Sunday, 5 April 2015

Clamour without Consistency. — If all men should get what they deserve, and if what men deserve should be deemed their right, we may find that many have the right to a good whipping, and should get it too. But, having determined so, should we expect that they — a great multitude — would clamour for it?1 The reformer may counter: no man deserves punishment, for no man is the author of his life, his character, or his fate. We disagree, but we go along: So be it, and have it your way, but at least be consistent and hold that no man deserves reward or good treatment either, nor health, freedom, property, or even life; and if you hold, as it seems you would, that no man has a right to what he does not deserve, then maintain the consistency and hold that he has no right to these things and that accordingly you are morally free, albeit not by right, to do with him as you please.
. . .
1. This inspired by John Ruskin, Fors Clavigera, Vol.II (Sunnyside, Orpington, Kent: George Allen., 1872), Letter XIII (1st January 1872), p.2: “If it chanced, which heaven forbid, — but it might be, — that you deserved a whipping, you would never think of expressing that fact by saying you ‘had a right to’ a whipping”. Also therein, pp.2-3:
“Ever since Carlyle wrote that sentence about rights and mights, in his ‘French Revolution,’ all blockheads of a benevolent class have been declaiming against him, as a worshipper of force. What else, in the name of the three Magi, is to be worshipped? Force of brains, Force of heart, Force of hand; — will you dethrone these, and worship apoplexy; — despise the spirit of Heaven, and worship phthisis? Every condition of idolatry is summed in the one broad wickedness of refusing to worship Force, and resolving to worship No-Force; — denying the Almighty, and bowing down to four-and- twopence with a stamp on it.
    “But Carlyle never meant in that place to refer you to such final truth. He meant but to tell you that before you dispute about what you should get, you would do well to find out first what is to be gotten. Which briefly is, for everybody, at last, their deserts, and no more.”

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Ex Confusione Semper Aliquid Novi. — The confounding of accident with essence is a fertile soil for ideas, or, to put it another way, a breeding ground for idiocies.
Downward-Bound. — Through the name alone you’d expect freethought to meander off in all directions, had it not shown a firm propensity to head straight for the sewer.
A Doomsday Convenience. — A good conscience is only a good feeling won through performing deeds in keeping with one’s grasp of morality. Thus too often a cheap victory, or a deplorable one, when that grasp is weak, or when the hand is elsewhere, strong in shaping another object: a self-serving fake of morality. Conscience as arbiter of goodness was an evil invention. Of all the countless inventions of the modern world, this may be its most fateful, and one of its most convenient.

The Five Hypostases of Anti-Racism

H1. Race does not exist.
H2. Race exists, but it does not matter.
H3. It matters, but not a lot.
H4. It matters a lot, but I don’t care.
H5. I care, but I’m still not a racist.

All the hypostases are to be taken on the understanding of race as a biological category. H1 is an insanity that constitutes the highest and most sublime hypostasis of anti-racism, avoiding socially risky or uncomfortable sanity. The insanity of H2 avoids both the higher insanity of H1 and the riskier concessions of H3-H5, and may also appeal by sounding a little edgy to the jelly-witted and the cowardly. For these reasons, it is common. With H2-H4, each coming at increasing risk, one may acknowledge immediately obvious reality, scientific findings, etc, thus to pay lip-service to rational obligation or to salve rational conscience, whilst eschewing any further thought on the matter. (H4 is relatively uncommon.) H5 is the socially riskiest and least sublime form of anti-racism. It is unstable, and is likely either to sublimate into another hypostasis, thus to prove adherence to anti-racism, or else to spill over into racism. From the standpoint of a higher hypostasis, all lower hypostases belong more or less to racism. A degree of risk-mitigation is provided throughout by giving ostentatious praise to other races even whilst denying their existence or significance. Naturally denying the existence, the significance, or the personal importance of race may be reformulated in a positive manner, namely, in affirming race as a social-ideological category only. Thus a reformulation of H1 might go as follows: race exists but only as a social-ideological construct of oppression.
In Passing. — How awful it is to be part of a dying people! How more awful to catch the stench of optimism from its decaying body, the optimism of microbial action!

Monday, 2 March 2015

Boltproof; or Damnatio Memoriae through Apotheosis. — Adam Rutherford, lecturer for the public understanding of anthropolysenkoism, presents the standard model of the relationship between Charles Darwin and Francis Galton:
Darwin was not a racist. . . . However, Darwin’s half-cousin Francis Galton, most certainly was . . .1
Poor old Galton is made to serve in posterity as lightning-rod to Darwin’s spire. But it’s not just Galton who must suffer the bolt whilst Darwin remains unscorched. Your poor old granny counts as a racist because she likes neither darkies nor Jews and thinks England should remain England, whilst our dear old Darwin, who looked forward to higher races eliminating lower races2, in particular to how Anglo-Saxons would raise the rank of mankind by exterminating whole nations3, doesn’t count as a racist at all. Your granny’s opinions are no longer welcome in polite society, and she is damned to rot in the underworld for the elderly, perfunctorily attended, if not ill-treated, by foreign hands. Darwin’s remarks wouldn’t be welcome either4, but they are ignored, thought not to exist, or said to be somebody else’s, and he is apotheosised, manhandled into becoming a god too big to fail the test of latter-day sensibility, a god therefore of blind idiocy who neither sees nor understands the forms and deeds of the human races.
. . .
1. Adam Rutherford, “Why Racism is Not Backed by Science”,, 1st March 2015.
2. See C.R. Darwin, Letter to William Graham, 3rd July 1881, transcribed and published online for the Darwin Correspondence Project.
3. See C.R. Darwin, Letter to Charles Kingsley, 6th February 1862, ibid.
4. See my fantasy, “An Unwelcome Guest”, The Joy of Curmudgeonry, 12th February 2009.

Monday, 23 February 2015

The Birth of Postmodernism in Trauma. — As the real began to crush the ideal, the left put the real on trial, and found it innocent of existence.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

A Word in the Ear of the Future-Seekers. — Modernity is not the bridge; it is the abyss.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Novocularity. — Old books are new eyes.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Drink to Nothing

(I.) The cup in front of me contains a deadly infusion of hemlock that will kill anyone who drinks it.
(II.) I do not want to die by drinking it.
(III.) There is no oughtness — moral or otherwise — or any other reason whatsoever that I ought to drink it.
(IV.) I ought not to drink it.
But, hold on:
(Va.) Oughtness is not a kind of isness (i.e., is not a fact); and (Vb.) Oughtness cannot be rationally derived from isness. (Add: the same goes for what purports to be oughtness.)
(VI.) Conclusion IV is an oughtness or rather, purports to be.
(VII.) Conclusion IV is neither an isness (i.e., neither a fact) nor rationally derived, after all, from the isnesses (i.e., the facts) of I, II and III.
(VIII.) That which is neither a fact nor rationally derived from at least one fact is of dubious validity, to say the least, gaining credence only through error or fallacy.
(IX.) Conclusion IV is of dubious validity, to say the least, gaining credence only through error or fallacy.
(X.) I do not give credence to what is neither a fact nor rationally derived from at least one fact; to what is gained through error or fallacy; hence to what is of dubious validity.
(XI.) I do not give credence to IV, namely, that I ought not to drink the deadly infusion.
[The irrational crux of the matter lies in the twin-beliefs that (Va.) oughtness is not a kind of isness and that (Vb.) oughtness cannot be rationally derived from isness: namely, it lies in eighteenth-century follies that still blight the intellectual landscape.
   Now, those who wish to maintain their defence of Va and Vb and yet who also wish somehow (but understandably) to find that the argument from I-IV is reasonable (despite holding Va: oughtness is not a kind of isness) will likely suggest that the oughtness in conclusion IV, namely, that I ought not to drink the hemlock, is not derived from the isness of the premises at all but rather from an oughtness implicit in premise III, namely, that there is no oughtness — moral or otherwise — or any other reason whatsoever that I ought to drink the hemlock. Here there are a few things to note.  
  • (1) Premise III is not an ought-statement but an is-statement that embeds an ought-statement in its denial of oughtness. In the case that it is true, it is true by the isness (i.e., the fact) either that there is in fact no oughtness in the world, or that just in this case there is none.
  • (2) Conclusion IV is derived from the whole of premise III, not just from an embedded part of it, as well as from premises I and II, and since each premise as a whole is an is-statement, and if conclusion IV is rationally derived from the premises, then it follows that oughtness can be rationally derived at least in part from isness. Or: the paradigm of premise III, namely, It is not the case that I ought to do, is not logically equivalent to the paradigm of conclusion IV, namely, I ought not to do, hence the latter does not by itself logically follow from the former, hence furthermore, if the conclusion is rationally drawn from the premises, then part of it must be rationally derived from the isness of the premises, contrary to the claim of Vb. (In short, the oughtness of conclusion IV cannot be derived solely and in particular from the denial of oughtness in premise III.)
  • (3) If it were then held by saving modification that Vb is after all just the claim that oughtness cannot be rationally derived solely from isness, where isness is assumed as utterly devoid of implicit oughtness, then the claim would be but a special case of nihil fit ex nihilo, a principle held to be true by reasonable men for millennia; but then it would lose its supposedly new and radical sting. In every rational argument, what is explicit in the conclusion is implicit in the premises, otherwise there would be nothing therein for logical inference to draw out into the conclusion. (And why should arguments with ought-conclusions be held to a higher — nay, impossible — standard?) So, indeed, the oughtness found in the conclusion of the argument I-IV is implicit in the premises. But that does not show Vb to be true as stated and meant (as a new and radical finding). For the claim of Vb as stated and meant is not that oughtness cannot be derived from oughtness, but that oughtness cannot be derived from isness, which presupposes for its truth that oughtness is not a kind of isness.
  • (4) What makes Vb new and radical (and false) is its presupposition of Va, namely, that oughtness is not a kind of isness. That is the real crux of the matter. And what shows the falsehood of Vb is the falsehood of Va, being that its contrary is true, namely, that oughtness is a kind of isness. (Naturally, just as there are false is-claims, so there are also false ought-claims.) That Va and Vb are false is clear in the light of intentionality.
But here it is pertinent to be reminded that some philosophers have also denied the existence of intentionality: of any kind of aboutness, end-directedness, or goal-tendency. (Their goal in doing so is not immediately clear.) Thus, for them, that oughtness cannot be rationally derived from isness follows from the “facts” (as they see them) that not only is oughtness not isness but also that nothing can be rationally derived, at least where that means logical inference towards an end. If they were so inclined, they ought to argue as follows:] 
(I.) Nothing is about anything, or acts or is conducted towards, for, or to an end.
(IIa.) No “logical inference” is about anything, or acts or is conducted towards, for, or to an end; and (IIb.) Nothing else in this “argument”, including its “premise” (I), nor the “argument” itself, is about anything, or acts or is conducted towards, for, or to an end: e.g., towards the end of understanding the world or an aspect of it. (As the quotation-marks, which in fact signify nothing, might suggest, if suggestion were possible, these are not things as ordinarily understood, to wit, as being about something, etc — but then of course neither is understanding, ordinary or otherwise.)
(III.) Nothing follows, except perhaps and per accidens my lunch and the saying of new things, which will not be about anything, etc.
Still, whatever:
(IV.) Science is great, in spite of its not being about anything, etc — great not least in that it somehow helped to reveal its own insignificance in showing premise I, namely, that nothing is about anything, or acts or is conducted towards, for, or to an end.
[Here the eliminativist might argue that whilst science is not about anything, nor conducted by its practitioners towards, for, or to an end, it nevertheless reflects the world. He might do so, but he ought to bear in mind — though he might give the oughtness no credence — that his argument would, by his own lights, not be about science and its relation to the world, nor be conducted towards the end of defending its significance, although yet again he could say it reflects its significance, where “significance” does not bear any meaning of being about or towards something. But then, by those lights, he could say a lot of things about nothing to no end.]

Something and Nothing

“Who says there’s not nothing?”, asks philosopher Arthur Danto1, apparently unaware that even a stupid question is something.
. . .
1. Quoted by Oliver Burkeman, “Has David Birnbaum solved the mystery of existence?”,, 19th October 2013.
The reactionary is no utopian. His ideals have mud on their boots.
The instinctive and habitual task of authoritarianism is to repress and restrain creativity, thus to smother trash and spur genius to thrive.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Against Oakeshott. — Nomocracy is a kind of telocracy that the liberal promotes as a neutral yet opposing tendency to every kind of telocracy. (The idea of something neutral yet opposing is incoherent.) As with every other telocracy, nomocracy forbids anyone from choosing an end at odds with it. For to allow anyone to act outside the rule of law would be contrary to it, contrary to that end which nomocracy has set for everyone. The promotion of nomocracy as though it were neutral yet opposed to telocracy is typical of liberalism’s incoherence and its blindness to the imposition of its own ends, or rather, it is yet another unprincipled exception that liberalism makes for itself.

From The Sensitive Guide to English Usage (2,796th ed.)

person of colour, n.phr., is to be distinguished in sensitive discourse from coloured person. Whilst usage of the first is presently (as of 2:53pm gmt on 29th January 2015) recommended by coloured people, usage of the latter may land you in trouble because it is not presently (id.) recommended by coloured people, though it once was. Person of colour is often abbreviated to poc, presently (id.) without disapprobation. The plural is pox.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015


Tim Worstall: “[E]radicate those who did this. No mercy.”1
Dearieme: “Where’s your usual pieties about a fair trial, Tim? And your opposition to capital punishment?”2
Tim Worstall: “I deliberately used that word instead of ‘execute’ or ‘kill without trial’. Because charging, trying and then jailing for life is still eradication.”3
Dearieme: “I don’t believe you.”4

. . .
1. “#JeSuisUnHebdonist”, Tim Worstall (Weblog), 7th January 2015.
2. Comment at 3.37pm, ibid.
3. Comment at 3.40pm, ibid.
4. Comment at 8.48pm, ibid.