This is the nature of institutions: they operate no higher than the root mean square of the moral, ethical, and legal development of their operators.
I have a couple of comments, apparently stuck in moderation limbo, up at the Augean Stables concerning Prof. Richard Landes’ article My Talk at Connecticut College About the Pessin Affair, and which I have aggregated below. This article was a continuation of the discussion of the Pessin Affair which began at the Augean Stables back on July 29, 2015: Salem on Thames, what Connecticut College’s Andrew Pessin teaches us. A briefer version of the article was published at American Interest on July 30, 2015.
In brief, the Pessin Affair involved the fallout from events at Connecticut College during the Spring of 2015 concerning Philosophy Professor Andrew Pessin. I give a brief expert of Prof. Landes’ article below for the context.
An old acquaintance of mine, a close friend in fact of one of my oldest friends, and someone I still have occasion to converse with in the digisphere, posted a preformatted piece of propaganda on the social media from fellow blogger Amanda Marcotte.
Atheists are routinely asked how people will know not to rape and murder without religion telling them not to do it … When you use this argument, you terrify atheists. We hear you saying that the only thing standing between you and Ted Bundy is a flimsy belief in a supernatural being made up by pre-literated people trying to figure out where the rain came from. This is not very reassuring if you’re trying to argue from a position of moral superiority.” ~ Amanda Marcotte
I’m not going to tell you what I think of Ms. Marcotte, lest you think I am resorting to an ad hominem attack on her but I will tell you what I think of what she wrote.
Aesthetics Philosophy of the Arts, Films for the Humanities and Sciences © 2004
I discovered the above video the other day on YouTube: Aesthetics, Philosophy of the Arts, it seemed interesting and with high production values so I gave it a viddy.
This video turned out to be a very well produced and presented hour long survey of the theories of Aesthetics in Western Art since Socrates. A narrator takes us through a well worded and satisfactory tour of the arguments, and a couple of talking head philosophers, in the persons of Alexander Nehamas of Princeton and the late Arthur C. Danto who was emereri at Princeton, add commentary and fill in some of the details.
I enjoyed what Prof. Nehamas had to add very much, he had an avuncular manner that was easy to follow, but found I was having some trouble with Prof. Danto both with his manner generally, and later with what he had to say when he moved into his own era and work as a philosopher in the 1960’s. I found myself developing a somewhat testy dialogue with the Dead Prof. hoping to point out that even though one may push a particular theoretical or philosophical paradigm to the limit where is breaks, or is somehow formally completed, doesn’t mean that the paradigm and its various developmental modes suddenly loses utility or there aren’t other perfectly valid paradigms to pursue.
There is a difference between stretching the boundaries of a definition of a word to their logical limit, and breaking the boundaries of that definition so that there is no longer a logical use for it.
I found the video presentation informative and I highly recommend it if you have about an hour for art’s sake. I invite you to take a look now.
Attention: This is not necessarily an article about Intelligent Design; this is an article about how we think, how we think about scientific propositions, how we think about our own and other people’s thinking and more particularly how the logical fallacy of the Argument from Ignorance can be part of the dynamic.
All of what follows was wrapped around a conversation that was organized around a discussion of Intelligent Design hosted by the Watermark Community Church in Dallas on April 19, 2009 at a forum called The Creation Conversation. Ok, the building, the host, and the audience were some brand of evangelical Christian, and their ulterior motives were whatever they were, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing for the rest of us to learn from what transpired there, that is if you can be open minded enough to set aside for the moment the place and intentions of that particular conference and learn something from what was said there.
Therefore, we will all be expected to proceed, for the sake of the discussion, as of the subject matter is worth of being treated as a legitimate hypothesis, to be falsified or passed forward to the next round of discussion because it attempts, in good faith, to answer a question that other hypotheses have failed so far to answer: How in the world could these complex machines and systems have come about without intelligence?
Why Good? Why Evil?
Why Man? Why God?
The problem of Good and Evil, it’s really not that complicated, it’s a matter of frames of reference. It is simply that men are not fitly placed to be scrutineer to the workings of God, nor Man the only thing on God’s mind.
Here is some more of David Berlinski being interviewed by Peter Robinson on the contrast of St Augustine’s reinterpretation of history, watching the fall of Roman civilization from across the Mediterranean versus the poverty of our own intellectual position in the early 21st watching the fall of our own civilization on the internet:
[Berlinski] The point is, we do live in a society where the house of intellect is coordinated with only a finite number of microphones, and those microphones are connected with the academic world and with a certain part of the journalistic world. I think that is true in the United States, it’s true in Canada, England, France, throughout Europe. There is a doctrine, amounting to a dogma. And, according to the doctrine, the dogma, this way of thinking [Augustine’s City of God] no matter what [the last Pope] Benedict says, or what the rabbis in Israel say is not part of the interpretable cannon. It cannot be introduced. Should it be introduced? would it make more sense? have we lost something of tremendous value in our culture? Don’t forget, we are part of a Judaeo-Christian culture. My answer is yes, of course, of course. We have lost something of value; we cannot think in those terms any more.
“We rely on the natural tendency of the human intellect to truth, and of the natural tendency of society to improvement.”
The 20th and 21st centuries speak otherwise according to Berlinski.
This is yet another blog article that fell by the wayside as other projects took over, but I had put too much effort into it already to abandon it completely. So, here it is even if it may no longer be quite as interesting as it might have been a couple of weeks ago – but hopefully still somewhat relevant – or maybe its the other way around.
Over at Steve McIntyre’s Climate Audit, the topic of discussion has moved away from the parsing of the Michael Mann defamation suite and the shenanigans of blog commenter Nick Stokes towards a multi-part discussion of the publication of the recent “non-corrigendum” by the PAGES2K Arctic Workingroup of a significant revisions to their PAGES2K Arctic database of paleoclimate data. The series started with McIntyre’s Revisions to Pages2K Arctic back on October 1st.
The original version of this particular product of the PAGES Consortium had garnered strong criticism at Climate Audit in the past particularly in regards to the inclusion of several contaminated lake sediment proxy series, the use [or misuse] of several series in an orientation that is either ambiguous or inverted to that used by specialists in the field, and a small laundry list of other complaints since it was first published in 2010. McIntyre said of the publication:
Kaufman and the PAGES2K Arctic2K group recently published a series of major corrections to their database, some of which directly respond to Climate Audit criticism. The resulting reconstruction has been substantially revised with substantially increased medieval warmth. His correction of the contaminated Igaliku series is unfortunately incomplete and other defects remain.
McIntyre goes on in his ensuing series of articles to dissect in great statistical detail precisely what the remaining defects are in the PAGES2k Arctic database, why he thinks it is important that they be corrected as well, and why he thinks a formal corrigendum at the original publishing journal, Nature.com, is warranted – so those errors do not remain “in play” for other scientist to use [or misuse] by continuing to cite them in future research.
All of McIntyre’s reasoning seems reasonable and correct to me – the last and least among the readers who are non-experts at CA.
The treason trial of Aaron Burr, legal pleadings or legal fictions?
A Comment Lost in Limbo
Steve McIntyre. announced a change in moderation policy a few days ago at his blog Climate Audit in response to the recent Fokker Scourge of blog spam that has been sweeping the blogosphere. Somehow I seem to have fallen afoul of the new anti-spam procedures, which is ok, but my most recent comment, presently in moderation limbo, awaits the Descensus Christi ad Inferos promised to posts that despite their possible sins, died in friendship with the moderator and await their present resurrection.
Hopefully Steve M. or some kind moderator will notice before the comment becomes completely irreverent – things move quickly in the blogosphere.