BREAKING: Purity of heart is to will one thing!


We hope to return to full expo:
Long ago and far away, we needed the help of logicians.

In fact, the time of which we're thinking wasn't that long ago. We're thinking back to the 1990s, when Bill Clinton sat in the White House.

We needed the help of logicians during the great, inane Medicare debate which began in 1995. A few years later, we needed the help of logicians when our upper-end journalists began engaging in "creative paraphrase" aimed at Candidate Gore.

What is the "logic of paraphrase?" What counts as a sensible and fair paraphrase? What counts as an invention? We needed logicians to help us with that, but our culture's greatest alleged logicians had long been involved in pure perfect bullshit like this:
HOLT (page 8): Gödel entered the University of Vienna in 1924. He had intended to study physics, but he was soon seduced by the beauties of mathematics, and especially by the notion that abstractions like numbers and circles had a perfect, timeless existence independent of the human mind. This doctrine, which is called Platonism, because it descends from Plato’s theory of ideas, has always been popular among mathematicians. In the philosophical world of nineteen-twenties Vienna, however, it was considered distinctly old-fashioned. Among the many intellectual movements that flourished in the city’s rich café culture, one of the most prominent was the Vienna Circle, a group of thinkers united in their belief that philosophy must be cleansed of metaphysics and made over in the image of science. Under the influence of Ludwig Wittgenstein, their reluctant guru, the members of the Vienna Circle regarded mathematics as a game played with symbols, a more intricate version of chess. What made a proposition like “2 + 2 = 4” true, they held, was not that it correctly described some abstract world of numbers but that it could be derived in a logical system according to certain rules.
We're quoting here from a recent collection of essays by Jim Holt.

Holt's previous book was chosen by the New York Times as one of the ten best books of 2012. The essay from which we're quoting originally appeared in The New Yorker, a well-known upper-end mag.

In this essay, Holt was discussing Kurt Godel, "who has often been called the greatest logician since Aristotle." As you can see, Godel was obsessed with the task of explaining how we can possibly know that 2 + 2 = 4. We encountered a similar very deep question as a mere college freshman.

We live in a world whose greatest logicians have invested themselves in manifest bullshit of this embarrassing type. Children are dead all over Iraq because these alleged intellectual leaders have comported themselves in this manner.

You're right—we covered all this in September! It was the craziness of the Kavanaugh hearings which "drew us back in." This week, we're all the way back to a dead-end topic like TRIBAL FICTIONS.

Let's face it! The inanity of "cable news" pseudo-journalism is never going to end. With that in mind, we're going to finish our current topic this week. But in future weeks, we hope to return to the end-times topics which can change nothing but can at least explain the demented way we managed to get to this, the era of Trump.

Professor Harari is part of that story. There's little that's "rational" in this sad tale, a great deal of "gossip" and "fiction."


  1. Gödel died in 1978. He supported Eisenhower, much to Einstein’s dismay. Who’s to say how he felt about Medicare? Perhaps he opposed the whole program. Maybe he would have supported GW Bush rather than Al.

    Unlike arithmetic, where 2+2=4, political questions don’t usually add up that neatly.

    And did you know that this statement is true: 2+2=11?

    That is, if you’re using base 3 arithmetic.

  2. “The inanity of "cable news" pseudo-journalism is never going to end.”

    And Somerby is never going to stop reducing “cable news” to MSNBC and sometimes CNN.

  3. Here's a irony: In a post faulting unfair paraphrasing, Somerby harshly criticizes Godel, not based on what Godel actually wrote, but based on Holt's paraphrase of Godel.

  4. From yesterday:
    “you will see her [Maddow] go perhaps a thousand miles beyond the agnosticism about Petersen's actions voiced by Baker and Grant.“

    Chances are that Somerby won’t mention the appearance tonight on Maddow of Ben Wittes, who runs the lawfare blog, in which Jim Baker’s article appeared.

    Wittes confirms Maddow’s ‘thousand miles.’

  5. Aristotle didn’t say or believe that “man is the rational animal.”

    Harari doesn’t say that “gossip” or “fiction” are necessarily irrational. In fact, some fictions are highly beneficial. The Latin root of the word “fiction” means “shaped or molded”, and that is the sense in which Harari is using it.

    Gödel did not believe that “numbers and circles had a perfect, timeless existence independent of the human mind.” The bullshit lies in this ridiculous caricature of Gödel’s beliefs.

    “Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing” is half of the title of a book by Søren Kierkegaard. Its full title is
    “Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing: Spiritual Preparation for the Office of Confession”, and it is about religion, specifically Christian religion and man’s relationship to God and Christ.

    How will Somerby abuse Kierkegaard?

    1. You can get the kindle version for a buck and change.

    2. Wittgenstein and logical positivism gave me a stress fracture.

  6. "Let's face it! The inanity of "cable news" pseudo-journalism is never going to end."

    Never? Puh-leez, Bob.

    1. Yeah, well...I'm grateful for this one thing.

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