Comments

  • The Conflict Between the Academic and Non-Academic Worlds
    I’m trying not to label or define anyone, though when we hold this discussion we gravitate into certain roles and this conversation is a long standing one. Actually I interpreted your position as closer to the opposite camp, with all this talk about spreading love of wisdom you seem describe the system more like a self-regulating machine. You responded to baker’s traditionalism-rich musing about prancing about and showing off as humorous.

    There is visible business-oriented knowledge to be exploited in the average academic learned person, a growing price tag, harder competition, and a greater role in social and political life. This narrative is validated by those who appeal to the intellectual progress of an elite for whom they are expendable. For examples look to the many techno-fear narratives in the arts and in the media. Like the backlash against Facebook and Twitter and the techno-apocalypse and dystopia narratives being told in the arts. They reflect the fears of individuals who see this progress as assertion of power that threatens to compromise fundamental rights and liberties. A fear of a type of material deterministic world where their freedom will be reduced and their happiness in the present transformed into a debt to the future.

    Does the working class really want learned AI techs to replace the drudgery of their work lives? Probably not if they have any sense…. Will it still happen? Almost certainly. The system of exchange of goods for access is symbolic of an inevitable progress, a peg in a larger movement in time and is a cultural gesture towards its completion.
  • The Conflict Between the Academic and Non-Academic Worlds
    It is more interesting about how this discussion inevitable turns into a conflict for power between one who sees this long standing institution of the university from a higher moral ground and another with an equally extreme materialist mindset. My criticism of the system is that it is currently tending to produce an unbalanced number of materialist thinkers, in my view, paralleling the dualism between its organization in pre/post enlightenment culture to its current form where it is actively stripping itself of these morals and values; what will we have left other than some type of extreme materialism?

    Is there any room for free will and a type of transcendence of the learning self in the materialist schema? Whenever anyone explains it to me it usually just comes off as some kind of individual-driven fixation of curiosity and/or semi-religious symbolism of the knowledge as a type of higher spiritual power.
  • Is Weakness Necessary?
    My personal inclination is to say that might vs right may be rational but it’s not reasonable. That’s based on thinking that for the subject it is perfectly rational; one can live their life by this and succeed perfectly well in society and life. But once we start to blend it with something more objective it reveals the poor foundation upon which it is built.

    Taken as moral law, this would lead to some pretty dark types of behaviour: executions, prejudice, anything would be fair game because the weak deserve their punishment according to (3). In an objective way, things would be lost though they may not seem that way to the subjects themselves. But it is unfair to have one group who doesn’t care being at an advantage because they care and another being at a disadvantage because they do care. This is where it goes into the existential question of, “When is a moral life worth living?”

    If someone knows themselves and chooses freely to be immoral, then they simply get the circumstance they choose. Morality wasn’t made to enslave people, but rather to be a way of life that was considered by antique thinkers to be the most reasonable way to live. But reasonable could mean other things too. I think we just tend to have certain presets because of our historical development that way, and it’s perfectly rational to want to defend them.
  • Is Weakness Necessary?

    So here is the run-down of the ongoing whittling of the term 'weakness' that we have put this together so far. This is not so much a definition of weakness as it is an ongoing delineation of it that is probably never going to be finished.

    1) We have posited an individual and their separate external circumstances and judged them to be less effective or ineffective at reaching an end using a certain means; this can be because of lack of ability, good sense, or by simple circumstances outside of their control (ie: lion hunts gazelle, squirrel is run over by truck, etc.).

    2) We have reached a certain end using a means, and in so doing have compared this end and means to others who have attained or are in the the process of attaining some end using a means, one or both of which we see as lesser. This can be because of the ineffectiveness of the end in achieving other ends or by a perceived discrepancy between the will of the individual and the end itself; the in itself and for itself of the end (ie: he's always eating, but because of this he is fat and unhappy).

    3) A relationship of exploitation is revealed whereby in the judgement of the ends and means the observer takes as implicit a certain desired deficit for some purpose that can be for themselves, not, for someone else, or all (ie: this group is lower than us because they are weak). In this case the weak person has the weakness enforced on them in an external or internal way, so that it wouldn't exist without being made into an image or idea.

    4) The determination of the weak is turned in on itself, and viewed as such it displaces the weakness that was previously thought primarily of content into one primarily of form (ie: it is weak to believe that only to be strong should be desired, etc). The weakness is found to be in the belief that the weakness is somewhere 'out there' where it is observed and we can see it as if we were neutral observers.

    These are the aspects of the weakness idea as we have outlined them, but not it's true definition. All four taken in isolation seem to fail to tell the whole story. For instance, (1) and (2) both suffer from the limitation that they use the language of images as if they were concrete realities. (3) tells us something, but it seems somehow absorbed into itself. (4) is the closest approximation to what this thread has been revolving around.

    The question I have for you at this point is, "does (4) deserve to be part of our notion of weakness, or should it be cast out as unnecessary?" What is good about (4) in relation to the other three we have here? Just another reminder that these four don't constitute and exhaustive list, only what we've managed to cobble together here.
  • Is Weakness Necessary?
    "Weakness" is a relative social term, which may or may not play a role in an instinct that would kick in a given situation.

    This is hard to agree with, because we're talking about more than just human social weakness. You're right that weakness is a relative term. In fact, to say something is 'weak' is almost considered the equivalent of saying 'everything but this thing is strong.' I do agree that in humans there is much more abstraction and division of opinion about what constitutes weakness and what strength. But it's the general idea of strength and weakness that we maintain and not the exact sameness of it to any specific materialistic analogy that I'm interested in. Within that idea it is bound to it that not all can have a strength, because if they did it would not be a differentiable quality.

    The worst thing that could happen would be for this to come off as another unbearable 1:1 correspondence between the limitless explanations of evolution theory and the thinking and behaviour of human beings, which in terms of meaning doesn't seem to us to have such deterministic causes. The point of the predator-prey analogy was to appeal to intuition and not only reasoning, where we take there to be animals that are weak for reasons outside themselves and for reasons within themselves. When a rabbit decides, "I'll just come out into the open this one time to have a nibble since its so quiet," where the fox lays waiting, that to me is a weakness of judgement not unlike the human who buys into a pyramid scheme thinking "maybe this time I'll get away with this." They are both similar to the human failing of idealism; many of us consider that failing to be a weakness.

    It is surprising that you would cut everything off at the level of social weakness and call that something else when there are animals that exhibit strong and weak social traits. Chimpanzees being the closest to humans. Where do you draw the un-crossable line between human weaknesses and animal ones still remains a mystery. Surely it would be unbelievable to say humans and animals are the same thing, but it would be equally unbelievable to say we share nothing in common with the animals when there are some obvious similarities, depending on your religious beliefs.
  • Is Weakness Necessary?
    Instead of the arrow, you're just not perfectly charming to the opposite sex. Some other people don't get along with you, and you meet with failure in your life that is the product of a will or an exchange of wills. Not to say you should go around intentionally screwing things up or accepting your failures in themselves; that would be a pretty dismal approach to life.

    I'm sure there are times in your life where you've asked yourself "why didn't I just do x and everything would have gone fine." and so forth. Well if you were perfect everything would go fine, and one only need think shortly over the consequences of that over a broad group to see how that could end in an overall failure. This all reminds me of the Radiohead lyric Just:

    Can't get the stink off
    He's been hanging 'round for days
    Comes like a comet
    Suckered you, but not your friends
    One day he'll get to you
    And teach you how to be a holy cow
    You do it to yourself, you do
    And that's what really hurts
    Is you do it to yourself, just you
    You and no one else
    Don't get my sympathy
    Hanging out the fifteenth floor
    You've changed the locks three times
    He still comes reeling through the door
    One day I'll get to you
    And teach you how to get to purest hell
    You do it to yourself, you do
    And that's what really hurts
  • Is Weakness Necessary?
    We miss the mark. Shoot the arrow to the wrong place. We give the prey a chance to escape, because that's how we survive. And why should it not be the case in our civil lives as well?
  • The Conflict Between the Academic and Non-Academic Worlds
    The same. When someone professes to have some all-encompassing ability to understand another's life experience it starts looking a lot like they are fixing their gaze on them with the intent of using them as a means.
  • Is Weakness Necessary?
    Suppose that the better question than 'why should we be weak,' is 'why are we weak?' Our weakness is something we have somehow already conceded to. Look at our eyes, our ears, and other organs: aren't they are so well-adapted to their purpose. If we had perfected predation like we had these traits, we'd have destroyed ourselves long ago. Thus we don't have them. Or at least that's the way I see it simply based on intuition. So then, does it still seem fit for us then to accept that strength is a more desirable trait from John Rawls' 'original position,' simply because as subjects we ourselves feel it fit to strive for it?

    There's no doubt it should make sense to want to be stronger. But what about the strongest? Or even stronger than that? As an idea it can easily transform into a fetish, or a masochistic pride that doesn't speak for the full breadth of our real interests.
  • The Conflict Between the Academic and Non-Academic Worlds
    Fair enough. percentage-wise, the technology affected roughly the same demographic, but it would reach more individuals and see more frequent usage. The U.S. population now is recorded at approximately 333 Million. In 1940 the census recorded approximately 132 Million. So while the approximate 90 percent figure is similar, that percentage represents significantly more people. Plus those people are able to carry this device with them all the time and perform more actions with it in addition to all the functionality of television and radio combined.
  • The Conflict Between the Academic and Non-Academic Worlds
    I got the feeling after “laymen have a perspective on things that the more educated classes do not know,” that it was almost laughable. This is common sense. If I were to start somewhere it might be wondering about that.
  • The Conflict Between the Academic and Non-Academic Worlds
    Yes, I agree. Where do you see the academic class blocking the life path of what you call 'common people'? I agree that our current ' diploma democracy' as we say in Dutch is flawed. Our policy makers should represent the people and currently the balance between academically educated and non-academically educated is off. I do not think though the academic education is the problem per se, but the academically educated seem to be privileged in other ways as well.

    In Europe perhaps less so because tuition fees are not as high as they are in North America. Here the technology gap has greatly increased the requirement for extended education to reach high-paying jobs. In addition, there's the sheer attendance factor in these institutions. You can't have fifty percent of the population going into debt investing their entire life savings and youth on something and then "Sorry we've got nothing for you."

    The influence these disciplines have is also now more far-reaching. Data scientists, programmers, engineers, journalists, are in a greater sense more a part of our lives and the roles they play have increased in complexity and influence on the behaviour of the ordinary person. In 1951 they didn't need to ask themselves, "Will x news headline cause anxiety and depression?" because maybe only thirty percent of people in the neighbourhood even read the newspaper on a daily basis.

    You have a large section of the population who have invested heavily in something: something that grants them certain powers and privileges. I'm not saying they're blocking anyone from happiness, or there's anything wrong with universities teaching kids to succeed in their field. But there is a system in place that poses a potential for a class divide and an ideological crisis. That's all, no blame or anything on anyone, just plain old crass cynicism.
  • A True Contradiction
    The usual structure goes:

    individual -> particular
    particular -> universal
    individual -> universal

    You have replaced the universal in the second step with a second particular.
  • Is Weakness Necessary?
    Still inappropriate as a means to compare the natural instinct of prey and predators with personalities of people. Categorically incorrect.

    Interesting you would say this. In what ways are they different to you? Are you saying there is something clearly different between a human driving force causing violence to another human for gain, and a predatory animal causing violence to another similar mammal in the animal kingdom? Does the human not in some part have their own benefit and survival in view when they do this similar to they way an animal does?
  • The Conflict Between the Academic and Non-Academic Worlds
    What is the alternative? No knowledge.

    It would be sort of hypocritical to start to make prescriptions. But it makes me personally feel dead inside when the educated elite talk about human beings like they are children who need to be guided around by the adults who know better. That is because I see it as an abuse of authority. However, those who take the opposite extreme reach the same conclusion. We’re now talking in the language of wrathful extremes, which gets everyone nowhere.

    I’m not suggesting by this we run around and grab the pitchforks for a good ol’ fashioned witch-hunt, but surely we should give the common person some respect for choosing his/her destiny even if it doesn’t fit in with the value system of professors and (private) educational institutions. My reading of Kant’s ‘kingdom of ends,’ inspires me to say a valuable structure in power and politics can’t be found without the consent to some degree of all the people within it as moral equals.
  • The Conflict Between the Academic and Non-Academic Worlds
    I feel your pain. The university system to me seems to be instilling a sense of class separation and control through just the same phenomena; the proposed oligarchy of the intelligentsia. As if we haven't seen that mentality utterly fail over and over again throughout history.
  • The Conflict Between the Academic and Non-Academic Worlds
    However when doing so, I think your judgment is enriched by more knowledge of theory of law. Maybe that is the assumption you have, that somehow there is a struggle between the two, but I fail to see why that should be so.

    I would agree about the enriching, and this I think is my (known) assumption: That knowledge does 'enrich' us with a certain authority; a certain power. And the more of this power one gets it seems reasonable to think that it would become more difficult to use it effectively. Not that the intention to do good weren't there, but that the more your actions affect a greater number, the more the possibility comes that this could manifest in unpredictability and do damage to some. Especially because a great deal of this knowledge concerns the validity of the very apparatus of judgement itself.

    To cite one controversial example of how knowledge itself is not always the path toward good, take the Communist Manifesto. Marx and Engels had the intention of spreading what they knew about economics, social science, and political science. These days there aren't many who don't point the finger of blame towards that action for the cruelty carried out in its name, though in my view their work rests on perfectly sound knowledge of the world. What they saw, as far as I'm concerned was the truth, but when they attempted to particularize and individualize it those universals collapsed, free will clashed with the ideal axioms of the academic world and all sorts of unpredictability resulted.

    This isn't intended to be some sort of allegory of why we should never use the knowledge taught in universities and colleges, but it does go to show one example where the good it can do can easily turn foul. And this can be worse in some cases because it associates the interest within the particularities as if it were part of the universal, allowing the worst types of violence and harm done in the name of progress.
  • The Conflict Between the Academic and Non-Academic Worlds
    No offense, but I am a social scientist as well as a lawyer and I publish on a regular basis in academic journals (although less than I wish because of other pressing academic duties such as teaching classes).

    Wow, then you're the perfect person to ask this question. Thanks for replying. I seem to have rubbed you the wrong way but that wasn't my intention. I suppose the first question I would ask you is to what extent does your academic involvement — and I'm regretting using the word 'academic' already — mix with your work in law. Imagine, that you were a judge instead of a lawyer, do you think that your exposure to certain ideas about social relationships as a scientist would affect your work to any extent? The judge being an impartial third party, do you see any conflict of interest? What if instead this person had some money invested in an non-profit, would it then become a conflict? Surely the judge who knows must self-regulate their actions in accordance with the knowledge of their own limitations, but this is exactly what I mean: then according to you they are more inclined to restraint than someone who has one-dimensional ideas that draw them to immediate action.

    Keep in mind, I'm not approaching this under any assumption that either response is a true or false.

    If you are unaware of the limitations to your field of study then that problem might arise. However as I have explained above, the whole point of academic studies is to get a grip on your field of knowledge and also what its limitations are.

    I'm so glad you said this, because now we are getting into the real content of the question. So what is this process of knowing ones self and their limitation? Where is the limitation? Is it common sense, is it negation of the knowledge (or 'denial'), is it drawing the line in a strict manner according to some unwritten rule?

    This is not an attack on you personally, please try to see it otherwise. If my ignorance is offending you, please feel free to correct me because I certainly don't consider myself an expert on social science or the law. But we I hope you understand that we can't only ask questions here that pertain to only one field of study completely.
  • The Conflict Between the Academic and Non-Academic Worlds
    No offense, but being a lawyer is not exactly what I meant by ‘academic.’ Yes, when you have a civil problem you go to a specialist in that field. But when you are being sexually harassed do you go to a women’s studies professor? The academic in my experience usually deals primarily in the universality of the subject, where the specialist in the particulars. We are talking about a similar difference between the mathematician and the physicist. Physics being concerned more with the particulars of the real world at hand, where events aren’t as much idealized in the way they are in the universal form of mathematics.

    If you attempted to apply the idealized structure of mathematics to physics problems you’d encounter unexpected results because the real world doesn’t always deal in easily determined discrete quantities. Similarly, those who deal in the analysis of universal categories of law might still fail in persuading a jury of an argument because that is so heavily influenced by particulars.

    But what I’m getting at is that if you really well understood those idealities, and attempted to work in them as they were in practical terms, then wouldn’t you to a certain extent be applying a force to those events themselves to be more like your idealizations? That is particularizing the universal and ultimately vise versa: you may run the risk of those particular actions coming to represent universal concepts, and individualizing them to suit whatever aims happen to be popular that day.
  • The Conflict Between the Academic and Non-Academic Worlds
    Their vision is not somehow clouded by 'academic' reasoning and thinking as you seem to suggest, it is expanded by it. So they know everything the layman knows and more.

    The academic may know a lot, but they don't know how to truly behave like a layman. They can never know how to not know what they know, and that is a weakness. The academic is likely to encounter the traditional way of life with a critical eye perhaps because of what they believe they know; sure they know things, but do they know better so as to decide for someone else? What gives them that right over others when the basis of their study precedes them just as much as their subject?
  • Is Weakness Necessary?
    Wow, this brings me back, I was a different person then ;)

    The human mind is so much more interesting when viewed from this perspective of a 'collective will.' I think this question is one more for the Existentialists. Like the Sisyphus myth, both the strong and the weak push their boulders up the hill; both commanding equal respect for taking on the many contradictions of life. From a social point of view I think it makes sense not to go to far with this point of view that perfection of our survival is the absolute good in itself.
  • Equality of Individuals
    Well we appear to have reached some analysis that the original post about the equality of someone who fails that is unintelligent, not physically strong or agile, etc. is one component of an ideological narrative of Western-European individualism, one which is dominated by a force that is to a large extent a result of the move from deterministic relations of the individual (x is entitled to y) to a more far-reaching concept of self-hood and individual life.

    For the extreme libertarian, for instance, the concept of liberty is extended so far as to become the complete opposite; the repression and subjugation of individual life. A billionaire heir who has been educated by the top minds and trained in physical strength by the finest teachers and who is expected in their civil life to remain in power, if given the same opportunity as someone from a family without money who is expected to fail, is it true liberty to simply leave these two the same freedoms of choice and wipe one's hands? What about the biological effects of individual genetics with the qualities of attaining these circumstances?

    But this is problematic because it presents the need for a determination of worth that moves past fixed universals to one that is to a certain extent spiritual and objective. This becomes increasingly challenging with the draining of spiritual life from modern life that comes with secularized education and social life and the challenges that face our objective way of thinking from globalization. I guess you could say that Western history, and especially religion, in a certain sense represents beliefs that are undesirable to modern thought, but at the same time contains certain ideas that allow individuals to be complacent in certain differences. Subjugation of those ideas for its own sake may have effects that could be called negative from within that limitation of being.

    This could be one reason why many first-world countries grant the right to freedom religion and security against persecution.
  • Equality of Individuals
    I'm not exactly sure, but from a value perspective it's like this frustrating feeling of like on the whole we are being given the option of this beautifully crafted piece of solid oak furniture that will last for generations versus a crappy piece of particleboard furniture and taking the particleboard... a despair at feeling a lost innocence. Maybe this is why most states condone those who beat down religion and it's values.
  • Equality of Individuals
    Do you think that a system like the caste system they have in India, or the classist system in Europe are good, or bad?
    Do you find that the upper class should despise the lower classes, and the lower classes should internalize that contempt, considering it righteous?

    I'm of the opinion that even though there's no clear dividing line between philosophy, sociology, and politics, it is usually a bad idea to have self-proclaimed philosophers abusing their ideas and intellectual authority by telling people what to do to too great an extent. There are some difficulties, but also some necessities, that arise when extending our seemingly objective system of judgement onto others. The same goes for other fields too such as mathematics, science, physics, and biology; if you had specialists in these fields determining how we lived our lives we'd all be living a pretty crummy existence.
  • Equality of Individuals
    Bringing this back to the original topic, if when we consider all men and women to be equal in terms of civil liberty and simultaneously assent to an implicit notion of an extended spiritual equality on which this is based, I just can't help but find this situation so utterly absurd and dysfunctional. Eighty percent of non-religious individuals of Western-European culture you would ask about this - in my urban living area at least - would decry the Judeo-Christian moral set and fully maintain the order of the other at the same time. Surely there must be some type of explanation for this change, which I'm not fully gasping. Is it expressly social, political, technological, anthropological, etc.?

    From my own observation the West seems to be in this sort of transition process moving from cultural institutions and structures of individual life derived from these 'unclean' histories to a sort of ideologically automated version. Another way of putting it would be tying up the histories into a type of self-sustaining loop that negates the full extent of their intended meaning but still allows them to survive in a symbolic form through practice. This is done in such a way that over time they would almost certainly become deteriorated and lost or at least alienated from their original meaning.

    Am I alone in observing it this way? I don't want to sound overly cynical here, but there doesn't seem to be any light way of putting it. Perhaps Putin was right when he said 'Liberalism is obsolete' we in the West are doomed to having these customs and practices eventually become arbitrary until someone has an equally arbitrary idea or they are abruptly ended by war.
  • Equality of Individuals
    I see it as irrelevant if Jefferson himself believed personally and individually in a G-d. The basis of the matter is there is nothing evidently binding the liberal idea to religion, but we can then not easily conclude that these two are fully separate and distinct.

    You seem to consider it an accident that there are themes and references in the writing that refer explicitly to a Creator. There is still undeniably something implicit in the writing that implies religious ideas and contingencies. For instance, the concept of liberty itself. Why should we have had this idea without carrying along with it a notion that we were each a valued individual with a personal internal relationship with G-d, each deserving as such a right to our own freedom of will? Before this notion much of the West lived in a state that was a great deal less centred around freedom of private individual desires and choice and a little more deterministic, wouldn’t you agree? I think if you didn’t you’d be a little out of step with the commonly held vision of what the lifestyles of antiquity were like.

    Please note that this is not an idea original to me that I’m now discussing with you.
  • Equality of Individuals
    Yes thank you, and there is a good reason why one might think this way; in the 'equality' of others at the value level. It is not solely original to you, but in part the environment around us also leads us to think this way. I have seen that in some cultures they don't as much have this view that the poor or dim-witted are happy or equal-valued, and they tend to be less so where that is the case. I don't think this to be something that always existed chronologically either, but something we sometimes take for granted in modern times.
  • Equality of Individuals
    Just because Jefferson used a term associated with religion is no reason to quibble.

    ...just because they used certain words is no reason to believe that they really meant them you mean?

    Jefferson could have referenced 'nature' as the source of our equality; or some philosopher, or something else--executive fiat, maybe. Rhetorically, 'creator' is still the best choice, given past and current contexts.

    how are you proving that another completely different word could be substituted into the sentence? How do the words nature, philosophers, and Fiat mean the same thing?

    I'm not sure whether you said what you meant to say. Clarify, please.

    I meant to say what I said. In retrospect it would have flowed better to use the reverse but it still makes sense. You could just as well say something like,"When we believe so strongly in the worse circumstance of the 'less fortunate' we turn it into expectation and eventual reality." It seems reasonable that one effective way to ensure continued domination is to convince the dominated that they should expect dominance.
  • Equality of Individuals
    This language is clear - All people are created equal. All people are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. We're not equal in height, wealth, strength, or any other physical or social measure. We are all equal in moral value.

    This is a good point. I really want to stay off the topic of the 'Creator' ideology but I don't see any other option since you have now gone there. Though some may disagree, as far as I'm concerned there is clear Judeo-Christian ideological baggage in this idea of being endowed by a Creator with unalienable rights and liberties. I am here drawing a little from an online document from Maureen Heath, which can be found here:

    https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/bitstream/handle/10822/1053063/Heath_georgetown_0076D_14011.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

    Running closely with the theme of this thesis, in the modern West I see us as dividing spirituality and civil liberty into distinct categories while at the same time expressing both of these in culture and in our psyche in a language of a uniquely Euro-centric individualism, one that developed hand-in-hand with the proliferation of Christianity in Europe over the past two thousand years. This severance of the notion of civil freedoms at the level of the individual to me is like reading an academic article without the citations; freed from its context while remaining knee deep in it.

    This is not to say that the declaration of independence is in some way inferior. I think it's an excellent expression of freedom and a well tuned piece of writing that speaks succinctly for a wide range of interests and beliefs. There is a line right before your quote that reads "We hold these truths to be self-evident," which I personally interpret to mean that what they were striving for they hoped to be more than just technical equality in law alone, but that each individual would make it their mission in their private life because it is something that they all already believe in. The notion of the Creator overarching their secular life being included in this implicit and shared standard of right and wrong.

    In the time of the founding fathers, this self-evidence drew from a society where a belief that the love of their Creator was enough to live a respectable and worthwhile life; after all, in the Bible Christ himself dies for the sins of others. This seems to me to contain a further extension of the idea of civil liberty that is truncated in modern life: that even the plight of torture and death can be endured if we have a certain faith in ourselves and each other. I am not especially religious, but I find this idea inspiring and worthwhile.

    I guess the part that this notion of liberty misses is the mission for caring about your fellow man or woman as well, and that this is also good for yourself. An equality of caring I guess it would resemble, though it may sound corny, is a missing link with the modern equality of wealth and employment and so forth.
  • Equality of Individuals
    The FACTS OF LIFE:
    Oh ok, I hope this is PG-rated.

    Some people will have much better experiences in life than others.

    I am glad you said this, because it points to exactly what we're discussing. Yes we can observe this to be the case, but should we really believe this? Yes, we can clearly see that in our observation of these phenomena we can serve to alter existence. But I'm not sure if we should really believe it. When we believe so strongly in the better circumstance of the 'less fortunate' we turn it into expectation and eventual reality.

    We set out to make the poor person rich, rather than really improve the poor person's existence so that our determination of them as 'poor' no longer has negative value. We might follow this logic to train more doctors and less garbage collectors as opposed to making a garbage collectors life equally the product of a rational will.
  • Equality of Individuals
    It's not just western. All around the world certain jobs have higher prestige - doctors and lawyers usually being up there.

    Of course this makes perfect sense that there be social structures that favour certain occupations over others. I don't want to confine ourselves to just the topic of employment, this is a broader point that I think reaches through other 'rituals,' as I suppose you could call them to borrow a term from cultural studies. I refer to it as a ritual because it functions to transfer values that are accomplished in purified practise. The success of the intelligent and the benefits are in part due to the role-playing of intelligence and feelings of superiority that come with it. The ritual of a certain cross-section of Western society brings with it certain high-ideas about individual worth that counter-acts this relationship of domination. This discussion could then I suppose be seen as a vying for power between camps even though it reflects attitudes based on what is valuable and worthwhile.

    The intelligent, powerful, talented, social, etc. are qualities that can and are endowed to a large extent in-absolutely; one who is intelligent is not intelligent purely against someone unintelligent, but at the most overreaching level they are intelligent for itself. The unintelligent individual through modifications of their circumstances could be made equally or more intelligent without any necessary benefit except the significance of the ritual of intelligence and it's purposes.
  • Equality of Individuals
    Regardless of whether we choose to be involved or not the individual pursuit of happiness will be limited by universal thought, just not the universally imposed rules of a state. So I take your response to mean that this sort of determination of the limit of equality is not personally important to you. Considering a more controversial case, imagine that the state were forcing employees who were less intellectually inclined to be accepted into certain jobs in such a high number that this were interfering with your own ability to find work. Wouldn't the circumstance of those not having to invest in themselves the mental effort while achieving the same results bother you? Or take the reverse, where the workplace were so consumed by a need for mental effort that your job were essentially determined at birth with no guiding will to choose it at all.

    Please see that the examples are not intended as an expression of my personal belief of what should occur in this situation. Suppose that the reason individuals in their non-intellectually demanding jobs had the idea that to compete with you for your job would be to have an overall 'happier' life, I think this type of broad notion would end up affecting your individual life in a negative way. Or that you were being bred for intellect like a cow so that you could attain this happiness with no real effort at all.
  • Equality of Individuals
    This sounds nice in ideality, but how can one remove all mediation from a universal rule in the way you suggest? Aren't we forgetting that our own concepts of aptitude commands our actions that take place free from universally imposed rules as well, which is where comes the need for consideration of it?
  • Equality of Individuals
    I meant the comparison to question if someone deserves spoils for exhibiting genius that was attributed partially to their ideological circumstances. It wasn't intended to mean that genius would in some way lead to happiness. That is just in part, some other part might be a result of a will to power, as opposed to a natural gravity to power, at least from my individual centered perspective; but the fact that the power they can achieve comes at a very particular cost, and not simply a universal cost, is an essential element. Though culturally, it is frequently the case where callings such as doctors, lawyers, and such are considered to be 'higher' choices in themselves, there is a strong feeling to question the absolute validity of this.

    As for answering your questions directly I cannot do so honestly because I think they’re based on beliefs/views I don’t hold, fully understand and/or agree with

    This is the heart of my question, so to speak, that this equation is in part ideological. In my own personal experience, the gesture has always been that even the unintelligent and incapable deserve their form of happiness. Here I could refer to numerous examples but take the Hollywood film 'Ratatouille' for example. The clumsy dim-witted sous chef gains fame by imitating the genius of a rat. He desires so much for it to be true that he tells others it was his own genius. In the end he reaches the realization of his own equity with the rat's genius; the rat who was ironically born not capable of using its genius. But increasingly, I suppose due to the greater ease with which certain results can be achieved with technology, this concept is breaking down. But is it something we still wish to believe in the West?
  • Crypto-Currency, Robotics & Marx: First Impressions
    I don't have a deeply studied comprehension of the value form concept, but I think of it as the locus of collective psychology, the core dynamical agent that dictates how members of a social group intersect as they relate.

    …According to this account, information is the value form of the 21st century because it is replacing labor as the locus of collective psychology.

    Not sure I fully understand. “Information is the value form of the 21st century because it is replacing labour as the locus of collective psychology.” Do you mean to use ‘and’ here rather than ‘because’? I found the use of ‘because’ confusing since it’s like saying, “if we all believe it it must be true” which is certainly not true.

    Take liberty for instance, if we all collectively determine it to be caused by locusts that doesn’t make it true does it? If we all believe value to be attributed to information or it takes up the attention of our psyche it must supplant the role of labour in value? Please clarify, now this isn’t making any sense. The attribution of labour to value is not arbitrary. We will need to expand on that point more if you don’t think this is so.
  • Crypto-Currency, Robotics & Marx: First Impressions
    Maybe it’s side-stepping, but it sounds as if your approach to this is somewhat libertarian in style. You take the circumstance of the individual as to a certain extent bounded or fixed qualitatively and then the task becomes to find the actions required to alter the determination to suit the choice of certain groups or individuals. The choice of the individual seems to take ultimate precedence through the maximizing of subjects with equal powers as a collective made up of separate individuals.

    While everything you say is true, and my understanding coincides that these power structures are involved in the relation that makes working class life an ugly and undesirable thing to be eliminated, I detect a certain fault in this as a pure approach being that the plutocracy is exhibiting the same apparatus in it’s motions and ideas only from the opposite point of view. Is your viewpoint in some way related to the dialectical materialism that Enrique is referring to?


    While Hegel’s dialectic wouldn’t reduce the role of the material world in divisions of power, it seems almost oxymoronic to produce a purely material form with which to hold it fixed. Hegel’s approach seems inextricably related in concept with a clearly Christian ideology, which is really it’s ultimate source of strength. But isn’t this pure materialism inherently at odds with this diminishing of the role of our attitudes and mediations in the choices we make?
  • Crypto-Currency, Robotics & Marx: First Impressions
    Applying dialectical materialism to the 21st century would probably require an army of intellectuals.

    This made me laugh.

    Well one need look no further than Marx’s Manifesto to see how just a few words can be more powerful than armies of hundreds of thousands. I do see how money can be made from machines, but they don’t generate value to us in and for themselves. Thus it sounds like both you and I have an idea of this as something of an eventual dead-end as far as capitalism is concerned if that’s not taking too many liberties.

    This is limiting our sight to primarily those technologies whose general purpose is to reduce or eliminate some section of the working class. It makes me wonder why there exists this impulse to destroy certain jobs. More often than not the rationale is that it is one job being traded off to create other jobs though usually there is no real measure of these created jobs at hand. It seems unreasonable for individuals seek to lose money by paying more workers when they already pay less, so these new jobs must come as a result of increased overall activity. However, with that activity comes less overall human physical work as more and more of this is automated; and that work is traditionally done by the working class.

    It seems to me that attempting to create by setting out to eliminate certain jobs without any clear proven plan for job creation is a failure strategy for creating working class jobs. When we set out to win a race we don’t try and do so by trying to lose as much as possible.
  • Crypto-Currency, Robotics & Marx: First Impressions
    The change in value form isn't towards computers as analogous to the technologies that humans operated like machinery prior to the Information Age, but rather consists in the data itself encoded as abstract meaning within software and interfaces. The significance is that physically instantiated work is effectively excised in various ways from its role as focal point of social and economic organization, replaced by information as the engine that drives culture.

    It still seems like more explanation is needed to fully explore how information can become the equivalent of labour as a source of value. In labour, both worker and employer engage in a multi-faceted unexplainable phenomena known as ‘work.’ In it both entities enact and reflect it’s qualities. The performance of the work implies a mutual determination that the item or service has acquired a value and exists partly in this determination, or identity, but not wholly. To a certain extent it hardly matters if my work for my employer is considered as work between us if we disregard how it compares against work elsewhere. This raises the inexplicability of how this work comes to be perceived.

    When compared with information, I doubt how these two can be made into one. Information seems to me almost the complete opposite concept. What we call information or facts are our subjective determinations and can easily sway one way or another to become mis-qualifications and mis-delineations. It makes little difference if information is retrieved by a person or a machine. Where work is characterized by a certain narrative that is partly a form of expressing a social contract through its form and content, information on the other hand is characterized by almost pure transparent content; once we start to doubt its underlying form it becomes unstable.

    Could you go into a little more detail about from where you are drawing their equivalency?
  • Crypto-Currency, Robotics & Marx: First Impressions
    Toil, wage slavery and exploitation are signifiers for income inequality between classes. It sounds as if your view is that processes becoming automated would eliminate this. Is this really true? I myself have worked in places that underpaid and exploited workers which didn’t require traditional physical labour.

    To say that there would be no more wage slavery if there were no more workers is a bit of a truism. It doesn’t tell us anything about the happiness of the workers but only the level of their existant exploitation; the negation of which could just as easily increase their suffering.
  • Crypto-Currency, Robotics & Marx: First Impressions
    ... seems to me that the value form is transitioning from labour to information, as you in essence begin to suggest. A single individual (or fleet of robots?) can create huge economic value using minimal amounts of traditional labour via the programming of computer systems with information in various forms.

    Can computer systems really create value on their own? I'm imagining all workers had made the transition to the so-called elite class with access to a universal education, non-physical highly abstract employment, etc. would the whole class of these people sit and stare at computer machines and just randomly determine who is rich and who is poor?

    Wouldn’t the exploitation of robots reduce toil and drudgery and wage slavery, thereby liberating the worker to pursue his own creative endeavours?

    So a blue collar worker who lives from generation A to B experiences the loss of his job at a mining plant and must re-structure his or her career accordingly. I'm interpreting your response as implying this will be in the collective interests of happiness or the utilitarian argument. What would lead you to believe that from your own experience?

    I have seen one company starts using robots and then the whole auto industry moves to robotics: are there now more happier auto-workers? More recently, I have seen Uber reflects changes in the taxi industry and then the whole industry eventually catches up: are cab drivers now better off? In most of these cases in the short term the worker loses and the businesses win; we get short term increases in profits that eventually level off once the technology is adopted. Furthering this point I could draw from many examples from Christoph Roser's book 'Faster, Better, Cheaper in the History of Manufacturing: From the Stone Age to Lean Manufacturing and Beyond.'

    Don't you think that this will cause a collective suffering that outweighs the minor increase in collective comfort, and the short-term notoriety and profit of the product developers and businessmen who made these advancements? They'll soon become universally implemented thus eliminating any short-term increase in profit. After that, all that's left is the collective convenience of the many, but if value relies on the workers themselves wouldn't this too be an argument against the collective good?