Reading speed

What is your reading speed? This is something that interested me profusely last year.

One of my friends read a 400 page book in 3-5 hours; I thought that was legendary. My personal best was reading and annotating Wilde’s ‘A picture of Dorian Gray’ in 5 hours but that cannot beat reading the whole of the history of science like this guy.

One of the things students do is read, however the quality and speed is important; the standard of reading is also crucial.

I’ve found it goes like this in difficulty

Translations – ranges from medium to EXTREME

Mathematics and logic – hardest

Analytic philosophy – very hard

Natural science -medium

Social science – easy

History – easy

Literature – piss

A page of Kant – 1 hour

200 pages of literature – 2-4 hours

100 pages of social science – 1-4 hours

10 pages of analyic philosophy – 1-2 hours

A chapter of Hume (or any other British Philosopher) – 1 hour

My illness of late has severely impaired my ability to read; but I wonder, how do the legends of the world read?

Listening to thrash metal also helps, good old sepultura and megadeth…

Dray’s imperative

Dray’s rationale: {Only} by understanding the person can you see why she did what she did

This is much like the principle in exegesis called ‘principle of charity’

However; do NOT take literary readings over argumentative ones, your task as an exegete is to make revered texts applicable and favourable, not neccessarily recreate their position.

That’s the difference between philosophy and history of ideas (or ‘Continental philosophy’, as I call it)

Consider Niezsche as a case in point, he suffered severe depression and much illness over his philosophical period, understanding his writings shows that sort of character and the character of his work favourably, however, we, as exegetes are not here for the sob story, we are here to do real work and make applicable to people working in current issues.

Intelligence quotience

I undertood an intelligence quotience test using the bona fides stanford binet desiderata. Yes, I’ll be the first one to tell you IQ is a social construction and isn’t an objective measure of intelligence, but lets just forget that for a moment…

It seems the average philosopher’s IQ is 160. A scientist is 159 and a soldier is 135.

Kant’s: 175

Descartes: 185

Wittgenstein: 190

Mozart’s IQ is in the 130’s

My IQ when I was 9 was 115. Now, it is 125. PITIFUL! Oh man, I should just kill myself now given my intellectual inferiority. If I were put in a room with the philosophical greats they would wipe the floor with me. I did find, however, that 125 is a PhD level/professional IQ range. If only I were 5 more and I could be ‘gifted’.

The intersting thing I found about the IQ test was that it tests your mathematical and language computational capacities; if you find formal correlations in arithmetic and logic you should be able to do well. I had to estimate 7! (7 factorial) for the test! Not easy stuff.

Maybe in the future my IQ will increase, I’m sure Kant wasn’t 175 until he discovered Transcendental philosophy in his 50’s.

Also, Bertrand Russell is predicted 180. Legend.

Propaedeutic to a firm foundation of rationality

The history  of all hitherto existing society is the history between reason and emotion.

Philosopher and theologian, romantic and bright, bureaucrat to serf stands in historical dialectic which maintains a constant opposition to one another.

The rationality proponents the primacy of the unseen, that which cannot be ‘felt’. Through lady reason, we can ascend our pathetic temporary forms and touch the eternal.

The enemy of the rationalist is none other than he who places experience at the forefront. Experience can tell us the obvious about the here and now, and uniformity may even tell us about universality (arguably!).

Both have interesting insights, but my quandry is this; we talk about ‘rationality’ and reason so often, we talk of ‘rash’ decisions and angry, spontaneous and other such spastic reactions which are construed as genuine experience.

Kant tells us that an action must be rational if it is to be genuinely rational. Is this really true? This is something I shall explore.

A larger project, is to understand what we are; in particular, the component of us that brings cognizance of reality; understanding and explanation of phenomena genera. That which judges what is beautiful, what is true, and what is good. One man called this project A Treatise of Human Nature, another, called it the Critique of Pure and Pratical reason and the powers of Judgement; both mean in simplest terms: a theory of the mind.

People talk about the soul, the outside world, bodies beyond us, but my aspiration is to understand that body within us, rather than those starry skies.

WHAT IS REASON?

People talk about reason as if it is synonymous with logic; psychologism is dead! Even Husserl refuted it!

My most pressing concern is not the cognitive construction of our world, which I find most interesting (especially Transcendental Idealism). My concern is ACTION.

How far are actions ‘rational?’ What does it even mean to be rational? What about emotions? How do they fit in our ontology?

This is only a propadeutic. Prolegemena! You denigrate me, but I tell you; before we reach to the stars we must know that we have a hand.

Redefining values

Axiom: Values (memes) can be redefined as communities see fit.

This goes against and intuition that social values, compared to say, empirical facts, are in some way obvious and uninterpretive (of course, if you have read Quine you wouldn’t think the latter).

Anyhoo, here are a couple of examples.

I. Swastikas; represented a Hindu religious sign of peace, then became a symbol of hatred, then, a symbol of challenge against the social norm by the punk movement.

II. Long hair: Typically seen as effeminate, or in some way subordinate; however, early Heavy Metal movement and romantic larkings of a past, bygone age before reason contest that long hair (on a man) represent the pinnacle of nonreason and brutish primacy.

Whether we agree with the memes or not as a factual matter, know this; nothing is obvious in the social world.

Kant Contra Hume on the primacy of emotion

Some people say that genuine love is one which is not subject to understanding, but simply experienced, and enjoyed. If one is able to comprehend their affliction, then there is some kind of deficiency or lack of genuine sentiment.

This type of view is not only nonsense, it is uneducated by reason, it is a propagation of the media and popular discourse; if someone really were not to question or rationally examine their preferences or emotions; then they are no more civilised or mentally advanced than the Homeric heroes or characters of Hesiod’s tales.

Hume tells us that the human mind, our beliefs, habits and customs are fundamentally subject to the will of nature, or natural belief. We are subordinate to our empirically-imposed environment which shapes our behaviour and beliefs. Reason is, and ought only to be slave of the passions (Treatise 2.3.3.4)

Kant accepts this ontology of a world where human minds are submerged in experience, Kant also accepts that a lot of our psychology is accountable to the will of nature; Kant remains by default a type of ethical hedonist. Kant does not, however, accept the subordinance of reason over non-reason.

According to Kant, genuine rational deliberation is needed for an action to be assterorically worthy. Actions led by inclination are less worthy, irrespective of whether the action is admirable or not.

Kant gives an example of a grocer who doesn’t overcharge; they could have two mentalities:

HUMEAN: Grocer doesn’t overcharge, because they will get a bad reputation and won’t get customers anymore (bastardisation of categorical imperative1)

KANTIAN: Grocer doesn’t overcharge because of respect for human autonomy. (Categorical imperative2)

In the next month, I shall draw out more arguments against the Kantian claim. I don’t know what I will conclude. Reason shall guide me.

Hmm, Rachmaninov…

I found a wonderful CD today; Sviatoslav Richter plays Rach piano preludes and etudes-tableaux.

Rachmaninov brings technical ingenuity with Romantic ideals to a beautiful marriage; from gentle melodies, complex harmonies and of course, the sick passages that only a pianist madman will try to play.

The good news about this CD is that it doesn’t pander to the audience’s pathetic desire to hear ‘pop classics’, you will NOT find the notorious C-Sharp minor prelude of 1892; I have yet to find any other performance of the other pieces in opus 3 than that bastardised work.

This collection contains a prelude which was the last piece I seriously undertook as a pianist; the Op. 32 G-sharp minor prelude; I LOVED the big fat arpeggiated chord which is orgasmic after the variated theme reaches a harmonic and emotional climax. I’m simple in my music, I know.

Another of my favourites is the D-minor moderato etude from Op. 33. This piece meant a lot to me once upon a time. Romanticism really came to mean a lot to me, even though I didn’t realise it at the time. Modernist music, I found, never lived up to its cultural predecessor, even though the Second Viennese school showed the logical conclusions of European harmony.

I need to find me more lush music; Wagner, R Strauss, early Schoenberg, and to top it off, Stockhausen’s kontakte and the Licht suite. I just can’t find anyone who wants to go and see Late Romantic opera with. Any takers?

The interpretivist dogma

…by understanding the rationale of a person can you see why they did what they did.

People commit transgresions, fact. But that doesn’t tell us very much

What does tell us a lot is the psychology of the wrong-doer. THAT, is something we need to understand.

Wittgenstein’s rule-following construes all action as meaningful. A transgresion must be seen as meaningful if it is to be understandable in any way.

The psychology of a transgressor; what is that like? What is it like to have the mind of a murderer and understand how they can sleep at night knowing what they did, what they do.

The path to truth is traversed only alone.