Author Archive | Roderick

Mislocating Disjunctivism

I recently re-read Srinivasa Rao’s Perceptual Error: The Indian Theories, which I don’t especially recommend. (A much better book on the same subject is B. K. Matilal’s Perception: An Essay on Classical Indian Theories of Knowledge.)

But one thing that especially puzzled me this time around is Rao’s treatment of perceptual disjunctivism. (For what I mean by perceptual disjunctivism, see pp. 15-18 of this). Rao does not actually use the term “disjunctivism,” but that’s what he seems to be talking about in his Introduction, and what he says about it is that it’s the prevailing view in modern western epistemology, but is generally rejected in traditional Indian philosophy, including Nyaya.

That struck me as doubly odd. First of all, we disjunctivists are all too aware that we’ve been decidedly in the minority in western thought ever since Descartes. Second, the Nyaya school’s approach has always struck me as disjunctivist in spirit. If I’m right, then Rao has gotten things precisely reversed.

Hence I’m pleased to find an article that supports my impression of Nyaya: “Parasitism and Disjunctivism in Nyaya Epistemology” by Matthew R. Dasti.


Lockwood Turner Overman

So Ben Lockwood (Agent Liberty) on Supergirl, Jace Turner on The Gifted, and Orlin Dwyer (Cicada) on The Flash are all different versions of the same character arc, right?

In all three cases, someone starts out a decent-seeming guy who initially has no problem with superhumans (be they aliens, mutants, or metahumans, depending on the show); but after his family suffers as a result of a conflict between two different groups of superhumans, he devotes himself to a campaign against them, drawing no distinction between the good and the bad, thereby becoming a partly sympathetic albeit mostly infuriating antagonist.

From left to right:  Lockwood, Turner, Dwyer

From left to right: Lockwood, Turner, Dwyer

There are some differences, of course. For example: Lockwood becomes the leader of the anti-superhuman campaign; Turner is just one member among many; and Dwyer works (mostly) solo. Also: Lockwood’s story is a clear – indeed heavy-handed – metaphor for anti-immigrant hysteria and alt-right media manipulation in the Age of Trump; Turner is a vaguer symbol for various kinds of bigotry and police overreach; and Dwyer’s character doesn’t seem to be intended to make any particular political point.

I’d also say that of the three, Lockwood is the most interesting – partly because Sam Witwer is the most talented of the three actors involved, partly because he gets more clever dialogue. Lockwood’s a less sympathetic antagonist than Turner because he’s slimier and more self-aware, while Turner is sort of perpetually befuddled; but Witwer gives Lockwood a kind of goofy, smarmy charm that’s creepily engaging, while Turner is as bland as a slab of beef. But the most boring and single-note of all is Dwyer, who seems to be of the school of thought that Christian Bale’s Batman voice was too soft and subtle. (Flash is lucky to have the best villain of the three shows this year, but it ain’t Dwyer.)

         

In related news: on tonight’s Supergirl, Lex Luthor refers to a quotation from Epicurus as being 230 years old. Off by a factor of ten, dude! If you’re that sloppy with measurement, no wonder your superhero-killing devices keep failing.

(I also have a hard time making sense of Manchester Black’s motivations in this episode. What was up with that? SPOILER ALERT: I’ll say more in the comments section below.)


Names, Wanted and Unwanted

Many days passed before we could speak to the Golden One again. But then came the day when the sky turned white, as if the sun had burst and spread its flame in the air, and the fields lay still without breath, and the dust of the road was white in the glow. … But the Golden One stood alone at the hedge, waiting. …

And we said: “We have given you a name in our thoughts, Liberty 5-3000.”

“What is our name?” they asked.

“The Golden One.”

– Ayn Rand, Anthem

In despair I followed him into the Madidinou Fields, in an afternoon in the end of the dry season. … He turned away and went on working. …

I said, “Once I gave you a name in my heart. Do you want to know what it was?”

He said nothing, did not look at me, and went on working.

I left him there with his cutting knife and basket and walked away between the long-armed, contorted vines. Their large leaves were rust-colored in the dusty light. The wind blew dry and hard.

– Ursula K. Le Guin, Always Coming Home


I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face

Heh. In tonight’s episode of Discovery, if memory serves (no, that’s not the episode title; that’s last week’s episode title), there was one point at which Pike was sharing the bridge with seven women, one of them his superior officer (Cornwell, Burnham, Tilly, Nhan, Airiam, Owo, and Detmer). He seemed unfazed. He’s evidently made a bit of progress in what’s supposed to be just three years.

Or we can take Pike’s earlier attitude as something that never really happened, which is clearly how we’re supposed to take the no-female-captains rule in “Turnabout Intruder.” Sometimes retconning is the simplest solution.


Forthcoming Anthology on Dialectical Libertarianism

[cross-posted (with slight variations depending on audience) at C4SS, BHL, and POT]

Several C4SS people (Jason Lee Byas, Kevin Carson, Gary Chartier, Billy Christmas, Nathan Goodman, and your humble correspondent) are among the contributors to a forthcoming anthology, Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom, edited by Chris Matthew Sciabarra, Roger Bissell, and Edward Younkins.

Not the actual cover

Not the actual cover

Other contributors, from a variety of libertarian traditions, include Robert Campbell, Troy Camplin, Douglas Den Uyl, Robert Higgs, Steven Horwitz, Stephan Kinsella, Deirdre McCloskey, David Prychitko, Douglas Rasmussen, John Welsh, and the editors themselves (Sciabarra, Bissell, and Younkins).

In Sciabarra’s words: “These essays explore ways that liberty can be better defended using a dialectical approach, a mode of analysis that grasps the full context of philosophical, cultural, and social factors requisite to the sustenance of human freedom.” Sciabarra notes that while “some of the authors associated with the volume may very well not associate themselves with the views of other authors herein represented,” a “context-sensitive dialectical approach” is “living research program” that “will necessarily generate a variety of perspectives, united only in their ideological commitment to freedom and their methodological commitment to a dialectical sensibility.”

Sciabarra has devoted his career to exploring such an approach, most notably in his “Dialectics and Liberty” trilogy Marx, Hayek, and Utopia; Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical; and Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism.

Check out Sciabarra’s announcement of the Dialectics of Liberty anthology here, and the abstracts of chapters here.


Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes