Rand and Dewey

When a friend saw me using this photo of an elderly man on my Facebook page, he first thought the man was a typewriter repairman. It is actually John Dewey, near the end of his life. He lived from 1859 to 1952. He used the two-finger way of typing.

When Ayn Rand arrived in America in 1926, Dewey had been the dominant voice in American philosophy for about 15 years; he would continue to have that place for another 20 years. His writings ranged over all major areas of philosophy and more. He was a public intellectual and produced many books for the general educated public concerning philosophy (all areas), culture, and education. His works have been meticulously collected in chronological order into a 37-volume set, which required 20 years to accomplish (1967-87).

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Anti-Fascist Answers to Would-Be Thought Police

[Note: This post began life as a reply comment to Irfan’s recent PoT post: “Anti-Fascist Questions for Anti-Woke Warriors.” But it got to be too long for such a format, so I’m posting it on its own. However, I haven’t changed its tone of direct address to Irfan or bothered to summarize Irfan’s post or make long excerpts from that post. Thus, for the present post to be intelligible, one ought first to read the original post linked above.]

Hi Irfan,

I disagree with pretty much the entirety of your fundamental argument. No surprise there, I guess. However, I also found that argument thought-provoking. It has stimulated me to develop some thoughts on these questions that I’ve had incubating for some time. So, in what follows, I’ll concentrate on what seems new (to me, anyway) and try to avoid rehashing what we’ve been through before.

It seems like your argument can be summarized as, “Sometimes a lynch mob gets someone who richly deserves lynching. Therefore, lynch mobs are cool.” Stated thus baldly, I would hope it is obvious both that the conclusion does not follow from the premise and that the conclusion itself is unacceptable on the merits. The mafia, for example, does not become a good institution that should celebrated and promoted under the banner of social justice activism just because it so happens (as surely it must) that a just outcome is sometimes brought about by a mob hit.

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The Wizards of Uz

From E.M. Cioran’s The Trouble with Being Born:

According to the Bible, it is Cain who created the first city, in order to have, as Bossuet puts it, a place wherein to hide his remorse. What a judgment! And how many times have I not felt its accuracy in my night walks through Paris!

So can we can infer that “the perfect and upright” Job created the first suburb in order to have a place wherein to display his self-satisfaction? Or was it to hide his despair? Or both? 

Law’s Empire

When I was younger, I had this conviction that the law was a noble calling allied with rationality and justice. The more I learn about it, and see of it, and deal with it, the more it seems a grotesque parody or subversion of those things. Necessary? Yes. Noble? Not really. Often, it just seems like a game played by the rich, educated, and powerful, intended to rationalize whatever needs to be rationalized so that the world stays the way it is.

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Cautionary Tale

From the US State Department’s periodic safety advisory to travelers, Nov. 23, 2021:

Reconsider travel to Israel due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Israel due to terrorism and civil unrest.

No need to “exercise caution” due to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank or the Israeli siege of Gaza, apparently. Sporadic terrorism and vague hints of “civil unrest” are cause for concern, but a military occupation/siege enforced by M-16s, F-16s, phosphorus bombs, tear gas, armored vehicles, militarized bulldozers, and state-sponsored vigilantism is nothing to worry about.

Could the selectivity of the worries expressed by Foggy Bottom reflect the selective nature of its intended audience?

A Puzzle in Aristotle: Why Must There Be an Unmoved Mover?

A well-known doctrine of Aristotle’s is that of the unmoved mover, the first cause of the eternal motion of the universe. Aristotle’s key argument for the necessity of an unmoved mover is presented in Physics, Book VIII, chapters 4–5, where he argues, first, that everything that is in motion must be moved by something (ch. 4) and, second, that a thing cannot move itself (ch. 5). I have long been puzzled by this argument, and lately I have come to think it’s not just my ignorance—there really is something wrong with the argument. My aim here is to explain what it is.

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Attention Must Be Paid: The Joys of Third-Party Voting

Conventional wisdom has it that voting is a waste of time, and third-party voting, even worse. Voting is a waste of time because a single vote can’t change the outcome of an election, and third-party voting is worse because third parties have no chance of winning elections in the US.

Well. From The New York Times, Wednesday, November 3rd around 8:40 pm.


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A Vote for Curtis Sliwa

Here’s an article from The New York Times on the mixed bag that is Curtis Sliwa.

It’s hard for me to be impartial because we’re friends (distant friends, but still friends). I freely confess to being prone to dismissing his wrongdoing as venial shenanigans and dumb, regrettable shit of the kind everybody does. He just did a lot of it, over and over again, in the public eye. But hey. Nobody’s perfect. Continue reading