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1) Neil Peart and Immanuel Kant.
well, you are referring to "prisoners of fate" and "victims of
circumstance". they are lyrics from one of Rush's recent songs.
they are an awesome band and if any of you need an intelligent and
artful bit of sound, i recommend them.
but i thought i was paraphrasing Michael Jordan's biography and
Desiree's music. the outlook of Walter Cronkite and the thought of
Thomas Jefferson are also "paraphrased". the stories of Rand and
Dostoevsky and Heinlein are also paraphrased. the history of
Solzhenitsyn and the analysis of Arendt are also paraphrased. and
Nozick joins Kant in helping out.
what these folks have in common is a view of persons as capable, complex,
responsible, valuable individuals who can overcome otherwise
extraordinary circumstances to make of their lives wondrous things.
that view of persons is too rare these days.
2) reason as totalizing and mystifying.
"totalizing" and "mystical" refer to WORLDVIEWS. reason and evidence
are tools, perhaps our only real means, with which to work against those
a "totalizing" worldview is the way one is expected to understand when
immersed in a "totalitarian" social-political-cultural system.
roughly put, the individuals' goals are determined by the state or
other "higher" organic entity, the "acceptable" methods of thought
are prescribed by the collective whole, one's life exists only
insofar as it serves that entity. to "totalize" requires that the
individual members of the collective are literally destroyed: they must believe
that they are "worthless" AS individuals, that the organic whole is
all. Nazi Germany is cited as an exemplar of a totalizing system:
the Soviet is as well.
reason and evidence are profound threats to totalizing systems.
individuals confident in their own ability to understand themselves
and the world are not immersible in the total system. it is
certainly no accident that the historical totalitarian societies have
imposed brutal censorship, have replaced education with
indoctrination, have attempted to replace reason with ideology.
please don't tell me that you can look at the United States or at
debate as "totalizing." that would just show that you were unable to
draw simple distinctions.
a "mystical" worldview is somewhat different from a "totalizing" one.
mystical worldviews are characterized by ways of understanding the
world as magical and mysterious and unknowable. they are populated
by spirits, demons, forces, gods, and unseen entities which govern
the natural world and persons' lives. individual persons are at the
mercy of the whims and caprice of "higher powers" which they cannot
understand or control.
reason and evidence are our only tools for demystifying these
worldviews. it is obvious how and why.
in conclusion here, understand that when we "privilege" rationality
and empiricism we do so relative to other ways of knowing. if you
will seriously ARGUE that reason and evidence serve totalizing and
mystifying purposes, please suggest alternatives with which to
de-totalize and de-mystify.
3) behaviorism and bio-psychology
well, behaviorism makes my argument, i think, while bio-psychology is
at best irrelevant.
Mr. Edge, i disagree that "stimuli" affect us. the world is not THAT
and you and i are not stimulus-response processors. behaviorism is
dead: psychology finished that paradigm shift fifteen years ago. i
won't recite the REASONS for the rejection of that theory of human
behavior - Noam Chomsky's elegant proof 35 years ago that behaviorist
theories could not possibly account for even simple syntax started
cognitive studies and sounded behaviorism's deathknell.
you and i ACT on and in the world. we experiment, we make choices,
we examine, and we conceptualize. there is no place for those things
in behaviorist theory. that is why it is cruddy science and an awful
way to understand what YOU are.
i do not in any way wish to argue with the project of bio-psychology.
i am certainly no mystic: the neural and biological structures which are my
central nervous system ARE what does my thinking. no souls, no
spooky mindstuff, no id-ego-googah. but please don't mistake that
for some version of determinism. brains make choices and decisions.
one last comment about biological determinism. it seems clear to me
that more and more we choose our biological constitution. don't like
the way lower serotonin levels feel? several remedies are available.
don't like the way you're brain is wired? lots of ways to re-wire
it these days and more on the way. if there was ever any reasonable
amount of truth to biological determinism, it is quickly being left
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (email@example.com)
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