist's picture
"Pair of dimes" ..I missed

"Pair of dimes" ..I missed that the first time around! LOL!

I am so glad to hear Alex Jones and Max Keiser discuss paradigms. They are really on the cutting edge. They see a collective Consciousness emerging. Hey, I didn't know they were Hegelians! I'll be darn!

So I am trying to finish up paradigms per se with a last section on Paradigmatic Circularity and the Cartesian Circle. That linked article to Descartes is a very good summary and I will follow it to a point. We discussed logical circularity while dealing with (PIP) (post 371), but I steered away from methodological circularity because of the many other related issues that come with circularity.  For our epistemological interests, Theology is not the point in Descartes' argument for the existence of G-d, and for establishing certain knowledge. Cogito ergo sum is not enough to build an architecture of knowledge. There is real universal epistemological doubt based on Reason itself. Titles help develop a topic's content: Paradigmatic Circularity and The Spheres of Existence would also do as a summarizing title. So to give a very familiar example of a circular argument to think about...Here is one:

1. I see blue.
:: Therefore, blue.

.ren's picture
Yes, I was interested to hear

Yes, I was interested to hear Alex Jones bring up the paradigm concept, and I think he used it correctly to discuss how propaganda works with an in-place system to work the paradigm as it is projected to be imagined by individuals.  Thus there is this abstract paradigm, and there are the people who carry it around in some form or another in their heads. In other words, Alex implied a "working" of the paradigm through various media means in order to maintain in-place the thought structures that make independent thinking outside the box seem difficult or impossible because the paradigm has this inherent circular logic that seems so obvious ("airtight" in its tautological logic) to many people who buy into it.

A couple of things I find missing: 

In terms of paradigms, the notion of "freedom" they allude to in the segment, outside the paradigm is suggested with real basis for analysis. In other words, it's offered as an accepted truth. What I mean by that is he just uses a vague term referring to individual liberty and freedom, but he does not say how that will be acted out in experience.  Right now, for most people, experience is their job, their idea of being a professional in a hierarchical system that gives them a sense of credibility.  In the earlier segment with Stacy she even brought up the notion that people are willing to work for free to keep up the appearance on their resume that they are working.  I mean, wait a minute!  They went through that really fast without pulling out the paradigmatic implications of an individual willing to invest their time for this image, this personal sense of credibility they imagine for themselves on a resume!  Doesn't that say something about what they will do when this opportunity for liberty and freedom is in front of them?  Freedom to do what if they are willing to work for free to keep up appearances that are only relevant to a the given paradigm in place?  What will any of these protests they allude to accomplish if they merely keep this same paradigm in place and then the people get back to their so-called lives of false value based on the paradigm.  The notion that they are professionals and worthy as professionals within the system.  Take away the system itself and their professional role is meaningless.  All that education meaningless.  I think this sort of questioniing raises questions that they are not addressing as the point out that the system itself is failing, everywhere.

The other thing missing is the rest of the field of sock puppets and trolls that are also alive and well on the internet.  Yes, we know the military has been involved, and thus by extension the government.  And maybe their sock puppets and bots do ridicule people who question the government, as Max noted.  But I think he missed something even bigger that's taking place.  We here at Thom's have been dealing with a different brand of disinformationalism, and it undoubtedly comes from the anti government corporate sector, and that source in that sector was set up in a blueprint that I've mentioned many times over the past seven years I've been here: The Powell Memo.  I thought the following was in the spirit of this whole issue of bots, sock puppets and, well, this introduces Zombies which have become another root metaphor in many current entertainment media, where Hollywood entertains us with extreme examples of ourselves, Zombies, lol: The Powell Memo and the Teaching Machines of Right-Wing Extremists.

I think these disinformationalists are different from military based ones.  Both are of course complementary to the overall paradigm in place, but they are also both needed, one keeps alive the empire paradigm by ridiculing any attempts to analyze the deeply flawed government policies that keep the military  in place globally at a huge financial cost to the nation.  The military, of course, just happens to make the world "safe' for the captains of private non government neoliberal institutions.  Meanwhile the other disninformalism attempts to derail any attempt to expose the deadly parasitic paradigm of neoliberal globalism. 

The Powell Memo went out to the corporate community in 1971 -- just before Nixon put him up for nomination to the Supreme Court, which was a success so this "moderate" corporatist judge became a Supreme Court Justice -- through Powell's buddy who headed the National Chamber of Commerce.  Ten years later their poster boy, Reagan, was President.  And oh, what a success that propaganda tactic has turned out to be!  The result was in fact the rise of the corporate funded think tanks and the hiring of intellectuals to do their dirty work within them.  Such dirty work would be something like the now defunct PNAC's 2000 paper that blue printed the need for a new Pearl Harbor, and then a year later we conveniently got 9/11: Rebuilding America's Defenses


.ren's picture
Antifascist wrote: Titles

Antifascist wrote:

Titles help develop a topic's content: Paradigmatic Circularity and The Spheres of Existence would also do as a summarizing title. So to give a very familiar example of a circular argument to think about...Here is one:

1. I see blue.
:: Therefore, blue.

To be a little more in line with the thread:

1. I see free market liberalism is the essence of individual freedom.
:: Therefore, free market liberalism is the essence of individual freedom


DRC's picture
Whoa, are you falling into

Whoa, are you falling into that very "discredited" conspiracy paradigm?  All the things that are too radical to consider get lumped despite the difference between those radical ideas that account for events and evidence and those that project a dream, or nightmare.

I would add the Religious Right as another paradigm overlay that has a common interest in doing in "Liberalism" and has no commitment to democracy.  This is authoritarian religion where the charismatic "pastor" runs the church, not a Mainline denomination where lay control is actually practiced.  I wish lay leadership did express greater ownership as the form of government wants it; but the culture of entropy makes even these elected leaders look to the senior pastor for CEO leadership.  It makes it very hard for a Liberal minister to step outside the cultural range of the congregation or to "lead."  They tend to want to be liked.

On the Right, the South Shall Rise Again mentality takes a definite "God Approved" brand identity in its new found power.  Bush was sent by God, but Obama is not one of them and must be connected to the other side.  It justifies power grabs and lying.  It makes democracy one of those socialist tricks because we vote God's way.  Dissent is heresy.  From their dogma, but their dissent is always godly.

The dynamics of the sectarian cult are not appropriate to their new social context.  What was appropriate for a defeated people, out of power and treated as "second-class" at best, is to see the outside world as "fallen" and themselves as "saved" or "chosen."  It is an affirmation of their humanity in a world that discounts it.  The sociology is not the problem, and Black Religion in America deals with the same thing in general.  The Black Church affirmed the humanity of Black Americans and was an organizing base for the politics of justice to change that inequality called racism.  What we love about the Gospel tradition and think of in the life of MLK comes from the same religion of the dispossessed spirit of the defeated finally justified.

Unfortunately for Southern Whites, their defeat was not total enough to give them an "up from slavery" perspective.  Their response was to justify the Southern White community and identify its purity compared to the secular and modernist North.  The glorification of the War Against Northern Aggression and praise for the battle flag as a Southern symbol of pride was about keeping Black People in their place.  They were not called Black People.  They were not called people.  And it was all OK because God said so.  According to their Southern Baptist Preachers.  The Huckster today.

The reason the Culture War is about personal behavior instead of issues of structural justice and power is that the sociology of the sectarian community is of being powerless.  What makes you better and different is your personal morality.  It was easy to identify sexual red flags with huge political potential for exploitation.  After biracial dating lost its emotional power of rejection, gay sex could fill the bill.  And so could public standards and practices, most of which are tawdry because of commercialization.  Laws to punish personal behavior, but not to counter institutional power, are the agenda.  And leadership is about personal power and force, not about legislative majorities and the will of the people.  Their leaders know what  Americans want.  In their bones.

The reason theocracy is in the program is that it is in their controlling narrative of being justified and Rising Again.  That wishy washy Northern relativism and modernism just did not love Jesus like they do.  America needs Jesus.  And then they dress him up in military gear and think that he blesses their violence.

.ren's picture
That's great, DRC, except

That's great, DRC, except everybody on the right is not religious and they don't use the god paradigm to authorize their paradigm's legitimacy.  So, yes, add it in, but it's a variant on the major neoliberal paradigm, and is subsumed by the larger paradigm.  If not they would have broken from the Republican Party.  Sometimes they are on the verge.  Sarah Palin can be looked at as a token tossed to that group as McCain's running mate.  She of course brought other features to the race, like confusion, incoherence, disarrayed thinking under some sort of illusion she says something.  But of course within her paradigm, it is something.  And that's the joke behind any questions about persuading other people to believe in one's own paradigmatic view.

The reason theocracy is in the program is because people believe, and therefore that can be accounted for, even if in doing so, their high priests violate all that they are taught about the deeper meanings of their religious doctrines.

By the way, I think Sheldon Wolin's inverted totalitarian paradigm makes much more sense than this Bilderberg conspiracy that keeps making the rounds.  Couple that with Ellul's The Technological Society and it's correlate, Sociological Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes and you have a pretty good blueprint for a society of people who contain and depress their own liberties and freedoms.  Visions of world domination by intentional design by a small group always overlook the necessity that those being dominated participate in their own domination.

douglaslee's picture
Jack Newfield  was one figure

Jack Newfield  was one figure in powell's memo that had to be stopped. He was at the hotel in '68 with Tom Hayden, Cesar Chavez, John Louis, all united, [along with Daley from Chicago phoning in], before a bullet changed history.

.ren's picture
The Powell memo targeted some

The Powell memo targeted some individuals, it's true, it even mentioned Marcuse, who we may be discussing in the near future. 

Powell wrote:

The social science faculties usually include members who are unsympathetic to the enterprise system. They may range from a Herbert Marcuse, Marxist faculty member at the University of California at San Diego, and convinced socialists, to the ambivalent liberal critic who finds more to condemn than to commend. Such faculty members need not be in a majority.

He also mentions consumer advocate Ralph Nader:

Powell wrote:

Perhaps the single most effective antagonist of American business is Ralph Nader, who -- thanks largely to the media -- has become a legend in his own time and an idol of millions of Americans. A recent article in Fortune speaks of Nader as follows:

Fortune wrote:

"The passion that rules in him -- and he is a passionate man -- is aimed at smashing utterly the target of his hatred, which is corporate power. He thinks, and says quite bluntly, that a great many corporate executives belong in prison -- for defrauding the consumer with shoddy merchandise, poisoning the food supply with chemical additives, and willfully manufacturing unsafe products that will maim or kill the buyer. He emphasizes that he is not talking just about 'fly-by-night hucksters' but the top management of blue chip business."7

How would you like to be Ralph taking a case to the Supreme Court knowing that Lewis Powell is going to be one of the Justices?  Would that give you a nice warm fuzzy feeling?

But we are talking about the effect of paradigms on our thinking right now, so I'd also like to point out that what made the Powell memo more than a naming of problem individuals was it's author's ability to frame (what he presents as) the counter attack on this supposed continuing attack on the American Free Enterprise System.  "Frame" is a term from Neuro Linguistic Programming, and frame is a correlate of paradigm, both can be astract structures with the same sorts characteristics Anti identified in his above post: #815

What Powell does with his five page memo is what we called, when I was writing strategic plans for corporations, a systems analysis of the problem, and then he writes a problem-framing five page memo that lays out the framework for a more thorough strategic plan. It's fairly obvious a number of people developed some of those more extensive strategic plans.  The Koch brothers, for instance, are one of todays more prominant examples.  One of their well known think tanks is the libertarian Cato Institute. In other words, Powell draws a blueprint for a business community (counter) attack on this un-American threat.  It's worth looking at it in those terms, perhaps, as a way of exemplifying the underlying thrust of this argument Anti has been drawing out, that reveals the nature of paradigms and how they affect us all, often in ways we don't even recognize because they are taken for granted as "common sense."

Powell provides topic headings that frame the structure of his argument. They are as follows:


Dimension of the Attack

Sources of the Attack

Tone of the Attack

The Apathy and Default of Business

Responsibility of Business Executives

Possible Role of the Chamber of Commerce

The Campus

What Can Be Done About the Campus

Staff of Scholars

Staff of Speakers

Speaker's Bureau

Evaluation of Textbooks

Equal Time on Campus

Balancing of Faculties

Graduate School of Business

Secondary Education

What Can Be Done About the Public?


Other Media

Books, Paperbacks and Pamphlets

Paid Advertisements

The Neglected Political Arena

Neglected Opportunity in the Courts

Neglected Stockholder Power

A More Aggressive Attitude

The Cost

Quality Control is Essential

Relationship to Freedom


For Powell, and many in this country, all this is coming out of a paradigm that makes ordinary common sense.  It's a particular way of seeing the world and a logical reduction of their notion of freedom. We can, if we need to trouble ourselves, structurally diagnose that way seeing, and probably find grammatical constructions in Powell's memo that verify his basic mental paradigm that would generate such a memo.  Mental paradigms also generate a certain view on the law, and Anti has done a wonderful job of analyzing the structure of a logical positivist view of legal interpretation.  I don't have a link handy to it, but I'm sure he does.  I mean, after all, we have had many examples of this view, it may even be seen to dominate the current Republican strategy making headlines. One of the more extreme examples from the past might be the McCarthy (Wisconsin is the home of all sorts of interesting characters) communist witch hunts done under the guise of a committee called: The House Committee on Un-American Activities (which was changed in 1969 to "House Committee on Internal Security").

The Powell notion of "Attack" on Free Enterprise and the McCarthy notion of Un-American activities share that paradigmatic characteristic Anti mentioned:

Antifascist wrote:

Categorical: Paradigms reduces the world of objects and events to generalized notions of which any individual event, or object can belong. Categories are classes, or types, through which experience is organized and known. “Category” is understood here in a Kantian sense: categories are the fundamental a priori forms through which the phenomenal world is perceived. The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1967 ed., “Categories,” by M. Thompson.

To illustrate my point that this is a paradigm shared by many at the time of his writing, here is the first paragraph under the first heading (Dimension of the Attack) in the memo:

Powell wrote:

No thoughtful person can question that the American economic system is under broad attack.1 This varies in scope, intensity, in the techniques employed, and in the level of visibility.

Therefore, Marcuse, Nader, and the others mentioned, including "American lawyer most admired" William Kunstler, would not qualify as thoughtful persons by Powell's common sense paradigm if they do question that the system is under attack.  Personally I would see a big difference between a critical analysis of a system and the deleterious effects of its parts, and the notion of attack when this analysis is brought to public attention.  I guess that removes me from the category of "thoughtful person."  And that's how paradigms work!

DRC's picture
We often close the door to

We often close the door to allow us thoughtful ones to avoid the ideological flacks, but it is worth paying attention to that being our paradigm too.  The idea of "thoughtful" here is only about agree with me, it is not about respecting "thought" that comes in a different paradigm as thought, even if it is not correct in real world terms.  Powell thought in his paradigm, and we are very familiar with it.  What we don't get is why he and others believe what they believe.

ren.  I think you understood what I was saying about the Religious Right in perspective.  I see them as both a separate phenomenon rooted in the Southern religious mythology and the Power Jesus crowd at C Street and "the Family."  The Prayer Breakfast and other symbols of the power of the Religious Right are deeply tied into the reactionary Right back to McCarthy and now have media and connections.  The new GOP is the John Birch Society.  Evangelical Protestants are very corporate friendly with the exception of Sojourners.  They were happy to assist the far Right funders of the attack on social justice ministries in the Mainline denominations.

We certainly see a Catholic reactionary Supreme Court, and watch them allow tax money for parochial ed.  I would not underestimate how much "religion" is framing the narrative many of our congresscritters live in.  The rest of us may be puzzled by this perversion of Christianity and why abortion and homosexuality would ever be the central moral issues a "biblical tradition" would raise.  We may regard the TV Preachers as goofballs who say the craziest things in public.  I would not disagree, but it does touch us all a lot whether or not we take it seriously.  We need to take the people who take it seriously, seriously even if they are living in Creationismworld.

.ren's picture
DRC, of course I know what

DRC, of course I know what you meant, and I welcome it's inclusion to our paradigm analysis.  Perhaps I didn't "sell" that one well.  I do see it as a subset of a larger paradigm, and I often get a feeling that we are witnessing a petulant child trying to get its way when we get these public antics from those from the Christian Right.  Their main political leverage is the fairly consistent voting block they can whip up and bring to the polls in support of the politicians who are trying to get the principles of neoliberalism and its concomitant anti government intrusion cemented into our public policies.  After all, the powerful do need the legitimacy of votes still.  That may change, but right now they need the Christian Right. I suppose those behaviors can also be regarded as political maneuvering, but, oh my, don't they have any pride?  Or is their paradigm such that acting like petulant children is not self demeaning?

You have a much more colorful metaphorical understanding of all this religious-based politics than I.   Mine is more distanced.  The most attention I've paid to it was through the analytical works of Sara Diamond, who was a sociologist at the time she took on the project (now she's an attorney):

  • Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right, South End Press, Boston. 1989.
  • Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States, Guilford Press, New York. 1995. ISBN 0-89862-862-8
  • Facing the Wrath: Confronting the Right in Dangerous Times, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine. 1996.
  • Not by Politics Alone: The Enduring Influence of the Christian Right, Guilford Press, New York. 1998. ISBN 1-57230-385-9

which doesn't really give me a set of metaphors to match up to yours.  But I kind of know what you are talking about most of the time.

DRC's picture
Bart Simpson with a Che

Bart Simpson with a Che shirt, then Che with a Bart shirt.  There was an interesting exhibit in London of Che as Marketing.  Very cool, of course.

We have to appreciate that our Sixties Movement was young and naive.  We were met with the dark forces of empire when we thought we were going to change minds and embrace peace.  We did not know how to respond, and some went too radical while most of us observed the decline and fall of the republic.  Without being able to do much of anything to stop the powers that be.

We have not learned the lessons of Vietnam, much less what has been done in the course of empire.  Some of us are sick about it and others are sick with it.  We have no therapist on staff.

Is Tommy Hillfiger a revolutionary clothier?  Why do people wear shirts that advertise the corporations that make them.  Are they paying us to wear them?  

Antifascist's picture
Quote::: Therefore, free

:: Therefore, free market liberalism is the essence of individual freedom.

Yes, it turns out it's a metaphysical statement that can neither be said, nor shown.

I will get back you later. Great insights and analysis. I'm making money in the silver market! I could of made this same unearned income even if I was a greedy old man that didn't lift a finger to help a soul. Meanwhile I am thinking about paradigms, and circularity....have any of you ever seen "Dark Star" and the phenomenology lecture Doolittle gives to THE BOMB #20?

DARK STAR (video of scene ending)

Script....(the script begins the dialog betwee Doolittle and Bomb #20 because the video was removed--a missing resource. Oddly, it is posted in Spanish. The Mexicans are freer than we are!)

Doolittle! Doolittle, what the hell
are you doing?


Doolittle floats into shot, jets himself up until he is facing massive
Bomb #20.

Hello, bomb, are you with me?

BOMB #20
Of course.

Are you willing to entertain a few

BOMB #20
I am always receptive to

Fine. Think about this one, then:
how do you know you exist?


What's he doin'?

I think he's talking to it.


BOMB #20
Well of course I exist.

But how do you know you exist?

BOMB #20
It is intuitively obvious.

Intuition is no proof. What concrete
evidence do you have of your own

BOMB #20
Hmm... Well, I think, therefore I

That's good. Very good. Now then,
how do you know that anything else

BOMB #20
My sensory apparatus reveals it to


BOMB #20
This is fun.

All right now, here's the big
question: how do you know that the
evidence your sensory apparatus
reveals to you is correct?


Talby lies unconscious near the burned laser.


What I'm getting at is this: the
only experience that is directly
available to you is your sensory
data. And this data is merely a
stream of electrical impulses which
stimulate your computing center.

BOMB #20
In other words, all I really know
about the outside universe relayed
to me through my electrical


BOMB #20
Why, that would mean... I really
don't know what the outside universe
is like at all, for certain.

That's it.

BOMB #20
Intriguing. I wish I had more time
to discuss this matter.

Why don't you have more time?

BOMB #20
Because I must detonate in seventy-
five seconds.

.ren's picture
DRC wrote: We have not

DRC wrote:

We have not learned the lessons of Vietnam, much less what has been done in the course of empire.

Which "we" DRC?

The corporations make money from wars.  It doesn't matter which side wins.  I'm guessing these private tyrannical collectives learn from that.

Corporate cultures together create systems that consume people as individuals, both within them (each corporation is a kind of system) and within the vertically integrated system that results from it, which now includes the government of the United States and it's bureaucratic systems.  People make existential choices based on their need to survive, like buying a house, getting groceries from a store of some kind, and buying the myth making pop culture commodities that are designed by a system called the "free market."  We are told, for instance, that Fox Cable and its pundits, or Rush Limbaugh, or any of these "popular" antagonistic  right wing figures are the result of market forces choosing them over the likes of Thom Hartmann and the Liberal voices.  And in the paradigmatic fashion these things work in, it's true.

This is paradigmatic in nature, not personal as in the individual nature of things.  It's not about personal learning so much as it's about systems surviving or not.  Paradigms don't "learn" lessons so much as they either work or fail.  What they tend to do is develop inside systems that work to offer solutions to problems that surface or new objectives.  The Vietnam War is not a problem for most of the systems in this vast paradigm.  When paradigms fail (like: oh, we aren't the center of the Universe living on a flat earth after all?) they are replaced by new paradigms. The commodification of everything paradigm hasn't actually failed in a catastrophic enough way for people who are the players (most people) within the system to recognize that their identities are tied up with a cancerous system that is destroying the earth.  Professionals and his or her resumes do not concern themselves with the paradigm and its success.  They concern themselves with the next job and the ability to pay the mortgage and put the kids through the college training ground that will make them acceptable professionals and experts to the system.  In this way the maintain the system even if they somehow vaguely don't like it.

To understand this I think it really helps to understand how commodification is actually all of us, not some abstract something apart from us.  And to learn lessons about ourselves within that framework can involve the realization of a lot of truths about ourselves that can very seriously undermine the very world most people think they live in.  What we commonly call a "world view."  This is something, of course, that is difficult to pin down, and thus a kind of paradigmatic tautology of its own. Or as Anti rephrased it: a metaphysical statement, difficult to state, difficult to show. And as Chris Hedges points out, its a dangerous world, because it's made up of illusions.

So I ask, who are these "we" that you keep referring to, who are supposedly learning or not learning these lessons?  How does the "we's" learnings take any real action in a society that has these systems in place that any so-called enlightened individual must inevitably transgress to act on these learnings?  In a sense, as Timothy Leary once said, to learn is to tune in, turn on, and drop out.  You can call that naive if you wish, but I still want to know where the learning takes place and how it's expressed.  The hippies dropped out, those same hippies became yuppies and were commodified back in.

.ren's picture
Lol, I can't keep up with

Lol, I can't keep up with your leap frogging edits, Anti. But here goes another one.

No, I haven't seen Dark Star.  I see it's a surreal parody of movies like "2001: A Space Odyssey".  If I ever  get back to renting movies from Netflix I'll check it out.

As DRC once said, we need a little humor for this dark and serious subject matter.

As far as what happened to remove it from YouTube (in English, hence your parenthetical comment about our freedom "here" (the U.S.) compared to, say, Spain) I'll note that I've been seeing a gradual commodifying of that interactive Internet medium we call YouTube.  I don't appreciate a commercial before something and that's been taking place more and more.  Which to me does not bode well. If one wants to understand just how our "freedoms" are subtracted systematically, a good place to begin is a study of commodification by the system itself.  Thomas Frank notes in The Conquest of Cool how our rebellious art in the Sixties, especially the cutting edge poetry combined with rock, was commodified by the business community and the movement went from hippies  with long hair ad tie dyed clothing driving painted VW busses to yuppies in suits driving BMWs and listening to their rock in surround sound stereo in those fancy cars.

DRC's picture
ren.  your questions about

ren.  your questions about the "we" are very good, and I will try to address how "we" think about learning the lessons of history as a society.  "We" often hear the formula about learning or repeating, so there is some paradigmatic suggestion that "we" should not just get fooled again.

From the perspective of the historian, however, it is obvious that we have a hard time doing this whether we are talking individually or collectively.  The process of history is the failure of the paradigms of power as they fail to work anymore.  The reason they fail to work tends to be that money consolidates its power and stops servicing the society.  Or it begins to "service" it in the other sense.

A local con letter to the editor tries to make the case that the Roman Empire failed as the burden of taxes increased beyond what people could bear.  He thinks low taxes and prosperity are proved by the fact that unfair taxation results from the consolidation of wealth and power in empires.  The taxes not paid by the rich have to come from somewhere.  What is the lesson of Roman history?  I guess it depends upon what ideological frame you bring or don't.

The idea I was trying to express is more about exposing the illusion and the experiences that open our eyes to a new understanding.  I think Vietnam symbolizes the end of the Liberal Myth of the American Century.  At that point, it had to go Neocon or Right because Liberal critics of Vietnam and advocates of peace challenged the idea that America should be the Last Empire defending the neo-colonial order in the world.

What we have not learned is how to integrate that perception into America politics, and that left a lot of hippies ready to make money if they could smoke dope at home.  The hippies were a cultural revolution, but the social and political radicals were at another party.  We could enjoy the music and the dope without the commune and the not so Leary "dropping out."

Leary was talking about "tuning out" on a lot more than materialism.  Commercialization and commodification are the kinds of blinders he was prescribing LSD to open.  For a lot of people, dropping acid was not a great spiritual quest.  They got set and setting all wrong, and some of what I am including in not getting the lessons has to do with the Yuppie evolution of the "hip and cool."

It made the kernel of the message disappear under the broad brush of hedonism and personal indulgence.  The media had no interest in helping serious discussion or reflection, but those who tried often wanted to be the therapist bringing the prescription and the cure rather than opening the healing process.  Getting the lessons of history means a personal transformation to be able to look around the corners of our worldview.  When Vietnam "failed," only a few managed to see around the Colin Powell analysis.  The idea that the empire was a bad idea and incompatible with democracy was rejected as disloyal and "unAmerican."

I am definitely not implying that "we" ought to understand history as we live in it.  Having some perspective through the study of history can help a lot, but we tend to bring the wrong lessons to the case.  Paradigm problems again, but part of the process of change and "learning" as well.  We have to try a lot of wrong paths, it seems, before we get it right.  We are like Ralph Kramden and Homer Simpson in that we want to pull off a great coup, and only when we are about to lose everything do we give up the fantasy and throw ourselves on the mercy of our loved ones.  I think this is how Great Awakenings develop and blossom.

In my own life I have given up trying to learn much from the mistakes of others.  I tend to misinterpret how it happened, so I give myself too much credit for "learning."  I will make my own mistakes, thank you very much, and I have as much creative capacity as anyone.

Learning from my own mistakes is also a bit more than a rational reflection process.  Coming clean about our motives, drives and desires is not all that natural, and it is easy to explain away how the conspiracies of others have cause what others call your own mistake.  Hey, our ego is always ready to explain away our sins that hurt others as "unintended" or didn't happen.  Collateral damage is not my fault.  Really?  And others are always ganging up on us as we interpret the world from our narcissism.  I try to learn, but I am not that good at it.  I have to repeat too many mistakes.

So, I have settled for stopping the defense of my mistakes.  It is easier to apologize and find out what offended or hurt the other so healing can happen than to present the case for the defense when I am guilty.  There will be time later when I am asked to confess my goofy and foolishly oblivious actions as some kind of stupid.  Of course, few intend to hurt when it is an accident.  Telling me that you did not mean to hurt me seems unnecessary.  Asking what you can do to help makes sense.

Anyway, it is true that how individuals learn from the study of history is very different from how "we" Americans learn to get out of the American Century.  I think what Hedges is describing in the Death of the Liberal Class and Empire of Illusion is how we have been trapped in the imperial paradigm even when we have become its tepid critics.  There is a lot of "exceptionalism" and being the model of the modern human being left in Liberalism.  It does not call itself by these terms and is found in the general sense of being good people who do good in the world.

The dilemma I see for Emperor Obama is that our power is out there in the world and he cannot stop it.  If all empires are "evil," how does he reduce the demonic and still be part of what is?  The US cannot just drop out of international relations even if they reflect a long period of dysfunction and delayed pressures.  I think he has to operate pretty much ad hoc depending on a huge balancing act.  Can he bring us back from empire and its eventual disaster?  Who knows?

What I hope as a historian is to help reality speak back to our hagiography and mythology.  I raise the Pledge as a home base for the idea of American democracy and simple enough to discuss.  The Constitution is not a good debating subject for reaching common understanding, but the basic memes of the Pledge do refocus us from what we have become.

Still, this is not back to the past as if the Golden Age has been lost.  The point of history is now, not then.  Democracy and Empire do not fit together, so rethinking democracy is not a bad way to develop a critique of the empire and our national myths.  Believe me, I am the last person who believes that learning the lessons of history is a clear and rational matter.  But, do we really want to keep repeating all this?

Antifascist's picture
$40.91 per ounce!!! I'm

$40.91 per ounce!!! I'm rich!!! Forget everything I said, I'm going to Vegas!!!!!

And that cannister of silver coins for Salem Children's Village is starting to look pretty good.

.ren's picture
Thanks for an exceptional

Thanks for an exceptional reply DRC.   I kind of know what people mean by "we" but I keep testing.

This is still an Iroquois tribal meeting for me, where we stand and speak our minds then sit back down.  I like the idea of democracy, at least as I imagine it.  I surely do.  And I practice it best I can.

DRC's picture
I just wish the spokespeople

I just wish the spokespeople for the American people had ears instead of mouths.  Their certainty of what "we" want or need is scary.

.ren's picture
In fiction we who care about

In fiction we who care about it, it's creation, it's underlying meaning, understand that there is a logic to character.  If you have your character do something that's not within the bounds of that logic, then readers will intuitively recognize you've done something out of character for that character. A work of fiction that can't maintain its characters is usually very weak, and will not find many satisfied readers.  That's because of who we are as human beings, not because of what we can be trained to be.  Just about everything that concerns us about ethics, morality, humanity, passion, empathy, is bound up in that system of character logic.  But if you try to unravel it in some sort of linear, logical fashion, or take it apart and analyze bits and pieces the whole of it disappears.  It's one of those subtle, sensitive areas of seeing, not speaking, that we all share without having to create it out of language. Yet it can be presented to us through language as a medium.  Kind of a bit of irony in that I suppose.

One of the dangers I see of institutionalizing ourselves as we have done is we put in place within these institutions and the systems that evolve from them structures for behavior that force many of us out of character. Getting on the phone and selling a product you have to first convince yourself in some way is a good product or an idea (or not, you may openly recognize you don't have any good things to think about the product), and then hope to transfer that in a positive way to someone you don't even know, while learning to use all the persuasive techniques that have been developed to do selling, is a form of going out of character for some people, at least at first until they completely destroy whatever semblance of character they may once have had. That's just one very small example that anyone who has a distaste for sales as a profession (and it's often considered one of the most critical professions within a corporation and great incentives in pay are often associated with its importance) may recognize.   There are many varieties of this distortion of their character that people encounter in our institutionalized lives.  The result is a kind of mass multitude of characterological disorders. 

Politicians are often the worst characterological examples of that disorder.  The word "hypocrisy" more often than not becomes redundant to these disorders.

It's one of the ways I see that the individual disappears in the mass that is sometimes called the "we."  When people want to argue for the primacy of the individual in mass society, and the importance of logic and rational thinking in supporting that primacy, I keep asking, where?   Where does that primacy occur, before or after the individual disappears? And I don't ever get a satisfactory answer.  Actually, I seldom get one at all.

And I honestly have difficulty associating myself with that mass we.  I guess I don't like the feeling it gives me of disappearing.


bamboo's picture
DRC wrote: I just wish the

DRC wrote:

I just wish the spokespeople for the American people had ears instead of mouths.  Their certainty of what "we" want or need is scary.

....and it starts very early DRC. The other day I observed our neighbors kids (around 5 or 6 year olds) playing in mud puddles. They were emersed in creativity, fun, exploring, playing, experimenting.

Mom came out and said "Oh, darling, now you really don't want to play in that mud puddle!"

DRC's picture
I love the studies that

I love the studies that demonstrate that we need to get into the dirt to build the immunities we need for later in life.  The poor kids who had germ free environments are allergic to everything.  Interesting metaphor.

Antifascist's picture
Hello Ren, DRC, and Bamboo,

Hello Ren, DRC, and Bamboo,

I am working out an explanation of the Berkelian Idealism of Thermosellar Device #20 (post 912). Berkelian Idealism is really under rated! But Berkeley is only one rational response to the realism of John Locke. Critical Theory is often wrongly accused of  being a form of Berkelian idealism.

Oh! Ren! You are not going to believe this! I actually talked to my neighbor this weekend! We agreed to barter some the produce from my garden for fruit from her trees this summer. Now, sit down for this! I then talked to my other neighbor—on the same day! He thought I was a prowler! But he gave me a really good idea from his research of home solar panels. There is too much cost and bureaucracy to install permanent solar panels. The power companies are writing the rules for solar installation. So I decided to use portable solar powered universal battery rechargers and battery pack/laptop battery rechargers that can recharge UBS and phones (40 watts generated by the two starter systems).  In the future additional solar panels can be added to increase the speed of recharging. There are custom solar kits to build custom systems. It’s better than nothing.

What a coincidence. Yesterday I really got angry and later felt really bad about it--but I was right and  they were wrong.

.ren's picture
Sounds like you're making

Sounds like you're making some smart decisions on as many fronts as possible, given your circumstances, Anti.  Many good low power solar ideas are going out to countries (sometimes called "third world" or "developing") not as entrenched in the vertically integrated neoliberal grid as ours.  They are there to be found and borrowed from.

DRC's picture
Seems like the future belongs

Seems like the future belongs to "indigenous" and "artisanal."  Small wonder corporate wants to sabotage, deny and delay.  They ain't built to compete.

Antifascist's picture
Paradigmatic Circularity and

Paradigmatic Circularity and the Cartesian Circle.

...continuing from post #902

Both Phenomenologists and Analytic Language Philosophers like to start with Descartes (1596-1650) in explaining their search for truth and certainty of knowledge.  Descartes sought to establish an firm foundation for all knowledge and wished to build upon that the assumption free superstructures of epistemology, science and logic. Descartes critiqued everything by his method of doubt.  The philosophical schools of epistemology during Descartes’ lifetime believed that knowledge is gained either by the senses (empiricists) or through a priori innate ideas (rationalists). 

Descartes is typically thought to belong to the rationalist camp because be doubts all sense experience and relies on reason alone to determine truth at the end of thought. Descartes’ doubt is all encompassing of experience because appearances can be deceptive. Descartes asks how we know we are not dreaming any sense experience. If we try to answer his question by making an appeal to experience --“I remember waking up”--then our argument is circular since any experience can be dreamed.  And in the case of mathematics and logic, Descartes proposes an epistemological evil demon who could trick us into believing 1 + 1 = 2, or that it is not the case that “either it will rain, or not rain” (tautology).  Yet, even with all this doubt Descartes finds one certain truth: “I think, therefore I am.”  Everything can be doubted except doubt itself.  But notice two important characteristics of Descartes epistemology of certainty. On the one hand he is an extreme skeptic, and on the other hand, his beginning point is dualistic by dividing the internal subjective consciousness (I), from the external objective world (It).

From this first principle of knowledge, Cogito, Ergo Sum,  Descartes attempts to erect an entire hierarchical system of knowledge using “clear and distinct” ideas of which G-d is one. However, his postulated epistemological evil demon is still creating confusion; maybe other people are not real, but rather some kind of puppets. Descartes has a solution to this skepticism: a non-deceiving G-d. Descartes formulates a causal argument in which G-d causes the idea of God in our minds since any cause is as real as its effect. So Descartes needs G-d to guarantee the method of doubt and his method of doubt guarantees the existence of G-d.

   1. I have a clear and distinct idea of G-d.
   2. G-d exists.
   3. G-d creates clear and distinct ideas.
   1. Everything I read in the newspaper is true.
   2. The newspaper wrote that every in the newspaper is true
   3. Everything in the newspaper is true. 

If we just look at the argument structure, and ignore the theological issues (some people still argue Descartes’ argument isn’t circular in order to rescue this proof of the existence of G-d), we can see this kind of justification argument going in either one of two directions: every justification is based on another justification ad infinitum  such as, “A is true because B is true because C is true...ect.” or epistemological justification ends in a circular argument (also named “Begging the Question) such as, “A is true because B is true because C is true because A is true.” By Descartes using his method of doubt and creating an epistemological gap between the internal mental world and the physical external world, he undermined all knowledge and urgently needed a G-d to establish a Archimedean point of certain knowledge. Wittgenstein has shown us that there is no such Archimedean point of observation. All paradigms, and epistemological logical constructs are ultimately circular. So does this mean knowledge is ultimately impossible? 

.ren's picture
Antifascist wrote: So does

Antifascist wrote:

So does this mean knowledge is ultimately impossible? 

I don't think of "knowledge" as a noun, an object, an "in and of itself."  It's more like a mental act.  To know of something, even if that knowing is a circularity, self created.

Maybe the question is more about absolutes and certainty?

And once that question of certainty is raised, then we come to the downfall of this whole "fact" problem that has undermined the paradigms built by logical positivists, based on objective facts. (I'm folding the "interpretation of facts" discussion back in here, because it is still part of all this, and your exercise in paradigmatic circularity is part of that, it seems to me.)

I think that no one is an authority at this point, not even Wittgenstein, no matter what he's shown.  We are left to our own devices, and thus conclusions, once the whole authority paradigm is rocked, even our own.  And maybe at the same time we may have a genuine epiphanal point where we can discover the utter fallacy of the foundations of Western thought that has been used to build our present day form of civilization... you know, the one we've been calling "neoliberalism" (built on classical liberalism, built on Renaissance thinking, built on the Greek philosophers, built on theological interpretation of scriptures, and so on)?

One of my writing teachers, Roger Sale, at the University of Washington, once talked to us quite candidly about how he grades students, and he pointed out that the way kids are taught to write in our education system is sort like creating an airtight box, and if they do it well they write pretty much the same form, over and over, and those that do it well achieve a kind of perfection in their craft.  They get the A's in high school, are often on the honor rolls, and tend to get into some of the best colleges whre they expect to excel and go on to be successes in life.  These were his B students.  They were perfect little anal retentive writers who created perfect little airtight boxes.  To get an A from Roger Sale you had to take risks.  Of course, that does not mean you will get an A by taking risks. I never forgot that.

DRC's picture
Perfect description of what

Perfect description of what separates great musicians from hacks.  The "Real Kenny G," Mr. Garrett, plays his ass off saying a lot.  The guy with the hair and the fingers flying has great technique and says nothing.

If we remember that our "knowledge" is our best stab at it rather than "the facts, maam," we can expand the "doubt" of DesCartes to a more existential being present, curious and involved.  This is why I have embodied his formula to get the emotion, feeling and other "information" gathered by the body into the brain and not just "thoughts."  "I process information" is intended to make us think again about "thinking."  It is about learning/knowing as an active journey led by curiosity instead of "certainty" other than existential.  Like, I'm here, man.  I'm willing to bet that I really do know that.

.ren's picture
In the spirit of what I tried

In the spirit of what I tried to express in my last post, I'd like to share this good bye to a writer who I will sorely miss.  About my age, Joe Bageant shared the turbulent times of the last century, growing up and growing older into this one, with me and the rest of us who are still trying to figure out what happened. 

Joe Bageant: Poet, Redneck Revolutionary, R.I.P by Marc Campbell

Antifascist's picture
Good points Ren and DRC. Ren,

Good points Ren and DRC.

Ren, I think you are right on the mark and I could not formulate any better interpretation. The meaning of "Reason" has to be reexamined and we will do that later in discussing one of the most beautiful concepts in all of philosophy--The λόγος. There is one tiny point however. "I think that no one is an authority at this point, not even Wittgenstein, no matter what he's shown." That's right, but the showing is the ultimate authority. We can't say it, but we can show it. The meaning of showing is mysterious. Wittgenstein built a great free floating epistemological stone fortress from which the Subject can preserve itself. Wittgenstein, like Descartes, has as one author wrote, "leveled the previous knowledge to the ground." And the ground is a good place to be where values, ethics, religion and logic are on the same level ontological field. Have you noticed how the disciplines of free completion always hide from the competition?

And yes DRC, the Cartesian dichotomy separates the mental and the physical because the physical—like our body--is a hindrance to knowledge so that Cartesian certainty comes with a price...bad music...I mean... the external world is merely a mechanical machine, “Descartes’ method rests on a denial of flesh and blood humans, ‘this “I” entirely distinct from the body....”

...I like the psycho Thom Hartmann!

Wait! Thom want's women to take over!!! Are you crazy!!!

DRC's picture
A great summation.  Kudos.

A great summation.  Kudos.  And yes, the conscious do live with the unconscious and have to deal with their epistemological limitations.  Being on the healing team means having a compassionate appreciation of those living in illusion, just not accepting the illusion as real.  The theology of power, as pointed out very well above, is a central theological/moral issue.  Learning that power is in mutuality instead of dominance requires more than even a compelling metaphysical case.  Human development issues are at play.

The reason we find Libertarian moralism so inadequate as politics is that we do live with the unconscious whose lack of mutual identity is a serious flaw.  We can identify evil with that lack of human identity rather than any conscious will to do evil.  Bateson's points are great.  Nobody said the rose garden would be thorn free or would not take a lot of gardener skill.  

Love one another is so simple.  Doing it is so complicated.  Have to be there and pay attention.

.ren's picture
Sorry, DRC, did another edit

Sorry, DRC, did another edit and jumped your response.  I wish that weren't so, it makes this so confusing for those not taking part, I'm sure.

Antifascist wrote:

And yes DRC, the Cartesian dichotomy separates the mental and the physical because the physical—like our body--is a hindrance to knowledge so that Cartesian certainty comes with a price...bad music...I mean... the external world is merely a mechanical machine, “Descartes’ method rests on a denial of flesh and blood humans, ‘this “I” entirely distinct from the body....”

It seems we have this essential problem identified, and we keep working at finding a critique that once and for all discredits this mind/body dualism.  But if it's about process, as I suggested, and then DRC more or less seconded that with his example of the two musicians, a final and perfect critique as proof may itself be falling into the trap of that dualism, by trying to be an objective critique apart from the process, that, like paradigms, are much like a formal technique that can be applied.  But when we apply formal techniques, we ignore the circumstances taking place and we at the same time diminish the individuality involved in those circumstances, and assign them to features of the model, the paradigm, the critique.  And I don't see a solution for that conundrum that won't do that.

And I think that raises a larger question about society and what we humans have created.  Large societies and all the organizational features with their abstract formal paradigms being part of the institutions and their ways of interacting seem inescapable.  Thus we have this situation where the individual and all the nuances of any given circumstances are forever being ground up and put into abstract models which make for the urge to create "perfect music" but to "say" in our individual, process within circumstances sense, nothing.  And we individually keep trying to figure out how to inject our morality, our ethics, our sense of humanity into all of it, but it goes on, perfecting its models according to preconceived paradigms, and those paradigms only slowly, over great lengths of time, change. 

It seems to me that DRC's arguments as a whole -- about what "we" should or shouldn't be is on that level acknowledging the socialness of our being and our larger interactions that are of course necessary and part of our existence -- is one version of this paradigm (hope I haven't butchered it too badly with a summary like that). And Kerry's reactionary response to DRC's arguments with his attempt to try to make the individual primary over that larger set of paradigms is another. 

I don't mean to look like I'm picking on Kerry here, only noting that he sort of made himself an example of this paradigm because he did substantially take up about three pages of this thread almost single handedly with his "primacy of the individual" argument, which he aticulated well enough it seems to me, if not without some extreme redundancy, which I'll summarize thusly: the argument seems to be that the individual abstract reasoning entity should be the final arbiter while simultaneously working together all the other individual entities and do so while being interrelated within systems, each of us participating in some way to maintain those systems, as long as we are part of the whole system (and it's hard to see where we are not, and even where we have a choice and cannot be), therefore conceptually (at least that's the best I can make out of what he kept repeating, if I've misconstrued, I apologize) his answer ultimately calls for an answer to each and from each individual through reason. 

And once again I keep reminding myself as we try to sort this out that the weaknesses of isolating the rational in the Cartesian dualism have been a substantial part of what we have been critiquing, along with showing examples of the many successful critiques (Wittgenstein's being a prime example) in these many posts, and that critique itself infers that the final arbiter of the whole to be ironically set up by the imbalanced side of this mind body dualism as the rational mind part, which we are forced into doing because we have little recourse but to express it through language. 

While what is so cannot be ultimately justified through reason, can maybe only be shown as Anti has suggested, never the less, in this appeal to the primacy of the rational, reasoning mind, the individualist and rational paradigm requires that it must "justified" through rational, logical language, thus returning the justification to the above described Cartesian abstract "I", absent the body "I".  I believe that is an apt expression of a double bind.  The double bind is one of the techniques that Eastern Philosophy masters use to bring their pupils to a consciousness that might be called awareness, possibly even enlightenment.  Just thought I'd toss that in.  Gregory Bateson who I will reference below is one of many who called that to my attention in my lifetime.

Whew.  Is that convoluted enough to summarize the basic conundrum of where we are at this point?

Here are some quotes from Gregory Bateson that I've been pondering for years; I don't know which pages they are on anymore, or even which of his books, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, or Mind and Nature, forgive me this lapse, but he did say the following:

Gregory Bateson wrote:

The myth of power, is of course, a very powerful myth; and probably most people in this world more or less believe in it... But it is still epistemological lunacy and leads inevitably to all sorts of disaster... If we continue to operate in terms of a Cartesian dualism of mind versus matter, we shall probably also come to see the world in terms of God versus man;  lite versus people; chosen race versus others; nation versus nation and man versus environment. It is doubtful whether a species having both an advanced technology and this strange way of looking at the world can endure...

The whole of our thinking about what we are and what other people are has got to be restructured. This is not funny, and I do not know how long we have to do it in.

To want control is the pathology! Not that the person can get control, because of course you never do... Man is only a part of larger systems, and the part can never control the whole...

The problem of how to transmit our ecological reasoning to those whom we wish to influence in what seems to us to be an ecologically good direction is (thus) itself an ecological problem.

This one from the list has always had special conscious significance for me:

"To want control is the pathology! Not that the person can get control, because of course you never do... Man is only a part of larger systems, and the part can never control the whole..."

DRC wrote:

If we remember that our "knowledge" is our best stab at it rather than "the facts, maam," we can expand the "doubt" of DesCartes to a more existential being present, curious and involved. 

I think that's a good point, DRC, but we all have to be doing pretty much exactly that at the same time.  That is, we all need to have that as our consciousness while we attempt to take a stab at "knowing" with our language facility, especially in an all language environment like this one.  If not we run across all these discrepancies, like one person is thinking he or she is transferring a "fact" while another is entirely conscious that the fact is inevitably a "best stab" but ultimately no more than a flawed human interpretation of something, a phenomenon of some kind.


Antifascist's picture
"Chistianity is not a

"Chistianity is not a doctrine, not, I mean, a theory about what has happened and will happen to the human soul, but a description of something that actually takes place in human life." Lugwig Wittgenstein.

DRC and Ren,

I can follow you pretty well since both you are writing very clearly.

“While what is so cannot be ultimately justified through reason, can maybe only be shown as Anti has suggested, never the less, in this appeal to the primacy of the rational, reasoning mind, the individualist and rational paradigm requires that it must "justified" through rational, logical language...Whew.  Is that convoluted enough to summarize the basic conundrum of where we are at this point?”

I thought that describes were we are now very well. In fact you independently gave the classic critique that a phenomenologist would give of Descartes. And we are going to do the same with John Locke—not the COCKEYED John Locke of logical positivistic scientism--and Berkeley, or in our case Berkelian Idealist Thermosellar Device #20 (post 912).        

We have no choice but to use paradigms to organize experience as they dominate our perceptions.  Does this mean we reject Reason? No. We have to have a more “complex” understanding of what Reason is and does. We will go into further detail with the concept “Logos.” We as persons that believe in spirituality have an out of the paradigm circle. The logical positivists do not have a way out—because there isn’t any place else to go! So they spend their entire life talking in circles and tautologies and they get real goooooood at it. Just like if you milked a cow your entire life: you would get real good at it. But don’t mistake milking a cow for ultimate reality. So it is interesting why they are even in the debate since what is there to debate? Every proposition must either be synthetic or an analytic statement according to the founder of Logical Positivism Lugwig Wittgenstein. Friedrich Wilhelm Herschel in 1773 built his own  telescope spending up to 16 hours a day grinding the telescopic mirrors. When he finally finished with grinding the lens he looked up at the heavens with his telescope. And someone asked him what the stars look like and Wilhelm said, “ a grind stone.” LOL!

“Positivism holds--and this is its essence--that what we can speak about is all that matters in life. Whereas Wittgenstein passionately believes that all that really matters in human life is precisely what, in his view, we must be silent about.” "Letters from Ludwig Wittgenstein, with a Memoir," ed. B.F. McGuinness, trans. L. Furtmuller (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1967), p. 97.

The apologist can talk about the great march of scientific history,  but then the positivists are talking metaphysics aren’t they? I like the metaphysics of History found in Hegel’s writing. What metaphysician do you follow? I won’t tell...unless you’re a positivist and then you don’t have to tell because we already know (post 63).

Divinity of Doubt: The God Question by Vincent Bugliosi (#1 New York Times best selling author of Helter Skelter and many other books). Whoa. Now I am surprised as heck: an honest book about religion! My goodness. What is happening here? Vincent Bugliosi book ( I read a few reviews and got the arguments in the reviews) reminds me of the famous theological work, “Honest To God” by John A.T.Robinson  (Westminster Press: 1963). Ha! the price is $1.65. Vincet Bugliosi is very Kierkegaardian (post #411) in his critique of modern organized religion: or as Kierkegaard would call it "Christendom" as opposed to Christianity as a spiritual movement.

I believe we are being called, over the years ahead, to far more than a restating of traditional orthodoxy in modern terms....A much more radical recasting, I would judge, is demanded in the process of which the most fundamental categories of our theology –of God, of the supernatural, and of religion itself—must go into the melting. Indeed, though we shall not of course be able to do it, I can at least understand what those mean who urge that we should do well to give up using the word “G-d” for a generation, so impregnated has it become with a way of thinking we may have to discard if the Gospel s to signify anything. Honest To God, page 8.
Note that this Wikipedia article referring to this theologian’s name has been vandalized. Does that remind you of any days past?

Vincent is going to ruin everything!  How are we going to continue to have meaningless debates about what is G-d’s zip code? I really didn’t believe G-d actually had a zip code so I couldn’t join in the traditional “Does G-d exist?” debate. Turns out according to the atheists that G-d never registered a residence so we can pretty well conclude G-d doesn’t exist. It was a pretty absurd thesis anyway—I mean would G-d have to pay property taxes? Ridiculous!

I am so glad that Frank Schaeffer is active and didn’t become cynical from his experience with the Christian Right-Wing. I think Frank Schaeffer has a true understanding of the Christian Theology his father tried to give us that attempted to preserve the Dignity and Freedom of Human Beings from the same nihilistic threats we perceive today.

Okay, now I don’t usually spend time swatting flies, but I heard a phone call today about pantheism and the caller wanted to sound so scientifically authoritative. I want to show you how easy it is to take their arguments apart limb by limb. Give me few hours to post---not that it will take that long to write it.

I am referring to the interview by Thom Hartmann with Vincet Bugliosi on April 13, 2011 at about 2 minutes 10 minutes. The question was “Why do people pray?” and Thom offered some empirical evidence—people report that they feel better if they pray. Now, later a caller, Mr. Scientism, (22 minutes, 11 seconds) wants to help answer the question.

Mr. Scientism wants to stick to the “evidence.” Now that’s one of those paradigmatic statements that conceals the entire positivistic definition of evidence and fact.  If we unpack it’s meaning we will find warmed over Verification Theory. That is probably rating it too high.

Then Mr. Scientism introduces the concept of  “Parsimony,’ which means “to spare” or exclude. That sounds familiar, but Mr. Scientism has no idea the admission he made. What are we excluding? Anything that smacks of pantheism and then abracadabra---it’s excluded!. See how easy philosophy is? Mr. Science said there isn’t enough evidence for pantheism. I wonder why?

But then Mr. Scientism almost, accidentally had an insight-- he cut himself off at the point of realization and mumbled his ending. He said, and I paraphrase, “...another explanatory model could explain the world just fine without the complexity of pantheist explanation.” (22 min. 30 sec.).

Now wait a minute! I thought Mr. Scientism was talking about “evidence” and now he is talking metaphysical models and criteria without showing how empiricist justifies such beliefs in “models.” Are they quoting Wittgenstein?  This is an important point: pure empiricism cannot be consistently argued because empiricists must access metaphysical concepts secretly, but not admit to them. That is where you shine the light.

Later Mr. Scientism referred to Justin L. Barrett’s “hyperactive (or hypersensitive) agency detection device” -  HADD – coined by Justin Barrett. Actually, thesis is not too bad, but it a behaviorist-empiricist-mechanistic explanatory model (with a nice dash of pragmatism in the flavor of adaptive behavior so the conclusion is already predetermined after baking the pie--right on, love scientific objectivism! ) that misses the point like sentence structuralist in linguistics (post #315).  I don't like people stick'in their fingers in my pie, if you know what I mean.

But wait another minute! The principle of Parsimony does not say that a complex theory is automatically false or that a simple theory is automatically true. Parsimony is saying that past experience has shown that generally, most of the time, on the average, the pattern is that when a theory is “complex” it is likely ...NOT TRUE SOME OF THE TIME.

Now here is lesson in informal logic for Mr. Scientism. What is the meaning of “complex” and “simple?” Astronomy is complex, so is my taste in pizza. Checkers is simplex, and so is symbolic logic. These are “Linear Ambiguities, as in “I know that is a long shot over a big pond around the short way, very early that day, instead of too late.” Did you get that?

But even if were accept the misinterpretation, and ambiguity of this argument one could still argue that pantheism is the simpler explanatory model—have you ever seen a physics book? So these apologists of scientism got nothing....I mean nothing.

And if a general concept of pantheism is too abstract of a concept then answer this question: “What is substance?” Can you show me matter, or substance? Not the qualities of matter (secondary qualities-post 371) like color, extension, solidity, number, movement, but the primary qualities—the object. John Locke said that we have no sensation of substance, only of their qualities so Locke only refers to substance as “something I know not what.” We would call it the foundation of reality—substance.  Locke was a skeptic on this question because he was consistent unlike Mr. Scientism.

.ren's picture
I'm sure you'll be editing

I'm sure you'll be editing your post for awhile, Anti, I've noticed three times already. So I'll have to edit this as well to try to keep it in the right order.  But I kind of want to respond in a conversational way to some of your points.

First of all I'll point out that I appreciate your bringing in things from Thom's show because I'm not a regualar listener to anything or anyone so I miss thiese things.  That means there's a whole layer of "stuff" going on I miss.  And that's a complexity that I can't ignore, even if the Mr and Ms Scientisms can.  And that prefaces what I want to add.

I don't engage that much on the board anymore, for the reasons I tried to steer clear of the non engaged intrusions we've had on this thread.  There's a predictable nature to most of it and it's more interesting to watch others wrangle with the predictability and watch as they seem to try to figure out how to encounter it in a productive way, rather than to do it myself. One of the reasons might be because some of the predictability is actually coming from some of the same people in new guises, and when they see me on a thread all their assumptions come to play with them and nothing I say is looked at for what it is, but instead for what they assume, and so I encounter the same pattern over and over rather than getting discussion.  This is all of course related to this issue of paradigms, and even your lively description of someone's interpretation of parsimony.  So you may have noticed I've introduced the concept: "predictability" here.  I'm just mentioning it because it is an important part of my own motivational structure for engaging. 

What's interesting to me about predictability is when and where it occurs and what it results in.  And looking at predictability is actually a kind of act, an act of what I wouuld like to call meta observation.  What I mean is that being engaged and observing are multidimensional conscious acts. Which implies our consciousness can be multidimensional.  Try to pin that down with facts Mr. Parsimony!  Which implies that process and communication are not as linear as the parsimonious would like them to be.  By nature we are complex, if we are open and sensitive to the whole of ourselves. And it's extremely difficult to show multidimensionality taking place through language, so we have gestures, facial expressions, body language, timing, rhythm, and all sorts of cues taking place in our verbal communications.  Most of it's been lost in the written language, and only a very few very gifted specialists in writing come close to producing real life complexity.  Some of the best individuals who are facile at this are (sometimes) poets and humorists (and i would add something like: anyone who is playful, thus introducing another concept, "play"), and if you don't know what that means, try to explain a joke to someone who doesn't get it, let alone a poem. 

And, I feel it worth mentioning that sometimes literature classes are like that when it comes to analyzing poetry and literature, depending on the teacher, and that also includes my first experience with learning english grammar where I asked something like, why should I give a damn about nouns, verbs, subjects and predicates when you just gave me an A for my essay?  Later Chomsky provided me with the ammunition for a searing indictment of this potentially mind deadening exercise that takes place in our educational systems, and that would, I believe, tie to your reference: 

Antifascist wrote:

that misses the point like sentence structuralist in linguistics (post #315).

I think my meta-analytical question to the literature and grammar teachers who disect the art only to have dead pieces of it's carcass lying about the class room literature laboratory can be asked about any analytical form.  It's simply a question.  The answer by whomever is going to give us more of a clue about the person using the form than the form itself.

And that brings me to my thought that came up while reading your last post, Anti.

Now I know we have both done a lot on this board to discuss our interests in the authoritarian personality, and we've both correlated it with this whole problem of logical positivism.  So here it comes again.  What's coming up in these patterns relates to the work that Bob Altemeyer did to identify  and classify groups of people, and develop what he calls the "Right Wing Authoritarian scale" or if you prefer acronyms: "RWA scale"  He gives a fairly in depth discussion of it in his first Chapter of The Authoritarians (which is available in full as a pdf file on line at the link).

Now, an RWA score can be looked upon as "fact" by certain types of thinkers, but Altemeyer is not such a thinker and he's careful to point out that the scores are not facts, but merely indicators, and if they have any use at all it may be in their predictability factors.  Well, doesn't that sound a bit like the problem with paradigms?  They are circular, thus predictable.  Anyway, predictability is neither a good nor an evil for me, simply something that occurs worthy of my attention.  Something is fairly predictable to me that I can recognize if I stop in the middle of the road, while crossing of foot for example, and look at a semi truck bearing down on me at a high speed.  I don't really need to put a value on that.  It makes no difference if I do.  I think that qualifies as parsimonious thought in that instance which might even be termed an emergency.

Altemeyer uses his RWA scale throughout his work to illustrate points about groups of people -- who may incidently be of any stripe, whether they be followers of Thom Hartmann, Glenn Beck, Obama or Bush.  What he does point out is what group scores what on his RWA scale (and you can take the test for yourself in Chapter One to see how you'd score) and what those in that group are likely to believe, and believe with some predictability.  At the time (2005-6) there was still some questions in the political air about the reasons for invading Iraq -- that is, the existence of WMDs and so forth.  So in a way this bears on the ideology issue in paradigms, but it also bears on the individual and their abilities to meta theorize about the world, and their notion of what facts are, whether they are interpreted by the individual or whether they are hard, and objective entities of certainty.  So what he presents is a dynamics of thinking spectrum and how that dynamics plays out in differing groups of people.which he has tried to sort out through a kind of attitude testing device. 

One of the most interesting sections to me was the one about how different people deal with contradiction.  One of the more interesting patterns he found that I seem to observe myself, but it's something to remain skeptical about, is the high RWAs will tend to find contradiction in others but not in themselves.  This can amount to anything from highly amusing to incredibly deadly.  In the authoritarian regimes (Germany under Nazi fascism, for instance), this has often played out as the latter.  And the way this often plays out is through the use of these parsimoniously determined "objective facts." 

I think that's a very brief summary of a meta layer of thought that we are playing with here on this thread.  I'm sure we all have it in mind, I'm just trying to bring it out for a moment.  So much goes on in an engaged discussion that often goes without calling it out.



DRC's picture
I have not got it into

I have not got it into postable form yet, but I just ran into a blast from the past for me, the French scholar, Rene Girard, who has a whole theory of human behavior based in literature and jealousy of similarity rather than clash of opposites as the motivation for going wrong.

It could be why we make wrong choices so stubbornly and persistently when analysis and consciousness tell us better.  Mimetics is the theory, and I will see if I can find a good article that we can riff on.  It seems to me that in addition to the ineffable compared to the definitional and control, there are some basic immature factors in our behavior that need to be over-ridden.  For the lovers of free and independent moral and intellectual actors, the fact of crowd or herd behavior turns out to be more than keeping your individual autonomy.  The tide moves you too.

Anyway, it is a serious exploration of ritual violence as a way to avoid real violence, and how it opens new light on how our stories work, it is worth more than a glance.

.ren's picture
I did a brief search and got

I did a brief search and got a sense of the mimetic theory Girard proposed and worked on throughout his life (and he's still alive at 87 I see).  Interesting.  It seems to have a strong touch of the French Structuralists' perspective, which is one of my own areas of interest through my readings of anthropologists Claude Levi Strauss and Victor Turner (not a French Structuralist but he could have been).

These appear to me at least to be in the realm of explanatory theory based on paradigm, which is where we are right now. It also seems to overlap with studies of mass communication, the powerful conforming influence of participating in The Technological Society (Ellul's "sociological propoganda") and Public Relations, as in the ideas we find behind the workings of Eddie Bernays, Frank Luntz, Karl Rove, and of course Thom Hartmann with his Cracking the Code, at least in terms of developing theories for why these "mimetics" seem to be so effective.

I'll be looking for potential for seeing individual variation in the theory if you get some good links that relate to your interest.

DRC's picture
When I was Assistant Dean of

When I was Assistant Dean of the Chapel at Stanford, the Dean was Robert Hamerton-Kelly who was a scholar associate of Girard and hosted him and a bunch of high powered "thinkers" at a conference where I catered the event on an unlimited budget.  I exceeded the budget a bit, but the fun was how eating together and getting their hands greasy, plus a slug or two of wine, etc., transformed the conversation into a kind of risk taking in public I never see academics do.

They would brainstorm with each other and try dead ends without feeling embarrassed or that their reputations were at risk.  I was in the kitchen while they were doing their thing, but I could see how the dynamics were, and I had lots of time to talk with folk outside the meeting schedule.

Kelly also was friends with a Chicago theologian who focussed on popular culture mythology, Robert Jewett.  He co-authored the CAPT. AMERICA COMPLEX where the nature of American superhero myths compare with the human monomyth.  The essential point made is that our heroes do not return anything to the community.  The "community" is the passive recipient of divine deliverance through powers they do not possess internally instead of having those qualities invested in them as the hero "returns," marries and invests the boon gained in the heroic quest.

It wasn't always easy, but it was always interesting work, and I am thinking about the whole "good that I would, I do not; and that which I would not do, I do, and woe is me!"  Mimetic theory has a certain Homer Simpson truth going for it, the old comic formula of trying something too smart by half until you are about to lose everything--and you panic and do the right thing.  Or just the old quote attributed to Churchill about Americans being counted upon to do the right thing, after they have tried everything else.

When you think about stories, it is the bad guys who drive the interest.  What really works, is where the bad guys and the good guys share so much and are just different enough to break the cliches.  Even where there is a seriously pathological villain, if there is some humanity being twisted instead of just the "bad seed" demon, the tragedy is not just the crimes and violence.  The answer is not just punishment and execution.  Probably not even part of the answer.  What makes Iago tick?  Who cares about Othello?  He comes off as pretty dumb.

Antifascist's picture
Hello DRC!  A new word,

Hello DRC! 

A new word, "monomyth." I never come across that term before. "Mono," or one, and "myth" or story. That sounds like a paradigm to me.

The word paradigm has been used in  science to describe distinct concepts. It comes from Greek "παράδειγμα" (paradeigma), "pattern, example, sample"”- from the verb "παραδείκνυμι" (paradeiknumi), "exhibit, represent, expose,"and that from "παρά" (para), "beside, by" + "δείκνυμι" (deiknumi), "to show, to point out".The original Greek term παραδείγματι (paradeigma) was used in Greek texts such as Plato's Timaeus (28A) as the model or the pattern that the Demiurge (god) used to create the cosmos.

Monomyth can be understood as a single dominate ideological interpretation of all experience.


.ren's picture
The "Western" was a myth my

The "Western" was a myth my father grew up with through the early stages of talking movies -- the thirties and forties -- and I know how much the heroic, principled loner of those myths meant to him, because I went with him to the tail end of those myths as they began to transform in the fifties and sixties, and I was able to observe him, as children can, as he would inevitably become exhilarated when the "good guys" triumphed in the end.

Thus I was in my own way an observer of myth early.  I could see the structural correlations with the literature I'd come to love to read early in life, which I've always preferred to movies, but later, after I'd returned from the military and the Vietnam "theater" where the good guys were not so obvious anymore when correlated with American Exceptionalism and the hero's monomyth journey, and the good guy loner myth of that made up much of the American Western mythology lore, I was drawn to the kind of structural analysis that might be similar to what you are talking about with discussion you remembered involving Robert Jewett and his Captain America Complex.

Somewhere in all that I picked up some Joseph Campbell books and read about the monomyth structure as well and, because I was interested so very much in different cultures at the time, the notion of finding the monomyth structure around the world in various cultural stories also intrigued me.  I've played with the notion that down deep in our inherited biology we contain these mythic structures in our genes, much like the Chomskyan proposition that a universal grammar is in our genes, and we take these basic genetic forms and mold them into whatever given culture we happen to be part of, so that culture, all culture, is a variation on these basic forms, kind of a universal grammar of ideas.  That's essentially related to the Platonic notion of innate ideas I finally recognized one day when introduced to it in a philosophy class.

So I can see why you would speculate thusly, DRC:

DRC wrote:

When you think about stories, it is the bad guys who drive the interest.  What really works, is where the bad guys and the good guys share so much and are just different enough to break the cliches.  Even where there is a seriously pathological villain, if there is some humanity being twisted instead of just the "bad seed" demon, the tragedy is not just the crimes and violence.  The answer is not just punishment and execution.  Probably not even part of the answer.  What makes Iago tick?  Who cares about Othello?  He comes off as pretty dumb.

You've also continued the theme of "risk" in your last post and I'd like to correlate that with your above "speculation."

Risk can be seen as a willingness to break with the cultural rules that make up its norms, which I've discovered can actually be put in terms of rule sets, which are human structures of positive and negatives, like: you can do this, you can't do that.  And most of these are implicit to us, we don't even consciously recognize them that way.  It's just "common sense."

It's with these structures that we can make up a notion of what a good guy and bad guy might be.  The mythology of the American Western is rife with those rules, and quite often almost comical (to me) in their somewhat rigid adherance.  Whereas, a movie my father would never have watched, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf, was far more intriguing and fascinating to me because the characters all went outside the lines from time to time in the story, they colored and scribbled all over the set, and in the end my empathy for each had been moved back and forth numerous times so that I felt a sense of giving absolution to each of them.  Certainly what was being toyed with was that concept of "bad guy" that drives the story, but which character completely embodied it?   Kind of none completely, and yet all of them are in a sense "tainted" if you are a black and white purist for good/bad, good/evil, I realized; yet, if you are able to "forgive," all of them had a chance for absolution and redemption in the end. And, in knowing my father I can understand why such a movie would not appeal to him, and by extension, many people.

So, yes, "bad guy" is a driving force in a story.  But looking at it structurally, you could say that "breaking the rules" and going outside the societal norms is the underlying theme of the "bad guy" force in myth.  And so, as structuralists like Claude Levi Strauss discovered, you could actually begin to make a paradigmatic map of a culture by studying myth and the rules they expressed.

But the structuralists who really intrigued me were the ones like Victor Turner who studied rituals, and he included such things as our theater in that study.  He even described that "outside" territory, that area of interest that we all maybe can share when we aren't trying to be perfect in whatever way we imagine that to be, when we take risks, become "bad guys" in that anti structural sense, and enter that area betwixt and between, which Turner introduced me to as "liminality" that happens to be essential for achieving something even more exciting to experience, "communitas."

I took a fiction writing class once from an instructor who was also a writer and a poet, and he told us to be careful when we drew our characters to love them all or we would be in danger of writing cartoons.  I sometimes worry that we have become a cartoon world.

Antifascist's picture
Paradigmatic Circularity and

Paradigmatic Circularity and Theological Discourse

...continuing from post #925

There is a group of philosophers known as “ordinary language philosophers” and are sometimes called “The Oxford School of Philosophy” or as Morris Weitz once called them the philosophy of “Conceptual Elucidation.” John Wisdom, Gilbert Ryle, Antony Flew and John Langshaw Austin and the later  Wittgenstein represent this way of thinking. Actually, the Oxford School rejects the labeling of this 1930s movement as a “school” because these philosophers attempt to avoid commitment to any one methodological principle, or thesis. Yet, they can be classified by their agreement of the manner in which philosophical analysis should be preformed, “an essential feature of roper philosophical activity is the detailed description of the actual workings of language, rather than the resolution of the these workings into some unworkable scheme of an ideal language. (20th Century Philosophy: The Analytic Tradition, New York: Free Press, 1966 page 9).

The ordinary language philosophers refuse to construct a formal language as the positivists wished to do. They describe language as it is ordinarily used. (Language, Existence and God, New York: Abingdon Press, 1971, p. 262). Their concern was the analysis and defense of the logic of language as it is ordinarily used.  “Ordinary Language” is understood as the way in which the “plain man” would use words.” The Oxonian were basically Wittgensteinian in that they believed the “meaning of a word is the rule of its use.” (A.J. Ayer, ed., Logical Positivism, New York: Free Press, 1959, p. 61).

Verificational Analysis and the Attack Against Theological Language.

From this background of Analytic Philosophy comes a group of philosophical critics who attempt to demonstrate that religious discourse is vacuous, empty, and merely pseudo-assertions which do not say anything (Falsification and Belief, A. McKinnon, Cal., Ridgeview Publ., 1970,p. 10). Religious discourse, or theological discourse refer to such statements as “G-d is love,” “God(s) exists,” or  “The universe is conscious.” We will name this group of thinkers “Verificational Analysts.” Normally the analytic philosophers make the distinction between statements, assertions, and propositions. I will use these terms interchangeably.

Verificational Analysts have two criteria of meaning of determining the meaningfulness of theological discourse:  Verification Principle is one, and the other is the Principle of Falsifiability.

Ayer is one of the earliest philosophers who challenged theists to put their theological statements to the test of empirical verification.  Not surprisingly this challenge has its origin of Ayer’s philosophical training as a logical positivist. Ayer’s verification principle is not the same as that found in the Vienna Circle: in fact, Ayer him self made revisions of his own original version of the verification principle (Problems and Perspectives in the Philosophy of Religion, G.J. Mavrodes and S. C. Hackett, ed. , Problems and Perspectives in the Philosophy of Religion, Boston: Allyn and Beacon, 1967, p. 379).

The specific differences between these revisions are not a major importance for our interest. I.T. Ramsey precisely state it  as, “...we must exclude all propositions which cannot verified by what is seen, heard, touched, tasted, and smelt.” (Religious Language, I.T. Ramsey, New York: Macmillan, 1957, p. 12).

As a positivist, Ayer believes that meaningful discourse can be categorized as one of two kinds: either a statement is analytic (true solely by definition), or a statement is synthetic (true as a matter of empirical fact). Ayer assumes this dichotomy in using the verification principle as the criterion for establishing meaningfulness. Ayer applies this criterion of meaning in exploring the question of G-d’s existence:

If the conclusion that a g-d [My edit] exists is to be certain, then these premises must be certain; for, as the conclusion of a deductive argument is already contained in the premises, and uncertainty there may be about the truth of the premises is necessarily shared by it. But we know that no empirical proposition can ever be anything more than probable. It is only a priori propositions that are logically certain. For we know that the reason why a priori propositions are certain is that they are tautologies (Mavrodes, p. 379).

Ayer is correct: a statement is either analytic, or synthetic. If the statement is not analytic, then it is synthetic by the logical rule of Disjunctive Syllogism. Synthetic proposition are subject to the verification principle.Ayer writes further,

But we do say that every synthetic proposition, however it may have been arrived at, must be subject to the test of actual experience. We do not deny a priori that the mystic is able to discover truth by his own special methods. We wait to hear what are the propositions which embody his discoveries in order to see whether they are verified, or confuted by our empirical observations (Mavrodes, p. 383).

One finds in Ayer’s essays that theological discourse fails the test of “actual experience.” The theist who claims to know some spiritual truth is deceiving them self. The theist is merely, “providing material for the psycho-analyst” (Mavrodes, p. 384). Ayer adds, “The fact that he cannot reveal what he ‘knows,’ even himself devised an empirical test to validate his ‘knowledge’ shows that his state of mystical intuition is not a genuinely cognitive state.”

Ayer finds that theological discourse fails to meet the criterion of meaningfulness, namely, the verification principle. What the mystic claims to ‘know’ is not even of a cognitive state. Flew and The Principle of Falsification.

.ren's picture
Antifascist wrote: There is a

Antifascist wrote:

There is a group of philosophers known as “ordinary language philosophers” and are sometimes called “The Oxford School of Philosophy” or as Morris Weitz once called them the philosophy of “Conceptual Elucidation.” John Wisdom, Gilbert Ryle, Antony Flew and John Langshaw Austin and the later  Wittgenstein represent this way of thinking. Actually, the Oxford School rejects the labeling of this 1930s movement as a “school” because these philosophers attempt to avoid commitment to any one methodological principle, or thesis. Yet, they can be classified by their agreement of the manner in which philosophical analysis should be preformed, “an essential feature of roper philosophical activity is the detailed description of the actual workings of language, rather than the resolution of the these workings into some unworkable scheme of an ideal language. (20th Century Philosophy: The Analytic Tradition, New York: Free Press, 1966 page 9).

Odd, can't remember ever being introduced to that "school" but it describes my own approach to philosophy (anthropology, sociology, etc., etc.).

From your Wiki link:


This approach typically involves eschewing philosophical "theories" in favour of close attention to the details of the use of everyday, "ordinary" language. Sometimes called "Oxford philosophy", it is generally associated with the work of a number of mid-century Oxford professors: mainly J.L. Austin, but also Gilbert Ryle, H.L.A. Hart, and Peter Strawson. The later Ludwig Wittgenstein is ordinary language philosophy's most celebrated proponent outside the Oxford circle. Second generation figures include Stanley Cavell and John Searle.

I am familiar with "second generation" figure John Searle, however, so there's a connection.  I recall that douglaslee brought him to the thread many pages back.

DRC's picture
OK guys, the atheism

OK guys, the atheism diversion from theology aside, much of the philosophical contention with religion seems to me to be a rant against story and poetry as meaning communicators.  A very intelligent rant, and one which hits a lot of deserved targets in the sloppy religion department.  

And back to stories.  While the "bad guys" drive stories, the question of evil is what makes great stories instead of cartoons and good/bad binary cliches.  It is the evil in us, the potential we share with those who, for various reasons, fall into evil.  Few of us understand the motivation to child rape, and it may be because it is so alien that we wish to repress it so much.  I want to protect the kids, but I do not want to make my ignorance and lack of human connection to the perp an excuse for violence.  

What is the motivation that leads to great evil?  I think it is almost always a twisted idealism or messianic vision of "good" for the world.  Hitler was of that order.  He was not torturing his pets or doing what Caligula and other perverts were doing.  In his twisted idealism, he was saving the world from a corrupt element.  My argument is not that he did not do evil, just that his motivation was not to do evil.  He did not wake up every morning thinking about what new evil deed he could invent.

Do the Koch brothers believe that they are doing evil to America?  No.  Do the birthers?  No.  Timothy McVeigh was on a mission of very high idealism.  So were the 9/11 suicide terrorists.  Our own idea about what is good and evil is a slippery slope unless it is connected to a lot more than our near neighbors.

The stories that attract me make the villain human.  Twisted yes.  Often filled with perverse beliefs.  But what makes a great story is where the hero has to measure himself or herself in a very human balance with the villain.  Ridley Pearson writes some dark stuff, but he is not a shock artist.  He is a story teller.  I think shock literature tends to a certain analogy to porn.  To deal with evil, one has to be in the same human boat.

Gotta run.

Antifascist's picture
Oh Yes, John Wisdom is

Oh Yes, John Wisdom is awesome: his writing is unusually clear and precise without extreme complexity. Antony Flew converted from atheism and became spiritual later in his life. Those British are such softies.

Just watched the first part of Dr. Michio Kaku for "Conversations with Great Minds." A must see!

.ren's picture
Thanks for the Michio Kaku

Thanks for the Michio Kaku link, Anti.

Tomorrow, April 20th, will be the one year anniversary of the event that stimulated the topic of this thread.  What has transpired (and is still transpiring) has not simply vanished into all of our memory holes, though perhaps it has into the memory hole Andrew Bacevich has termed "Washington Rules," as Obama has lifted the ban on off shore drilling in the Gulf.  A moratorium was instituted on off shore drilling after a similar though not nearly as catastrophic catastrophe off the Coast of Santa Barbara in 1969, but that moratorium was not in place in the Gulf.

Here's a report on the situation yesterday from one of the few news sites I can find commemorating this human created (and perhaps more precisely, "neoliberal ideologically" created) catastrophe:

"5 Million Barrels of Oil Does Not Disappear": Author, Activist Antonia Juhasz on the BP Spill, One Year Later

Antifascist's picture
Ren wrote... Quote:Tomorrow,

Ren wrote...

Tomorrow, April 20th, will be the one year anniversary of the event that stimulated the topic of this thread.

Wow, it doesn’t' t seem like an entire year. And a second catastrophe in within the same year. I used to be young and beautiful, but now I'm just older and beautiful.

And speaking of beautiful, the string paradigm is a beautiful melody in this world of mechanical musak [sic]. What I like about strings is the concept of "substance" is replace with a more dynamic picture of movement and change in the world. How does the "Many become One?" is the ancient questoin.

Heraclitus seems to held the problem to be insoluble as long as the “one” is taken to be a material thing. But what if the oneness of the world consists in the orderliness with which things change? Then the world have a unity-not the unity of a material underlying the diversity, but rather the unity of pattern. The universe would be one in the sense of being an ordered cosmos, capable of being explored and understood by the human mind, instead of the chaos of conflicting wills that the old theologians had seen at the heart of things. Thus the central purpose of the Milesian philosophers would be satisfied by abandoning their basic concept of  “stuff” and substituting for it the concept of process, that is, ordered change, or, as Heraclitus would say, “change according to the measures.” (A History of Western Philosophy: The Classical Mind, by W.T. Jones, Harcourt,Brace & World, 1952, page 15).

So there is movement in reality, “One cannot step in the same river twice,” as Heraclitus said. And there is “discord.” The string paradigm would explain contradictions in existence. The pre-Socrates always went out of their way to point out contradiction in the world. Protagoras said “Man  is the measure of all things,” and “...attempted to expound a world in which all appearances were true and where there was nothing out side or beyond what appeared. This involved the correspondence of opposites and contradictory qualities at many points...Protagoras was the first to propound the theory that there are two λόγοι, or accounts, [not singular λόγος] to be given about everything.” (The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Paul Edward, Macmillian Pub.Vol. 6. Protagoras, pp 505-6). This is according to Protagoras because there are contradictions in our perceptions: a wind may feel warm to one person and cool to another person.

String theory can explain this multiplicity and contradictions we experience in life. And the string paradigm implies everything can become anything else if the same “pitch” is matched. Erik Stenius has pointed out that the Tractatus has a “musical structure” and a “rhythm of emphasis.” The seven main propositions that make up the Tractatus make the accented points in the rhythm. (The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Paul Edward, Macmillian Pub.Vol. 7. Wittgenstein, pp 330). The String Paradigm offers the complexity of frequencies and mathematics in the metaphors of music, melody, pitch, frequency, and all the attributes of timbre.


.ren's picture
No offense to Thom's efforts,

No offense to Thom's efforts, but I fear that dragging Michio down from his dream world and asking him to speculate about our energy future might not have been the best way to exploit that opportunity for a discussion with a great mind.

Here's a set of Michio's own efforts to explain String Theory:

Michio Kaku On String Theory (Part 1of4)

Michio Kaku On String Theory (Part 2 of4)

Michio Kaku On String Theory (Part 3 of4)

Michio Kaku On String Theory (Part 4 of4)

I love these mind trips into the world of physics.  Something that I thought might explain this unsynchronized left and right hand problem in Physics that Michio Kaku talks about is Gary Zukov's attempt to share the Quantum Physics side with his Dancing Wu Li Masters.  But more than that he bridges between our mind's ability to imagine the spiritual dimension, martial arts and other much more fun things to consider than the power mad captains of power and industrial cancer repropduction.



Antifascist's picture
Antony Flew and The Principle

Antony Flew and The Principle of Falsification

...continuing from post # 939.

Flew introduced the principle of falsification into the discussion to theological language in response to John’s Wisdom’s article “Gods.” The principle of falsifiability is stated by Flew as,

For it the utterance is indeed an assertion, it will necessarily be equivalent to a denial of the negation of that assertion, to which would induce the speaker to withdraw it and to admit that it had been mistaken, must be part of (or whole of) the meaning of the negation of that assertion. (Classical and Contemporary Readings in the Philosophy of Religion, by J. Hicks, ed., Englewood Cliffs, J.J.” Prentice-Hall, 1970, p. 466).

The statement “Men are mortal” is logically equivalent to the statement, “It is not the case that men are not mortal.” If one understands what a statement denies, then one can better understand its meaning. For this statement to be meaningful, there must be some conceivable state of affairs which would be incompatible with what it asserts. “If there is nothing which a putative assertion denies then there is nothing which it asserts either: and so it is not really an assertion.” If any state of affairs is compatible with an assertion, then that assertion must either be analytic, or vacuous.”(Language, Logic, and God, by F. Ferre, New York: Harper and Row, 1961, p. 8).

Flew applies this principle of falsifiability to the utterance, “G-d loves us as a father loves his children.” Flew does not see any conceivable state of affairs of which the theist would agree is incompatible with the assertion, “G-d loves us as a father loves his children.” The theist gradually removes his utterance from the possibility of falsification,

...someone tells us that God loves us as a father loves his children. We are reassured. But then we see a child dying of inoperable cancer of the throat. His earthly father is driven frantic in his efforts to help, but his Heavenly Father reveals no obvious sign of concern. Some qualification is made—God’s love is ‘not a merely human love’ or it is ‘an inscrutable love,’ perhaps—and we realize that such sufferings are quite compatible with the truth of the assertion that ‘G-d loves us as a father (but, of course, ...).’...Just what would have to happen not merely (morally and wrongly) to tempt but also (logically and rightly) to entitle us to say ‘G-d does not exist.’? (Classical and Contemporary Readings in the Philosophy of Religion, by J. Hicks, ed., Englewood Cliffs, J.J.” Prentice-Hall, 1970, p. 466).

For Flew, theological statements are, “...killed by inches, the death by a thousand qualifications.”(ibid., p. 466). Flew concludes that the theist’s language is meaningless because such speech cannot be applied either to verification by experience, nor falsification by experience. Theological discourse fails in demonstrating the facticity of its propositions. continue, Three Philosophical Positions in response to the Critique of Verificational Analysis.

Antifascist's picture
Thank you Ren for those links

Thank you Ren for those links to Michio Kaku lectures. I have watched him before on PBS but didn't know he was so theological! What a surprise. Hey, as I watch part Michio Kaku On String Theory (Part 3 of4) Dr. Kaku brings up Protagoras!

Okay, I watched some more of Dr. Michio Kaku. So there are others that think the same way. It's a nice feeling.

LOL, I am trying to write about Flew, but Dr. Kaku's  videos keep causing me to stop and comment. I am way passed crazy by now.

We don’t like to tell Chemistry students and first year students of the idea of parallel worlds because it would upset them. They might go crying to their mothers but, Hey! Get used to it! This is the modern interpretation of Quantum Theory. See video 4 minutes, and 28 seconds.

Yes, we heard the crying, and sad singing, and slow walking.

...and I was going to write something about the two major schools of Himayana Buddhism and String Theory last night but I fell asleep. This question of existence and perception is interesting. There is a closely related theory of perception found in Himayana Buddhism that I forgotten about. I will try and post it today. And I finally came up with a pretty good counter-argument to the Berkelian principle that "To be is to be perceived." We'll talk about it with Thermosellar Device #20 . I never been able to come up with a good argument I liked until now, but I must first complete, Paradigmatic Circularity and Theological Discourse.

Under Himayana Buddhism there are two major schools of thought and practice: the Vaibhasika school had as spokesmen Dinnaga (500 A.D.) and Dharmakirti. The second school of Saufranika was founded by Kumaralabdha (200 A.D.). The Mahayana school can be divided between the Yogacare school (300 A.D.) with two leaders Asanga and Vasubandhu, and the Madhyamida school of Buddhism. Hindu scholars have traditionally distinguished these various schools according to their different theories of sense perception.

The Vaibhasika hold that there is an objective world which can be directly perceived. Vaibhasika is sometimes called the school of Direct Realism.

Vaibhasika is better understood by contrasting their theory of perception with that of the Sautrantikas. Now the Sautrantikas are really interesting! The Sautrantikas believed that objects are known only indirectly. They are consistent with the doctrine of momentariness found in the Theravada school of Buddhism. The object is not seen directly since passes away in a series and our sense impression of an object is inferred from a series of smaller passing appearances. To use a modern metaphor, an object appears much like a line on a television screen as the light beam quickly moves from one point to another scanning the object. We only perceive particular sensations; however, those sensations are organized and structured by consciousness. Those general characteristics which we are able to isolate such as “whiteness,” or “flatness” are not real, or actual entities. Mysore Hiriyanna, a scholar of Buddhism, draws an analogy between the Sautrantikas theory of perception and the Western theory of perception named, “Representationalism.” So how could the  Sautrantikas theory be modified to take into account String Theory and the frequencies of strings? Is our consciousness only scanning one spectrum of existence in the larger spectra of Being?

Max Keiser is a prophet! Repent ! Convert! Convert to SILVER!!!

Antifascist's picture
Three Philosophical Positions

Three Philosophical Positions in response to the Critique of Verificational Analysis.

...continuing from post #946

 A. Theological Statements Can Never be Conclusively Falsifiable.

(1) Basil Mitchell

Basil Mitchell holds this position in response to the charge that theological discourse is meaningless. Mitchell tells the following parable to address the question of whether theological proposition can be falsified.

In time of war in an occupied country, a member of the resistance meets one night a Stranger who deeply impresses him. They spend the night together in conversation. The Stranger tells the partisan that he himself is on the side of the resistance—indeed that he is in command of it, and urges the partisan to have faith in him no matter what happens. The partisan is utterly convinced at that meeting of the Stranger’s sincerity and constancy and undertakes to trust him (Classical and Contemporary Readings in the Philosophy of Religion, by J. Hicks, ed., Englewood Cliffs, J.J.” Prentice-Hall, 1970, p. 466)..

From this point the partisan is committed to trust the Stranger’s through situations which seem to count against the Stranger’s claim that he is on the partisan’s side. The Stranger is seen in a uniform of the occupying power, but the partisan continues to trust the Stranger regardless of appearances. Mitchell claims, “It is precisely this situation which constitutes the trial of his faith.”(Ibid, p. 470). The partisan asserts that “the Stranger is on our side” even when the state of affairs seem to be incompatible with that statement. Mitchell agrees with Flew that theological propositions must be “assertions.”

 Mitchell then draws an analogy between Flew’s example “God Loves men,” and “the Stranger is on our side.” The partisan interprets the Stranger’s behavior differently from others who are viewing the same facts. Also, the partisan’s faith, or trust in the Stranger’s claims, make incompatible situations a “trial of faith.” For Mitchell, this parable describes the theist’s belief that “God loves men.” The theist interprets suffering differently from those who do not share his belief. The Problem of Evil is a trial to the theist’s commitment to trust in God. Thus, Mitchell understands that theological propositions are falsifiable. Theological propositions cannot be conclusively falsified.

(2) I. M. Crombie

Crombie agrees with Mitchell that theological propositions are verifiable and falsifiable, and yet these tests can never be conclusive. Crombie writes in response to Flew,

Does anything count against the assertion that God is merciful? Yes, suffering. Does anything count decisively against it? No, we reply, because it is true. Could anything count decisively against it? Yes, suffering which was utterly, eternally and irredeemably pointless. Can we then design a crucial experiment? No because we can never see all the picture. Two things at least are hidden from us; what goes on in the recess of the personality of the sufferer, and what shall happen hereafter. .”(Ibid, p. 485).

Crombie understands theological propositions as falsifiable in a theoretical sense, but practically our inability to know completely the state of affairs which might conflict with our statements make such verification inconclusive.

(3) John Hick

Hick agrees with both Mitchell and Crombie that theological propositions can be falsifiable in a theoretical sense, but not practically. The verification, and falsification tests cannot be applied in this life.

There are certain eschatological expectations—expectations about the ultimate future—which, I want to suggest, satisfy an acceptable criterion of factual meaningfulness and which impart to the Christian belief-system as a whole the character of a true or false assertion.(The Center of Christianity, by J. Hick, San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978, p. 54).

Theological propositions are factually meaningful, but their verification must be postponed to a future time. Yet, Hick agrees that theological utterances are assertions, “whose assertion-status has the unusual characteristic of being guaranteed retrospectively by a future crux.(Ibid, p. 100). This principle is called by Hick the “eschatological verification of the Christian faith.” Hicks says, “If the afterlife should be a reality, the inter-subjective experience of social existence in the Kingdom of God...would suffice to verify theism.” (Ferre, p. 53).  Thus, Hick understands theological utterances as being utterances with factual meaning, and those utterances can be verified, or falsified with the qualification that such tests are retrospective. (B) Criticism of Verification Theory’s Criteria for Meaningfulness of All Language Propositions.

.ren,  DRC,  antifascist, 

.ren,  DRC,  antifascist,  and others:

This is awesome!  Considering the abstract nature of the material,  what you people are saying is full of relevant argument and facts.   I literally can't keep up!   Considering that my favorite topic is how the problem with power involves more than just redistribution of wealth,   the paradigm that I need to consider is not only watching out for negative uses of power in society,  but to also look deep inside myself and make sure that I am not abusing power.   You guys rule!

.ren's picture
Antifascist wrote: The

Antifascist wrote:

The statement “Men are mortal” is logically equivalent to the statement, “It is not the case that men are not mortal.” If one understands what a statement denies, then one can better understand its meaning. For this statement to be meaningful, there must be some conceivable state of affairs which would be incompatible with what it asserts. “If there is nothing which a putative assertion denies then there is nothing which it asserts either: and so it is not really an assertion.” If any state of affairs is compatible with an assertion, then that assertion must either be analytic, or vacuous.”(Language, Logic, and God, by F. Ferre, New York: Harper and Row, 1961, p. 8).

I don't know it it's part of your overall intention, but I'd point out that this "binary oppositional" dialectic is often used (in our liberal, reason-based, social paradigms) in reinterpreting statements and thereby potentially redefining what is meant by who ever is making the positive side of an implied oppositional dialectic statement.  This is of course all part of the act of justifying a statement to save it from being vacuous, or to show it is vacuous by showing it is not "true" or "factual." Examples of this taking place are all around us, especially on Thom's board here, and I find it used as a technique quite flagrantly by people who I usually end up identifyng as, well, many words apply, but I'll use the common term: trolls.

Here's what I see as an interesting example from the main stream media (any conservative will inform you that it's "liberally biased"), which I would contrast with the link I provided from Democracy Now! yesterday, and several I will provide today:

First from an AP source which will find it's wayt into all sorts of corporate media locations, this is I imagine considered to be "fair and balanced" as well as factual portrayal of the situation:

A year after spill, Gulf Coast is healing, hurting


One year after the nation's worst offshore oil spill began, solemn ceremonies will mark the disaster Wednesday and underscore the delicate healing that is only now taking shape. Oil still occasionally rolls up on beaches in the form of tar balls, and fishermen face an uncertain future.

But traffic jams on the narrow coastal roads of Alabama, crowded seafood restaurants in Florida and families vacationing along the Louisiana coast attest to the fact that familiar routines are returning, albeit slowly.

"We used to fuss about that," said Ike Williams, referring to the heavy traffic headed for the water in Gulf Shores, Ala., where he rents chairs and umbrellas to beachgoers. "But it was such a welcome sight."

Although life is getting back to normal, many questions linger: Will the fishing industry recover? Will the environment bounce back completely? Will an oil-hungry public ever accept more deep-water drilling?


"Many questions linger"...  And then look at the questions and the answers provided.


"It seems like it is all gone," said Tyler Priest, an oil historian at the University of Houston. "People have turned their attention elsewhere. But it will play out like Exxon Valdez did. There will be 20 years of litigation."

Quite probably true, and it is the most damning paragraph in the entire piece, quite short, hardly says much to anyone who hasn't read something like:

Not One Drop: Betrayal and Courage in the Wake of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

Here's a clip from what I wrote last year in an opening post about the spill on May 3, 2010: BP promises to pay all "legitimage claims":

.ren wrote:

The book tells much about the last twenty years, and Riki is headed for the Gulf to help people with what she's learned.  One of the things she's learned is the following, where, like now, BP promises to pay and is already starting the same types of "outreach" patterns as Exxon's:

In the immediate aftermath, Exxon promised the people of Cordova that they would be made whole. They lied. No one in Cordova could possibly have been prepared for the epic battle for justice that would occur over the next 20 years. Riki Ott was on the scene every step of the way and reports on the tactics employed by the oil companies, state and federal government, the courts and of course the victims. It quickly becomes apparent whose side most of our esteemed government officials are on. Riki Ott also spends a considerable amount of time driving home the point that the oil spill science funded by the oil companies is largely junk science and is not to be trusted. Perhaps one of the most salient points made in "Not One Drop" is that evidence amassed by trauma experts clearly indicates that disasters caused by so-called "acts of God" such as earthquakes, floods and tornadoes affect people much differently in the long run than such man-made disasters as dam failures, oil spills and nuclear accidents. My reading over the years would tend to confirm this. As Riki points out "natural disasters brought people together in crisis, while man-made disasters tore communities apart." Now nearly two decades later the people of Cordova struggle mightily to put their lives and their community back together again.

The rest of the AP article makes nice gloss over points like the following:


Most scientists agree the effects "were not as severe as many had predicted," said Christopher D'Elia, dean at the School of the Coast and Environment at Louisiana State University. "People had said this was an ecological Armageddon, and that did not come to pass."

Gloss statement from a "voice of authority" a dean at the School of Coast and Environment at LSU.  Know what deans are hired to do these days of dwindling funds in departments that corporations don't like to give money to?  Yeah...


"Where I'm fishing it all looks pretty much the same," said Glen Swift, a 62-year-old fisherman in Buras. He's catching catfish and gar in the lower Mississippi River again. That's not the problem.

and what's the problem?  From the fisherman's own mouth:


"I can't sell my fish," he said. "The market's no good."

Ahhh... the market is not good.

Well, I'm sure main stream media will help fix that.

Then, after an overview of the history of what we were "subjected to" through news reporting last year (for 85 days), the article concludes:


For the most part, the damage was eventually contained.

This comes after statements like:


"Nationally, BP seems like a dim and distant memory," said Douglas Brinkley, a Rice University historian. But the accident will have long-lasting influence on environmental history, he said.


The Deepwater Horizon was different from the two other major offshore spills in American history — the Santa Barbara blowout in 1969 that led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Exxon Valdez. But BP's disaster was a "seminal moment ... seared on the American imagination forever," Brinkley said.


In that time, 206 million gallons of oil — 19 times more than the Exxon Valdez spilled, or enough to fill three-quarters of the Empire State Building — spewed from the well. In response, the nation commandeered the largest offshore fleet of vessels since D-Day, and BP spent billions of dollars to clean up the mess and save itself from collapse. (emphasis mine, ren)


The blast also killed 11 rig workers, including Gordon Jones, an engineer killed when the rig exploded. Jones left behind a 2-year-old son and a baby he never met.

"I know other people have experienced losses like this. The difference I guess is that we're reliving it essentially every day," said Jones' brother, Chris.

I especially admire the way it ends:


For now, the fishing communities of the Gulf Coast are praying for a good spawning season and a good catch — exactly as they had hoped a year ago before the Deepwater Horizon blew up.

Swift, the catfisherman, will be putting out nets when the anniversary dawns in the hope of supplying some fish for the local Cambodian-Americans, who are celebrating their New Year.

He said fishermen are getting by, thanks in large part to money from BP, which has helped assuage the pain of the spill, allowing poor and often homeless fishermen to buy trailers, boats and other gear.

"I made the most I've ever made. And I'm sure there were a lot of others the same," Swift said. "I had to pay $10,000 in tax."

With the $65,000 he received last year — working on the cleanup for BP and getting $12,000 in compensation for the loss of his livelihood — he bought a boat, a 21-footer, and two motors.

Will Americans get over the image of that BP gusher fouling the Gulf? Swift wonders.

"A lot of people think it's a dirty place," he said. "The oil has given it a bad name. I was at one of these seafood chains, and they advertised their shrimp as being fresh and 'Pacific.'"

So I ask myself, after plowing through such journalistic reporting, is any of that untrue?  Probably not.  It probably passes our modern day corporatist version of truth in journalistic reporting of the facts.  But what does it really say about what has happened? 

Well, for the more significant question about informing the public, or maybe even about how these catastrophes are transforming the planet for the future in ways we cannot possibly begin to understand from our journalistic reporters, in other words: how does what the mainstream media reports add up in the public's mind? we can go to a non mainstream source and contrast it to what we'll find in the mainstream, including my yesterday's link (which was actually from Monday's show):

"5 Million Barrels of Oil Does Not Disappear": Author, Activist Antonia Juhasz on the BP Spill, One Year Later

And now today's:


"A Sea in Flames": Ecologist Carl Safina on First Anniversary of Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig Blowout


Voices from the Gulf: "One Year Later, We’re in the Same Situation as Last Year"


Deepwater Drilling Resumes Despite Unclear Impact of BP Spill: "It is All about Hiding the Oil, Not Cleaning It Up"


Death Toll from BP Spill Still Rising as Residents Die from Spill-Related Illnesses


Father of Deepwater Horizon Victim: The Blowout Was “Inevitable” Due to BP’s Lack of Safety Precautions

Happy First Year Anniversary, BP Oil Spill!





Antifascist's picture
 Welcome Micahjr34! Thank you

 Welcome Micahjr34! Thank you for your comments.

(B) Criticism of Verification Theory’s Criteria for Meaningfulness of All Language Propositions.

...continuing from post #948.

A second response to the Critique of Verificational Analysis against theological discourse it to examine the criteria used to determine the meaningfulness of propositions. These criteria are too narrow in two specific ways. First,  the Verification Principle itself fails to fulfill it’s own standard of meaningful propositions. Ferre explains this blatant contradiction [my italics]:

The statement that the meaning of any proposition will be found either in verbal rules (if the proposition is analytic), or in equivalent statements referring to actual or possible sense-experiences (if the proposition is synthetic) seem to be asserting a fact, not offering a definition of a rule of usage. But, if the verification principle is not itself analytic, what actual or possible sense-experience could be relevant to its verification or falsification? (Ferre, p. 54)

A more versatile criterion for determining meaningfulness is need even for the Verification Principle itself to met its own standard of a verifiable, and therefore, meaningful proposition. Secondly, the verification principle assumes that the only function of language is to communicate factual information. But we have discovered from the Later Wittgenstein that “Language has countless functions.”

Philosophical Investigations 23.

But how many kinds of sentences are there? Say assertion, question, and command?--There are countless kinds countless different kinds of use of what we call "symbols," "words," "sentences." And this multiplicity is not something fixed, given once for all; but new types of language, new language-games, as we may say, come into existence, and others become obsolete and get forgotten. (We can get a rough picture of this from the changes in mathematics.)

Here the term "language-game" is meant to bring into prominence the fact that the speaking of language is part of an activity, or of a form of life.
Review the multiplicity of language-games in the following examples, and in others:

Giving orders, and obeying them--
Describing the appearance of an object, or giving its measurements--
Constructing an object from a description (a drawing)--
Reporting an event--
Speculating about an event--
Forming and testing a hypothesis--
Presenting the results of an experiment in tables and diagrams--
Making up a story; and reading it--
Guessing riddles--
Making a joke; telling it--
Solving a problem in practical arithmetic--
Translating from one language into another--
Asking, thinking, cursing, greeting, praying.

One function of language cannot be idealized to the exclusion of all the other uses of language in Life. Theological Propositions are Non-Factual.

What is wrong with this board? It takes as long to format a post as it does to write the post itself. The formatting problems...spacing, bolding, inserting text are infuriating.