Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Teaching Justice at Harvard - NOT!

"I went down to the Piraeus yesterday..." is how Plato begins The Republic, with the poetic description of Socrates descending into the lowest market place in Athens, before rising back up, out and forward, to discuss the meaning of Justice. If Plato were writing today, he might let the relatively sterile market place off the hook as his counterpoint setting, and instead begin with something far worse, such as "I went down to Harvard yesterday...".

When reading Plato, keep in mind that he was a poet before becoming a philosopher, or you might miss, as I did for so long, that his dialogues are just as much poetic as philosophic, which leaves you with much less than half the picture he sought to paint with you.

For Plato, traveling down to the harbor of Piraeus and the 'new' alien religious festivals of Bendis being celebrated there in place of the traditional Athenian beliefs at the older more respectable harbor of Phaleron, was for Athenians such as Socrates, the symbol of the new, crass, decadent imperial Athens; for us to experience the equivalent of that Athenian judgment, we might imaging ourselves descending down from the heights of the Founding Fathers… to Gov. Blagojevich; from Thomas Jefferson attending church services in the capital, to the WA Gov displaying an atheists insulting manifesto next to a Christmas display; from Madison vetoing a bill with "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents" to Paulson telling the leaders of the nations leading banks that they will sell the Gov’t shares in their corporations, paid for by our politicians embezzling of a trillion dollars of the taxpayers money, in order to pull off a defacto nationalization of wall street and probably Detroit too.

That is the sense which "I went down to the Piraeus yesterday..." should evoke.

An equivalent descent into the muck today, can be had by any lover of wisdom who attends a lecture on Justice at one of our 'prestigious' universities. The gulf separating the tightly integrated and wide ranging true education offered at colleges such as Princeton, Yale and Harvard in our Founding Fathers day, and the disintegrated, particularized drivel dished up on today's college campuses, is horrifying.

Horrifying, if you take into account what Abraham Lincoln said,

"The philosophy of the classroom today will be the philosophy of government tomorrow"

, and when you consider that while the education the founders received, produced... well... the Founders themselves, you have to then realize that the education we are delivering today is producing scum such as Blagojevich ... a product of recent decades education... but the real rotten fruits of todays crop, will fall upon our heads in the next couple decades hence.

As I said, horrifying. If you take a look at this lecture by a Professor Sandel on "Justice A journey in moral reasoning", you'll soon see what I mean. When I first happened across the page, it seemed like it might be quite a find, a rare nugget on the net:

"Hundreds of students pack Harvard's Sanders Theater for
Michael Sandel's "Justice" course—an introduction to moral and political
philosophy. They come to hear Sandel lecture about great philosophers of the
past—from Aristotle to John Stuart Mill—but also to debate contemporary issues
that raise philosophical questions—about individual rights and the claims of
community, equality and inequality, morality and law."
Wo! Count me in! (yeah... I'm that bad) I wasn't much deterred by the second paragraph,

"Despite the size of the course, Sandel engages students in lively
discussion on topics including affirmative action, income distribution, and
same-sex marriage, showing that even the most hotly contested issues of the day
can be the subject of reasoned moral argument. This film, which contains
excerpts of several classes, is part of a project to make this legendary course
an educational resource that reaches beyond the Harvard classroom."
Yeah, well, difficult to get away from the multi-culti today, I thought, even so, still looks like my idea of a fun time! At least until the first minute of it had unreeled. Then I felt I was in on watching the deliberate mangling of hundreds of innocent students minds, souls, and their ability to ever even recognize Justice.

The opening credits roll promisingly with snippets from the lecture,
"What is the supreme principle of reality?... Suppose that individual rights and liberty were at stake... is that a natural way of thinking about justice?... is that the right thing to do?... we need some answer to these questions everyday."

Cool! This is going to be good! Sandel then walks out before hundreds of gazing students, and launches directly into:

"This is a course about justice, and we begin with a story. Suppose you're the driver of a trolley car, and the trolley car is travelling down the track at 60 mph, and at the end of the track you notice 5 workers working on the track, you try to stop but you can't, you feel desperate because you know that if you collide with the workers, they will all die. Let's assume that you know that for sure. You feel helpless, until you notice that, to the right, a side track, and at the end of the track, there's one worker working on the track. Your steering wheel works. So you can turn the car if you want to, onto the side track, killing the one, but sparring the five. Here's our first question: What's the right thing to do?"

This is lifeboat ethics, even the very scenario of Marc Hauser that I noted in Dehumanism, and it is truly nothing but unethical. Having hamstrung them right off the bat and asked for a show of hands and explanations, he then launches into

"What if you were instead standing on the bridge above, and a fat person is next to you who you know will stop the train if shoved over the rail, and save the 5 workers, what would you do?"

The express purpose of such a scenario, is to put the student into a situation where he has no time to think, and must just react, in order to 'do the right thing'. Somehow.

Look at that again.

A philosophy course, an introduction to philosophy, the study of wisdom, and in this case focused upon the central point of the jewel of Justice, which seeks to resolve issues into what it is good to do and what is wrong to do... dealing with the highest concepts and truths, requiring the most deliberate and refined practice of reasoning... and as an example of entering into this, the most concentrated form of thinking, of reasoning upon vital life changing issues, we are given, as the introduction, your 'first impression' which you never get a second chance to make, and as the choice made for setting the tone for the entire course, is chosen, chosen, a situation designed "to put the student into a situation where he has no time to think".

Where, I want to ask, is the Justice in that? He then rolls on with questions of Marxist derivation, and anti-justice thinkers such as Rawls… the students rapt attention at the entertaining philosophical vivisectionist at work upon them… horrifying.

This is very much representative of the 'teaching' professors employ in philosophy classes today.
My oldest son just finished an intro to philosophy class at our community college, an introduction to the vast expanse of philosophical thinking, ranging from its roots in ancient Greece, where all of the significant questions in philosophy were first conceived and answers to them first proposed by Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and others, and following those ideas in their journey to the present, passing through and over Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm, Descartes, Rousseau, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, James, Dewey, Heidegger, Popper... and... Habermas? Habermas. Wiki notes:

"Jürgen Habermas considered his major achievement to be the development of the concept and theory of communicative reason or communicative rationality, which distinguishes itself from the rationalist tradition by locating rationality in structures of interpersonal linguistic communication rather than in the structure of either the cosmos or the knowing subject"

A currently popular but insignificant little pipsqueak of a modern philosophical scribbler, who only partially escaped the nazi & marxist frankfurt school of thinking he was raised in, by fusing together some contrived glop of marxist, hegelian, pragmatist and linguistic goo.

It is unjust enough that someone like Habermas was even mentioned among that list of heroes (and villains), but to add insult to injury upon Sophia... the question on Habermas in the final exam for his course was worth 50% of the grade.

Love of wisdom? Justice? With apologies to Juliet, Wherefore art they that?

I've been reading back through Aquinas and Plutarch this week and others , getting ready for my next posts I want to cover on Law, and in doing so it just wallops me upside the head, how obvious it becomes, that when juxtaposing our past thinkers, against the most recent, how unaware the moderns are of not only even the proper meaning of Law, but that they are utterly unaware of the meaning, or apparently even existence, of Justice – though they throw the word around… liberally.

It's enough to make you sick. Does anyone really dare ask why the world is as it is?

Saturday, December 06, 2008

There oughta be a Law

I recently watched a C-SPAN show by Robert Remini, who has written a number of books on Andrew Jackson (seemingly 'apologies' for him, in both senses of the word), and who sadly in 2005 was appointed the Historian of the United States House of Representatives. I haven’t read anything of his, but by his spoken words, I’ve have no interest in being sullied by his written words. His primary focus was to define, explain, and do penance for the behavior of 'white men' towards 'Indians'. He speaks of the 'white' men taking, pushing, killing and exterminating the 'Indian', because 'we' wanted their land, and that there was no other reason for our behavior or theirs "...And the Indian would say 'it's our land', and there would be treaties, sales or taking of land, nevertheless. Only the Indians who became cultural white men, survived, the rest were killed."

His talk was a disgusting harangue seemingly against 'whites' (though actually against the culture conveyed by those he terms 'whites'. Frickin' damn idiot bigots - I am so tired of their willfully blind stupidity), building to a point of admitting that the Indians were in fact raiding white settlers and killing them (and you can see how painful it is for him to 'admit' that), and once said, he then uses that to justify Andrew Jackson's wars upon the Indians.

He chides the settlers saying "'they must obey our laws, or be punished...' but they weren't the Indians laws". Does he have any understanding of what 'Law' refers to? I don't think so.

In his, and other multi-culti apologists minds, the fact that the Indians were incidentally 'here', roaming about the land, living in a sub civilized manner, and because of that, by virtue of that simple, perceptual, concrete fact, by their blood, and with having no further understanding of land as anything higher than the perceptual fact of it, no concept of Land in a legal sense, no concept of Property in the sense of legal rights, rather than something forcibly possessed... having no concept of Individuals at all, let alone individual rights... this is what he defends, and gives penance before. This, that they were ‘here’, and had different ‘ways’, that they were Rousseau’s ‘noble savages’ - this, the 'best' example of the Indian conception, he pits against; not the best examples of western concepts and behavior, but against the worst, those who did make and break agreements, etc; and that is the way the multi-culti wishes to (must) stage their attacks upon the West.

That is a necessity on their part. Necessary, because any comparison between their worst and our worst, invariably shows the Indian to be horrifying savages, monsters, creatures out of fairy tales like Orcs, as compared to a civilized people responding in the heat of the moment with passions of fear, anger and hatred, in response to direct causes. If you compare their best too our best, they rise to only the level of the worst of bronze age honor culture savages, such as the Celts against the Romans. They had only a preconceptual grasp of courage and 'honor', they were incapable of living in proximity with peoples other than those exactly like them (not even with other Indian tribes, let alone with ‘Whites’), with those who recognized the same pecking orders and piss markings.

Let me be as politically incorrect as possible - meaning honest - as a culture, they, the Indians, were savages; and while there were some, probably many, individuals who at times showed admirable qualities, they were culturally savages. Their continuing to exist as savages, with a savages understanding of relations with 'others', with a savages perceptual level understanding of 'honor' and counting coup, and of 'property' extending no further than... not even possession... merely who was in proximity of where an object, be it a knife or a valley, lay, and theft as nothing other than the movement of peoples position in relation to the item - no higher ideas of right and wrong (not 'no idea of right and wrong, no Higher understanding of either), no Land - only geography. Their culture was, in comparison with the West’s, sub human, and would not allow, as indeed for thousands of years it had not, any unfolding of human individuality let alone of true freedom and liberty, and hence no true Nobility.

We cannot even term them as representatives of even dark age culture, as are the isalmbies - to speak of dark is to imply an understanding that there once somewhere existed light - but they were representatives of a period unfamiliar with even the existence of light, they were representatives of a void age culture, which the West had left behind thousands of years before.

When a culture of Reason, of Law, of property rights, of Individual Rights comes into contact with a culture which has little or no comparative conception of such things, what must and will follow is what does follow whenever force without mind, clashes with force with mind - the first by its own actions puts itself into the position of bringing a club to a gun fight - they will, and must, be wiped out.

Now, to the person who is so concrete bound or ideologically snowed-blind as to read my reference to 'Indian' or 'Us' as having any meaningful reference to skin tone, bone structure, style of dress or the sound of words used in their language - your willfully self imposed blindness is offensive. I refer to the system of ideas possessed and revered, or their lack of, by that culture. I refer to the depth of a cultures conceptual structure, the integration of its ideas with its mores, and their integration with, and willingness to yield and conform with, reality, with truth, which is the only way to lead from a conception of truth, to one which holds it as being Truth. There is a difference (For further explanation of that, see my side bar for 'What are words for', 'Reasons of Reason', and the rest).

Was there beauty in the Indians culture? Yes. Was there wisdom in their stories, and among their people? Yes. But that which was Good and Beautiful and True in their culture, was hampered and confined by the rest of their culture, it wasn't allowed to spread and suffuse the rest of their behavior, their method of living, their political organization, their learning... they were isolated instances which, by virtue of being human, cannot naturally be completely suppressed. Those virtues which the Indian culture had, they did not possess as a result of their wider culture and philosophy, but in spite of it.

One key feature of what separated the 'Indians' from the 'Whites', which I haven't specifically addressed elsewhere, was the conception of Law. And it is what is fundamental to their conception of it, such as they had, which is the motive force behind our losing our understanding of Law in the Western sense. It is their understanding which is blatantly on parade in modern 'legal' thinking, and I've read disgusting examples of it as a motivating influence in Associate Supreme Court Justice Sthephen Breyer's "Active Liberty", and to lesser extents in others grasp of, and supposed defense of, western law.

I have been reading Breyer in particular, along with Madison, Blackstone, Burke, Cicero, Mill and others of both sets, and this is going to be the focus of my next series of posts. In view of our recent election, our view of Law, and particularly those of its defenders and lawmakers such as McCain, who unwittingly do it more damage than those purposefully out to destroy it, it is a timely topic to consider.

Timely, because it is through the Law, that we are being slowly but surely pushed back into an age of savagery that would have made the Indians seem positively Athenian in comparison to. The actions and ideas of our Justices and Lawmakers are attacks upon western culture in general and upon Truth in particular, and the conception of Law, what it is and why, is very much key to understanding that. You haven't really seen savagery, until you've seen the actions of the civilized who have discarded their civil understanding along with their civility. Auschwitz should pop into mind as less a detour than a destination.

I will say this for the Indians, for the Noble Savages; they are orders of magnitude higher in my esteem, than those of Stephen Breyer's ilk. When the understanding of what Law is, is lost, yet the laws and law makers remain, civilization is lost, and only savagery will reign.

It is a Law.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Footsteps of Doom

What's that sound? I've been hearing it for a while now, it was quite distant a couple months back, but it has been approaching and getting louder by the day.

Oh, yeah, that's right - it is Doom and the economy closing in.

My new project has been shelved, my current one is winding up, and I will be out of work as of Jan 1, 2009.

Happy New Year!

Still, could be worse... probably will get worse of course, but that's beside the point - even when it is worse, if you can think it, it could be worser still.

One of the books I'm reading at the moment is Amity Shales "The Forgotten Man"; Oh yeah... it could be worse! The other book I'm reading is Russell Kirks "Edmund Burke: A genius reconsidered"; Oh yeah, it could be a lot worse!

Come to think of it, I'm actually quite pleased to be able to lounge here in my robe, fretting over losing my position in three weeks; a fire in the fireplace, kids in their beds... it could all be gone tomorrow, but it's here now, and what has been cannot be lost, and what could be, can not be forgotten.

The Wanderer by W.H. Auden
Doom is dark and deeper
than any sea-dingle.
Upon what man it fall
In spring, day-wishing flowers appearing,
Avalanche sliding, white snow from rock-face,
That he should leave his house,
No cloud-soft hand can hold him, restraint by women;
But ever that man goes
Through place-keepers, through forest trees,
A stranger to strangers over undried sea,
Houses for fishes, suffocating water,
Or lonely on fell as chat,
By pot-holed becks
A bird stone-haunting, an unquiet bird.
There head falls forward, fatigued at evening,
And dreams of home,
Waving from window, spread of welcome,
Kissing of wife under single sheet;
But waking sees
Bird-flocks nameless to him, through doorway voices
Of new men making another love.
Save him from hostile capture,
From sudden tiger's leap at corner;
Protect his house,
His anxious house where days are counted
From thunderbolt protect,
From gradual ruin spreading like a stain;
Converting number from vague to certain,
Bring joy, bring day of his returning,
Lucky with day approaching, with leaning dawn.

Shit happens. That's what Scotch is for. Get over it.