The sun still rises, and so do I… but I’m taking a break from this venue, and from most of the virtual world. Occasional exceptions will occur on Twitter, at my day-blog, at CoPhi, at A&P and Bioethics. But I’ll return to this site only when the Spring semester resumes. Only too soon.
Archive for December, 2014
I’m not a big fan of the horror genre but grades are in, film major Older Daughter is home for the holidays, and Babadook is at the Belcourt. So we went, late yesterday afternoon.
Three and a half thumbs up, at least, from us. A Vandy film prof led an intelligent audience discussion after the screening. And the director, Australian Jennifer Kent, gave an intelligent interview the other day.
The problem with much of contemporary horror, according to Kent, is its literalness. “I feel like a lot of the people who make horror actually don’t understand its depth and its power,” she says. “Unbeknownst to themselves, they’re looking down on the genre. I also think a lot of horror is made cynically, and by that I mean that it’s made to make money.”
Anthony Lane says more female directors in this genre might “restore horror to its rightful place as a chamber of secrets, ripe for emotional inquisition.” Back to the Twilight Zone? No, beyond.
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A student yesterday reported on the quirky Slovenian Marxist Slavoj Zizek, who somewhere apparently has stated that the pursuit of happiness is “unethical.” What a strange thing to say, unless he just means that it’s wrong to seek one’s exclusive happiness. Or does he mean that happiness is not good enough for him? He and Calvin could talk about it.
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Last day of class, before final exams next week. But, as I never tire of repeating, nothing has really concluded. The sun will come out tomorrow, figuratively at least.
(Also worth repeating: “A yes, a no, a straight line, a goal,” Nietzsche’s “formula” of happiness. Not that it worked out all that well for him.)
An important question: “who’s doing the imagining in the Original Position?” A bunch of philosophers will presumably think and deliberate differently from a bunch of fascists, or monks. But if it’s a polyglot mix drawn from a diverse society, and none of them knows their race, sex, earning power, or basic preferences, maybe they won’t think exclusively like (narrow or partisan) philosophers, fascists, and monks. Maybe they’ll think like pluralists and cosmopolitans. Maybe they won’t be prepared to gamble with their liberty. Maybe they’ll want to be just and fair, and be more inclined to take care of the least well-off. Maybe so.
Carlin Romano fills out Rawls’s position with the important, astonishing, neglected biographical Rawls back-story. It’s useful and illuminating to know who he is, in assessing his theory of justice. He was a lucky child, recovering from diptheria and pneumonia, then a lucky soldier. His siblings and army brothers were not so lucky. He felt bad about his good luck, and angry about the theodicies offered to account for it.
A Lutheran pastor… said that God aimed our bullets at the Japanese while God protected us from theirs. I don’t know why this made me so angry, but it certainly did. I upbraided the Pastor (who was a First Lieutenant) for saying what I assumed he knew perfectly well… were simple falsehoods about divine providence… Christian doctrine ought not to be used for that…
To interpret history as expressing God’s will, God’s will must accord with the most basic ideas of justice… I soon came to reject the idea of the supremacy of the divine will as also hideous and evil.
Singer’s on our final CoPhi bill (after John Searle and Alan Turing [PhilDic] at the end of Little History of Philosophy today. And, one last pitch from Carlin Romano, making the case for viewing Barack Obama as “philosopher and cosmopolitan in chief.”
Instead of trying to produce a programme to simulate the adult mind, why not rather try to produce one which simulates the child’s? If this were then subjected to an appropriate course of education one would obtain the adult brain. “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”
- “If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it.”
- “If possessing a higher degree of intelligence does not entitle one human to use another for his or her own ends, how can it entitle humans to exploit non-humans?”
- “The Hebrew word for “charity” tzedakah, simply means “justice” and as this suggests, for Jews, giving to the poor is no optional extra but an essential part of living a just life.”
- “Just as we have progressed beyond the blatantly racist ethic of the era of slavery and colonialism, so we must now progress beyond the speciesist ethic of the era of factory farming, of the use of animals as mere research tools, of whaling, seal hunting, kangaroo slaughter, and the destruction of wilderness. We must take the final step in expanding the circle of ethics.”
- “To give preference to the life of a being simply because that being is a member of our species would put us in the same position as racists who give preference to those who are members of their race.”
- “Philosophy ought to question the basic assumptions of the age. Thinking through, critically and carefully, what most of us take for granted is, I believe, the chief task of philosophy, and the task that makes philosophy a worthwhile activity.”
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Wittgenstein’s response to me was humiliating, and his response to female students who tried to attend his lectures was even worse. If a woman appeared in the audience, he would remain standing silent until she left the room. I decided that he was a charlatan using outrageous behavior to attract attention. I hated him for his rudeness.
Philosophy lives in words, but truth and fact well up into our lives in ways that exceed verbal formulation. There is in the living act of perception always something that glimmers and twinkles and will not be caught, and for which reflection comes too late. No one knows this as well as the philosopher. He must fire his volley of new vocables out of his conceptual shotgun, for his profession condemns him to this industry; but he secretly knows the hollowness and irrelevancy.
The common world is made up of all institutions, all cities, nations, and other communities, and all works of fabrication, art, thought, and science, and it survives the death of every individual. It encompasses not only the present but all past and future generations. “The common world is what we enter when we are born and what we leave behind when we die,” Hannah Arendt writes. “It transcends our life-span into past and future alike; it was there before we came and will outlast our brief sojourn in it…”
The foundation of a common world is an exclusively human achievement, and to live in a common world–to speak and listen to one another, to read, to write, to know about the past and look ahead to the future, to receive the achievements of past generations, and to pass them on, together with achievements of our own, to future generations, and otherwise to participate in human enterprises that outlast any individual life–is part of what it means to be human…” -Jonathan Schell, Fate of the Earth
The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.
Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it…
Forgiveness is the only way to reverse the irreversible flow of history.
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