Re: MD secular humanism and dynamic quality

Date: Thu Apr 01 2004 - 03:09:45 BST

  • Next message: MATTHEW PAUL KUNDERT: "Re: MD secular humanism and dynamic quality"


    Matt K said:
    But when Pirsig says that it's values all the way down, it's the same thing as saying that it's bias all the way down...defining facts as high quality intellectual patterns of _value_ is the same as saying that the notion of an "unbiased fact" is empty...

    Matt P asked:
    Could you please Explain what you mean by this, as I do not fully understand what you mean to say here.

    In the context of the exchange, I took the locution "unbiased acknowledgement of fact" to be referencing something like an uninterpreted event or thing or whatever. Pirsig equated reality with Quality to get rid of the notion that we don't interact with an object when we are describing it, what Pirsig called SOM, Dewey called a spectatorial view of knowledge, and Gadamer called the Enlightenment's bias against bias. When you value something, I see it as the same thing as saying you are biased against something else. If I value X, then I'm biased against Y.

    Obviously we can draw distinctions between the word "value" and "bias" to cut a difference, but what we can't do is cut a difference in any _philosophically_ meaningful way, i.e. cut a _philosophical_ distinction between fact and opinion, fact and value. We can have run-of-the-mill uses of bias and fact, like saying that it is a fact that the moon is round and that Bob got promoted because of undue bias (he was wanking the boss). But when we translate our run-of-the-mill use of fact, when doing philosophy, into "high quality intellectual pattern," I take the effect to be dissolving the philosophical distinction between fact and opinion and instead leaving us with a continuum between low quality patterns and high quality patterns. This is the type of philosophical move that every good pragmatist makes.

    Matt K said:
    though I may think the "existing acquisitive and profit-motivated society" is endanger [sic] of losing it's soul, I don't think any "radical change in methods, controls and motives" being instituted would help in recovering our soul

    Matt P said:
    Do you think radical change implies radical, in the temporal sense? Also, how do you view this "losing of soul" as, more specifically, Do you view the "losing of soul" as the change from the "existing acquisitive ad profit-motivated society" to something else, or vice versa?

    I was being very vague because what I was working with was very vague. As for whether "radical" in this context implies something temporal or not, it may or may not, but its not really important. I do think radical temporal change is generally a bad idea, but the notion I was after was the notion of a Longing for Total Revolution, an idea charted by Bernard Yack's amazing book of the same name. Yack's thesis is that beginning with Rousseau, and passed along to Kant and post-Kantians of various stripes (Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche being prominent), there was a philosophic change in the way in which we think about how we are to change ourselves as cultural lifeforms. What Rousseau picked up from his reading of the Greeks was that we are inheirently social beings, and that then the only way to radically change the way we are as individuals is to radically change society. Rousseau, Marx, and Nietzsche (and I would say many on here, and possibly Pirsig) want to commit a Total Rev
    olution of the Soul by creating a Total Revolution of Society. Pragmatic liberals like Rorty think that we can individually have a Total Revolution of the Soul, without the revolution of society.

    What I think about us being in danger of losing our souls is that one of the dangers of the good of industrial-capitalism (its ability to allow more people than ever before comfort and free time) is catching "affluenza," the sickness of being materially acquisitive and money-orientated. What I think some people forget is that even Marx had praise for capitalism. What he wanted to say, though, is that it was one stage in an historical dialectic that was going to move further. So, Marx did think that capitalism was a good move for medieval societies, it did do some good, it did cure some ills. But like whenever we wipe out old diseases, new ones pop up. Unlike Marx, I think dealing with "affluenza" has very little to do with a radical change in our economic system. The world's experimented with centralized planning, it was a grand failure. We should all learn something important.

    Matt P said:
    Do you think that capitalism supports anything other than centralization? Currently, what state would you say the welfare system is in?

    Uh, yeah, I guess I do think capitalism isn't fated to put all the economic power into a few individual hands. I mean, it happened earlier in America with the Robber Barons, but we worked our way out of it, just as I hope we can disband the evil oligarchies that are running our nation at the moment.

    I guess the way in which I'm not jaded about capitalism has to do with why I think your second question is ill-posed. Capitalism does not denote some ideal free market system. I think I have my history right, but there never has been a truly free market system (a nation's economy taken as a whole) that has lasted any good amount of time. The gov't has always been involved in some fashion. So, as I alluded to before, asking which countries have a welfare system is, I think, a bad question insofar as I think all countries have a welfare system in the loose sense of having gov'ts involved in their economies. However, a good question would be asking which countries are making the most of their gov'ts in trying to alleviate gratuitous poverty and institutional cruelty. Here, I think America is falling further and further behind Europe. With "welfare system" in the more specific sense of some type of gov't redistribution, I think America has a crappy and worsening welfare s
    ystem, and Europe has created some fairly decent working models that are gradually getting better.

    Matt P said:
    What would you think of the "shared life in a shared world" that exists as we speak(write;-). When you look at it, we really do live in a shared world (how can you not?). I do not however believe that we have shared life (I.E. slavery, inequality, etc).

    Right, when you cut the difference between the two the way you do, in the Wittgensteinian sense, we all live in a shared world. And I definitely agree that we have some work to do about our shared lives. Except I would never use the world "nationalism." Too much bad baggage.


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