Monday Message Board

I’m back again with another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. I’d be interested in suggestions for the blog, both in terms of substantive topics that readers might like me to discuss and in terms of layout, features and so on, now that I am managing all that for myself.

Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

8 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. The new style is rather bland and characterless, and doesn’t do justice to the combative content. The same holds for Simon Wren-Lewis’ good Mainly Macro blog. Crooked Timber is stylish, but a bit too High Table. Mark Kleiman, the webmaster of the blog I contribute to ( struck a pretty good balance IMHO: it’s unfussy, crisp, distinctive, and legible. Brad deLong’s is confusing.

  2. Serif or sans serif? The latter is a characteristic preference of the 20th-entury international style, and has
    become universal for signage. But in fact serifs make for easier reading. Three cheers for Alcuin of York and Carolingian minuscule!

  3. I was tempted to put this in the “generation” post but it is off-topic as it refers to another meaning of “generation”. Nevertheless, I find it extremely interesting.

    The connection between Locke and Blake is fascinating and it bears on the issues of emergence and evolution. I admire Locke as an early thinker in the English empirical philosophy tradition. Yet, I detest Locke’s propertarian philosophy. In like manner, I admire Blake’s creativity and Romanticism yet I reject his religiosity. Blake’s religiosity at least is not a hypocritical justification of wealth and privilege, rather the opposite in fact. But mythopoeic thinking no matter how aesthetically, Romantically and even radically enjoyable is still mythical thinking in the end.

    Materialism, as substance philosophy, leads in the direction (along the “explanatory vector” as I call it) of reductionism. Taking materialism in the other direction (along the “explanatory vector” of emergence and evolution) appears impossible without the addition of Christian-Cartesian dualism (or trialism) of “matter-spirit” or “matter-spirit-God. Freed from Christian myth and its seemingly mandatory dualism or trialism, we are left with Monism. This then seems to leave us with Berkeley’s Immaterialism or Scientific Materialism. Berkeley’s Immaterialism correctly analysed is revealed to be still a dualism. It is a dualism of Governing Spirit (God) over subject spirits (human spirits). Dualist thinking is not overcome in Berkeley.

    A more radical Monism would posit the Immaterialist-Physicalist dichotomy as a false dichotomy; an artifact of misconceived metaphysics. When there is only one system, it makes no sense to term this system immaterial or physical. These terms each lose meaning without the contrasting term. We cannot therefore say that the system we perceive, the cosmos, is immaterial or physical. We can only say that it is existent. What is left for human observation and abstraction are only the discoverable laws of the system (laws used a strong term in the sense of the laws of physics). Laws are highly dependable regularities and links or connections of influence. What is existent is taken as brute fact which is without sufficient explanation.

    This Monist way of viewing matters and this disavowal of the principle of sufficient reason is difficult for the Western mind to comprehend. However, the Eastern mind, with a different background philosophy and enculteration process, has no trouble seeing the world in this manner. It seems to me, at least from my own developed variant of Monism, that the general Eastern philosophical tradition is more consistent with modern scientific discoveries relating to emergence, evolution, quantum “strangeness” or “spookiness” and so on. The problem of the conventional Western mind is that it wants to start from the “normalcy” of our meso scale existence and impute that the effectiveness of reductionism and “sufficient reason” thinking in that zone (the latter meaning that there is a cause for everything) is a scalable technique which can and should be used at the quantum and cosmic scales. However, modern scientific discoveries now show that Western reductionist philosophy and its dualistic attempts to solve its dilemmas do not scale across all experience now that our instruments vastly extend our observational range.

  4. Re the new blog style, the headings are oversized to my eye. They tend to form a dominant visual continuum which interferes with casual grasping of each introduction I think.

  5. I like this theme better. I tend to agree on the size of the headings, but it may not be practicable to tinker with these without professional help.

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