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Re: [existlist] tough enough for what?

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  • Exist List Moderator
    Not sure what any of this has to do with existentialism, or general philosophy. People are self interested, small groups and some tribal cultures
    Message 1 of 8 , Jun 8, 2008
      Not sure what any of this has to do with existentialism, or general
      philosophy.

      People are self interested, small groups and some tribal cultures
      notwithstanding. And, even those often place one small tribe against
      another.

      I was reading a critique of anthropology and history texts written in
      the 1980s. Many attributed qualities to long-vanished tribes that
      cannot be proved or disproved, but certainly seem unlikely. Even in
      the ancient Americas, even if these idealistic texts skimmed the
      truth, tribes slaughtered each other and held to violent superstitions.

      "One of them" is a programmed human response, if you believe most
      current evolutionary psychologists. We evolved to care most about our
      small group of familiars. There's nothing nefarious at work. Even
      Camus famously stated he would choose his mother over his idealism.

      Most early Continental thought, and even much current thought, is not
      about "us" but about power and the "I/we" to which one belongs. Hegel?
      Nietzsche? Certainly not proponents of egalitarian ideals.

      I do not see a time when self / tribe is unimportant. What matters is
      how we negotiate through our differences -- and that assumes others
      want to negotiate.

      - C. S. Wyatt
      I am what I am at this moment, not what I was and certainly not all
      that I shall be.
      http://www.tameri.com - Tameri Guide for Writers
      http://www.tameri.com/csw/exist - The Existential Primer
    • eupraxis@aol.com
      CS, I am not sure to whom you are responding and what your general argument is favoring. What text are you citing that critiques 80 s anthropology? What is
      Message 2 of 8 , Jun 8, 2008
        CS,

        I am not sure to whom you are responding and what your general argument is
        favoring. What text are you citing that critiques 80's anthropology? What is
        this difference that you mention between "us" and the "I/we" that you say is
        common in Continental thought? And what do mean by calling Hegel anti-egalitarian?

        Wil



        **************
        Get trade secrets for amazing burgers. Watch "Cooking with
        Tyler Florence" on AOL Food.
        (http://food.aol.com/tyler-florence?video=4?&
        NCID=aolfod00030000000002)


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Exist List Moderator
        ... Responding to the strange meanderings posted recently by Bill and Mc Colly (sp?). The notion that there is a nefarious political class, on left and right,
        Message 3 of 8 , Jun 8, 2008
          On Jun 08, 2008, at 16:03, eupraxis@... wrote:

          > I am not sure to whom you are responding and what your general
          > argument is
          > favoring. What text are you citing that critiques 80's anthropology?
          > What is
          > this difference that you mention between "us" and the "I/we" that
          > you say is
          > common in Continental thought? And what do mean by calling Hegel
          > anti-egalitarian?


          Responding to the strange meanderings posted recently by Bill and Mc
          Colly (sp?). The notion that there is a nefarious political class, on
          left and right, assumes a lot more negative about people than I have
          encountered. I'm not a conspiracy theorists, and knowing leaders in
          both parties I have come to believe many more are earnest than is
          realized. However, we tend to attribute negative (even "evil" or
          "bad") motivations to those disagreeing with our views.

          I spent three years in the deep pits of DARPA research. I really
          didn't see people motivated by "evil" -- they really had rationalized
          their views or their fears. If you read the Senate Intelligence
          Committee report carefully, you find a suggestion not of leaders
          lying, but of only seeing what they wanted and selectively discounting
          anything they didn't want to believe. Nothing nefarious in being
          blindly stupid... though we have seen willful ignorance can be
          dangerous.

          Yes, there are "evil" men and women. Definitely. But, I think we
          assume there are more of these than there really are. I think there
          are people who truly do believe whatever their superstitions
          (religions being included) tell them. Their "sins" are mistakes...
          while my sins are evil.

          This is where we could discuss "Bad Faith" and authenticity. We could,
          on this list, discuss the philosophical underpinnings of situations or
          issues. Rants don't help place anything in context.

          I am also stating that what we think is "right" is shaped by some
          underlying, probably evolutionary, desire to protect our group. We
          rationalize morality. (I'd point to Pinker, Hauser, de Wall, Dawkins,
          and numerous others who suggest an evolutionary origin to what is
          considered moral by our species.)

          Hegel believed in powerful states, guided by a leadership class. While
          he was a supporter of a standard education, rule of law, etc, he also
          showed a sense of elitism. I don't think this is a bad thing -- I want
          leaders who are "better" in some way: better educated? Better
          informed? I'm not sure... but I know I don't think everyone is capable
          of every job.

          Equality under the law is not the same as equality of ability. (Not
          that we have equality under the law in Western nations, but it is
          something we strive for, I believe.)

          As for the text I was reading, it was a critique of the history books
          being used in Texas and California schools. These books are both
          political correct and afraid of offending the religious right. As a
          result, these books try for a meaningless, conflict-free, version of
          history. The author of the text was the head of UCLA's history
          department, Nash.

          http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/history/nash/

          He's a supporter of "multicultural" history, but not the whitewashed
          sort we now teach. Instead of a "Western = bad, colonial, etc."
          perspective, he wants to remind people that most civilizations were
          pretty far from perfect.

          We should never delude ourselves -- all of us are biased, all cultures
          are flawed, and we (whoever "we" are) have no monopoly on good
          intentions. Of course, intentions don't make us right. We just need
          some leaders who will admit that they, too, can be wrong.

          - C. S. Wyatt
          I am what I am at this moment, not what I was and certainly not all
          that I shall be.
          http://www.tameri.com - Tameri Guide for Writers
          http://www.tameri.com/csw/exist - The Existential Primer
        • bhvwd
          ... anthropology? ... that ... Mc ... on ... have ... in ... rationalized ... discounting ... there ... could, ... or ... Dawkins, ... While ... also ... want
          Message 4 of 8 , Jun 8, 2008
            --- In existlist@yahoogroups.com, Exist List Moderator
            <existlist1@...> wrote:
            >
            > On Jun 08, 2008, at 16:03, eupraxis@... wrote:
            >
            > > I am not sure to whom you are responding and what your general
            > > argument is
            > > favoring. What text are you citing that critiques 80's
            anthropology?
            > > What is
            > > this difference that you mention between "us" and the "I/we"
            that
            > > you say is
            > > common in Continental thought? And what do mean by calling Hegel
            > > anti-egalitarian?
            >
            >
            > Responding to the strange meanderings posted recently by Bill and
            Mc
            > Colly (sp?). The notion that there is a nefarious political class,
            on
            > left and right, assumes a lot more negative about people than I
            have
            > encountered. I'm not a conspiracy theorists, and knowing leaders
            in
            > both parties I have come to believe many more are earnest than is
            > realized. However, we tend to attribute negative (even "evil" or
            > "bad") motivations to those disagreeing with our views.
            >
            > I spent three years in the deep pits of DARPA research. I really
            > didn't see people motivated by "evil" -- they really had
            rationalized
            > their views or their fears. If you read the Senate Intelligence
            > Committee report carefully, you find a suggestion not of leaders
            > lying, but of only seeing what they wanted and selectively
            discounting
            > anything they didn't want to believe. Nothing nefarious in being
            > blindly stupid... though we have seen willful ignorance can be
            > dangerous.
            >
            > Yes, there are "evil" men and women. Definitely. But, I think we
            > assume there are more of these than there really are. I think
            there
            > are people who truly do believe whatever their superstitions
            > (religions being included) tell them. Their "sins" are mistakes...
            > while my sins are evil.
            >
            > This is where we could discuss "Bad Faith" and authenticity. We
            could,
            > on this list, discuss the philosophical underpinnings of situations
            or
            > issues. Rants don't help place anything in context.
            >
            > I am also stating that what we think is "right" is shaped by some
            > underlying, probably evolutionary, desire to protect our group. We
            > rationalize morality. (I'd point to Pinker, Hauser, de Wall,
            Dawkins,
            > and numerous others who suggest an evolutionary origin to what is
            > considered moral by our species.)
            >
            > Hegel believed in powerful states, guided by a leadership class.
            While
            > he was a supporter of a standard education, rule of law, etc, he
            also
            > showed a sense of elitism. I don't think this is a bad thing -- I
            want
            > leaders who are "better" in some way: better educated? Better
            > informed? I'm not sure... but I know I don't think everyone is
            capable
            > of every job.
            >
            > Equality under the law is not the same as equality of ability.
            (Not
            > that we have equality under the law in Western nations, but it is
            > something we strive for, I believe.)
            >
            > As for the text I was reading, it was a critique of the history
            books
            > being used in Texas and California schools. These books are both
            > political correct and afraid of offending the religious right. As
            a
            > result, these books try for a meaningless, conflict-free, version
            of
            > history. The author of the text was the head of UCLA's history
            > department, Nash.
            >
            > http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/history/nash/
            >
            > He's a supporter of "multicultural" history, but not the
            whitewashed
            > sort we now teach. Instead of a "Western = bad, colonial, etc."
            > perspective, he wants to remind people that most civilizations
            were
            > pretty far from perfect.
            >
            > We should never delude ourselves -- all of us are biased, all
            cultures
            > are flawed, and we (whoever "we" are) have no monopoly on good
            > intentions. Of course, intentions don't make us right. We just
            need
            > some leaders who will admit that they, too, can be wrong.
            > I suggest many will not aced to so light a prescription.
            Insulation is really about being an island and even his handlers leak
            isolation. Our president now must surrender power in the middle of a
            full force political war. The transition team exists and I wish them
            luck. Executive looting is not a crime in DC. Many want to talk about
            that, is the repository of justice to become the cul de sac of
            freedom. I might stab a point at general philosophy in that it is
            better to be alive since dead is forever. Bill
            > - C. S. Wyatt
            > I am what I am at this moment, not what I was and certainly not
            all
            > that I shall be.
            > http://www.tameri.com - Tameri Guide for Writers
            > http://www.tameri.com/csw/exist - The Existential Primer
            >
          • eupraxis@aol.com
            CS, Responding to the strange meanderings posted recently by Bill and Mc Colly (sp?). The notion that there is a nefarious political class, on left and right,
            Message 5 of 8 , Jun 8, 2008
              CS,

              Responding to the strange meanderings posted recently by Bill and Mc Colly
              (sp?). The notion that there is a nefarious political class, on left and right,
              assumes a lot more negative about people than I have encountered. I'm not a
              conspiracy theorists, and knowing leaders in both parties I have come to believe
              many more are earnest than is realized. However, we tend to attribute
              negative (even "evil" or "bad") motivations to those disagreeing with our views.

              Response: Then you should count yourself as very lucky indeed. If the Bush
              administration does not count as nefarious to you, I am not sure what can. But
              if that term strikes you as too comic book, why not just use the term
              "criminal"?
              ---
              I spent three years in the deep pits of DARPA research. I really didn't see
              people motivated by "evil" -- they really had rationalized their views or their
              fears.

              Response: Well, maybe the fourth year would have been the charm? Yikes! What
              in the world were you doing there?
              ---
              If you read the Senate Intelligence Committee report carefully, you find a
              suggestion not of leaders lying, but of only seeing what they wanted and
              selectively discounting anything they didn't want to believe. Nothing nefarious in
              being blindly stupid... though we have seen willful ignorance can be dangerous.

              Response: Yes, the report was nuanced ("bi-partisan") so as not to declare
              open war on the GOP. I have a pdf of the report, however, and it certainly comes
              as close as one could want in calling the push to war insincere and biased.
              What more could you want?

              I, for one, would love to see the whole cabal tried for treason and then sent
              to the Hague for their crimes against humanity. But maybe I am just from an
              other tribe?
              ---
              Yes, there are "evil" men and women. Definitely. But, I think we assume there
              are more of these than there really are. I think there are people who truly
              do believe whatever their superstitions (religions being included) tell them.
              Their "sins" are mistakes... while my sins are evil.

              Response: Millions dead and displaced; torture; renditions; civil liberties
              lost; politics by division? No, sir, their "sins" are quite criminal.
              ---
              This is where we could discuss "Bad Faith" and authenticity. We could, on
              this list, discuss the philosophical underpinnings of situations or issues. Rants
              don't help place anything in context.

              Response: Please, do.
              ---
              I am also stating that what we think is "right" is shaped by some underlying,
              probably evolutionary, desire to protect our group. We rationalize morality.
              (I'd point to Pinker, Hauser, de Wall, Dawkins, and numerous others who
              suggest an evolutionary origin to what is considered moral by our species.)

              Response: I disagree with that. This just another version of what used to be
              called "psychologism". The truths behind the war and the rest were kept under
              wraps, not because "the genes" made them do it, or to protect the cave, but
              because the rationale was based on motivations that were best kept secret for fe
              ar of protests. I can't believe that anyone still thinks otherwise.

              And as you mention him, I have great problems with Pinker's reductivism and
              his neo-racism -- his theory on the superiority of Ashkenazi Jews, and related
              matters (including his attitudes about certain others) is well known. He heard
              him at a talk at NYU some time ago. His apologetics were even worse than his
              initial comments. He would say that he was not a racist and did not believe in
              race, and then make a claim for race and submit his own as superior to the
              rest. It was quite remarkable. Many persons walked out, many Jews included. I
              found him arrogant and oddly naïve. But you can Google him. There are any number
              of videos and blogs about it.

              Wil



              **************
              Get trade secrets for amazing burgers. Watch "Cooking with
              Tyler Florence" on AOL Food.
              (http://food.aol.com/tyler-florence?video=4?&
              NCID=aolfod00030000000002)


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • C. S. Wyatt
              I can t comment on Pinker s views on racial differences, since I have only worked on general issues of decision making and brain damage. I do know that there
              Message 6 of 8 , Jun 8, 2008
                I can't comment on Pinker's views on racial differences, since I have only worked on
                general issues of decision making and brain damage. I do know that there are cultural
                differences that seem to affect brain development -- but those are not the result of
                breeding, since adopted children reflect the linguistic development of their new families.
                (Curiously, twin studies show moral impulses and even sociopathy more likely to be
                genetic.)

                My mention of Pinker was within a group of scholars. To dismiss his general research
                based on his ignorance or biases might not be the right thing to do. This doesn't mean his
                biases don't affect his research, either. Freud and Jung said some pretty ludicrous things
                about Jewish brains.

                This does point to something I do think we need to remember: being skilled or knowledgeable in one area does not make one special in all areas -- or even above
                reproach. We have Heidegger as a pretty good example of stupid brilliance.

                As for being deluded, versus intentionally nefarious, I theorize that anyone wanting to be
                president, prime minister, or whatever a nation has, is able to convince his or her self of all
                sorts of things. I'm not saying this is a good thing; too many are unable or unwilling to
                listen to advisers.

                What makes a person want power? Or, once a "good" person has power, what causes the
                eventual isolation and detachment? I wish I knew. Even admired men and women have
                been extremely flawed -- more so as their power and influence increased.

                - CSW
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