Back in November, I made a blog post explaining that I would be moving to a linux-only “lifestyle”, as it were, for both liesure and independent creative work in my personal life (though, for my “official” job, I am yet chained to a Mac laptop). It’s been a little over six months now, and so I figure it’s time for an update. While I am indeed now 100% linux on both my desktop and my laptop, I have diverged quite a bit from the plan of my original post.
A good friend of mine recently presented me with an abandoned draft of an article. My friend claimed the essay lacked a solid thesis. Though I was unable to convince my friend to revisit it, I still think that a thesis presents itself fairly clearly in the article’s depiction of the famous conflict between C. S. Lewis and F. R. Leavis. The gradual domination of academia by a regime of forgettable Leavis-like characters has a cause that we are only now beginning to examine seriously, as a culture.
Buckley defined Conservatism through the metaphor of a man standing on the train tracks of history, yelling ‘stop!’. Scruton defined Conservatism as the stewardship of the beautiful, in a particular way of life. The intuition expressed in both definitions is sound. For Conservatism to mean anything, then it must include the preservation or conservation of something important. Scruton is closer to that mark than Buckley is, because he’s closer to a fundamental principle than Buckley is.
Why does Socrates spend so much effort defining and describing the soul in so much detail in the Phaedrus? He tells us outright, in the dialogue. It is because no man can gain true knowledge from a speech, if the orator does not himself know how his speech is going to guide the soul to its first memory of the unified reality of beauty, found in the divine realm. Dialectic is the way to wisdom, and dialectic can only be achieved through speech.
I have recently come round to the opinion that the original 1967 Star Trek TV series is one of the best things ever produced in the 20th century. I have been going through the old original series one episode at a time, to refamiliarize myself with it and to recapture a portion of the experience of having watched it as a boy. When I was a boy, most of what was going on in the episode ran past me.
The Problem of Progress The question I’m addressing today, is on Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It was posed to me recently, in this form: “Is Kuhn right that we cannot speak of progress across scientific paradigms?” This paper will briefly summarize Kuhn’s own definition of progress both within and across paradigms, explore the implications of these definitions, and assess the conclusion Kuhn comes to at the end of Chapter XIII of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
Responding to John Rawls egalitarianism, Robert Nozick responds that “….in a socialist society… no end-state principle or distributional patterned principle of justice can be continuously realized without continuous interference with peoples’ lives. Any favoured pattern would be transformed into one unflavored by the principle, by people choosing to act in various ways…” (Nozick 1974, 163) This essay will argue that Nozick’s objection is successful against Rawls, only to the extent that it is understood in the context of Rawls’ understanding of his own theory.
I was directed to this article about “stand-up” meetings by a work colleague. I have a few thoughts about it that nicely dovetail my “day job” with this blog. The Superficial Question Based on my own experience, the utility of stand-up meetings, as such, really does depend on the team, its mindset, and its needs. I have been in places where they were invaluable for team-level info share. I’ve been in other places where they were a complete waste of time, and often used as a weapon (punishing people for showing up late, incentivising token participation, and so forth).
Eleven years ago, I didn’t understand the Haldane position, because I was ignorant. Eleven years ago, I thought I understood the Hitchens position, because he made me feel good when he spoke. Working my way through a masters in philosophy eleven years later, I can say that I (mostly) understand them both. And frankly, in the light of that wisdom (such as it is), Hitchens is embarrassing. Take, for example, the first question Haldane presented to Hitchens: “what grounds the secular belief in human dignity?
This post is a placeholder in which to post my first video commentary on Havel’s “The Power of the Powerless”. One errata: I said he was critiquing the Russian government. This isn’t entirely correct. He’s critiquing the Russian soviet, the Czechoslovakian government, and all other governments he labels as “post-totalitarian”. We’ll get into that, as the commentaries continue. UPDATE: You can find a playlist with all my commentary on this book, here.