5 Observations of the Modern World

  1. I don’t think any readers of this blog would not soon see that I read a lot of books by people I vehemently disagree with – for starters, Hegel, Fichte, Luther spring to mind. Marx, Locke, Hume, Berkeley, Kant, Descartes – the list goes on and on. Whether I’ve heard from somewhere or other that I should or should not like what they say figures very little into my decision to read them. Yet there seem to be people who think that reading somebody with the goal of becoming conversant in their ideas is, somehow, granting approval to those authors and ideas. Huh?
  2. Thus, once a while back when I defended in some combox somewhere the radical idea that it was OK to *read* Heidegger, (1) I got called a Nazi. The distinction I tried to make – that  reading Heidegger didn’t mean you agreed with him, but that there was great virtue in knowing exactly what your opponent is talking about – seems to have been completely incomprehensible to my accusers. So I let it drop – life is too short for that level of discussion.
  3. In a similar vein, I’ve long said that if one is in fact interested in finding out about cultures very different from our own (what I imagine ‘multiculturalism’ would mean if it meant anything other than ‘the stick I’m beating you with at the moment’), then one would read the ancient Greeks and Israelites – now, there are two very different cultures, both from us and from each other, separated by both time and space. The wildest Brazilian tribesmen or most mysterious oriental kingdom could hardly be more different from us than the worlds of Homer and Moses. Yet, I gather that’s not what those in favor of multiculturalism mean?Red & Blue Pill
  4. In the middle of the chain of links of our lives, I found myself in the dark wood of Mencius Moldbug. Now, I’ve read only a few dozen pages of his and may or may not go back for more, and so far have come across nothing all that outrageous, but I gather he is double plus ungood. I of course don’t care, and will take his actual positions, whenever he chooses to reveal them, on a case by case basis. So far, he has asserted that Chomsky is just the Blue Pill soaked in red dye #3 – which cracked me up. He also notes that Moderns do not read old dead guys, in fact make it a point of pride that all they know about the past is the-predigested tidbits spoon-fed to them, and yet are full of opinions and outrage. Duh. No wonder they need safe spaces – it’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door…. He most controversially asserts that the constellation of theory and power most clearly seen in the iceberg tip of Harvard is, by any useful political definition, a religion, and an established state religion at that. Won’t get any argument from me.
  5. Finally, The Martian is a really good movie. You should go see it. F-bombs that, for once, do not seem gratuitous – I myself might let one fly if I were to find myself in the situations portrayed in the movie. Other than that, good clean fun and good hard science! What a combo!
  1. Not that I, myself, have any inclination to read any Heidegger. The time may come, but the tiny bit I’ve tried makes Hegel read like Hemingway. I sort of figure the damage was done before Heidegger came along – by his time, philosophy had been removed to such esoteric heights that normal people began treating philosophy like a cage of vindictive monkeys: keep your distance, or you’ll get poo on you. I’d rather read the arsonists who set fire to the building than the people trying to create edifices out of ashes.

Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

4 thoughts on “5 Observations of the Modern World”

  1. It matters to the interpretation of Nietzsche that in works off the beaten path he showed contempt for anti-Semites. If we’re interpreting Augustine on the treatment of heretics, it matters that he came to the position that heretic should be punished under law only after a long string of violent attacks and assassination attempts by Donatists, and that even then what he was arguing is just that Christians could appeal to the law for punishments already provided by law. If we’re interpreting Aristotle on slavery, it matters that the kind of slavery Aristotle accepts in his written works is more restricted than slavery as typically practiced by the Greeks. It matters, if we are to understand what Plato is doing in his arguments that women should have the same education as men, that Greek society was highly, highly misogynistic. And with Heidegger, it matters both that he was a Nazi and what kind he was…

    Brandon Watson, “Heidegger and Naziism”

    1. The key point from the perspective of this blog post: how, exactly, one takes Heidegger’s Nazism into account while reading him requires, first, that we read him. It’s refusing to read him at all solely because he was a Nazi that is too mind-bending for me to get my head around. (It occurs to me that I’ve never heard of anyone refusing to read Marx because he’s a Marxist – go figure.)

      ‘Context is everything’ is just deconstructionism in sheep’s clothing. But context is something. I take Hegel’s Lutheranism as a critical piece to understanding what he’s talking about, for example – and I’ve not yet come across an analysis taking that piece of context into account (not that I’ve looked, yet.)

      I’ve got to get back to reading Hegel…

    1. My sympathies are always going to be with anyone who points out that you could just read the old guys to see what they say, rather than buying into black and white modern takes. And, boy, reading those old dudes is a real eye-opener, which is why learning to really read is so thoroughly discouraged in today’s schools.

      Thanks for reading.

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