Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Free Ride for Meaninglessness

My notion of meaninglessness would not draw any conclusions
or have any implications for my life, since that too would fall
under the same category and be jettisoned with the same
eager relish. Any apparent deviation would be purely
arbitrary, so that I would not be accused of capitulating
to some kind of rationalistic objectivism.

So there's no way to tell the difference between "life is
meaningless" and "life is meaningful" since both positions
seem to enjoy all the same supposedly paradoxical
characteristics: self-exemption, self-referential
inconsistency, etc. Surreptious obligation to hold value X
in relation to philosophy Y.

What I would then do is exempt my own views from the premise
of universal absurdity, and then parade them around casually
as if they are necessary imperatives for intellectual salvation. A
"Come to Jesus" all over again, of sorts, but with social
approval retained.

I take my views on the grand tour: through all the motions
of their counterparts: being stated, being held as a
proposition that has some fixed relation to the person who
holds it, declaring it to be somehow appropriate,
acceptable, worth having as a view, asserted, etc., and of
course suspended when I get inconsistency allegations.

Postmodernism has had a really bad time of this, while the
views it has tried to counter have picked up the
methological ball and run with it. Reminds me of the time
I asked a prof at UT what he thought about arbitrary
relativism for the hell of it, using a roulette wheel to
choose which values (or disvalues) to champion. It would
have to be patterned after Wheel of Fortune or else I would
just plain lose interest.

My view would be that values are person-relative, including the
values of meaning, consistency, reason, and
self-referential implications. But to hold this, I would have
to get rid of that nagging backdrop of fixed definitions and
selective preferences, both for my own values and value per se.
Nevertheless, self-exemption and arbitrary deviation are
great fun and should be forced on all at-risk youth.

But the implicit rationalism of all the above still dogs me.

Happy Collectivism!

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Neo-Kantian Logic

I. Transcendentalism Revisited

Our knowledge comes from two sources in the mind: receiving representations of objects, and also conceptualizing representations of objects.

So receiving representations provides given objects, while knowing through representations provides thoughts about objects. Therefore, intuition and concepts are required elements of all knowledge, and neither by themselves can yield knowledge.

Both intuition and concepts are either pure or empirical. They are empirical when sensation is contained in an object. They are pure when no sensation is mixed up with the representation. Therefore, pure intuition contains only the form through which we see. Pure conception is the form through which we think. Pure intuition and pure concepts are only possible as prior notions, while empirical intuition and concepts are only possible in the aftermath of an experience of empirical data.

Sensibility is the mind's ability to receive representations whenever affected. But the understanding is the power to produce representations to spontaneously know things. Our intuition always has to be sensuous and must always be the way we are affected by objects, whereas the understanding is what enables us to think about the objects of our sensuous intuition. Neither one of these faculties is preferable to the other. Without sensibility, objects would not be given to us. And without understanding, we could not think about them.

Thoughts without contents are empty.
Intuitions without concepts are blind.

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

Bored Indifference Posturing as a Way of Life

Modern culture is a refuge camp where all the geniuses have been driven out by an unfriendly regime. But it's also an old flea market where in the middle of a pile of junk those with a good eye find thrown-away treasures.

Alan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind

Lockstep Moralistic Coolness

Behind the objections to rationality and objectivism
lies a guilty conscience about the flimsiness of
modern talk about values.

Saul Bellow

The Concealed Benefits of Decline

I assume a certain psychic unity as a necessary presupposition of writing. You are like me and I am like you, give or take a few minor differences, even if you are a machine.

Maybe my true readers are not here yet, and that my writings will produce them.

Still Small Voice in the Wilderness

"In the greatest confusion there is still an open channel to the soul. It may be difficult to find because by midlife it is overgrown, and some of the wildest thickets that surround it grow out of what we describe as our education. But the channel is always there, and it is our business to keep it open, to have access to the deepest part of ourselves---to that part of us which is conscious of a higher consciousness, by means of which we make final judgments and put everything together.

The independence of this consciousness, which has the strength to be immune to the noise of history and the distractions of our immediate surroundings, is what the life struggle is all about. The soul has to find and hold its ground against hostile forces, sometimes embodied in ideas which frequently deny that soul's very existence, and which indeed often seem to be trying to annul it altogether."

--Saul Bellow


Reflection begins with a problematic difference between a system of thought already in the mind, and some fragment that one wants to include in that system.

A detective reflects on someone's death because there's a conflict between the fact of the person's death and something already in the mind. Detectives order their experience on the principle that events have causes.

This event challenges inclusion in that system of thought. The detective makes the event fit by learning, observing, and reflecting on the details of the problem. Observation is guided by what experience has already taught such as which details are likely to be relevant.

Consequently, the detective pays more attention to bruises apparently made by some blunt instrument, for example. The details don't come from focusing on one thing, one piece of evidence, or one fact. The basis of a new thought must be broad. If the question was merely who might have used the blunt instrument, their would be an indefinitely large number of answers. The question is who must have done this in view of unemptied pockets, signs of a struggle, the butler's loyalty, and perhaps a hundred other things---all relevant details.

A successful conclusion from a single factor alone would be an accident. The conclusion come from all of the facts and rules of thought taken together. The problem is to fit a detached fact into the entire overall system.