International relations specialist Dr Roger Townshend, poet and theologian Alex Brocklehurst, and philosopher Dr Ray Scott Percival take a deep dive into the Afghanistan crisis and place it in a broad historical and logistical perspective.
What does this event look like when viewed through the spectacles of the enlightenment?
1. The USA was isolationist from its independence up until World War I.
2. National sovereignty may be built upon a universal value of freedom from interference.
3. The reciprocal influence between outside interlopers in foreign cultures and the interloping culture. The case of Matteo Ricci, the first European to enter the Forbidden City of Beijing in 1601 when invited by the Wanli Emperor, who sought his services in matters such as court astronomy and calendrical science.
4. Finding reciprocal benefits and values between cultures.
5. Perhaps Autonomy, one of the principles of the Enlightenment, is a universal value that could act as a bridge between very different cultures.
6. Charles Murray's distinction between ordinary inventions —such as the water-wheel, the lever, and the screw-driver— and meta-inventions, such as the printing press, the computer, and the scientific method. Perhaps the enlightenment is a set of meta-inventions (individualism, autonomy, etc.) which, once adopted, deeply affects a culture. (On the concept of metainvention see Murray's book Human Accomplishment.)
7. Perhaps we can lead by promoting, as a meta-invention, the global use of the scientific method.
8. While humanity moves up the chain of being with an iPhone, some people, like Roger, get left behind fumbling with a fax machine. (Joke.)
9. Contrast between the restless expansionist and individualist western world and the wisdom of Buddhism and a contentment ethic of the East.
10. Conclusion. The relevance of Karl Popper’s replacement of the old political question of who should rule? with the question how can we design our institutions in such a way as to maximise their ability to detect and eliminate erroneous decisions, including policies and leaders?
[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 ...