January 2019 Philosophy Book of the Month: The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World by David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt
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What do you think of the book? With which points do you agree? With which points do you disagree and why?
Do you have any favorite quotes or short passages from the book that you would like to post?
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One critic that might nevertheless be addressed to him is that his framework could leave more room to human agency as power, in his account seems inescapable...
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I think this was a fun book (well, the part of it I read for our podcast, which was maybe 150 pages). The historical details are interesting, even if (as I understand) he has been criticized as a historian for his characterizations of the overall shift he's trying to focus on. As a political work, I find it a bit hysterical: I'm not overly worried myself about our society becoming a panopticon. 1984ish scenarios always assume that someone has the time and energy to give a crap about you and what you do, and I think in our information-overload age, the odds of that happening are slim. Yes, you need to take precautions against identity theft, and stalking perhaps, and not post stupid things on the Internet that future employers will see, and yes, I'm sure it's scary if the government has decided that you're a potential threat (though that's always been the case, even pre-Internet age), but that doesn't add up for me to anything like what Foucault describes.
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MarkLint wrote:As a political work, I find it a bit hysterical: I'm not overly worried myself about our society becoming a panopticon. 1984ish scenarios always assume that someone has the time and energy to give a crap about you and what you do, and I think in our information-overload age, the odds of that happening are slim.
I think sometimes people are in the twilight concerning their understanding of the amount of available computing power given over to these tasks. Sure, many of us have "supercomputers" by decade old standards and that's good enough for most folks. The gap between what's available to the military/security state and the consumer is vast and grows more vast each year. Think of the power necessary for a real time heads up display in a fighter jet and then try to think of available power minus those space constraints.
I don't think it's a case of "giving a crap what we do" in that "they" don't really care what I had for lunch yesterday. Data mining is aimed at culling out key words and word combinations which may be parts of salient political discussions. We don't really know the threshold for being considered (worthy?) of being "on the radar". I think that anyone with more than several brain cells to rub together understands that the ruling class has a vested interest in maintaining their pre eminence, at pretty much any cost.
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What "the conception of power relations" is referred to concerning "the self-imposed" and "the disguised"?
If Foucault produced one of the major contribution to the understanding of modern power, then what is the structure of the power where men is posited in Foucault 's writting?
Let's examine these two people the IS and the IFs, so as to evaluate how the "embodied dispositions" to guide our subject's action:
IS and IFs was borne into the world at the same moment in a very different social and cultural environment respectively.
Mr. IS is the son of an illiterate farmer of the third-world, who barely read and think beyond the present-at-hand obsession.
Mr. IFs is the son of a professor who teaches philosophy in a developed country. IFs was properly nurtured and become a professor later. IFs enjoys a good and healthy life. While IS is never educated and followed his father's step become an illiterate farmer, who later committed a serious crime then jailed for his remaining lifetime.
Here it raises a question, if men is borne of equal and free under the natural order, then how come the subject's action and corresponding consequence is so different? What is the "disguised" power to be "self-imposed" upon?
To this point, we need to introduce the second examination:
Suppose our Ms. Emily flips a coin, then which side of the coin would touch the ground must fairly depend on the law of probability, says a physicist Mr. Baker, but how true is that?
A thinker, Mr. Thought-virus shakes his head: nope! it just isn't a matter of mere chance. Because when Emily exerts force on the coin, it is not in a vacuum state. The coin is being bound by space and time in all directions. There are force from the spinning Earth, the sun and the rest cosmic bodies around; there are forces come from the field of dark energy and the space of unknown elements; and there maybe even more... who knows, right?
What Mr. Thought-virus just pointed out is clearly a demonstration of that the idea of " there is some embodied dispositions to guide the subject's action" must not attribute or credit to a single disguised power.
Power relations is not merely self-imposed, or having an origin of the power hence exercised, but can make reference to multiple causes, even infinite exerting forces in relation to each other.
The tragedy of Mr. IS is not begun at his birth. The tragedy of his immediate culture is not begun at the moment of creation of men by Nature. Reality is indeed a co-creation by all elements in multi-facet topology of relations. Emily may ask "what about free will?", "don't culture has free will?" , "aren't individual freely to think and choose?"
Mr. Thought-virus answers: can a coin decide which side it will touch on the ground? The coin may has freedom of will only if it has gained the power of idea, will and autonomous motion without reference to any external force. Again it inevitably ends up at a philosophical paradox.
Therefore, God will laugh whenever Mr. Thought-virus thinks.
The power of God\Men hence exercised is, to a certain extent, disguised as The Truth, while in fact, the paradox.
If we overcome the difficulties of this major cognitive threshold, this world will end, but men is freed, forever .
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If retribution, punishment was not an issue what sort of advantages would we claim for ourselves? How long would civilization hold together? How long would it take for chaos to ensue?
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