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September 5, 2018

Over the years I've written a lot of reflections on the metaphysical issue of scientific realism vs. anti-realism or idealism. Idealism has always struck me as silly, whether in its Berkeleian form, its Schopenhauerian form, its logical positivist forms, or its more recent postmodernist forms. Here are some relevant thoughts (discussing Charles Taylor and other thinkers) I just p...

August 14, 2018

The profundity of language.— You can gain great insight into the human condition, into the nature of the mind, by studying the evolution of words. For example, what’s the significance of the fact that words like illusion, elude, allude, and delude are variations on the Latin word for ‘play’? Johan Huizinga discusses this in Homo Ludens....

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August 7, 2018

[Excerpts from this book. See also this blog post, "Excerpts on happiness."]

The meaning of life?— Life is not totally “meaningless.” People’s commitment to their work, to relationships, and to life itself proves that. However, it is hard to deny that life is not as meaningful as we’d like. It is the evolutionary product of “meaningless” random variation and natural selection, no...

August 6, 2018

Here are old notes of mine on a very good book by the historian Roger Horowitz, “Negro and White, Unite and Fight!”: A Social History of Industrial Unionism in Meatpacking, 1930-1990 (1997).

Introduction:

        

Unlike most CIO unions after 1950, the UPWA (United Packinghouse Workers of America) “retained the insurgent spirit of the 1930s’ labor...

August 6, 2018

In The Populist Vision, Charles Postel argues persuasively that Populism, the greatest popular movement in American history, should not be called (as it sometimes is) anti-modern, ‘traditional,’ anti-industrial, anti-progress, even anti-capitalist in a strict sense. What it opposed was not ‘modernity’ or industrial progress or technological efficiency or the market but a particul...

July 25, 2018

July 7, 2007.-- Reading The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays, by Camus. Impressive book. Tries to answer the question I was preoccupied with for a while, to wit: given Absurdity, how ought one to live? How can one affirm life while retaining intellectual integrity? Is it possible? The answer I gave was Yes.

           

N.B.: What...

July 22, 2018

August 10, 2007.-- Here’s one of the many parallels between Marxism and Meadism [i.e., George Herbert Mead's system of thought]: “Human society, we have insisted, does not merely stamp the pattern of its organized social behavior upon any one of its individual members, so that this pattern becomes likewise the pattern of the individual’s self; it also, at the same time, gives him...

July 13, 2018

[From 2006.] Reading The Alchemist, the novel that has sold tens of millions of copies. “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation.” “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” “God has prepared a path for everyone to follow. You just have to read the omens that he left for you.” “There is a force that wants you to realize...

July 9, 2018

Questions Raised by 9/11, and Their Answers

[An old grad-school paper]

Lawrence Wright’s book The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 is an illuminating account of Muslim terrorism prior to the attack on the Twin Towers. It describes the origins of such terrorism and specifically the rise of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. At the same time, it traces in great detail the hist...

June 28, 2018

[Early grad-school notes...] I'm reading about John Brown--David Reynolds' John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights--an excellent, massive book that rehabilitates Brown from the propaganda that he was insane and a fanatic...

John Brown, hero. R. W. Emerson: “John Brown will make the gallows as glorious as the cross.” Did...

June 18, 2018

[As an undergraduate at Wesleyan University I wrote hundreds of essays not all of which, I think, are worthless. Here's a short one on social democracy. Needless to say, the best form of 'government' is in fact socialism, in which workers democratically run the economy themselves. But in capitalist conditions, nothing beats social democracy.]  

Social Democracy Is the Best Fo...

June 11, 2018

[From 2008. Copied here, somewhat irrelevantly, in recognition of the recent suicides that have been in the news.] Read an article in Rolling Stone about Wallace. I see that his whole life was essentially my life between 18 and 25. In other words, it sucked. Right up to his suicide he had the same insecurities, the same thoughts, I had. Consider what he wrote in a letter: “I go t...

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