April 1, 2011

BHL's War

Stephen Erlanger reports in the NYT that the man who claims, so far without dispute, to have set the Libyan War in motion by talking Sarkozy into it, who talked the American ladies into it, who talked Obama into it, is ... neo-socialist celebrity philosopher adventurer Bernard-Henri Lévy.

Oh, boy ...

Here's an interview from February with Lévy about how awesome he is. And here's Garrison Keillor's 2006 review of Lévy's book on America.

Before starting a war, a President of the United States should have a little checklist of questions to ask his advisers, such as:

What's the goal?
Is that goal worth killing people?
What's the strategy to achieve the goal?
Why do you think that will work?
What's the Plan B?
What's the exit strategy?
And, by the way, just to make sure, this war isn't Bernard-Henri Lévy's idea, is it?


157 comments:

Anonymous said...

i just want to state for the record that he is not considered a philosopher by actual philosophers.


our field seems to have this problem. the most famous self-proclaimed philosophers have little to do with the discipline (from sartre to derrida to cornel west).



for me, the decline of philosophy's relevance borders on tragic. there are a lot of brilliant people who wrestle with the fundamental questions of humanity and nobody cares. not to mention, in terms of pedagogy, students would be a lot better off learning to write in philosophy classes rather than in english classes. philosophy forces students to write with the force of reason; english classes teach impressionable young kids to write about their feelings and impressions.


alas.


"Sometimes I wonder why nobody reads philosophy. It requires, to be sure, a degree of hyperbole to wonder this. Academics like me, who eke out their sustenance by writing and teaching the stuff, still browse in the journals; it’s mainly the laity that seems to have lost interest. And it’s mostly Anglophone analytic philosophy that it has lost interest in. As far as I can tell, ‘Continental’ philosophers (Derrida, Foucault, Habermas, Heidegger, Husserl, Kierkegaard, Sartre and the rest) continue to hold their market. Even Hegel has a vogue from time to time, though he is famous for being impossible to read. All this strikes me anew whenever I visit a bookstore. The place on the shelf where my stuff would be if they had it (but they don’t) is just to the left of Foucault, of which there is always yards and yards. I’m huffy about that; I wish I had his royalties.

Royalties aside, what have they got that we haven’t? It’s not the texture of their prose I shouldn’t think, since most of us write better than most of them. (I don’t include Kierkegaard. He was a master and way out of the league that the rest of us play in.) Similarly, though many of the questions that Continental philosophy discusses are recognisably continuous with ones that philosophers have always cared about, so too, by and large, are many of the questions that we work on. For example, Kripke’s metaphysical essentialism (of which more presently) has striking affinities with the metaphysical Realism of Aristotle and Augustine. True, we sometimes presuppose more logic than you’re likely to come across on the omnibus to Clapham. But I’m told that an intelligent reading of Heidegger requires knowing more about Kant, Hegel and the Pre-Socratics than I, for one, am eager to learn. Anyhow, our arguments are better than theirs. So sometimes I wonder why nobody (except philosophers) reads (Anglophone, analytic) philosophy these days."

--Jerry Fodor

Anonymous said...

This is just pathetic.

We have guys with names like Wolfowitz, Frum, Levy, sending our boys to die in the Middle East, while guys with names like Mohammad, Abdul, Atta come back here to kill us in retaliation, and we are completely helpless in stopping this vicious downward spiral. It's amazing how we are nothing but spectators in all of this considering that blood and treasure is on the line.

Anonymous said...

as for french intellectuals thinking they're important:


"These are funny words, actually. I mean the way it's used, being an "intellectual" has virtually nothing to do with working with your mind: those are two different things. My suspicion is that plenty of people in the crafts, auto mechanics and so on, probably do as much or more more intellectual work as plenty of people in universities. [...] So if by "intellectual" you mean people who are using their minds, then it's all over the society. If by "intellectual" you mean people who are a special class who are in the business of imposing thoughts, and framing ideas for people in power, and telling everyone what they should believe, and so on, well, yeah, that's different. Those people are called "intellectuals" -- but they're really more a kind of secular priesthood, whose task is to uphold the doctrinal truths of the society. And the population should be anti-intellectual in that respect, I think that's a healthy reaction.

In fact, if you compare the United States with France, or with most of Europe, for that matter -- I think one of the healthy things about the United States is precisely this: there's very little respect for intellectuals as such. And there shouldn't be. What's there to respect? I mean, in France if you're part of the intellectual elite and you cough, there's a front-page story in Le Monde. That's one of the reasons why French intellectual culture is so farcical -- it's like Hollywood. You're in front of the television cameras all the time, and you've got to keep doing something new so they'll keep focusing on you and not the guy at the next table, and people don't have ideas that are that good, so they have to come up with crazy stuff, and the intellectuals get all pompous and self-important. So I remember during the Vietnam War, there'd be these big international campaigns to protest the war, and a number of times I was asked to co-sign letters with, say, Jean-Paul Sartre [French philosopher]. Well, we'd co-sign some statement, and in France it was front-page news; here, nobody even mentioned it. And the French thought was scandalous; I thought it was terrific -- why the hell should anybody mention it? What difference does it make if two guys who happen to have some name recognition got together and signed a statement? Why should that be of any particular interest to anybody? So I think the American reaction is much healthier in this respect."

TGGP said...

"And here's Garrison Keillor's 2006 review of Sarkozy's book on America"
I suspected Sarkozy was BHL's ghostwriter all along.

Ian said...

[Slightly off topic]

I used to think that Obama was one part Jimmy Carter, one part Chauncey Gardiner, one part Huey Newton, one part Frank Abagnale, and one part Paris Hilton.

But, recently, I've learned more. I've changed my mind. I've grown beyond my old small-minded view.

I now think Obama is one part Jimmy Carter, one part Chauncey Gardiner, one part Huey Newton, one part Frank Abagnale, one part Paris Hilton, and one part George W. Bush.

Awesome.

Anonymous said...

France has its own counterpart to necons. Nouvellecons.

Anonymous said...

And, by the way, just to make sure, this war isn't Bernard-Henri Lévy's idea, is it?

=======

you have an under-rated wit sir!

Anonymous said...

'Public intellectuals' - What an insuffereably French concept.
For some reason the Gallic nation likes to resonate itself with what they term as 'intellectuals', generally insufferably pompous and arrogant men who somehow try to sympathise with the ideal of the Gallic national character by being jolly good 'menschen' and 'sexually liberated' together with being all-wise and all-smart in an avuncular sort of way.
Despite mostly having that intangible 'mediterranean French' (as opposed to German French) sort of lookk - all dark hair, stocky bodies and big noses, many are, ironically of east-European Jewish descent such as perhaps the most 'Gallic' of them all, the late Serge Gainsbourg.

Hail said...

Why "Oh, Boy"?, they ask.

A. "Lévy is proudly Jewish, and he has said that Jews ought to provide a unique Jewish moral voice in world society and world politics." [-Wikipedia]

(Note: The PC-Wikipolice have let this line stand as-is for over a year now, from a cursory glance at revision-history).

Anonymous said...

Not a huge fan of Garrison Keillor, but he is spot on about BHL.

Anonymous said...

When the Levy Breaks, mama, you got to move.

Anonymous said...

"And here's Garrison Keillor's 2006 review of Sarkozy's book on America."

You mean Levy's book on America.

Anonymous said...

Umm, that's BHL's book on America, not Sarkozy's.

Anonymous said...

"As always with French writers, Lévy is short on the facts, long on conclusions."

Rotfl. This is so true. A Frenchman who spent an hour at an American airport has more to say about America than an American who spent 10 yrs in France has to say about France.

This can make the French annoying and insufferable but also charming and entertaining. And on occasion, provocative and interesting(even when wrong).
While watching PHANTOM INDIA, I kept wondering how much does Louis Malle really know about India to keep going on and on and on and on. But sometimes, he makes remarkably fascinating observations. They could be wrong but they are wrong on a high order, like a complex math problem that finally doesn't add up.

The French also have a gift for perfumed rhetoric. Even when they say ridiculous things, they know how to add color.
Same with cooking. It may not much for nutrition but it tastes special.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Sarkozy used the Levy brand. Sarkozy isn't liked by most French intellectuals who are on the Left. Many French intellectuals see Sarkozy as a cross between Bush II and Berlusconi: vulgar, childish, immature.

So, if Sarkozy attacked Libya on his own, he would look like a bully-kid playing with toys. But if he consults with a 'pubic intellectual', his actions are given moral cover.
So, maybe it was more Sarkozy using Levy than other way around. In the US, it was clearly the likes of Perle and Wolfowitz using Bush. Sarkozy may be immature but he is smart unlike dumbya.

Levy and Libya. Hitchens and Iraq.

headache said...

I'm not surprised Sark went to war. Libya is in France's backyard so it would make sense for regional powers to take care of their neighborhoods. This is in line with Ron Paul's assertion that other more appropriate nations fill the gap which the US troops leave upon returning home.

The only thing I worry about is whether Levy is secretly working for the Jewish Neocons.

Anonymous said...

"Lévy is proudly Jewish, and he has said that Jews ought to provide a unique Jewish moral voice in world society and world politics."

There seems to be two main schools of this, which is rooted in Holocaust Consciousness or Holoconsciousness.

Exhibit A says: because of the Holocaust, Jews deserve special rights(and privileges).

Exhibit B says: because of the Holocaust, Jews have special responsibilities.

Extreme version of A is Abe Foxman and his ilk. 'You owe us, you owe us, you owe us. We Jews are owed everything--money, apology, love, favors, respect--forever and forever regardless of what we do. We are right even when we're wrong.'

Extreme version of B is Norman Finkelstein. 'Because we Jews suffered so much, it is the duty of Jews to sympathize with the underdog and never oppressive other peoples, such as the Palestinians. NEVER AGAIN not only means no more oppression of Jews but also no oppression BY Jews since Jews, of all people, know what it means to suffer.'

Though having arrived at divergent conclusions, both outlooks have something in common: sense of Jewish uniqueness defined by the Holocaust.

Most Jews are 70% A and 30% B, and Levy seems to fall in this category. "We wonderful and caring Jews must help those poor Libyans, but Palestinians are a bunch of terrorists, so screw them."

Why are the Levys of the world so eager to 'save' Libyans? Three reasons:

1. Gaddafi has long been an enemy of Israel, and this is sweet revenge. There is no such thing as forgiveness of one's enemy in the Old Testament or Jewish consciousness.

2. Because of the bad rap Jews have gotten for their treatment of Palestinians(Muslims), Jews are eager to persuade (at least non-Palestinian)Muslims that Jews actually care about the welfare of Muslims.

3. Related to point 2; Jews want to persuade themselves that they are indeed a decent people who are not prejudiced against Muslims. By helping Muslims in places like Libya, Jews hope to convince themselves that their brutal policies against Palestinians are a matter of defense/survival than prejudice or hatred; after all, if Jews indeed hated all Muslims, why are Jews in US and Europe trying to hard to liberate Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa? Or so the Jews want to believe.

Similarly, Americans, stained by the history of slavery and land-grabbing from the Indians, preached and even 'spread democracy' around the world to convince others and themselves that they are a uniquely good people, an exceptional people than a prejudiced or imperialist one. Though Americans 'stole' land from the Indians, Americans promoted themselves as the anti-imperialist nation in the late 19th and early 20th century. American message to the Chinese, for example, was that while the British, French, Japanese, and Germans were imperialists, Americans were democratic freedom-lovers who respected Chinese as equal human beings.
After the Russian Revolution, Russians played the same game. They still had a vast empire, but they were telling the world that they stood for freedom, equality, and dignity of all man. Easiest way to divert attention from the problems and failings at home is to preach to the rest of the world.
Gaddafi did this too. Though his own country had tons of problems, he was busy preaching to the rest of the world about liberation, revolution, justice, equality, progress, etc.

Same goes for Levy. Having a difficult time fixing the Muslim problem in France and Israel? Preach and practice it on Libyans.

RKU said...

Actually, I'm pretty pleased that Obama has unexpectedly gotten America entangled in the "Stupid Libyan War"...

After all, given his circle of advisors/donors and the upcoming reelection campaign cycle, I'd been a little concerned that he'd strongly consider starting a "Crazy Iran War" next year to refang the neoconized Republicans, distract the electorate from all his other failures, and get himself reelected. Something like that could set in motion huge international forces and caused problems difficult for anyone to later repair. But by now starting a new and small but disastrous war that involves "many dozens" of combatants fighting over an empty desert against an Arab leader whom no one much likes, he's made it that much more likely that American military leaders will firmly block his attempts to start a war with Iran, which would be a very serious thing indeed.

It's a little like tripping and breaking your leg just before you were supposed to go out on a suicide mission. It saved your life.

On the other hand, I'm a little concerned that those BHL-types seem to drink much more alcohol than their American counterparts. That probably means that when they're all eventually shipped off to the Disassembly line, much of the recovered product may prove to be of quite inferior quality...

Bud said...

Liberals are suckers for 'intellectuals'.

Henry Canaday said...

BHL: Sartre, sans the frogface and avec millions. A deadly combination.

Anonymous said...

"My suspicion is that plenty of people in the crafts, auto mechanics and so on, probably do as much or more more intellectual work as plenty of people in universities. [...] "

I've always liked house painting. It so zen, and it gives me time to think.

Anonymous said...

"Stephen Erlanger reports in the NYT that the man who claims, so far without dispute, to have set the Libyan War in motion by talking Sarkozy into it, who talked the American ladies into it, who talked Obama into it, is ... neo-socialist celebrity philosopher adventurer Bernard-Henri Lévy."

Our de rigueur war. I hope the Air Force is using only obsolete Tomahawk missles salvaged from the USS New Jersey.

Anonymous said...

Re: Obama stopped bombing Libya, coninues war:

1)Kennedy cancels air cover for the Bay of Pigs, continues operation.

2) Liberals refuse to bomb North Vietnam, continue war.


Debating Vietnam, some leftist said Jerry Pournelle wanted to win and get out, while the left just wanted to get out, while the liberals wanted to lose and stay in.


People say Obama is some strange new factor in American politics, but to me he's the perfect pattern of American liberalism or rather the thing itself.

Ray Sawhill said...

I think Americans take French philosophy all wrong. For Americans (and I guess for Anglos generally), philosophy is/should-be an earnest search for truth. For the French, philosophy is fodder for sexy cafe chatter. There's not a lot of sense to be made of much of what the Gallic Big Brains say and write. But the aura of Big Thinking and the postures that are struck are very seductive. French philosophy is best understood (IMHO, of course) as a kind of intellectual-seeming rhapsodizing -- as pirouetting, as peacocking. And it's a service industry. You need stuff to blab about when you're in cafes and when you're on the make with a French lady, after all.

Hey America, lighten up. Quit asking French philosophy to be what it isn't trying to be, and quit criticizing it for not being what it doesn't want to be. If you can get it in perspective (as pastry-making for those with an intellectual bent), French philosophy can be kinda fun. But, good lord, don't take it so earnestly.

Anonymous said...

Anne-Marie Slaughter, one of the "American ladies", would have been all for this on her own and didn't need talking into it. For her, if the right Europeans are into it, she is into it.

Severn said...

Levy comes across as a bit of a dim bulb. How do so many Jews of unimpressive intellect rise to positions of influence?

Grumpy Old Man said...

Reminds me of the Jon Lovitz character, "Frenchie."

Luke Lea said...

Sounds incredible. Must be more to the story.

As for "Jews ought to provide a unique Jewish moral voice in world society and world politics," I have no problem with that -- if they would only do a better job of it. A naive, callous cosmopolitanism is not worthy of Jewish intelligence.

Anonymous said...

I was a philosophy major for a semester. I actually read about two thirds of Being and Nothingness. It affected me deeply. I skipped all my final exams and joined the Army as a kind of suicide gesture.

Heidegger and Husserl had less effect on me because they were unreadable. I recently tried to read a book of film criticism by a disciple of Derrida. About the only things I could follow were the names of the movies. And I also recently tried to read one of Cornell West's books.

So I am unfit to comment on anything about philosophy. There are a lot of philosophy books listed on my Amazon account but I am not made of that sterner stuff that would enable me to actually finish one of them.

The only exceptions would be Kierkegaard (on Mozart) and Eco's novel The Name of the Rose.

Now that I have established that I'm not worthy to comment on French philosophy let me say this: as a traveller and commenter on America, Levy strikes me as less like de Tocqueville and more like Borat.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

To the first anonymous, who lamented that his profession is not taken seriously by most: here's your chance to sell a few people on it. Steve's blog is read by thousands of smart folks.

I'm afraid that so far you haven't sold a lot of people on it. "It's really great guys, too bad you're not reading it" is not a good sales pitch. You would be far more effective if you could describe a few insights you've gained from reading philosophy, and if you could do it in your own words. Stuff that the average person has never thought of before, but that can be proven to be true and that would be relevant to his understanding of life. Most, including me, assume that philosophy - both the kind that you're gushing about, and the kind you're disparaging - isn't capable of that. People, including me, assume that it's all sophistry - complex, but meaningless games with words and symbols that never produce any real insights. Well, prove us wrong. Cite some insights, describe how they were proven. If the proofs are too long for a blog comment, then OK, just cite some insights, some results, with references to the authors who've claimed to prove them. But these insights better be interesting and non-obvious.

Warning: most people are immune to "reason has no meaning, meaning has no reason, meaning has no meaning" sort of stuff. There is a whiff of childishness in it.

Kudzu Bob said...

"People, including me, assume that it's all sophistry - complex, but meaningless games with words and symbols that never produce any real insights."

That, too, is a philosophy. Welcome to the club.

Anonymous said...

Exhibit A says: because of the Holocaust, Jews deserve special rights (and privileges).

Exhibit B says: because of the Holocaust, Jews have special responsibilities...

Extreme version of A is Abe Foxman and his ilk...

Extreme version of B is Norman Finkelstein...


And Exhibit C would be cousin Meir Wallach-Finkelstein, who told Gareth Jones, "Well, there is no famine."

AMac said...

Steve, prepare to be shocked, shocked!

"Ex-Gitmo detainee training Libyan rebels in Derna."
The Long War Journal, 2 April 2011

"A former Guantanamo detainee who spent nearly six years in detention at Cuba is training Libyan rebels in the city of Derna, according to the WSJ...

"Sufyan Ben Qumu was transferred from US custody to Libya in 2007... Qumu, who was imprisoned in Libya after his transfer from Guantanamo, was released by Qaddafi's regime as part of its reconciliation effort with Islamists in 2008 [or 2009]."

Continues...

Anonymous said...

"Levy comes across as a bit of a dim bulb. How do so many Jews of unimpressive intellect rise to positions of influence?"

Because his stuff, right or wrong, can at least be understood. Imagine if Sarkozy had asked Derrida for advice. Who'd ever know what Derrida was talking about?

Anonymous said...

I consider the ladies on the view - joy behar, elizabeth hasselbeck, etc. - America's public intellectuals.

Anonymous said...

"I think Americans take French philosophy all wrong. For Americans (and I guess for Anglos generally), philosophy is/should-be an earnest search for truth. For the French, philosophy is fodder for sexy cafe chatter."

I'm not sure BEING AND NOTHINGNESS is sexy but Sartre sure got a lot of girls.

I suppose Godard was French film's most famous philosopher. I like some of his earlier films, but I've no idea what he was saying in stuff like HELAS POUR MOIS.

I heard that much of postwar French philosophy was influenced by the Germans: Nietzsche, Heidegger, etc. I once tried to read BEING AND TIME, but it took me a whole day just to get through the first page and I still didn't know what was what.

Maybe it's wrong to speak of French philosophy as a whole, especially since philosophy, politics, and fiction in France bled into eachother more than in other places. Camus was an intellectual(maybe even a philosopher), playwright, novelist, journalist, essayist, etc. Sartre too worked in this vein. Yet, Sartre and Camus became bitter enemies, just like Godard and Truffaut later. I always thought Truffaut and Godard were kinda like McCartney and Lennon. Some people are, by nature, more 'popular' and some are more 'radical'. Before he made films, Truffaut was a firebrand film critic but more passionate than intellectual. But once he became famous, he wanted to be loved and he even starred in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS. (He also found out he's half Jewish). Godard just loved to push buttons and upset the status quo.
My guess is Levy is more Truffaut-ish. He wants to be invited to dinner parties and dilly dally with the powers-that-be. This is fine as it goes, but sometimes one has to play the whore to the elites and the clown--accessible and entertaining--to the masses. One could say Godard-ish types are truer and less compromised, but they tend to be arrogant and prickly just the same.
Other members of the French New Wave were also pretty 'philosophical' in their own way: Rohmer and Chabrol, whose movies are accessible. Rivette's movies make no sense to me, but SECRET DEFENSE did, a truly great film.

Developing parallel to the NEW WAVE gang was another group of filmmakers whose big names were Resnais and Chris Marker. Even if you can't quite put a finger on what they're doing, Resnais's MURIEL is deeply poetic, LA JETTE is one of the best sci-fi, and SANS SOLEIL is provocative.
French, at their best, have approached reality and ideas from angles ignored by or unknown to others. This can sometimes be precious but sometimes priceless. LA JETTE may be the first great philosophical sci-fi film. ALPHAVILLE may still be the best sci-fi satire. And Truffaut's FAHRENHEIT 451, whatever its flaws, has some of the most beautiful passages in cinema. French films are not just about people and stories but ideas and meanings. And unlike Anglo philosophy, it has an element of poetry, a dream quality. Maybe it was fitting that Bergson was French. And some people take REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST as seriously as psychology and philosophy as well as literature.

Dennis Dale said...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis

elvisd said...

"Hey America, lighten up. Quit asking French philosophy to be what it isn't trying to be, and quit criticizing it for not being what it doesn't want to be. If you can get it in perspective (as pastry-making for those with an intellectual bent), French philosophy can be kinda fun. But, good lord, don't take it so earnestly."

Totally. French so-called philosophy is verbal masturbation and cattiness, at least since the mid-century.

I remember when I first read Jean Baudrillard (the French Marshall McLuhan). It was the same puffball over and over again, but in a sometimes hilarious way. He, like the frogs in general, thinks we're a bunch of shits, but it never stopped me from finding it entertaining to read.

Reg Cæsar said...

Oh, and one more question:

Why us?

Anonymous said...

To the first anonymous, who lamented that his profession is not taken seriously by most: here's your chance to sell a few people on it.

I'm not the first anonymous, but one thing about philosophy, aside from the inherent interest of the big questions it tackles (and never comes to any definite conclusions on), is that it's the mental equivalent of weightlifting. You'll never be able to bench press 2,000 lbs., but trying to get there will make you a lot stronger. Likewise, you'll never be able to definitively answer the big questions, but thinking as rigorously as possible about them will make you intellectually stronger. It will also keep you from making some of the more common errors--paths (and answers) that have been tried and found wanting by the most rigorous thinkers.

TGGP said...

Funny enough, Fodor (along with his granny) is regarded as something like a joke by many American analytic philosophers.

Anonymous said...

"Levy comes across as a bit of a dim bulb. How do so many Jews of unimpressive intellect rise to positions of influence?"

"Wilmot Robertson", editor of the old Instauration magazine, used to call this tendency for otherwise unimpressive and seemingly unconnected Jews to rise to the top positions in various fields as "the magic elevator ride to the top". It happens far too often to be mere coincidence.

Anonymous said...

"Hey America, lighten up. Quit asking French philosophy to be what it isn't trying to be, and quit criticizing it for not being what it doesn't want to be. If you can get it in perspective (as pastry-making for those with an intellectual bent), French philosophy can be kinda fun. But, good lord, don't take it so earnestly."

Bullploppy. Talk about psychological projection! It is the French public and French intellectuals who take French "public philosophers" so seriously, not Americans. We Americans aren't the ones guilty of taking this steaming pile of crap seriously here; the French are.

DougRisk said...

Quit asking French philosophy to be what it isn't trying to be, and quit criticizing it for not being what it doesn't want to be.

I'll quit criticizing French Philosophy when they stop calling it Philosophy.

Anonymous said...

"Warning: most people are immune to 'reason has no meaning, meaning has no reason, meaning has no meaning' sort of stuff. There is a whiff of childishness in it."

Yes, straw men are easier to deal with than real philosophy. It's ok! Try not to strain your poor little brain too much.

Here is a ball. Perhaps you would like to bounce it.

When you're done, read some mathematical logic.

PS: Pretty sure Steve already went to bat for philosophy when he realized its grad students are the smartest out there.

Whiskey said...

No Steve, Obama's war is entirely his desire to not be pilloried for "failure to protect." As usual, all about HIM.

Has to be said...

I see that some people won't rest until they identify which Jew is responsible for any given war. Libya was a tough nut to crack; but finally, success!

Luke Lea said...

Quoting Hail: "Jews ought to provide a unique Jewish moral voice in world society and world politics."

I have no problem with that. I only wish they would do a better job. A naive, callous cosmopolitanism is not worthy of Jewish genius.

For instance, instead of hunkering down in the United States Ashkenazi Americans need to go out into the third world and start spreading their human capital around. They should stop supporting a parasitic immigration policy in this country that strips the third world of the little human capital it has. And they need to design a third world trade policy for America that works to the benefit of the American people. That will require a graduated expenditure tax to redistribute the gains of trade, which, in turn, will require an extraordinary world-wide diplomatic effort to close down overseas tax havens and bring international banking institutions to heal.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the media, Obama's
Hype-Q went through the roof.

Anonymous said...

Obama understands the power of smile-Q. Even when he has to tell us the bad news, he's smiling. It's like a doctor telling us we are sick but with a smile, which makes us feel, 'I may be sick but he cares about me'.

catperson said...

Because of the bad rap Jews have gotten for their treatment of Palestinians(Muslims), Jews are eager to persuade (at least non-Palestinian)Muslims that Jews actually care about the welfare of Muslims.

I don't think Jews want anyone to believe they are behind the American interventions in the middle east at all, because then people would believe it's for Irael and not American interests or humanitarian reasons. Much of the left still thinks the war in Iraq was about oil, and Alan Greenspan and Noam Chomsky encouraged such speculation:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/sep/16/iraq.iraqtimeline

http://pubrecord.org/nation/5953/chomsky-invasion-major-crime/

ogunsiron said...

Reading french websites, it appears that the sarkozy gov had recently been very embarassed by the way they had been cozying up to the tunisian and egyptian regimes in the past few years ( taking vacations at Ben Ali resorts and traveling in Mubarak private planes or something like that ).

Even worse, at the begining of the tunisian uprising, the french defense ministry officialy offered its help to the Ben Ali regime in crushing the opposition.

Sarkozy wanted to make sure that this didn't happen again with the lybian situation.

Anonymous said...

Levy? Damn, those Scotch-Irish are everywhere.

IHTG said...

Why do Americans place so much importance upon the thoughts of journalists, writers and academics? Bernard Henri Levy launched a war? Really?

In most of the world, people recognize that countries are controlled by generals, merchants and priests.

Anonymous said...

Who are the American ladies? Is this a euphemism for a certain crowd or is does it mean Hillary Clinton and some other female diplomats?

Couldn't figure which from the article.

Steve Sailer said...

In the 1990s, I wrote a piece making fun of philosophy, and I got back long, densely argued emails. I responded, they responded, and by that point it started dawning on me that I was losing the arguments, badly.

Anonymous said...

"...you'll never be able to definitively answer the big questions, but thinking as rigorously as possible about them will make you intellectually stronger."

But how do you know that they are thinking about them rigorously? Those who do hard science can often check themselves against reality. They can make predictions based on their theories, and then see if those check out. Surely, that's a more effective way to make oneself intellectually stronger.

Nothing disciplines philosophers in this way. I mean, of course THEY all say that they're thinking rigorously, but are they? From what I understand, they don't even agree on the definitions of many of their most basic terms. It would be easy for them to get together for the purpose of defining terms (think SI), but wouldn't that take away from the fun of sophistry, of creative BS? What would be left of their field? And there's no denying that concocting complex BS IS fun. It's intellectual onanism.

"Yes, straw men are easier to deal with than real philosophy. "

I see that you've declined my offer to present any insights you might have taken from reading philosophy. Thank you for your contribution towards confirming my hunch about its true nature.

Anonymous said...

"In most of the world, people recognize that countries are controlled by generals, merchants and priests."

Politicians are slaves to public opinion. A hundred years ago interracial marriage was beyond the pale, eugenics wasn't controversial, etc. I could have picked a million other examples. Think of public attitudes to homosexuality, for God's sakes.

To the extent that public opinion can be shaped, who shapes it? Who creates the wind that politicians must blindly follow if they want to get ahead in their profession?

Media executives and owners, elite journalists, and yes, public intellectuals. I hope you're not going to tell us that you think that Marx, for example, was irrelevant to world history.

steve burton said...

Third Anonymous: are you the same as the First Anonymous? If so, are the words you quote once again those of Jerry Fodor?

Also - would it kill you to come up with a reusable screen name? Just to keep things straight?

Nineteenth Anonymous (the one who challenges first Anonymous to "sell a few people" on philosophy:

Same question - would it kill you to come up with a reusable screen name?

Anyway, here are three tentative suggestions, at a fairly elementary level, for non-obvious but interesting conclusions of philosophy:

(1) Naive Realism is false.

Argument (following Lord Russell): Naive realism leads to physics, and physics, if true, shows that naive realism is false. Therefore naive realism, if true, is false. Therefore it is false.

(2) Our faith in the uniformity of nature is not founded in reason.

Argument (following Hume): there is no conceptual, and no non-circular empirical basis for the belief that unobserved cases are like observed cases. And there is no other available rational basis.

(3) If it is possible that there is a necessarily existent being, then there is a necessarily existent being - indeed, there is *necessarily* a necessarily existent being.

Argument: to be possible is to be actual in at least one possible world. To be necessary is to be actual in all possible worlds. If it is possible for a necessarily existent being to exist, then it is actual in at least one possible world. But, in that case, it is, by definition, actual in all possible worlds - including ours.

Heh - #3 is just for fun!

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer: "I wrote a piece making fun of philosophy, and I got back long, densely argued emails."

So who's the smart one?

-Stamp Act

Anonymous said...

anon: "philosophy ... [is] the mental equivalent of weightlifting.

Is it really? And if so, does it do a better job of "making you intellectually stronger" than other disciplines such as math or physics or econ?

I think philosophy has some glaring, inexcusable blind spots, e.g. insufficient use of quantitative arguments.

-Stamp Act

steve burton said...

Mr. Sawhill (nee Blowhard) - during my training at U.C. Berkeley and U.M. Ann Arbor, and during my subsequent job-search, I encountered quite a few continentalist philosophers.

In my current position as an adjunct, I work for them, at their pleasure.

I think that they take themselves much more seriously than you think that they do.

Whiskey said...

Right, mysterious "mind control rays" from "the Jews" made Obama bomb Libya. If Jews have such powerful mind control rays, how come most of the world hates them, and tries to kill them when it is actively against their interests (like say, an elderly wheel-chair bound American Jew on a cruise ship, or a couple of Jews in Bombay?)

Obama bombed Libya because he felt he'd get a bad rap for "failure to protect" and look bad at the crowd at Davos. That's his #1 priority. His number two priority was avoiding blame. He's got it rigged -- the US media will fly air cover to make sure he never gets the blame, its NATO (even though we ARE Nato) or someone else.

Whiskey said...

For those who don't like Jews, I have no idea why you are all in such a frenzy. In about 20 years Jews won't exist anymore -- they intermarry and lose their identity. Is Tim Wise a Jew? He claims to be Jewish, but hates Israel, does not worship as a Jew, and calls for the extinction of Whites (Jews are of course, Whiter than White).

Last time I looked, Obama was President. And GWB before that. And Clinton before that. And Bush 1 before that. "Jewish mind control rays" are the stuff of fools like Farrakhan. Who actually believes it. Obama got worried about looking bad on the pages of the NYT, and in front of Davos ("his people" as it were). So he dithered, panicked, and then Hillary, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power, all non-Jews profoundly hostile to Israel, pushed him into a non-War Time Limited, Scope Limited, Kinetic Military Action.

Whiskey said...

Actual, real Jews, those in Israel, knowing the Muslim world wants to kill them like Norwegians and Swedes and Romanians after Terry Jones (the pastor not the Monty Python guy) burns a Koran, are afraid of all these changes. Mubarak, Yemen, Jordan, Saudi, even Syria and Libya, were better off for Israelis stable because stable, status-quo dictators generally (Saddam aside, he was not status-quo) risk averse. They'd rather count their money than launch a war they could possibly lose. [Saddam's huge goon network like Stalin made him more of a gambler, he had bills to pay.]

Nobody in Obama's circle pays the least bit of attention to Wolfowitz, Frum, Kristol, and the like. Much less BHL. More like Soros (anti-Israeli, anti-Western, "one world" Davos-er). [Sarkozy could not launch an attack on Libya to keep France from being Camp of the Saints, already happening on Lampedusa, because he has a toy military that does not really exist.]

K(yle) said...

Nothing disciplines philosophers in this way. I mean, of course THEY all say that they're thinking rigorously, but are they? From what I understand, they don't even agree on the definitions of many of their most basic terms.

This is one of the early 20th century critiques of Philosophy as a discipline by Russell and Wittengenstein. In the Anglosphere Philosophy departments were largely replaced with 'Analytics'.

Analytic Philosophy is much less dependent on semantics, with agreed upon terms and definitions where possible and a more rigorously logical and mathematical approach to philosophy.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

The right-wing paranoids have another mark in their favor. No matter what else one might say about the cost-benefit, wisdom, timing, or justification for going into Libya, the UN approved it and the US Congress didn't. Whatever what else one might say about the cost-benefit, wisdom, timing, or justification for going into Iraq, the UN did not approve it, but the US Congress did.

That is, Obama considers the UN's to be the more important opinion. It is reflexive. It is the determining factor.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

""Warning: most people are immune to 'reason has no meaning, meaning has no reason, meaning has no meaning' sort of stuff. There is a whiff of childishness in it.""

Yes, straw men are easier to deal with than real philosophy. It's ok! Try not to strain your poor little brain too much."

Actually the anonymous poster whom you so sneeringly derided had a very good point - namely, if philosophy is any damned good, then it should be possible to describe some conclusions derived from it - conclusions that are both important and not obvious.

And you couldn't. I assume that means that you can't answer the question. He wasn't asking for the detailed reasoning behind a conclusion - just a description of the conclusion itself. Any physical scientist could provide such an example, probably several.

Kylie said...

"Hey America, lighten up. Quit asking French philosophy to be what it isn't trying to be, and quit criticizing it for not being what it doesn't want to be...French philosophy can be kinda fun. But, good lord, don't take it so earnestly."

No problem. I'm hard pressed to take Jerry Lewis fans seriously anyway, especially when they sound like Pepe Le Pew.

travis said...

There's no need to go searching for exotic intellectual influences on Obama. His great-grandfather was named Ralph Waldo Emerson Dunham after all. His grandmother attended a Unitarian Church. So Transcendental Philosophy is part of his psychological heritage.

New England Transcendentalism is a combination of German Idealism, Yankee optimism and Hindu mysticism. Neither the French nor the Jews are associated with its development.

Anonymous said...

Is it really?

Sure.

And if so, does it do a better job of "making you intellectually stronger" than other disciplines such as math or physics or econ?

I didn't say philosophy was the only way of making you intellectually stronger. Philosophy usually studies different questions than math/physics/econ does. In some cases the math/physics/econ approach will serve you better; in other cases it won't. (Would a math/physics/econ approach be useful in arguing the morality of abortion?)

I think philosophy has some glaring, inexcusable blind spots, e.g. insufficient use of quantitative arguments.

How would one "sufficiently" use quantitative arguments in discussing, say, epistemology or ontology? You might as well criticize physics for insufficient use of prosody. Different tools for different jobs. Philosophy (at least the Anglo-American variety) makes extensive use of logic, applied to kinds of questions that don't usually get asked in your comp sci digital logic course.

Anonymous said...

"(2) Our faith in the uniformity of nature is not founded in reason."

In its childishness this seems similar to the preoccupation with questions like "how do you know flying giraffes don't suddenly appear in your room any time you look out of the window?"

Why do I say childishness? Well, quite literally, children wonder about such questions more often than adults do. These concerns are certainly simple enough to be understood by them, but that's not all. Children don't yet have enough perspective to be able to understand how utterly irrelevant such questions are to their and everyone else's lives and to the search for any sort of truth. They haven't yet learned about the boundless universe of questions that can offer greater rewards for thinking about them. Actually, strike the word "greater". Thinking about these childish questions cannot offer any intellectual rewards.

The other two examples seem like sophistry, the third more elaborate than the first.

tommy said...

Here's an interview from February with Lévy about how awesome he is.

France would be a great country for many Jews. Its public intellectual culture is excessively verbose and intensely self-absorbed.

"Lévy is proudly Jewish, and he has said that Jews ought to provide a unique Jewish moral voice in world society and world politics."

But we've heard the "Jewish moral voice" many times. That voice always proclaims everything to be moral so long as it doesn't challenge the dogmas of political correctness, diversity and Jewish self-pity. What else do we need to know?

Anonymous said...

But how do you know that they are thinking about them rigorously? Those who do hard science can often check themselves against reality. They can make predictions based on their theories, and then see if those check out. Surely, that's a more effective way to make oneself intellectually stronger.

That's what makes scientists scientists--they can check their hypotheses against observations and experimental results in the lab. But some questions simply aren't amenable to that approach. Would you then say that, if an answer to a question can't be checked against observations in the physical world, then any old answer is as good as another? Unless you're a full-tilt raging relativist, probably not. You'd use methods similar to those used by logicians and mathematicians--namely, internal consistency and congruence with what we are already reasonably certain of.

Anonymous said...

The War in Iraq was about....

1.) Bush family father-son dynamics
2.) Incompetence and political expediency
3.) A powerful Jewish/neoconservative lobby
4.) Hysteria around 9/11 that served as a trigger to action

tommy said...

I think philosophy has some glaring, inexcusable blind spots, e.g. insufficient use of quantitative arguments.

Francophone philosophy is the last refuge of the intellectual coward.

Anonymous said...

"That is, Obama considers the UN's to be the more important opinion. It is reflexive. It is the determining factor."

Nein. Neither Bongress or Goo-N matter much. It really comes down to AIPAC.

Anonymous said...

Some say Obama has to take out Gaddafi or else he 'loses this war', but I don't think so. US didn't take out Hussein in the Gulf War, and maybe same thing will happen here.
Obama may decide to protect a few zones, declare 'mission accomplished', let a weakened Gaddafi stay in power, and the media will protect him and divert our attention on another 'crisis' to get our minds off Libya. It will be like the TRUMAN SHOW for us dummmies all over again. Just change the channel. Or is more like the channel switching our minds?

Anonymous said...

"I didn't say philosophy was the only way of making you intellectually stronger. Philosophy usually studies different questions than math/physics/econ does. In some cases the math/physics/econ approach will serve you better; in other cases it won't. (Would a math/physics/econ approach be useful in arguing the morality of abortion?)"

The problem with philosophy is it got sharked like the marlin in OLD MAN AND THE SEA. Remember the old man caught a big juicy fish, but the sharks came and ate all of it and left just the head and bones?

One time, philosophy included everything: ethics, politics, science, math, rhetoric, history, theology, etc. Greek philosophy is a wide-ranging field. But each eventually went their separate ways. Study of numbers became math, study of life became biology, study of matter and time and space became physics, study of power became political science, etc, etc. Philosophy became the study of the mind and reality, but then psychology came along and stole that too. So, philosophy was like a parent whose kids all left. So, philosophy became not so much about thinking about stuff but thinking about thinking. When that got boring, it became thinking about thinking about thinking, and so on.

Anonymous said...

as for french intellectuals thinking they're important:


"These are funny words, actually. I mean the way it's used, being an "intellectual"

Why do Americans use the word "continental" to describe ideas or anything else for that matter from Europe? You are not English! Stop pretending like you are! I understand that, since you Americans lack any significant cultural, artistic and literary achievements of your own, you feel the need to steal those of the English with the excuse that you are all "Angloshphere" countries and thus pretty much of the same country. You are not. The English still look down at you as a former colony and they certainly don't regard you as their own.

As for intellectuals not being regarded as special in the U.S, what else is new? You treat intelligent people by pejoratiive adjectives like "geek", "nerd", etc. You don't care what intellectuals have to say, but any muscle-bound idiot who is unable to speak a single coherent sentence is held in high regard and whatever he has to say is immediately in the news. I guess the siituation in the U.S, where macho athletes hold the hiighest position of prestige makes the U.S.A a more sophisticated ciivilization than Europe where "nerds" rule, huh? I mean, who needs Poincare and Proust when you have LeBron James? To me, the greatest mystery ever is how a nation of imbeciles like the U.S.A managed to become a First World country. I don't get it. Historically, a lot of your achievements in the sciences were made by Europeans who became naturalized American citizens. The members of the Manhattan Project were mostly Europeans. The majority of the leading scientists and engineers who worked at the Apollo Project were Europeans brought to the U.S under Project Paperclip. The U.S hasn't produced a single mathematician of the caliber of Gauss, Euler, Descartes or Newton, a single physicist of the caliber of Newton, Einstein or Maxwell, a single artist of the caliber of Michaelangelo, Van Gogh or DaVinci, or a single writer of the caliber of Lorca, Dostoevsky or Shakespeare. It is pathetic. Americans are incapable of doing anything without the profit motif. Sailer keeps berating Latin America, but the U.S is a lowly culture that only cares about money-making and profiteering. It goes to show the spirit of American Society that America's greatest genius, Edison, was a practical inventor who wanted to get rich and not a theoretician who cared about pursuing truth and enlightment. Americans have always worshipped thugs, psychopaths, serial killers or at least "self-made men" who achieved affluence and power by stepping over other people. Bandits are the "heroes" of American popular "culture". The image that Americans have throughout the World is that of a callous, greedy, ruthless people that only care about money-making. This is not surpriising, since the American people was formed by the worst of Europe, those who couldn't make it there.

Ray Sawhill said...

Anonymous #432 writes (in response to my comment about what to make of French philosophy): "Bullploppy. Talk about psychological projection! It is the French public and French intellectuals who take French 'public philosopher' so seriously, not Americans. We Americans aren't the ones guilty of taking this steaming pile of crap seriously here; the French are."

Funny -- and here I thought people in this commentsthread (Americans mostly, I assume) were discussing French philosophy in a mostly straightfaced and earnest way, thereby proving my point that we Americans tend to take French philosophy straightfacedly and earnestly.

Would you mind volunteering some evidence for your contention that the French take French philosophy too seriously? I spent a year in France, and it seemed clear to me -- observing, not projecting -- that, to the typical educated French person, philosophy is like current films or novels, something sexy and provocative to gas on about while enjoying food and wine and cutting a sexy figure. Americans, meanwhile, seem to look to philosophy to be a mixture of science and self-help -- a search for nailed-down truths that will prove helpful in life. We get indignant if and when it doesn't, y'know, make sense. We miss the point. It isn't supposed to "make sense" in that way. The French appreciate and enjoy it as performance art.

As to whether Americans (at least some Americans) take French philosophy too seriously: well, of course they do. Taking French philosophy too seriously has helped make a laughingstock out of a lot of humanities departments in American universities. I saw the beginnings of this when I was in grad school in the late '70s, and Roger Kimball, Camille Paglia and many others have written about it too. For all their love of refinement and fanciness, the French are a very cynical and practical people, and they're far less likely to let their kooky philosophical theories erode their institutions, let alone their minds, than some Americans are.

Steve Burton writes: "I think that they [continental philosophers] take themselves much more seriously than you think that they do."

I'd assume that the philosophers take themselves exxxxxtremely seriously. They have careers, connections, and reputations to make, after all. And, who knows, maybe they even think they're accomplishing something significant with their musings and scribblings. But I wasn't talking about how seriously the philosophers themselves take themselves. I was talking about the role philosophy plays in French culture, and I was trying to suggest taking a different attitude towards French philosophy than the one Americans often take.

Anonymous said...

"Would you then say that, if an answer to a question can't be checked against observations in the physical world, then any old answer is as good as another?"

No at all. The only honest answer would be "I don't know. Since I can't say anything truthful about it, I'm not going to talk about it, period."

"You'd use methods similar to those used by logicians and mathematicians--namely, internal consistency and congruence with what we are already reasonably certain of."

But unlike hard scientists, philosophers tend to disagree with each other on the basics of their field. In fact-based sciences disagreement is on the margins, in philosophy it's all over. That implies that your appraisal of philosophers' methods (internal consistency, congruence with facts) is overly optimistic.

Bill said...

...Anyhow, our arguments are better than theirs. So sometimes I wonder why nobody (except philosophers) reads (Anglophone, analytic) philosophy these days."

--Jerry Fodor


Perhaps because one of the job requirements for an American academic in the humanities today is being a venal, supplicating coward.

How could we ever respect you enough to take you seriously?

--Bill Price

Anonymous said...

Steve, you have a lot of views I consider reprehensible...but you are one funny m-fer. That joke at the end of this post was expertly structured, with just the right amount of build before the punchline.

none of the above said...

Anonymous:

(discussing "childish" questions)

It seems to me that a lot of "childish" questions lead to pretty important and profound answers, or at least fields of study trying to produce answers. I remember my son asking me, around age four or so, if there was a last (biggest) number. That's an example of a question that you could spend quite a bit of time thinking about, in a mathematical vein. (I managed to get him thinking about proof by contradiction, at least.)

Questions like "where did we come from" and "why do butterflies look like they do" similarly can lead to some kinda important answers.

none of the above said...

steve burton:

A little unpacking would go a long way, in your examples. Also, what are the useful implications, and the limitations on what you can learn from them?

The problem I run into with philosophy is very much like the problem I run into in much of economics. There are these really smart people who spend years talking with each other, to come to conclusions. But what ultimately decides whether the conclusions are right is whether other people in the field are convinced. And though both philosophy and economics often involve logic and mathematics, it still seems like a lot of the conclusions, maybe most of them, are based on a current consensus, and are very much subject to change.

With science, you can get recourse to experiments or observations that put your convincing arguments to the test to some greater or lesser extent. With mathematics, you're back to convincing experts, but in a framework in which at least the proofs are very well structured and can be checked independently by many people. (But note that this doesn't mean they are always checked, or checked carefully enough. And many results are all but inaccessible to anyone who hasn't got years to get to the point that they can understand what's being proven and what assumed background knowledge is needed to even understand the proof.

none of the above said...

Steve:

Is BHL French for Chalabi?

Anonymous said...

"Would you then say that, if an answer to a question can't be checked against observations in the physical world, then any old answer is as good as another?"

Not at all. The only honest answer would be "I don't know. Since I can't say anything truthful about it, I'm not going to talk about it, period"


That's essentially the same as saying one answer is as good as another.

You simply can't discuss moral questions (or epistemological or ontological ones) as if they were chemistry or physics questions. But do you throw up your hands and say we shouldn't discuss them at all?

Anonymous said...

So, philosophy became not so much about thinking about stuff but thinking about thinking. When that got boring, it became thinking about thinking about thinking, and so on.

Well, it's still got ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, and ontology to keep it busy for the next few hundred years at least. I doubt those are goin to spin off into hard sciences with cut-and-dried answers any time soon. (How frivolous and useless!)

headache said...

Luke Lea said...

As for "Jews ought to provide a unique Jewish moral voice in world society and world politics," I have no problem with that -- if they would only do a better job of it. A naive, callous cosmopolitanism is not worthy of Jewish intelligence.


As a Christian I don't need Jewish "morality". There is a reason why it was superceded by Christianity, it was inferior and did not meet the requirements of true morality and salvation, it is a judgmental morality in the words of Paul the apostle.

The tragedy of our time is that the church has allowed Jews to superimpose their morality on a world shaped by Christianity. It is anachronistic and a massive loss. With Islam this degeneration is more obvious because of its idiosyncrasies, but the Old Testament is as much out of place. It's like going back to horse-riding after you were driving a Mercedes.

Anonymous said...

Regarding philosophy, I tend to agree with Paul Graham:

"Wittgenstein is popularly credited with the idea that most philosophical controversies are due to confusions over language. I'm not sure how much credit to give him. I suspect a lot of people realized this, but reacted simply by not studying philosophy, rather than becoming philosophy professors."

heres the link: http://www.paulgraham.com/philosophy.html

Kylie said...

"It seems to me that a lot of 'childish' questions lead to pretty important and profound answers, or at least fields of study trying to produce answers. I remember my son asking me, around age four or so, if there was a last (biggest) number."

It seems to me your son was asking a childlike question, not a childish one.

Whiskey said...

This is all about Obama. Always has been, always will be. BHL taking credit for Obama's bogus Libyan Journey is like a rooster taking credit for the sun rising.

Sarko could have been AWOL with Berlusconi in bunga-bunga land, and the result would have been the same. "We are the ones we have been waiting for. Now is the time when the oceans cease to rise and the planet BEGINS TO HEAL." You can't be the new, Improved Jesus 2.0, and have a front page massacre that "you alone can stop" on the NYT!

Whiskey said...

And as a practical matter (gee I hate blogger eating my posts) sorry for the break out into mini-posts, Obama has domestic political considerations.

He needs to make Soros and his one world delusions happy, to get more funding in 2012. He needs Paul McCartney, Bono, Clooney, and the like to plump for him, otherwise he's just a pol, not First Rockstar. Only First Rockstar has other legit rockstars pushing him as the New Improved Messiah.

Something Obama himself believes he is. He believes his own BS. That's how stupid he is.

Anton said...

RE:
"No at all. The only honest answer would be "I don't know. Since I can't say anything truthful about it, I'm not going to talk about it, period."

Excellent idea. Please don't talk about it at all.

Anonymous said...

American Jews and Israeli Jews don't always see eye to eye. On the Egypt issue, the former supported the revolution and the latter supported Mubarak.

Anonymous said...

"Wittgenstein is popularly credited with the idea that most philosophical controversies are due to confusions over language."

The problem of philosophy is the search for meaning. There is no meaning in math or science. They are about facts, numbers, or logical systems. Philosophy deals with logic and things of this world too, but it also looks for meaning(or the deeper or higher meaning), but of course there is no 'deeper meaning' to anything. Things just are. The only true philosophy is itism: what is is, it is, so it is. That's all folks!

There is limited subjective meaning, or subjective purpose. For instance, can-openers were made for the purpose of opening cans. The meaning of a can-opener is to open cans. Most man-made stuff has meaning(or purpose)in this sense. But where did reality or life come from? As far as science knows, there's just stuff in the universe, certain laws of physics, and through random interaction of stuff, things like stars and life are created and exist. It's all an 'accident'. Th universe is one big spilt milk.
There is no deeper meaning behind reality or life. There would only be meaning if God existed and created the universe and us for a purpose, but we can't prove that with any logical, rational, or philosophical system.
So, scientists would say there is no meaning to the universe or life, let alone any ultimate meaning.

If this true, philosophy is doomed because it searches for deeper meaning that simply doesn't exist.

Of course, one could argue that meaninglessness is too a kind of meaning. Sartre said 'man is condemned to be free'; it could also be that 'man is condemned to be meaningful'. So, even meaninglessness is meaningful to man. After all, nihilism too is a form of philosophy. And if there is no ultimate or deeper meaning to anything, then it means man is 'free'. If man is free, he must find his own meaning.

Meaning is like space. Even if the space is empty, space exists. Similarly, even if meaning is devoid of content, it still exists in (mental)form.

Anonymous said...

Would it be fair to say that sci-fi is the philosophy of our age? There's been lots of philosophical discussion about 2001 and the works of Philip K. Dick, which is understandable enough.
But I wonder about people who take stuff like STAR TREK or DR. WHO seriously.

Of course, many real scientists dig science fiction too. Back in highschool, lots of science geeks were always reading Asimove and books like HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE.

Why are scientist-types into sci-fi? Science is about change, progress, the future: always about discovering more and more, newer and newer stuff.
A religiously inclined person thinks about this static entity called eternity and the constancy of God.
A history fan is interested in past events and has little to say about the future.

Both religious types and history buffs can, more or less, be satisfied with existing materials to think what they need to think and know what they need to know.
Of course, new material continue to be discovered from archaeological sites, and revisions do continue, but the core dogma of any religion and the core facts of historical events pretty much remain constant.

But it must be painful for a science guy to not be able to be alive 500 yrs from now when the world will be startlingly different(at least if civilization continues and scientific progress continues at the current or even accelerated pace). A future world of new scientific discoveries, new technology, new possibilities.

Religious folks look to ultimate meaning in death and the eternal afterlife where they are united with Higher Truth, aka God.
But 'heaven' for science guys is the ever-changing-future when more will be known and more will be possible: when man will maybe travel to the stars, or when man will made contact with beings on other planets. It must be painful to miss out on all that for a scientist who only has one lifetime. And so, scientists can only enjoy the future through the imagination of science fiction.
A geek is condemned to imagine.

Anonymous said...

"American Jews and Israeli Jews don't always see eye to eye. On the Egypt issue, the former supported the revolution and the latter supported Mubarak."

On tactics, no, but on the ultimate strategy, it all comes down to 'is it good for the Jews?'

Anonymous said...

Political leaders have always courted men of letters and/or arts to legitimize their power with a degree of moral, cultural, and/or intellectual respectability.

Hitler courted the well-heeled Albert Speer, who fell in too deep. He also courted Hamsun, but it didn't go so well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zltVLOlYX1Q

I'll bet Bush was happy to have Hitchens on board, at least for awhile. He also had Niall Ferguson and Andrew Roberts or some such(a sleazebag in my opinion).

The conservative DeGaulle landed the leftwing Malraux as Culture of Minister.
(Generally, rightwing leaders are happier to win over leftwing thinkers who are considered to be of higher caliber, which was true before the rise of PC.)

Franco courted Picasso and others, none too successfully.

Sarkozy got himself Levy. It seems intellectuals count for more in Europe, or at least Continental Europe.
I think Anglos and Americans are happy to win endorsements from pop stars and celebrities. It's cooler to have Bono on your side than some egghead.
But then, Anglo/American eggs tend to be less flamboyant and entertaining than European ones, though to be sure, the likes of Ferguson, Paglia, and Chua learned the art of rock star self-promotion.

Anonymous said...

"Why do Americans place so much importance upon the thoughts of journalists, writers and academics?"

They don't. They should.

"Bernard Henri Levy launched a war? Really?"

Yes, quite possibly.

The neo-cons launched the Iraq War. If this sort of thing was better understood by Americans, they'd be a lot less likely to fall for such scams in future.

"In most of the world, people recognize that countries are controlled by generals, merchants and priests."

Intellectuals are the modern priesthood. Most actual priests have no power or influence at all - unless they take on a role of public intellectual.

Anonymous said...

Here's an English interview with Levy by Der Spiegel regarding his role in lobbying Sarkozy to initiate military action in Libya, and the rationale behind. A synopsis: "blah blah humanitarian intervention blah blah Germany bad blah blah I'm a fucking god ha ha."

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,753797,00.html

Drawbacks said...

Can I second Dennis Dale on the Adam Curtis front?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis

RS said...

> a kind of intellectual-seeming rhapsodizing -- as pirouetting, as peacocking. And it's a service industry. You need stuff to blab about when you're in cafes and when you're on the make with a French lady, after all. Hey America, lighten up. Quit asking French philosophy to be what it isn't trying to be, and quit criticizing it for not being what it doesn't want to be.

All I can say is that Sartre was an apologist for Stalin. In that case, taking philosophy lightly didn't make it actually be light in reality. Derrida once said deconstruction was always a deconstruction of nationalism/particularism - he said something like that. A pretty serious thing. I rest my case.

cowman said...

"I think philosophy has some glaring, inexcusable blind spots, e.g. insufficient use of quantitative arguments."

Plenty of epistemologists use probability theory and Bayes theorem all the time. Game theory and decision theory are also big topics among some philosophers, including ethicists. Philosophy of mathematics is of course full of mathematical arguments, and many philosophers of mathematics have a background as mathematicians. And finally, mathematical logic is used extensively in just about every area of (analytic) philosophy

cowman said...

Mr. Anon:
"If philosophy is any damned good, then it should be possible to describe some conclusions derived from it - conclusions that are both important and not obvious... Any physical scientist could provide such an example, probably several."

The kind of questions philosophy deals with aren't as amenable to solution as the kind physical science deals with. If they were, they wouldn't be part of philosophy, they'd be part of science. So, naturally, philosophers tend to disagree with each other a little more than scientists do. So "conclusions" that everyone accepts are hard to come by. I could describe insights that I have discovered and conclusions I have reached reading philosophy, but others who have studied the discipline will surely think that those aren't the right insights and conclusions to draw. That's why its hard to explain the field to an outsider: philosophers don't tend to agree on very much that is non-trivial.
That having been said, if you're looking for a conclusion that's about as close to general acceptance as anything in philosophy, read up on Edmund Gettier's argument that knowledge is not justified true belief. It's in his 1963 paper "Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?" and it has spawned a huge literature. Here's two articles that will tell you more about the subject:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/knowledge-analysis/

http://www.iep.utm.edu/gettier/

Anonymous said...

"Wilmot Robertson", editor of the old Instauration magazine, used to call this tendency for otherwise unimpressive and seemingly unconnected Jews to rise to the top positions in various fields as "the magic elevator ride to the top". It happens far too often to be mere coincidence.

Of course unimpressive gentiles never rise to positions of prominence.

Felix M said...

As a Christian, I'd hope that the President would consider the traditional criteria for a just war.

But I guess they're rather passe. For example, the first requires that you have a morally just objective. Whereas now you don't need any particular objective.

(By the way, my AB was in math and analytical philosphy. The math profs were streets ahead in IQ and logical rigor. And in knowledge of mathematical logic.)

Gc said...

"As for intellectuals not being regarded as special in the U.S, what else is new? You treat intelligent people by pejoratiive adjectives like "geek", "nerd", etc. You don't care what intellectuals have to say, but any muscle-bound idiot who is unable to speak a single coherent sentence is held in high regard and whatever he has to say is immediately in the news."

Well, I think more highly of athletes than actors. Worshipping actors is the one thing I don`t understand. How can somebody care what Angelica Jolie thinks about something?
America has great artistic archievers but not in the areas they would like to have. They are always talking about hilarious nonsense about "The Great American Novel". They had great poets and short story writers in their history, but that`s not good enough. It has to be a "The Great American Novel".
They had great philosophers, the pragmatists, but that stopped after the invasion from the Europe. Now the Analytic Philosophy is dead, but what for example Dewey said about Philosophy of Art is still intresting and debated.
Those guys were deep. But people over there are worshipping talented prodigies and talking how they are in the 99.99999 percentile and talking about promises. That`s because smart kids are cute.

SFG said...

"New England Transcendentalism is a combination of German Idealism, Yankee optimism and Hindu mysticism. Neither the French nor the Jews are associated with its development."

ROTFL. People here think liberalism came out of the Upper West Side or something.

In defence of the New Englanders, Boston's a quite nice city with a lot of culture and many nerdy women.

SFG said...

"As for intellectuals not being regarded as special in the U.S, what else is new? You treat intelligent people by pejoratiive adjectives like "geek", "nerd", etc. You don't care what intellectuals have to say, but any muscle-bound idiot who is unable to speak a single coherent sentence is held in high regard and whatever he has to say is immediately in the news. I guess the siituation in the U.S, where macho athletes hold the hiighest position of prestige makes the U.S.A a more sophisticated ciivilization than Europe where "nerds" rule, huh? I mean, who needs Poincare and Proust when you have LeBron James? To me, the greatest mystery ever is how a nation of imbeciles like the U.S.A managed to become a First World country. I don't get it. Historically, a lot of your achievements in the sciences were made by Europeans who became naturalized American citizens. The members of the Manhattan Project were mostly Europeans. The majority of the leading scientists and engineers who worked at the Apollo Project were Europeans brought to the U.S under Project Paperclip. The U.S hasn't produced a single mathematician of the caliber of Gauss, Euler, Descartes or Newton, a single physicist of the caliber of Newton, Einstein or Maxwell, a single artist of the caliber of Michaelangelo, Van Gogh or DaVinci, or a single writer of the caliber of Lorca, Dostoevsky or Shakespeare. It is pathetic. Americans are incapable of doing anything without the profit motif. Sailer keeps berating Latin America, but the U.S is a lowly culture that only cares about money-making and profiteering. It goes to show the spirit of American Society that America's greatest genius, Edison, was a practical inventor who wanted to get rich and not a theoretician who cared about pursuing truth and enlightment. Americans have always worshipped thugs, psychopaths, serial killers or at least "self-made men" who achieved affluence and power by stepping over other people. Bandits are the "heroes" of American popular "culture". The image that Americans have throughout the World is that of a callous, greedy, ruthless people that only care about money-making. This is not surpriising, since the American people was formed by the worst of Europe, those who couldn't make it there."

The US became the greatest country in the world because you guys destroyed each other in two World Wars, that's how. If you hadn't decided you were going to screw the Germans after the first one, you might still be running things.

I do think American anti-intellectualism is part of the problem here. Everyone loves to pick on the smart kid, so the academic spots are filled by Jews, Chinese, and ethnic groups that actually have an interest in that sort of thing...and they have their own interests.

Anonymous said...

@ Steve Burton

Your faith in the uniformity of reusable screen names is not founded in reason.

Argument (following Hume): there is no conceptual, and no non-circular empirical basis for the belief that unobserved reusable screen names are like observed reusable screen names. And there is no other available rational basis.

Anonymous said...

I guess the siituation in the U.S, where macho athletes hold the hiighest position of prestige makes the U.S.A a more sophisticated ciivilization than Europe where "nerds" rule, huh?

Americans don't see European men as "nerds" or "geeks." A more appropriate term would be "faggy".

I mean, who needs Poincare and Proust when you have LeBron James?

Nice one, beta. I'm sure the Muslim hordes swarming your streets are in awe of Proust.

Luke Lea said...

"On tactics, no, but on the ultimate strategy, it all comes down to 'is it good for the Jews?"

In that case our best hope is that the Jews be made to see that what is best for the world -- not merely good, but best -- is good for the Jews; and that what is less than best for the world is not good for the Jews. (Best here means good for all groups as opposed to good for some groups at the expense of others; as is the case with contemporary immigration and trade policies).

Impossible you say? On the contrary, necessary. Ironically Jews (and we are talking Ashkenazis here) are and always have been naive to this political truth as they they have been to all political truths involving their own welfare (witness Marxism). I say ironically though actually there are good historical reasons for this: they have been psychologically traumatized (bent out of shape) by history. Plus they lack political experience -- right now you might say they are learning on the job.

The challenge for Gentiles like Steve, then, at least as I see it, is to help American Jews see what they are too blind to see on their own. We must help them across the street for their good as well as our own. IMHO.

Grumpy Old Man said...

British folk wisdom: "Sod the Frogs!" Words to live by.

Rohan Swee said...

Why do Americans use the word "continental" to describe ideas or anything else for that matter from Europe?

Because we do. And always have, particularly in the context of philosophy.

(Getting upset about this is like being one of those Latin American types who become hysterical when Americans call themselves "Americans". We're going to go right on doing it, and everyone else in the world knows perfectly well what we're talking about when we do it, so you may as well stop wasting your time getting hysterical about it.)

You don't care what intellectuals have to say, but any muscle-bound idiot who is unable to speak a single coherent sentence is held in high regard and whatever he has to say is immediately in the news.

True. American public and political rhetoric (if one can even apply that term) has hit the idiocratic rock-bottom. At least in politics, British and continental voters appear to demand much higher standards of public speaking in the leaders they choose to ruin their countries. English politicians, for example, prevaricate and sell out their own people with a fluency, eloquence, and absence of teleprompters that Americans can only envy.

Maciano said...

I think nobody should lighten up about French philosophers who talk nonsense. Ideas have consequences and those who advocate them have a responsibility. If BHL is for saving the Lybians from Kadaffi by Western force, he's also responsible for the inevitable 10year peacekeeping force that will follow the intervention. But we all know he won't show up for the blame, he'll probably lead the vocal protests against Sarkozy's and France's imperialism in North Africa in a few years. That's how it works.

There's no doubt in my mind that most of the French philosophical output is a form of peacocking, but that's no excuse. Political commentary isn't spread with warning labels such as 'for entertainment purposes only'. I've read the book 'Politicide' by Luuk van Middelaar about the influence of French philosophers on spreading totalitarian ideas (or apologizing for them) and anti-rational nonsense in general. It's a revealing summary of radical ideas that has subverted continental poliical thinking for many decades now. France has not been blessed by all these high-functioning idiots; they would have been much better of without Kojève, Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard, etc., etc. Whatever nasty things they had to say on the US should be considered a badge of honor.

@Whiskey

US Jews aren't dying out. The orthodox community is increasing rapidly (all over the world) and de facto 'replacing' the secular/ liberal/ reform Jewish community. The religious orthodox of all faiths don't marry out, they marry among themselves.

sabril said...

"How do so many Jews of unimpressive intellect rise to positions of influence?"

I would guess it's the same way so many Gentiles of unimpressive intellect rise to positions of influence.

sabril said...

Anywah, if this BHL is in control of American and French policy, why doesn't he get on the the phone and have the French start vetoing anti-Israel resolutions at the UN? Why doesn't he stop Muslim immigration to France? Why doesn't he get the US to stop pressuring Israel on the settlements?

Why is it that the only thing he can accomplish is to get France to take a side in a civil war in which both sides hate Israel with a passion?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for leaving out the important piece of info Steve. That Levy is Jewish. I guess you must think all steve readers are just smart enough to figure this out on their own, or maybe you just forgot this all important angle?

Anonymous said...

OT

TNR on history of American policy on immigration.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for leaving out the important piece of info Steve. That Levy is Jewish.

*facepalm*

Anonymous said...

OT

TNR on history of American policy on immigration.

http://www.tnr.com/book/review/nation-immigrants-susan-martin

Anonymous said...

"How do so many Jews of unimpressive intellect rise to positions of influence?"

"I would guess it's the same way so many Gentiles of unimpressive intellect rise to positions of influence."

This is so true. Lots of dumb goyim in high places all around.

I don't think Levy is dumb, but he may be overrated. Overrated Jews are an issue because of the long-held Jewish position that goes like this: Wasp bluebloods gained power through birth and connections whereas Jews reached the top by meritocracy alone and through incredible adversity.

Well, that hasn't been the case for some time. Once Jews gained great power and privilege, they've been favoring other Jews because, well, they are Jews. Take that idiot Schulzburger Jr at the NY Times. And William Kristol is just a shallow shadow of his pa.

Granted, 'dumb Jews' are still smarter than 'dumb goyim', but many top Jews today lack the depth and dazzle of Jews of yesteryear.
But I wonder if this has more to do with the New Jews being dumber or being less battle-tested. Older Jews were toughened up from having to fight for everything. It wasn't easy for someone to attend CUNY and then climb to the top in arts and letters in still wasp-dominated America. But today's Jewish kids born to rich parents are sent to the best schools and then best colleges. It's one smooth track to success. They may be smart but they may lack fire.

In the movie ANYTHING ELSE, we see the contrast between the older feisty Jew(Allen) and the well-adjusted younger Jew. The younger Jew may be equally smart but lacks the Jewish rage that fires up the older guy(and gives him character and flavor). I despise Allen the person but still find him many times more interesting than Seinfeld, the well-adjusted yuppie Jew, who though very clever, is just annoying.
And even if one of Norman Mailer's sons are equally smart, I'll bet they are not equally interesting.

Svigor said...

Steve, you left the most important question off your list:

What are the most likely ways this thing can go pear-shaped?

Anonymous said...

I would guess it's the same way so many Gentiles of unimpressive intellect rise to positions of influence.

No, it's not the same. Jews make up a tiny percentage of the population. It's curious that non-bright Jews get catapulted into influential positions at a rate so much greater than their numbers and intelligence would suggest.

Anonymous said...

On tactics, no, but on the ultimate strategy, it all comes down to 'is it good for the Jews?'



I hope would that Jews would pursue their own self interest. I would also hope that Americans would do the same.

Polistra said...

NPR ran a feature tonight tracing the Libya war to a _different_ French Jewish Communist intellectual named Bernard.

Bernard Kouchner, who founded Medicins sans Frontiers and was Foreign Minister for several years. He has been a major force behind Western invasions of Kosovo, Iraq, and now Libya.

Anonymous said...

"Of course unimpressive gentiles never rise to positions of prominence."

Of course they do, and your typical passive aggressive "ironic/sarcastic" hipster response illustrates the nature of the problem. It was never asserted that gentiles didn't also have unimpressive examples thrust to the top of the social order. Nice straw man argument.

The point is, when an unimpressive gentile is placed in prestigious positions, everyone knows it, and the reasons that that person got where he is are obvious (Bush being the obvious example of this). And few will deny that the unimpressive gentile is unimpressive or that some kind of nepotism has occurred. Bush partisans may deny it for political reasons, for instance, but everyone knows why this is and the topic is not banned from public discussion.

This simply is not the case with Jews. There is an automatic assumption that the Jew got there through a "meritocracy" and God help you if you question this automatic assumption in public. There is a powerful social taboo about Jews that everyone must genuflect before in public, which does not exist for gentiles. The fact that one has to patiently explain such blindingly obvious social facts to people who don't want to see what is staring them in the face, illustrates the power of the taboo.

Anonymous said...

"I think philosophy has some glaring, inexcusable blind spots, e.g. insufficient use of quantitative arguments."

In Hegel? Sure. In Kripke? It's math, math, math.

People just don't know philosophy. That's ok! Analytic philosophy is hard, and requires mathematical sophistication.

Anonymous said...

"I see that you've declined my offer to present any insights you might have taken from reading philosophy. Thank you for your contribution towards confirming my hunch about its true nature."

What, Western science (i.e., natural philosophy) not good enough for you?

tommy said...

The U.S hasn't produced a single mathematician of the caliber of Gauss, Euler, Descartes or Newton, a single physicist of the caliber of Newton, Einstein or Maxwell, a single artist of the caliber of Michaelangelo, Van Gogh or DaVinci, or a single writer of the caliber of Lorca, Dostoevsky or Shakespeare.

You may not have noticed it, my reflexively anti-American friend, but France hasn't produced any of those people in the past few hundred years either. It has given us crap like Derrida, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Foucault in abundance while the United States has contributed mightily in more practical endeavors. It's not as if the U.S. has lagged way behind France in the Nobel Prize category in the past few decades.

You mention Lorca, so perhaps you're Spanish rather than French. If so, then you have even less to brag about.

Anonymous said...

"The U.S hasn't produced a single mathematician of the caliber of Gauss, Euler, Descartes or Newton, a single physicist of the caliber of Newton, Einstein or Maxwell, a single artist of the caliber of Michaelangelo, Van Gogh or DaVinci, or a single writer of the caliber of Lorca, Dostoevsky or Shakespeare."

Computer science is the new math.
And I'd rather see GOODFELLAS than stare at a painting.

Anonymous said...

"You mention Lorca, so perhaps you're Spanish rather than French. If so, then you have even less to brag about."

But OPEN YOUR EYES is a terrific movie and surely better than the awful remake.

Anonymous said...

"NPR ran a feature tonight tracing the Libya war to a _different_ French Jewish Communist intellectual named Bernard.
Bernard Kouchner, who founded Medicins sans Frontiers and was Foreign Minister for several years. He has been a major force behind Western invasions of Kosovo, Iraq, and now Libya."

I wonder if he's the French counterpart of someone like David Horowitz. During the Vietnam War, Horowitz and his ilk screamed HOLOCAUST at what the Americans were doing. Americans were supposedly like the Nazis while the Vietnamese communists were freedom-loving heroes.

But after the war, it soon dawned on Horowitz that the commies were like the Nazis. More people died from 1975 to 1979 in Southeast Asia as a result of Commie rule over Vietnam and Cambodia than during all of the 8 yrs of war with America. Around this time, the horrors of Maoist rule were also starting to come out in the West.

So, partly as a kind of atonenement, Horowitz became an extreme anti-communist and pro-American everything. Since he had stood between US saving the people of Southeast from genocidal communism in the radical 60s, he make up for it by supporting US efforts to save peoples from tyrants around the world. Right or wrong, there was a certain moral logic to this... but then issue of Zionism complicated matters since Horowitz and his fellow neocons never had any sympathy whatsoever for Palestinians.

Luke Lea said...

"The U.S hasn't produced a single mathematician of the caliber of Gauss, Euler, Descartes or Newton, a single physicist of the caliber of Newton, Einstein or Maxwell, a single artist of the caliber of Michaelangelo, Van Gogh or DaVinci, or a single writer of the caliber of Lorca, Dostoevsky or Shakespeare."

That is simply not true. Feynman was recently recognized by his fellow physicists as one of the ten greatest all time. T.S. Eliot is certainly one of the greatest lyric poets after Shakespeare, Updike is better than Dostoevsky (though maybe not Tolstoy). Among mathematicians Witten is up there, while among statesmen (the rarest class of all) we have more than the rest of the world combined: Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, Lincoln.

headache said...

How do so many Jews of unimpressive intellect rise to positions of influence?

Ethnic nepotism and financial control of media and political institutions.

ATBOTL said...

"Nice one, beta. I'm sure the Muslim hordes swarming your streets are in awe of Proust."


I find it strange how many American conservatives like to bash Europe for tolerating bad behavior from Muslims that is mild compared to the bad behavior by our own several times larger diverse populations. There is no European equivalent to Detroit.

Anonymous said...

"The U.S hasn't produced a single ... [blah blah blah]

This may be one of the dumbest comments ever made.

America is (was!) the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world because intellect was focused on *practical* endeavours.

Little things like airplanes, automobiles, railroads, light bulbs...

Steve Sailer said...

America produced Claude Shannon. He might turn out to be seen as a theoretical innovator worthy of comparison to Europeans.

sabril said...

"It's curious that non-bright Jews get catapulted into influential positions at a rate so much greater than their numbers and intelligence would suggest."

I'm skeptical. Give me the actual numbers (with sources) and I will consider your argument.

sabril said...

P.S. You can start by providing a list of the 10 most influential Americans who are unimpressive intellectually.

Anonymous said...

After all, nihilism too is a form of philosophy.

"Philosophia" [φιλοσοφία] is supposed to mean "the love of wisdom".

And since nihilism can't admit the existence of ideals such as love, or wisdom, it would be much more accurate to call nihilism the ANTI-philosophy.

Gc said...

""The U.S hasn't produced a single mathematician of the caliber of Gauss, Euler, Descartes or Newton, a single physicist of the caliber of Newton, Einstein or Maxwell, a single artist of the caliber of Michaelangelo, Van Gogh or DaVinci, or a single writer of the caliber of Lorca, Dostoevsky or Shakespeare.""

Luke Lea: "That is simply not true."

Yes it is except for the Lorca part. But those guys were here a very long time ago. America is The New World.

"Feynman was recently recognized by his fellow physicists as one of the ten greatest all time."

Yes, He was great. But he was one sided, which he himself admits. He didn`t have philosophical talent like Einstein, Heisenberg, Schrödinger etc. Those guys didn`t need analytical philosophers for the foundations of physics. Russel was bitter in his old days because
1)the physics took the position of philosophy
2)All those guys were German speaking Kantian`s and Russell hated Kant.

"T.S. Eliot is certainly one of the greatest lyric poets after Shakespeare"

Maybe, true. Depends how many people you include.

"Updike is better than Dostoevsky (though maybe not Tolstoy)."

Updike is nobody. Even The Onion laughs at him.

"Among mathematicians Witten is up there"

Witten has not proved a single original mathematical theorem in his life. Instead he uses his physical insight in mathematics.
He was given a Fields medal when theString theiry looked promising. His future reputation will depend how it will turn out.

"while among statesmen (the rarest class of all) we have more than the rest of the world combined: Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, Lincoln."

Nobody cares outside America.

Tommy: "You may not have noticed it, my reflexively anti-American friend, but France hasn't produced any of those people in the past few hundred years either."

Well, not true. People rank Grothendieck, Galois ATG`s in mathematics and Baudelaire, Verlaine etc in poetry etc.


Steve Sailer: "America produced Claude Shannon. He might turn out to be seen as a theoretical innovator worthy of comparison to Europeans."

Check out Charles Sanders Pierce. He invented what made Shannon famous decades earlier. He is your Mr.Big.

Kylie said...

" There is no European equivalent to Detroit."

Give them time. The disaffected "Asian youths" weren't burning all those vehicles over in France just to keep warm, were they?

The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris

Kylie said...

"Why do Americans use the word 'continental' to describe ideas or anything else for that matter from Europe? You are not English! Stop pretending like you are! I understand that, since you Americans lack any significant cultural, artistic and literary achievements of your own, you feel the need to steal those of the English with the excuse that you are all "Angloshphere"[sic] countries and thus pretty much of the same country. You are not. The English still look down at you as a former colony and they certainly don't regard you as their own."

How can the English look down on anybody from the prone position they have assumed in order to placate their "Asian" population?

Just another one of those things the English do so well that we have yet to master--or be mastered by.

none of the above said...

Yeah, we don't produce great scientists, engineers, or artists here. That's why so few Americans win Nobel prizes, and why the US is such a scientific backwater with so few high tech companies. I mean, just look at how the center of the computer and biotech revolutions has been so far from America. Boston, the bay area, Seattle, the DC area, all of them are just tech wastelands. Similarly, can you imagine trying to build a movie industry in such an anti-artistic cultural backwater? Thank God we can import such technology as we can grasp from Bangalore, and such culture as we can grasp from Paris. Otherwise, we'd be even less imaginative and more stunted.

Svigor said...

If Jews have such powerful mind control rays, how come most of the world hates them, and tries to kill them

The premises of your question aside, how dumb are you? How come powerful people are hated?

For those who don't like Jews, I have no idea why you are all in such a frenzy. In about 20 years Jews won't exist anymore -- they intermarry and lose their identity.

Brill! I don't know why you get into such a frenzy about Iran. In about 20 years all the guys running Iran will have retired. In 60 years most Iranians alive today will be dead. Why worry? The problem will solve itself!

(Interesting fact about "20 years from now"; it never arrives - it's continually moving 20 years into the future! Perfect for tendentious logic.)

Is Tim Wise a Jew? He claims to be Jewish, but hates Israel,

You have that backwards. He's Ashkenazi-American, but claims to criticize Israel. Which he doesn't. Except when someone accuses him of the usual Ashkenazi-American double-standards, then he drags out a dusty essay he wrote 20 years ago with a couple of tepid criticisms of Israel in it. When the rubes leave, he's back to his 24/7 white-bashing.

(Jews are of course, Whiter than White)

Nope! Ashkenazi-Americans ride the double-standard in a way that whites are constitutionally incapable of doing. If Ashkenazi-Americans were like whites, Israel would be 90% Arab by now, with a Palestinian PM. They'd be teaching their kids the Israeli equivalent of the smallpox blanket myth by now. The settlements could not exist. Ashkenazi-American history would look like the white-hating history whites now teach in schools.

Ashkenazi-Americans are white when they want to be, and not the rest of the time. Like when setting Israel policy, American immigration policy, etc. Ashkenazi-American pols ALL vote for open borders, where the split among whites is about 50-50 (guess who breaks the tie?).

Where's the prominent anti-open-borders Ashkenazi-American pol, Whiskey?

If Ashkenazi-Americans were anything like whites culturally, Jewish Studies would look a hell of a lot different, no? American foreign policy toward Israel would look like American foreign policy toward Apartheid South Africa.

Svigor said...

Actual, real Jews, those in Israel,

Hmm, interesting point. Everybody thinks "smart" when they think "Jew," right? Ashkenazi-American mean IQ: approx 108. Ashkenazi-Israeli mean IQ: approx 100. Jews in America outnumber Jews in Israel, IIRC. Ashkenazi-Americans certainly outnumber Ashkenazi-Israelis.

Who are the real Jews again?

Svigor said...

New England Transcendentalism is a combination of German Idealism, Yankee optimism and Hindu mysticism. Neither the French nor the Jews are associated with its development.

More importantly, blaming it on the Jews will get you in trouble, and blaming it on the crackers will get you invited to dinner.

Svigor said...

"It's curious that non-bright Jews get catapulted into influential positions at a rate so much greater than their numbers and intelligence would suggest."

I'm skeptical. Give me the actual numbers (with sources) and I will consider your argument.


What's the cause of your skepticism? Logic suggests the default assumption to be that Ashkenazi-Americans benefit more from ethnic nepotism than white Americans do.

White nepotism: absolutely verboten, on pain of social death.
Ashkenazi nepotism: discussing it is absolutely verboten, on pain of social death.

Ashkenazis have an ethno-state. This is everywhere viewed as right and natural.

Whites must not have an ethno-state. Ditto.

Soooo, it's a bit silly to imply that the default assumption is white/Ashkenazi-American parity, and that suggesting otherwise demands evidence, when the exact opposite is true.

We should be asking you for evidence contradicting the actual logical default position.

So get cracking, you have homework to do. And I'm skeptical.

tommy said...

Well, not true. People rank Grothendieck, Galois ATG`s in mathematics and Baudelaire, Verlaine etc in poetry etc.

Galois, Baudelaire, and Verlaine all died over a hundred years ago. Grothendieck is certainly a great mathematician (as are Shannon and Nash), but our pal mentioned Gauss and Euler. It's doubtful that any modern mathematician is going to rank with those two individuals in the mathematician's pantheon.

In fact, it's doubtful that any living mathematician will even rank with Galois, Abel or Lie in the scheme of things. Maybe if someone manages to solve the Riemann Hypothesis with a revolutionary new approach they'll earn that spot.

Gc said...

Tommy, true, but the window was was couple of hundred of years in the quote you deleted. I don`t understand Grothendiecks work, it`s very abstract, but at least in some circles he is as respected as Gauss. I don`t know what the truth is. I personally value most work which has that physics connection, like the works of Hilbert, Poincare, Weyl or Von Neumann, which Grothendieck more or less lacks.

sabril said...

"What's the cause of your skepticism?"

Mainly my general observation that there are lots of influential people who are not Einsteins -- both Jewish and Gentile. My sense is that these people are pretty smart but their intelligence is more adapted to shameless self-promotion.

"Ashkenazis have an ethno-state. This is everywhere viewed as right and natural."

Nonsense, are you aware that "Israeli Apartheid Week" was celebrated on college campuses all over America just a week or two ago?

Are you aware that the United Nations Human Rights Commission singles Israel out for criticism far more than places like North Korea and Iran?

I could go on and on, but the fact is that Israel is criticized internationally far more than pretty much every other country.

Besides, Ashkenazis are a minority in Israel.

"Whites must not have an ethno-state."

Iceland is a lot whiter than Israel is Jewish. Ditto for Poland and many other countries.

Big Bill said...

Whiskey: "For those who don't like Jews, I have no idea why you are all in such a frenzy. In about 20 years Jews won't exist anymore -- they intermarry and lose their identity."

Please stop with the silliness, Whiskey. You know that is not true. While it MAY be true that Reform Jews are dropping in numbers, that is only because they foolishly adopted the relentless multi-culturalism that they preached to the goyim.

But Torah-true Jews are having 8-10kids each and are more than making up the difference. In fact, that is why assimilated Jews like you are freaking out in Israel: loyal, race-pure, observant Jews are winning the demographic war and are surviving and thriving, whereas liberal assimilationist Jews are dying out.

It is sad, Whiskey. I can sense your anguish about the Second Holocaust. But the lesson should be clear to all Jews: once you step off the derech, it is just a long slippery slope to self-extermination by mongrelization with the goyim.

So when are you going to make aliyah and save your family?

Big Bill said...

>>I would guess it's the same way so many Gentiles of unimpressive intellect rise to positions of influence.

>No, it's not the same. Jews make up a tiny percentage of the population. It's curious that non-bright Jews get catapulted into influential positions at a rate so much greater than their numbers and intelligence would suggest.

Here is a prime example of Jewish short-sightedness. What in heaven's name were they thinking when they came up with the concept of "disparate impact"?

"Disparate impact" stands for the principle that statistical discrepancy in the representation of different populations in ANYTHING is proof of racism/sexism/evilism/whatever.

Didn't they see that it was eventually going to come back and bite them on the b*tt?

At least Alan Dershowitz tried to clue Jewish students at Harvard and HLS to the dangers of affirmative action and quotas by patiently explaining to them how AA was used to keep Jews at Harvard down to their percentage of the population a hundred years ago.

Go figure.

Big Bill said...

>American Jews and Israeli Jews don't always see eye to eye. On the Egypt issue, the former supported the revolution and the latter supported Mubarak.

Another example of short-sighted rhetoric. Back when the neo-cons in America and Israel were pimping for war in the Middle East they used the "Democracies never go to war with other Democracies" silliness to build up support for war.

Heck, Nathan Sharansky (ex-soviet Israeli Jew) expanded the idea to an entire book.

But it was never more than pro-war rhetoric. Unfortunately the American masses (including Jews) were oversold on the concept and now welcome pretty much every ME war and nation-building exercise.

Israeli Jews, knowing from the beginning that "Democracy!" was just a sales pitch--a bit of hasbara--are now cringing when American idealists use it to overthrow perfectly dependable, useful, predictable, bought-and-paid-for Arab tyrants like Mubarak.

Having planted the seeds for it, speechified about it, written books about it, how can they now change course and get us to support and pay for tyrants that are controllable? They can't.