The Man Who Laughs

Humor is a funny thing. What we find funny–what we spontaneously laugh at–tells others more about us than might be revealed by an extended interview. Consider this passage from a blog post dedicated to the defense of what its author regards as “Enlightenment values.” The author quotes a passage from Zeev Sternhell’s The Anti-Enlightenment Tradition, and comments as follows:

Sternhell takes Rousseau and Kant to be Enlightenment figures, though he is very aware of their being “complex and ambiguous figures in the history of Western political thought.”

(By contrast, I take Rousseau and Kant to be Counter-Enlightenment figures, though I agree very much with Sternhell that those are difficult judgment calls. And I laughed out loud at his quoting from Judith Shklar’s Men and Citizens on Rousseau as “the Homer of the losers.” Perfect.)

So “the Homer of the losers” is supposed to be funny. Maybe because losers are?

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A is A, Except for Book Reviews

Stephen Hicks continues the venerable if mortifying Objectivist tradition of “reviewing” a book he hasn’t read, then accusing the authors of superficiality, low intellectual standards, and wanting to exploit buzz words for click-bait. Would he endorse this procedure for reviewing his own books? Or is that too Kantian a question?  

This has been installment #2 in my continuing series on Standard Objectivist Procedure or Studies in Objectivist Propaganda, or whatever I called it, not that it matters. Here is installment #1. 

Studies in Objectivist Propaganda: Robert Tracinski’s “Woke Kant”

I’ve been thinking for awhile of starting a series at PoT called Studies in Objectivist Propaganda (SOP). Technically, this post will have to be SOP #1, though I suppose I could go back and dig up some prior posts that fit the bill: there’s never a shortage of Objectivist propaganda out there, and I rarely seem to resist the temptation to take pot-shots (or PoT-shots) at it. As a recovering Objectivist myself, I guess I owe it the world to undo some of the damage I did by contributing my own share of Objectivist propaganda to Existence. That said, I don’t think I contributed anything half as bad as the stuff I now regularly see on the Internet. Which gives me standing to attack it when I see it.

Was Kant the first “woke” philosopher? Yes, says Robert Tracinski, who makes sure to tell us that he’s read The Critique of Pure Reason, and therefore damn well knows what’s he’s talking about. I’ll let you wend your way through Tracinski’s tendentious, cherry-picked, convoluted argument for yourself. I wouldn’t want you to miss (or myself want to misrepresent) anything he says, and independence, as we all know, is the crown of the Objectivist virtues. Continue reading