8 thoughts on “Sandpit

  1. No takers on reading and discussing this paper? That’s a little disappointing.

  2. I am sorry it went over my head. Perhaps you can distil the article to a three to five sentence summary of what every Ruler should understand that this article makes clear if it is properly understood.

  3. Curt Kastens,

    The paper is its own best distillation of its ideas. It would be very presumptuous of me to offer a five sentence summary. Some definitions of words and a short description of their application in the paper might help though.

    “A single chemical reaction is said to be autocatalytic if one of the reaction products is also a catalyst for the same or a coupled reaction. Such a reaction is called an autocatalytic reaction.” – Wikipedia.

    I think the author is suggesting that certain memes or ideas contain the ability to catalyze their own spread through a system, particularly through a cultural or socio-economic system.They “sprawl” like suburban sprawl perhaps producing something larger and larger with the same basic modular units.

    “Pseudorational Mastery”

    The whole entry on Pseudorationalism from Wikipedia is useful here.

    “Pseudorationalism was the label given by economist and philosopher Otto Neurath to a school of thought that he was heavily critical of, throughout many of his writings but primarily in his 1913 paper “The lost wanderers of Descartes and the auxiliary motive” and later to a lesser extent in his 1935 “Pseudorationalismus der Falsifikation”,[1] a review of and attack on Popper’s first book, Logik der Forschung (The Logic of Scientific Discovery), contrasting this approach with his own view of what rationalism should properly be.[2] Neurath aimed his criticism at a Cartesian belief that all actions can be subject to rational analysis,[3][4][5] saying that

    Once reason has gained a certain influence, people generally show a tendency to regard all their actions as reasonable. Ways of action which depend on dark instincts receive reinterpretation or obfuscation.
    — [3] Neurath 1913, p. 441

    Neurath considered that “pseudo-rationalists”, be they philosophers or scientists, made the mistake of assuming that a complete rational system could be devised for the laws of nature. He argued rather that no system could be complete, being based upon a picture of reality that could only ever be incomplete and imperfect. Pseudo-rationalism, in Neurath’s view, was a refusal or simple inability to face up to the limits of rationality and reason.[3] “Rationalism”, he wrote (Neurath 1913, p. 8), “sees its chief triumph in the clear recognition of the limits of actual insight.”. Whereas a pseudorationalist acknowledges no such limits, but rather contents that all decisions can be subject to the rules of insight.[5] Scientific method is, according to Neurath, pseudorationalist where it contends that the rules for the scientific method will always lead ever closer to the truth.[5]

    Neurath further challenged Cartesian “pseudorationalism” by asserting that operating upon incomplete data was in fact the norm, where Cartesian thinking would have it be the rare exception. Rather than there being one, final, rational answer to any given problem, Neurath asserted that scientific endeavour required a continuing and never-ending series of choices, made so in part because of the ambiguity of language.” – Wikipedia

    So Pseudorational Mastery is based on false views that all data and their meanings have been fully comprehended (or near enoiugh) so that one’s “mastery” of a skill (like running a capitalist economy with neoclassical/neoliberal macroeconomics) is near enough complete. Witness the official over-confidence in the Great Moderation thesis before the Great Recession / Global Financial Crisis of 2007 -2008. This is a prime example of pseudorational masters thinking they knew it all and had everything under control.

    “Rulers” as authoritarians are very prone to thinking they know it all and have everything under control. It is very likely that genuine democracy (not the pale representative shadow we have now) would be less likely to lead down the delusive paths of Pseudorational Mastery. I do not have any faith in authoritarian rulers.

  4. Ikonoclast 10:10
    OK the last four paragraphs of the additional information that you posted at 10:10 was very helpful.
    I will get back with you today (European Time).

  5. Ikonoclast,
    I was trying to get you to start the discussion because I do not know what it is about the aritcle that you linked or the second article that you reposted that you wish to discuss.
    So I will take the lead in this dance. I will begin with the last paragraph of what you posted at 10:10 am.
    I am not sure about whether the views of this last paragraph or your views or the views of Neurath. But, I think that the last paragraph is most likely your view which you believe is shared by Neurath.
    So let us start of with a discussion of Authoritatarian Rulers rather than whether or not Rulers are autoritarians.. You acctually wrote Rulers as Authoritarians not Rulers are authoritarians but Rulers as authoritarians seems to me to be implying either that all rulers are authoritarians or that you wish to specify that you are talking about only authoritarian leaders not some other kind of leadership style.
    Because you say in your final paragraph that you do not have any faith in authortarian rulers I take it that you do trust rulers who use a different kind of leadership style. Well it would not seem that there is much there that a reasonable person could disagree with. The studies of psycology that I have read over the years are quite convincing that an authoritarian leadership style is not as effective in reaching the goals set by the leader as other potential leadership syles are.
    But maybe what you are really getting at is that you do not trust leaders who have not achieved their leadership position as the result of an election. I can understand that military officers are appointed by people claiming to be experts in their field, officers as you probably know are not elected by their men let alone by society, and the only groups of people who make military officers look like they know what they are doing, based upon their collective results are economists and nutritionists. So we certianly can not trust rulers who have been appointed by say a group of Cardinals, by a group of Nobels, or even by a group of scholars. We certianly can not trust a ruler who claims to have been appointed by the grace of God let alone one who claims to be a God.
    I also think that you would agree with me that we can not trust rulers, who even though they may not have an authoritarian leadership style, have achieved their position by winning an election by making false claims. Reguardless of whether or not they deserved to win the election because they were in some way better than their opponents their behavior indicates that they certianly should not be trusted.
    Of course many people might not have recognized false claims as being false so the people who accepted the false claims might continue to be trusting.
    So that brings us to the rulers that win elections with out making false promises. Such rulers might not accept a bribe for their vote. But can they be trusted? First of all such a ruler would have to decide when he or she makes a policy decision, to vote on way or another as a member of a parliment, or as a member of a central committee, or as the leader of a government, or executive branch of a government, whether s/he is going to make his decison based on what s/he thinks is the best decision or if he is going to decide what the majority of the people he is making the decision for would want him to do.
    Well by what standard would you chose to give this person your trust? Does an objective standard exist for making your decision? Or are you forced to make a decsion based upon your own subjective standards?
    To keep moving forward I think that I am going to have to give a provisional answer to the question.
    That is your own subjective standards are all that you have. We might have to come back and revisit these questions. So how often would someone have to make what you thought was a really bad decsion before you lost your trust in them? And how much trust should you place in a person whose track record of decisions you are unfamiliar with?
    So what ever the answers to these question are I would suggest that you should not trust anyone all of the time and you should not trust many people much of time. You can trust most people not to
    act in a completely unpredicable manner, based up on their motives to live and prosper, most of the time.
    So in this comment has reached a point in which I would claim that you and I and we including the readers should not trust ANY ruler reguardless of what kind of ruler they are and how they obtained their position.
    Even though we can not trust rulers, complex socities need rulers. Rulers will emerge whether we want them to or not. What is in doubt is on whose behalf the rulers will rule and whether they will exersice good leadership skills or good manipulation skills.
    Good leaders and successful manipulators are not fools. Such people would know from their politcal infancy that experts can not be fully trusted, and by extention their own expetise can not be fully trusted, because all knowledge is provisional and know one can even know all of this provisional knowledge, even in their own field of expertice, anymore. Of course good leaders and successful manipulators will understand that events occur that could not have been forseen. Therefore such people would never be under the illusion that they have things under control for more than the moment. These traps have been know about since ancient times by both leaders and manipulators.
    Australians are going to die because the masses of the American people have been unable to tell the difference between a good leader and a successful manipulator. Although I could say in the defence of the American people that the people in most other countries have not done much better. Of course that is because the masses have been conditioned to not be able to tell the differences because good leaders have for the most part never been in power.
    It is important to realize that there is no systamatic way to ensure that good leaders make the decisions for society rather than successful manipulators. That being said I do think that insitutional checks and balances are an important part of preventing abuses of power by those in positions to make the big decisons for society.
    Good leaders will recognize that they themselves can not be trusted with to much power. Therefore they will themselves design a system that will attempt to protect them from themselves as well as protect them from successful manipulators. I would think that some of the instiutional methods that good leaders would use to promote a sustainable healthy leadership would be to place executive power in the hands of central committees rather than in individual people. I would also think that they would impose term limits as to how long a person could serve on a central committee.
    In addition I think that since good leaders are aware of their lack of infaliblity that when they make policy decisions they would have a plan to backtrack from any policy that was not working as expected.
    But I want to reemphasize that no amount of insitutional or constitutional checks and balances are sufficient to create a system that can not be corrupted or broken. By corrupted I mean that the insitutional capablities are taken over by a group of people who wish to use to those capablities for thier own personal pleasure rather than use them for the purpose for which they were designed. By broken I mean that the institutions and the rules that govern their performance are completely disreguarded by a group of critical people who recognize that these institutions will no longer deliver results that are even remotely acceptable to the critcs of the system.
    Humanity would be in really deep trouble if it created a system of rule that could not be broken.
    Humanity would be in really deep trouble if it created a system of rule that could be broken easily.
    Just as good institutions can be corrupted over time, even good ideas can be put to use for bad purposes.

    OK Ikonclast, I hope that was not to long for you to digest. I hope that although it might not have been exactly what you were looking for that at least it was not to disappointing to you.

  6. Theme song for this blog? Other suggestions welcome.

    “The Men At Work song Down Under is a just a delightful bit of silliness, right?

    “Not so, says the song’s co-writer, Colin Hay, ahead of a tour to Sydney and Wollongong.

    “The choruses, he told Richard Glover on ABC Radio Sydney, are about Australia being “desecrated for short-term gains … plundering the country for whatever you could take out of the ground and just sell it to whoever wanted it”.

    So, forget the “Vegemite sandwich” and the “Man in Brussels” — Down Under is really about the mining industry.”


  7. Curt Kastens,

    The last two paragraphs of my last post were my words. I was responding, among other things, to your mention of “every Ruler”. To me, the capital letter had some connotation of meaning Absolute Rulers. Hence, I made a probably incorrect assumption that you were talking about Absolute Rulers.

    Your long post clarifies, I believe, that you were talking about all kinds of rulers. Then you raise the many issues and problems with all kinds of rulers including so-called democratically elected rulers. I agree, it’s a fraught arena. Perhaps we can agree with Churchill that “Democracy is the worst form of government except for every other form.”

    But this actually takes my intended discussion off-topic. This is my mistake, not yours, as I introduced the red herring about (Absolute) Rulers.

    What I am really interested in are the precise matters referred to in the title and content of the article. I didn’t give a lead because I want to see how other people saw these matters. It would be very interesting, for example to get the take of “resident” or frequenting economists on this blog. Those that I know of as being economists John Quiggin, Ernestine Gross, Harry Clarke and maybe some others.

    Certainly, I know (or think that I know) that John Quiggin and Ernestine Gross (based on previous writings on this blog and elsewhere) are critical of at least some elements of current macro-economy theory and practice (including but not limited to econometrics) in the general space of neoclassical economics, neoliberal economics and even of certain “heterodoxies”. That being the case (if I am right) it would be interesting to draw out their opinions on this paper.

    For once, I am trying to be less opinionated up front and to hear other opinions first. 😉

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