Blog Archive

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Appiah, et alia.

This, from one Kwame Anthony Appiah:

“If cultural difference isn't the heart of the problem, then teaching people to respect other cultures won't be the solution. What will be? Creating an overlay of a common culture - a civic culture - where everyone recognizes that people are entitled to respect whatever their gender or sexuality, their race or religion, and wherever they came from.”


I only discovered this dude last week, while engaged in a Wikiwander in “Cosmopolitanism”....the idea of being a Citizen of Earth.
Mr. Appiah is remarkable.
I come to Philosophy from well outside the Academy...through Books.
I started, as I've said, with Nietzsche...and just sort of haphazardly made my way through a rather large part of the canon of Philosophy, based primarily in the West. A bunch of Dead Guys.
There was no Internet in those days, so I was limited to this haphazardness...bumping into Kant, or Plato, or Spinoza.
I've managed to cover a lot of bases by this method, but it has left me all alone and disconnected from Contemporary Philosophy.
I had never heard of John Rawls, for instance, until my rather late discovery of the Web.
There are many more Philosophers alive today than I suspected...and many more in the 20th Century than I knew of for most of my life.
What all of this led to is my necessarily forming my own opinions and stance...and then, often, finding that I had arrived independently at the sort of same place as my hitherto unknown Mr Appiah.
I never really liked the American Philosophers that I did know of...the Analytical and such...too reductionist and materialist and often far too specific and narrow for my tastes.
The closest I came to them is Russel.
This also engendered a somewhat scattered Philosophy of my own...I find it hard to be “of a school”.
I take what I like...what doesn't strike me as evil or silly or pedantic...from wherever I find it.
I've lately come to realise that I should probably attempt to put all of that together, somehow, into a semblance of a coherent whole.
On reflection, “My” Philosophy seems pretty coherent, to me...but that may be due to being quite alone with it for my whole life.
I've encountered very few other Feral Philosophers in my time, and only 3 of the Academic Variety; I really am a Vox clamatis in Deserto.
As with just about every other Human Relationship I've had, even with these rare specimens I never knew how much to include in a given argument or ramble or tirade or sermon...I had no clue what they had read, or even what was the common list of “what philosophers read”...or even if there was such a list.
Smart chick goes off on Foucault, before I had ever heard of him...and I go off on Uncle Friedrich or Kant, who she's never read(even summarily dismissed).
Smart dude goes off on Plato...but has never read poetry or fiction or anything about geology or archaeology or Mythology—they both had been Silo-ed into “this philosophical school”,or that, and led to ignore the rest of Humanity's Endowment.
I, on the other hand, have always been very Broad in my interests. I found it impossible to narrow my field of inquiry.(and, therefore, pick a Major,lol)
The Others I have encountered seemed narrow, to me, in this way.
It is a good thing, I reckon, that I only now come across folks like Judith Shklar, or Richard Rorty...let alone radicals like Hakim Bey.
Reckon I have a certain Grounding, due to my independent development.
This long experience of being alone among the Mundane means that I have little experience engaging with other Philosophers...of whatever Leaning.
The Web, and especially the various Fora and even Facebook, has at least allowed me to argue my point—but even there, I find that my interlocutors either agree with me on most everything, or are so silly and/or loathsome,that they are hardly worth the time, save as erstwhile practice dummies.(“Headpiece filed with straw, alas...”)
Every single representative of the latter group has been an unknowing victim of Certainty, and the vast majority have been of the Right, whether they knew it, or not.
The former group are those whom I count as “Friends”, although I will likely never meet them, in the flesh.(Some, I have “known” for almost 20 years).
“How nice,” I say to myself,” to find someone in Meatspace who is as well read and thoughtful as I think I am”,(having had no one to hold myself up to, as in a mirror).
I often wonder if I would even recognise such a creature...let alone Like them.
I simply have no experience save that of being the Smartest Guy in the Room, habitually misunderstood, and often regarded as insane.
This state of affairs has been difficult to articulate, as it is(as far as I know) goes beyond simple loneliness, or lack of beer drinking or fishing buddies.
Indeed, it contributes...more than anything that feeling of being an Anomaly, an Alien, that I have so often referred to.
Hence, my biggest regret is my choice of University.
Sam seemed like another world entirely, when stacked next to the little backwards places I came from.
How was I to know?
I had heard implied from all and sundry that “college was college”, that it didn't matter that much.
In retrospect, I should have pushed for Brown or Cornell or somewhere.
However, I have considered that in such rarefied places, I maybe would not have thrived...and certainly would not have developed so eclectically as I have, out here in the world.
Would I be as Broad?
As Deep?
Or would I have been channeled into one of the narrow intellectual ruts that I so lament?
Would I have grown as disillusioned and bored as I did in Huntsville?
All of this is mere conjecture, of course.
I followed my path as I saw it, and I still maintain a certain Amor Fati regardless.
I'm quite happy with how I've turned out, all things considered...but it might be cool to have an analog intellect to bounce off of, once in a while.

Scattered Thoughts and interesting rocks.

(and the things to be found underneath)
I've been busy, of late.
Construction of the Funky Shack and Houston in a whirlwind, and pain and Back to School...
Here are some things that have jumped up and bit me:

It's just the first minute or so of this:

….but I think it's indicative of where many of the American People are at, these days.
While the Right Wing's Circus rolls on, predictably, it's on the purported Left of the Aisle where the real action is.
Hillary....the One...the flailing around....and a Socialist is drawing insanely huge crowds and pulling in insanely huge small donations.
It's instructive, too, that the Corporate Media...even the tiny little niche that is actually almost totally ignoring this groundswell of support for US, rather than ME.
We constantly hear from the DLC Sock Puppets that a vote for Bernie is a wasted vote.
That he cannot win...and that may be so.
But it ain't for lack of support.
He could fail to win due to the Machine, of which Hillary is a part.
The Electoral College is an unknown quantity....most Americans don't understand is in the hands of the respective Parties.
Then there's all the other, sneakier, apparatus...the voting machines, and even the staffing of the myriad precincts.
I've told the Democratic Party Operatives that I've come in contact with that we should allow Democracy to the Primary...and if not, we should change the name of the party to something other than “Democratic”.
But they would rather continue to disparage Liberalism and keep peddling their Third Way Neoliberalist-Lite.
The Left is fractious, by definition.
This is unfortunate, because there are very real threats out there...and I ain't talking about Mullahs in Caves.
Looky what I found in one of my wanderings:


Still a tiny minority:2 guys that I can identify...but one of them writes for World Net Daily.
They are against Rationalism(!?!) and the Enlightenment, as a whole.
They make an impassioned argument, rife with the usual Righty tactics of Gish Gallop, and Red Herring, and all the rest...but ultimately ending up—Purposefully!!!-- at Neofeudalism, and near Divine Right.

This, in addition to the other bunch I found(can't find the link(film at 11)), who advocate for Corporate Citizenship....not the usual meaning of that term, but a paradigm wherein employees actually become Citizens of Exxon, or Walmart, or whatever.
Scary Monsters move unobserved beneath the floorboards of the American Right.
Even Bernie isn't strange enough for me.

While I am all for the things on offer from our most Liberal Candidate for Prez in my lifetime:


I've taken a left turn, and drove right off the cliff.
Now I'm floating down the river:


Fascinating stuff.
They even have a Primer:

and look! There's more!
This, from the Guardian:


Hint: It's not what ya think,lol.

All these folks emerging from cracks in the pavement, dreaming up ways to move beyond the suicide pact of Neoliberal Pseudo-Capitalism.
Like a great big field of wildflowers(careful! Some of them are poisonous), there's revolutions afoot...several millions of them, by my count.

Meanwhile, the War on Nature continues apace, and our collective efforts to so poison the world that it becomes uninhabitable reach new levels of effectiveness seemingly every day.
Underground Building Technics will likely be a growth industry, once we figure out where the beach is going to be.

Doom, she said.

But remember, that we have no idea what around 80% of the Universe even is(Dark Matter and Dark Energy) and that we each carry around with us a “Dark Biome” of unidentified DNA and RNA(up to 50% of the things living in your gut is all but alien to science).
We're nowhere near as smart and well informed as we tend to think we are.
Dig this neat animation, up and down, of what we “know” about the Universe we inhabit:



That's it.
That's what I've managed to collect in the past month or so.
Scattered, I say.
When I haven't been occupied with labor and travel and more mundane things, I've been in a number of books:
Michel Montaigne,Lucretius,W.B. Yeats, nice little intro/overview of Political Philosophy,"Minerva's Owl", by one Jeffrey Abramson...and my usual forays galore into the web wilderness, looking at things...
Now, the first couple of "cold" fronts have arrived, and I am feeling it.
El Nino means many more to come for us.

Carry the Fire.