Isaiah Berlin contrasts 2 theories of history

Personal theories stress character, purpose, and motives of individuals; these theories are viewed as vain and ignorant

Impersonal theories emphasize custom, culture, economics, and inevitability; viewed as serious and insightful
He writes that the "teleological" view is that individual responsibility is illusion. All disorder, disaster, suffering is because we don't understand the underlying meaning of things. If we understood the "real reason" behind events, we'd no longer suffer…
Whether due to mystical forces, physical cause-and-effect, or cyclical patterns of history, it's the view that "everything happens for a reason" and "it couldn't be otherwise." These theories rest on the belief that freedom of choice is ultimately an illusion.
So praise and blame have no place within this view— "we are what we are, like stones and trees, like bees and beavers." Just as it is irrational to expect justice or fairness from animals or soil, so it is with humans.
So supposedly only "the acutest and most gifted" people discover these hidden truths of historical inevitability. The rest of us are blind to what truly shapes our lives. People like Hegel and Marx believed that at certain moments, "historical advances" are "due" to occur.
The view of this form of determinism or historical inevitability is that it is rational to side with power—and irrational to be on the wrong side of history.
The belief in historical inevitability means that everything must occur as it does (bc of mystical forces, physical cause-and-effect, or w/e). So it is silly to blame historical figures for what they do. Warlords, dictators, mass murderers, etc. "are like floods and earthquakes"
Believers in historical inevitability think it's foolish to hold individuals in whatever historical period responsible, and that we should view events with detachment. But this reveals that they think people who act don't have free will, but interpreters of those actions do...
"How silly of you to blame Napoleon for his actions. He had no choice. He was a product of his time, place, class, culture, and political system."

This kind of statement implicitly reveals the belief that actors have no free will, but people who interpret their acts do have it.

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More from @robkhenderson

2 Nov
Echoes research about education, indicating that higher levels of education have zero effect on happiness because educated people's outcomes seldom match their expectations
Read 4 tweets
1 Nov
"the average audience member of The New York Post sits very close to the party and ideology of the average U.S. adult."…
Used to find it odd that anyone considered the NY Post "right-wing" or whatever. Until I observed members of the chattering class describe center-left academics as "right-wing." Then realized the typical member of the educated class is far to the left of the median citizen
Yep the chart shows that WSJ readers are to the left of the average U.S. adult. But their readership is still likely to the right of the typical member of the educated class. Most highly educated people, D or R, are left of the less educated in their party
Read 4 tweets
29 Oct
The Kim family in Parasite was not poor, but failed middle class. The dad lost $ starting businesses. Son and daughter took uni exam multiple times. It's why they did a bad job folding pizza boxes. Working class would do it fine. Bitter middle class think they're too good for it
This is also why critics adored Parasite. It allowed them to identify with resentful middle class people down on their luck (one of the greatest fears of affluent people; downward mobility) under the guise of feeling sympathy for the poor
My thoughts about Parasite with @RichardHanania here:
Read 9 tweets
28 Oct
'"I think it’s happening,” said Mr. Ahmed, the Gen Z consultant. “Do I think we control the power? No. But we’re pushing the envelope.” He confirms the laughing-sobbing emoji is dead: 'It’s an ironic thing, it’s kitschy. I would usually just say LOL.'"…
Good that compared to the past, we confer more esteem and respect to young people. More exhilarating to exist in institutions where people with greater narcissistic, Machiavellian, and psychopathic tendencies hold power. Keeps life interesting.
Young adults are also less kind, generous, and honest than older adults. Good indicator that they should be given more power and esteem.
Read 4 tweets
14 Oct
"Once we take account of genes...only the education of mothers matters: the association between mother’s education and child test scores is significant and large, whereas the association between father’s education and child test scores is insignificant"…
To be clear, this is looking at effects above and beyond the role of genes. There is a genetic effect between father's education and children's test scores. But for genetically unrelated fathers, their education has no significant effect on children's test scores.
In contrast, the education of mothers of genetically unrelated children has a significant effect on children's test scores. Nearly equal to the education of biological mothers. Seemingly a powerful effect of nurture
Read 4 tweets
29 Aug
Mao enacted a campaign called "Recalling Bitterness" to battle "lukewarm attitudes" about the socialist revolution

The regime forced people into rituals describing how bad life was before they had been "liberated," aim was to reshape memories of the past…
The communist regime appointed writers and artists to retell stories about class struggle "to suit the needs of different political agendas"

Officials of the state would often manipulate these stories, "there was a gradual blurring of the boundary between history and fiction"
Lin Biao (Minister of Defense) stated that "If the past bitterness is not understood, the present sweetness will be unknown. Some might regard today's sweetness as bitterness." The regime aimed to energize grievances to ensure revolutionary fervor did not die
Read 11 tweets

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