We don’t like Mark Steyn. But the fact that he is facing serious legal trouble in Canada because of something he wrote is just ridicules. It makes you think of what Solzhenitsyn said.
We have been avoiding posting Solzhenisyn’s Harvard Address because everyone has read it. Or at least, anyone who is likely to find it interesting has read it.
But by the same token, we knew that we would have to post it sooner or later. How can you not make one of the most famous essays of the last hundred years an essay of the week?
I came across some really cool videos on Parkour and Freerunning. Parkour is basically the skill or sport of clearing objects and moving quickly when chasing or running away. Parkour is basically about various vaulting techniques, landing safetly from very high drops, and landing precisely on very small surfaces. Freerunning is Parkour, except instead of trying to use the most energy efficient techniques, they try to make it look cooler by adding spins and flips, etc.
This is a good video to give you a taste:
And this is a good video to give you an idea of how they practice:
It reminds me a lot of the jumping games we used to play as kids, but taken to extremes.
This was written by Sounding Deep on Spengler Forum in response to this..
You raise a question of whether “a priori faith” is required in order to ‘know’ anything. You say: “ It’s been my notion that what we believe determines what we then understand, that our presuppositions determine our conclusions—in all cases.” I conclude from this, that you seem to understand your question to be one which can be satisfactorily answered by philosophy. However, I don’t think the authority which you presume is able to answer your question, can evoke any answer that you would find acceptable. If your Christian “faith” itself is not a form of knowledge based on a human response to divine communication and activity, then faith (as an a priori) can only be located in man himself, and/or his cosmos. I do not think that you want either as your authority.
I myself have little use for philosophy— and as, in my own ignorance I will shortly demonstrate, no expertise. In my experience, philosophy is a head game which has little to do with how people actually live their own lives or with a consistent methodology in justifying their own thoughts, desires and actions. Rather, philosophy can be regarded as a sophisticated polemic—a tool of aggression on the field of ideas. I don’t know anyone who has convinced me that they employ a consistent philosophy in their own lives. People just live and vary their philosophy according to the need of the moment.
In my view, if you come to philosophy for your answer, Marcus, then you are obliged to accept a dictate on the ontological issue. I would characterize your question as an epistemological question. I’m sure others would contest it, but I say that epistemology is determined by ontology. Philosophy requires but one fundamental restriction on credible answers to ontological questions: there can be no Creator who creates all of the dimensionalities of the cosmos out of nothing. If you want your ontology to allow for a Creator whose being is outside the dimensional categories of his creation, then you are positing something other than human reason and/or experience as a way for them, as a creatures, to know—that is, you are appealing to revelation. The philosophical argument is over. Any “a priori faith” as a philosophical argument, in my view, is merely a subset of the brute assertion of one’s governing authority.
In philosophy, divine revelation is a deus ex machina: man has no control for what is ‘reasonable.’ It is not that a philosophically acceptable epistemology must necessarily confirm or deny that the mind of man interprets every fact there is. Perhaps, even, as aferim intimates, the brain of man is necessarily hardwired to understand his cosmos because he, himself, is an expression of it: “Some of the most basic assumptions are not beliefs but actually built into the hardware our minds run on. (12/6/07 11:51 am). Some of those who believe in ‘natural’ revelation might be inclined to take that— and run. However, it is impossible for living beings who are part of the cosmos to “know” brute facts because certainty cannot co-exist with chance. The facts change. Science/knowledge must be the evolution of interpretation, and verification a process of relative usefulness. All that ‘knowledge’ really means in this paradigm, is a relative replicability—that is, one agreeable to our own temporal measure. What was formerly ‘known,’ will change. Let us all be scientists, and be done with it. Is this how you want to define ‘knowledge,’ Marcus ? For a materialist , if every living being were to suddenly disappear, there would indeed, still remain unknown brute facts. In the philosophical converse of materialism, however, there are no uninterpreted (brute) facts—the only necessity is interpretation itself. This is not to say that there may not be any consciousness other than that of people—only that consciousness must be the epiphenomena of the cosmos. This seems to be where your “a priori faith” must lead. If people, as viewers/interpreters of the quantum universe, create any ‘truth,’ then every a priori is endogenous to at least some dimensionality of the cosmos. Where is there anything left to be ‘known’ about your Creator that is not available from within the cosmos ? Let us all be mathematicians, and be done with it. Is this how you want to define ‘knowledge,’ Marcus ?
Any Christian who carps that ‘there are no un-interpreted facts,’ really wants to maintain that someone is always deferred to as an ‘authority,’ and that this governing authority must at least include the Creator who speaks and acts for himself. For this kind of Christian, then, his supposed common-ground in credibility with those who are not ‘believers’ requires evolving facts, and the untrustworthiness of a ‘supernatural’ source of knowledge. Credibility is based upon a shared notion of authority in government of the facts, and in the interpretation those facts. This Christian might wish to say that he knows something because of the way his Creator hard wired him, or because God supernaturally revealed something to him. Either way, though, one who does not share his gestalt, cannot not impute credibility. His ‘common ground’ is just bait-and-switch. For anyone, then, credibility (as opposed to truth) is not ultimately based upon facts, but upon a shared authority in the interpretation those facts.
If it is correct to point to the subjective—in particular, what constitutes a credible authority— as pre-requisite for our own understanding of facts, it is equally appropriate to note the relationship of credibility to trust. First, you might want to know why have I veered into ‘credibililty’ instead of knowing ‘truth’ through an a priori interpretation of ‘facts.’ Credibility always serves some pre-existing paradigm. Perhaps a wise person is able to, provisionally, step outside of his paradigm. Perhaps to do justice to others, we need to be able to transcend the ‘tyranny’ of those who are credible to us. Otherwise, how can we escape being ruled by the arrogance of merely demanding an interpretation, an a priori shared with us? Who is actually able to be critically reflexive, that is, to be able to interpret ‘facts’ and ‘truth’ according to a differing gestalt ? It is the very nature of the gestalt that, at any given moment of time, it is always all, or nothing. Ultimately, the perception springing from the physical bifurcation of one’s brain keeps them from seeing both the beautiful young lady and the old hag in the picture at the same moment. In a comparatively trivial sense, differing cultures produce minds which perceive differing gestalts. In that differentiation between ‘other’ and ‘self,’ there is also reason why we mistrust that which is strange to us.
You said: “ It’s been my notion that what we believe determines what we then understand, that our presuppositions determine our conclusions—in all cases.” I say it is what we are that determines what we then understand. Therefore, I also say that trust precedes rational understanding. Establishing the relationship between trust and one’s ‘ethic’ would seem to take us further afield from your a priori. But it touches the point at hand to note that, subjectively, someone or something is credible to you because of your trust. Objectively, someone may be perfectly correct and truthful, but disbelieved because they are not judged to be credible. If it is your judgment that your own trust must be earned/merited, then you probably would not think of the bestowal of your trust as ‘faith’—for it is a common misconception that ‘faith’ is unmerited trust. However, it is common knowledge that people will trust a lie if that lie reflects what they yearn for. Where one imputes ‘merit,’ it necessarily presumes their own ethic. It is always easier to plug in the specifics for the example one would choose to illustrate unmerited trust/faith through the example of someone else: ‘See how that fool was scammed through what he wanted to believe?’ However, one’s own ethic is part of the internal structuring of the gestalt by which they understand “credibility.” If you are following me, then, the practical demonstration of how we bestow our trust, means that insofar any fact is alleged to be knowable, one can also argue that the existence of ‘brute’ facts is impossible because of the exercise of human kind’s ethic upon their interpretations. If facts can be colored by what we ‘want,’ they can’t be brute facts. Your desire for “an a priori faith” must founder upon disparate ethics.
A shared gestalt is the price of credibility— hardly a blank canvas for entertaining a new gestalt. A new gestalt is totally unreasonable until it is apprehended. When one concedes a conventional gestalt, then, a broader hermeneutic is also accepted as the ground by which one stands—or falls. In view of a presupposed, fundamental circularity of reason, who ‘needs’ a new gestalt in order to understand ? On the other hand, understanding how a paradigm works, we ought to know how futile it is to sustain an intelligible conversation with the unshared notion that one is shaking a load bearing pillar with his a priori or a posteriori knowledge. And it is not merely that what one is doing is more like the demolition of a mere ‘brick’ in a huge edifice—while the sheer mass of all the other related, and yet to be addressed, bricks sustains what remains a very credible edifice. Rather, the notion of a polemical approach to an existing paradigm founders upon the incredible capacity of the human mind to grasp a gestalt—to see something even beyond the sum constituent parts. You might rather call the polemic effort an interactive mirage, or an attack upon phantom bricks. For those others who dwell in that edifice, as though it were ‘home,’ such efforts remain an attack—neither constructive, nor any more edifying than the latest epidemic to weed out the infirm.
Most people are quite naÃƒÂ¯ve in their understanding of the limitations imposed by their authorities. It is my view that one benefit of education is to help people think a little more systematically about their authorities. For many, however, this doesn’t seem to progress much beyond a categorical knowledge of authorities. They have a sufficiently broad exposure so as to be able to ‘catalogue’ their authorities, and sufficient depth so as to be able to articulate the criteria by which they determine who is a credible authority for them.
Intelligent people can be keenly aware of the circular reasoning employed by anyone—save themselves. It is others who are making the facts impenetrable and inaccessible to fair minded people. Educated people can claim to know better, but too often they have become imperceptive of their own gestalt—and they are unable to suspend their contempt so as to be able to entertain an alternative gestalt on its own terms . Too often, disciplined thought is insensitive of its own circularity precisely because it is disciplined— or because it is more able to recognize an alien ethic. If they are required to go outside what their own authorities/sources say, thoughtful people are, typically, not able to interpret those authorities or the relevant source texts. In part it is the effect of specialization, but I think in the main, their understanding cannot be free of its native gestalt. If you are following me, I am proposing that instead of a focus in your own polemic on presuppositions, Marcus, wouldn’t you be better served by a broader notion of people’s governing gestalt than by their “a priori faith” ?
Usually I try to avoid writing about the technical details of my work because it is basically talking to myself; I doubt most of you are very interested in the obscure quandaries of the trade. But I am going to indulge in those details today.
My database died. The error it was producing was no longer Click Here to continue reading.
Security camera footage.
The ECB’s offer to lend to all takers who could post collateral for two weeks at 4.21% or higher led to an unprecedented $500 billion worth of advances.
For perhaps as many as 27 million American adults, keeping warm this winter will mean borrowing money and 20 million will use credit cards to be able to afford their heating bills, according to a CreditCards.com poll.
From the Wall Street Journal….
Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, once a fiscal hawk among Clinton Democrats, said the government should consider a $50 billion to $75 billion tax-cut and spending package to stave off a deep recession.
For those few who check my blog regularly in the hopes that I have posted something new I thought I might explain a little why I have not be posting.
The heroic version is that I have been working lots of overtime. I mean, working over 16 hours without anything to eat but candy bars Click Here to continue reading.
Continuing the Editor’s theme on demographics, a sonnet from Shakespeare, by way of Bartleby:
WHEN forty winters shall besiege thy brow
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery, so gaz’d on now,
Will be a tatter’d weed, of small worth held:
Then being ask’d, where all thy beauty lies, 5
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserv’d thy beauty’s use,
If thou couldst answer ‘This fair child of mine 10
Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse,’
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.
Click on this link for your fire safety lesson of the day.