One awkward thing about me is that temperamentally I'm super skeptical about 'reading great thinkers' or 'going back to the source,' but ended up believing that Baumgarten, Kant, and Shelley are the actual best things to read about 'poetic thinking'
I don't think it's impossible to come up with a sober theory of why 'great books' can be a real thing in philosophy. It won't be quite as sober as the error-theory that it's just easy to project your own favorite thoughts on an unclear old book, but still a pretty sober theory
My thought is that philosophy is maybe-by-definition the field of informally systematic inquiry. The basic philosophical unit is the informal system, not the idea or the argument
Is Aristotle's Poetics just much worse than other major works of Greek philosophy? I had to do an intense course on it in undergrad and it made me determined to never read Ancient Greek philosophy
The course was excellent and I did //very// well, but Poetics is just neither deep nor elegant. There are some very cool and useful thoughts in it, but they are simple thoughts that don't benefit from close reading and don't form an interesting system
It's very readable, it's just not so good! Spending three months collectively pretending that this perfectly nice slightly confused text is profound and systematic put me in permanent 'is this your king' mode
I think that people like Scott Alexander come to scientific racism through faith that the rise of the nerds untwists a twisted world. Faced with the observation that the rise of the nerds isn't lessening racial disparities, they conclude that racial disparities aren't twisted
If there were data that Black people do much better in tech startups than in trad elite careers, people like Alexander would instead be all 'nerd culture overcomes the oppressive racial hierarchies of the normies that kept Black people down for hundreds of years'
Slate Star Codex is a single-issue ideology, and that issue is 'nerds good'
If you aspire to do or embody something rare, and you're really hardcore about it, it's hard not to fall into a sense that most lives aren't worth living
There are at least two things here, maybe
One is that if you think about lives in a way that's like 'a life is good to the degree that it's a thread that makes the tapestry of human lives more good,' then you can reconcile a lot of contradictions in that neighborhood
Some literary theory and AI person who's not fixated on autoencoders like I am should really write on how transformers (BERT, GPT and so on) never 'extract' meaning from a text but rather 'charge' the text's words with relational significance and then 'reread' the text
A little bit of Stein, a little bit of Derrida, a little bit of 'hermeneutic circle' -- could be a good time
I think there's legit interesting stuff here about the persistence of a text as text in our cognition of it, if transformer-like architectures really do prove indispensable in the long term
'I Love Dick' is the only female sex-confessional I know where female heterosexual desire's not primarily desire-to-be-desired. Is this why it's still considered so shockingly abject?
I think there's something to the thought that, in the absence of social-material superiority to mitigate it all, desire whose primary object isn't your own sexual value is embarrassing beyond recuperation.
It's pretty often overlooked that in between plotting a revolution to abolish the humanity of women, Incels spend all their time analyzing their own 'sexual market value,' talking about how they would give anything to feel, just once, female eyes look at them in genuine desire.