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Re: [existlist] tough enough for what?

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  • 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 1 of 8 , Jun 8, 2008
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      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



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    • 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 2 of 8 , Jun 8, 2008
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        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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