Friday Roundup

The intractable problem of modernity, or Western liberalism, is that it replaced God with different mediators, namely the state and the market (Thank you Hobbes and Smith).  Where has this led?  Look around.  It is no longer clear either can address our deepest problems in their current manifestation and relationship to…people…

I can think of no better way to describe the Republican “healthcare plan” …

Perhaps miracles are not meant to explain nature, but are signs of a much more important aspect—the aspect of relationship…

Whence beauty? Why? Because it “happens.” No utility, no pragmatics, no adaptivity, no pure scientific explanation.  No reduction.  Just…beauty…

“…Milbank argues that liberalism is founded on ‘the ontological primacy of evil and violence: at the beginning is a threatened individual, piece of property, or racial terrain.’”

And when a Trump arises, he is ready to take that primacy and let it rise to the surface, fan it, encourage it, and make it seem reasonable.  But make no mistake, the embers were already present underneath and in the founding story…

Atheism, the seedbed, the great incubator of…a flourishing Christianity…

It would all be so funny, if it wasn’t so sad at the same time…the man is a complete embarrassment…

Oh, and this happened…yep, really

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2 Responses to Friday Roundup

  1. Burk says:

    Hi, Darrell-

    It is nice to hear that impeachment is in the air, and so soon, too!

    I found the beauty article rather obtuse, sadly. Another writer and researcher trying to paint tired notions as edgy novelties. The point of bird ornamentation is not adaptive in survival selection (quite the opposite!), but in sexual selection, where the selecting is done by the aesthetic tastes of the females, which evolve just as the features on the males evolve. So yes, it is quite arbitrary, given that complementarity and finely developed subjectivity on the part of the females. This is absolutely standard in the field.

    “Darwin’s contemporaries were having none of it. They believed that animals didn’t have rich subjective worlds, lacking the mental abilities that had been divinely endowed to humans. And the idea of female animals making fine-grained choices seemed doubly preposterous to the Victorian patriarchy.”

    I think we are all a little past that, and can deal with the consciousness and subjectivity of other animals.

    So why would aesthetic preferences happen? To say that they “just happen” is classic begging the question. We are perceptually very judgmental on every level- for food, environment, weather.. you name it, and those preferences are obviously finely honed. Aesthetics extends this choosiness to mates and other expressions of individuality, and also pays dividends. Who wants to date a diseased, misshapen hunchback? If the manakin’s feathers are falling out from starvation, the show isn’t going to be very good, is it? Subjectivity is not random, but very strongly selected. Even science(!) can show that we prefer people with symmetrical faces, for instance.

    “Both ideas trivialize the sexual agency of women, Prum says, and completely fail to engage with the thing they’re actually trying to explain–women’s subjective experiences of sexual pleasure.”

    Well, that seems to put the cart before the horse. We know the subjective experience exists. What we seek to explain is why it exists. The writer seems to revert to theology-caliber causistry on that score, (nonsense like… “It’s sexual pleasure for its own sake, which has evolved purely as a consequence of women’s pursuit of pleasure.”), while the rest of the field is actually interested in why these experiences and behaviors they arise from and motivate in turn all happen in the first place. It seems glaringly obvious, for instance, that making sex fun produces more sex, which is evolutionarily beneficial.


    • Burk,

      I don’t think he is saying it “just” happens. He is saying it happens for its own sake, and for no other purely practical or utilitarian reason, as clearly none of it would be necessary if we reduce sex to “just” plumbing. You give extremes, but when mates are choosing from relatively fit candidates, there is no reason to assume beauty should play any significant role as far as animals are concerned. But it does, it seems. It would appear the feminine mystique is ubiquitous. How wonderful. How mysterious.


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