Saturday, July 21, 2012

Reposted quote of the day

"I remain convinced that American conservative thought is now not a philosophy but, rather, a book of spells, a series of conjuring words that have meaning only to the initiates." - Charles Pierce, commenting on the vacuousness of S.E. Cupp

From The Daily Doubter.

Two comments: (1) The word "conservative" in "American conservative thought" should be in scare quotes. (2) The video linked in the first link is incredibly painful to watch, precisely because it makes Pierce's point so effectively.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The end of Rome

Between the classes I am taking and the classes I am teaching, I have not had very much time to keep up with the many podcasts to which I have subscribed. Thus, it is not until two months after the fact that I discover that Michael Duncan's fantastic History of Rome podcast has come to an end. It is not that Duncan has given up; on the contrary, with his 179th episode he finally brought his listeners all the way through the story he began five years ago. 

The podcast practically defines what the term "labor of love" means. If you are even faintly interested in Roman history, I encourage you to check out the podcast: it will give you years of listening pleasure.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Quotes of the day

I was slightly surprised by the source. I'm not sure why—probably some stereotype I imbibed about what the "Left" is supposed to look like.
I think people should be extremely skeptical when intellectual life constructs structures which aren't transparent—because the fact of the matter is that in most areas of life, we just don't understand anything very much. There are some areas, like say, quantum physics, where they're not faking. But most of the time it's just fakery, I think: anything that's at all understood can probably be described pretty simply. And when words like "dialectics" come along, or "hermeneutics," and all this kind of stuff that's supposed to be very profound, like Goering, "I reach for my revolver."
There are parts of philosophy which I think I understand, and it's most of classical philosophy. And there are things that I don't understand, because they don't make any sense—and that's okay too, these are hard questions. I mean, it's not necessarily a criticism to say that something doesn't make sense: there are subjects that it's hard to talk sensibly about. But if I read, say, Russell, or analytic philosophy, or Wittgenstein and so on, I think I can come to understand what they are saying, and I can see why I think it's wrong, as I often do. But when I read, you know, Derrida, or Lacan, or Althusser, or any of these—I just don't understand it. It's like words passing in front of my eyes: I can't follow the arguments, I don't see the arguments, anything that looks like a description of a fact looks wrong to me. So maybe I'm missing a gene or something, it's possible. But my honest opinion is, I think it's all a fraud.

 —Noam Chomsky. (Chomsky, Noam, Peter R. Mitchell, and John Schoeffel. Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky. New York: New Press, 2002. First quote: Kindle Loc. 5406-10. Second quote: Kindle Loc. 5433-39)