A couple days ago someone - sorry, forget who - was making fun of this Josh Hammer piece because it's written kinda funny. He misuses words in a flourish-y way. (The opening 'herewith' is a clunker.) 1/ papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf…
But one thing he does that I've always meant to comment on is gripe about the Anthony Kennedy line that gripes conservatives. “The right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.” From "Casey". 2/
Usually the complaint is that Kennedy is being too agnostic. Hammer - possibly already thinking ahead to how is going to misuse 'eponymous' in the next sentence - blames it for being gnostic. (But relativist!) 3/
I would be funny to convene a roundtable of conservatives to argue whether it was Kennedy's gnosticism or agnostism that was the problem. But, getting to the point: it IS a goofy-sounding phrase to put in an opinion, and yeah I get why cons hate "Casey". 4/
But it seems a funny thing to get SO hung up on. Like: does anyone really deny “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life"? 5/
The alternatives seem to be: no one has the right, or someone else has the right to tell me what my concept of the mystery of existence is (and I'll take it and like it!) If you didn't think this thing Kennedy says, why would you think religious liberty was good? 5/
I mean: maybe you think religious liberty is just some temporary truce in the wars of religion while God's true soldiers rest & prepare to slaughter the heathen in a final push to come. 6/
Or maybe you think religious liberty is just about it being best to humor all the idiots - from the gnostics and agnostics - because it would be too much trouble to fight them all. 7/
I think most Americans believe that thing Kennedy said. It's this kind of goofy Emersonian-sounding thing. But what the hell ELSE does anything think is the way to run the railroad? I guess you aren't suppose to say the transcendentalist part out loud in an SC opinion. 8/
Hammer links to this hand-wringer. This sort of thing doesn't compute for me. All the 'puzzles' have Millian answers. And if you really think that dogs and cats just can't live together, how do you think religious liberty will work anyway? 9/thepublicdiscourse.com/2013/07/10091
Anyone else have any thoughts on Kennedy's good 'ol 'mystery of existence'? (Honestly, it feels a bit retro - in the dark age of Trump. 10/

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More from @jholbo1

10 Jun
Houdini said that no one could be considered a magician without mastering the cups & ball. That is, can you always make it be that the ball is under the OTHER cup. Anti-CRT is similar close-up sleight of hand, True Scotsman-style. The True Scotsman is always under the other cup.
So then, when the mark picks the wrong cup you lift it up in triumph. 'You just did a 'no true Scotsman'! Shame, fallacy! Why won't you argue straight?'
But seriously, the one thing that these folks cannot dare examine openly, for then the gig is up, is the likely relationship between two things: 1) some fairly abstruse academic writings; 2) a lot of people alleging, angrily, there are systemic injustices that need addressing.
Read 18 tweets
10 Jun
Trump will be remembered as the man who destroyed the GOP's inhibitions.
It's all like a bitter parody of a very American sub-genre: the holy fool in politics. Americans like stories about idiots, without a head for politics, who somehow wander close to the heart of the action, thereby transforming it by sheer Forrest Gumption. ImageImage
Trump is that tale come true in reverse: the unholy fool. A man with no understanding or even interest in politics, yet a seething cauldron of resentments, bullying instincts - a monster from the id. He has taught R's a naive life lesson just by walking, simply, among them:
Read 4 tweets
2 Jun
I surely didn't know about Tulsa, growing up, but the single thing I have learned in the last few years, that most shocked me and also fundamentally altered my view of the landscape, was the prevalence of 'sundown towns' across the US. 1/ sundown.tougaloo.edu/sundowntowns.p…
James Loewen, who wrote the book, remarks on that page: "When I began this research, I expected to find about 10 sundown towns in Illinois (my home state) and perhaps 50 across the country. Instead, I have found about 507 in Illinois and thousands across the United States." 2/
There are a lot of small to mid-sized towns and cities in the US with nearly all-white populations. Loewen expected to find they were a mix: some 'sundown towns' where African-Americans were excluded by law and threat of violence, but some all-white by chance. 3/
Read 25 tweets
1 Jun
I gave a lecture once in which I riffed on the democracy of the dead, per Chesterton vs. the democracy of the non-existent, á la Parfit. I whipped up a few illustrations to go with. Later a pro-life person emailed and asked to use the baby one and I said ok.
Oh - hey, I totally forgot. I also talked about paradoxes of identity and preference satisfaction for the same lecture. Suppose as a child you really want three scoops of bubblegum-flavored ice cream but, alas, it is not to be.
Later do you have a reason to satisfy that desire just because you are still the same person, even you you no longer want bubblegum-flavored ice cream? (I was going through a Jim Flora phase, as illustrator.) Obviously you do not still have a reason.
Read 5 tweets
1 Jun
Modern US politics is culturally driven by negative partisanship. Discourse, in that context, is shame and contempt-driven. The rhetorical goal is to sting the other side by exposing them as scoundrels and traitors to liberal democracy and American high ideals.
The right has some success at this - CRT, 'Woke'. The left has more. No one on the left, or in the middle, seriously worries maybe Trumpists are holding the high moral ground. I mean, srsly: Trump. Matt Gaetz is going to lecture me? Marco Rubio? The right lacks moral cred.
Hence the right is regularly stung by accusations of racism, Trump is a con man, 1619, R's are an antidemocratic, Q-addled 'basket of deplorables', the sedition caucus, voter suppression. Conservatives genuinely are infuriated by these charges. Why? (You do the math.)
Read 7 tweets
1 Jun
New OBZ pages! Z's made a friend! (Or has he?)

More than ever you see the influence of Nietzsche on Dr. Seuss in these pages. But also the influence of Plato on Nietzsche - the quality of the teacher-pupil relationship in philosophy. onbeyondzarathustra.com/obz-gdfd-p2-01
And yet: is not Seuss' famous, titular Cat also a seducer, in the Socratic mode, terrifying yet entrancing?

At any rate, it's interesting that Nietzsche foresees the rise of modern 'Cinema' culture ...
... also the way in which said cinema culture, which should be the basis of fierce life-promotion, may decline into decadent spectatorship! Cf. 'Goethean man', a.k.a. the 'Catilinist in the Hat', in "Uses and Abuses".
Read 5 tweets

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