The arrogant certainty evinced by political correctness and woke ideology suggests that its purveyors have a crude authoritarian theory of knowledge. Certain groups, especially oppressed groups, have special access to the truth, a royal road to knowledge. They feel that they inhabit islands of safe, justified belief.
Through this lens, the origin of an idea constitutes either its unchallengeable justification or its unquestionably damned refutation.
Karl Marx held that the working class had a special direct connection with the truth. Only the workers could understand the future interests of society. Woke and Critical Race Theory ideology is a re-purposed version of Marx's idea that the working class has a privileged consciousness. The peak of this epistemic idiocy is that you must be right if you are black and wrong if you are white. From a PC-speak angle, you're wrong if someone imagines that your ideas emanate from "incorrect" feelings, they offend someone, or even if someone merely imagines that they might offend someone else!
Life is a process of learning from one's mistakes, through which one may, step by step, mature and flourish. However, in the Woke philosophy, you aren't allowed any leeway to make mistakes, because a mistake defined by the Woke or PC-Speak crowd brands you, as its source, as inherently erroneous. Any venom they feel for the idea is then directed at the person, who must be cancelled, rubbed out. A young person makes a silly remark on a social media platform but is persecuted for it many years later in a radically different stage of his life. Such persecution makes nonsense of Shakespeare:
"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages."
In the absurd PC world, all stages of life are but one: the whining schoolboy, the emotional lover, the devoted soldier, the wise judge, the old man...all compressed into a unity in the small mind of the PC fanatic.
I think that the blinkered certainty of these ideologies explains their relentless persecution of those imagined to have fallen short of their correct and certain "criteria".
Most people who have been infected by these ideologies are unaware of their philosophical presuppositions. How apt is Plato's oft-cited aphorism: The unexamined life is not worth living. Basing your life on imagined absolute certainty can only engender conflict with others who disagree with you for, since you hold the truth to be manifestly obvious, they must be lying to you and cannot be reasoned with, but only opposed.
But, as Karl Popper has taught us, if we look at the scientific method, what counts is not the origin of ideas or their emotional pedigree, but how ideas are treated once we have produced them. And in science, we separate them from the person and treat them with unstinting criticism.
Both I and David Deutsch talk separately about the parallels between the trials and errors involved in Darwinian evolution and the trial-and-error method of science. This, I think, helps to show the ubiquitous necessity of a conjecture and refutation approach to our problems.
Once this is admitted it is easier to see that, like other positions, PC and Woke ideologies are conjectures and, if we are interested in the growth of knowledge, should be treated as ruthlessly in criticism as we treat scientific hypotheses. There are no safe, justified islands of privileged knowledge.
(Note. Here, David Deutsch is speaking specifically about scientific problems. However, I'm generalising David's points here, and I think the same approach should apply whether we are talking about scientific problems or those outside science proper: government or business proposals, plans, technological projects, world-views and ideologies. The lesson of Darwinian evolution can be used outside of science. In science we use controlled observational experiments to test the metal of our ideas; outside it, our ideas must still face demanding standards of coherence, etc. Nothing is out of court.)
[The sacred element brought in by poet and horseman for the Enlightenment, Alex Brocklehurst.]
The Sacred Element. A short story by David Ramsay Steele.
(Note. Before you watch the video, I invite you to prime your mind by first reading our philosophical comments here. In any case, do read them in conjunction with the video, as the whole is meant as an entertaining stimulus to thought.)
The Premise of the Story:
The Young Zeno, model BN.00001, an AGI simulating human trials and tribulations and their solution, creates a theatrical piece Moment to highlight the phases of his rational-emotive problem solving.
Humans cannot resist the temptation of creating autonomous Artificial General Intelligence, AGI. Even if they fail, they will learn more about themselves trying. But if AI is to be granted general intelligence, what of emotion? An important hurdle is a reconciliation between what is often thought to be the different universes of reason and emotion. Indeed the Enlightenment as the bastion of reason is often contrasted with Romanticism as the champion of passion.
A common traditional view is that thought comprises all that is rational: logic, analysis, planning and calculation; ...
"Even then you had to take a guest to the bathroom to tell him a
joke. You turned on the water full force and then whispered the joke. You even laughed quietly, into your fist. This marvellous tradition did not die out."
Testimony: The Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich.
Are we really at this point in the West?
Like jokes, music is universally a victim of totalitarian tendencies. In 2020 the Chinese Communist Party banned multiple classical pieces of music, deeming them religious in background, among which was Ludwig van Beethoven's wonderful Symphony No. 9, "Ode to Joy".
The human mind can’t help seeing meaning everywhere. We hear voices in the wind, see faces in the clouds. As the human mind can make anything into a sign for anything else, even works of art without textual accompaniment can appear suspicious to the totalitarian mind. Too much dissonance or a hint of the avant-garde or, at the other end of the scale, the minutest use of traditional motifs or structures (indicating a longing for the past) that the new ...
The Biden-Putin meeting, and two little-noticed summits initiated by Russia with India and China. The Annual Putin Speech, Ukraine, and India as a future colossal power, bringing its own character and aims to the international balance of power.
The geopolitical temperature seems cool enough for a peaceful Christmas.
"Jaw Jaw is better than War War."
Dr Roger Townshend, author of the book Axis Power: Could Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan have won World War II?
[A report by Roger Townshend, followed by Q & A with Alexander Brocklehurst and Ray Scott Percival.]
Historical analogies and comparisons to bear in mind in dealing with current sensitive points in international relations.
What was the Armistice?
The Armistice was the ceasefire that ended hostilities between the Allies and Germany on the 11th of November 1918. The Armistice did not end the First World War itself, but it was the agreement which stopped the fighting on the Western Front while the terms of the permanent peace were discussed. The Treaty of Versailles formally ended the War after more than half a year of negotiation.
Dr Roger Townshend,
author of the book Axis Power: Could Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan have won World War II?
Alex Brocklehurst, author of a chapter in the forthcoming book Jordan Peterson: Critical Responses. (Preface by Sam Harris.)
The Roger Report on international relations. This episode is about the tense relations between China and Taiwan, the CCP's taunting or probing of Taiwan's airspace.
When a person dies, a world is lost; when your parents die, the universe itself seems adrift. It's a time to reset perceptions and get back on course. It is a time to build new worlds.
I’ve been reading about the history of the Nuremberg code and it’s surprisingly interesting. The book is Nazi Medicine and the Nuremberg Trials: From Medical War Crimes to Informed Consent, by Paul Julian Weindling. It's a story of hard-won incremental moral progress.
This helped me express some key points when referring to the Nuremberg code.
When I read the code (attached below), I considered the spirit of the code and not just the letter.
Morality trumps legality: even if the code is not a legally enforceable document, it has great moral import. The Nuremberg code is part of our accumulated corpus of ethical thinking that we can draw upon in meeting new moral problems. The fact, emphasised by some, that it is not a legal document stating a law with ready enforcement mechanisms, ought not to distract us from its greater worth as a moral compass. And it, along with other documents has, since its publication in 1947, enriched the formulation of our moral and legal codes. Ideally, laws are ...
Defending the Enlightenment through animated philsophy.
"Animated" = Full of life or excitement; lively, vigorous.
"Philosophy" = Love of truth.
An autonomous life is one in which we can make a difference according to our own aims and plans. This is the personal aspect of the enlightenment. However, this is under threat from a perverted alliance of governments and the tech giants.
Enlightenment Defended will repel the dark nihilism of “post-truth”, woke culture, identity politics, and PC-Speak, which are feeding this rotten symbiosis of state and tech giants. To counter this backward step in our society, Enlightenment Defended will catalyse the bright flame of the enlightenment —liberty, reason and progress.
Enlightenment Defended will create a realm that frames our deepest thoughts about life through articles, documentary, animation, poetry, humour, music and myth and philosophical debate. People are many-sided in both apprehension and enjoyment.
Enlightenment Defended will ...