Assay your media skills. Read the photo-essay on the male gaze etc, This Is Not Sex.


Reconstruction for Education?

The upshot of much of Dewey's thought ties in, directly or indirectly, with his views on education. Education, of course, being a lifelong process in one sense, an inculcation of habits of habit formation in another, a training ground, etc. The list goes on but it is obviously central to his thought; to be less thoughtless: a psychologist (for Dewey is that) has to understand and take education into account, even where it is viewed as continuous rather than contiguous with "socialization" or informal learning. In ethical education, we are concerned with the stuff traditionally regarded as moral, though of course the distinction of such from the rest of behavior is artificial, arbitrary.

Prior attempts to free ethical thought from the dogmatic and antirealistic past were stymied by the basic assumptions of all prior thought in ethics (save that, perhaps, of certain heretics).
... utilitarianism gave intellectual confirmation to all those tendencies which make "business" not a means of social service and an opportunity for personal groewth in creative power but a way of accumulating the means of private enjoyments. Utilitarian ethics thus affor a remarkable exampole of the need of philosophyic reconstruction [per the program of Reconstruction in Philosophy... it was still tied down by fundamental ideas of that very order which it thought it had completely left behind: The idea of a fixed and single end lying completely beyond the diversity of human needs and acts renedered utilitarianism incapable of being an adequate representative of the modern spirit.
Indeed this is the critique Dewey offers of all prior moral philosophy: it fails insofar as it subordinates the competing ends of actual life to a single further end to be sought above all else, as though this single heading could explain the varieties of things thought to be good in any way other than that human beings, since their very conception as a species, had up until insert moral theory here been completely wrong about how to be good--they didn't have their collective eyes on the prize, as it were. But this is, if one thinks about it, either so idealistic as to be religious, in the worst sense, or absurd.

A further thought: if the idea that there is a single end to be sought, this does not preclude that there is in fact (in some sense) an end all things human beings take to be ends are instrumental toward. Eudaimia, happiness, grace, these are names of such a thing--'flourishing' has been used to name it sometimes--that is the "ultimate" end, but of course this will be allowed as long as no one takes it to be plausible that the actual psychology of human beings is to take such a thing into account except perhaps very sporadically in deciding what to do. Think of podering "What do I wish to do with my life?" The process of moving towards, change, dynamic "improvement" or transformation anyway, of growth that is, these are the marks of a human life lived and lived fully--though of course contentment seems also to be a necessary condition on living the best kind of life (sometimes--Wittgenstein's last words were "Tell them I've had a wonderful life" though he hadn't been happy). And it is education that is the vehicle and the process:
Education has been traditionally thought of as preparation: as learning, acquiring certain things because they will later be useful. the end is remote, and education is getting ready, is a preliminary to something more important to happen later on. Childhood is only a preparation for adult life, and adult life for another life. Always the future...

If at whatever period we choose to take a person, he is still in process of growth, then education is not, save a s a by-product, a preparation for something coming later. Getting from the present the degree and kind of growth there is in it is education. This is a constant function, independent of age. The best thing that can be said about any special process of education, like that of the formal school period, is that it renders its subject capable of further education: more sensitive to conditions of growth and more able to take advantage of them. Acquisition of skill, possession of knowledge, attainment of culture are not ends: they are marks of growth and means to its continuing.


Further Reconstruction

More from John Dewey:
Just in the degree in which a physician is an artist in his work he uses his science, no matter how extensive and accurate, to furnish him with tools of inquiry into the individual case, and with methods of forecasting a method of dealing with it. Just in the degree in which, no matter how great his learning, he subordinates the individual case to some classification of diseases and some generic rule of tratment, he sinks to the level of the routine mechanic. His intelligence and his action become rigid, dogmatic, instead of free and flexible.
So, indeed, with the various arts of living. And ethics, that is to say behavior in a (social) context, is an art like this. It is an art of problem-solving.
Morals is not a catalogue of acts nor a set of rules to be applied like drugstore prescriptions... the pragmatic import of the logic of individualized situations, each having its own irreplaceable good and principle, is to transfer the attention of theory from preoccupation with general conceptions to the problem of developing effective methods of inquiry.

Two ethical consequences of great memoment should be remarked... So-called intrinsic goods, whether religious or esthetic, are divorced from those interests of daily life which because of their constancy and urgency form the proccupation of the great mass... This withdrawal [of men of ideal interests from baser goods], in the name of higher ends, has left, for mankind at large an despecially for energetic "practical" people the lower activities in complete command. ...

The other generic change lies in doing away once for all with the traditional distinciton between moral goods, like the virtues, and natural goods like health, economic security, art, science and the like... Natural science loses its divorce from humanity; it becomes itself humanistic in quality.
These ideas overlap into the passages from a previous post of Dewey excerpts. The idea comes out in further reading that any moral end (i.e. an end sought in action that overcomes an obstacle) is intrinsically valuable--or none are, equally. This at least I take to be correct: practical rationality is instrumental reasoning. Additional "good ends" to be sought, to be inculcated intot he young, and cetera considerations of moral philosophers (though not, perhaps, some philosophers of ethics) have to be grounded somewhere else. "Rationality" is not any sort of font of normative force, either in idea or in fact. Rationality requires premises (to speak figuratively), and itself is not constitutive of enough of these to reach the conclusions so often wanted by moralists. Kantians, especially, are prone to believe that rationality has some sort of "internal" constraint, for instance a "consistency" requirement. But even if this were the case, which it obviously isn't for non-idealized "rationality," there would still be additional requirements needed to justify the central point of a moral theory. The categorical imperative is merely the most egregious example of wishful thinking and suppressed assumptions modern moral theory has managed to produce. (Let us not speak of the so-called theories of Objectivists.) Practical rationality is a problem-solving faculty, and by itself lends only ability to the character of a person. What we ought to worry about, if this is the concern (i.e. what ends people have), is how to educate the young so as to allow them to confront certain sorts of problems. Not to put the point to platitudinally, the story of a person's struggles is the story of their person, character, life.



Everything is French today. How?


Against LOT

I'm not a fan of the language of thought, since it's a theory that seems to have a number of prima facie absurd conditions built into its premises. Still, a Sunday morning is a good time to muse about it.

Fodor, in “Language of Thought: First Approximations," makes the following move. He is discussing “concept learning.” He says,
what distinguishes rote learning and sensory learning from concept learning is that, in the former cases, what is remembered of an experience typically exhausts what is learned from that experience. Whereas concept learning somehow ‘goes beyond’ the experiential data. ….concept learning is essentially a process of hypothesis formation and confirmation. (Fodor, 1975)
Since experiential data serves to strengthen the concept being learned by confirming instances of its application, and since this process of confirmation is to be a hypothesis confirmation process, and since it seems that the only way Fodor allows us to understand a hypothesis is in terms of first-order sentences, we see that the LOT is already built into our account.

Are there not simple counterexamples to this? Can we not learn the “concept” of, say, convergence at the horizon by having a picture of a landscape that matches more or less well with visual stimuli? A “confirmation” relation would obtain just in case the mental picture is (apparently) more or less congruent to the visual field. See also geometric “similarity”—but highly unusual shapes can fulfill the same mathematical “distance” under an averaging algorithm. A pretty mess.


a list of things to see

ross ice shelf
the land of fire, chile
trans-siberian railroad
midsummer midnight (finland)
ile du diable
marble bar
mt. kailash


outta thyme

or did u see tha day come 2 errly in hurr? go home, go homes, back frum whence 'n all o' that. ponderificate yer slipping years, seconds tick tick, where u r, 'n r not...
it's barely yours on loan
what you think you own
the place that you call home
the ideas in your bones

this would still feel dumb
back where you're from
do you
do you want to change your mind?

'cuz you could never know that
in a time trap

guess that's all fair now because
guess that's all there ever was
grey and sprawling
save your crawling
do you want to save your life?

'cuz you could never know that
in a time trap
thx doug martsch.



rain, rain, stay and play,
i know you're going before day.


k'nye jus' say treasure of sierra madre never gits old?


but I already knew that

From Xero magazine.
Polyamory is not a way to evade problems in your romantic life. In fact, problems in one relationship have a very nasty habit of spilling over into your other relationships, if you're not careful.

If you have a relationship that is facing difficulty, that is not the time to be starting new relationships. Doing so is likely to create problems in the new relationship, and exacerbate the problem in your existing relationship. It's unfair to both your existing lover and to any new lover to begin relationships under these conditions. ...

Don't coerce your relationships into a predefined shape; let them be what they are. Sometimes, people--particularly people who are already part of an established couple--decide what kind of relationship they want, what form that relationship will take, and then try to fit a person into that space.

People are complex, and every person will have his or her own ideas and desires and needs in a relationship. Trying to force a person in a box--for example, trying to say "You can only date both of us and you have to develop a relationship with both of us that's exactly the same and grows in exactly the same way"--rarely works. Instead, treat your relationships in a way that respects what they are. Give each person a voice; you are having a relationship, not looking for spare parts! Listen to what the relationship is telling you, instead of trying to force it to be something specific. ...

Make no mistake about it: poly/mono relationships are challenging. Ultimately, everybody has limits, which, if crossed, make it impossible for that person to be happy. Many people in the poly community advise others to steer clear of a monogamous partner. Having a partner whose fundamental wants and needs from a relationship differ from yours is extremely painful--not only to you and to that person, but to anyone else who becomes involved with you as well. Poly/mono couplings are a very common form of polyamorous relationship, but they are also very difficult. ...

When your lover takes another lover, particularly in the first rush of a new relationship, it's sometimes easy to make assumptions about the direction that relationship will take, or what they're doing or experiencing together--"He must be better in bed than I am," "she is going to want to replace me," "they have more fun without me," "he's going to want to do more with her than with me," and so forth.

None of this is necessarily true. Keeping a realistic assessment of your partner's other relationships, keeping informed and in the loop about what's going on in your partner's life, and seeking to bring any concerns you may have about their relationship up before those concerns become problems can all help to make you feel more comfortable.
Take that, Pi Phi's.



From work in progress. I have taken Scott Soames' Understanding Truth to be a paradigm example of a certain view of propositions that posits them in order to perform a variety of functions such as being the primary bearers of semantic truth and establishing an "objective" synonymy relation between sentence utterances.
It might be argued that since it is prima facie tempting to believe that someone is talking about some sort of abstract entity when one speaks of “what is stated” on an occasion of utterance that there are actually such entities and that this is all we need to begin at any rate explaining how they will fit into our taxonomy of linguistic objects. The problem, even more that one of “individuation”--as Quine might put it--is identification. It is taken as clear, by this view, how to metaphorically point out the particular proposition one wants to discuss. This is usually found in the supposedly unproblematic statements like, for a sentence called ‘p’

(EP1) The sentence p expresses the proposition that there is a cat on the mat.

What proposition is supposed to be pointed out by the italicized phrase? I should note that italicizing the beginning of the that-clause as

(EP2) The sentence p expresses the proposition that there is a cat on the mat

won’t get us anywhere since the italicized sentence ‘there is a cat on the mat’ is at issue: what, pray tell, is its content? Likewise a problem with

(EP3) … that *s*

where ‘s’ stands for the name of a sentence [and '*' replaces the notation of corners introduced by Quine]. This move might avoid pointing out a particular proposition. But that is question-begging since the point is that we get nowhere without being able to pick out particular propositions for discussion. What is the problem?

The difficulty is that we use language to attempt to express propositions about propositions, if the view that there are propositions and they are expressed by sentence utterances holds. [I have since come to seriously question the line just described.] Meaning, as Quinian stimulus meaning or some other similar notion, has been done away with (at least by Soames) in favor of the notion of a function that maps sentences in all their potential utterances to the propositions uniquely expressed by those utterances. (EP1) is an illustration of the notion that indeterminacy undermines the idea that we can identify the propositions expressed by utterances. If we suppose that the italicized sentence expresses a proposition, it will be the case that only a sentence in my idiolect or one that I can already translate into my idiolect will be one for which I can identify the proposition. The only way to point out the proposition will be to use a sentence in an idiolect at a time, and of course no other idiolect will contain that sentence unless identical to the original utterance. Other specifications of the proposition will be allowed only under translation. But of course there can be no translation except relative to a scheme. So the proposition supposedly expressed by a sentence can only be identified by the speaker of the utterance at the time of utterance (and for as long as she keeps her idiolect); from within no other idiolect will there be any correct answer as to which proposition an utterance expressed. This is contradictory to Soames’ assertion that a synonymy relation holds between two sentences expressing the same proposition, unless the only thing synonymy amounts to is that sameness of proposition. This may be rebutted as an (merely) epistemic problem. When I use my sentence in my idiolect in a context, there is one and only one proposition that it expresses. That no one else, including myself later, can pick it out is a problem of identification but not one that indicates there is nothing to be found. However if this is all synonymy amounts to, then identity of behavioral dispositions gets us the same relation between sentences without mucking about with abstract entities. Metaphysical parsimony would indicate dropping propositions from this role.

A further complication is that sentences with the same meanings may have utterances in different languages. The sentence of which ‘Der Schnee ist Weiss’ in German is an instance has the same meaning function as the sentence of which ‘Snow is white’ in English is an instance. So the two sentences types in context mentioned in the previous sentence are two inscriptions of one sentence. The obvious next step is to become Davidsonians and deny that there is more than one conceptual scheme, for every natural “language” potentially contains ways of expressing exactly the same things as every other. But I mentioned at the outset that sentences for Soames appeared to be individuated syntactically. It is not supposed to be loose talk that sentences (1) and (2) from the first section are different sentences that mean the same thing—that they are synonymous utterances and not part of the same sentence. Yet if propositions are not themselves syntactically differentiated, something else must be at work behind the scenes; the candidate that comes to mind is a historical story about the origin of the sentence’s syntactico-lexical form. [In Kaplanesque fashion.]
All of this by the way of establishing the ground on which the dispute is to be resolved. The ultimate point, it's turning out, is just that I will show propositions to be useless for establishing a synonymy relation between sentences. The basic line seems to be that such a more presupposes such a relation and is therefore question-begging.


left behind

rec'tly got th' nine obj. o' desire album.
it wont do
2 dream of caramel
2 think of cinnamon
an' long 4 u

it wont do
2 stir a deep desire
2 fan a hidden fire
that can never burn true

i know yer name
i know yer skin
i know tha way
these things begin

but i dont know
how i would live with myself
what i'd forgive of myself
if u dont go
thx suzanne vega.



sunned, we discovered
goldfish, sheepshead,
bullhead, carp, sturgeon,
manta ray? carp
shish kebab and
papaya grapefruit salsa.



Not really sure what the title is supposed to mean. I think it's onomatopoeic (sp?) for some sound people mean when they catch a whiff of a bad smell. Yeah, that sounds about right.

So, as usual, springtime fulfills its expected role as a catalyst for all sorts of romance. And what am I doing? Staying the fuck away from it. For the time being. I am just completely burned out on short-term go-nowhere flings. Not that, you know, sex isn't fun or something. But really, what's the point. I mean, most people you meet aren't that good in bed anyway. They're not creative. Why would I be talking about this... I'm tired. Tired of doing all the work, for one thing. Although this is not a certain result, it's just that when you're putting out all this effort and you get nothing back...

Probably I've written about this elsewhere, although not on the blog so far. My idea is that, frankly, a lot of women are kind of confused about their sexuality. Correction: a lot of the women I'm interested in are. By "confused" I mean they have a sort of disconnect from themselves and others in that they are either (a) afraid of their sex (b) afraid of sex (c) afraid of the emotional attachment that can come from sex (d) afraid of emotions (e) a combination of the above. The upshot being chaos, chaos, chaos.

What is this then, the vague outline of a diagnosis above? Well if you're like me you can sense these "issues" on a person from across a room. And I'm tired of dealing with this shit. So, fuck it. I'm tired. I'm done. (I said, scheming on a cute emo chick.) Waagh, I never learn(ed yet).



I was over picking up some crab at No. 1 Wok and coming back I'm going along the street and what the heel should I see but a lizard, maybe two feet or so long. Motionless on the side of the road in that little strip between the sidewalk and the street. Lying, like it had about zero cares in the world. This is not NM or something. Where oh where in the world did this thing come from? Lizards are fucking stupid creatures. I know. Tasty though. Maybe it's still there.


i heard

sixteen young women
shouting "old woman!
watch where you step,"
between streetlamps.



no poetry today. sick to my stomach. these fat midwestern americans. these piggish priggish americans with their sunglasses and their cars and their sandals and toenails. jeans and stretch jeans and fat asses, waggling from the parking lot into k.f.c. when i ride the bus it's nothing if not awkward, ungainly sentences can't describe the lurching crouching flopping rolls of--oh god. why did i eat bbq for lunch (i didn't but why not might as well have) when i now smell like food with a jowly woman's snout at the back of my neck. get out before they turn on each other.


Antitraditionalism and ethics.

In actuality, this post is not going to be on the title topic, but in it. Just some food for thought.
It has been repeatedly suggested that the present limit of intellectual reconstruction lies in the fact that it has not as yet been seriously applied in the moral and social disciplines. Would not this further application demand precisely that we advance to a belief in a plurality of changing, moving, individualized goods and ends, and to a belief that principles, criteria, laws are intellectual instruments for analyzing individual or unique situations?

The blunt assertion that every moral situation is a unique situation having its own irreplaceable good may seem not merely blunt but preposterous.... A moral situation is one in which judgment and choice are required antecedently to overt action. The practical meaning of the situation... is not self-evident. It has to be searched for. There are conflicting desires and alternative apparent goods.... Hence, inquiry is exacted... This [faculty of] inquiry is intelligence. ...

To say a man seeks health or justice is only to say that he seeks to live healthily or justly.... When the endeavor to realize a so-called end does not temper and color all other activities, life is portioned out into strips and fractions.... This is the only logical alternative to subordinating all aims to the accomplishment of one alone--fanaticism. ...

Classifications suggest possible traits to be on the lookout for in studying a particular case... They are tools of insight; their value is in promoting an individualized response in the individual situation. ...

The belief in fixed values has bred a division of ends into intrinsic and instrumental....

No one can possibly estimate how much of the obnoxious materialism and brutality of our economic life is due to the fact that economic ends have been regarded as merely instrumental.
Dewey, Reconstruction in Philosophy.


Koans for Americans

Once a redneck sat before the Buddha. For six days and nights they sat contemplating the rain, uncomplaining. On the seventh day at sunrise the redneck unlaced his shoes and stood barefoot. "Where is my dog?" he asked.


Koans for Americans

Noam Chomsky owns an SUV with a harpoon gun on top.


Koans for Americans

A girl asked her mother to get her ears pierced: three studs in the right ear and a cuff on the left. The mother said, "I will take you but you have to pay for it yourself." The girl was disappointed momentarily, but soon she placed a telephone call to her boyfriend and asked to borrow the money. She told her mother this. The mother looked at the girl quietly, then turned back to her day-trading. "Why not a tattoo?" she asked.