You are here

Society and culture

The life of the mind


Art and life

Liberal identity theorems

The modern technological outlook can’t deal with issues of identity, because it abolishes essences—understandings of what things “really are”—in favor of measurable properties that fit the thing for particular chosen ends. That’s why it’s thought ignorant, irrational and abusive to treat someone differently because he’s a man or a gypsy, but not because he has a particular educational certification or bureaucratic position.



More on the death of reason

In my last entry I moaned and groaned a bit about how the kind of reason that enables us to live reasonably has become an archaic concept, since the principles of scientism, commercialism and bureaucracy can’t make sense of it, and in comments to an earlier entry I touched on one aspect of its decline, the disappearance of social settings and positions that support intellectual independence.

I suppose it’s worth the effort to list a couple more aspects and causes of that decline:


Rebecca and Reason

Mark Richardson makes an interesting point in his discussion of the British writer Rebecca West: she may have been a feminist socialist, but she had a much more civilized mind than you’re likely to find today. In particular, she was able to enter into, and take seriously on their own terms, the several types of thought—scientific, religious, and humanistic—that have entered into the making of the Western mind.


More trad gloom and doom

This past weekend I heard quite a good talk by James Kurth about the demise of the American nation due to its own internal defects (too much liberal individualism).


Reality by convention

The current philosophical definition of art that I commented on in the last entry, that it’s whatever is presented as such within the “artworld,” put me in mind of a comment Steve Sailer made a few days ago, that he’s “increasingly fascinated by how unrebellious, how credulously trusting of authority the post-1960s generations have turned out to be.”


The limits of inclusiveness

Columbia, a planned community in Maryland, was intended to be a suburban utopia without social divisions. It’s been fairly successful in its way: Money magazine ranks it #4 out of the top 100 places to live in the United States.


Reason gone mad

I gave a talk about reason, scientism and liberalism at a recent conference put on by the Roman Forum. Here’s a *.pdf of the talk’s written form.

Social life as a tale told by an idiot

I continue my investigation of current ideals of life, with Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There by David Brooks and Nation of Rebels: Why Counterculture Became Consumer Culture by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter.


Cool cats and gentlemen

“Coolness” is an odd sort of thing. It’s a little ridiculous for someone over the age of 40 or so to notice or comment on it. He should have something better to do, people will say, and he’s going to get it wrong anyway.


One skeptical viewer

I just watched 12 Angry Men, supposedly one of the top 100 movies of all time, on DVD. Before watching it told my wife that I thought based on reputation that it was going to be “improving.” Now that I’ve watched it I suppose I must be improved.


Amor patriae

Love of country can mean a lot of things. Many of them don’t seem to apply from my standpoint. It can mean:


Ach Hans--you make joke!

A bothersome feature of the Salingaros book I just commented on briefly is that it’s necessary. Basically, he’s saying that buildings should look normal to normal people, and fit in with the way normal people normally act and feel. Nobody’s ever had to say that before. Up to 80-100 years ago such things could not have become an issue.


The Veritas of sophists

R. R. Reno, at the First Things weblog, flags the final report of the Harvard task force on general education. From Reno’s discussion it appears that “liberal education” is now understood as the training of technocrats to man the global machinery that is to govern 21st century society. In particular, Harvard students are to be trained to distance themselves from beliefs, ethics, culture, and aesthetics, and treat them as productions of the social apparatus they are destined to manage.


Thinking about hatred

Here’s a provocative if somewhat odd piece on hatred from Taki’s Top Drawer. A quote:


They've really thought it through

Here’s an example of how ways of thinking play out in daily life that reject the concept of the natural, and therefore common sense, in favor of technological conceptions and controlled rationalized organization: one woman’s account of Catholic parish life post-Scandal. Because of the scandals resulting from episcopal protection of clerical pederasts, a group for teenaged girls and a group for 3-6 year olds weren’t allowed to meet in adjacent spaces. The older children might molest the younger ones.


Juicing and the nature of man

A “cultural issue” is one people have strong views on but don’t know how to discuss. That makes for discussions that are sometimes interesting but sometimes repetitive and aside the point. People come up with odd and inventive arguments to back up gut reactions, repeat them again and again, and ignore everyone else.


Mary Richards comes of age

According to a recent report, unmarried women have become the most important leftist demographic. The marriage gap for women (their greater tendency to vote Democratic when unmarried) is now 36 percentage points, and unmarried women have become the biggest part of the Democratic base—more than blacks and Hispanics combined.



Subscribe to RSS - Society and culture