Re: MD Access to Quality

From: Mark Steven Heyman (
Date: Sun May 01 2005 - 10:53:34 BST

  • Next message: ian glendinning: "Re: MD Quality and the Nuremberg-Tokyo Tribunals"

    Hi Matt,

    In the recent flurry of activity on the list, this one slipped by

    On 29 Apr 2005 at 14:22, Matt Kundert wrote:

    Mark said:
    I agree that, in the post to which you two [Scott and Matt] responded, Arlo
    has mildly distorted a couple of Platt's less pernicious ideas. I find it
    interesting, however, that neither of you has found it worthwhile to engage
    in the many Social v Intellectual, discussions until now, when you
    evidently deem it necessary to take Arlo, not Platt, to task.

    Matt replied:
    Well, first, I didn't really think I was taking Arlo "to task" (and I think
    taking a small issue with him, whereas I completely brushed Platt off,
    counts for something, doesn't it? ;-). And second, I don't think I was
    saying anything specifically political. I view it as something specifically
    philosophical. And third, if you were to say that political discussions (on
    the whole) are more important than philosophical discussions (on the whole),
    I would agree, but I disagree that they are the most important ones here at
    this list, in so far as I am personally only here to discuss a few delimited
    philosophical issues.

    msh says:
    Sounds fair. You seem to allow that others here are interested in
    broader discussions, so no problem.

    Now, the way I see the above three points hanging together revolves in some
    degree around my view of the social/intellectual distinction you mentioned.
    I don't think its helpful at all. In fact, I think the distinction is
    distracting in the discussions and can't hold its weight philosophically.

    Since the distinction to me seems quite vivid, and useful, maybe you
    can give me an example to help me understand what you are saying.
    Don't know if you are following the Nuremberg thread, but there I
    claim that an intellectual analysis of social actions reveals a
    highly suspect inconsistency of social-level thought, one that
    deserves to be brought to light. How does my argument distract from
    the discussion or fail to hold its philosophical weight?

    I think Sam's "Eudaimonic MoQ" paper goes some way towards getting
    rid of the distinction, despite Sam's habit of saying from time to
    time that he still thinks there's some mileage to be gained from it.
    I think there's no mileage. For Wittgensteinian reasons, I think the
    social/intellectual distinction collapses into itself.

    msh says:
    What Wittgensteinian reasons? And could you apply them to my
    Nuremberg argument, to help me understand what you say is the
    collapse of the distinction?

    When we realize that all there is to the intellectual level is language, and that
    language is public and not private, the distinction between the two blurs.

    msh says:
    Even if the intellectual level is nothing but language, it doesn't
    follow that there is no distinction between the social and
    intellectual levels. Just as not every individual values the
    concepts of society, not all human individuals grasp the language of
    the intellectual level, regardless of its public availability.

    And if we construe "eudaimonia" to be the creation of the idea of something
    like "individuality," where people gradually realized that they individually
    had rights and self-worth, we can see the embodiment of this fourth level as
    politics. So, in my view, politics sits on top of philosophy, philosophy is
    ancilliary to politics.

    So, in your view, politics replaces the MOQs Intellectual level. You
    seem to be saying that politics derives from philosophy, which you
    seem to suggest is just another name for the old Intellectual level.
    That is, you regard philosophy as a social activity, while politics
    is higher up the ladder and in some way emerges from philosophy. I
    guess I don't see how this re-ordering of the MOQ's moral hierarchy
    offers a better explanation of the world, as I experience it.

    So, when I criticized Arlo's use of "reason" as an
    idol analogous to early Christianity's "God," I was making an ancilliary
    point to the political debate. The reason I would make it is because I
    think the strategy bad philosophically and bad politically. Bad
    philosophically because we've learned that Kant's Reason is as idolatrous as
    Aquinas' God.

    msh says:
    I think you may have taken Arlo's point about Reason being the source
    of Freedom, a bit too literally; and I believe he has addressed this
    in his response to you. When you mentioned above that people
    gradually came to realize their own self-worth and right to be free,
    it is the application of reason that made the realization possible.

    During the days of the Enlightenment, there was a lot of
    mileage to be had out of that substitution. But now, not so much. In three
    hundred years, the Christian Right has learned how to effectively turn it
    back on us and make us look silly.

    My experience in debates with the Christian Right is that they end up
    on the silly-looking side of the discussion. This is why they
    assiduously avoid public discussion of their ideas with anyone other
    than weak proponents of the secular view.

    So I'm suggesting a change in strategy because that's what philosophy
    can do: make suggestions about the way we speak.

    I agree the Religious Right is advancing its goals, but this is due
    to the corrupting influence of wealth on our political system, not to
    the intellectual strength of their arguments. We might benefit from
    a change in strategy by focusing on exposing this corrupting
    influence, but I see no weakness in our intellectual evaluation of
    their core beliefs, which is why they will allow no critical
    evaluation of their beliefs to be aired in public.

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts. I know you're not here for
    political discussions, but I appreciate your input.

    Mark Steven Heyman (msh)
    InfoPro Consulting - The Professional Information Processors
    Custom Software Solutions for Windows, PDAs, and the Web Since 1983
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    "Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why,
    why?' Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he
    understand." - Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle

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