rationalism facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia …






Rationalism comes in various versions and makes wider or narrower claims. The idea underlying most versions is that reason is the most characteristic faculty of Homo sapiens. Appeal to reason is part of traditional wisdom, yet traditional (ancient Greek) rationalism includes an out of hand dismissal of traditional wisdom. The modern version of this dismissal is the radical demand for starting afresh (Enlightenment radicalism) and admitting only ideas that are proven, absolutely certain, and fully justified by rigorous proof. Science begins with rejecting all doubtful ideas. Francis Bacon initiated the idea that traditional unfounded views are the causes of all error; Ren Descartes tried to ignore all doubtful ideas and start afresh from nothing. David Hume began his investigations in efforts to delineate all that is certain while ignoring all else; he and many others, from Denis Diderot to Pierre Simon de Laplace, took it for granted that Isaac Newtons success was due to his adherence to Bacons advice. Auguste Comte and T. H. Huxley took it for granted that other fields will be as successful if they only jettison tradition more fully; Ludwig Wittgenstein went further and said only scientific assertions are grammatical (positivism, scientism).

Yet what proof is no one knew. Mathematics was the paradigm of proof, and the success of physics was largely ascribed to its use of mathematical methods, a practice for all to emulate. What is that method, and how can it be applied to the social domain? How does the relinquishing of tradition help word theories mathematically? This was unclear even after the discipline of statistics was developed enough to become applicable to some social studies (as in the work of Adolphe Qutelet, 1796-1874). Yet clearly as usefulness gives rational thought its initial (even if not final) worth, at least the rationality of action is obvious: its goal-directedness. Hence the study of rationality is vital for the study of the rational action that is the heart of the study of humanity. Whereas students of nature seldom pay attention to the rationality and the scientific character of their studies, students of humanities are engrossed in them. And whatever their views on this rationality, at least they openly center on it. Thus in the opening of his classic An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), Adam Smith declares his intent to ignore irrationality, no matter how widespread it is. Slavery is widespread, yet everyone knows that putting a worker in chains is no incentive, he observed.

The Enlightenment movement deemed Smiths argument obvious; this led to its dismissal of human history as the sad story of needless pain caused by ignorance and superstition. This was an error. The advocacy of the abolition of slavery came in total disregard for its immediate impact on the lot of slave owners. Smith spoke of rationality in the abstract. Because high productivity depends on the division of labor and because this division leads to trade, freedom is efficient. Selfish conduct is rational as long as it is scientific, that is, undogmatic. Life in the light of reason is egalitarian, simple, and happy. This abstract reasoning led to concrete results, including the French Revolution and its terror and wars. Edmund Burke and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel blamed the radicalism of the revolution for its deterioration into terror. The reaction to the French Revolution was aggressively hostile to radicalism, to egalitarianism, and even to reason (Hegel).

Karl Marx wedded the two great modern movements, the radical Enlightenment movement and the Romantic reaction to it. The former had the right vision, and the latter had the historically right view of the obstacle to its realization. Smith-style harmony between individual and society has no place in traditional society. Hence the institution of enlightened equality is an essential precondition for it. The realization of the radical dream of harmony requires civil war. But it is certainly realizable, he insisted.

Marxs critique of radicalism from within is as popular as ever. We are chained to our social conditions, and rationalism cannot break them. Max Weber, the author of the most popular alternative to Marxs ideas, stressed this; so do all the popular radical critics of the ills of modern (bourgeois) society, chiefly imperialism, racism, and sexism, perhaps also alienation from work. These critics puzzle the uninitiated, as they seem to belabor condemnations of obviously indefensible aspects of modern society. But they do something else; they advance a thesis. Social evils will not go away by sheer mental exercises. Are there any reasonable people who disagree with this thesis? It is hard to say. Perhaps some thinkers still follow the central thesis of the Enlightenment movement. If such people do exist (as seems true but not obviously so), then they are the neoliberals, the Chicago school of economics, which is not confined to economics, as it preaches the idea that a world with free markets still is the best of all possible worlds, even though it is far from ideal (Friedrich A. von Hayek).

What then is rationalism? Of the alternative views on reason, which can count as variants of rationalism? Consider pragmatism, the view of the useful as the true (Hegel, William James, John Dewey). It is unsatisfactory, because assessments of usefulness may be true or not; but is it a version of rationalism? Consider the traditionalist reliance on the test of time (ordinary-language philosophy; neo-Thomism). The assessment of the relative worth of traditions may be cultural (Martin Buber, Amitai Ezioni; communitarianism) or intellectual (Michael Polanyi, Thomas S. Kuhn; postcriticalism). It is unsatisfactory, as these assessments may be true or not; but is it a version of rationalism? There is no telling. The same holds for appeals to other criteria for truth. These are common sense (Hume, Smith, Thomas Reid, Adam Ferguson, George Edward Moore), the intuitions of Great Men (Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Hegel, Martin Heidegger), higher religious sentiments (Friedrich Schleiermacher, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy), and superior tastes (Richard Rorty). Are these variants of rationalism? Do they lead to more reasonable human conduct? The standard claim is that their asset is in their ability to maintain social stability. But in the early twenty-first century stability is unattainable and even deemed inferior to democratic controls (Karl R. Popper).

There is no consensus about whether the counsel to limit reason and admit religion is rationalism proper (Moses Maimonides, Saint Thomas Aquinas, Robert Boyle, Moses Mendelssohn, Polanyi) or not (Immanuel Kant, David Strauss, Ludwig Feuerbach, Sigmund Freud, Bertrand Russell, Adolf Grnbaum). The only consensus is about the defiance of reason (Sren Kierkegaard, Max Stirner, Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau, Georges Sorel, Friedrich Nietzsche, D. H. Lawrence, Heidegger, perhaps also Paul Feyerabend). The only generally admitted necessary condition for rationalism is the demand to side with reason. Therefore it is fashionable to limit rationalism by allowing the taking of a single axiom on faith while otherwise swearing allegiance to reason (Polanyi, Richard H. Popkin, Pope John Paul II; fideism). The default view should then be that this allegiance suffices. Add to this the consensus around a necessary condition for this allegiance. It is the critical attitude, openness to criticism, the readiness to admit the success of the criticism of any given view. Consider the view that the critical attitude is sufficient as the default option (Popper) and seek valid criticism of it that may lead to its modification, to the admission of some unavoidable limitations on reason, whether in the spirit of Marx or in that of his critics. The need for this limitation comes from purely philosophical considerations. Hume said that we need induction for knowledge and for practice, yet it is not rational (it has no basis in logic); instead, we rely on it out of habit and necessity and this is the best we can do. A popular variant of this is that because induction is necessary, it is in no need of justification (Kant, Russell). Another variant takes it on faith (Polanyi, Popkin; fideism). Is induction really necessary?

This question is welcome. Since finding alternative answers to a worthy question improves their assessment, they are all worthy. Hence all versions of limited rationalism are welcomeas hypotheses to investigate (Salomon Maimon, Popper). This is the power of the method of always trying out the minimal solution as the default.

Critical rationalism is revolutionary because it replaces proof with test; it replaces radical, wholesale dismissal of ideas with the readiness to test piecemeal (Albert Einstein, Popper; reformism). The demand to prove thus yields to the critical attitude (William Warren Bartley III, Willard Van Orman Quine; non-justificationism), recognizing that theories possess graded merit (Einstein, Leonard Nelson, Popper; critical rationalism)by whatever rule we happen to follow, no matter how tentative. Rules are then hopefully improvable (Charles Sanders Peirce, Russell, Popper; fallibilism). Hence diverse rules may serve as competing criteria or as complementary. Being minimalist, critical rationalism invites considering some older theologians as allies, although not their contemporary followers. Unlike radical rationalism, critical rationalism is historically oriented. (It is the view of rationality as relative to contexts and of truth as absolute, as a guiding principle la Kant.)

This invites critical rationalism to enlist rational thought as a category of rational action (Ian C. Jarvie and Joseph Agassi). And this in turn invites the study of rationalism as an aspect of extant scientific research. It also invites comparison of the various versions of rationalism as to the degree of their adequacy to this task: take scientific research as it is, warts and all, and examine its merits and defects according to the diverse alternatives. This attitude is new and expressed in various studies of the sociology of science, so-called, that often spread over diverse disciplines, including political science and even criminology no less. This renders a part of the project of rationalism the assessments of the intellectual value of the outcome of research, theoretical, practical, or culturalor even aesthetic. The only intellectual justification of a scientific theory, said Einstein, is its ability to explain; its best reward is its successors admission of it as approximate. In this way he stressed that the aim of research is to explain in the hope of approximating the truth. This is open to debate. Social science as a whole may serve as a test case, with the sociology of science at the center of the debate on this matter.

Historically, rationalism doggedly accompanied studies of nature, not social studies. What in these should rationalism approve of? Discussion of this question allowed rationalism to inform the social sciences. A conspicuous example is the vagueness in social studies of the boundaries between philosophy, science, and practice that still invites open discussion. Anything less is below the minimal criterion of the critical attitude.

Critics of minimal rationalism find criticism insufficient, since positive criteria of choice need justification. If so, then rationalism is back to square one. If not, then positive criteria must be tentative, and the issue must shift from their justification to efforts at their improvement. Some do not like this, as it rests on their initial choice that was too arbitrary. They prefer to return to the initial criterion and replace it with the least arbitrary one. They are radicals. The clash is thus between the radical and the critical version of rationalismas well as between them and fideism.

The agenda of rationalismin philosophy, in science, or in practiceis the same: heightening the critical attitude, seeking improvement through criticism everywhere. Where is the starting point? How are we to decide on our agenda? Parliamentary steering committees decide on agendas. The commonwealth of learning, however, is its own steering committee. Those concerned to promote rationalism should do their best to put discussions of it high on the public agenda.

Agassi, Joseph. 1996. The Philosophy of Science Today. In Philosophy of Science, Logic, and Mathematics in the Twentieth Century. Vol. 9 of Routledge History of Philosophy, ed. Stuart G. Shanker, 235-265. London: Routledge.

Agassi, Joseph, and Ian C. Jarvie, eds. 1987. Rationality: The Critical View. The Hague: Nijhoff.

Baumgardt, Carola. 1952. Johannes Kepler: Life and Letters. Introduction by Albert Einstein. London: Golancz.

Burtt, E. A. 1926. The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science. London: Routledge.

Churchman, C. West. 1968. Challenge to Reason. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Einstein, Albert. 1954. Ideas and Opinions. New York: Bonanza Books.

Festinger, Leon. 1957. Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Feyerabend, Paul. 1987. Farewell to Reason. London: New Left Books.

Haakonssen, Knud, ed. 2006. The Cambridge History of Eighteenth-Century Philosophy. 2 vols. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Hayek, Friedrich August von. 1952. The Counter-Revolution of Science: Studies on the Abuse of Reason. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.

Hayek, Friedrich August von. 1960. The Constitution of Liberty. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Jarvie, Ian C. 1964. The Revolution in Anthropology. London: Routledge.

Jarvie, Ian C., and Joseph Agassi. 1987. The Rationality of Magic. In Rationality: The Critical View, ed. Joseph Agassi and Ian C. Jarvie, 363-383. The Hague: Nijhoff.

John Paul II, Pope. 1998. Fides et Ratio. Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference.

Koyr, Alexandre, 1968. Metaphysics and Measurement. London: Chapman and Hall.

Kuhn, Thomas S. 1970. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lakatos, Imre, and Alan Musgrave. 1970. Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Mill, John Stuart. 1843. A System of Logic. London: J. W. Parker.

Naess, Arne. 1968. Scepticism. London: Routledge and K. Paul; New York: Humanities.

Nelson, Leonard. 1949. Socratic Method and Critical Philosophy: Selected Essays. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press; repr. New York: Dover, 1965.

Nisbet, Robert A. 1966. The Sociological Tradition. New York: Basic Books.

Osler, Margaret J., ed. 2000. Rethinking the Scientific Revolution. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Parkinson, G. H. R., ed. 1993. The Renaissance and Seventeenth-Century Rationalism. Vol. 4 of Routledge History of Philosophy. London: Routledge.

Phillips, Derek L. 1973. Abandoning Method. London: Jossey-Bass.

Pitte, Frederick P. van de. 1971. Kant as Philosophical Anthropologist. The Hague: Nijhoff.

Polanyi, Michael. 1958. Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. London: Routledge.

Polanyi, Michael. 1962. The Republic of Science. In Criteria for Scientific Development, ed. Edward Shils, 1-20. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Popper, Karl R. 1945. The Open Society and Its Enemies. 2 vols. London: Routledge.

Rees, Graham, and Maria Wakely. 2004. Introduction. In The Instauratio Magna. Part 2, Novum Organum and Associated Texts. Vol. 11 of The Oxford Francis Bacon. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Russell, Bertrand. 1912. The Problems of Philosophy. London: Williams and Norgate; New York: Henry Holt.

Russell, Bertrand. 1945. A History of Western Philosophy. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Simon, Robert L., ed. 2002. The Blackwell Guide to Social and Political Philosophy. Oxford: Blackwell.

Solomon, Robert C. 1988. Continental Philosophy since 1750: The Rise and Fall of the Self. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wettersten, John R. 1992. The Roots of Critical Rationalism. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Joseph Agassi

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Philosophy for Life: An Interview With Jules Evans – HuffPost

How did your to philosophy journey begin? What sparked your interest in Stoicism and philosophy as a way of lifeor as you put it for life? If we understand correctly, you discovered it after struggling with some issues on your own in your adolescence?

I think I read Marcus Aurelius at school. Then, when I was 21, I was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety brought on by some bad drug experiences. I suffered from that from 17 to 21, five pretty rough years. I eventually went to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy support group for people suffering from social anxiety. It helped me a lot, and it also reminded me of Stoicism. A few years later, in 2007, I interviewed the two founders of CBT Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck -and discovered theyd both been directly influenced by Stoicism. It was around then that I became interested in the revival of Stoicism, and started to interview other people who use its philosophy today.

How do you explain Stoicism to people when they ask? Does it depend on the audience?

I usually explain it through the prism of CBT, because a lot of people are already familiar with that, or I compare it to Buddhism. I emphasise three ideas: firstly, that our thoughts affect our emotions. Secondly, the wisdom of focusing on what you can control. Third, the importance of habits. Those to me are the three best ideas in Stoicism.

Do you have a daily routine that incorporates any Stoic exercises? If so, has it always been the same? And which exercises do you practice? How has it benefited you?

Not really. It helped me a lot from 21 to 27, Id say when I was in a crisis and needed to change myself to get out of it. I might occasionally turn to it now if Im in a difficult stage of life, but luckily life has been a lot easier since then.

What books would you recommend that you think embody Stoic lessons or ideas but usually are not mentioned in discussions about Stoicism? Or maybe you could recommend a Stoic gem that most people havent read?

Ohhmmm well there are Christian mystic books that are quite influenced by Stoicism, Thomas Trahernes Centuries of Meditation for example. There are modern takes on Stoicism, like Bertrand Russells Conquest of Happiness. Then theres a lot of rich stuff in classical philosophy in general no one reads Cicero any more but he was the most popular author of the Renaissance.

What would be the one Stoic idea or exercise that you think anyone would benefit from? What would you recommend? Feel free to suggest more.

Well, the idea that business people and sports people find most useful is to accept whats beyond your control. Were all control freaks, so thats a really useful, simple idea that we need to keep reminding ourselves of.

Do you have a favorite stoic quote?

This one from Seneca inspired me when I was writing Philosophy for Life: you are retained as counsel for unhappy mankind. You have promised to help those in peril by sea, those in captivity, the sick and the needy, and those whose heads are under the poised axe. Whither are you straying? What are you doing? I think a lot of academics could do with a reminder of that.

From what weve read, you feel like there is something missing from Stoic philosophy that youve tried to find by studying other schools and are beginning to write about. Can you tell us about that? Does that mean you would identify as a Stoic?

Well, theres a lot missing from Stoicism. Humour, for one, a sense of the absurd. They didnt have much sense of the power of the arts, imagination, music, dance, poetry. There isnt much dancing in Greek philosophy as Jean Vanier said when I interviewed him. It can overemphasise self-reliance and under emphasise the importance of friendship. Stoics can be Puritans, which Im definitely not. In general it can overemphasise rationalism and miss out all the importance of non-rational ways of knowing like ecstatic states, which involve the body more. I dont think rationalism is the last word in consciousness. Stoics often seem quite prickly, cold, pedantic personalities which they hide behind a stiff veneer of rationalism. I think its too rule-based Massimo Pigliucci wrote the other day of the algorithm of Stoicism I dont see life as something best approached with an algorithm, though I think thats why Stoicism appeals to computer programmers. No, I dont identify as a Stoic anymore, but I think there are Stoic techniques that everyone could benefit from knowing and practicing.

This interview was originally published on DailyStoic.com

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Philosophy for Life: An Interview With Jules Evans - HuffPost

Kerala Chief Minister presents MC Joseph award to litterateur MK Sanu – The New Indian Express

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan greets litterateur M K Sanu at the Yukthivadi M C Joseph Award presentation function in Kochi on Saturday | K Shijith

KOCHI:Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday said those who came to power after swearing allegiance to the Constitution are now propagating superstitions, ill-practices, myths and fabricated tales. He was speaking after presenting the Yukthivadi M C Joseph Award to litterateur M K Sanu here. Calling for a joint fight against the covert moves to revive casteism as part of the wider goal to establish a theocracy, the Chief Minister said the rationalists should join hands with socio-political movements to rid society of ill-practices and superstition.The rationalists cannot take people into confidence unless their initiative reflects on the socio-political sphere.

The role of rationalism should not be limited to discussions on the existence of God, Pinarayi said. What the Communist movement suggested is rationalism should not be merely an idea, but it should have a socio-political impact.What human beings need is not a foolproof theory to substantiate the non-existence of God, but his daily bread, he said.

Pinarayi said M C Joseph had the capability to provide logical answers and establish his point of view on questions related to rationalism. He was one of those who fearlessly fought superstitions and ill- practices of his time. Such bravado energises posterity also, the CM said.

Dr K S David presided over the function. K V Thomas MP, CPM district chief P Rajeev, GCDA chairman C N Mohanan, Sreeni Pattathanam, P Raghavan and Jacob Laser spoke.

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Kerala Chief Minister presents MC Joseph award to litterateur MK Sanu - The New Indian Express

Alexander: One fleeting victory for reason – Quad City Times

The great sky wolves devoured the sun Monday.

You won't see that headline in any American newspaper. Nor should you.

But that was the Viking explanation for a solar eclipse. In fact, the concept of a mythical beast or god consuming the sun was a pretty standard interpretation for much of antiquity. To the ancient Chinese, it was a veracious dragon. In Vietnam, a celestial toad swallowed either the sun or moon during a solar or lunar eclipse.

These were agricultural cultures, mind you, completely dominated by anecdote and the rhythm of the growing seasons. Those shadows of polytheism still exists today, remnants permitted by later, more powerful monotheistic traditions as a means to more easily sway recent converts.

Easter, for instance, is probably a fusion of Catholic doctrine and more ancient pagan spring festivals, built around the planting calendar and an associated concept of rebirth. The egg has long been a tangible, powerful symbol of new life. And that pre-Christian tradition sticks around today.

Point is, myths come and go. They're the necessary result of a curious species that spends an unprecedented amount of time pondering the world around it. And there tends to be substantial upheaval and pushback whenever a seminal moment throws shade at the established intellectual tradition. Entire political power structures are built around belief systems. Entire institutions derive their power from the myth itself. Overturning an established myth is, often, a direct assault on a civilization's cultural and political framework.

It's no surprise then that Galileo was put on trial in 1633 for suggesting earth revolved around the sun and offering conclusive evidence to prove it. The Vatican convicted the Italian naturalist of heresy, tantamount to a 17th century blacklisting, and forced him to recant his findings. It wasn't until 1992 that Pope John Paul II admitted the church's error after a 13-year investigation.

For more than 350 years, the story of Galileo's trial has stood as a symbol of the inherent tension between religion and rationalism.

On Monday, millions of Americans turned their gazes skyward to watch the moon blot out the sun. This time, it was widely understood that the entire event is just a chance occurrence of orbiting bodies passing by one another. With incredible accuracy, scientists predicted precise moments when the sun would be fully eclipsed by the moon. And Americans of all political and religious stripes took those predictions for granted.

It's a notable level of confidence in the predictive abilities of scientific observation and mathematics in a moment when similar endeavors are scrubbed from government websites and blasted as hoaxes of the most politically motivated kind. Such charges, mind you, would not be foreign to Galileo. They were the same accusations made against him.

Attempts to objectively measure the universe put us on the moon. It split the atom. It created a network that transmits information at light speed. It nearly doubled average life expectancy and eradicated polio.

And yet, scientists still fight for legitimacy, even though they are the one's whose only real agenda is understanding. That's because those in power weaponize irrational fear. Baseless conspiracy theories are wrongly cast as legitimate doubt. One can't pose legitimate questions about that which they don't understand.

But new information threatens those whose entire access to power is rooted in old systems. With that understanding, no one should be surprised that we're still arguing about evolution 158 years after Darwin published his widely confirmed mechanism for speciation. Nor should anyone be shocked that billions have been spent on delegitimizing climate science.

Almost 400 years ago, merely predicting Monday's eclipse could have been a capital offense. But rationalism soldiered on. It reshaped how the universe is understood. It built political systems, including the United States. And, on Monday, people accepted the calculus that accurately predicted the event.

On Monday, millions looked skyward and understood they weren't seeing the wrath of an angry god or hungry serpent. And that's only because those honestly seeking truth refused to back down.

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Alexander: One fleeting victory for reason - Quad City Times

Grace Mugabe debacle depicts the struggle between legal positivism and political realism – Bulawayo24 News (press release) (blog)

A political commentator Pedzisai Ruhanya has argued that first lady Grace Mugabe's debacle in South Africa depicts the struggle between legal positivism and political realism.

This was after the SA authorities imposed diplomatic immunity to Grace after she assaulted a model in that country when she found her in the company of her sons.

"Explaining First Lady Grace Mugabe's SA problems from a REALISM analytic lens; is International Law Vs International Relations: International law and international relations have long been concerned with the ways in which states interact with one another, and both fields have traditionally build their theories on the twin assumption of state sovereignty and non-intervention, most notably embodied in the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia," he said.

"The Grace Mugabe debacle depicts the struggle between legal positivism and political realism; that is the supremacy of politics over law. Like realism in international relations, rationalism in comparative politics concentrates on "means-ends" calculations and how they affect political outcomes. But realism engages in methodological nationalism, whereas rationalism as it is deployed in comparative politics engages in methodological individualism. For realism, the ontological unit of analysis is the state as a unitary actor from which the models and explanations for events and political outcomes in international relations are derived."

He said for rationalism, the ontological unit of analysis is the individual, whose strategic interaction forms the basis of political explanation.

"The difference between the two perspectives thus resides in their focus on states and individuals, whereas the common affinity of the two perspectives is their emphasis on the UTILITY-MAXIMIZING of the units of analysis. Like the polarity of LAW and POWER (which is the case with First Lady Grace Mugabe's issue) in the fields of international law and international relations, rationalist and structuralist accounts of politics have created a polarity between structureless agents on the one hand and extreme rational choice and agentless structure on the other extreme structuralists. To address the problem, there is need to construct an EMPIRICAL MODEL," Ruhanya posted on facebook.

"If the norms contained in the international human rights regime are important, as legal proceduralists, neoliberal institutionalists and liberal-republicans argue, then there aught to be a positive relationship between international law of human rights (rights in principle) and the protection of human rights (rights in practice). Such an expectation is supported by Henkin's (1979: 47) claim that "it is probably the case that all nations observe almost all principles of international law and almost all of their obligations almost all of their time."

He said the most probable explanation on why the First Lady got away with her transigressions could be understood using the REALISM analytic framework specifically.Strict realists make six assumptions about the world.

"States are the primary and most powerful actors in the international sphere . The world is anarchic. Since there is no power over states and no state may command another, there can be no order in international relations. States seek to maximize their security power. Realists perceive the world as having limited resources that are evenly distributed and so they see states as primarily focused on maximizing power and security. States behave rationally in their pursuits of security or power. There is utility in the use of force It is important to note that there is a major division within the Realist School regarding how states measure the maximization of power .Under classic realist theory states seek to make absolute gains in their power," he said.

"Under this view, a realist state does not care whether other states gain in the same transaction as long as the state that is acting makes a gain in power. Neo-realists argue that states seek relative gains. In this view states will want to know whether they will benefit more than other states based on the existing power structure. Based on these assumptions, realists tend to view the world as a series of prisoners' dilemmas. The classic prisoners' dilemma involves two suspects arrested for a crime. The suspects agree in advance not to say anything."

Ruhanya said the police interrogate them separately and over each leniency in return for a confession.

"If neither suspect cooperates, they will only face a light sentence for a lesser included offence. If both suspects confess, they will both go to prison for the full crime though they will get some leniency for their cooperation. If only one suspect confesses that suspect will be left off while the other gets the maximum sentence for the full crime. The best overall outcome for both suspects is when both choose not to confess. For each individual the best outcome is to confess while the other sticks to their agreement not to say anything. If either suspect believes the other will cheat by confessing, it is in their interest to also cheat and confess. Unless the two suspects are incredibly committed to their agreement this prisoners' dilemma should tend to end in both suspects confessing to protect themselves against worst possible outcome and possibly obtain the best outcome," he said.

"The basic idea from the prisoner's dilemma can be translated into the international relations sphere. For example, States will follow the Third Geneva Conventions (which protects prisoners of war and wounded soldiers) as long as they believe other states will also comply. Yet if one state suspects or knows that another state is violating the Third Geneva Convention, the other state would be motivated to break the treaty Criticism."

He said while realism may explain certain choices made by states in the international sphere and thereby illuminate conduct (particularly economic and military conduct), it has difficulty explaining the acceptance by states of international human rights in such as self-centered and power focused world as understood by the realist theory.

"The problems are two fold: Realists must find some benefit for states in agreeing to and complying with international human rights norms and other norms of good governance. Even if such a benefit could be found, realists would need to show why there would be a strong incentive to cheat under the prisoner's dilemma," he said.

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Grace Mugabe debacle depicts the struggle between legal positivism and political realism - Bulawayo24 News (press release) (blog)

POINT OF VIEW: Today’s GOP needs another William F. Buckley Jr. – Palm Beach Post

After the neo-Nazi demonstration in Charlottesville, Va., William F. Buckley Jr. must have been rolling over in his grave. As the founder of the National Review magazine, Buckley was an important catalyst for the modern conservative movement. Perhaps his greatest service was marginalizing extremists to prevent them from gaining ascendancy within Republican ranks.

In his bid to make conservative politics mainstream, which over time allowed for someone like Ronald Reagan to become governor of California and later president of the United States, Buckley singled out the John Birch Society and Ayn Rand as unacceptable. Why he went after the Birchers and the author of Atlas Shrugged may offer a lesson for todays GOP.

First and foremost, Buckley sought a politics based on rationalism, facts, empiricism and expertise. At the cost of rationalism, the Birchers were prone to embracing oddball conspiracy theories.

In one outlandish charge, Bircher leader Robert Welch charged that President Dwight D. Eisenhower was a communist agent. He further asserted that 50 percent to 70 percent of the U.S. government was communist-controlled.

Incidentally, it was during a 1964 meeting in Palm Beach that a plan was hatched between Buckley and then.-Sen. Barry Goldwater to denounce Welch. In a subsequent article, Buckley warned about the head Bircher being a liability for conservatives since he was far removed from common sense.

What Buckley did was use alternative media (which the National Review was) to neutralize fake news and keep it from corrupting the overall conservative movement. Today, unfortunately, the opposite has been occurring along with a president aiding and abetting disinformation.

Second, Buckley was a serious Catholic with sincere faith. Consequently, he was a staunch champion of the Judeo-Christian tradition. This is why he had no patience for Rand, who reduced capitalism to materialism and selfishness. Her coffin bore not a cross but a dollar sign!

As an immigrant from the Soviet Union, Rand brought to Americas shores a reactionary economic belief system that became another ism. But her ideology retained Kremlin-brand atheism.

Though religion does continue to play a role in Republican circles, honest observers recognize that too often it has been reduced to a tool for fake God endorsement. Buckley was not so crass, but regarded religion as necessary for promoting our Lincolnesque better angels.

Today, many politicians prefer sharp tone over civil discourse. Such leaders operate as if they do not believe they will one day be judged by God. Religion, sometimes even its veneer, has the power to elevate behavior over dishonesty as well as promote a show of respect toward political opponents.

Buckley was not perfect, but he was a thinker and a life-long learner. His adamant position on states rights cast him on the wrong side of history with respect to civil rights, but near the end of his life, he confessed that he had been wrong and that federal intervention to end Jim Crow was the right action.

Republicans would do well to return to the political wisdom of Buckley. It could make the GOP great again.


Editors note: Chapman is a professor of history at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

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POINT OF VIEW: Today's GOP needs another William F. Buckley Jr. - Palm Beach Post

Review: In ‘Good Karma Hospital,’ Some Familiar TV Templates … – New York Times

Photo Amrita Acharia plays a doctor in The Good Karma Hospital, beginning Monday on AcornTV. Credit Chris Burgess/Acorn TV

No fancy tests are needed to map the pop-cultural DNA of The Good Karma Hospital, a British dramedy whose six-episode first season arrives Monday on AcornTV.

Its about 50 percent postcolonial escape fantasy, in which an uptight Briton moves to a tropical outpost of the former empire and learns to balance Western rationalism with Eastern superstition, emotion and ease. The markers include crazy drivers, brightly dressed crowds and nervousness about hygiene. Comparables are The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (note the similarity in the titles) and the Caribbean detective series Death in Paradise.

Its also about 50 percent medical melodrama, with a young doctor arriving at a new hospital and having to prove herself. Here the tropes include the grouchy chief, the conceited and sexist male surgeon, the sudden and difficult childbirth. And the precedents are Greys Anatomy and Northern Exposure. (Like the protagonist in Northern Exposure, the physician here is misinformed about where shell be working.)

Good Karma plays a small variation on these formulas by making its hero, Dr. Ruby Walker (Amrita Acharia), Anglo-Indian rather than white. After a bad breakup, she flees Britain for a struggling hospital in southern India shes both going somewhere exotic and coming home. She speaks the language (with an accent) but can still be surprised by the local dilemmas, such as the question of whether to let a female baby with a heart defect die.

There is no clash of cultures that cant be mitigated through pure sentimentality. If Good Karma Hospital is your kind of drug, youll want to mainline it. The coastal locations (filmed in Sri Lanka) are picturesque, the Bollywoodish music is catchy and the performers, including Amanda Redman of New Tricks as the hospitals overseer, are ingratiating.

As a bonus, two much-loved actors show up as the parents at a destination wedding and stick around for the season. The father is Philip Jackson, Inspector Japp in Agatha Christies Poirot, and the mother is Phyllis Logan, in her first role since Mrs. Hughes in Downton Abbey. The hospital may be in India, but if you look past the palm trees you could just as well be in the English countryside.

The Good Karma Hospital Beginning Monday on AcornTV

A version of this review appears in print on August 21, 2017, on Page C2 of the New York edition with the headline: A Doctor Proves Her Mettle.

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Review: In 'Good Karma Hospital,' Some Familiar TV Templates ... - New York Times

Op/Ed: Hate is a dangerous thing – The Times of Chester County

By U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, Pennsylvanias 6th District

Ryan Costello

A man drove a car into a crowd of people, killing one and injuring 19 others. It was a despicable act committed by someone motivated by hate.

Some of the commentary on this incident and the Presidents myriad responses misses the mark on what is the bigger picture relating to the character of our country and what we aspire to have our culture nurture for our kids, grandkids, and future generations. No one can take that character and identity from us unless we allow them to.

We should all take pause and acknowledge that hate does not rest solely in a few certain individuals who happen to be really conservative, or really liberal, or agnostic, or faithful to one particular religious affiliation, or that it is rooted solely in one ideology or another. Hate is rooted in a personal decision to decide to be intolerant and cruel toward another individual or group of individuals based on anothers skin color, religion, gender, ethnicity, or other similar type characteristic.

Hate is a dangerous thing, in many, many ways. Hate removes rationalism, temperance, and the ability to forgive, replacing it with emotionalism, anger, and irrational blame. Reason and tolerance get lost and are replaced with a debased sense of good and bad. Hate slowly replaces common decency with disgust. In a civil society we lose our identity when we lose these collective personal values as being the foundation from which relationships and discourse emanate. Hate can fester, and can spread.

And Im really very concerned that it is spreading. The Presidents most recent statement was intended to include other groups as spreading hate on that tragic day. This was wrong. Hate groups are relishing at what is occurring right now. We now find some arguing over whether it was just alt-right hate groups or whether alt-left hate groups were also to blame such a debate is a false debate because no conclusion will actually solve or resolve anything. We are at a very divisive time in the history of our country where some people are so emotional and angry to the point where a bad situation is becoming worse.

We now find ourselves with a horrific death that exposes deeper, more ugly truths about what still festers in the deep and dark underground of our country. I would suggest the best way to move forward is to give hate no mind, no time, and no audience. One of the best things we can do is take a deep collective breath and find wisdom and solace in those preaching kindness and patient resolve in getting beyond the past few days so that we can focus on the challenges and opportunities we have in this country.

Such wisdom and clarity need not come from the words of a President, and at this point they cannot given how unbelievably poorly our President has failed. Such wisdom and clarity need not derive from any politician for that matter, or a clergy member or media figure it can come from within you. We need to do this because we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones, to the men and women who sacrificed to make this Country what it is, and to future generations who rely on us to create opportunity for them to live under the pillars of equality and dignity for all in America.

Our country is way bigger, better, and wiser than to allow the hateful few to rob us of our kindness, tolerance, and essence. So lets not allow those few to do it to us by letting them. This means refusing to parse the words of others to assign them blame for a murder perpetrated by one and instead find truth and meaning in the message of someone whose belief you are proud to stand by, and use those words as your guidance.

U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello (R., Pa.) represents the Sixth Congressional District, which includes parts of Berks, Chester, Lebanon, and Montgomery Counties

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Op/Ed: Hate is a dangerous thing - The Times of Chester County

Empiricism as Foundational – Patheos (blog)

I have talked before about the empiricism vs rationalism debate that has taken place historically and presently in philosophical circles. Today, I am going to explore this a little further.

As I said before

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophystatesthat rationalists adopt at least one of three statements:

The Intuition/Deduction Thesis: Some propositions in a particular subject area, S, are knowable by us by intuition alone; still others are knowable by being deduced from intuited propositions.

The Innate Knowledge Thesis: We have knowledge of some truths in a particular subject area, S, as part of our rational nature.

The Innate Concept Thesis: We have some of the concepts we employ in a particular subject area, S, as part of our rational nature.

We eitherknowthings to be true intuitively, or as part of being rational agents, or the empirical may trigger concepts already embedded within our nature. Of course, one weakness here is in establishing what intuitionactually is.

Whilst other ideas and theses are closely connected to rationalism, or are often associated with it, I will keep it simple by only involving the above three.

One question that is often touted about such rationalism is the epistemic warrant: if someone uses intuition about a certain proposition, then it can be seen as lacking reason, and is thus potentially less justifiable, lacking in being warranted. How does an intuitive claim become a warranted claim?

For the empiricist, the following must be true in some way:

The Empiricism Thesis: We have no source of knowledge in S or for the concepts we use in S other than sense experience.

The source of knowledge for us is claimed to bea posteriori(from the latter)in its entirety, at source. Things may become intuitive, and even lacking reason, but they are as a result of us using our senses over time to formulate our propositional knowledge, and our systems that we use to navigate through the world. As the SEP continues:

Empiricism about a particular subject rejects the corresponding version of the Intuition/Deduction thesis and Innate Knowledge thesis. Insofar as we have knowledge in the subject, our knowledge isa posteriori, dependent upon sense experience. Empiricists also deny the implication of the corresponding Innate Concept thesis that we have innate ideas in the subject area. Sense experience is our only source of ideas. They reject the corresponding version of the Superiority of Reason thesis. Since reason alone does not give us any knowledge, it certainly does not give us superior knowledge. Empiricists generally reject the Indispensability of Reason thesis, though they need not. The Empiricism thesis does not entail that we have empirical knowledge. It entails that knowledge can only be gained,if at all, by experience. Empiricists may assert, as some do for some subjects, that the rationalists are correct to claim that experience cannot give us knowledge. The conclusion they draw from this rationalist lesson is that we do not know at all.

The thing is, we can sit here and wax lyrical about how wonderful rationality is, and how great it is to use logic, but unless these things have a pragmatic use then they are kind of meaningless. The question that we really need to ask is, How doI measure how good or useful logic is? or How doI evaluate a rational argument?

The answer, it appears, alwaysdefers to some kind of empirical appeal.

Take this as an example.

Its me and you, reader, and were living together. I write something really nasty about you on a post-it note. We might say that this has some moral value. However, now imagine that I put that post-it in my pocket where it disappears. You never find out about it, and I instantly forget I wrote it, and no one else in the world is any the wiser. What this means is that that terribly nasty note has no impact, no empirical legacy, on the world. There are no consequences whatsoever to writing that. As a moral action, the writing of that note now becomes a-moral it has no moral value. It seems to me that something can only have moral value if it has some kind of effect on reality. The only way we can know the effect something has on reality is to experience it in some way, to empirically sense it.

The same can be said of logic. Why is it good that a proposition adheres to logical rules such that it is rational? Well, the goodness of logic s surely measured in how we can use it. If it has no application to reality then it is rather meaningless. Rationality is only reveredbecause of what it can achieve. If rationality had no effect on reality, then it could not be seen as good (in a sense that good means to work well or have use).

If things only have exist in abstraction without any ramification on the world in any way, then they become impotent or meaningless. At the very minimum, beliefs and propositions and rational arguments have n effect on the psychology of the thinker.

It appears to me that empiricism lies at the heart of the consideration and evaluation of all things.

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Empiricism as Foundational - Patheos (blog)

Pssst, wanna know a secret? MongoDB has confidentially filed for IPO, reports suggest – The Register

NoSQL business MongoDB has filed confidentially for IPO, according to reports.

The document database company started life as 10gen in 2007 and has secured a total of $303.4m in equity funding to date.

According to Crunchbase, its last round, for an undisclosed amount, was in August 2015, having gained $80m in the January of that year.

MongoDB was last valued at $1.2bn in October 2016, when it pulled in $150m from investors that included Red Hat, Salesforce Ventures, EMC, Intel Capital and Sequoia Capital.

There have been rumours of a potential IPO from MongoDB, which has previously stated its aim to take on Oracle, for some time.

During an interview with The Reg last year, CEO Dev Ittycheria indicated the company was at a scale where the option could be acted upon quickly.

Ittycheria told The Reg that, with revenues between $100m and $200m annually, "there's companies who've gone public who are smaller and going slower than us."

The firm is now thought to have moved one step closer, with TechCrunch reporting that it has submitted an S-1 filing in recent weeks and plans to go public before the end of the year.

Under the US JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act, introduced in 2012, companies are now allowed to confidentially submit initial statements like this, which them weigh interest from investors before alerting the public to the filing. The idea is to encourage more companies to IPO.

The companies must reveal their financials at least 15 days before they embark on their investor roadshow.

TechCrunch reports that a number of companies that have filed confidentially for IPO will go public between September and the end of November.

Commenting on the reports, Greg Henry, CFO of Couchbase (a competitor of MongoDB's in the NoSQL space), said: "In confidentially filing its S-1, MongoDB is on track to become the first IPO in the non-Hadoop big data space, which stands as a pivotal milestone for the industry and provides more validation that there is life beyond analytical and relational databases."

MongoDB has gained some positive publicity last week, when CTO Eliot Horowitz emailed staff condemning the now infamous "Google memo".

"This manifesto, however, is not part of a healthy dialogue at all," Horowitz wrote.

"It advances a false equivalence between diversity efforts and discrimination built on a substrate of reasonable statements and context-free references to research. It is just another attempt to disguise prejudice in the clothing of rationalism."

Sponsored: The Joy and Pain of Buying IT - Have Your Say

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Pssst, wanna know a secret? MongoDB has confidentially filed for IPO, reports suggest - The Register

From Darwin to Damore – the ancient art of using "science" to mask prejudice – New Statesman

In addition to the Lefts affinity for those it sees as weak, humans are generally biased towards protecting females, wrote James Damore, in his now infamous anti-diversity Google memo. As mentioned before, this likely evolved because males are biologically disposable and because women are generally more co-operative and agreeable than men. Since the memo was published, hordes of women have come forward to say that views like these where individuals justify bias on the basis of science are not uncommon in their traditionally male-dominated fields. Damores controversial screed set off discussions about the age old debate: do biological differences justify discrimination?

Modern science developed in a society which assumed that man was superior over women. Charles Darwin, the father of modern evolutionary biology, who died before women got the right to vote, argued that young children of both genders resembled adult women more than they did adult men; as a result, woman is a kind of adult child.

Racial inequality wasnt immune from this kind of theorising either. As fields such as psychology and genetics developed a greater understanding about the fundamental building blocks of humanity, many prominent researchers such as Francis Galton, Darwins cousin, argued that there were biological differences between races which explained the ability of the European race to prosper and gather wealth, while other races fell far behind. The same kind of reasoning fuelled the Nazi eugenics and continues to fuel the alt-right in their many guises today.

Once scorned as blasphemy, today "science" is approached by many non-practitioners with a cult-like reverence.Attributing the differences between races and gender to scientific research carries the allure of empiricism.Opponents of "diversity" would have you believe thatscientific research validates racism and sexism, even though one'sbleeding heart might wish otherwise.

The problemis that current scientific research just doesnt agree.Some branches of science, such as physics, are concerned with irrefutable laws of nature.But the reality, as evidenced by the growing convergence of social sciences like sociology, and life sciences, such as biology, is that science as a whole will, and should change. The research coming out of fields like genetics and psychology paint an increasingly complex picture of humanity.Saying (and proving) that gravity exists isn't factually equivalent to saying, and trying to prove, that women are somehow less capable at their jobs because of presumed inherent traits like submissiveness.

When it comes to matters of race, the argument against racial realism, as its often referred to, is unequivocal. A study in 2002, authored by Neil Risch and others, built on the work of the Human Genome Project to examine the long standing and popular myth of seven distinct races. Researchers found that 62 per cent of Ethiopians belong to the same cluster as Norwegians, together with 21 per cent of the Afro-Caribbeans, and the ethnic label Asian inaccurately describes Chinese and Papuans who were placed almost entirely in separate clusters. All that means is that white supremacists are wrong, and always have been.

Even the researcher Damore cites in his memo, Bradley Schmitt of Bradley University in Illinois, doesnt agree with Damores conclusions. Schmitt pointed out, in correspondence with Wired, that biological difference only accounts for about 10 per cent of the variance between men and women in what Damore characterises as female traits, such asneuroticism. In addition, nebulous traits such as being people-oriented are difficult to define and have led to wildly contradictory research from people who are experts in the fields. Suggestingthat women are bad engineers because theyre neurotic is not only mildly ridiculous, but even unsubstantiated by Damores own research. As many have done before him, Damore couched his own worldview - and what he was trying to convince others of - in the language of rationalism, but ultimately didn't pay attention to the facts.

And, even if you did buy into Damore's memo, a true scientist would retort- so what? It's a fallacy to argue that just because a certain state of affairs prevails, that that is the way that it ought to be. If that was the case, why does humanity march on in the direction of technological and industrial progress?

Humans werent meant to travel large distances, or we would possess the ability to do so intrinsically. Boats, cars, airplanes, trains, according to the Damore mindset, would be a perversion of nature. As a species, we consider overcoming biology to be a sign of success.

Of course, the damage done by these kinds of views is not only that theyre hard to counteract, but that they have real consequences. Throughout history, appeals to the supposed rationalism of scientific research have justified moral atrocities such as ethnic sterilisation, apartheid, the creation of the slave trade, and state-sanctioned genocide.

If those in positions of power genuinely think that black and Hispanic communities are genetically predisposed to crime and murder, theyre very unlikely to invest in education, housing and community centres for those groups. Cycles of poverty then continue, and the myth, dressed up in pseudo-science, is entrenched.

Damore and those like him will certainly maintain that the evidence for gender differences are on their side. Since he was fired from Google, Damore has become somewhat of an icon to some parts of society, giving interviews to right-wing Youtubers and posing in a dubious shirt parodying the Google logo (it now says Goolag). Never mind that Damores beloved science has already proved them wrong.

Continued here:

From Darwin to Damore - the ancient art of using "science" to mask prejudice - New Statesman

Transforming Health: The divisive wash-up – InDaily

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Adelaide Tuesday August 15, 2017

SA Health has commissioned consultants to evaluate the biggest hospital system overhaul in the states history. But one conclusion is already inescapable: Transforming Health has fractured the vital relationship between SAs doctors and the bureaucrats who employ them.

Transforming Health came with more buzz than the release of a new Apple product, says South Australian Salaried Medical Officers Association (SASMOA) senior industrial officer Bernadette Mulholland.

More than 600 medical staff and interested parties packed the Adelaide Convention Centre in November 2014 to hear the about the massive change planned for South Australias hospital system, and to be heard.

But as major changes began to roll through the system, doctors enthusiasm soured into suspicion.

The trust of clinicians and community so necessary to implement such broad sweeping changes was quickly eroded as it became clear that the focus by Government and SA Health prioritised economic rationalism rather than clinical, patient and community (outcomes), says Mulholland.

Within a short period, clinicians questioned the motivation of the Transforming Health (program) and recognised the potential devastation of health services to their local community and adverse clinical outcomes.

What absolutely concerned me was the damage that was caused to the relationship between the administration and medical officers.

Data provided by SA Health didnt match what some doctors believed to be happening on the ground, and when concerns about the accuracy of data were raised, many felt they were not being listened to.

Clinicians felt under pressure from administrators who now referred to clinicians providing any opposition as naysayers and dismissed any feedback that did not support change.

The process undermined trust and created a divide between Government and clinicians which wont be forgotten for some years.

Trust in the administration now lost through this process will be difficult to earn back from many clinicians.

SA Health has held regular forums to discuss Transforming Health with unions including SASMOA, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) and the Ambulance Employees Association (AEA) throughout the process.

But, according to Mulholland, in all the time that (SA Health CEO) Vickie Kaminski has been in that job, weve met her twice.

Asked how SA Health had allowed the relationship to deteriorate so dramatically, Kaminski told InDaily that different unions had responded to the process differently, and that many doctors have been highly supportive of Transforming Health.

SASMOAs had a tougher time wrapping their head around it (than other unions) but I think thats because its individuals, its I understand it (doctors) livelihood, its their place of work and youre changing that.

Transforming Health clinical ambassador Dorothy Keefe tells InDaily: There are many members of SASMOA who are actually very supportive of whats happening.

And I think SASMOAs been struggling a bit because of the differing views within its own membership. Of course, unhappiness makes better media than happiness.

Mulholland tells InDaily she is disappointed the administration is still bashing SASMOA.

It isnt constructive. I find it unhelpful, she says.

It maintains the relationship that we dont want.

Its clear, however, that any large-scale hospitals overhaul was never going to be easy for SA Health to manage.

Late last year, the department accepted the recommendations of a scathing review into the operations of the Central Adelaide Local Health Network, which oversees the Royal Adelaide Hospital and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, among others.

That report found medical staff were largely resistant to change, instead retaining a culture which is rooted in a mid-20th century view of the profession, of their relationship with the organisation and of care delivery.

There was no stigma against clinicians assuming someone else will take up the mantle of change management.

And when effective medical leadership is absent, change is inevitably difficult, lacks traction and sustainability, and is often associated with overt displays of anger and sometimes unprofessional behaviour.

Many doctors interviewed for the review reported that theirs was a resistant culture, a culture which rewarded and encouraged stasis rather than genuine change and a culture which had failed to come to grips with the reality of a resource constrained system.

There were, however, some clear exceptions to the change-resistant culture the report describes, characterised by the effective leadership of doctors who as a result have been able to bring others to a shared view that change is both important and desirable.

The problem for South Australias ambulance service, meanwhile, has not been the pace of change, but the lack thereof.

With major specialist services to be consolidated within the states largest hospitals under Transforming Health, more patients would have to travel farther, often in ambulances, to receive Best Care. First Time. Every Time. (as the Transforming Health mantra goes).

The ambulance service was to be a major beneficiary of the program.

A $16 million package was promised, with new ambulance stations, new vehicles and more paramedics to help the ambulance service cope.

However, asked to describe the major successes of Transforming Health, Ambulance Employees Association General Secretary Phil Palmer tells InDaily, from an ambulance perspective, none at this stage.

We dont have any extra boots on the ground yet, due to (SA Health) / Treasury refusing to release funds until it was too late.

Recruiting should have started 18 months ago at least but did not start until early this year.

It requires a 12-month long internship to make a degree-qualified graduate road-ready, with authority to practice as a paramedic.

Palmer says paramedics workload continues to climb and it is already beyond SA Ambulance capacity to cope.

Blown-out response times are now the norm, and there have already been two deaths that had 23-minute plus responses to cases that should have been attended in eight minutes, he says.

(Transforming Health) has created more need for patient transfers, but no extra resources to meet increased demand.

Premier Jay Weatherills announcement in June that Transforming Health would come to an end with the opening of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital (early next month) and the closure of the Repat (due before the end of the year) came as a surprise to the AEA.

We heard it in the news, says Palmer.

We do not at all accept that the process is complete.

There has been no improvement in patient flow through hospitals; the discharge system remains inefficient, emergency departments are more overcrowded than ever, and ramping is the worst we have ever seen in South Australia.

The policy formerly known as Transforming Health was rebranded well before its work was done.

The negative public reaction was a result of the failure of (SA Health) to bring their workforce, and the public, with them.

Evidence-based change was gazumped by opinion polling.

From the beginning, nurses were expected to be among the major losers out of Transforming Health.

South Australia has the highest number of nurses per head of population in the country a fact noted regularly in public statements by Health Minister Jack Snelling.

But Weatherill told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning that his government was proud of that fact and major clear-out of nurses simply hasnt come to pass in South Australia, or not yet.

ANMF SA Branch CEO Elizabeth Dabars said late last year that her union had secured a commitment from the State Government that there would be no forced redundancies of nurses as a result of Transforming Health.

Kaminski tells InDaily jobnumbers have been going in the opposite direction: Theres been displacement, where nurses have moved around the system, (but) I think overall were trending up.

Wed like to, at some point, get down to the national average, but what were trying to do right now is the location of service, and being able to make sure were able to have the right service, right place, right time.

Kaminski said the evaluation of Transforming Health would shed further light on the outcomes of the program.

We have engaged people to do that evaluation for us, to be objective and third-party, she said.

Were asking them to be frank.

This is the second in InDailys two-part series on Transforming Health.

You can read part one here.

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Transforming Health: The divisive wash-up - InDaily

Zaretsky: The best ‘ism’ to explain our time – Daily Commercial

Surrealism is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. The poet Guillaume Apollinaire coined the term to describe his play Les Mamelles de Tiresias (The Teats of Tiresias), which opened in a small Parisian theater in 1917. Beginning with an actress removing her breasts and ending early with an unscripted riot featuring a pistol-flailing audience member the play launched a movement that long convulsed French art and politics.

The centenary arrives in a surreal news environment. Indeed, among the dozens of isms used to explain the Trump presidency from isolationism and pluto-populism to narcissism and authoritarianism none does a better job than surrealism in capturing the current mood.

Andre Breton, the Pope of Surrealism, defined it as a psychic automatism in its pure state exempt from any moral concern. In his First Manifesto of Surrealism, Breton railed against rationalism and the reign of logic. Clarity and coherence lost bigly to the tumult of unconscious desires, while civility and courtesy were for bourgeois losers. Upping the ante in his Second Manifesto, he claimed the simplest Surrealist act consists of dashing down into the street, pistol in hand, and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd.

Unarmed Surrealists were content to brandish their ids. What was once the stuff of repression was now ripe for expression. Everything that welled up into the conscious mind flowed across paper and canvas. The true Surrealist turns his mind into a receptacle, refusing to favor one group of words over another. Instead, it is up to the miraculous equivalent to intervene.

Or not. As a sober reader finds, most Surrealist literature is unreadable. The precursor to Surrealism, the Romanian Tristan Tzara, famously composed poems by cutting words from a newspaper, tossing them into a bag, pulling them out and reciting them one by one. The result, Tzara declared, will resemble you. (Perhaps thats true if you happen to be crashed on your kitchen floor, sleeping off an all-night bender.) As for Breton, he favored automatic writing by becoming a recording machine for his unconscious. The final product, he beamed, shines by its extreme degree of immediate absurdity.

Trumpian word salads bear the surrealist seal of absurdity. In Exquisite Corpse a Surrealist exercise aimed at unleashing the unconscious you write a word on a piece of paper, pass it to your neighbor who jots a second word without looking at the first word, and so on. This led to sentences like The exquisite/corpse/shall drink/the new/wine. Trumps gift of free association His one problem is he didnt go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death allows him to play a solitaire variation of the game.

A French translator recently marveled that Trump seems to have thematic clouds in his head that he would pick from with no need of a logical thread to link them. This is true not just of his speech, but also of his governing strategy.

Igniting a reaction similar to those following Marcel Duchamp entering a urinal at an art show, Trump has exhibited his Surrealist aesthetic in bureaucratic Washington. But he subverts ready-made expectations instead of ready-made objects. With a Surrealist flair for showmanship worthy of Salvador Dali, he randomly pairs titles and individuals. Thus, his son-in-law, a New York real estate developer, plays Middle East envoy one day, opioid crisis czar the next. Trumps claim that if Jared Kushner cannot bring peace to the Middle East, no one can expresses the Surrealist conviction that where reason and strategy have failed, unreason and whim will prevail.

The same aesthetic lies behind or, rather, below the Wall. Its failure to make economic, strategic or diplomatic sense is not beside the point; it is the point. Its raison dtre is to shock the political establishment and to give shape to what, until now, had been the repressed desires of Trumps base. Think of it not as a real security measure, but as a virtual sculpture that will allow its audience to touch, and not just talk about their phobias. Like a Surrealist object, the Wall is a shape-shifter opaque or transparent, continuous or discontinuous, topped with barbed wire or solar panels and expresses the Surrealist values of excess and extravagance, aggression and transgression.

In the end, Trumpism, like Surrealism, seeks to force reality to conform to individual desires, no matter how illicit, illegal or simply outrageous. This might work aesthetically, even financially just ask Dali, whose name Breton turned into the anagram Avida Dollars and, it seems, politically. But, one can hope, only in the short term.

Eventually, Surrealisms revolt against the reality-based community ended with a whimper, with its art relegated to post-dinner games and dorm room posters. One day, perhaps, politicians will look back on Trumpism in the same dismissive way.

Robert Zaretsky teaches at the University of Houston and is finishing a book on Catherine the Great and the French Enlightenment. He wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.

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Zaretsky: The best 'ism' to explain our time - Daily Commercial

How America Lost Its Mind – The Atlantic

You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

We risk being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so realistic that they can live in them.

Daniel J. Boorstin, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America (1961)

When did America become untethered from reality?

I first noticed our national lurch toward fantasy in 2004, after President George W. Bushs political mastermind, Karl Rove, came up with the remarkable phrase reality-based community. People in the reality-based community, he told a reporter, believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality Thats not the way the world really works anymore. A year later, The Colbert Report went on the air. In the first few minutes of the first episode, Stephen Colbert, playing his right-wing-populist commentator character, performed a feature called The Word. His first selection: truthiness. Now, Im sure some of the word police, the wordinistas over at Websters, are gonna say, Hey, thats not a word! Well, anybody who knows me knows that Im no fan of dictionaries or reference books. Theyre elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isnt true. Or what did or didnt happen. Whos Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, thats my right. I dont trust bookstheyre all fact, no heart Face it, folks, we are a divided nation divided between those who think with their head and those who know with their heart Because thats where the truth comes from, ladies and gentlementhe gut.

Whoa, yes, I thought: exactly. America had changed since I was young, when truthiness and reality-based community wouldnt have made any sense as jokes. For all the fun, and all the many salutary effects of the 1960sthe main decade of my childhoodI saw that those years had also been the big-bang moment for truthiness. And if the 60s amounted to a national nervous breakdown, we are probably mistaken to consider ourselves over it.

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Each of us is on a spectrum somewhere between the poles of rational and irrational. We all have hunches we cant prove and superstitions that make no sense. Some of my best friends are very religious, and others believe in dubious conspiracy theories. Whats problematic is going overboardletting the subjective entirely override the objective; thinking and acting as if opinions and feelings are just as true as facts. The American experiment, the original embodiment of the great Enlightenment idea of intellectual freedom, whereby every individual is welcome to believe anything she wishes, has metastasized out of control. From the start, our ultra-individualism was attached to epic dreams, sometimes epic fantasiesevery American one of Gods chosen people building a custom-made utopia, all of us free to reinvent ourselves by imagination and will. In America nowadays, those more exciting parts of the Enlightenment idea have swamped the sober, rational, empirical parts. Little by little for centuries, then more and more and faster and faster during the past half century, we Americans have given ourselves over to all kinds of magical thinking, anything-goes relativism, and belief in fanciful explanationsmall and large fantasies that console or thrill or terrify us. And most of us havent realized how far-reaching our strange new normal has become.

Much more than the other billion or so people in the developed world, we Americans believereally believein the supernatural and the miraculous, in Satan on Earth, in reports of recent trips to and from heaven, and in a story of lifes instantaneous creation several thousand years ago.

We believe that the government and its co-conspirators are hiding all sorts of monstrous and shocking truths from us, concerning assassinations, extraterrestrials, the genesis of aids, the 9/11 attacks, the dangers of vaccines, and so much more.

And this was all true before we became familiar with the terms post-factual and post-truth, before we elected a president with an astoundingly open mind about conspiracy theories, whats true and whats false, the nature of reality.

We have passed through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole. America has mutated into Fantasyland.

How widespread is this promiscuous devotion to the untrue? How many Americans now inhabit alternate realities? Any given survey of beliefs is only a sketch of what people in general really think. But reams of survey research from the past 20 years reveal a rough, useful census of American credulity and delusion. By my reckoning, the solidly reality-based are a minority, maybe a third of us but almost certainly fewer than half. Only a third of us, for instance, dont believe that the tale of creation in Genesis is the word of God. Only a third strongly disbelieve in telepathy and ghosts. Two-thirds of Americans believe that angels and demons are active in the world. More than half say theyre absolutely certain heaven exists, and just as many are sure of the existence of a personal Godnot a vague force or universal spirit or higher power, but some guy. A third of us believe not only that global warming is no big deal but that its a hoax perpetrated by scientists, the government, and journalists. A third believe that our earliest ancestors were humans just like us; that the government has, in league with the pharmaceutical industry, hidden evidence of natural cancer cures; that extraterrestrials have visited or are visiting Earth. Almost a quarter believe that vaccines cause autism, and that Donald Trump won the popular vote in 2016. A quarter believe that our previous president maybe or definitely was (or is?) the anti-Christ. According to a survey by Public Policy Polling, 15 percent believe that the media or the government adds secret mind-controlling technology to television broadcast signals, and another 15 percent think thats possible. A quarter of Americans believe in witches. Remarkably, the same fraction, or maybe less, believes that the Bible consists mainly of legends and fablesthe same proportion that believes U.S. officials were complicit in the 9/11 attacks.

When I say that a third believe X and a quarter believe Y, its important to understand that those are different thirds and quarters of the population. Of course, various fantasy constituencies overlap and feed one anotherfor instance, belief in extraterrestrial visitation and abduction can lead to belief in vast government cover-ups, which can lead to belief in still more wide-ranging plots and cabals, which can jibe with a belief in an impending Armageddon.

Why are we like this?

The short answer is because were Americansbecause being American means we can believe anything we want; that our beliefs are equal or superior to anyone elses, experts be damned. Once people commit to that approach, the world turns inside out, and no cause-and-effect connection is fixed. The credible becomes incredible and the incredible credible.

The word mainstream has recently become a pejorative, shorthand for bias, lies, oppression by the elites. Yet the institutions and forces that once kept us from indulging the flagrantly untrue or absurdmedia, academia, government, corporate America, professional associations, respectable opinion in the aggregatehave enabled and encouraged every species of fantasy over the past few decades.

A senior physician at one of Americas most prestigious university hospitals promotes miracle cures on his daily TV show. Cable channels air documentaries treating mermaids, monsters, ghosts, and angels as real. When a political-science professor attacks the idea that there is some public that shares a notion of reality, a concept of reason, and a set of criteria by which claims to reason and rationality are judged, colleagues just nod and grant tenure. The old fringes have been folded into the new center. The irrational has become respectable and often unstoppable.

Our whole social environment and each of its overlapping partscultural, religious, political, intellectual, psychologicalhave become conducive to spectacular fallacy and truthiness and make-believe. There are many slippery slopes, leading in various directions to other exciting nonsense. During the past several decades, those naturally slippery slopes have been turned into a colossal and permanent complex of interconnected, crisscrossing bobsled tracks, which Donald Trump slid down right into the White House.

American moxie has always come in two types. We have our wilder, faster, looser side: Were overexcited gamblers with a weakness for stories too good to be true. But we also have the virtues embodied by the Puritans and their secular descendants: steadiness, hard work, frugality, sobriety, and common sense. A propensity to dream impossible dreams is like other powerful tendenciesokay when kept in check. For most of our history, the impulses existed in a rough balance, a dynamic equilibrium between fantasy and reality, mania and moderation, credulity and skepticism.

The great unbalancing and descent into full Fantasyland was the product of two momentous changes. The first was a profound shift in thinking that swelled up in the 60s; since then, Americans have had a new rule written into their mental operating systems: Do your own thing, find your own reality, its all relative.

The second change was the onset of the new era of information. Digital technology empowers real-seeming fictions of the ideological and religious and scientific kinds. Among the webs 1 billion sites, believers in anything and everything can find thousands of fellow fantasists, with collages of facts and facts to support them. Before the internet, crackpots were mostly isolated, and surely had a harder time remaining convinced of their alternate realities. Now their devoutly believed opinions are all over the airwaves and the web, just like actual news. Now all of the fantasies look real.

Today, each of us is freer than ever to custom-make reality, to believe whatever and pretend to be whoever we wish. Which makes all the lines between actual and fictional blur and disappear more easily. Truth in general becomes flexible, personal, subjective. And we like this new ultra-freedom, insist on it, even as we fear and loathe the ways so many of our wrongheaded fellow Americans use it.

Treating real life as fantasy and vice versa, and taking preposterous ideas seriously, is not unique to Americans. But we are the global crucible and epicenter. We invented the fantasy-industrial complex; almost nowhere outside poor or otherwise miserable countries are flamboyant supernatural beliefs so central to the identities of so many people. This is American exceptionalism in the 21st century. The country has always been a one-of-a-kind place. But our singularity is different now. Were still rich and free, still more influential and powerful than any other nation, practically a synonym for developed country. But our drift toward credulity, toward doing our own thing, toward denying facts and having an altogether uncertain grip on reality, has overwhelmed our other exceptional national traits and turned us into a less developed country.

People see our shocking Trump momentthis post-truth, alternative facts momentas some inexplicable and crazy new American phenomenon. But whats happening is just the ultimate extrapolation and expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional for its entire history.

America was created by true believers and passionate dreamers, and by hucksters and their suckers, which made America successfulbut also by a people uniquely susceptible to fantasy, as epitomized by everything from Salems hunting witches to Joseph Smiths creating Mormonism, from P. T. Barnum to speaking in tongues, from Hollywood to Scientology to conspiracy theories, from Walt Disney to Billy Graham to Ronald Reagan to Oprah Winfrey to Trump. In other words: Mix epic individualism with extreme religion; mix show business with everything else; let all that ferment for a few centuries; then run it through the anything-goes 60s and the internet age. The result is the America we inhabit today, with reality and fantasy weirdly and dangerously blurred and commingled.

I dont regret or disapprove of many of the ways the 60s permanently reordered American society and culture. Its just that along with the familiar benefits, there have been unreckoned costs.

In 1962, people started referring to hippies, the Beatles had their first hit, Ken Kesey published One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, and the Harvard psychology lecturer Timothy Leary was handing out psilocybin and LSD to grad students. And three hours south of San Francisco, on the heavenly stretch of coastal cliffs known as Big Sur, a pair of young Stanford psychology graduates founded a school and think tank they named after a small American Indian tribe that had lived on the grounds long before. In 1968, one of its founding figures recalled four decades later,

This is not overstatement. Essentially everything that became known as New Age was invented, developed, or popularized at the Esalen Institute. Esalen is a mother church of a new American religion for people who think they dont like churches or religions but who still want to believe in the supernatural. The institute wholly reinvented psychology, medicine, and philosophy, driven by a suspicion of science and reason and an embrace of magical thinking (also: massage, hot baths, sex, and sex in hot baths). It was a headquarters for a new religion of no religion, and for science containing next to no science. The idea was to be radically tolerant of therapeutic approaches and understandings of reality, especially if they came from Asian traditions or from American Indian or other shamanistic traditions. Invisible energies, past lives, astral projection, whateverthe more exotic and wondrous and unfalsifiable, the better.

Not long before Esalen was founded, one of its co-founders, Dick Price, had suffered a mental breakdown and been involuntarily committed to a private psychiatric hospital for a year. His new institute embraced the radical notion that psychosis and other mental illnesses were labels imposed by the straight world on eccentrics and visionaries, that they were primarily tools of coercion and control. This was the big idea behind One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, of course. And within the psychiatric profession itself this idea had two influential proponents, who each published unorthodox manifestos at the beginning of the decadeR. D. Laing (The Divided Self) and Thomas Szasz (The Myth of Mental Illness). Madness, Laing wrote when Esalen was new, is potentially liberation and renewal. Esalens founders were big Laing fans, and the institute became a hotbed for the idea that insanity was just an alternative way of perceiving reality.

These influential critiques helped make popular and respectable the idea that much of science is a sinister scheme concocted by a despotic conspiracy to oppress people. Mental illness, both Szasz and Laing said, is a theory not a fact. This is now the universal bottom-line argument for anyonefrom creationists to climate-change deniers to anti-vaccine hystericswho prefers to disregard science in favor of his own beliefs.

You know how young people always think the universe revolves around them, as if theyre the only ones who really get it? And how before their frontal lobes, the neural seat of reason and rationality, are fully wired, they can be especially prone to fantasy? In the 60s, the universe cooperated: It did seem to revolve around young people, affirming their adolescent self-regard, making their fantasies of importance feel real and their fantasies of instant transformation and revolution feel plausible. Practically overnight, America turned its full attention to the young and everything they believed and imagined and wished.

If 1962 was when the decade really got going, 1969 was the year the new doctrines and their gravity were definitively cataloged by the grown-ups. Reason and rationality were over. The countercultural effusions were freaking out the old guard, including religious people who couldnt quite see that yet another Great Awakening was under way in America, heaving up a new religion of believers who have no option but to follow the road until they reach the Holy City that lies beyond the technocracy the New Jerusalem. That line is from The Making of a Counter Culture: Reflections on the Technocratic Society and Its Youthful Opposition, published three weeks after Woodstock, in the summer of 1969. Its author was Theodore Roszak, age 35, a Bay Area professor who thereby coined the word counterculture. Roszak spends 270 pages glorying in the younger generations brave rejection of expertise and all that our culture values as reason and reality. (Note the scare quotes.) So-called experts, after all, are on the payroll of the state and/or corporate structure. A chapter called The Myth of Objective Consciousness argues that science is really just a state religion. To create a new culture in which the non-intellective capacities become the arbiters of the good [and] the true, he writes, nothing less is required than the subversion of the scientific world view, with its entrenched commitment to an egocentric and cerebral mode of consciousness. He welcomes the radical rejection of science and technological values.

Earlier that summer, a University of Chicago sociologist (and Catholic priest) named Andrew Greeley had alerted readers of The New York Times Magazine that beyond the familiar signifiers of youthful rebellion (long hair, sex, drugs, music, protests), the truly shocking change on campuses was the rise of anti-rationalism and a return of the sacredmysticism and magic, the occult, sances, cults based on the book of Revelation. When hed chalked a statistical table on a classroom blackboard, one of his students had reacted with horror: Mr. Greeley, I think youre an empiricist.

As 1969 turned to 1970, a 41-year-old Yale Law School professor was finishing his book about the new youth counterculture. Charles Reich was a former Supreme Court clerk now tenured at one of ultra-rationalisms American headquarters. But hanging with the young people had led him to a midlife epiphany and apostasy. In 1966, he had started teaching an undergraduate seminar called The Individual in America, for which he assigned fiction by Kesey and Norman Mailer. He decided to spend the next summer, the Summer of Love, in Berkeley. On the road back to New Haven, he had his Pauline conversion to the kids values. His class at Yale became hugely popular; at its peak, 600 students were enrolled. In 1970, The Greening of America became The New York Times best-selling book (as well as a much-read 70-page New Yorker excerpt), and remained on the list for most of a year.

At 16, I bought and read one of the 2 million copies sold. Rereading it today and recalling how much I loved it was a stark reminder of the follies of youth. Reich was shamelessly, uncritically swooning for kids like me. The Greening of America may have been the mainstreams single greatest act of pandering to the vanity and self-righteousness of the new youth. Its underlying theoretical scheme was simple and perfectly pitched to flatter young readers: There are three types of American consciousness, each of which makes up an individuals perception of reality his head, his way of life. Consciousness I people were old-fashioned, self-reliant individualists rendered obsolete by the new Corporate Stateessentially, your grandparents. Consciousness IIs were the fearful and conformist organization men and women whose rationalism was a tyrannizing trap laid by the Corporate Stateyour parents.

And then there was Consciousness III, which had made its first appearance among the youth of America, spreading rapidly among wider and wider segments of youth, and by degrees to older people. If you opposed the Vietnam War and dressed down and smoked pot, you were almost certainly a III. Simply by being young and casual and undisciplined, you were ushering in a new utopia.

Reich praises the gaiety and humor of the new Consciousness III wardrobe, but his book is absolutely humorlessbecause its a response to this moment of utmost sterility, darkest night and most extreme peril. Conspiracism was flourishing, and Reich bought in. Now that the Corporate State has added depersonalization and repression to its other injustices, it has threatened to destroy all meaning and suck all joy from life. Reichs magical thinking mainly concerned how the revolution would turn out. The American Corporate State, having produced this new generation of longhaired hyperindividualists who insist on trusting their gut and finding their own truth, is now accomplishing what no revolutionaries could accomplish by themselves. The machine has begun to destroy itself. Once everyone wears Levis and gets high, the old ways will simply be swept away in the flood.

The inevitable/imminent happy-cataclysm part of the dream didnt happen, of course. The machine did not destroy itself. But Reich was half-right. An epochal change in American thinking was under way and not, as far as anybody knows, reversible There is no returning to an earlier consciousness. His wishful error was believing that once the tidal surge of new sensibility brought down the flood walls, the waters would flow in only one direction, carving out a peaceful, cooperative, groovy new continental utopia, hearts and minds changed like his, all of America Berkeleyized and Vermontified. Instead, Consciousness III was just one early iteration of the anything-goes, post-reason, post-factual America enabled by the tsunami. Reichs faith was the converse of the Enlightenment rationalists hopeful fallacy 200 years earlier. Granted complete freedom of thought, Thomas Jefferson and company assumed, most people would follow the path of reason. Wasnt it pretty to think so.

I remember when fantastical beliefs went fully mainstream, in the 1970s. My irreligious mother bought and read The Secret Life of Plants, a big best seller arguing that plants were sentient and would be the bridesmaids at a marriage of physics and metaphysics. The amazing truth about plants, the book claimed, had been suppressed by the FDA and agribusiness. My mom didnt believe in the conspiracy, but she did start talking to her ficuses as if they were pets. In a review, The New York Times registered the book as another data point in how the incredible is losing its pariah status. Indeed, mainstream publishers and media organizations were falling over themselves to promote and sell fantasies as nonfiction. In 1975 came a sensational autobiography by the young spoon bender and mind reader Uri Geller as well as Life After Life, by Raymond Moody, a philosophy Ph.D. who presented the anecdotes of several dozen people whod nearly died as evidence of an afterlife. The book sold many millions of copies; before long the International Association for Near Death Studies formed and held its first conference, at Yale.

During the 60s, large swaths of academia made a turn away from reason and rationalism as theyd been understood. Many of the pioneers were thoughtful, their work fine antidotes to postwar complacency. The problem was the nature and extent of their influence at that particular time, when all premises and paradigms seemed up for grabs. That is, they inspired half-baked and perverse followers in the academy, whose arguments filtered out into the world at large: All approximations of truth, science as much as any fable or religion, are mere stories devised to serve peoples needs or interests. Reality itself is a purely social construction, a tableau of useful or wishful myths that members of a society or tribe have been persuaded to believe. The borders between fiction and nonfiction are permeable, maybe nonexistent. The delusions of the insane, superstitions, and magical thinking? Any of those may be as legitimate as the supposed truths contrived by Western reason and science. The takeaway: Believe whatever you want, because pretty much everything is equally true and false.

These ideas percolated across multiple academic fields. In 1965, the French philosopher Michel Foucault published Madness and Civilization in America, echoing Laings skepticism of the concept of mental illness; by the 1970s, he was arguing that rationality itself is a coercive regime of truthoppression by other means. Foucaults suspicion of reason became deeply and widely embedded in American academia.

Meanwhile, over in sociology, in 1966 a pair of professors published The Social Construction of Reality, one of the most influential works in their field. Not only were sanity and insanity and scientific truth somewhat dubious concoctions by elites, Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann explainedso was everything else. The rulers of any tribe or society do not just dictate customs and laws; they are the masters of everyones perceptions, defining reality itself. To create the all-encompassing stage sets that everyone inhabits, rulers first use crude mythology, then more elaborate religion, and finally the extreme step of modern science. Reality? Knowledge? If we were going to be meticulous, Berger and Luckmann wrote, we would put quotation marks around the two aforementioned terms every time we used them. What is real to a Tibetan monk may not be real to an American businessman.

When I first read that, at age 18, I loved the quotation marks. If reality is simply the result of rules written by the powers that be, then isnt everyone ableno, isnt everyone obligedto construct their own reality? The book was timed perfectly to become a foundational text in academia and beyond.

A more extreme academic evangelist for the idea of all truths being equal was a UC Berkeley philosophy professor named Paul Feyerabend. His best-known book, published in 1975, was Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge. Rationalism, it declared, is a secularized form of the belief in the power of the word of God, and science a particular superstition. In a later edition of the book, published when creationists were passing laws to teach Genesis in public-school biology classes, Feyerabend came out in favor of the practice, comparing creationists to Galileo. Science, he insisted, is just another form of belief. Only one principle, he wrote, can be defended under all circumstances and in all stages of human development. It is the principle: anything goes.

Over in anthropology, where the exotic magical beliefs of traditional cultures were a main subject, the new paradigm took over completelydont judge, dont disbelieve, dont point your professorial finger. This was understandable, given the times: colonialism ending, genocide of American Indians confessed, U.S. wars in the developing world. Who were we to roll our eyes or deny what these people believed? In the 60s, anthropology decided that oracles, diviners, incantations, and magical objects should be not just respected, but considered equivalent to reason and science. If all understandings of reality are socially constructed, those of Kalabari tribesmen in Nigeria are no more arbitrary or faith-based than those of college professors.

In 1968, a UC Davis psychologist named Charles Tart conducted an experiment in which, he wrote, a young woman who frequently had spontaneous out-of-body experiencesdidnt claim to have them but had themspent four nights sleeping in a lab, hooked up to an EEG machine. Her assigned task was to send her mind or soul out of her body while she was asleep and read a five-digit number Tart had written on a piece of paper placed on a shelf above the bed. He reported that she succeeded. Other scientists considered the experiments and the results bogus, but Tart proceeded to devote his academic career to proving that attempts at objectivity are a sham and magic is real. In an extraordinary paper published in 1972 in Science, he complained about the scientific establishments almost total rejection of the knowledge gained while high or tripping. He didnt just want science to take seriously experiences of ecstasy, mystical union, other dimensions, rapture, beauty, space-and-time transcendence. He was explicitly dedicated to going there. A perfectly scientific theory may be based on data that have no physical existence, he insisted. The rules of the scientific method had to be revised. To work as a psychologist in the new era, Tart argued, a researcher should be in the altered state of consciousness hes studying, high or delusional at the time of data collection or during data reduction and theorizing. Tarts new mode of research, he admitted, posed problems of consensual validation, given that only observers in the same [altered state] are able to communicate adequately with one another. Tart popularized the term consensus reality for what you or I would simply call reality, and around 1970 that became a permanent interdisciplinary term of art in academia. Later he abandoned the pretense of neutrality and started calling it the consensus trancepeople committed to reason and rationality were the deluded dupes, not he and his tribe.

Even the social critic Paul Goodman, beloved by young leftists in the 60s, was flabbergasted by his own students by 1969. There was no knowledge, he wrote, only the sociology of knowledge. They had so well learned that research is subsidized and conducted for the benefit of the ruling class that they did not believe there was such a thing as simple truth.

Ever since, the American right has insistently decried the spread of relativism, the idea that nothing is any more correct or true than anything else. Conservatives hated how relativism undercut various venerable and comfortable ruling ideascertain notions of entitlement (according to race and gender) and aesthetic beauty and metaphysical and moral certainty. Yet once the intellectual mainstream thoroughly accepted that there are many equally valid realities and truths, once the idea of gates and gatekeeping was discredited not just on campuses but throughout the culture, all American barbarians could have their claims taken seriously. Conservatives are correct that the anything-goes relativism of college campuses wasnt sequestered there, but when it flowed out across America it helped enable extreme Christianities and lunacies on the rightgun-rights hysteria, black-helicopter conspiracism, climate-change denial, and more. The term useful idiot was originally deployed to accuse liberals of serving the interests of true believers further on the left. In this instance, however, postmodern intellectualspost-positivists, poststructuralists, social constructivists, post-empiricists, epistemic relativists, cognitive relativists, descriptive relativiststurned out to be useful idiots most consequentially for the American right. Reality has a well-known liberal bias, Stephen Colbert once said, in character, mocking the beliefs-trump-facts impulse of todays right. Neither side has noticed, but large factions of the elite left and the populist right have been on the same team.

As the Vietnam War escalated and careened, antirationalism flowered. In his book about the remarkable protests in Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1967, The Armies of the Night, Norman Mailer describes chants (Out demons, outback to darkness, ye servants of Satan!) and a circle of hundreds of protesters intending to form a ring of exorcism sufficiently powerful to raise the Pentagon three hundred feet. They were hoping the building would turn orange and vibrate until all evil emissions had fled this levitation. At that point the war in Vietnam would end.

By the end of the 60s, plenty of zealots on the left were engaged in extreme magical thinking. They hadnt started the decade that way. In 1962, Students for a Democratic Society adopted its founding document, drafted by 22-year-old Tom Hayden. The manifesto is sweet and reasonable: decrying inequality and poverty and the pervasiveness of racism in American life, seeing the potential benefits as well as the downsides of industrial automation, declaring the group in basic opposition to the communist system.

Then, kaboom, the big bang. Anything and everything became believable. Reason was chucked. Dystopian and utopian fantasies seemed plausible. In 1969, the SDSs most apocalyptic and charismatic faction, calling itself Weatherman, split off and got all the attention. Its members believed that they and other young white Americans, aligned with black insurgents, would be the vanguard in a new civil war. They issued statements about the need for armed struggle as the only road to revolution and how dope is one of our weapons Guns and grass are united in the youth underground. And then factions of the new left went to work making and setting off thousands of bombs in the early 1970s.

Left-wingers werent the only ones who became unhinged. Officials at the FBI, the CIA, and military intelligence agencies, as well as in urban police departments, convinced themselves that peaceful antiwar protesters and campus lefties in general were dangerous militants, and expanded secret programs to spy on, infiltrate, and besmirch their organizations. Which thereby validated the preexisting paranoia on the new left and encouraged its wing nuts revolutionary delusions. In the 70s, the CIA and Army intelligence set up their infamous Project Star Gate to see whether they could conduct espionage by means of ESP.

The far right had its own glorious 60s moment, in the form of the new John Birch Society, whose founders believed that both Republican and Democratic presidential Cabinets included conscious, deliberate, dedicated agent[s] of the Soviet conspiracy determined to create a world-wide police state, absolutely and brutally governed from the Kremlin, as the societys founder, Robert Welch, put it in a letter to friends.

This furiously, elaborately suspicious way of understanding the world started spreading across the political spectrum after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. Dallas couldnt have been the work of just one nutty loser with a mail-order rifle, could it have? Surely the Communists or the CIA or the Birchers or the Mafia or some conspiratorial combination must have arranged it all, right? The shift in thinking didnt register immediately. In his influential book The Paranoid Style in American Politics, published two years after the presidents murder, Richard Hofstadter devoted only two sentences and a footnote to it, observing that conspiratorial explanations of Kennedys assassination dont have much currency in the United States.

Elaborate paranoia was an established tic of the Bircherite far right, but the left needed a little time to catch up. In 1964, a left-wing American writer published the first book about a JFK conspiracy, claiming that a Texas oilman had been the mastermind, and soon many books were arguing that the official government inquiry had ignored the hidden conspiracies. One of them, Rush to Judgment, by Mark Lane, a lawyer on the left, was a New York Times best seller for six months. Then, in 1967, New Orleanss district attorney, Jim Garrison, indicted a local businessman for being part of a conspiracy of gay right-wingers to assassinate Kennedya Nazi operation, whose sponsors include some of the oil-rich millionaires in Texas, according to Garrison, with the CIA, FBI, and Robert F. Kennedy complicit in the cover-up. After NBC News broadcast an investigation discrediting the theory, Garrison said the TV segment was a piece of thought control, obviously commissioned by NBCs parent company RCA, one of the top 10 defense contractors and thus desperate because we are in the process of uncovering their hoax.

The notion of an immense and awful JFK-assassination conspiracy became conventional wisdom in America. As a result, more Americans than ever became reflexive conspiracy theorists. Thomas Pynchons novel Gravitys Rainbow, a complicated global fantasy about the interconnections among militarists and Illuminati and stoners, and the validity of paranoid thinking, won the 1974 National Book Award. Conspiracy became the high-end Hollywood dramatic premiseChinatown, The Conversation, The Parallax View, and Three Days of the Condor came out in the same two-year period. Of course, real life made such stories plausible. The infiltration by the FBI and intelligence agencies of left-wing groups was then being revealed, and the Watergate break-in and its cover-up were an actual criminal conspiracy. Within a few decades, the belief that a web of villainous elites was covertly seeking to impose a malevolent global regime made its way from the lunatic right to the mainstream. Delusional conspiracism wouldnt spread quite as widely or as deeply on the left, but more and more people on both sides would come to believe that an extraordinarily powerful cabalinternational organizations and think tanks and big businesses and politicianssecretly ran America.

Each camp, conspiracists on the right and on the left, was ostensibly the enemy of the other, but they began operating as de facto allies. Relativist professors enabled science-denying Christians, and the antipsychiatry craze in the 60s appealed simultaneously to left-wingers and libertarians (as well as to Scientologists). Conspiracy theories were more of a modern right-wing habit before people on the left signed on. However, the belief that the federal government had secret plans to open detention camps for dissidents sprouted in the 70s on the paranoid left before it became a fixture on the right.

Americans felt newly entitled to believe absolutely anything. Im pretty certain that the unprecedented surge of UFO reports in the 70s was not evidence of extraterrestrials increasing presence but a symptom of Americans credulity and magical thinking suddenly unloosed. We wanted to believe in extraterrestrials, so we did. What made the UFO mania historically significant rather than just amusing, however, was the web of elaborate stories that were now being spun: not just of sightings but of landings and abductionsand of government cover-ups and secret alliances with interplanetary beings. Those earnest beliefs planted more seeds for the extravagant American conspiracy thinking that by the turn of the century would be rampant and seriously toxic.

A single ide fixe like this often appears in both frightened and hopeful versions. That was true of the suddenly booming belief in alien visitors, which tended toward the sanguine as the 60s turned into the 70s, even in fictional depictions. Consider the extraterrestrials that Jack Nicholsons character in Easy Rider earnestly describes as hes getting high for the first time, and those at the center of Close Encounters of the Third Kind eight years later. One evening in southern Georgia in 1969, the year Easy Rider came out, a failed gubernatorial candidate named Jimmy Carter saw a moving moon-size white light in the sky that didnt have any solid substance to it and got closer and closer, stopped, turned blue, then red and back to white, and then zoomed away.

The first big nonfiction abduction tale appeared around the same time, in a best-selling book about a married couple in New Hampshire who believed that while driving their Chevy sedan late one night, they saw a bright object in the sky that the wife, a UFO buff already, figured might be a spacecraft. She began having nightmares about being abducted by aliens, and both of them underwent hypnosis. The details of the abducting aliens and their spacecraft that each described were different, and changed over time. The mans hypnotized description of the aliens bore an uncanny resemblance to the ones in an episode of The Outer Limits broadcast on ABC just before his hypnosis session. Thereafter, hypnosis became the standard way for people who believed that they had been abducted (or that they had past lives, or that they were the victims of satanic abuse) to recall the supposed experience. And the couples story established the standard abduction-tale format: Humanoid creatures take you aboard a spacecraft, communicate telepathically or in spoken English, medically examine you by inserting long needles into you, then let you go.

The husband and wife were undoubtedly sincere believers. The sincerely credulous are perfect suckers, and in the late 60s, a convicted thief and embezzler named Erich von Dniken published Chariots of the Gods?, positing that extraterrestrials helped build the Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge, and the giant stone heads on Easter Island. That book and its many sequels sold tens of millions of copies, and the documentary based on it had a huge box-office take in 1970. Americans were ready to believe von Dnikens fantasy to a degree they simply wouldnt have been a decade earlier, before the 60s sea change. Certainly a decade earlier NBC wouldnt have aired an hour-long version of the documentary in prime time. And while Im at it: Until wed passed through the 60s and half of the 70s, Im pretty sure we wouldnt have given the presidency to some dude, especially a born-again Christian, who said hed recently seen a huge, color-shifting, luminescent UFO hovering near him.

By the 1980s, things appeared to have returned more or less to normal. Civil rights seemed like a done deal, the war in Vietnam was over, young people were no longer telling grown-ups they were worthless because they were grown-ups. Revolution did not loom. Sex and drugs and rock and roll were regular parts of life. Starting in the 80s, loving America and making money and having a family were no longer unfashionable.

The sense of cultural and political upheaval and chaos dissipatedwhich lulled us into ignoring all the ways that everything had changed, that Fantasyland was now scaling and spreading and becoming the new normal. What had seemed strange and amazing in 1967 or 1972 became normal and ubiquitous.

Extreme religious and quasi-religious beliefs and practices, Christian and New Age and otherwise, didnt subside, but grew and thrivedand came to seem unexceptional.

Relativism became entrenched in academiatenured, you could say. Michel Foucaults rival Jean Baudrillard became a celebrity among American intellectuals by declaring that rationalism was a tool of oppressors that no longer worked as a way of understanding the world, pointless and doomed. In other words, as he wrote in 1986, the secret of theorythis whole intellectual realm now called itself simply theoryis that truth does not exist.

This kind of thinking was by no means limited to the ivory tower. The intellectuals new outlook was as much a product as a cause of the smog of subjectivity that now hung thick over the whole American mindscape. After the 60s, truth was relative, criticizing was equal to victimizing, individual liberty became absolute, and everyone was permitted to believe or disbelieve whatever they wished. The distinction between opinion and fact was crumbling on many fronts.

Belief in gigantic secret conspiracies thrived, ranging from the highly improbable to the impossible, and moved from the crackpot periphery to the mainstream.

Many Americans announced that theyd experienced fantastic horrors and adventures, abuse by Satanists, and abduction by extraterrestrials, and their claims began to be taken seriously. Parts of the establishmentpsychology and psychiatry, academia, religion, law enforcementencouraged people to believe that all sorts of imaginary traumas were real.

America didnt seem as weird and crazy as it had around 1970. But thats because Americans had stopped noticing the weirdness and craziness. We had defined every sort of deviancy down. And as the cultural critic Neil Postman put it in his 1985 jeremiad about how TV was replacing meaningful public discourse with entertainment, we were in the process of amusing ourselves to death.

The Reagan presidency was famously a triumph of truthiness and entertainment, and in the 1990s, as problematically batty beliefs kept going mainstream, presidential politics continued merging with the fantasy-industrial complex.

In 1998, as soon as we learned that President Bill Clinton had been fellated by an intern in the West Wing, his popularity spiked. Which was baffling only to those who still thought of politics as an autonomous realm, existing apart from entertainment. American politics happened on television; it was a TV series, a reality show just before TV became glutted with reality shows. A titillating new story line that goosed the ratings of an existing series was an established scripted-TV gimmick. The audience had started getting bored with The Clinton Administration, but the Monica Lewinsky subplot got people interested again.

Just before the Clintons arrived in Washington, the right had managed to do away with the federal Fairness Doctrine, which had been enacted to keep radio and TV shows from being ideologically one-sided. Until then, big-time conservative opinion media had consisted of two magazines, William F. Buckley Jr.s biweekly National Review and the monthly American Spectator, both with small circulations. But absent a Fairness Doctrine, Rush Limbaughs national right-wing radio show, launched in 1988, was free to thrive, and others promptly appeared.

For most of the 20th century, national news media had felt obliged to pursue and present some rough approximation of the truth rather than to promote a truth, let alone fictions. With the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine, a new American laissez-faire had been officially declared. If lots more incorrect and preposterous assertions circulated in our mass media, that was a price of freedom. If splenetic commentators could now, as never before, keep believers perpetually riled up and feeling the excitement of being in a mob, so be it.

Limbaughs virtuosic three hours of daily talk started bringing a sociopolitical alternate reality to a huge national audience. Instead of relying on an occasional magazine or newsletter to confirm your gnarly view of the world, now you had talk radio drilling it into your head for hours every day. As Limbaughs show took off, in 1992 the producer Roger Ailes created a syndicated TV show around him. Four years later, when NBC hired someone else to launch a cable news channel, Ailes, who had been working at NBC, quit and created one with Rupert Murdoch.

Fox News brought the Limbaughvian talk-radio version of the world to national TV, offering viewers an unending and immersive propaganda experience of a kind that had never existed before.

For Americans, this was a new condition. Over the course of the century, electronic mass media had come to serve an important democratic function: presenting Americans with a single shared set of facts. Now TV and radio were enabling a reversion to the narrower, factional, partisan discourse that had been normal in Americas earlier centuries.

And there was also the internet, which eventually would have mooted the Fairness Doctrine anyhow. In 1994, the first modern spam message was sent, visible to everyone on Usenet: global alert for all: jesus is coming soon. Over the next year or two, the masses learned of the World Wide Web. The tinder had been gathered and stacked since the 60s, and now the match was lit and thrown. After the 60s and 70s happened as they happened, the internet may have broken Americas dynamic balance between rational thinking and magical thinking for good.

Before the web, cockamamy ideas and outright falsehoods could not spread nearly as fast or as widely, so it was much easier for reason and reasonableness to prevail. Before the web, institutionalizing any one alternate reality required the long, hard work of hundreds of full-time militants. In the digital age, however, every tribe and fiefdom and principality and region of Fantasylandevery screwball with a computer and an internet connectionsuddenly had an unprecedented way to instruct and rile up and mobilize believers, and to recruit more. False beliefs were rendered both more real-seeming and more contagious, creating a kind of fantasy cascade in which millions of bedoozled Americans surfed and swam.

Why did Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan begin remarking frequently during the 80s and 90s that people were entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts? Because until then, that had not been necessary to say. Our marketplace of ideas became exponentially bigger and freer than ever, its true. Thomas Jefferson said that hed rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of itbecause in the new United States, reason is left free to combat every sort of error of opinion. However, I think if he and our other Enlightenment forefathers returned, they would see the present state of affairs as too much of a good thing. Reason remains free to combat unreason, but the internet entitles and equips all the proponents of unreason and error to a previously unimaginable degree. Particularly for a people with our history and propensities, the downside of the internet seems at least as profound as the upside.

The way internet search was designed to operate in the 90sthat is, the way information and beliefs now flow, rise, and fallis democratic in the extreme. Internet search algorithms are an example of Greshams law, whereby the bad drives outor at least overrunsthe good. On the internet, the prominence granted to any factual assertion or belief or theory depends on the preferences of billions of individual searchers. Each click on a link is effectively a vote pushing that version of the truth toward the top of the pile of results.

Exciting falsehoods tend to do well in the perpetual referenda, and become self-validating. A search for almost any alternative theory or belief seems to generate more links to true believers pages and sites than to legitimate or skeptical ones, and those tend to dominate the first few pages of results. For instance, beginning in the 90s, conspiracists decided that contrails, the skinny clouds of water vapor that form around jet-engine exhaust, were composed of exotic chemicals, part of a secret government scheme to test weapons or poison citizens or mitigate climate changeand renamed them chemtrails. When I Googled chemtrails proof, the first seven results offered so-called evidence of the nonexistent conspiracy. When I searched for government extraterrestrial cover-up, only one result in the first three pages didnt link to an article endorsing a conspiracy theory.

Before the web, it really wasnt easy to stumble across false or crazy information convincingly passing itself off as true. Today, however, as the Syracuse University professor Michael Barkun saw back in 2003 in A Culture of Conspiracy, such subject-specific areas as crank science, conspiracist politics, and occultism are not isolated from one another, but rather

The consequence of such mingling is that an individual who enters the communications system pursuing one interest soon becomes aware of stigmatized material on a broad range of subjects. As a result, those who come across one form of stigmatized knowledge will learn of others, in connections that imply that stigmatized knowledge is a unified domain, an alternative worldview, rather than a collection of unrelated ideas.

Academic research shows that religious and supernatural thinking leads people to believe that almost no big life events are accidental or random. As the authors of some recent cognitive-science studies at Yale put it, Individuals explicit religious and paranormal beliefs are the best predictors of their perception of purpose in life eventstheir tendency to view the world in terms of agency, purpose, and design. Americans have believed for centuries that the country was inspired and guided by an omniscient, omnipotent planner and interventionist manager. Since the 60s, that exceptional religiosity has fed the tendency to believe in conspiracies. In a recent paper called Conspiracy Theories and the Paranoid Style(s) of Mass Opinion, based on years of survey research, two University of Chicago political scientists, J. Eric Oliver and Thomas J. Wood, confirmed this special American connection. The likelihood of supporting conspiracy theories is strongly predicted, they found, by a propensity to attribute the source of unexplained or extraordinary events to unseen, intentional forces and a weakness for melodramatic narratives as explanations for prominent events, particularly those that interpret history relative to universal struggles between good and evil. Oliver and Wood found the single strongest driver of conspiracy belief to be belief in end-times prophecies.

As a 13-year-old, I watched William F. Buckley Jr.s Firing Line with my conservative dad, attended Teen Age Republicans summer camp, and, at the behest of a Nixon-campaign advance man in Omaha, ripped down Rockefeller and Reagan signs during the 1968 Nebraska primary campaign. A few years later, I was a McGovern-campaign volunteer, but I still watched and admired Buckley on PBS. Over the years, Ive voted for a few Republicans for state and local office. Today I disagree about political issues with friends and relatives to my right, but we agree on the essential contours of reality.

People on the left are by no means all scrupulously reasonable. Many give themselves over to the appealingly dubious and the untrue. But fantastical politics have become highly asymmetrical. Starting in the 1990s, Americas unhinged right became much larger and more influential than its unhinged left. There is no real left-wing equivalent of Sean Hannity, let alone Alex Jones. Moreover, the far right now has unprecedented political power; it controls much of the U.S. government.

Why did the grown-ups and designated drivers on the political left manage to remain basically in charge of their followers, while the reality-based right lost out to fantasy-prone true believers?

One reason, I think, is religion. The GOP is now quite explicitly Christian. The party is the American coalition of white Christians, papering over doctrinal and class differencesand now led, weirdly, by one of the least religious presidents ever. If more and more of a political partys members hold more and more extreme and extravagantly supernatural beliefs, doesnt it make sense that the party will be more and more open to make-believe in its politics?

I doubt the GOP elite deliberately engineered the synergies between the economic and religious sides of their contemporary coalition. But as the incomes of middle- and working-class people flatlined, Republicans pooh-poohed rising economic inequality and insecurity. Economic insecurity correlates with greater religiosity, and among white Americans, greater religiosity correlates with voting Republican. For Republican politicians and their rich-getting-richer donors, thats a virtuous circle, not a vicious one.

Religion aside, America simply has many more fervid conspiracists on the right, as research about belief in particular conspiracies confirms again and again. Only the American right has had a large and organized faction based on paranoid conspiracism for the past six decades. As the pioneer vehicle, the John Birch Society zoomed along and then sputtered out, but its fantastical paradigm and belligerent temperament has endured in other forms and under other brand names. When Barry Goldwater was the right-wing Republican presidential nominee in 1964, he had to play down any streaks of Bircher madness, but by 1979, in his memoir With No Apologies, he felt free to rave on about the globalist conspiracy and its pursuit of a new world order and impending period of slavery; the Council on Foreign Relations secret agenda for one-world rule; and the Trilateral Commissions plan for seizing control of the political government of the United States. The right has had three generations to steep in this, its taboo vapors wafting more and more into the main chambers of conservatism, becoming familiar, seeming less outlandish. Do you believe that a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government? Yes, say 34 percent of Republican voters, according to Public Policy Polling.

In the late 1960s and 70s, the reality-based left more or less won: retreat from Vietnam, civil-rights and environmental-protection laws, increasing legal and cultural equality for women, legal abortion, Keynesian economics triumphant.

But then the right wanted its turn to win. It pretty much accepted racial and gender equality and had to live with social welfare and regulation and bigger government, but it insisted on slowing things down. The political center moved rightbut in the 70s and 80s not yet unreasonably. Most of America decided that we were all free marketeers now, that business wasnt necessarily bad, and that government couldnt solve all problems. We still seemed to be in the midst of the normal cyclical seesawing of American politics. In the 90s, the right achieved two of its wildest dreams: The Soviet Union and international communism collapsed; and, as violent crime radically declined, law and order was restored.

But also starting in the 90s, the farthest-right quarter of Americans, lets say, couldnt and wouldnt adjust their beliefs to comport with their sides victories and the dramatically new and improved realities. Theyd made a god out of Reagan, but they ignored or didnt register that he was practical and reasonable, that he didnt completely buy his own antigovernment rhetoric. After Reagan, his hopped-up true-believer faction began insisting on total victory. But in a democracy, of course, total victory by any faction is a dangerous fantasy.

Another way the GOP got loopy was by overdoing libertarianism. I have some libertarian tendencies, but at full-strength purity its an ideology most boys grow out of. On the American right since the 80s, however, they have not. Republicans are very selective, cherry-picking libertarians: Let business do whatever it wants and dont spoil poor people with government handouts; let individuals have gun arsenals but not abortions or recreational drugs or marriage with whomever they wish; and dont mention Ayn Rands atheism. Libertarianism, remember, is an ideology whose most widely read and influential texts are explicitly fiction. I grew up reading Ayn Rand, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has said, and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are. It was that fiction that allowed him and so many other higher-IQ Americans to see modern America as a dystopia in which selfishness is righteous and they are the last heroes. I think a lot of people, Ryan said in 2009, would observe that we are right now living in an Ayn Rand novel. Im assuming he meant Atlas Shrugged, the novel that Trumps secretary of state (and former CEO of ExxonMobil) has said is his favorite book. Its the story of a heroic cabal of mens-men industrialists who cause the U.S. government to collapse so they can take over, start again, and make everything right.

For a while, Republican leaders effectively encouraged and exploited the predispositions of their variously fantastical and extreme partisans. Karl Rove was stone-cold cynical, the Wizard of Ozs evil twin coming out from behind the curtain for a candid chat shortly before he won a second term for George W. Bush, about how judicious study of discernible reality [is] not the way the world really works anymore. These leaders were rational people who understood that a large fraction of citizens dont bother with rationality when they vote, that a lot of voters resent the judicious study of discernible reality. Keeping those people angry and frightened won them elections.

But over the past few decades, a lot of the rabble they roused came to believe all the untruths. The problem is that Republicans have purposefully torn down the validating institutions, the political journalist Josh Barro, a Republican until 2016, wrote last year. They have convinced voters that the media cannot be trusted; they have gotten them used to ignoring inconvenient facts about policy; and they have abolished standards of discourse. The partys ideological center of gravity swerved way to the right of Rove and all the Bushes, finally knocking them and their clubmates aside. What had been the partys fantastical fringe became its middle. Reasonable Republicanism was replaced by absolutism: no new taxes, virtually no regulation, abolish the EPA and the IRS and the Federal Reserve.

When I was growing up in Nebraska, my Republican parents loathed all Kennedys, distrusted unions, and complained about confiscatory federal income-tax rates of 91 percent. But conservatism to them also meant conserving the natural environment and allowing people to make their own choices, including about abortion. They were emphatically reasonable, disinclined to believe in secret Communist/Washington/elite plots to destroy America, rolling their eyes and shaking their heads about far-right acquaintancessuch as our neighbors, the parents of the future Mrs. Clarence Thomas, who considered Richard Nixon suspiciously leftish. My parents never belonged to a church. They were godless Midwestern Republicans, born and raisedwhich wasnt so odd 40 years ago. Until about 1980, the Christian right was not a phrase in American politics. In 2000, my widowed mom, having voted for 14 Republican presidential nominees in a row, quit a party that had become too Christian for her.

Read more from the original source:

How America Lost Its Mind - The Atlantic

The philosopher who poisoned German theology – Catholic Herald Online (blog)

Portrait by Jakob Schlesinger, Berlin 1831

Modern German Catholic thought is influenced by a heretical view of God's nature

Otto von Bismarck, the 19th-century Chancellor of Germany, tried and failed to bring the Catholic Church to heel. He would have been delighted to see its state today. With pews emptying at a great rate, and few priestly vocations, the fact that the Church remains one of the largest employers could only prove that it had become the servant of state that he hoped it would be. Yet perhaps Bismarck might want to know: How have others achieved what I failed to bring about? At least part of the answer comes from within the German Church.

Theologically, Germany has been ground zero for centuries: just think of Albert the Great mentoring St Thomas Aquinas, or the Jesuit-led Counter-Reformation which answered Luthers schismatic dissent. But German theology has never quite recovered from its greatest challenge: Enlightenment rationalism and the attempts to overcome it through Hegelian dialectic. Even today, Hegels influence dominates German theology.

The Hegelian view of Gods involvement in the unfolding of history as Geist (Spirit) is at root a Christian heresy, reminiscent of the spiritualism of the 12th-century theologian Joachim de Fiore. For the Hegelian, God suffers with, and changes, precisely through the sin and suffering of his creatures, dialectically pouring out his love and mercy through the progress of history.

Citing a Lutheran hymn, God Himself is Dead, Hegel argues that God unites death to his nature. And so when we encounter suffering and death, we taste the particularities of the eternal divine history. As he puts it, suffering is a moment in the nature of God himself; it has taken place in God himself. For Hegel, suffering is an aspect of Gods eternal nature. Our sin and suffering is necessary for God to be God.

This heretical view has had widespread influence in modern Catholic and Protestant accounts of Gods nature. Its often given a pastoral veneer of the God who weeps with us. Yet, tragically unaware of his error, the Hegelian homilist preaches a God who cannot save: a God who is so eternally bound to our tears he cannot truly wipe them away.

Many 20th-century German theologians followed in Hegels footsteps. A basic principle was Hegels dialectic process itself as revelatory, which is to say they smuggled into their ideas on doctrinal development the notion that God was continuing to reveal himself in history, as though there was always something becoming in God, and thus, in the Church. Hegels spiritual forerunner Joachim de Fiore had predicted a third age of the Holy Spirit which would sing a new Church into being, and its striking how many German theologians have been entranced by the idea of a future Church very different to the holy and apostolic one of the past.

This is not to say Hegel is the answer to Bismarcks hypothetical question. There is a great difference between the Left Hegelian Ludwig Feuerbachs idea of religion as projection of inner spirit and the theologies of Karl Rahner or Walter Kasper. But there is nevertheless something deeply Hegelian about making the unfolding of human experience in history a standard for theological development to which God or the Church, always in mercy, must conform. Unfortunately, this is a terrible standard for change which leads not only to false reform, but to apostasy and desolation.

The standard for development, as 19th century German theologian Matthias Scheeben understood as well as Cardinal Newman, must be divinely revealed truths, the deposit of faith, passed from Christ to his apostles. Spiritual renewal in Germany can only begin if German bishops, priests, and laity alike recognize that change and development must be ordered to eternal truths, not to the needs of state, the Geist of culture, or the historical unfolding of inner human experience. The Church conforms not to the needs of nations, but to the fullness of Truth revealed by God Incarnate in Jesus Christ.

C C Pecknold is associate professor of theology at The Catholic University of America

This article first appeared in the August 11 2017 issue of the Catholic Herald. To read the magazine in full, from anywhere in the world, go here

Originally posted here:

The philosopher who poisoned German theology - Catholic Herald Online (blog)

Hegelianism – Wikipedia

Hegelianism is the philosophy of G. W. F. Hegel which can be summed up by the dictum that "the rational alone is real",[1] which means that all reality is capable of being expressed in rational categories. His goal was to reduce reality to a more synthetic unity within the system of absolute idealism.

Hegel's method in philosophy consists of the triadic development (Entwicklung) in each concept and each thing. Thus, he hopes, philosophy will not contradict experience, but will give data of experience to the philosophical, which is the ultimately true explanation. If, for instance, we wish to know what liberty is, we take that concept where we first find itthe unrestrained action of the savage, who does not feel the need of repressing any thought, feeling, or tendency to act.

Next, we find that the savage has given up this freedom in exchange for its opposite, the restraint, or, as he considers it, the tyranny, of civilization and law. Finally, in the citizen under the rule of law, we find the third stage of development, namely liberty in a higher and a fuller sense than how the savage possessed itthe liberty to do, say, and think many things beyond the power of the savage.

In this triadic process, the second stage is the direct opposite, the annihilation, or at least the sublation, of the first. The third stage is the first returned to itself in a higher, truer, richer, and fuller form. The three stages are, therefore, styled:

These three stages are found succeeding one another throughout the whole realm of thought and being, from the most abstract logical process up to the most complicated concrete activity of organized mind in the succession of states or the production of systems of philosophy.

In logic which, according to Hegel, is really metaphysic we have to deal with the process of development applied to reality in its most abstract form. According to Hegel, in logic, we deal in concepts robbed of their empirical content: in logic we are discussing the process in vacuo, so to speak. Thus, at the very beginning of Hegel's study of reality, he finds the logical concept of being.

Now, being is not a static concept according to Hegel, as Aristotle supposed it was. It is essentially dynamic, because it tends by its very nature to pass over into nothing, and then to return to itself in the higher concept, becoming. For Aristotle, there was nothing more certain than that being equaled being, or, in other words, that being is identical with itself, that everything is what it is. Hegel does not deny this; but, he adds, it is equally certain that being tends to become its opposite, nothing, and that both are united in the concept becoming. For instance, the truth about this table, for Aristotle, is that it is a table. (This is not necessarily true. Aristotle made a distinction between things made by art and things made by nature. Things made by art--such as a table--follow this description of thinghood. Living things however are self-generating and constantly creating their own being. Being in the sense of a living thing is highly dynamic and is defined by the thing creating its own being. He describes life not in terms of being but coming-into-being. For instance a baby's goal is to become old. It is neither absolutely young or absolutely old and somewhere in the process of being young and becoming old. It sounds like Hegel made the comparison between being and not being while Aristotle made the comparison between art and nature.)

For Hegel, the equally important truth is that it was a tree, and it "will be" ashes. The whole truth, for Hegel, is that the tree became a table and will become ashes. Thus, becoming, not being, is the highest expression of reality. It is also the highest expression of thought because then only do we attain the fullest knowledge of a thing when we know what it was, what it is, and what it will be-in a word, when we know the history of its development.

In the same way as "being" and "nothing" develop into the higher concept becoming, so, farther on in the scale of development, life and mind appear as the third terms of the process and in turn are developed into higher forms of themselves. (It is interesting here to note that Aristotle saw "being" as superior to "becoming", because anything which is still becoming something else is imperfect. Hence, God, for Aristotle, is perfect because He never changes, but is eternally complete.) But one cannot help asking what is it that develops or is developed?

Its name, Hegel answers, is different in each stage. In the lowest form it is "being", higher up it is "life", and in still higher form it is "mind". The only thing always present is the process (das Werden). We may, however, call the process by the name of "spirit" (Geist) or "idea" (Begriff). We may even call it God, because at least in the third term of every triadic development the process is God.

The first and most wide-reaching consideration of the process of spirit, God, or the idea, reveals to us the truth that the idea must be studied (1) in itself; this is the subject of logic or metaphysics; (2) out of itself, in nature; this is the subject of the philosophy of nature; and (3) in and for itself, as mind; this is the subject of the philosophy of mind (Geistesphilosophie).

Passing over the rather abstract considerations by which Hegel shows in his Logik the process of the idea-in-itself through being to becoming, and finally through essence to notion, we take up the study of the development of the idea at the point where it enters into otherness in nature. In nature the idea has lost itself, because it has lost its unity and is splintered, as it were, into a thousand fragments. But the loss of unity is only apparent, because in reality the idea has merely concealed its unity.

Studied philosophically, nature reveals itself as so many successful attempts of the idea to emerge from the state of otherness and present itself to us as a better, fuller, richer idea, namely, spirit, or mind. Mind is, therefore, the goal of nature. It is also the truth of nature. For whatever is in nature is realized in a higher form in the mind which emerges from nature.

The philosophy of mind begins with the consideration of the individual, or subjective, mind. It is soon perceived, however, that individual, or subjective, mind is only the first stage, the in-itself stage, of mind. The next stage is objective mind, or mind objectified in law, morality, and the State. This is mind in the condition of out-of-itself.

There follows the condition of absolute mind, the state in which mind rises above all the limitations of nature and institutions, and is subjected to itself alone in art, religion, and philosophy. For the essence of mind is freedom, and its development must consist in breaking away from the restrictions imposed on it in it otherness by nature and human institutions.

Hegel's philosophy of the State, his theory of history, and his account of absolute mind are perhaps the most often read portions of his philosophy due to their accessibility. The State, he says, is mind objectified. The individual mind, which, on account of its passions, its prejudices, and its blind impulses, is only partly free, subjects itself to the yoke of necessitythe opposite of freedomin order to attain a fuller realization of itself in the freedom of the citizen.

This yoke of necessity is first met within the recognition of the rights of others, next in morality, and finally in social morality, of which the primal institution is the family. Aggregates of families form civil society, which, however, is but an imperfect form of organization compared with the State. The State is the perfect social embodiment of the idea, and stands in this stage of development for God Himself.

The State, studied in itself, furnishes for our consideration constitutional law. In relation to other States it develops international law; and in its general course through historical vicissitudes it passes through what Hegel calls the "Dialectics of History".

Hegel teaches that the constitution is the collective spirit of the nation and that the government and the written constitution is the embodiment of that spirit. Each nation has its own individual spirit, and the greatest of crimes is the act by which the tyrant or the conqueror stifles the spirit of a nation.

War, Hegel suggests, can never be ruled out, as one can never know when or if one will occur, an example being the Napoleonic overrunning of Europe and putting down of Royalist systems. War represents a crisis in the development of the idea which is embodied in the different States, and out of this crisis usually the State which holds the more advanced spirit wins out, though it may also suffer a loss, lick its wounds, yet still win in the spiritual sense, as happened for example when the northerners sacked Rome, its form of legality and religion all "won" out in spite of the losses on the battlefield.

A peaceful revolution is also possible according to Hegel when the changes required to solve the crisis are ascertained by thoughtful insight and when this insight spreads throughout the body politic:

If a people [Volk] can no longer accept as implicitly true what its constitution expresses to it as the truth, if its consciousness or Notion and its actuality are not at one, then the peoples spirit is torn asunder. Two things may then occur. First, the people may either by a supreme internal effort dash into fragments this law which still claims authority, or it may more quietly and slowly effect changes on the yet operative law, which is, however, no longer true morality, but which the mind has already passed beyond. In the second place, a peoples intelligence and strength may not suffice for this, and it may hold to the lower law; or it may happen that another nation has reached its higher constitution, thereby rising in the scale, and the first gives up its nationality and becomes subject to the other. Therefore it is of essential importance to know what the true constitution is; for what is in opposition to it has no stability, no truth, and passes away. It has a temporary existence, but cannot hold its ground; it has been accepted, but cannot secure permanent acceptance; that it must be cast aside, lies in the very nature of the constitution. This insight can be reached through Philosophy alone. Revolutions take place in a state without the slightest violence when the insight becomes universal; institutions, somehow or other, crumble and disappear, each man agrees to give up his right. A government must, however, recognize that the time for this has come; should it, on the contrary, knowing not the truth, cling to temporary institutions, taking what though recognized is unessential, to be a bulwark guarding it from the essential (and the essential is what is contained in the Idea), that government will fall, along with its institutions, before the force of mind. The breaking up of its government breaks up the nation itself; a new government arises, or it may be that the government and the unessential retain the upper hand.[2]

The "ground" of historical development is, therefore, rational; since the State, if it is not in contradiction, is the embodiment of reason as spirit. Many, at first considered to be, contingent events of history can become, in reality or in necessity, stages in the logical unfolding of the sovereign reason which gets embodied in an advanced State. Such a "necessary contingency" when expressed in passions, impulse, interest, character, personality, get used by the "cunning of reason", which, in retrospect, was to its own purpose.

We are, therefore, to understand historical happenings as the stern, reluctant working of reason towards the full realization of itself in perfect freedom. Consequently, we must interpret history in rational terms, and throw the succession of events into logical categories and this interpretation is, for Hegel, a mere inference from actual history.

Thus, the widest view of history reveals three most important stages of development: Oriental imperial (the stage of oneness, of suppression of freedom), Greek social democracy (the stage of expansion, in which freedom was lost in unstable demagogy), and Christian constitutional monarchy (which represents the reintegration of freedom in constitutional government).

Even in the State, mind is limited by subjection to other minds. There remains the final step in the process of the acquisition of freedom, namely, that by which absolute mind in art, religion, and philosophy subjects itself to itself alone. In art, mind has the intuitive contemplation of itself as realized in the art material, and the development of the arts has been conditioned by the ever-increasing "docility" with which the art material lends itself to the actualization of mind or the idea.

In religion, mind feels the superiority of itself to the particularizing limitations of finite things. Here, as in the philosophy of history, there are three great moments, Oriental religion, which exaggerated the idea of the infinite, Greek religion, which gave undue importance to the finite, and Christianity, which represents the union of the infinite and the finite. Last of all, absolute mind, as philosophy, transcends the limitations imposed on it even in religious feeling, and, discarding representative intuition, attains all truth under the form of reason.

Whatever truth there is in art and in religion is contained in philosophy, in a higher form, and free from all limitations. Philosophy is, therefore, "the highest, freest and wisest phase of the union of subjective and objective mind, and the ultimate goal of all development."

The far reaching influence of Hegel is due in a measure to the undoubted vastness of the scheme of philosophical synthesis which he conceived and partly realized. A philosophy which undertook to organize under the single formula of triadic development every department of knowledge, from abstract logic up to the philosophy of history, has a great deal of attractiveness to those who are metaphysically inclined. But Hegel's influence is due in a still larger measure to two extrinsic circumstances.

His philosophy is the highest expression of that spirit of collectivism which characterized the nineteenth century. In theology especially Hegel revolutionized the methods of inquiry. The application of his notion of development to Biblical criticism and to historical investigation is obvious to anyone who compares the spirit and purpose of contemporary theology with the spirit and purpose of the theological literature of the first half of the nineteenth century.[citation needed]

In science, too, and in literature, the substitution of the category of becoming for the category of being is a very patent fact, and is due to the influence of Hegel's method. In political economy and political science the effect of Hegel's collectivistic conception of the State supplanted to a large extent the individualistic conception which was handed down from the eighteenth century to the nineteenth century.

Hegel's philosophy became known outside Germany from the 1820s onwards, and Hegelian schools developed in northern Europe, Italy, France, Eastern Europe, America and Britain.[3] These schools are collectively known as post-Hegelian philosophy, post-Hegelian idealism or simply post-Hegelianism.[4]

Hegel's immediate followers in Germany are generally divided into the "Right Hegelians" and the "Left Hegelians" (the latter also referred to as the "Young Hegelians").

The Rightists developed his philosophy along lines which they considered to be in accordance with Christian theology. They included Karl Friedrich Gschel, Johann Philipp Gabler, Johann Karl Friedrich Rosenkranz, and Johann Eduard Erdmann.

The Leftists accentuated the anti-Christian tendencies of Hegel's system and developed schools of materialism, socialism, rationalism, and pantheism. They included Ludwig Feuerbach, Karl Marx, Bruno Bauer, and David Strauss. Max Stirner socialized with the left Hegelians but built his own philosophical system largely opposing that of these thinkers.

In Britain, Hegelianism was represented during the nineteenth century by, and largely overlapped the British Idealist school of James Hutchison Stirling, Thomas Hill Green, William Wallace, John Caird, Edward Caird, Richard Lewis Nettleship, F.H. Bradley, and J. M. E. McTaggart.

In Denmark, Hegelianism was represented by Johan Ludvig Heiberg and Hans Lassen Martensen from the 1820s to the 1850s.

In mid-19th century Italy, Hegelianism was represented by Bertrando Spaventa.

Hegelianism in North America was represented by Friedrich August Rauch, Thomas Watson and William T. Harris, as well as the St. Louis Hegelians. In its most recent form it seems to take its inspiration from Thomas Hill Green, and whatever influence it exerts is opposed to the prevalent pragmatic tendency.

In Poland, Hegelianism was represented by Karol Libelt, August Cieszkowski and Jzef Kremer.

Benedetto Croce and tienne Vacherot were the leading Hegelians towards the end of the nineteenth century in Italy and France, respectively. Among Catholic philosophers who were influenced by Hegel the most prominent were Georg Hermes and Anton Gnther.

Hegelianism also inspired Giovanni Gentile's philosophy of actual idealism and Fascism, the concept that people are motivated by ideas and that social change is brought by the leaders.

Hegelianism spread to Imperial Russia through St. Petersburg in the 1840s, and was as other intellectual waves were considered an absolute truth amongst the intelligentsia, until the arrival of Darwinism in the 1860s.[5]

Excerpt from:

Hegelianism - Wikipedia

The best ism to explain our time: Surrealism, which turns 100 this year – Los Angeles Times

Surrealism is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. The poet Guillaume Apollinaire coined the term to describe his play Les Mamelles de Tiresias (The Teats of Tiresias), which opened in a small Parisian theater in 1917. Beginning with an actress removing her breasts and ending early with an unscripted riot featuring a pistol-flailing audience member the play launched a movement that long convulsed French art and politics.

The centenary arrives in a surreal news environment. Indeed, among the dozens of isms used to explain the Trump presidency from isolationism and pluto-populism to narcissism and authoritarianism none does a better job than surrealism in capturing the current mood.

Andr Breton, the Pope of Surrealism, defined it as a psychic automatism in its pure state exempt from any moral concern. In his First Manifesto of Surrealism, Breton railed against rationalism and the reign of logic. Clarity and coherence lost bigly to the tumult of unconscious desires, while civility and courtesy were for bourgeois losers. Upping the ante in his Second Manifesto, he claimed the simplest Surrealist act consists of dashing down into the street, pistol in hand, and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd.

Unarmed Surrealists were content to brandish their ids. What was once the stuff of repression was now ripe for expression. Everything that welled up into the conscious mind flowed across paper and canvas. The true Surrealist turns his mind into a receptacle, refusing to favor one group of words over another. Instead, it is up to the miraculous equivalent to intervene.

Or not. As a sober reader finds, most Surrealist literature is unreadable. The precursor to Surrealism, the Romanian Tristan Tzara, famously composed poems by cutting words from a newspaper, tossing them into a bag, pulling them out and reciting them one by one. The result, Tzara declared, will resemble you. (Perhaps thats true if you happen to be crashed on your kitchen floor, sleeping off an all-night bender.) As for Breton, he favored automatic writing by becoming a recording machine for his unconscious. The final product, he beamed, shines by its extreme degree of immediate absurdity.

Trumpian word salads bear the surrealist seal of absurdity. In Exquisite Corpse a Surrealist exercise aimed at unleashing the unconscious you write a word on a piece of paper, pass it to your neighbor who jots a second word without looking at the first word, and so on. This led to sentences like The exquisite/corpse/shall drink/the new/wine. Trumps gift of free association His one problem is he didnt go to Russia that night because he had extracurricular activities, and they froze to death allows him to play a solitaire variation of the game.

A French translator recently marveled that Trump seems to have thematic clouds in his head that he would pick from with no need of a logical thread to link them. This is true not just of his speech, but also of his governing strategy.

Igniting a reaction similar to those following Marcel Duchamp entering a urinal at an art show, Trump has exhibited his Surrealist aesthetic in bureaucratic Washington. But he subverts ready-made expectations instead of ready-made objects. With a Surrealist flair for showmanship worthy of Salvador Dali, he randomly pairs titles and individuals. Thus, his son-in-law, a New York real estate developer, plays Middle East envoy one day, opioid crisis czar the next. Trumps claim that if Jared Kushner cannot bring peace to the Middle East, no one can expresses the Surrealist conviction that where reason and strategy have failed, unreason and whim will prevail.

The same aesthetic lies behind or, rather, below the Wall. Its failure to make economic, strategic or diplomatic sense is not beside the point; it is the point. Its raison dtre is to shock the political establishment and to give shape to what, until now, had been the repressed desires of Trumps base. Think of it not as a real security measure, but as a virtual sculpture that will allow its audience to touch, and not just talk about their phobias. Like a Surrealist object, the Wall is a shape-shifter opaque or transparent, continuous or discontinuous, topped with barbed wire or solar panels and expresses the Surrealist values of excess and extravagance, aggression and transgression.

In the end, Trumpism, like Surrealism, seeks to force reality to conform to individual desires, no matter how illicit, illegal or simply outrageous. This might work aesthetically, even financially just ask Dali, whose name Breton turned into the anagram Avida Dollars and, it seems, politically. But, one can hope, only in the short term.

Eventually, Surrealisms revolt against the reality-based community ended with a whimper, with its art relegated to post-dinner games and dorm room posters. One day, perhaps, politicians will look back on Trumpism in the same dismissive way.

Robert Zaretsky teaches at the University of Houston and is finishing a book on Catherine the Great and the French Enlightenment.

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion or Facebook


The best ism to explain our time: Surrealism, which turns 100 this year - Los Angeles Times

How Silicon Valley’s Workplace Culture Produced James Damore’s Google Memo – The New Yorker

Last week, a software engineer at Google, James Damore, posted a ten-page memo, titled Googles Ideological Echo Chamber , to an internal company network. Citing a range of psychological studies, Wikipedia entries, and media articles on our culture of shaming and misrepresentation, Damore argued that women are underrepresented in the tech industry largely because of their innate biological differences from mentheir stronger interest in people rather than things, their propensity for neuroticism, their higher levels of anxiety. Damore criticized the companys diversity initiatives, which focus on recruitment, hiring, and professional development, as discriminatory, and advanced concrete suggestions for improving them: de-moralize diversity, de-emphasize empathy, stop alienating conservatives, and be open about the science of human nature. On Monday, Googles C.E.O., Sundar Pichai, sent a note to his employees decrying the memos harmful gender stereotypes and noting that portions of it violated the companys code of conduct. Damore was fired, and promptly filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board.

As soon as news of the memo broke, tech workers took to the Internet. (Ours is a privileged moment: never before has it been so easy to gain access to the errant musings, rapid-fire opinions, and random proclivities of venture capitalists and others we enrich.) There were calls for Damore to be blacklisted from the industry; nuanced analyses of the memos underlying assumptions and ripple effects; facile analyses of the same; message-board debates about sexual harassment, affirmative action, evolutionary biology, eugenics, and wrongthink; and disagreements about the appropriateness of Googles response. (Firing people for their ideas should be opposed, Jeet Heer, a self-described Twitter Essayist and an editor at The New Republic , tweeted.) George Orwells 1984 was trotted out, discursively, and quickly retired. More than a handful of people pointed out that the field of programming was created , and once dominated, by women. Eric Weinstein, the managing director of Thiel Capital, an investment firm helmed by Peter Thiel , tweeted disapprovingly at Googles corporate account, Stop teaching my girl that her path to financial freedom lies not in coding but in complaining to HR.

Though Damores memo draws on familiar political rhetoric, its style and structure are unique products of Silicon Valleys workplace culture . At software companies, in particular, people talkand argue, and dogpile, and offer unsolicited opinionsall the time, all over the place, including in forums like the one where Damore posted Googles Ideological Echo Chamber. In my experience in the tech industry, such forums serve as repositories for all sorts of discussionsfeature launches, bug fixes, birth announcements, introductions, farewellsand are meant, in part, to promote the open-source ethos that everyone can, and should, pitch in. But they also favor the kind of discourse that people outside the industry may recognize from online platforms such as Reddit and Hacker News; it is solution-oriented, purporting to value objectivity and rationalism above all, and tends to see the engineers dispassion as a tool for solving a whole range of technical and social problems. (Being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts, Damore writes.) But the format is ill-suited to conversations about politics and social justice.

One of the documents that resurfaced in the online discussion of the Google memo was What You Cant Say , by Paul Grahamthe co-founder, along with his wife, Jessica Livingston, of the startup accelerator Y Combinator , which runs Hacker News. The five-thousand-word essay, which Graham published on his personal blog, in 2004, begins with the premise that there exist moral fashions that are both arbitrary and pernicious. Fashion is mistaken for good design; moral fashion is mistaken for good, he writes. The essay makes a case for contrarian thinking through a series of flattering analogiesGalileo was seen as a heretic in his time; John Milton was advised to keep quiet about the evils of the Roman Inquisitionand argues that opinions considered unfashionable in their time are often retroactively respected, if not taken as gospel. The statements that make people mad are the ones they worry might be believed, Graham writes. I suspect the statements that make people maddest are those they worry might be true. At several points, he refers to political correctness.

What You Cant Say is by no means a seminal text, but it is the sort of text that has, historically, spoken to a tech audience. Googles Ideological Echo Chamber, with its veneer of cool rationalism, echoes Grahams essay in certain ways. But, where Grahams argument is made thoughtfully and in good faithhe is a proponent of intellectual inquiry, even if the outcome is controversialDamores is a sort of performance. His memo shows a deep misunderstanding of what constitutes power in Silicon Valley, and where that power lies. True, Google and its peers have put money and other company resources toward diversity efforts, and they very likely will continue to do so. But today, in mid-2017, menwhite menare still very much in the majority. It is still largely white men who make decisions, and largely white men who prosper. By positioning diversity programs as discriminatory, Damore paints exactly the opposite picture. He frames employees like himself as a silenced minority, and his contrarian opinions as a kind of Galilean heresy.

It is conceivable, of course, that Damore distributed his memo to thousands of his colleagues because he genuinely thought that it was the best way to strike up a conversation. Open and honest discussion with those who disagree can highlight our blind spots and help us grow, he writes. Perhaps he expected that the ensuing dialogue would be akin to a debate over a chunk of code. But, given the memos various denigrating assertions about his co-workers, it is difficult to imagine that it was offered in good faith. Damore wasnt fired for his political views; he was fired for how (and where) he applied them. The memo also hints at a larger anxietya fear, possibly, of the future. But technological advancement and social change move at different velocities; someone like Damore might sooner be automated out of a job than replaced by a woman.

Minority groups in tech are no strangers to being second-guessed, condescended to, overlooked, underpaid, and uncredited. But seeing Damores arguments made publicand, in some cases, seeing them elicit supportwas a fresh smack in the face. It was a reminder that plenty of tech workers and executives still consider hiring women and people of color lowering the bar, and that proving ones place is a constant, Sisyphean task. After all, not so long ago, advocacy on behalf of womenand black, Latino, nonbinary, and otherwise underrepresented peoplewas the unfashionable, contrarian alternative in the tech industry.

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How Silicon Valley's Workplace Culture Produced James Damore's Google Memo - The New Yorker

Muslims and Modernism – Kasmir Monitor

The nineteenth century witnessed a great change in the outlook of Muslims of the Subcontinent. Colonialism, along with the development of scientific attitude, affected the religious universe drastically. And, this, in turn, led to a hot debate on religious dogmas and rationality; rather a paradigm shift in the thought of educated Muslims. This shift created a modernist school, comprised mainly of those Muslims who showed a keen receptiveness to western institutions of learning and who judged things through the prism of modernity. This intellectual vibrancy took place in a more enthusiastic and radical way around the person of Sir Syed Ahmad khan, who was born in Delhi in 1817. To make the re-conciliation between religion and western attitude was central to his religious philosophy. He started a famous periodical Tahdhib al-Akhlaq and set up a scientific society for translating English books into Urdu so that the Muslims of the subcontinent would get acquainted with the advanced/progressive ideas of the West. While expounding the belief in naturalism, he stated, Today we are in need of modern Ilm al Kalam by which we should refute the dogmas of modern Science or show that they are in conformity with the Islamic creeds. According to him, whole physical universe including man is the work of God and religion is His word, so there cant be any contradiction between the two. The only touchstone of a real religion can be this: if it is in conformity with human nature or with nature in general, then it is true and real. Like the modernists of Christian world, he too tried to relinquish the metaphysical realities from the realm of faith. Reason and empiricism, according to him, are the only yardsticks to measure the reality. Swathed with the ideas of rationalism, he maintained that there is no intermediary between God and the prophet(SAW). Gabriel is in reality a symbolic representation of the prophetic faculty. Eschatologically, he further maintained that paradise and hell described in a sensuous terms in the sacred text are just emblematical representation of the psychological states of individuals in the life after death. Ibn Khuldun, a great Muslim historian and thinker, dealt well with the people like Sir Syed who were the preachers of rationalism during medieval era and has rightly mentioned in his famous Muqadimah that the mind is an accurate scale, whose recordings are certain and reliable; but to use it to weigh questions relating to the unity of God, or after life, or nature of prophecy or other such subjects falling outside its range, is like trying to use a goldsmiths scale to weigh mountains. To reconstruct the edifice of Muslim civilization, Sir Syed strongly advocated the ijtihadic endeavour. Apart from trying to untie the cosmic knots with reason and science, his buttressing to nullify Taqlid was very energetic and progressive. Taqlid is the sole reason, according to him, for the downfall of Muslim Ummah. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan not only started a sort of neo-Muttazilite understanding of the cosmos and the sacred text but also endeavoured to dilute the antagonistic attitude of western colonials. To meet this end, he dedicated himself to write an exegesis of the Bible in the light of Islamic intellectualism. Tabayin al-Kalam fi Tafsir al-Torahwa al-injilalamillahal-Islam is the name of that exegesis. It is not a commentary in a sense of Muslim Tafsir of the Quran. It is a collection of critical essays on certain aspects of Christianity that tends to stress the common ground rather than the differences between the Christians and Muslims. The main contention of Sir Syed, as Syed MunirWasti would put it, is that there is no fundamental difference between the account of Christianity given in the Bible and that given in the Quran. The Muslim society in India was very much hesitant to get socially intermingled with Christians. In order to dismantle this social barrier, he wrote a booklet, entitled Ahkam-iTaam-i Ahli-Kitab, to explain that Muslim Jurisprudence doesnt prevent Muslims from dining with the people of Book provided Haram food is not served.

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Muslims and Modernism - Kasmir Monitor

How well do you know your suburb? – Daily Advertiser

11 Aug 2017, 2:21 p.m.

How well do you know where you live?

How well do you know where you live?

Are your neighbours likely to be young or old? Single or with kids? Renting or paying off a home? Born overseas or in Australia?

Take our seven-question quiz and find out. And if you get stuck try again, you'll getdifferent questions each time. There are also some hints below.

Enter the name of your suburb.

Once you have your score youcan compare your resultwith other people from your area.

The quiz covers almost every one of Australia's 15,000-plus suburbs. The only ones not included are those with tiny populations.

Oceania includes Australia, Papua New Guinea New Zealand and Pacific Islands such as Fiji, Vanuatu and Tonga.

The Americas includes North and South America.

Family households include any home that consists of a couple or some dependent children. For example, a family household can be a married couple without kids, a same-sex couple living together, a single parent looking after their two children, or a blended household with step parentsand stepchildren.

Christianitytakes in all denominations such as Catholicism, Protestantism and Seventh Day Adventism.

No Religion includes Agnosticism, Atheism and secular beliefs such as Rationalism and Humanism.

The data used in this quiz comes from the2016 Census.

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How well do you know your suburb? - Daily Advertiser