reread the New Yorker piece on Slate Star Codex & controversy (from last year). Its surprising how much better it is than the NYT piece newyorker.com/culture/annals… Superior in every way: better written better understanding of the source material, more substantive critique...
A far more accurate sense for where the blog and its community are actually situated in Silicon Valley, what the rationalists are actually about, what the blog and the controversy about it say about broader issues. Just better in every way.
A few rationalists didn't like it in a sort of defensive and partisan way, but honestly this is what a fair, balanced treatment looks like, and it is probably the strongest evidence that Cade & defenders have over-stepped.

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More from @Scholars_Stage

19 Feb
A recommendation for more advanced learners of Mandarin who want something that is readable at your level but deeper than textbook: read essays by Zhu Ziqing! He wrote dozens of 2-3 page long essays back in the '20s and '30s, a pioneer in Mandarin prose style, and interesting!
I memorized his essay 匆匆 for a class once, all the way back in 2014 zh.m.wikisource.org/zh/%E5%8C%86%E… It is still one of my favorites
His essay 背影, on his father, is a classic most Chinese have read in school zh.m.wikisource.org/wiki/%E8%83%8C…
Read 11 tweets
18 Feb
Just finished Turganev's FATHERS AND SONS. Think there is an essay to be done comparing/contrasting the rationalism of Bazarov with the sort of rationalists you see today, something about how similar intellectual starting points lead to different ends depending on social context.
This review made me chuckle though it isn't fair: goodreads.com/review/show/36…
Other scattered thoughts:

*Useful reminder of how many things we think distinctive to our time or to Boomer time or whatever are actually centuries and centuries old. Arrogant twenty something intellectual men who think they know best have been so thinking for a long time
Read 15 tweets
2 Feb
On the other hand, there was exactly one of these patronizing to-do lists back in Zoellick's "responsible stakeholder" speech. Perhaps the Chinese feel like given recent successes they are in a position to switch roles?
I mean this seriously, not snarkily. Americans deliver "to-do" lists all the time. Several U.S. officials have tweeted them at Burma within the last 24 hours.
We've delivered them to the Chinese many, many times ourselves. From a Chinese perspective this kind of critique must be maddening.
Read 6 tweets
2 Feb
I think a lot about a minor side point made by Taggart Murphy in his Japan and the Shackles of the Past on variations in the Japanese masculine ideal over the centuries. I think the point is more broadly applicable.
If you hang out in East Asia today you find out quickly that the heart-throbs look something like this:

(this is a picture of the TFBoys, a Chinese boyband)
or this: (the kpop band Shinee, they also had this thing where they dressed up like girls for promotional shoots, see here: pinterest.com/pin/2149765821…)
Read 21 tweets
1 Feb
This is true to an extent, though it cannot be because it was easier to find consensus in 1915. In many ways intellectual life in 1905 had far *less* consensus than exists now. Bolshevism, peasant commune socialism, gradualist Bernsteinian Marxism, syndaclism, trade union labor,
Tolstoyish type experiments, laizze faire classical liberalism, American style progressivism, Bismarkian practical royalism, Catholic social theology, Russian style total autocracy, proto-fascism in a dozen flavors, to say nothing of the numerous art schools popping up
The problem with the current age is probably the opposite: too much intellectual consensus. The big questions seem answered. And that is what pioneering "great works" do--address the big questions in somewhat novel ways.
Read 4 tweets
1 Feb
New post: Where Have All the Great Works Gone? scholars-stage.blogspot.com/2021/01/where-…

@DouthatNYT's newest book suggests we are in a time of "intellectual sterility." One interesting way to reframe the question--what was the last universally agreed on "great work" of literature? Image
I tend to the position that you can't know if a work is on the Shakespeare-Dante-Plato-Homer level if you haven't had a few generations go by so that its enduring quality's can be seen and influence established.
But not everyone thought this way. In this post I discuss how Oswald Spengler was happy to list a few "world-historical" figures of his own age: Image
Read 14 tweets

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