Sunday, May 04, 2008

The New Scholastics

I'm going to take a detour from my next post on the roots of Liberal Fascism, by reviewing one of its shining examples alive and living in Academe. I had a visit this weekend to my post on Liberal Fascism - Getting to the Root of the Matter, by Lance of the long locks (he thinks I'm envious, but I cut mine years ago(and am forced to keep cutting them all too often - thinning hair and baldness welcome here), no longer finding any strength in extending it. Actually I perceive he has a strong vein of vanity there,

and so I delightedly tweak it), who chided me:

"What a pile of colossal arrogance. To think that you could attack Hume just make me laugh. Wow."

Wow indeed. I asked if he had actually read Hume, or just revered him because of his famed name, was he aware that his own oh so nice calls for "Why not make basic health care a right? How about everyone being able to afford to go to college? " which he and the modern left so yearns to impose upon us all, rest upon some fundamental ideas, and "...Hume is right at the bottom of such facile benevolence", which if wrong, might jeopardize the rest of his 'ideals' - perhaps something he’d find worth looking into. To which Lance O’Locks replied:

"To answer you somewhat long winded question and it appears that you are unable to be anything but long winded. I have read Hume. I was just amazed that you would take him on in such a weak manner. "

I made another not so brief comment about the implications of what he was urging, and that his comment :

"I think government and society in general should be there to help us all live a better life. My path to get there just differs from yours. Does that make my thought any less valid?"

is another implication of the Hume-Rousseau-Godwin-Kant stream of unconsciousness, but Lance O'Locks had nothing further to add, but "**blink blink**" at my lack of brevity. Personally I’d like to be less lengthy, and I have fun with Shakespeare’s “Brevity is the soul of wit” at my own expense, but I also take solace at whose mouth ol’ Will S. put those words into, Polonius, who, as with Lance O’Locks himself, was another uncomprehending spouter of platitudes.

Lance either doesn't want to (which would be fine) debate Hume, doesn't understand Hume (far more likely), or has been told that Hume is one of the founders of all that is wonderful and liberal and scientific, and so is unquestionable gospel. This is a frightening position to take, and one I've no doubt Hume would be appalled at. Hume himself, I’m sure, if he was aware that professor’s were professing his thoughts, would hope that those professors were examining his work with just such criticisms as I’ve been making of him, and urging the students to display their understanding of him by defending hit ideas against such attacks.

That, sadly, is not how it goes today.

Sir Francis Bacon led a charge to end the age of the Scholastics last reign, those clerics and teachers who took the classical authors, Aristotle in particular, as next to gospel, factual and true and blasphemously arrogant of anyone to question anything they revealed. Hume himself, was seeking to expose what he saw as unquestioning examination of accepted truths, through his new Skepticism. As noted in my previous post, I disagree with what Hume thought he discovered as a root of those accepted errors, and instead made an error of his own, that of seeking causality instead of Identity, and with that as his root observation, built a teetering philosophical method upon it; one which has led not only to Kant, Hegel, Marx, Progressivism and Fascism, but supposedly scientific theories such as Poppers 'Falsification Theory of Knowledge' (admiringly built from Humian inspiration).

In other words, the modern leftist, through its churches of academe, has succeeded in establishing that which Liberalism was originally created to overthrow - a new Scholasticism. Professors, and students who blindly accept the statements as unquestioned fact made by their sainted schollars in Hume, Rousseau, Marx, etc - unwilling to question them, and attacking those who do, not by arguing for those ideas, but by ridiculing the attempt to question them.

Today we have a new calcification crusting over all that modern leftism holds and asserts, it refuses to question unless the questioning affirms a more fundamental tenet (as Hegel to Kant), we are living through a new age of Scholastics, and they are attempting to expand their ivory towers to include our living rooms.

They must be stopped. And the only way to do it, is to question their assumptions, and show them to be more naked than the emperors they grovel before.

Now, if you are a student in college, somewhere in between your daily 50 brushstrokes, you should be not memorizing and internalizing the pronouncements of your professors, but examining and questioning them, looking for the principles which they are based upon, and examining them too, in order to arrive at a better comprehension of the Truth of the matter.

That is precisely what Lance and his fellows and mentors do not do. If that were not so, he would accuse me of colossal pile of arrogance for questioning Hume, he would say something like (flicking hair back over the shoulders) "Dude, you wasted a lot of words there because you missed the point that Hume wasn't trying to make our ability to understand anything impossible by removing reality from our grasp, he was actually attempting to establish a standard of questioning what you assume to be true, in order to better grasp reality as it actually is."

Such a comment would show an attitude of respect for the truth, and desire to discover and defend it, and such a commentator I would have respect for. I would answer that, "Yes that is a common interpretation, and one which Hume himself hoped he was doing, but it is completely undermined and subverted by his conception of causality and our inability to never know it, or the Identity of any object in reality..." and on to the rest of my previous post. I would even dare to hope that he might show me an error I had made, and so enable me to better understand and grasp reality, and my place in it, myself.

Such a comment Lance O'Locks did not make, would not make, and I fear is unable to make. You can read Lance O'Locks two sites for yourselves, he is a typical young leftie, full of multi-culti, 'can't we all just get along' and ‘hate america first’ tripe and assumptions, which typifies the leftist line of accepting as true all the yearnings of their causes, and the forceful demonization of any and all who question their lack of questioning.

The New Scholastics are here. The New Liberals (in it's original and proper meaning, as that of the Founding Fathers, and yes even of those who innocently made mistakes such as Hume) are showing them to be not only naked, but possessing knobby knees and unsightly boils, but empty heads as well.

Some points any leftie worth his truth seeking economic salt should be able to refute (as if):
Bastiat’s The Law, and What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen,
and Leonard Reads I, Pencil


Unknown said...

It seems that I pushed a button or two. I am not sure where to begin actually. I have read Hume and really I do not enjoy discussing him for the main reason being that I find his skepticism with out an actual answer to be tiring. I freely admit I am guilty of that same mistake often and the writing of mine that Van is quoting from was a good two years ago. My thought have changed since then and I was it is true at the time writing out of emotion and I responded to Vans comments out of emotion. A cardinal mistake that I am trying to fix. The point I should have been making in that piece and one that I obviously did not make. Is that I think both health care and a college education should be affordable for people. I have always felt that while free isn't the answer maybe cheaper might be. It is true I do not have the answers and I apologize if I came off like I did. I do not think I am a rabid leftist. My political views tend to be more moderate then that but I do list to the left hand side when I walk. I like to think of myself as socially liberal and fiscally conservative and I confuse myself sometimes. I want there to be a society where people do not slip through the cracks. But I do not know how to go about getting there. If my biggest fault is that I care to much. Well then so be it. And while it may appear, Van, that I do not listen. I really do and I try to take what I hear and filter it into some thing that I can use both philosophically and realistically. Maybe I have read to much Hobbes but I really believe that we live in a social contract and part of that contract means the helping of others. (As far as the grammar police go. I just do not believe in commas)

Unknown said...

My thoughts have changed. Not thought I am capable of more then one. Honest really it is true.

Van Harvey said...

That response is not from the individual I thought I was dealing with, and I am thrilled to be proven wrong.

Yes, my button gets pushed by the perception of indifference to critical ideas, or positions taken in willful ignorance of what their fundamental ideas and consequences entail.

"I have read Hume and really I do not enjoy discussing him for the main reason being that I find his skepticism with out an actual answer to be tiring."

Good for you!

"should be affordable " can only be accomplished by finding ways to provide a service or product more efficiently, and that efficiency comes from a thorough understanding of the people, materials and procedures involved, and creatively thinking of better ways to do them - which businesses pursue in order to earn more of a profit and market share. That kind of understanding can never be discovered or imposed from the top down, separated from the facts on the ground, or negotiated as political give and take between legislators. Socialist controls & Progressivist Gov't 'partnerships' with industries, are not just wrong because they violate political principles, but because they are incompatible with reality - which is what the political principles were derived from.

"Maybe I have read to much Hobbes but I really believe that we live in a social contract ..."

(Just need to switch brands from Hobbes to Locke.)

"...and part of that contract means the helping of others."

I think there needs to be a distinction made between the Social Contract, and Society itself. For society to have meaning and worth, it must be voluntarily chosen, from true generosity, something which Gov't, because it is at root Force harnessed to policy, will never be able to accomplish. When we are sure enough of ourselves to choose not Rousseau's "we must force them to be free" but Locke & the Founder's trusting us to be free (with Governments Social Contract there to defend Individual Rights and to punish those who would actively violate them and that trust), then we can have something better than just a social contract, individual associations and agreements within a free society.

"(As far as the grammar police go. I just do not believe in commas)"

(Yeah, I'm frequently ticketed by the Grammar Police as well)

"If my biggest fault is that I care to much. Well then so be it."

As long as you attach "Thinking beyond stage one", as Thomas Sowell puts it, questioning and verifying down to the facts (not positions), you'll do find.


Van Harvey said...

Lance, out of curiousity - when you say that your thinking has changed since then, has that come about because of something you learned in college, or things you began to consider on your own?

Unknown said...

Van-Thats a good question. I would have to say that it has been a mix of both the reading at college and my reading on my own. My main emphasis of study is political science and not philosophy but I do my best to make the two work together in what I hope is a cohesive lump. So for me it has been a mix of American Government. Federalism classes as well as some medieval and social contract philosophy along with some independent reading of Bertrand Russell and Kierkegaard as well as Hobbes and Locke. I also enjoy Hegel and a little John Stuart Mill along with John Rawls. I do not think my thought will ever be set in stone. But I do think that my positions are not ever going to shift very much from the central theme or idea of humanity's job being one of helping those who can't or won't help themselves. I do not mean a government mandated help but more of an organic from the ground up grass roots type of thing and if the establishment gets involved so much the better. But no one should be forced to act a certain way unless there behavior is criminal or hurting those around them in a criminal manner. Does that answer your question?

Ephrem Antony Gray said...

By the way, I think college being cheaper goes against our current model, i.e, endowments, as most of the college's income does not come from tuition, and thus more students = higher costs that aren't offset by tuition = higher tuition. In order to have cheaper education you must have for-profit institutions that derive their actual operational revenue from drawing in students.

Anyway, drawing in more students inevitably reduces quality (since all high quality institutions gain part of their quality by turning down lesser qualified students) and thus requires improved educational methods -- ultimately more work from the professors, who self-rule (to some extent) the institutions.

It's a complex bundle of stuff.

Unknown said...

River, You raise an interesting point but I think it impacts more a private institution then a public one. The college I go to is a state school and if you have the grades you can attend. I do not think they turn anyone away. The private schools in my area that I can only assume are run for profit are much more expensive then the state schools and the private schools are run for sure by the instructors. It is a little different at a state school.

Van Harvey said...

Lance said "... But no one should be forced to act a certain way unless there behavior is criminal or hurting those around them in a criminal manner. Does that answer your question?"

Yes it does, thanks.

"I do not think my thought will ever be set in stone."
It'll double as a handy tombstone, if you let it.


" So for me it has been a mix of American Government. Federalism classes as well as some medieval and social contract philosophy along with some independent reading of Bertrand Russell and Kierkegaard as well as Hobbes and Locke."

If you haven't happened across it already, you might be interested in The Founders Constitution, hosted by the University of Chicago Press and the Liberty Fund. It's a remarkable site that not only contains many source documents which the Founders had in mind, but that it goes through the Constitution, line by line, and links to the relevant passages, and in some cases the entire works, that the members of the Constitutional convention had in mind as they constructed it, such as Locke, Montesquieu, Cicero, etc. But it also contains later thoughts and decisions pertaining to those sections, as well as the Federalist and Anti-Federalist letters from the ratification debates.

If you're interested in understanding what Liberalism was, as the Founders understood it, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better presentation than is laid out there. Couple ref link excerpts from the Preable,

1. John Locke, Second Treatise, § 131, 1689
2. William Blackstone, Commentaries 1:157, 1765
10. James Madison, Federalist, no. 37, 233--39, 11 Jan. 1788 ...
12. Brutus, no. 12, 7 Feb. 1788
20. James Monroe, Views of the President of the United States on the Subject of Internal Improvements, 4 May 1822
21. Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1:§§ 459, 462--63, 469--70, 471--76, 482--86, 489, 493--97, 500--501, 506, 1833

It also lets you review by Topics, such as Separation of Powers, which contains refs such as,
3. John Locke, Second Treatise, §§ 143, 144, 150, 159, 1689
4. John Trenchard, A Short Historie of Standing Armies in England, 1698
5. Montesquieu, Spirit of Laws, bk. 11, CHS. 6--7, 1748
6. William Blackstone, Commentaries 1:149--51, 259--60, 1765

... Good stuf.

You might be able to guess that Hegel & I don't mix. After Burke, I tend to get impatient with most modern thought, really beginning with Godwin, and by the time Mill rolls around I'm nearly smacking their books around my office... what happened after Rousseau and Kant, is they began to treat rationalistic and skeptical ideas as if they were empirical facts, and the contradictions build and multiply - Rawls has me nearly foaming at the mouth... not really, but I almost feel guilty for not foaming at the mouth.

With your earlier comment about Hume in mind, "...find his skepticism without an actual answer to be tiring.", be wary of folks taking that as an actuality to begin constructing thoughts upon - explicitly or implicitly. Either camp presumes to disconnect your ability to know reality, and free themselves to be able to pronounce fine sounding theories and positions as givens, without fear of detection, after all, 'who can say how things really are..?"

Kant, IMHO (yeah... right), was more Humian than Hume, even though he claimed Hume awoke him from his dogmatic slumbers, it seems plain to me that he feared that Hume was right, feared what that meant, and built an elaborate facade to bury it (and those who make it all the way through reading Kant deserve purple hearts)… and of course Hegel sampled, rearranged and built from there, and Marx upon that, and on and on and on… uh-oh Wind is getting up, better go.

Van Harvey said...

Yes, that's a problem that I think you can see creep into any entity that becomes distanced from a need to recognize, respect and respond to reality, large corporations, and HealthCare as well, as well as with the separation of the patient and doctor from reality, and each other, through Insurance plans.

No small company could survive the round of mtg's I sit through to get a new market report designed and implemented - they'd have been blown out of the market if they did - but a cushion of profits, or lack of being directly impact by costs, gives that ability, or illusion of ability, to take your eyes off of the road. Separate from the physical need, or a personal ethic or Mgmt imposed need, to stay alert, people will tend to let drift, sloppiness, creep into their timely decisions - make decisions with more carelessness than a small company would. When you don't have to clearly map your information to what it is information about, it is easy to not care if it does map to exactly reality - it maps good e'nuff.... However, no Corp can afford to get so large and unresponsive for long, eventually they must acknowledge that customers are no longer interested in waiting for them to respond, and shareholders will eventually deliver reality to their door as well.

College endowments give that same cushion, and if students, parents and alumni don't hold their feet to the fire, that 'comfortably numb' tendency to do what you prefer and neglect what you're able to, will surface. There is little direct feedback from student to Faculty about reality, in even tuition dependent schools, it easily gets far worse in one secure in its endowments. Part of the reason also, why Gov't mandated, or deep bureaucratic org's become so inefficient, because the direction of what they need to pay attention to is not towards being responsive to the road of reality beneath them, but the pleasure of those above and around them.

BTW, only partially OT, I picked up a book this weekend that caught my eye, looks like it might become very interesting, don't have it with me, (God I Love Google)"Soldier's Heart: Reading Literature Through Peace and War at West Point," by Elizabeth Samet - she's been a professor of Lit at West Point since the 90's, and while I don't agree with her politically, it looks like it's going to be an interesting examination of that often difficult to find link between Literature and real life. When your students are training for, and communicating back from, and some not surviving, war - that's as strong a link as you're likely to find, between what is often dismissed (and what I think should be a much, much, stronger focus in Education) Literature & Philosophy, and raw real life.

Unknown said...

Van, what is your position on Mills? I find him very thought provoking.

Van Harvey said...

Lance, I find Mill thought provoking too, but he is a mixed bag, and his good points are ultimately subverted by his fundamentals, which amount to ideas rooted in thin air.

As I'm sure you know, he was much strongly influenced by Bentham, was educated by his Dad practically as a science project for developing an exemplar for Utilitarianism, which boils down to 'the greatest good for the greatest number', which philosophically means that the individual is insignificant, valuable only in relation to its group... and that had better be a large group.

The moral value calculus at its center, a fig leaf of technique positioned over personal whim, can really offer nothing other than "I think this is more important than that, because... I feel it’s more important..." Really just the flipside of skepticism, 'we can't know anything is true' vs 'I can’t say how I know it but I feel it is true' - this is where you find a gap, a separation between reality and ideas, which enables people to plan what they think is important based... not on reality... but on what they wish reality to be, feel to be, important and valuable, which because they think it proper, they can feel IS proper to impose for the greater good.

Mill’s famed defense of free speech protection for Individuals is also based upon the group; he laments that we'll never be able to estimate the loss to society due to silencing an individuals speech - not because that individual has a right to speak as a natural right, as an expression of your fundamental identity as a reasoning human being, but upon what harm such prevention might cause for the group.

Although Mill says many fine things in support of individualism and for Liberty, such as, "In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign."

But when it comes to the Individual, to actually having Individual Rights, that is seriously undermined through the rest of his ideas on 'Harm', with, "That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."

Which you can see has been used to justify everything from mandatory auto insurance ("The uninsured are a burden on those who are insured"), it's been floated as a reason to mandate everything from enforcing dietary laws to prevent obesity ("A burden on societies healthcare costs"), to drug laws, etc. That's an opening for negating Individual Rights and Property Rights, and it has been used against us already, many times over. It is wholly unsurprising that he ended up as a socialist, which is nigh on a consumer (in its carnivorous sense) of individualism.

That is not to say that Mill isn't worth reading, he is infinitely better than something like Rousseau, and I’ve enjoyed much time spent arguing with him in the margins of his books(what my kids call it when I make notes in the margins "Daddy's arguing with his books again!"), but I find myself very much aware of where the good he says, has thoroughly been undercut by the bad (much as with most of today’s Republicans, who find much of their intellectual foundation in Mill).

Someone else that I found one of my first senses of ... disillusionment - that might not be the right word - but disappointment isn't either…(getting late) was with Emerson. My Dad gave me a collection of Emerson’s essays when I was around 16, which I just really enjoyed. That was one of my first experiences with ideas that Mattered... I could go climb a tree, or drive up to the mountains, or just out into the desert and read those over and over. And I still can, but always with the realization that the transcendentalist philosophy, romanticism, naturalism and Will rooted in emotionalism as its evidence of 'authenticity', its justification for being and doing ... are a danger to Reason and a sound grasp of reality, and if allowed philosophical credibility, will lead to where Nietzsche's ideas were taken.