Generative Anthropology Summer Conference 2011, May 19-21

A Few Thoughts on Gaza

It is a marker of the deadening of thought, not increased moral sensitivity, that it is now commonplace to condemn or support one side in a war based on which side suffers the greater number of casualties, military or civilian. If one side wins by having the most civilian victims, then an incentive is created for that side to generate as many civilian victims as possible. As is often the case, what looks like scrupulousness is really a justification for barbarism.

Wars have aims—generally the surrender of the other side, and its agreement with your terms, or, if necessary, the destruction of the other side. Proportionality in war means that you use the amount of force needed to attain those aims, and no more—if a certain amount of force is needed to bend the other side to your will, you shouldn’t use more than that for reasons, say, of revenge. The notion that “proportionality” refers to the proportion of force used by, or available to, the respective sides, is degradation of thought to the level of imbecility.

Those critical of Israel’s response to Hamas’s rockets and tunnels might be asked what kind of response they would find legitimate. If the response they would allow is one that would leave the rockets and tunnels in place, they are arguing that no Israeli self-defense is permissible. If no Israeli self-defense is permissible, then the only conclusion to be drawn is that Israelis should allow themselves to be slaughtered. In other words, the critic of Israel is a genocidal anti-Semite.

War is obviously not the answer! Israel bombs and invades Gaza and then in a few years Gaza rebuilds its means of violence and Israel has to do the same thing all over again. Clearly, the problem is not being solved, and we need another approach. Maybe, but we keep putting murderers and rapists in prison and, nevertheless, people continue to rape and murder. Do we need another approach here as well, to stop the cycle of violence between violent criminals and civilized society? Or could it be that, for the forseeable future, the Palestinians will find no way out of their resentments other than fantasies of Israel’s destruction, just like people will continue to murder and rape and that, nevertheless, in both cases forceful responses can prevent things from getting much worse than they might otherwise be?

After Liberalism 2

The left’s propaganda offensive in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision affirming the religious rights of business owners to not subsidize forms of birth control that violate their convictions involves arguing, as blatantly as they feel they can, that the Supreme Court (or, better: 5 men; or, even better, bleaching Clarence [...]

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Thought Experiment

First, imagine a computer which includes complete monitoring of every internal electro-magnetic event, the transistors and memory and so on. We can see the physical arrangement and what happens in the circuits, and, initially, we can compare it to what is shown on the screen. Our task is to predict what is being shown [...]

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Brain as computer

The basic premise of much current brain research seems to be that the brain is a biological computer and evolution is the programmer. Theoretically, then, we should be able to find the codes and understand the working of the brain. According to a 2010 article on CNET:

Researchers at the Stanford University School of [...]

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Further Reflections, Consciousness & Free Will

On one hand, nothing is more familiar to us that our own consciousness, which can we safely assume is essentially similar to that of other humans. It seems equally obvious that we have free will. I make decisions constantly, and I change my mind just as frequently. And I can see that others are [...]

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Reflections on reading Raymond Tallis, Aping Mankind

The basic problem addressed by Tallis, it seems to me, is how matter becomes subjectively conscious. I say “subjectively” because we can’t directly observe the consciousness of another living being, and as Tallis points out, even the most advanced brain scans do not help us to understand human consciousness.

There are two basic approaches [...]

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After Liberalism

If we can’t distinguish between defending, or at least accepting, someone’s right to say something, on the one hand, and agreeing with them, on the other, then liberalism, in the classic Enlightenment sense, no longer exists. This seems to be, increasingly, the case—marxists and other antiliberals have long argued that the “bourgeois” freedoms are [...]

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The line of inquiry, which I suppose could be called “psychological,” but perhaps would better be called, using a term I have come across in some radical writers, “psychogeographical,” I have undertaken in the past few posts seems increasingly important to me. I find myself in a position analogous to those Western Marxists following [...]

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Mimetic Culture, Liminal Culture

There are two kinds of moral innovations: one, upward, in which more distance is created between desire and appropriation; and the other, downward, in which that distance is shrunken by the violation of some prohibition with impunity (the innovation lies in the intimation of unlimited possibility, which mimics the generation of human possibility by [...]

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Everyone is taking selfies, but does that mean that no one is selfy, that is, self-like, anymore? It’s a serious question, even if it is prompted by the hilarious new song (I suppose that’s what it is) titled “Selfie,” which features a young woman, with an attention span of approximately 3 seconds whose only [...]

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