We're on our way back to our sprawling campus!

MONDAY, MAY 22, 2017

In the meantime, do trees exist?:
Last Friday, we found Paul Krugman's column semi-discouraging. He ended the piece like this:
KRUGMAN (5/19/17): In a perverse way, we should count ourselves lucky that Trump is as terrible as he is. Think of what it has taken to get us to this point—his Twitter addiction, his bizarre loyalty to Flynn and affection for Putin, the raw exploitation of his office to enrich his family, the business dealings, whatever they were, he's evidently trying to cover up by refusing to release his taxes.

The point is that given the character of the Republican Party, we'd be well on the way to autocracy if the man in the White House had even slightly more self-control. Trump may have done himself in; but it can still happen here.
"Think of what it has taken to get us to this point," Krugman said. His chronology took us all the way back to maybe last week.

It has taken a lot more than Trumpistry and its discontents to get us to this point. For one example of what we mean, consider this timely news report from the next day's Times.

The Times was reporting a recent firestorm within the realm of academic philosophy. The firestorm surrounds a little-read paper about a touchy topic by Assistant Professor Tuvel.

The basic question raised by Tuvel was poorly explained by the Times. That said, our idealistic young analysts all howled in pain at this point:
SCHUESSLER (5/20/17): [U]nderneath the hyper-charged war of words lies a wonkier but no less significant battle over philosophical method.

''In terms of quality, it's a very normal paper,'' Justin Weinberg, an associate professor at the University of South Carolina and the editor of Daily Nous, a philosophy news website, said in an interview. ''But some people will say that's part of the problem.''

[...]

Ms. Tuvel's paper is squarely in the tradition of analytic philosophy, an approach that focuses on clarifying concepts and that relies on blunt logical analysis and sometimes outlandish-seeming hypotheticals and analogies. (Do justifications for eating meat also support cannibalism? Are unwanted fetuses akin to rapists?) But it's an approach, some of her detractors say, that is unsuited to the subject at hand.

''That's fine when you are looking at abstract metaphysical questions,'' like ''whether trees exist, or things that exist in the past exist in the present,'' said one of the signers of the open letter, Talia Mae Bettcher, a professor of philosophy at California State University, Los Angeles. ''But when you start philosophizing about racial oppression or trans oppression or other contemporary social issues, different methodologies need to be employed.''
According to Professor Bettcher, normal procedure is fine when you consider normal philosophical questions. But not for something like this!

Sad. According to Professor Bettcher, a normal philosophical question might go something like this:
Normal philosophical questions:
1) Do trees exist?
2) Do things that exist [sic] in the past exist in the present?
Maybe Professor Bettcher was kidding. More probably, she wasn't. Assistant Professor Tuvel's approach would be fine when examining questions like that!

Readers, do trees exist? As our academic elites have been pondering such questions, the society which hands them their sacks of money each month has spent the past thirty years slouching toward Trumplehem.

The intellectual/journalistic descent started long before Trump. As this headlong descent occurred, the professors were asking if trees exist.

Krugman wrote as if our current situation started with Trump. Increasingly, our long-time unquestioned MVP has been sliding toward the only dumbness large enough to match the dumbness of Trumpism itself. We refer to the disabling dumbness of Trump hate, which is the latest way we liberals, and our failed elites, have arranged to malfunction.

We're on our way back to our sprawling campus. Full services resume tomorrow. At some point, we expect to return to this topic, and to Jim Holt's book from 2012, one of that year's ten best.

Meanwhile, do trees exist? Three decades after Rush went national, the professors still aren't sure.

For that reason, they haven't moved on. Such roads have all led to Trump.

Just for the record: "Things that exist in the past?" We're assuming that wasn't a typo.

27 comments:

  1. Ms Tuvel is being criticized because she was NOT pursuing a question like "do trees exist". Somerby pretends that PHILOSOPHY professors were wasting their time pursuing whether trees do exist, fiddling while Rome is burning. Ms. Tuvel was not fiddling and that is the problem, presumably.

    Krugman didn't confine himself to last week. Trump has been tweeting for a long time. His loyalty to Flynn goes back to before his inauguration. His connection to Putin presumably goes back further. I realize Somerby thinks the Trump problem goes back to earlier deterioration of our ability to think critically. He might as well go back to our respective childhoods on that one. I don't believe there was a golden age when everything was much better and people made good decisions about candidates. The people elected Nixon after all, and there was plenty of prior evidence about who he was. The people rejected civil rights and embraced McCarthyism long before Somerby saw a decline in journalism.

    It is a little late to be complaining about the content of the field of philosophy. Worrying about how we know that trees exist has been their bread and butter for several thousand years. It is a bit late for Somerby to change his major.



    ReplyDelete
  2. I suppose TDH, if had lived back then and had a blog, would have been snarkily critical of Bishop Berkeley in a similar vein. There were big problems back in Berkeley's days that the philosopher, in his ivory tower, seemed to ignore, thus contributing to those problems.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Trump hate" is not dumb for the Democratic establishment, or even for the media. The establishment hopes to get back into power without any changes in their own policies, and especially they way that they get the big money from banking, finance and other industries. Concentrating on Trump's flaws is very easy (and gets a lot of assistance from Trump himself), although this did not work as a tactic in the 2016 election.

    The MSM cooperated in generating "Hillary hate" by breathless reporting of the fake Benghazi and email-server scandals. Paradoxically some of them, such as the NY Times, also indulged in "Bernie hate" during the primary campaign. Of course all this is basically the same as the media's past "Clinton hate" and "Gore hate" that Bob still complains about. These campaigns presumably are about reader/viewership, but also the egos of reporters who can damage political figures with personal attacks.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Somerby is out of his depth when he starts arguing that professors need to stop studying whatever their curiosity dictates and instead focus on practical real-world problems (preferably the ones he thinks are most important). He might as well be arguing that art should be representational and music pleasant and forget speculating about what dark matter is, too. Knowledge should be of some practical use or it is a waste of everyone's time and money.

    Folks over at Harvard are cringing that this man received an undergrad education there without being taught the importance of free inquiry in the arts and sciences. Next Somerby will be calling for the reinstatement of Proxmire's golden fleece awards.

    ReplyDelete
  5. ""Things that exist in the past?" We're assuming that wasn't a typo."

    If Somerby cannot imagine how and why the present tense might be used to refer to the past, he should give back his degree. He pretends to have been reading philosophy books since his graduation. Not much evidence of that, if he doesn't understand this much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. “If Somerby cannot imagine how and why the present tense might be used to refer to the past…”

      Sure, you can use the present tense to describe the past. But the quote was wanting for an “-ed.”

      … or things that exist in the past exist in the present…” should have been “existed in the past.”

      Unless you count past and present in the time continuum as _the same thing_, then it was a nonsensical thing to say.

      “Things” can exist in both the present and the past as they constantly evolve through time, but they can’t exist at the same time. But that is indeed an interesting pursuit of inquiry for time-travel theorists.

      Hell, it may have really been a typo. Maybe just fuzzy thinking. Maybe just a blurb of deeper thinking that might have been unraveled. Who knows?

      Anyway, I can see where Bob may have really howled. It came before the deep past-present conundrum. Writeth Schussler:

      “(Do justifications for eating meat also support cannibalism? Are unwanted fetuses akin to rapists?)”

      Hm. I hope those aren’t actually the questions leading philosophers are presumably unpacking. Because if they are, then modern philosophy has devolved into depravity.

      Delete
    2. This is easy. The past only exists in the present because it relies on a mental comparison between two time periods (which occurs in the present) for its existence. In the past, the past is the present, not the past at all, so the past didn't exist in the past. It only exists now. So, no "ed" needed.

      Delete
    3. “This is easy. The past only exists in the present because it relies on a mental comparison between two time periods (which occurs in the present) for its existence. In the past, the past is the present, not the past at all, so the past didn't exist in the past. It only exists now. So, no "ed" needed.”

      Touché. But I think your comparisons are literary, not literal. And your comparison of the present and past relies on a mental state. Would the past and present exist without it? Or is the passage of time (and being) simply an illusion?

      I think past and present can (and do) phenomenologically exist without a mental state to mediate them… But then again, I’m a materialist, and limited in my way of thinking.

      Delete
    4. This is why dogs cannot tell how long you've been away and greet you as enthusiastically after 15 minutes as after 4 hours. They don't have the same consciousness of time as humans do.

      Time is a mental construct and past is a mental construction arising out of our consciousness and especially both memory and the ability to hold several things in mind at the same time. We can also imagine other states that do not exist, such as ideal events or feared events. The passage of time is subjective. it goes slowly when you are having novel experiences and quickly when you are doing routine things and not paying much attention. The term "phenomenological refers to subjective awareness, so it cannot exist without a mental state." I think you are referring to the existence of a material world separate from the mental, that has its own passage of time regulated by something like the atomic decay used to keep clocks synchronized.

      This is very much the subject matter of psychology, cognitive science and philosophy. I am puzzled by why Somerby is mocking it. There are many practical applications to understanding how people experience time. Has he gotten so obsessed with making fun of professors that he has forgotten that many important discoveries still come out of universities?

      Delete
    5. "Time is a mental construct..."

      Perhaps. Is the mental construct responsible for entropy?

      K

      Delete
    6. And BTW, I don't think Somerby is mocking it. He started a conversation. In my view (best Bernie Sanders voice), that's a good thing.

      And I realize I'm being mocked now, but you did make me think. Thanks.

      Delete
  6. Effective powerful love spell to get your Ex Lover back now.
    Hi guys! I'm so excited of getting my boyfriend back after he left me for another girl.
    My boyfriend left me for another girl. I needed him back desperately because i loved him so much. I became very worried and needed help. as i was browsing through the internet, I came across a website that suggested that Dr.Unity can help get ex back fast and stop a divorce or breakup and so on , So I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he told me what to do and i did it then he did a (return Love spell) for me. 28 hours later, my boyfriend came back to me crying and begging for my forgiveness. Today I'm so happy and i want to recommend this great spell caster to anyone that truly needs an urgent solution to his or her broken relationships and marriage. Simply contact the great "Dr.Unity" If you have any problem contact him and i guarantee you that he will help you., do not cry anymore-contact this powerful spell caster now. Thank you Dr Unity for saving my broken relationships and brought my boyfriend back to me!" email him at: Unityspelltemple@gmail.com ,you can also call him or add him on Whats-app: +2348071622464 ,you can also visit his website:http://unityspelltemple.yolasite.com .
    Maria,UK.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Tuvel made up an issue that does not exist. Clearly the issue with Rachel Dolezal is because she made false claims about her background. Additionally, Tuvel shows no understanding that cultural misappropriation is a different issue than transracialism. Were it possible to literally and earnestly change race, there is no indication it would be particularly controversial. The only controversy from white people trying to become more dark-skinned are issues related to skin health. Obama was considered our first black president even though he was raised by his white mother. Trump himself goes to great length to not appear white, although no one knows what race orange is.

    Tuvel also pretends to ignore the notion that the privilege of being white is much greater than the privilege of being male, seemingly in an attempt to mock feminists.

    It is not clear that Tuvel produced an academic paper, rather it seems she wrote an article with poorly constructed sentences that are difficult to parse.

    This issue was better addressed in the 80's with movies like Soul Man and Trading Places, which is embarrassing if you are trying to claim to be an academic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is gradedness in racial categories, which permits crossing boundaries at the edges of each category (Obama is neither wholly white nor wholly black). Sex has been regarded as an all-or-nothing category without such gradedness (at least socially) but now there is an increasing recognition that there is gradedness within gender too.

      Passing to obtain social privilege and for other reasons has been going on as long as there have been people. There are many examples with respect to race. Martha Sandweiss's recent book Passing Strange (2009) describes the life of Clarence King, who was a famous personage (founder of the USGS and noted explorer), who was white and blue eyed, but who also passed as a black man living in Queens, had a wife and several kids. He led dual lives. Many women have passed as men and vice versa throughout history.

      I disagree that being white has more privilege than being male. White women generally earn less than black males (except in NYC) and women's rights came long after racial laws were changed. We still have had no female president (look at what happened to Hillary) and there is arguably less proportional representation of women (who are 50% of the population) than black people (who are 12% of the population).

      It might be interesting to argue that the idea of cultural misappropriation is a continuing backlash against passing now that racial category boundaries are becoming less well-defined (and their existence thus threatened).

      Movies like Soul Man and Trading Places are insensitive and not realistic depictions of people passing across racial lines. The movie Pinkie was better, but films generally show crossing from black to white, not vice versa.

      Being female, I have always wondered why a man would want to give up his privilege to become female. Tuvel consistently frames sexual identity as a choice. I don't believe it is any more a choice than being gay is. Race category boundaries may be more fluid for people with lighter skin. There is certainly no choice for someone very dark, short of a "Black Like Me" transformation (that one in the name of journalism).

      Delete
  8. You can Bettcher ass Talia was a diversity hire.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Krugman is not going to talk about entirely what you talk about ad infinitum every day. However, over the long haul he has discussed this issue.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yeah, Krugman and Trump are pretty equatable. Now THAT'S dumbness....

    OT: The reemergence of Joe Leiberman reminds us, how, finally, what a limited thinker Bob Somerby is. The Daily Howler's compelling
    case against the Press Corps leading up to the debacle of 2000 (bearing in mind, Bob was once a much more serious writer and thinker) always had a major problem: Bob would never concede Gore had himself made foolish errors that contributed to his loss. The worst being giving the VP slot to Leiberman, who had famous condemned Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct. Leiberman, a dull figure void of any charisma, was an anchor tied around the campaign that only pointed to another of the campaign's flaws, it's sheepish attempts to back away from the accomplishments of Clinton.
    We have learned, over the intervening years, that Leiberman is a lot worse than useless, a ridiculous asshole of zero character or personal merit. Which means Gore was actually an lot more wrong than we knew, and Bob's stubborn refusal to see the whole picture that much more incorrect still.
    And now they both roll around in the slime, trying to normalize the pussy grabber. In somebodies hell, Joe can run the FBI and Bob wins the Pulitzer....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leiberman secured the Jewish vote, which Gore couldn't do, being from the South. His criticism of Clinton was essential because of how upset the Democrat Catholics were (think Dowd). You don't see it because you are probably not a member of either of those voting blocs where are essential parts of the Democratic coalition.

      If you think Somerby has gotten old and lost it, that goes double for Leiberman. But Trump is just taunting the left (like he did to his Republican critics by interviewing Romney) and has no intention of appointing Leiberman to anything. Remember when Trump met with Gore?

      Palmer Report is talking about these health incidents on Trump's trip as a manufactured excuse to resign before they start impeachment.

      Delete
  11. For what it's worth, my author cousin L in NJ, who is half black, chooses to identify as black. She's light-skinned enough that she could identify as white if she wanted to.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Just wanted to say that "slouching toward Trumplehem" made my day. Thanks, Bob!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Effective powerful love spell to get your Ex Lover back now.
    Hey guys, I'm so excited of getting my husband back after he left me and our 3 kids for another woman.
    After 2 years of marriage, me and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me and moved to California to be with another woman. i felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he would come back to me, I was really upset and i needed help, so i searched for help online and I came across a website that suggested that Dr Unity can help get ex back fast. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he told me what to do and i did it then he did a (Love spell) for me. 28 hours later, my husband really called me and told me that he miss me and the kids so much, So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and the kids. Then from that day,our Marriage was now stronger than how it were before,All thanks to Dr Unity. he is so powerful and i decided to share my story on the internet that Dr Unity real and powerful spell caster who i will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble, if you are here and you need your Ex back or your husband moved to another woman, do not cry anymore, contact this powerful spell caster now. Here’s his contact: Email him at: Unityspelltemple@gmail.com ,
    you can also call him or add him on Whats-app: +2348071622464 ,
    his website:http://unityspelltemple.yolasite.com ,
    Jessica, 26 years, Texas, USA .

    ReplyDelete
  14. Are you going through a break-up or divorce?
    Do you need your Ex back fast? Dnot cry anymore, contact Dr .Goodluck for powerful Love spell that work fast now!! I was hurt and heart broken when my Husband breakup with me, and i could not know what next to do again, I love my Husband so much but he was cheating on me with another woman and this makes him break up with me so that he can be able to get marred to the other lady and this lady i think use witchcraft on my Husband to make him hate me and our kids and this was so critical and uncalled-for,I cry all day and night for God to send me a helper to get back my man until i went to Texas in USA to see a friend and who was having the same problem with me but she latter got her husband back and i asked her how she was able to get her husband back and she told me that their was a powerful spell caster called Dr .Goodluck that help with love spell in getting back lost lover back, and i decided to contact the same Dr .Goodluck and he told me what is needed to be done for me to have my man back and i did it although i doubted it but i did it and the Dr told me that i will get the result after 17hours, and he told me that my husband was going to call me and i still doubted his word, to my surprise my husband really called me and told me that he miss me so much, Oh My God! i was so excited, and today i am happy with my man again and we are joyfully living together as one big family and i thank the powerful spell caster Dr .Goodluck for bringing back my man and i decided to share my story on the internet that Dr .Goodluck is best spell caster online who i will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble, If you have any problem contact Dr .Goodluck and i guarantee you that he will help you,Email him at: goodluck05spellcaster@gmail.com ,you can also call him or add him on whats-app: +2348138654465
    http://goodluck05spellcaster.yolasite.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. After being in relationship with him for seven years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email: drosedebamenspellhome@gmail.com you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything. CAN NEVER STOP TALKING ABOUT YOU SIR HIS EMAIL ADDRESS IS:drosedebamenspellhome@gmail.com CONTACT HIM NOW FOR SOLUTION TO ALL YOUR PROBLEM.,,..,.,

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hey!my boyfriend has abandon me for the the past months now,
    and refuse to come back because he was hold on by a woman whom he just met, for that, i has been suffering and it has been heel of a struggle, but I decide to do all means to make sure that my boyfriend and i come back together as it use to, then I went online there I saw so many good talk about this spell caster whose email is happylovespell2@gmail.com so I had to contact him and explain my problem to him and in just 48 hours as he has promised, my boyfriend came home and his behavior was back to the man i got engage to. I cant thank the spell caster enough for what he did for me, i am so grateful and i will never stop to publish his name on the internet for the good work he has done for me,once again his email him direct........
    happylovespell2@gmail.com
    Web site: http://happyspelltemple.webs.com/
    mobile number on +2348133873774
    No problem is too big for him to solve!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I felt like ending it i lost my husband to another woman 2 weeks ago after 27 years of marriage . We had a lovely marriage but he started a relationship with a co worker who chased after him . He is living away near his work, and he refuses to talk to me or to come home . I am devastated and am finding it hard to cope i was emotionally down . I wish I did not love him and that I could move on but I can't . I don't know how to stop feeling like this I wish I could and its eating me away and I m starting to feel ill. I have degraded myself begging him to come home all to no avail. I became very worried and needed help. As I was browsing through the internet one day, I came across a website that suggested that Dr obasi can help solve marital problems, restore broken relationships and I also came across several testimonies about this particular man so on. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he did a spell for me. two days later, my husband came to me and apologized for the wrongs he did and promise never to do it again. Ever since then, everything has returned back to normal. I and my family are living together happily again.. All thanks to Dr obasi. If you need a spell caster that can cast a spell that truly works, I suggest you contact him. He will not disappoint you. if you have any problem contact him, I give you 100% guarantee that he will help you, This is his details, E-mail: obasispelltemple@gmail.com ,or call +2348145643630 Thank you all for reading.
    Elizabeth Diem USA Los Angeles California

    ReplyDelete