Righteous Rage

Sunday, February 6, 2022

What Is It

Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote that anger is a form of madness. Other philosophers share this suspicion, viewing anger as a destructive emotion that leads to cruel and vengeful acts. But don't certain kinds of injustice, like the murders of black and brown people in the US, deserve our rage? What's the difference between righteous indignation and a destructive urge for revenge? And how can activists channel their anger toward political good? Josh and Ray keep their cool with Myisha Cherry from UC Riverside, author of The Case for Rage: Why Anger is Essential to Anti-racist Struggle.

Listening Notes

Should we get angry at injustice? Or does rage just beget more rage? Josh believes that righteousness should be about love and kindness, and he worries that anger is unproductive and damaging to a cause. Ray, however, points out that we should get angry at social injustices. Not only are anger and love compatible with each other, but anger also has many benefits, such as signaling self-respect. 

The philosophers are joined by Myisha Cherry, Professor of Philosophy at University of California Riverside. Myisha defines a good type of anger as one that is inclusive, rational, and aims at transformation. Ray asks how we can tell when we are experiencing the good type of anger, and Myisha explains that we must examine who or what our anger is directed at. If our anger is exclusive, as in the case of white suffragists, it becomes narcissistic anger. In response to Josh’s question about how anger can provide a sense of dignity to an individual, Myisha describes the connection between anger and self-respect, which shows that it is unnecessary to have an audience for our anger. 

In the last segment of the show, Josh, Ray, and Myisha discuss the moral relevance of emotions and burnout. According to Myisha, all emotions (e.g. anger, compassion, love) have a role to play in exercising true justice in the world. Josh worries that his anger isn’t always constructive or productive, but Myisha reassures him that simply channeling and expressing his anger is productive enough. Ray questions what’s problematic about anger on the behalf of others, prompting Myisha to emphasize the importance of understanding what it means to be in community with other people, as injustice affects everyone living in that society. 

  • Roving Philosophical Report (Seek to 4:05) → Holly J. McDede hears from two longtime organizers about how righteous rage has fueled their activism. 

  • Sixty-Second Philosopher (Seek to 45:23) → Ian Shoales considers how rage shows up in entertainment and wonders if we’ve lost sight of what real rage is.

Transcript

Transcript

Josh Landy  
Shouldn't we get angry at injustice?

Ray Briggs  
Won't rage just beget more rage?

Josh Landy  
Don't some things deserve our anger?

Comments (48)


Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Thursday, December 30, 2021 -- 10:08 PM

I have been called angry

I have been called angry often when I self-report as intense. Anger is in the eyes of the beholder. When one acts in rage, this is deemed acceptable when premised on justice. Immunity to prosecution for the killer cuckold who comes upon the act is an ancient use case.

Myisha Cherry doesn’t disambiguate rage from anger, but she does break out several forms of anger – and cherry-picks her own form “Lordean” to pertain to an anti-racist rage. Before this, she outlines several others; “Rouge Rage” – anger at injustice, “Wipe Rage” – anger with a genocidal aim to eliminate oppressor groups, “Ressentiment Rage” – reactive anger against those in power, and “Narcissistic Rage” – anger at not being accepted for one’s exceptional merit. Not all of these angers are Cherry’s, but lordean anger is. It is based on Audre Lorde’s work, which is new to my understanding.

Myisha also points to several ways of coping with anger – especially lordean anger. I have to say … I don’t get it.

There is a difference between anger and rage. Lordean is no different from road rage in my mind or when my demented loved one has a fit about something I did. Rage is never righteous, and violence is one step away from rage.

Slavery happened, is still happening. For the most part, we have always been racist, and it is part of our brain’s maturation.

I enjoyed the book. I liked the references to Portland, the advice to allies, the hope of channeling rage into productive purpose. I don’t see it. Anger is a bellwether for unjust acts (whether true or false.) We need to listen and take action with the mindset of correcting injustice and moving on. Understanding is not going to come from thinking some rage is acceptable while another is not. People don’t work that way. I’ll listen to the show and perhaps change on this. I doubt it.

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Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Sunday, February 13, 2022 -- 8:29 PM

I've gone back to Cherry's

I've gone back to Cherry's book, listened to the show a few times, and read Ray's blog. How am I to determine when my anger is righteous? There is no path offered. There's no real talk of what anger really is. There is a science to the emotion that trumps philosophy every time. When one becomes angry it takes not minutes or hours, but days to return to "normal". If philosophers sign on to Myisha's proposal there is great harm to be done, that has already been done.

I can pull instances, like Geroge Floyd's death, and construct a meaning I see as righteous - it doesn't make it so. If I were to construct this righteousness in the same breath that I release adrenaline and noradrenaline and perhaps permanently change my life course - it doesn't make this wise, smart, or right. The same can be said for truckers being towed off the bridge in Windsor Ontario or the shooting of Ashli Babbitt. How do I separate the emotion from the issues? There is no path given here.

The show and Ray's blog constitute a breach of wisdom. Harm is done here and by those who incite their fellow humans to engage their hormones when matters of life and death are at stake. This is bad...very bad thought.

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Daniel's picture

Daniel

Friday, December 31, 2021 -- 7:21 PM

What if someone claims that

What if someone claims that slavery in the Americas never occurred, and the trade was one of ivory, not human beings? And let's say that someone objects to this and calmly sits down and tries to explain to the one making the claim the historical evidence which refutes it. Wouldn't one who observes this exchange be justifiably angry at the emotional indifference to the violence of such a claim and the notion that it should be entertained at all? How could one who becomes angry in response to angerlessness escape responsibility for public expression of that anger without sharing justified condemnation along with the author of the original claim?

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Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Thursday, February 17, 2022 -- 9:20 PM

#What if someone claims that

#What if someone claims that slavery in the Americas never occurred, and the trade was one of ivory, not human beings?

It is more than likely to be ignored, as most false claims are.

#And let's say that someone objects to this and calmly sits down and tries to explain to the one making the claim the historical evidence which refutes it. Wouldn't one who observes this exchange be justifiably angry at the emotional indifference to the violence of such a claim and the notion that it should be entertained at all?

Social injustice or calm reaction to it neither justifies nor necessitates anger. Often social injustice coincides with rage. There has been a rise in gun violence in the last two-plus years, which correlates with increased awareness of social injustice. It is unclear precisely what the cause of the violence is, or even if it is anger-based for the most part. I don't think it is. But I would need to look at the issues calmly. If my demeanor makes someone angry as I do that, I'm not sure why. The root cause of violence may be slavery in most all cases. There is a lack of respect for ourselves and others in every violent action. Anger obscures that respect which is a point Myisha Cherry seems to ignore. Instead, she seems to think we have roles to play in a Nitchzian landscape of social progression and winners and losers. There is no landscape like that; there never was. Indeed, there is no role to call one to anger because someone else is calm about what makes you angry.

#How could one who becomes angry in response to angerlessness escape responsibility for public expression of that anger without sharing justified condemnation along with the author of the original claim?

This is a good question and cuts to the point. You can't escape responsibility or, more importantly, take back anger. If you express it, if you feel it even, deal with it, find the root cause and use it as a starting point. Take a few days, exercise if you are able, or find some other non-violent form of expression. Make a plan. But don't repress it.

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Daniel's picture

Daniel

Tuesday, February 22, 2022 -- 6:14 PM

There's no justified

There's no justified compulsion of anger in another. That's not the claim being made. If, for example, after waiting in line to buy a scoop of ice cream, it's accidentally dropped on the ground to the expressed consternation of the purchaser, no one would condemn the next person in line if she/he doesn't become angry about it as well. But alter the example a bit so that the scoop is forcibly taken. This would offend our sense of justice and, if one wants to be seen as someone who cares about it, an expression of anger from the observer in that case would be commendably forthcoming. If the same reasoning is applied to coerced labor, it's clear that where such states of affairs appear, some objective expression of acrimonious opposition is obliged, whether or not the angriness in question is genuinely held in a subjective sense.

The point about the expression of anger when subjectively felt, even if only to one's self, was dealt with in the broadcast by Professor Cherry and does not apply to the question.

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Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Tuesday, February 22, 2022 -- 8:18 PM

#And let's say that someone

#And let's say that someone objects to this and calmly sits down and tries to explain to the one making the claim the historical evidence which refutes it.

This is a pretty fair rundown of the University of Michigan Basketball Coach's tirade recently.

https://www.mgoblog.com/content/point-it%27s-not-happening-again

If your scenario is one in which someone tries to refute someone's false sense of injustice, this is pretty fresh and I think in this case a detailed rundown of how that might go.

Most people I know care very much about this altercation. Readers here may not. But this is a clear example of two worlds of justice and anger on both sides.

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Daniel's picture

Daniel

Friday, February 25, 2022 -- 4:28 PM

Angered at some injustice or

Angered at some injustice or justly angered not related to injustice? And if there's two worlds on two sides, doesn't that make four worlds? How many worlds do you need in order to be able to make sense of the claim of occasional anger-appropriateness? The scenario you refer by the first sentence above concerns someone who calmly refutes by evidence a clearly false claim which would be dehumanizing even to discuss as though it was in any way even remotely disputable. It therefore in no way suggests one of objection to pretended expression of injustice. When an interlocutor attempts to strengthen her/his own argument by misparaphrasing someone else's, it's called a "straw man". Is that what you're doing here?

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Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Friday, February 25, 2022 -- 6:41 PM

Juwan Howard is no straw man,

Juwan Howard is no straw man, but a poor tough kid from Chicago who earned his way out of a tough situation by winning. Greg Gard thought he could lay hands on him after his team soundly beat Michigan putting them on the edge of elimination from March Madness. If Juwan had done the same to Gard, it would have served him just as poorly. Gard got off with a fine that his University paid. The Wisconsin assistant coaches laid hands-on Howard's players which spawned the violence. This is a very interesting example where two worlds of justice are making out the other as unjust and their own cause as righteous. There are no straw men here only men. If you hold with the analytic feminists who explain away their anger, peace be with you brother (and you too Myisha.) There is no justice, just us.

It seems silly to use this example, given the goings-on in the Ukraine. Peace be with them. If justice is anywhere, let it be there. Free the Crimea!

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Daniel's picture

Daniel

Saturday, February 26, 2022 -- 7:26 PM

Doesn't the example's

Doesn't the example's appropriateness depend on what it's for? Here you've stated that it's of a "refutation" of a "false sense of injustice", (which I presume would either be pointing out its falsity or providing a counterexample of a true one,-- unclear which one is meant here). But the argument your paraphrasing of mine is that there are some truths, fact-collections if you like, for which some acrimonious expression is obliged if it is observed to be calmly entertained as though it were open to dispute. How that translates into showing a person who just pretends to be upset, something to really get upset about, escapes for me any semiological graspability. Now, if that's intentional, it's a straw man, that is to say, a misparaphrase of another's argument for the purpose of suiting it to one's own refutation requirements. My apologies if that's not your design here.

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Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Saturday, March 5, 2022 -- 2:10 AM

The goings-on in Mariupol

The goings-on in Mariupol strain your argument to its limit. I wish all who have rage peace, and all who suffer injustice rational access to their own self-interest.

I disagree with you Daniel in the most strict of terms that you offer. That we could talk past each other in this moment in history says much about the moment. In the world of college basketball, in the streets of the Ukraine, and in the microcosm that is our global climate in this universe, I wish you well. But your argument and that argued by Myisha Cherry can go to its own separate and undignified death. It appears we shall all join in this death soon enough. So be it. Let us see where the rage takes this argument. We have no choice.

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Daniel's picture

Daniel

Saturday, March 5, 2022 -- 6:17 PM

Even though it's true that

Even though it's true that under the presupposition of metaphysical determinism, the position you've taken in the final sentence, that it wouldn't make any constructive sense to get angry about anything, since nothing can be avoided, it still doesn't seem to support your position that anger is never justified. It's also a little unfair to talk about Professor Cherry's position and my own as though they were the same. Beyond being informed by Aristotle's discussion of anger in the Ethics, that there are some things it's appropriate to be angry about in appropriate ways, our views are surely quite different. Your attempt above to dismiss them together, however, is a bit bazaar. Instead of arguing for your own position, you've simply said that ours will "die". And how does the reference to current international events assist in this refutation? Are you saying that there's nothing in them to be angry about?

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Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Wednesday, January 5, 2022 -- 10:32 AM

When I was growing up,

When I was growing up, churchmen and women famously called anger righteous indignation. This was meant to soften that which was frowned upon by righteous folks. This is another example of something I have christened contextual reality. We are taught, in other spheres of experience that unreasoning, senseless rage is inhuman and, well, just wrong. But, there it is. Not sure where this leaves us or where it goes. Just in another version of reality, I guess?

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Harold G. Neuman

Sunday, February 6, 2022 -- 10:44 AM

I know little of the Stoics,

I know little of the Stoics, though I sorta get stoicism. And, I suppose Dr. King raged righteously inside while externally he appeared calm. Non-violence, on it's face, seems the antithesis of rage, yet we may easily see Ms. Cherry's point ( which she no doubt drives home in her book). Seneca's pronouncement, that rage is a kind of madness, makes perfect sense. When we are 'mad' at or with someone, we rage against what they have done; how they have behaved. Often times, anger is the only way we can get attention. Civil rights is a festering sore in America.

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Daniel's picture

Daniel

Wednesday, February 9, 2022 -- 5:22 PM

--Their violation, the

--Their violation, the struggle against their violation, or the rights themselves?

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Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Monday, February 7, 2022 -- 7:38 AM

I am (I think) mostly with Mr

I am (I think) mostly with Mr. Smith. But, allowing for TBOD ---the benefit of doubt, I'll try to embrace the avoidably undesirable. Clearly, Ms Cherry is up on the civil rights struggle...was up on it before the time she began to write her book. She needed to fully grok the importance of anger before writing about its' role in the aforementioned struggle. Under normal circumstances, one would believe it prudent to avoid the undesirable. But if I catch her drift aright, the aura surrounding civil rights, though undesirable for many, has never been avoidable. Relying only on drift, this is the intention I have gleaned. The entire matter has never been pretty. The would be no way of avoiding this, near as I can tell.

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Daniel's picture

Daniel

Wednesday, February 9, 2022 -- 5:36 PM

Presumably avoidable

Presumably avoidable undesirability is the same as saying that there's something one doesn't like that one doesn't have to have. If I like vanilla ice cream and don't like strawberry, for example, I don't have to have strawberry. By your argument, then, I'm free to embrace my preference for vanilla and if someone says I have to like strawberry too, I should write about it and show it to the ice cream vendor before getting angry about it because the vendor will not be able to avoid this anger. Is this what you're saying?

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tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Tuesday, February 8, 2022 -- 8:40 AM

What about philosophers and

What about philosophers and anger? What about Dostoyevsky’s Underground Man? He was right in so much of his ranting critique of society. Those that were socially successful, fat, and happy around him were banal and unjust. He was also right in the bordello scene, when he uplifted the girl who had been sold into prostitution, by giving her hope and a sense of worth.

But he was also a coward and a hypocrite and a scoundrel.

By the way, why does Philosophy Talk “question everything but your intelligence”? In societies like ours—like Underground Man’s—in which banality rules and is fat and happy and successful, while workers aren’t even paid enough to afford housing, and massive numbers of young people (with spirited philosophical natures) are incarcerated for very little if any reason, and Underground Men gnash their teeth in private—why shouldn’t philosophers question nothing but our intelligence? Why shouldn’t they compel their students (we the people) to show our work? Why shouldn’t they urge us to BE just and to MAKE (techne) sense, instead of simply sticking signs in our windows spouting platitudes and calling it an act of civic activism? If we’re so intelligent, let’s see it—why not ask us for proof, evidence, and premises in support of our claims. This philosophy class is an easy A.

I’ll go back to gnashing my teeth in private….

P.S. Tell “Admin” that before deleting comments on this blog, it’s only polite to offer reasons as to why they are being censored. This is philosophy, after all. It’s supposed to be governed by reason, not Might Makes Right.

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Daniel's picture

Daniel

Thursday, February 17, 2022 -- 4:12 PM

Another slogan which in my

Another slogan which in my view deserves a second look is, in addition to the traditional "thank you for listening" statement of appreciation, an additional one is given as "thank you for thinking". Now, thinking is a little like breathing insofar as it occurs independently from our efforts, even if particular decisions can be effectively made with regards to what to think about. To thank someone for it is a little like saying that the one being thanked has to make a special effort to think at all. Thistle may have a point, then, that there might be a little back-handedness in these remarks of listener-appreciation.

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Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Thursday, February 17, 2022 -- 9:15 PM

tartarthistle,

tartarthistle,

Reasons for the deletion are here... https://www.philosophytalk.org/philosophy-talk-community-guidelines
 
Appeals can be sent here... https://www.philosophytalk.org/#contact
 
There is no right to say whatever you please, just as there is no right to be angry. It is sad that Ray and Josh don't tread that well-established path in the show – I think Myisha would have liked to have responded on point; she would have likely taken "all day," perhaps. Instead, there was the unstated assumption of this right.
 
Just as we don't want to be solicited for our kidneys in the Marcus Aurelius show comments (example below – there was another in the Blog - and also deleted), it is also best to stick to the topic at hand and not personal truth or at least make a pass at the connection between the two.
 
"Maha
Monday, February 14, 2022 -- 2:37 AM
We are urgently in need of kidney donors in Narayana Hospital India for the sum of $800,000,00, (4 crore) All donors are to reply via
 WhatsApp +918095967610"

I would gladly give up my kidney if I knew and cared for the person to whom it was to be given. In the meantime, I will keep my kidneys. Money is not to the kidney, as anger does not justify righteousness. It looks like this post won’t get deleted so here some blood. There is plenty to dislike and discuss from the topic at hand.
 
Being an Admin is no fun, and some forums provide reasons for moderation. It is enough to keep unethical commercialism at bay and look to ourselves to see the cause of our deleted thoughts.

If you want to pillorize yourself at the feet of the “Admin,” go ahead. You don’t make your point in juxtaposition but rather your identity. The standards of the forum are not hard to limbo under; censorship is needed in expressing any thought, as is judgment. Demanding reasons for being censored comes at a price.

Go back to gnashing in private if you like. Is gnashing righteous? Is it emotional for the auteur tartarthistle or an act? I think the former. The actual relationship between the US and Russia is, indeed, far more complicated than anyone imagines.

Reasoning is not absolutely non-violent. But it is best held without it.

Cherry is right when she posits that a rage is a form of reasoning. She doesn’t go so far as to say violence is reasoning as well, but I will. Might doesn’t make right, but it makes a point nonetheless. A genuine philosopher appreciates might more than right too often, which I think is your point above and in posts that failed the mindful standard.

Too bad... it would have been fun.
 
Daniel,
 
"Thank you for thinking" is meant to refer to the show's topic, not thinking itself. There is no implication of non-thought, which is what this vegetable thinks. To think otherwise is to question our intelligence, which despite tartarthistle's suggestion, is a bad policy in general.

Just because something has a long history doesn’t make it sound – though it may be valid. Empedocles is no model for wisdom to be taken seriously, nor can we achieve it through rough sexual pretense as tartarthistle was wont to. It was as interesting an absurdity as anger is to philosophical cred.

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tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Friday, February 18, 2022 -- 7:28 AM

"Reasoning is not absolutely

"Reasoning is not absolutely non-violent. But it is best held without it."
Can Thrasymachus please explain how one reasons violently? I thought we were "Not to threaten visiting lecturers with pokers."

I'd love to hear more about violence in philosophy. Especially since, as Diotima claimed, certain select individuals so dearly fall in love with their ideas, and don't seem to care terribly much for physical things and beings...

Just saying...Just out cruising for wisdom, seeking prey. This Thistle is hungry for an honest individual with a good idea...

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Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Friday, February 18, 2022 -- 8:39 AM

You should read Cherry's book

You should read Cherry's book. Chapter 3 - Rage in Work Clothes outlines several different types of rational work that is done by anger. This is not my belief nor likely that of Thrasymachus, but the concept of might makes right is incremented by Cherry in a coherent way. Anger focuses argument on injustice, encourages repressed minds to speak and results in a more reasoned outcome... or so Dr. Cherry believes.

I won't make her argument, as it is flawed in its execution. Recent upticks in gun violence, mob actions, and destruction of public space, not to mention outright and subversive attacks on our democracy make me loath to accept anything but staid law and order. But I won't deny that Myisha is correct in that Anger is a force of reason. Intensity is a form of anger.

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tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Friday, February 18, 2022 -- 5:42 PM

Just curious (for real) how

Just curious (for real) how you understand the relationship between understanding and belief? Are they two different states of mind with two different objects (one an abstract object--a "thing", and the other a physical thing experienced via the senses), or are they the same, a "thing"/thing combo type of object? This might clarify some verbal confusion existing here...

It also might help free the Crimeans from whatever is enslaving them (for real).

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Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Friday, February 18, 2022 -- 7:18 PM

The relationship is tricky,

The relationship is tricky, but with air quotes to how "I" view the relationship instead of the actual relationship, then here you go.

They are both internal states.

A belief is an internal state that motivates action in conjunction with a desire that will satisfy the desire if the belief is true.

An understanding is an internal state that allows one to infer consequences if their understanding is sufficient.

Anger interferes with the internal state, which is a critique of Myisha's view that people have roles to play in rationalizing social justice. They don't. There are consequences of actions and many desires, but there are no a priori roles. Alisha Babbit was shot for jumping through a window, not because she was small enough to jump through it.

The Crimea doesn't bode well for Taiwan, as it doesn't go well for Hong Kong or the Uighurs. I believe in democracy, but I understand autocracy. "Free the Crimea!" has little to do with the Ukrainians living there.

Caveat emptor.

Somehow, I don't think this will end well for me, but you asked… nicely. Is this how you understand the relationship between belief and understanding?

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tartarthistle's picture

tartarthistle

Friday, February 18, 2022 -- 8:45 PM

On the conceptual difference

On the conceptual difference between belief and understanding, I see it like this:

The longshoreman knows how to unload a heavy spherical shaped object from a container ship intuitively based on experience. They trust that the similarly shaped objects they have handled in the past will behave like those they handle in the present. They cannot write an essay on the matter, arguing their case, but they will probably be successful in moving the spherical shaped cargo safely and on-time.

A physicist can write a paper on the dynamics of spherical shaped objects and the laws of gravity, but they will probably not be much use in getting the spherical shaped cargo from the ship.

The longshoreman has belief grounded in experience, but not understanding regarding the laws of physics. Belief is imperfect (one can make mistakes in judgment, this is a matter of degrees ). The physicist has understanding of natural laws, but needs help when translating this abstract knowledge into action in the field. They need someone with understanding combined with experience to actually make things move efficiently.

The physicist is rather helpless in places like Crimea, or the Ukraine, or anywhere outside of a college town where there are cafes and like-minded intellectuals and lots of police to protect them. The longshoreman has belief and is imperfect (but not bad), and not necessarily understanding, but they will probably get by fine in places like Crimea, and the Ukraine, and anywhere else in the world including a college town and especially with the cops, but not so well in an academic environment, a cocktail party, a poetry reading, or at the Harvard Club. The physicist has understanding and is better at writing essays (but is not necessarily perfect/good). The physicist can only be truly successful in moving the spherical shaped cargo from the ship if they have some help from experienced and skilled friends on the ground/in the field that know how to deal with with physical things.

One side represents Might Makes Right (the longshoreman), and the other side represents Knowledge is Power (the physicist). One is imperfect (but not necessarily bad), the other is better (but not necessarily good/perfect). If we could simply get them together and stop them from fighting over verbal disagreements (they both agree on the facts, they are simply viewing the same reality from differing perspectives), perhaps we could unload the ship full of spherical shaped objects (little troublesome lovers of wisdom like me! Yippee! Free us little spherical shaped lovers of wisdom from the Crimea and the Ukraine and Sunnyvale, yes, especially Sunnyvale, no one wants to be stuck there!!!!)...

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Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Saturday, February 19, 2022 -- 7:27 AM

Tartarthistle,

Tartarthistle,

You are likely as good at dealing with material things as a writer, and I don't have the practical skill you do with words and people to make plain what is fraught with detail. But here is my belief and understanding.

I have met a few physicists who were helpless outside a college town (Einstein might have been one of them had I the opportunity.) However, the majority of physicists I know are very handy with objects, spherical or not. The majority of dockers I know (and I have known quite a few of these types from experience) know people (very complicated objects these people are – and becoming more spherical with each passing Covid moment – this I know from experience) … the majority of these longshorepeople out there have knowledge of the nature of people that far exceeds academic acumen to decipher.

Academics are loaders of a sort, but philosophers are decidedly less handy or practical than their physicist comrades. Philosophers tend toward the lot that leans heavily on the longshore types to plumb their houses. These are the academic types I think you refer to, and they are a slim majority if that is true.

I like the idea of longshore and academe, but I don't think this speaks to belief and understanding as much as it does to desire. Now more than ever, if one desires to be one or the other, it can be done. A disproportionate percentage of opportunity is derivative of one's parents, but academy, online liberality, or curiosity can find a way to free desire.

The admin who deletes does so with a longshoreman-like utility manipulating the algorithms that have themselves become objects of intuition. There is little judgment used in this execution.

Desire is the root. All else stems from this sprig; belief and understanding, and knowledge. I attempt to suit the actions to the words, to hold a mirror to nature as my task. Nature exists in internal states (as I state), in our roles (as you note), and to a frightening degree less in the Anthropocene world we live.

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tartarthistle

Saturday, February 19, 2022 -- 9:42 AM

That's all interesting, but I

That's all interesting, but I just can't wrap my poor little thistle brain around it's meaning. So to be honest, I'm not sure how to respond. Personally, I think we agree, but language plays games with meaning and trips us up. All I know, is that if you're a physicist and you want to get from the Crimea to the Ukraine, you need a good Cossack as a guide, otherwise it's probably not going to work out so well for you. (You might be able to disguise yourself as a pilgrim, or a beggar and get by, but still it would probably be a wise move to have a friend that knows the terrain along to guide you.) In my line of symbolism, the longshoreman is the Cossack. And Cossack culture is incredibly complicated, as is their history, their gender practices, their imbalanced forms of entertainment, and their belief system--specifically as it relates to Greek thought and culture. This stuff is complicated and not so pretty, but interesting and relevant to our present conflicts nonetheless. I highly suspect this complexity, this strange hidden history that relates so deeply to the political ideas underlying modern Western ideologies and beliefs about the nature of physical power (physics) is hiding its naughty little self right now in this mess. Personally, I'm over the "great" power story/narrative. I think it has outlived its usefulness, as have the "great" powers themselves. As far as I'm concerned, you are absolutely right--free Crimea, free all of us little folks from the belief that more power is wise. Anyone with an understanding of the actual dynamics of physical power/energy as they relate to dealing with and solving practical concerns (applied physics) knows that more is not better. Just right, balance is better. More blinds you, it's too much. And too much of anything is not healthy. Especially when it comes to concentrated political power. Sadly we seem to want to have this horrible truth demonstrated for us. Personally, I'm all for balance. Love and friendship rule. Free Crimea, free all of us from the delusion that more is equal to better. Balance/justice is good, Knowledge is power, and Might Makes Right. These expressions are three different ways of saying the same wonderful beautiful thing: Love. If all the "great" powers would stop fighting and bullying and beating everyone up everywhere, perhaps those with more understanding and those with more belief could come together (that's an interesting and unintended little linguistic insertion, language is alive and playing games with us) they could figure out a way to free all the cute little spherical thistle-shaped cargo from the ship they are stuck in where no one can see them and sympathize with their plight. The thistles are full of new ideas and they are fresh and creative sources of inspiration. But we can't hear them through the din of the two "great" powers fighting--Mom and Dad--who never seem to get along. They really need to get some counseling and stop forcing their kids to choose between two bad ideas, one that looks slightly prettier and more well-mannered than the other on the surface, but both are bad at time when we really need a good idea, a new one.

All the best from friend Thistle, and I am not a robot.

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Daniel

Tuesday, February 22, 2022 -- 6:48 PM

Thrasymachus's position in

Thrasymachus's position in book I of Plato's Republic as I understand it is that justice prevails when the strongest are in power. Although this is refuted in the text by pointing out that the craft of governance is characterized by proper care for the governed rather than the self interest of who governs, it remains a popular and recurrent theme. The odd phrase "violent reasoning" can be understood in at least two ways: either as doing violence against reason, as for example a political leader arguing for waging war against a neighboring state by saying "if we don't fight them in their country, they'll come to fight us in ours", which pretends the listener has no reason of her/his own; or as coming up with a reason for violence itself, as some have argued with regards to state executions of convicted criminals. The use of the expression about which you inquire, however, is also inscrutable to my own reasoning, and I anxiously await further explanation from its author.

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Daniel

Friday, February 25, 2022 -- 6:01 PM

O.K. So your interpretation

O.K. So your interpretation of the weekly remark of listener appreciation is not literally "thank you for thinking", as I suggest, but "thank you for thinking about topic x"; with "x" representing varying topics and "thinking" their invariant apprehension. While plausible, it's your following admonition that "to think otherwise is to question our intelligence" which to my mind is quite poignant and supports my position. Now, in individuals, if intelligence exists, then so does thinking; but thinking can exist without intelligence. If someone walks across the street into traffic in anticipation of purchasing an ice-cream cone from a vendor on the other side, for example, there would be good reason to question the intelligence of that person, as her/his behavior is assumed nevertheless to involve thinking. On the other hand, If one speaks of intelligence as a generic characteristic of certain zoological species in comparison to others, e.g. humans as an intelligent species in comparison to the Western Opossum, which has been commonly observed to cross roadways for motorized vehicles into traffic, the intelligence of this latter is not questioned because it's assumed not to be an especially intelligent species in the first place. And if an individual belonging to an intelligent species acts in the manner of an unintelligent one, one could with good reason call that individual "stupid". Under the assumption, then, that the listener's intelligence is not questioned on account of belonging to an intelligent species, "thank you for thinking", by your account, is equivalent to saying "thank you for not being as stupid as a Western Opossum". Is this correct?

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Tim Smith

Friday, February 25, 2022 -- 6:47 PM

No, it is not correct, but

No, it is not correct, but you are certainly well within your rights to take offense if you want to go down that road. It isn't intended and you have to misconstrue two statements to get there ("...thank you..." and "...except your..." - but by all means... there you are. Are you feeling righteous rage? I don't think this is the rage Myisha is talking about, but it seems just as unexceptional to me. Thank you for pointing this out. I will back down my expectations accordingly. Maybe I can even reparate you somehow with your comment above.

An opossum is one of the smarter animals to poke at as well.

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Daniel

Saturday, February 26, 2022 -- 6:57 PM

Who said anything about

Who said anything about taking offense? Your mention of it here certainly doesn't apply to anything pertaining to my own situation. And, if you recall, the two statements of listener appreciation with regards to thinking and intelligence were tied together by your own argument in the post of February 17, 2022 - 9:15 pm, second sentence of the second paragraph from the end: 'thank you for thinking refers to the shows topic; and thinking otherwise is questioning our intelligence'. How interpreting your position as having put them together is "misconstrued" remains unclear. In any case, you'd be correct if you said that the chain of reasoning I've deployed here is invalid, as it contains a subtle but potentially rhetorically effective non-sequitur in the third premise. So if you didn't catch it, in the spirit of helping out a valued colleague, allow me if you will to point it out.

Your position was that if "thank you for thinking" was not taken to mean "thank you for thinking topic x", that would be questioning the listener's intelligence. My response to this was, first, if there's intelligence, there's thinking; but if there's thinking, there's not necessarily intelligence. Second, in the animal kingdom, there is, (for the sake of argument), both intelligent and unintelligent animals. Third, and here's the non-sequitur, if a person is thinking without being intelligent (as in the case of my example of walking into traffic), that person is behaving like, (is for purposes of discussion coterminous with), one of the unintelligent animals. Add another non-sequitur for color by picking out one unintelligent animal and describing it by a name which would signify an adverse judgement if it were said of a person, and the above (invalid) conclusion is reached. As far as expectations are concerned, then, it appears to me that yours should be elevated to an even higher level of continued excellence in reading comprehension, so that similar fallacies will not be missed in the future.

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Harold G. Neuman

Saturday, February 12, 2022 -- 7:27 AM

This is probably too

This is probably too simplistic. Tartar Thistle's example of the dog who no longer barks, is elegant---to a point. But, to claim the dog is no longer your friend misses a key distinction, in my humble opinion.
If the dog no longer barks because of its' perception that warnings go unheeded, it has merely intuited one or two things. 1. There is no danger, inasmuch as your lack of reaction has indicated thus.
2. If there is danger, likewise, your inattention shows it is not imminent. Dogs are pragmatists too. They are loathe to wasting energy when a nap is much more satisfying. Some smaller ones are perennially agitated. Pomeranians, for example.
Rage tends to be self-sustaining. Especially when the changes it is expected to effect are snail's pace.
Not only does it self-sustain, it increases exponentially, becoming ever more difficult to defuse. This has long been recognized by advocates of non-violent protest and demonstration. Sure, rage gets attention. As do barking dogs. Be careful not to cry 'wolf' too often...never ' fire!' In a crowded public place.

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tartarthistle

Friday, February 18, 2022 -- 8:44 AM

I suspect you missed the key

I suspect you missed the key reason for the dog not barking....

You haven't been home playing with your dog.

But someone else has...

It just occurred to me that this may explain why the children of philosophers often don't share their personal traits. I'm thinking of Aurelius' son Commodus here, but there are many other examples. It also might explain Socrates' insistence on the philosopher needing to come down (go home) and rule (kick out the stranger sneaking around their back door when they're not home).

This analogy has an important social interpretation as well, related to Socrates' political times. Bad ideas (the Might Makes Right ideology advocated by trained sophists) were being spread among the social elites. This sort of ideology permits certain members of society (the rich) to extract resources and actively manipulate certain other members of their own society (the poor, the young, women, foreigners) without their knowledge, using fallacious propaganda advanced in the arts and popular culture. Aspasia, Pericles' wife/consort, was a trained sophist (see the Book Socrates in Love, by Armand D'Angour) and had apparently instructed Socrates in "matters of love." I suspect Socrates was trying to warn his fellow Athenians that this practice was unwise and was leading to tremendous social instability, political vulnerability, and disease (they were having a plague at the time, and this plague was blamed on Pericles' war mongering initiated by Aspasia, who wanted revenge on her familial enemies).

Sounds like a rather familiar state of affairs, doesn't it?

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Daniel

Monday, February 14, 2022 -- 5:07 PM

Participant Thistle's

Participant Thistle's argument here is sound, but not valid. It's sound on account of the fact that erotilogism has a long history in the Western tradition, going back at least to Empedocles, but it lacks validity due to inference drawn that the same situation prevails today. And, since it would be irrational to ask for something which is known not to exist, the safe assumption is that only the soundness of the claim is to be taken seriously.

This claim is similar to Professor Cherry's in her splendidly excellent analysis of hostile emotional response in the interest of, in her words, developing a system of "emotional intelligence". To this end Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics is cited for the point that anger which is appropriate constitutes a mean-gradient between no anger at all and too much. It's the quality of the anger, "about the correct things" and "in the correct way" (Nic. Eth., IV. vi. 4), which determines the quantitative measure for descriptive purposes. If this reasoning is applied to participant Thistle's argument made above, a clear claim is made that with regards to current philosophical work, there is a severe underdetermination by erotigenous responses in the contributing factors to subject matter. If the appropriate quantity of response is obtained, then it can be surmised that the point beyond which any larger quantity would override its qualitative appropriateness has not been reached. Too much and there's no more philosophy; too little and the characteristics of erotic love are left out in the cold. As Professor Cherry stated with regards to whether or not the person who doesn't get angry enough should be condemned by someone who gets angry at the right time, the appropriate recommendation here as well should not be "either/or", but "both/and", (my paraphrase, ala Hegel).

There's something else though that perhaps can be offered from Aristotle's concept of the Mean which I think may be pertinent to participant Thistle's lively requisition, and that is its similarity to friendship (Nic. Eth. IV. vi. 4). Of course the Greek term, philia, can also mean love, but here the loved one apart from the lover drops out, making the effort to "hit the mean" a kind of friendship with one's self. Being there for a friend with regards to virtuous conduct, then, according to Aristotle, is in a primary sense being there for one's self. In my view participant Thistle's argument above points in and to the direction of philosophic erotigeny for purposes of self-friendship in the context of serious intellectual labor.

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Daniel

Thursday, February 17, 2022 -- 3:49 PM

Just a small correction

Just a small correction pointed out by participant Thistle on my logic. A valid argument doesn't have to be sound (it can have a false premise), but a sound argument must be valid (forgoing the conclusion in the absence of any false premises). My thanks are extended for catching it.

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Daniel

Tuesday, March 1, 2022 -- 3:49 PM

Because the discussion has

Because the discussion has proceeded in diverse directions along a common theme, my purpose below is to tie together some of the issues brought up by three distinct posts, so that a common reply to each may offer some potential assistance.

In a post from February 17, 2022 -- 9:15 PM, participant Smith states in response to a post by participant Thistle (now deleted), that Empedocles, who introduced the concept of love into the study of material phenomena as a kinetic principle, is of no importance and should not "be taken seriously" (last paragraph, second sentence). Love understood as a principle therefore can't offer any insight into whether or not anger is ever justifiable. I interpret participant Thistle's response to this to be contained in the post of February 18, 2022 -- 8:45 PM, in an extraordinary counterexample furnished by an analysis of the belief-understanding relation. This relation is described as an interchange between ideas in the mind and natural materials or, if you like, form and matter. This is accomplished on the example of the relationship between someone who performs physical labor as employment, and one whose employment consists of studying the physical properties of nature. The dichotomy brings up the familiar distinction between theory and practice. But that would be oversimplifying things, since each must have both, if nevertheless at differing levels of significance. Each is subject to prior conditions of habitual beliefs, and among them must be the belief about where social power is concentrated. One whose professional responsibility lay in theory understands, according to this participant, that "knowledge is power"; and one whose professional responsibility lies in physical labor, understands from a practical perspective, that "might makes right". Although neither of these can be said to be true, each expresses a clear relation between belief and understanding. "Knowledge is power" is an inference about material organization. "Might makes right" is a reference to prior beliefs. The suggestion is subsequently made that each remedies what the other lacks under conditions of friendly relations. In the escape from their own self-alienation, task fulfillment of each is achieved, as Empedocles describes with regards to material combination, building on the Pythagorean concept of opposition-unity. By putting the two together in friendship (philia), the sum of the two parts generates a greater product than they would independent from one another, supplying strong evidentiary support for Empedocles' theorem.

A relation to the discussion of potential anger-justification is made by distinguishing between anger in relation to the behavior of individuals and the kind of anger directed at whole systems of behavior interactions. One kind is directed at people, the other at things. One has a moral or ethical dimension, while the other is largely a practical matter, therefore indicating a variant of the theory/practice dichotomy. And as a practical matter anger directed towards systems of social organization can be excessive, if one becomes angry about something that can be changed under conditions of collective behaviors, or deficient, if one is resigned to calmly tolerate something a situation of oppression but which could be altered with sufficient effort. By this, justified anger with regards to systems constitutes a mean between self-respect preservation where no alteration of undesirable conditions is conceivable, and condition-alteration determination where it is. Apparently, righteous rage as a practical matter obtains just at the point where self-respect is saved at the edge of organization-possibility. Wherever this rage precludes collective organization to change things one is angry about, it becomes excessive, counter-productive, and hence in no way "righteous".

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tartarthistle

Wednesday, March 2, 2022 -- 10:03 PM

Hi there,

Hi there,

I meant that people whose social function places them in such a position that they are unable to see the energetic source influencing the nature and direction of much of their labor (rowers at the bottom of a Greek trireme ship, a role that used to be rotated and performed by Greek citizens but was then later performed by slaves) get frustrated and angry because they cannot understand the rationale underlying the division of labor. They cannot see that the captain of the ship cannot simultaneously be down in the hull rowing because they have to pay attention to the weather and the stars in order to navigate (this is Plato). Technology divides us functionally from one another in such a way that the two extremes (top-captain, understanding) bottom (rower, belief/faith) each become blind and insensitive to the plight of the other. The rower cannot see and understand the nature of his position within the whole entity of the ship. The rower does not see the flute player that's dictating the rhythm of the rowing--slowing it and speeding it up as directed by the captain. They imagine they are the ones doing this of their own accord, not aware of how music and emotion and unconscious action are intimately interconnected. Those on the bottom of the functional social hierarchy in political democracies are frustrated because they are told they are politically "equal," and yet this superficial notion of equality serves to disguise the actual operation of power within society, which is neither purely top-down, nor purely-bottom up, but just as it is in physics, a two way inter-relational influential flow, a back and forth. In popular Western political culture the average person is naively seduced by all sides--elites and on-elites--to adopt this superficial understanding of the dynamics of power, and thus to equate what appears powerful (visible authority figures) with what in fact is powerful (actual sources of energetic influence). Anyone in the tech scene grasps the complexity involved here. They make their rubles keeping us all divided on this one, and are laughing their asses off. Sorry to burst anyone's illusions...Just saying...

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Daniel

Saturday, March 5, 2022 -- 6:43 PM

Just saying what, -- that

Just saying what, -- that working stiffs and white collar snobs are both necessary for a good society while neither properly appreciates the other on account of taking care of her/his vocational function, and therefore become needlessly angry when an occasional tour of each other's workplaces would be a better option? The reference to physics here is I presume to Newton's Third Law, and indicates the vocational reciprocity you're pointing out, but doesn't serve to indicate the element of misunderstanding important to your position. And how can the relation between the laughter of those involved in the production and use of high-technology to the distinction between merely apparent social power and non-apparent "sources of energetic influence" in the last few sentences be determined for explanatory purposes?

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tartarthistle

Thursday, March 3, 2022 -- 8:58 AM

And one more tidbit. In

And one more tidbit. In democratic societies, at the functional level political power resides not in the capital but in the classroom. Politics is kayfabe or theater. The classroom is where social movement occurs. The teacher is the conductor, but as well all know, the teacher is influenced by the students just as much as the students are influenced by the teacher. Physics here, the influential flow is back and forth, not top down. We all know this. A teacher cannot effectively instruct others by force. A person as to be receptive to the teacher's instruction. If there's no trust, no receptivity, learning cannot occur. But students are not blank slates. We arrive at kindergarten preprogrammed for we have already acquired a degree of linguistic and symbolic competence. Our caregivers have instilled in us the concept of limit and of respecting boundaries. Caregivers grant and withhold privileges (pleasure and pain) based on meeting behavioral standards. This same back and forth occurs in the classroom, only the youths are permitted to contribute to the discussion. Teachers are receptive to hearing what students have to say. They want to know what they think, feel, and want. They are curious. The position of a teacher is like a window into the base of society--teachers see and understand what's happening on the shop floor, the battlefield (choose your metaphor) of society by looking through the window of their students. The lower the grade level, the more revealing the window is, since children have not yet learned to filter. This window is also a doorway, both teachers and students can move into realms otherwise socially denied them by connecting with one another at this level. And this window is also a mirror, for the student reflects back that which they perceive using the collectively shared symbolic languages. In the classroom, the mathematical principle of equality or justice (conceived as balance) is artificially created and experienced under the guidance of a good teacher. But as we know, not all teachers are good, and not all ideas are good either. What this emphasis on the power residing in this central (not top) social position makes us realize is why there is so much legal oversight and ethical protection over this authoritative relationship (only comparable to that in medicine), and why replacing the function of the teacher with online learning in public schools is a supremely BAD and unwise idea. For, at this point, there will be intellectual stagnation--no movement upwards from below. And from the perspective of physics, healthy and balanced power dynamics are back and forth, not top down. The flow of movement upwards is very important, and stopping it, closing this window, doorway, and mirror into the base of society is both (and primarily) UNJUST, but it is also unwise. Consider here the fallacies of division and composition. Simply because something appears qualitatively a certain way on the whole/surface, does not in any way guarantee that its part shares that same qualitative characteristics. And conversely, assuming that because the part possesses certain qualities, therefore the whole also possesses the same qualities, is similarly ignorant (remember Aurelius' son Commodus). Here is the ignorance of institutionalized slavery, which is both unjust and unwise. For, if one wanted to undermine one's foe and one is numerically at a disadvantage, all one has to do is infiltrate their society from below via inserting within the slaves being traded a teacher (one who knows) that looks like a slave. Once a society has been infiltrated from below in this manner by "slave" elements, bad ideas flow upwards. The "slave" now has a window, doorway, and mirror with spectacular view into your society, complete with vistas at both the top (the elite household) and the bottom (the trireme ship). To combat this ignorance and injustice contained in institutionalized slavery, Socrates wanted all members of society to be educated and militarily trained (youth and women). They were all to be guardians for the state of balance/justice within society. But if a society institutionalizes slavery, it manufactures a blind spot for itself. The teacher no longer has access into this segment of the population. They cannot "see" and understand what's going on within this realm. Thus society loses touch with itself on this level, and this is dangerous. Remember the dog that doesn't bark. Colonial influence is both from below, as just described, and also from above, through its introduction of bad ideas. Because the social positions are no longer rotated among citizens (movement from below) and instead slaves remain stagnant in social positions that deny them an understanding of power relations and dynamics, and this position is out of the sight of society's leaders/teachers, things fester down there. The bad ideas putrefy and spread... like a disease...

I would so love to hear what others think.

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Daniel

Saturday, March 5, 2022 -- 7:02 PM

I think I agree that online

I think I agree that online learning as a replacement for the in-person learning of the classroom is a bad idea, but don't understand how it spreads "like a disease". In my view trying to play "dueling banjos" on the autoharp is also an idea which should not be recommended, but it hardly seems contagious. What other examples might there be of toxic ideas?

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tartarthistle

Sunday, March 6, 2022 -- 11:59 AM

Here's a toxic idea that

Here's a toxic idea that leads to social diseases: the ideology that political democracy is not an organized religion. The ideology that reason does not involve hierarchical social dynamics. The ideology that our social equality is "self-evident" (Ben Franklin did this bit of sophistry) rather that "sacred and undeniable" as Jefferson originally worded it. Philosophers, as those who ought to understand geometry and math, and thus the nature of equality, also are aware of the intentional ambiguity/equivocation contained in this wording. All men are equal, all men are mortal, a little similarity here...Socrates did not identify his "self" with his body. This syllogism is an inside joke, a little bit of evidence for the wink wink behavior of modern "philosophers." Socrates, as presented in Plato's Republic, went into detail describing how immortality is achieved by men of ideas in disseminating (notice the language here) their ideas into the minds of their beloveds/pupils. It was Plato who made Socrates immortal. He is responsible for the series of footnotes to him in Western thought that Whitehead noted. Democracy is not A-religious, it's the root of the three Abrahamic faiths and their shared system of thought related directly to Plato and to mathematics. Democracy is a religion. Socrates felt this mathematical religion ought to be practiced openly rather than surreptitiously, as it is at present. When it's practiced privately, people cannot consent to the actual sources of authority directing their social lives (teachers and pupils, the better and the imperfect, the physicist and elite leaders ), and for this reason democracy as a private/hidden form of government, not a public practice, is therefore unjust. We the people must be able to see someone in order to consciously grant our consent to following them. Those behind the curtain--societies teachers, up and down the academic hierarchy--are leading society, influencing society, directing society. This is the way it is, and in my opinion, the way it ought to be. What I believe is toxic about our present system is that is not made explicit. This is tacky, unjust, and leading to social imbalance and disruption (righteous rage). For, people cannot understand something they cannot perceive with their physical senses. We the people cannot perceive how social power actually functions. We the the people are led to believe that voting for leaders is actually going to bring about change. But real change, real positive movement occurs in classrooms, when teachers actually listen to their students, and are receptive to their needs and interests and ideas, and actually guide them by channeling this fresh energy and insight upwards. This is happening now, but the actual source of the inspiration, those below the teacher, the pupils, are not receiving their due credit. Instead, an invisible class of parasitic extractive social manipulators are siphoning off these novel ideas, all the intellectual che generated by the students, and their taking the credit. Socrates saw this sophistic trick, and thought it was tacky and unwise and unjust.

The genuine philosopher credits the pupil. The genuine philosopher has to be compelled out of a sense of duty to involve themselves in this otherwise disreputable practice. The genuine philosopher wants to be left alone to contemplate truth and does not want to be bothered by students and teaching. (Remember Sartre's "hell is other people"? This is so true for philosophers.)

The idea that the position of power is a pleasurable one is a bad and toxic idea, for it leads people to pursue power, when it only leads to suferring. Remember what Hera did to poor Tiresius when he pointed this out?

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Daniel

Wednesday, March 9, 2022 -- 4:40 PM

So you must be opposed to the

So you must be opposed to the private ownership of property, since exclusivity of control over distributable goods bestows to the proprietor a non-trivial ratio of power over those who own little or nothing. Would that be one characteristic of the theocracy in democratic clothing brought up in the first sentence? In that case, an economic priesthood would have to be appointed by the state to figure out how best to distribute production surplus, which is similar to the prevailing situation but with the opposite design, where protection of private property supersedes that of public assets.

In any case, your claim as stated is that any common belief in ostensive democratic governance as a matter of free choice results in a corrosive effect on social relations, and is therefore in form a "toxic idea". The remedy for this effect I read as found in the fourteenth through seventeenth sentences: Since people are going to be ruled anyway by some small group of the socially privileged and those with special expertise, at least they should be able to see who's doing it so they can choose which ones they want to get pushed around by (fourteenth sentence). It's not that those who rule are doing a bad job (sixteenth sentence), quite the contrary, what's corrosive is that the people can't see them, with the result that they are unable or unwilling to give up their democratic aspirations and submit to rational aristocratic rule with some consensus-mechanism for purposes of popular ratification. By your account, then, where private power power wears a public face, it's deceptive and therefore socially unhealthy in addition to being logically illicit. The good, or non-toxic, idea instead is to simply teach people in general how to submit to the authorities already established (seventeenth sentence). The model you've provided for this provocative notion is the one outlined in Plato's Republic (seventh sentence). Are you suggesting that the model of philosophical dictatorship offers a way to teach political submission without arbitrary oppression of the governed?

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tartarthistle

Thursday, March 10, 2022 -- 4:44 PM

I am suggesting that infants

I am suggesting that infants (literally) are enslaved by those who physically sustain them and transmit cultural and linguistic knowledge to them. Thus, we are all equally enslaved until we are physically and developmentally at a stage where we can sustain ourselves independently. The formal education, beginning in our youth, offered in political democracies introduces a symbolic authoritative relationship into our lives, that of the teacher. Teachers guide us in understanding the nature of logical difference. In school we learn that truth in physics, and "truth" in geometry and mathematics are conceptually and qualitatively distinct. Just as the authority of our family and our loved ones, and the "authority" of the teacher and the state institution it is a part of, are conceptually and qualitatively distinct. I can walk out of a classroom. I can be passive aggressive to my teacher and stare blankly out the window and ignore their lesson. I can mentally reject everything the symbolic authority of my teacher and the institution try to impose on me, even if I am powerless to completely resist them. But the authority my family and my loved ones hold over me, their power, while not absolute, is experienced by me internally in ways that I cannot control. I love them (or not). Because as infant I was literally enslaved to their willingness (or not) to sustain me and guide me, my awareness of this connection has no clear beginning and no clear ending in my consciousness.

But formal democratic education has a formal beginning and a formal end in space and time. The truths of physics and the "truths" conveyed by geometry and mathematical symbolic language are not experienced as being two equal things, but are experienced by us as being two very different things. A democratic education instructs students on the nature of this important difference, thus enabling them to critically analyze persuasive arguments used to manipulate them positively and negatively. In democracies, we use reason as a tool. We share this tool equally. But the states of mind involved in educational development--infancy, youth, and adulthood--are hierarchically experienced in terms of degrees of conscious and physical agency. And we are not, physically speaking, all created equal, we are all created physically enslaved to our sustainers. It is only in youth that we become developmentally capable of forming outside relationships with outside symbolic authorities of our choosing. Hopefully, these authorities guide us to an understanding of the difference between truth in physics and "truth" in epistemology. If they don't, sadly we remain intellectually in a stage of infancy. I think online instruction, and our increasing dependency on technology in general, is problematic because we are losing our grasp of this important cognitive distinction.

If the two of us are physically present together and physically perceiving one another, there is a third thing present between the two of us that's empirically measurable (energy). Democracy as a political concept involves all three of these things: physical things, mental "things", and thing/"things" (energetic relations).

What I don't understand is why we do not explicitly acknowledge all that's contained in our political belief system. By keeping the complexity on the down-low, we indirectly maintain a part of our social selves in a state of infancy. This is a bad idea on so many levels, but primarily because it's unjust. It's also just a drag.

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Daniel

Saturday, March 12, 2022 -- 5:50 PM

--A drag on otherwise less

--A drag on otherwise less hindered and more efficient efforts, that would be to say. Your argument here outlines two separate areas of consideration which are supposed to fit together. One is coerced child labor in the family, or the notion that children are in a formal sense slaves to their parents since they couldn't live without them and pretty much have to do what the parent commands. This is supposed to generate a bi-valent dependency-imperative in either acceptance or rejection, which in turn frees the slavery-trained-owner-needing citizen of a democracy to pick it's owner from the available collection by popular determination. Beyond the problem of how it might be assured that such radical dependency is not artificially produced for some particular advantage, (e.g. chemical dependency in pharmaceutical markets), a larger problem consists of the distinction between the dependence/independence relation the slave has to the owner, and the property-ownership relation the owner has with regards to use of the slave. This second point does not appear in your account, and therefore several different interpretations are possible, in my view, for the remaining parts.

In civil society teachers, by your account, pick up where parents leave off, but apparently feel less responsibility for it and the student has an increased sense of independence which is illusory where ideas are concerned, as these must be supplied by the teachers acting as surrogate owners (third sentence, second paragraph). The most important idea, on your view, for a healthy democracy is of the difference between "physics", by which I read as the effects of the contents of its object-domain on our senses, and its symbolic representation in the context of the formal science, which you associate with mathematics and geometry (both sciences independent from physics), and you call "epistemology" (Second paragraph, third sentence from end). At the same time the claim seems to be made that in fact the distinction is superficial or illusory, and its two sides should instead be considered as identical (Second sentence, second paragraph). How those are supposed to fit together, or even what's intended by them, eludes the admittedly pedestrian grasp of this interpreter.

Some hope of clarification is offered in the third paragraph, where you make a distinction between two tri-partite structures: a pair of individuals and a blob of energy produced between them on account of their proximity to one another, and democracy as a concept comprising the representations of material objects, mental objects (presumably imaginary ones, as e.g. a unicorn), and objective objects, or in your terminology 'thing-like things'. These latter appear to be identified with the mutual energy blob in the first trio, but just how that's the case is somewhat elusive. While the last paragraph suggests a relation to the constant effort to infantilize a body politic as the political variant of bad parenting to the slave-voter, the above ambiguities as well as my question about whether or not you're talking about a philosophical dictatorship along the lines set down by The Republic have not been addressed. In any case, the question remains whether or not there's any real independence at all with regards to social and political choice. Are you describing a developmental fatalism where even the teachers and rulers are unconditionally contrained?

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tartarthistle

Sunday, March 13, 2022 -- 8:21 AM

I'm not sure, to be honest,

I'm not sure, to be honest, what I'm describing. It seems to me, socially speaking, there exist two versions of totalitarianism, benign and malignant. Orwell's 1984 describes malignant totalitarianism--Stalinism, Nazi Germany. The center of society (the middle of the class, the average student, the citizens/ideological followers) have been intentionally transformed into fanatics and emotionally lit up. They view their leader as the teacher, the POINT at front of the the class, as opposed to the many lined up around them. This point at the front holds the symbolic position of "the One." What their students don't see is how the structure of the social environment (the physical classroom) psychologically influences them. This classroom structure with its focus on the one occupying front and center position, the teacher, can be used to guide others to truth (to teach them philosophy and mathematics through question and answer, open dialogue), but it can also be used to divide them against themselves and to prevent them from seeing how social power is actually being exercised, not over them, but literally through them via the structure of the built physical environment. The best seat in any classroom as at the back, near the door. The teacher knows this. All teachers know this. The students in the front of the class, transfixed by the power of the image in front of them, do not. They are in "the zone." The good teacher uses the space positively to guide followers to truth and understanding. The bad teacher weaponizes the environment, turns the students in the center into guard dogs, fanatics, that the teacher can sick on anyone in the room if they start asking the wrong questions. (What I'm describing is true of particular learning environments--bad ones--not all.) Those in the back of the classroom have either been intentionally placed there by the leader hoping they'll soon awaken and leave class (the door's right there) and start their own school (they've been empowered)--this is what Ben Franklin did. Or, they've been conditioned to think this is "their place"/position in society and feel comfortable in it.

We the people (conscious adults, male and female--the reality of age and time and the literal stage of physical vulnerability in infancy and female vulnerability and dependency during times of childbirth and child rearing must to be acknowledged, these aspects of life are hugely ignored in philosophy and thus are intellectual blind spots) can choose to socially support and create positive and empowering learning experiences for ourselves so that others can fly out the door in the back of the class laughing, like Ben Franklin, when they realize the truth of social power dynamics--this is genuine democracy, or we can remain socially blind to the totalitarianism that exists in artificially constructed social environments, and permit our influencers to sick their guard dogs on men and women like Franklin, if they start asking the wrong questions in class.

Or we can simply silently leave class, wondering why humanity does this to itself. We are strange creatures... Think I'll find a tribe of garden gnomes in the forest and see if they'll adopt me...

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Daniel

Sunday, March 13, 2022 -- 6:54 PM

Plausible recommendations

Plausible recommendations would not favor that, as the gnomic diet might diverge widely from that of the healthy sapient omnivore. The issue with your view as I see it is that in asserting that central leadership is necessary if the subordinate is to benefit from social institutions in civil contexts, the only question is how best to make use of it. The good leader brings the subordinate up to a point where she or he is contributing to the to the given institution in a constructive way, and the adverse ones divide them against one another for some special purpose without regards for their well being. But that's a false dichotomy, as a third alternative is possible: The good leader might leave and permit the subordinates to figure things out for themselves. Why is this alternate excluded from the above analysis? It seems to be on account of the assumption that the subordinates are incapable of sufficient social or intellectual organization on their own, and need some kind of external direction in order to prepare for individual liberty. This assumption, then, in addition to being arbitrary, would be in my view quite destructive if taken seriously. It would mean that any spontaneous and original efforts would have to be first approved by a panel of dominant opinion which would toss out any which don't conform to it properly. Arguably, therefore, your model of statist subordinate directory is rejected on libertarian grounds.

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tartarthistle

Sunday, March 13, 2022 -- 9:14 PM

Dude, the third option was

Dude, the third option was mentioned in my above comment. Slipping quietly out the door and going one's own way. Personally, I'm not into the whole binary thing. It doesn't turn my crank. Mom and Dad can fight it out for themselves. I'm totally over them. They bore me with their never-ending drama, dragging the kids into it. What narcissists.

The center--an interesting concept in math and in life--has three distinct and equally plausible meanings. The front and center position at the top of something physical (apex). The point at which one thing sees another thing with clarity (subtend of the visual cone). And the center of the base, or the entrance where architects place the front door/portico, directly opposite the teacher's desk up at the front of the class. My desk is in the back near that door. I'm the class dummy. Slow on the uptake, low-income, at-risk. I'm a scrappy little thing. I sleep in the street and go barefoot. My father was rich, my mother was poor. It happens sometimes in life. People make mistakes.

When the students get out of hand in class and I can't see the teacher, like right now, I quietly slip out and go my own way. It's not my fault. I tried. I kept raising my hand, asking my questions. No one would call on me, the teacher wouldn't listen. What more can I do.

Don't garden gnomes eat shrooms and greens and lots of grubbly bits? As long as they have a chilled Pliney or two in the fridge for me, I'll be alight...

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Daniel

Wednesday, March 16, 2022 -- 7:24 PM

...Responsibly alight, of

...Responsibly alight, of course. So what's your point here? Are you saying that anger is only justified in those who identify themselves as victims (e.g. of one's parents and teachers, in your example)? Wouldn't that make appropriate anger equivalent to apathetic resignation? By your reading, then, only the clinically depressed can be appropriately angry; an untenable position, in my view. One remedy for it might be found in the concept of Mood in German Existentialism. In this view, mood is bivalent in that one is never without one but it can only be one of two kinds: good or bad. Possibilities of existence flee from a bad one, whereas they gather around a good one. The striking characteristic of this view is the way possible existence is understood not as something that is or isn't there, but something that gathers around and approaches, or departs from and retreats, what one is at a given time. A depressed person in a bad mood is by this like someone who has given up on their own freedom, and hence hide themselves from possibilities, the exercise of which would contradict the claim of justified anger.

In any case, the third alternate you left out above is not of the student who leaves class, but of the teacher who doesn't. Your teachers in the first paragraph are stuck at the head of the class, condemned to posterity to be either good or bad, promoting creative work or driving rival students against each other. The third alternative you left out was of the teacher who leaves class to let the students figure things out for themselves,-- obviously not a good idea if the professor in question is approaching a review for tenure.

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tartarthistle

Friday, March 18, 2022 -- 9:42 PM

I guess it's actually spelled

I guess it's actually spelled Pliny, Pliny the Elder (although I have tried Pliny the Younger and it is quite good--but only one, and only on special occasions).

The box was nice a touch. Thanks.

P.S. Curious about the "Soft Gold" thing. Someone else left that book. It wasn't mine. I'll have to check it out...

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