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The private and public self

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Hereandnow
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The private and public self

Post by Hereandnow » August 14th, 2019, 11:38 am

The neopragmatist, Richard Rorty, is one of my favorite philosophers. He sees the social and political problems we have as solvable if we look closely at the two worlds of the private self, the place where we think, feel, experience, and public life. His position is that there is only one absolute that needs to be recognized, and that is the absolute freedom of one's private world. All others, those in religious and scientific ideas (scientism, I believe is the pejorative term) must be regarded as contingent and our thoughts about them are to be ironic: it's not that you shouldn't have a religion, but that you must realize that your beliefs must be acknowledged as works in progress, contextually grounded and so on; hence, the irony--to believe, and hold on, yet to admit that this is not an absolute, discovered Truth you have, but a "made" truth, entirely contingent. Nor that you should not believe what scientists tell you (god forbid). It's just that science is not about some revealed alignment between belief and the fabric of the realist's Real.

In denying absolutes as he does, he attempts to bring sanity into the public sphere, freeing up our inner world's creative potential. Self making (Yes, there are Nietzsche and Heidegger behind this) is what being a person should be about.

The question in all this is about how it is to be done. One option is along the lines of Hirsch's Cultural literacy: we can reduce public friction just by making ourselves more like each other. I think Skinner would move this way: no sense in celebrating the freedom to think stupidly, vulgarly, insanely; It's all conditioning anyway, why not just explicitly condition people. That's called education.

But this violates the absolute of private freedom. Rorty thinks the only constraint that should figure into public policy is the prevention of cruelty, the worst a person can do. This is problematic in that we don't really know how cruelty can be avoided in all cases since the problematic ones are so entangled with other things, like animal rights being entangled with scientific progress to cure disease.

Another quesion is about how it is possible to disentangle the private from the public so freely. My private would have to be reduced to a private about things that are truly and exclusively mine, yet there is no such thing as exclusivity here: my convictions find there way into conversation, which enters into the public and offends others. I should not be cruel to others, but cruelty in one case my bring greater reduced cruelty elsewhere.

I see Rorty's point: he wants to conceived of what a truly liberal society would be like, and he does NOT want people to feel they have warrant to go about hurting others. He is committed to Mill's harm principle, yet also wants society to be liberated from the totalitarian mind police. But the do no harm principle is still relative to our entanglements of utility. I think what he has in mind is the private world being exclusively one's own: no one should be telling you what to think, but your behavior is a different matter, and this is only limited to abstaining from cruelty.

Is this possible?

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Re: The private and public self

Post by devdemi » August 14th, 2019, 10:55 pm

> One option is along the lines of Hirsch's Cultural literacy: we can reduce public friction just by making ourselves more like each other.

Our species has a greater range of intelligence (I believe) than the space between us and the next smartest animal. So, roughly 180 to 80 for us, and I think between 60 and 80 for the smartest chimps. Obviously the measurement is speculative, but the point is that OUR range is huge, gigantic, enormous ... as is the std in other qualities. We are an incredibly diverse species, not so much in the sense that you usually hear about (race, where the differences are actually not very large), but in almost every other way. The idea of enforcing an official philosophical norm is somewhere between disturbing and totally insane, as is the idea that believers and skeptics are the same people requiring the same ironic approach to life. I guess they do it in Saudi, more or less, but I'm sticking with insane as the only good description.

Here's a thought. Your public self is the self you experience when you're smiling politely. Totally different emotional state, and one you have to remind yourself to get out of sometimes so you can "be yourself".

My thought processes in that smiling state certainly feels more contingent, solicitous ... that matches some of what you're saying ... and that public self feels uncomfortable because it's already subject to massive normative forces, even in a society that doesn't impose such forces as a matter of policy.

It's a different emotional state, at once both more bold and more compliant than what, for me, is normal. Maybe those are clues about what the normative forces that exist in the wild are, but I find it hard to get on board with the idea of taking those forces out of their organic setting and trying to establish them by decree, even with the best intentions and a Categorical Imperative Seal of Approval signed by the big K himself. I wouldn't do it.

Nobody ever had a government that actually operated according to the platonic definitions of words. A tangle of dimly viewed and often misunderstood interests is all there really is to work with. There is no single absolute freedom that has to be recognized, because in the "real" world, the definition of that freedom will simply be redefined by the political process anyway, whatever sort of tussle that happens to be in the given society.

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Re: The private and public self

Post by MAYA EL » August 15th, 2019, 2:12 am

I would probably say yes it is.

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Re: The private and public self

Post by h_k_s » August 15th, 2019, 1:16 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 11:38 am
The neopragmatist, Richard Rorty, is one of my favorite philosophers. He sees the social and political problems we have as solvable if we look closely at the two worlds of the private self, the place where we think, feel, experience, and public life. His position is that there is only one absolute that needs to be recognized, and that is the absolute freedom of one's private world. All others, those in religious and scientific ideas (scientism, I believe is the pejorative term) must be regarded as contingent and our thoughts about them are to be ironic: it's not that you shouldn't have a religion, but that you must realize that your beliefs must be acknowledged as works in progress, contextually grounded and so on; hence, the irony--to believe, and hold on, yet to admit that this is not an absolute, discovered Truth you have, but a "made" truth, entirely contingent. Nor that you should not believe what scientists tell you (god forbid). It's just that science is not about some revealed alignment between belief and the fabric of the realist's Real.

In denying absolutes as he does, he attempts to bring sanity into the public sphere, freeing up our inner world's creative potential. Self making (Yes, there are Nietzsche and Heidegger behind this) is what being a person should be about.

The question in all this is about how it is to be done. One option is along the lines of Hirsch's Cultural literacy: we can reduce public friction just by making ourselves more like each other. I think Skinner would move this way: no sense in celebrating the freedom to think stupidly, vulgarly, insanely; It's all conditioning anyway, why not just explicitly condition people. That's called education.

But this violates the absolute of private freedom. Rorty thinks the only constraint that should figure into public policy is the prevention of cruelty, the worst a person can do. This is problematic in that we don't really know how cruelty can be avoided in all cases since the problematic ones are so entangled with other things, like animal rights being entangled with scientific progress to cure disease.

Another quesion is about how it is possible to disentangle the private from the public so freely. My private would have to be reduced to a private about things that are truly and exclusively mine, yet there is no such thing as exclusivity here: my convictions find there way into conversation, which enters into the public and offends others. I should not be cruel to others, but cruelty in one case my bring greater reduced cruelty elsewhere.

I see Rorty's point: he wants to conceived of what a truly liberal society would be like, and he does NOT want people to feel they have warrant to go about hurting others. He is committed to Mill's harm principle, yet also wants society to be liberated from the totalitarian mind police. But the do no harm principle is still relative to our entanglements of utility. I think what he has in mind is the private world being exclusively one's own: no one should be telling you what to think, but your behavior is a different matter, and this is only limited to abstaining from cruelty.

Is this possible?
The "totalitarian mind police" will always exist and will always consist of parents, teachers, preachers, advertising, the media, government, and employers. Good luck escaping all that.

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Re: The private and public self

Post by h_k_s » August 15th, 2019, 1:18 pm

devdemi wrote:
August 14th, 2019, 10:55 pm
> One option is along the lines of Hirsch's Cultural literacy: we can reduce public friction just by making ourselves more like each other.

Our species has a greater range of intelligence (I believe) than the space between us and the next smartest animal. So, roughly 180 to 80 for us, and I think between 60 and 80 for the smartest chimps. Obviously the measurement is speculative, but the point is that OUR range is huge, gigantic, enormous ... as is the std in other qualities. We are an incredibly diverse species, not so much in the sense that you usually hear about (race, where the differences are actually not very large), but in almost every other way. The idea of enforcing an official philosophical norm is somewhere between disturbing and totally insane, as is the idea that believers and skeptics are the same people requiring the same ironic approach to life. I guess they do it in Saudi, more or less, but I'm sticking with insane as the only good description.

Here's a thought. Your public self is the self you experience when you're smiling politely. Totally different emotional state, and one you have to remind yourself to get out of sometimes so you can "be yourself".

My thought processes in that smiling state certainly feels more contingent, solicitous ... that matches some of what you're saying ... and that public self feels uncomfortable because it's already subject to massive normative forces, even in a society that doesn't impose such forces as a matter of policy.

It's a different emotional state, at once both more bold and more compliant than what, for me, is normal. Maybe those are clues about what the normative forces that exist in the wild are, but I find it hard to get on board with the idea of taking those forces out of their organic setting and trying to establish them by decree, even with the best intentions and a Categorical Imperative Seal of Approval signed by the big K himself. I wouldn't do it.

Nobody ever had a government that actually operated according to the platonic definitions of words. A tangle of dimly viewed and often misunderstood interests is all there really is to work with. There is no single absolute freedom that has to be recognized, because in the "real" world, the definition of that freedom will simply be redefined by the political process anyway, whatever sort of tussle that happens to be in the given society.
Cats and dogs are smart too. Except during the kitten/pup rearing stage, cats and dogs have a very simple ethic: me and only me.

I am reminded of this every time my cat tries to steal the meat I am preparing for him and me for dinner.

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Re: The private and public self

Post by h_k_s » August 15th, 2019, 1:20 pm

For a cat you need to sear meat on the outside while leaving the inside raw. They need the raw proteins since they are obligate predators. Cooking degrades proteins that cats need.

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Re: The private and public self

Post by Hereandnow » August 15th, 2019, 1:49 pm

devdemi
One option is along the lines of Hirsch's Cultural literacy: we can reduce public friction just by making ourselves more like each other.

Our species has a greater range of intelligence (I believe) than the space between us and the next smartest animal. So, roughly 180 to 80 for us, and I think between 60 and 80 for the smartest chimps. Obviously the measurement is speculative, but the point is that OUR range is huge, gigantic, enormous ... as is the std in other qualities. We are an incredibly diverse species, not so much in the sense that you usually hear about (race, where the differences are actually not very large), but in almost every other way. The idea of enforcing an official philosophical norm is somewhere between disturbing and totally insane, as is the idea that believers and skeptics are the same people requiring the same ironic approach to life. I guess they do it in Saudi, more or less, but I'm sticking with insane as the only good description.
Communist thinking, inspired by Marx, of course, held that there is no human nature, and that humans are infinitely pliable, capable of structuring ourselves according to anything that would impose itself on us; all we needed was isolation from the threat of opposing thought. the North Koreans have their "juje" or self reliance which works according to this idea. This goes to your point about enforcing an official norm being insane: the thought police is exactly this. Never works, and all explicitly preconceived utopias never work, Only freedom works.
Here's a thought. Your public self is the self you experience when you're smiling politely. Totally different emotional state, and one you have to remind yourself to get out of sometimes so you can "be yourself".
The first step toward genuine understanding. The "they" is always there, the general consensus of the way things should be wanting to possess you.
My thought processes in that smiling state certainly feels more contingent, solicitous ... that matches some of what you're saying ... and that public self feels uncomfortable because it's already subject to massive normative forces, even in a society that doesn't impose such forces as a matter of policy.
More comfortable, yes. No doubt. But then, as Rorty holds, true freedom will never be reconciled with the dictates of general features of language and culture. No way to homogenize humanity and STILL give absolute freedom to the private self: the ideas available out there, in the free realm of thought, are too diverse.
It's a different emotional state, at once both more bold and more compliant than what, for me, is normal. Maybe those are clues about what the normative forces that exist in the wild are, but I find it hard to get on board with the idea of taking those forces out of their organic setting and trying to establish them by decree, even with the best intentions and a Categorical Imperative Seal of Approval signed by the big K himself. I wouldn't do it.
Kant didn't address motivations, just how reason could settle the matter of rational compliance. He did have something like a call to prevent cruelty in his insistence that each is to be treated as an end, never a means. But why should one want to be moral at all? rorty simply accepts it as a assumption that cruelty is the worst a person can do. He is right, but then, he is not permitted to ground this in anything beyond the contingencies of the society. He can't talk about anything beyond this because he's an ironist, an anti-absolutist: all there IS is what we make and nothingn is ever already there, waiting dicovery. I, on the other hand, am a qualified moral absolutist.
Nobody ever had a government that actually operated according to the platonic definitions of words. A tangle of dimly viewed and often misunderstood interests is all there really is to work with. There is no single absolute freedom that has to be recognized, because in the "real" world, the definition of that freedom will simply be redefined by the political process anyway, whatever sort of tussle that happens to be in the given society.
Well, this is a hard issue. All that is in language is interpretative, granted. And thus, political and social processes will create new horizons of possibilities of choice, clearly. Our freedom is always informed by our resources to think, and these are not at all settled matters, nor, Rorty thinks, can they be. They can change for the better for us, but there is no Hegelian God self realization of anything.

But you said you approve of Hirsch's solution?? How so?

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Re: The private and public self

Post by devdemi » August 15th, 2019, 5:11 pm

> But you said you approve of Hirsch's solution?? How so?

No, I don't approve. Not at all.

> [ quoting marxists]
> "there is no human nature, and that humans are infinitely pliable, capable of structuring ourselves
> according to anything that would impose itself on us;"

That's evolution. So, strictly speaking - correct. In political timeframes, I don't think so.

I don't agree, fwiw, that there are no functional utopias. I think conditions can align for them, sometimes, for a while. Maybe we're in something like that right now. But it's not a libertarian ideal. It's a full-court-press tussle of values on a base of relatively broad and balanced prosperity with few power centers with the ability or reason to disrupt it. Magic. Let's see how long we can make it last.

Back to the main point. I just want to tease some of these things apart because there's a lot being said.

> In denying absolutes as he does, he attempts to bring sanity into the public sphere

The public sphere IS sanity. Anything you try to impose on it is violence. In general. Obviously there are times of crisis and panics and so on .. I'm not talking about any of that. In fact, I suspect much of the tragedy in human history isn't even due to moral failings. More to incompetence.

We're tool users. Here are some tools we use:
- sharp rocks
- words
- implied social contracts
- explicit social contracts

So, the public sphere is identical to one of these (#3). It's a collaborative consensus and our personal participation in it through our public self has to be fraught because it represents all the personal compromises that we have to make. Isn't that also the process of "building character"?

So your question .. Can we order society around a simple and very reasonable set of rules? ... No, I don't think so without violence and a bad outcome. In fact, I don't think that's what a loose grip would really look like. I think what we have now is much more like a loose grip - tons of contradictory rules, constantly in flux.

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Re: The private and public self

Post by Hereandnow » August 16th, 2019, 11:15 am

devdemi
> [ quoting marxists]
> "there is no human nature, and that humans are infinitely pliable, capable of structuring ourselves
> according to anything that would impose itself on us;"

That's evolution. So, strictly speaking - correct. In political timeframes, I don't think so.
Evolution may have given us our freedom to self create and not having a nature or essence means that our tabula rasa takes in anything and structures it, normalizes it. The idea here is that, if this is true, then any given one of us is not constrained by human "nature" in any given environment regardless of its content (nearly any, at any rate). To get absolute conformity to a way of thinking, therefore, all one has to do is establish an sealed environment by preventing competition. The USSR tried this, and went so far as to arrange their railway system so tracks leading in from other countries were of a different width and could not deliver uncensored ideas freely domestically. It ultimately failed, of course. News of the our side always seems to penetrate. Anyway, political time frames are conditioned worlds. If one could isolate a people, explicitly condition everyone (thinking outside the norm in Russia and China was considered a form of mental illness), then it makes sense if you don't mind torturing and murdering millions.
I don't agree, fwiw, that there are no functional utopias. I think conditions can align for them, sometimes, for a while. Maybe we're in something like that right now. But it's not a libertarian ideal. It's a full-court-press tussle of values on a base of relatively broad and balanced prosperity with few power centers with the ability or reason to disrupt it. Magic. Let's see how long we can make it last.
You think there is a modern utopia? well, in France, before the revolution, there was a utopia: inside the courtly world of royalty! Utopias have to do better to be so called. In the US, if you are successful, one might call your world utopian, but I wouldn't. To say quickly, remember what social critical theory has to say about this "utopia": Marcuse, the Frankfort School (I'm reading Jay's book, the Dialectical Imagination"; very insightful), Guy DeBord, Heidegger, and others have said about capitalism and the consumer mentality: if this is utopia, then being human is a truly silly thing.

> In denying absolutes as he does, he attempts to bring sanity into the public sphere

The public sphere IS sanity. Anything you try to impose on it is violence. In general. Obviously there are times of crisis and panics and so on .. I'm not talking about any of that. In fact, I suspect much of the tragedy in human history isn't even due to moral failings. More to incompetence.
Rorty (and the book in question is Contingency, Irony and Solidarity) thinks a society needs to become a place where one's mental, private, theorizing, imagining and creating affairs are absolutely free. he leans heavily toward a community of free THINKING and self-creating (he gets this from Nietzsche, Heidegger). In free thought, ideas roam, entangle, generate novelty, new truths (truth is made, not discovered), new possibilities and so on. Thinking in terms of absolutes gives warrant to the believer that others simply MUST follow. His concept of Irony insists that nothing is like this, and that all thoughts, political or otherwise, are contingent, so our dearest beliefs about important things have to be held within the shadow of doubt. This is a world where thoughts mingle and there convergences create freely, not one where Christians or Muslims, say, go to war for authoritative purposes. This is sanity.

Of course, saying the public sphere is sanity is saying it is here that our most primitive impulses are put in check by the law (if I read you right), and this is right. But at what cost? Free thinking in the US is not encouraged; infact, most don't understand the idea at all because they have little within themselves to call free, that is, there is no competing personal environment WITHIN.


So, the public sphere is identical to one of these (#3). It's a collaborative consensus and our personal participation in it through our public self has to be fraught because it represents all the personal compromises that we have to make. Isn't that also the process of "building character"?
Rorty would say, I believe, that there is a great deal of "thought policing" going on in the public and private sphere implicitly, and it is very strong in its backing by the absolutism in religion and a lack of freedom for ideas to propagate. There is, for example, a lot in educational and social systems that encourages intolerance against the rise of women, minorities, LGBT (etc.), and other groups to an equal place in society, rather than the freedom of objective understanding. Obviously, good things have come about, but these are mostly due to exactly what Rorty says comes from freedom to a private world. Horrible post slavery conditions in the south, e.g., were addressed because certain social dogmatisms were challenged.

So your question .. Can we order society around a simple and very reasonable set of rules? ... No, I don't think so without violence and a bad outcome. In fact, I don't think that's what a loose grip would really look like. I think what we have now is much more like a loose grip - tons of contradictory rules, constantly in flux.
There is no problem at all with flux. Rorty has this "invisible hand" way of looking at things: IF education were free, and we are all committed Mill's no harm principle, then dogma would be challenged, displaced by dialectics, and out of all this we would have the very best human being can do. Fist is likely getting rid of explict, morally and socially dogmatic religion, irrational patriotism. these are the kinds of things that lead to totalitarian thinking.

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Re: The private and public self

Post by Hereandnow » August 16th, 2019, 1:09 pm

h_k_s
The "totalitarian mind police" will always exist and will always consist of parents, teachers, preachers, advertising, the media, government, and employers. Good luck escaping all that.
Right. But if the thinking world were free, there is much of the banalities and thoughtlessness that would fall away; it would be the responsibility of public education to present all ideas and not dogmatically insist, but leave matters open. this sounds too good to be true, and of course it is. But then, it is not the anticipation that all will be perfect, but rather the faith in the peaceful circulation of ideas as the best we can do to preserve the independence of each and maintain a morally reliable system.

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Re: The private and public self

Post by devdemi » August 16th, 2019, 6:13 pm

I think the USSR experiments would have failed under any circumstances because there is no Tabula Rasa.

> if this is utopia, then being human is a truly silly thing.

The beginning of wisdom.

Yes, I do think this is a kind of utopia. You at least credit it with all kinds of progressive successes, so you can’t think it’s too bad.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think activism or consciousness raising had much to do with those successes. The key underlying events there were economic and technological in nature, and the next round of those changes could take us in surprising directions.

> Thinking in terms of absolutes gives warrant to the believer that others simply MUST follow.
> His concept of Irony insists that nothing is like this, and that all thoughts, political or otherwise,
> are contingent, so our dearest beliefs about important things have to be held within the shadow of doubt.

It's tricky. I don't believe a stable compromise is possible unless the participants arriving at it are true believers, or at least a significant number are. Otherwise the the middle ground is defined as a speculative model instead of being a hard fought boundary where powers are actually balanced.

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Re: The private and public self

Post by Greta » August 16th, 2019, 7:00 pm

Is it possible to bring one's private self into the public eye? Is it possible for an icebeg to float atop the water?

Every public impression is rendered false through incompleteness. Thus, there is only a reason to live up to one's public face in private if the person is agitating. A person who minds their own business can be more internally free without hypocrisy than one who seeks to control or influence.

If I want to dream up a private counsellor, scientist, philosopher or deity in my imagination, what's to stop me? These are, crudely, mind hacks - exploiting the potentials of the mind - but one wouldn't sensibly claim these things to be real in the objective domain.

Thus, God can most certainly exist within the mind, but a person's internal conception/reflection is not going to be revealed by finding a tiny serial number as researchers zoom in on a quark. God is a black box label for the "classy" parts of us - our wisdom, creativity etc. It could be called "Fred" if we had been conditioned to feel awe and reverence for that label.

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Re: The private and public self

Post by LuckyR » August 16th, 2019, 9:27 pm

Greta wrote:
August 16th, 2019, 7:00 pm
Is it possible to bring one's private self into the public eye? Is it possible for an icebeg to float atop the water?

Every public impression is rendered false through incompleteness. Thus, there is only a reason to live up to one's public face in private if the person is agitating. A person who minds their own business can be more internally free without hypocrisy than one who seeks to control or influence.

If I want to dream up a private counsellor, scientist, philosopher or deity in my imagination, what's to stop me? These are, crudely, mind hacks - exploiting the potentials of the mind - but one wouldn't sensibly claim these things to be real in the objective domain.

Thus, God can most certainly exist within the mind, but a person's internal conception/reflection is not going to be revealed by finding a tiny serial number as researchers zoom in on a quark. God is a black box label for the "classy" parts of us - our wisdom, creativity etc. It could be called "Fred" if we had been conditioned to feel awe and reverence for that label.
What a great description of a non obvious topic. Kudos to you!
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: The private and public self

Post by Hereandnow » August 16th, 2019, 11:03 pm

devdemi
I think the USSR experiments would have failed under any circumstances because there is no Tabula Rasa.
A tough call, really. After all, take an inventory: all that I know and do and gesture and, well, all of it: learned. Am I not simply history ventriloquiaing through me? What part can I identity that is the me independent of all else? When analysis is brought to bear on what lies before one, it is not the content that stands clear, but the form, the rationality of conditionals and assertions and universal and existential quantifiers and so on. Where is this illusive self that antecedes the construction of a self?

> if this is utopia, then being human is a truly silly thing.

The beginning of wisdom.
Well, yes, the beginning. Not the utopian purpose.
Yes, I do think this is a kind of utopia. You at least credit it with all kinds of progressive successes, so you can’t think it’s too bad.
Nah. Utopias have to do a lot better to utopias. If you're living under a bridge or can't pay the light bill,you wouldn't call it utopia; you'd have much more pungent things to call it.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think activism or consciousness raising had much to do with those successes. The key underlying events there were economic and technological in nature, and the next round of those changes could take us in surprising directions.
Activism? you mean e.g., the revolutionary war (American? French?) or the civil rights movement? Modern technology is very good for my toothache and my bad television reception, but really, it is otherwise one grand toboggan ride to oblivion in terms of meaning and culture. Were it not for that toothache I would GLADLY step back into a time when living was not just string of banalities on a cell phone.
> Thinking in terms of absolutes gives warrant to the believer that others simply MUST follow.
> His concept of Irony insists that nothing is like this, and that all thoughts, political or otherwise,
> are contingent, so our dearest beliefs about important things have to be held within the shadow of doubt.

It's tricky. I don't believe a stable compromise is possible unless the participants arriving at it are true believers, or at least a significant number are. Otherwise the the middle ground is defined as a speculative model instead of being a hard fought boundary where powers are actually balanced.
But the concept of a true believer scares the dickens out of me. Is it the belief in the one true view? Rorty would say there is only one true view, and that is philosophy: the dialectical tension of ideas that are always a work in progress. Now, I should mention that I do not think he is entirely right. There is a great paper by Simon Critchley (sp?) that challengers him on this business of the "invisible hand" (a bit like Bentham's utilitarian thinking) that magically works everything out. Rorty is a kind of liberal nihilsit in that he doesn't think there are such things as foundational truths; truths are made, not discovered. But then he thinks we don't need this, nor do we need to have faith in this. We can live with contingency for all things. I beg to differ: truths are both discovered as well as made, and that makes me a qualified foundationalist. Our personal "final vocabularies" as he calls them do not have to agree as long as we are committed to Mill's harm [principle. But what binds us to this, he says, is contingent, too. Hmmm...

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Re: The private and public self

Post by Hereandnow » August 17th, 2019, 12:11 am

Greta:
Is it possible to bring one's private self into the public eye? Is it possible for an icebeg to float atop the water?

Every public impression is rendered false through incompleteness. Thus, there is only a reason to live up to one's public face in private if the person is agitating. A person who minds their own business can be more internally free without hypocrisy than one who seeks to control or influence.
The sad irony of this is that, as the Yeats poem goes, "The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity."
If I want to dream up a private counsellor, scientist, philosopher or deity in my imagination, what's to stop me? These are, crudely, mind hacks - exploiting the potentials of the mind - but one wouldn't sensibly claim these things to be real in the objective domain.
What stops people now? It is an implicitly constrained culture, one still bound to absolutist beliefs in God's purpose, Bibilical/ historical morality, ill conceived thinking about race and culture, and so on. I think Rorty believes this kind of thing displaces what could be free creative self-making enterprises. History is a battle ground of absolutist thinking. If we could just all calm down and be good citizens and critical thinkers life would simply come together for all.
Thus, God can most certainly exist within the mind, but a person's internal conception/reflection is not going to be revealed by finding a tiny serial number as researchers zoom in on a quark. God is a black box label for the "classy" parts of us - our wisdom, creativity etc. It could be called "Fred" if we had been conditioned to feel awe and reverence for that label.
I like that: God is a mirror image of our best parts. But it sounds like a resistance to science's claim to the one true view.
Signifiers like 'Fred" or "God" dangle in the air apart from their concept. It is the full concept of God that has something interesting in its possession of the questions that lead us outward.

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