Unwelcome people from the past

Okay, so facebook is a neat way to communicate with people; it is also a not-so-neat way of getting bugged and found by old girls from the convent school. My goodness! I do not care what they are doing, I do not give a shit about your life, and I don’t fucking want to know!!!

On the plus side, I’m glad they are fat now and how all the bullies are not pathetic wenches and failures as women…JUSTICE!!

Antisophie

Periods

Did you know that Courtney Cox was the first person on TV (allegedly) to say “period” (referring to mensturation)? What a blood revolution. Its strange how men are so taboo about a very everyday and uniquely female experience. They are scared of it that’s why! Attitudes towards mensturation are very peculiar. Early biblical accounts put it on the same level as having sex, in terms of its spiritual impurity.

Antisophie

Verstehen truths

Who is the real Destre? Some people say it’s Michael, others, one of the other areopagites repeated, but, what does it really matter? Oscar Wilde wrote on the importance of deception and face management as a way of portraying some kind of other reality of a person.

When Liberace died, many were curious about the nature of his death. Liberace was a beloved celebrity in the United States and beyond, representing a certain kind of mindset or kitcsh. For many, he was a cultural icon, for a certain demographic, he was the face of a new wave of technology that was otherwise unfriendly and inaccessible. The legacy of Liberace, unlike that of Sinatra, will not last, and did not last with much warmth after his death.

Why was this? A large speculation is that many peole inquired into the cause of his death. A media frenzy then came of this issue, of how, or why he died. It then became that the man’s reputation, which he took his life to build, was destroyed by the suggestion that he was a homosexual. With that, his career ended in a way that not even his own could have taken away. I see today in the news of some rumours about John Lennon; all interesting for the newspapers to get us buying and watching.

It got me to consider the whole importance of face management in social interactions. In many professions, and to the identity of many social individuals, reptuation, and image, is everything. Perhaps it is that impetus to understand our fascination with trying to find celebrities with their pants down (figuratively and literally). Those icons who work hard to their eminent status and those individuals who have by means of their own effort and goodfill have achieved a status, or did a service, or entertained in ways few people could ever do, are those individuals we are so fascinated in dishing the dirt about.

A galpal once told me, and I think is apt. Everyone has dirty laundry. I was with Michael at the time and he just kept sniggering about a certain person in the room, who had notably dirty laundry. Immaturity aside, the serious point is that we could all find something shambolic and embarrassing about others, perhaps the shambolic and embarrassing thing can be that they have no interesting lives.

If there is an image that can be shattered, the pieces of its shattered glass clearly show that the image was not a false one. The shaming of individuals is mere self-indulgence. Because truths about the self are truths of a different domain of facts than those normal ones we think of. To say there are ‘truths’ about a person is not to speak in a domain of facts, but within an ellipsis. It is, to invoke a pun. A verstehen turth of a person that may or may not be truth-apt, bit far from it is it to assume truth-aptness as a tacit and necessary condition.

Antisophie (and Sinistre*)

Hot potatoes always go cold

Last night, I had the pleasure of watching two extremely different, and yet similar, documentaries. The first one I saw was on the BBC last night; concerning the career of Jim Davidson, most British readers may know him as the entertainer/comedian who has been tarred as being a racist. I find this a most interesting question of is he a racist? I think he isn’t, but he is definately faux-pas material!

Upon the interviewer (Piers Morgan, former editor of The Mirror) asking whether Jim was homophobic; Jim replied, rather oddly, “How can I possibly be homophobic, some of my best friends are black!”, and then he paused, and winked. That is a very sly and ambiguous reply, its also very clever. What is interesting is that by our standards, the old work of Jim Davidson can most definately be seen as a little insensitive, but, then again, so are sketches in Little Britain, and what about self-referential racism; David Baddiel’s light anti-semitism, for instance, Lenny Henry’s lampoon of Black British (which, except for Jim being white, isn’t terribly different). The question-begging comes mores to ourselves than to Jim about the issue of intolerance. I noted how interesting it was that Jim, in past interviews, spoke of Black characteristics in a way not dissimilar to how most people talk about Chavs. If people want to insult ‘chavs’, they should just make jokes about the working class overtly. Oh, and I can already imagine replies of “chavs are not necessarily working class…”. Well, I reply to you, does Council House ring any bells?

I see that the chav phenomenon encapsalates a hypocritical critique of those with a lack of cultural sophistication, from those themselves who could also be subject to a similar charge. Since when, for instance, did the Beastie Boys and David Hassellhoff become esteemed cultural artefacts? But that’s a whole other issue…

I found two ironies about Jim Davidson; the first one was about how his career came about from a talent show, and then, his career ended because of another talent show (Pop Idol’s ratings defeated Jim Davidson’s Generation Game). A second remark is that Jim ironically represented a challenge to the old guard of comedy insofar as they were middle class cigar-holding limerick-tellers. Jim, in the late seventies, represented, in a nuanced way compared to modern comedic revolutions, a challenge to the orthodoxy of comedy. The irony was, however, that Alternative comedy a decade later challenged him upon the same grounds, that Jim was the old guard that must be overthrown by the cool and revolutionary coalition.

A second documentary that I saw was (by Michael’s suggestion), concerning the band Mayhem. A very interesting documentary about how one member committed suicide, and another guy, Oystein Aarseth, was murdered by the guy from Burzum. It’s riveting stuff! When they talked of Oystein’s personality it became clear that a lot of the band was just image, but that attracted many people from unstable backgrounds to be involved. It’s very dark stuff and it makes me appreciate the genre of black metal now. I now feel that Death metal is a bit stale. I often feel that with emo bands trying to impersonate the ‘unclean’ vocals of black metal, they ruin the artform and intention. While it’s possible to be romantic and unclean (in vocals); they just do it in a terrible way. Screamo, what a fucking joke! It does interestingly make a more authentic metal audience drive further and further to obscurity; consider for instance how Black Sabbath was very challenging and ‘deviant’, and then how later on, Ozzy has become the symbol of kitsch. You’d never see Varg Vikernes, who was convicted of killing a man and burning churches, on a reality TV show….I hope not anyway…

Sinistre*

A sociology of philosophy

Around many of my circles I hear people talking about sociological aspects of philosophy. What do I mean when I say this? Let me clarify. The sociology of philosophy concerns philosophy as an academic practice, not the subject matter, but the conduct of its practitioners. Here are some things that could be pointed out:

1. Philosophy is professionalised to the point of being an ‘occupation’ instead of a ‘vocation’
2. Proper philosophy has become so specialised and insular that non-philosophers are unwelcome to participate.
3. Philosophy as a job, aims for various job related goals: tenure, reputation, publication, the first of these three is very hard these days
4. Philosophy and wider social phenomena: the economic situation has had an impact on philosophy, the “New Atheism” movement draws a lot of philosophers, but on the other hand, draws out the most philistinic of them. As was pointed out in a previous post, those who call themselves new atheists to some extent show themselves to be uninteresting insofar as they exhibit a lack of awareness to the ‘old’ atheism (I don’t like either of the terms…)
5. A lot of initiatives are being made about being more sensitive in the politics of identity; I have been told of a group known as the “Sheffield Feminists”, for instance, the leader of which, is well known for positively endorsing women-friendly departments.
6. The relationship between philosophy as a university subject, and other subjects; physics, for instance, mathematics, or, the (dark) arts, who normally talk about those dirty continentals.

Antisophie

Kant’s racism

I have been going through Observations on the Beautiful and the Sublime, where in a section concerning differences of appreciation between the sexes, he talks of various European tendencies, the Spaniards and the English and the Germans have a flair for the sublime, for Kant, and then he says but the French and the Italians have a flair for the beautiful. How quaint are his remarks, it is laughable to see such politically incorrect observations in Kant.

Then, as it goes on, there is a notorious passage on Africans. And I cite:

The Negroes of Africa have by nature no feeling that rises above the ridiculous. Mr. Hume challenges anyone to adduce a single example where a Negro has demonstrated talents, and asserts that among the hundreds of thousands of blacks who have been transported elsewhere from their countries, although very many of them have been set free, nevertheless not a single one has ever been found who has accomplished something great in art or science or shown any other praiseworthy quality, while among the whites there are always those who rise up from the lowest rabble and through extraordinary gifts earn respect in the world

S*

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false
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Social psychology

There are quite a few philosophers who draw from empirical research these days:

1. Neuroscience/neuropsychology
2. Economics/game theory
3. Social psychology
(among others)

I think I’ve changed my mind about this a little over the past few months. I used to outright reject any insight from such disciplines (possible exception of nonempirical game theory); but I deem that there are some important provisos that should be fulfilled before considering them as having philosophical implications. And, oddly enough, these are non-philsophical considerations.

i. Are the variables sound?
ii. Are the variables sufficiently able to be mathematically constructed?
iii. Are the findings empirically repeatable?
iv. Has a pilot study been conducted to deem methodologies effective
v. Is the study ethical?

Let me consider the last point. Why should we care that a study is ethical? There are various reasons, and most of them perhaps you may not have considered. The obvious one is that, unethical studies cause harm to the research subject. Minor implications: reputation of the researcher, his group, their funding agency, their university/institution, and the discipline’s reputation as a whole comes to jeopardy. This means people will not trust researchers if they are unethical, and for good reason too if they were known to cause harm. Some of you might be more filppant and say something like okay so we may have done this research already, there is still import of the study, right?

Not necessarily. Unethical studies are difficult to repeat, one for ethical reasons, two, because often the variable are too different to repeat in exactly the same way. Studies that cannot, or will not be repeated are too difficult to verify, but they are, if you are innovative enough, able to falsify it (by testing the aspects of the operation design process). Unethical studies tend to stand in a singularity, very few studies would bear resemblance to them, so there is no context, and further, the researcher-subject relationship; due to the nature of oppressive and coercive relationships, are difficult to reconstruct. Further, studies like Milgram’s social psychology experiment are difficult to interpret given certain presuppositions that must be addressed: nature or nurture? What is the structure of explanation?

Sinistre*