Monday, August 29, 2011

Privileged access revisited

I'd like to provide excerpts to the most recent posts in an IPS thread on privileged access, as they bring up for me an ongoing issue in many philosophical and spiritual investigations into “reality.”


I would like to return to the original questions regarding this subject....the concept of "introspective illusion." I ran across this idea while researching the idea of the "adaptive unconscious," while looking into that book, Blink!... The principle underlying the introspective illusion would appear to be precisely what I have been after with regard to the the philosophical concept of "privileged access."


Since we're talking about privileged access might behoove us to re-read this thread for context and respond within said context. Some excerpts from another thread:

Tom: “What would full consciousness look like if, as you say, it simply doesn't exist?”

I have no idea and question whether anyone could possible know that. I do know that to claim one has access to full consciousness has some serious implications that we've discussed in this thread.

Balder: “Are we talking about 'consciousness' as the necessary 'whole' or 'context' of any phenomenological event, or are we talking about consciousness as a subset of 'cognition' (within the context of cognitive neuroscience)?”


I think both. If we accept that conscious awareness is a subset of cognition—which includes the cognitive unconscious—is just the tip of an iceberg, with even the iceberg not capable of apprehending the “whole,” then that bears on claims to privileged access to some whole or full consciousness it itself.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Eco-Transitions update

I quickly skimmed the posts of this blog since 6/5, reading a few sections here and there. It seems the bottom line is that effective transition to the "next-step economy" must come from those within the existing business and political structures through individual "changes in consciousness." And that this will have to happen in transition stages over a long period. Arnsperger does though realize that to do so within the system has the high likelihood of being corrupted by that system, much like freshly minted lawyers start their first job believing in truth and justice and are quickly disabused of such pipe dreams. And that there will be those within the system who will use the language of the new ecopreneurs to maintain the status quo by rhetorically manipulating those truly interested in such change. Like Obama, for one.  Or oil company subsidies to research alternative energy while really using the money and research to sabotage such alternatives.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

In the IPS QM thread we mentioned Milan Kundera's book, which began a new thread discussion. Here are the first posts of that new thread.


Theurj, Tom, your words above reminded me of the book The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera - have you read it? It feels like it relates though tangentially to this discussion.

When we want to give expression to a dramatic situation in our lives, we tend to use metaphors of heaviness. We say that something has become a great burden to us. We either bear the burden or fail and go down with it, we struggle with it, win or lose. And Sabina-what had come over her? Nothing. She had left a man because she felt like leaving him. Had he persecuted her? Had he tried to take revenge on her? No. Her drama was a drama not of heaviness but of lightness. What fell to her lot was not the burden but the unbearable lightness of being. (part 3. chapter 10. paragraph 2)


For me that means someone who is always above it all, always aloof to life's drama, never upset, never hysterical, always calm and equanimous. Such a one, like some pure spiritual plane (perhaps even light itself), is unbearable indeed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Taibbi on Obama's dirty bank deal

Matt Taibbi does it again with this story of deep and irreparable US corruption going straight to the White House via Wall Street.  There is a deal cooked up by the Administration, the bankers and all but one of the States Attorney Generals that would let Wall Street criminals off the hook for a reported $20 billion settlement split among all the names banks. Not to mention that said banks think this figure is too much and will likely be whittled down further. The deal is but a infinitesimal fraction of the trillions made by said criminals, not to mention the bail-out money we gave them. A mere slap on the wrist for bringing the entire economy to the brink of collapse? Not only that but the settlement would protect the criminals from any further prosecution, including civil suits from defrauded pension funds and foreclosed homeowners.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

YOU can decide the next US President through participatory democracy

Icelandic citizens recently participated via social media in the drafting of a new Constitution. Now US citizens can do the same in nominating their own candidate for President at Americans Elect. I've been talking a lot about a people's revolution lately and used Iceland as one example. Here is another fine example. If you want your country not only back but moved forward here's an opportunity to participate in something innovative and groundbreaking that can really make a difference. From their website:

What if there were a better way to choose our president? Americans Elect is harnessing the power of the Internet to ask every single voter one simple question: who would you nominate in 2012?
  • You choose the issues.
  • You choose the candidates.
  • You nominate the ticket.
  • And the winner will be on the 2012 ballot in every state.

Monday, August 22, 2011

SEC covers up Wall Street Crime

Matt Taibbi appeared on Olbermann’s show  Friday night discussing his new Rolling Stone piece on this travesty of justice. It is incredible that the financial watchdogs who are supposed to police criminal behavior are destroying evidence of investigations into such activity. In one case a manager ordered the destruction of all documents related to it and then shortly thereafter took a lucrative job with the company that was under investigation. In others the SEC authorities in charge of cases used to work for the very same banks under scrutiny and again kill the cases and destroy the evidence with assurances of future, high-paying re-employment. In yet another case the SEC allowed a lawyer, hired by the company under investigation, to determine the validity of the charges, and to no surprise found no evidence. As is Taibbil’s meticulous style, he goes into names and details. And the list is staggering. When inside whistleblowers come forward in such cases they are fired or demoted.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Postmetaphysically Absolute

Balder recently forwarded to me an open access book on speculative realism called The Speculative Turn. I have since found it online at this link. I'm beginning Hagglund's chapter criticizing Meillassoux starting on p. 114. An excerpt:

"Meillassoux targets nothing less than the basic argument of Kant’s transcendental philosophy, which holds that we cannot have knowledge of the absolute. Against all forms of dogmatic metaphysics which lay claim to prove the existence of the absolute, Kant argues that there can be no cognition without the forms of time and space that undercut any possible knowledge of the absolute. The absolute would have to be exempt from time and space, whereas all we can know is given through time and space as forms of intuition. As is well known, however, Kant delimits the possibility of knowledge in order to ‘make room for faith’. By making it impossible to prove the existence of the absolute Kant also makes it impossible to refute it and thus rehabilitates the absolute as an object of faith rather than knowledge.

"In contrast, Meillassoux seeks to formulate a notion of the absolute that does not entail a return to the metaphysical and pre-critical idea of a necessary being. He endorses Kant’s critique of dogmatic metaphysics, but argues that we can develop a ‘speculative’ thinking of the absolute that does not succumb to positing a necessary being. According to Meillassoux, ‘it is absolutely necessary that every entity might not exist. This is indeed a speculative thesis, since we are thinking an absolute, but it is not metaphysical, since we are not thinking any thing (any entity) that would be absolute. The absolute is the absolute impossibility of a necessary being’. The absolute in question is the power of time. Time makes it impossible for any entity to be necessary, since the condition of temporality entails that every entity can be destroyed. It is precisely this destructibility that Meillassoux holds to be absolute: ‘only the time that harbours the capacity to destroy every determinate reality, while obeying no determinate law—the time capable of destroying, without reason or law, both words and things—can be thought as an absolute’. Armed with this notion of the absolute, Meillassoux takes contemporary philosophers to task for their concessions to religion. By renouncing knowledge of the absolute, thinkers of the ‘wholly other’ renounce the power to refute religion and give the latter free reign as long as it restricts itself to the realm of faith rather than knowledge. As Meillassoux puts it with an emphatic formulation: ‘by forbidding reason any claim to the absolute, the end of metaphysics has taken the form of an exacerbated return of the religious’"(115).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Anthropogenic climate change and its deniers

In the bid for the next US President it is not at all hard to believe that some conservatives are the only ones still denying anthropogenic climate change (ACC). Not all of them, just the most popular ones like Perry and Bachmann. Olbermann dealt with the topic on last Thursday's show. Perry for example made the claim that such climate change research is corrupted by a conspiracy in order to keep getting federal money. And yet it was Perry who took $11 million from oil companies in the last 10 years. Who is being bought off here?

Such deniers often make the spurious claim that there is legitimate dispute on ACC. But take note of this from the National Academy of Sciences:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Conservative regressive nostalgia

This clip of Rachel Maddow's show last night is illustrative of for what conservatives are nostalgic; a return to a better, more romantic America before all of this nasty governmental intervention. I say romantic because it wasn't really a better time by any standard of health, safety and human welfare. But it was better if your worldview is one where white men are in control, guns determine who is right, survivalistic barter is better than a humane safety net (or even currency, it would appear) and black people knew their place. Maddow uses the examples of Nevada conservative candidates for US Senate in the last election. First there was Sue Lowden, who envisioned a time before Medicare, where one could barter chickens for medical checkups. This was ultimately her undoing, showing the ridiculous longing of a return to medieval economic systems without mentioning how landlords at the time were actually Lords, and peasants were part of their property. After she lost out Sharron Angle suggested that if we weren't pleased with government we could return to the days of armed revolution by using “second amendment remedies.” This lunatic fiasco got her roundly defeated in the Senate race.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Autopoetic Cooperative

Check out this new cooperative organization and spread the word if you like it. This is from their Facebook page:

The Autopoetic Cooperative is a worker-owned and democratic organization committed to the open-source ethos of collaboration and knowledge-sharing.

Using permaculture design principles and applied systems theory, we aim to provide sustainably-produced foods, goods, and services in order to improve the health and resilience of the communities in which we work and live. We seek a more harmonious integration of natural, industrial, and human systems, and we want to push the limits of possibilities for sustainable and equitable wealth creation.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Metaphor as imaginative rationality

In the IPS thread on a book about polydoxy the issue of metaphor came up. Mary said the following:

There is also a way in which metaphors, representative of our own lived experiences, are "more than" comparisons and similes. Here's a quote from David Richo's Catholic Means Universal that I've found helpful (Richo is a former Catholic who now considers himself Buddhist, btw):

"Gregory Baum, in Religion and Alienation, says that 'idolotry is absolutizing the finite and elevating a part to a whole.' There are two extremes. Taking teachings literally is idolatrous. Taking them as merely metaphorical in the literary sense is reductionist. Somewhere between there is an archetypal richness that has an authentic foundation in the human psyche and in the reality of the felt world. The richness is not reached through an analyzing intellect, which will insist on choosing either literal and/or metaphorical. It is reached by contact. It is a participatory experience. It happens at the soul level, where conscious and unconscious meet and opposites reconcile. 'The spirit does not dwell in concepts but in deeds and facts,' says Jung. For instance, the Incarnation can be seen as a metaphorical way of acknowledging that supreme love becomes real only when it appears in human beings acting it out in history...."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Warren Buffet: Tax the Rich

Well duh. But apparently Congress is hard of hearing. More likely they are wearing diamond-studded ear plugs. When Warren Buffet, one of the richest men and savviest investors on the planet talks about improving the economy we should listen and listen good. We might recall from Too Big to Fail that scene where Hank Paulson is at his wits edge and who does he call? You guess it, Buffet. So what does Buffet advise?  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

There's something not right with God

A few things have been brewing in my subconscious since posing some excerpts from Hagglund's response to Caputo. Please reference it for my comments to follow.

After reading Hagglund's response to Caputo I realized he articulated something nagging at me with Caputo, much as I appreciate him: God. I can go along with Caputo on a lot, even faith, but I just cannot stomach God, even postmetaphysical varieties. Like the first excerpt, that Caputo ties faith to the "unscathed" absolute good, reminding me of my critique of "spirituality" as something metaphysically set apart from the mundane. I'm interested in this idea of faith without God so Haggland might have something to offer me in his interpretation of Derrida in this regard.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Texas Governor leads army of god toward the White House

Let's take a look at Rick Perry, the new conservative candidate for President of the US, the current Texas Governor. He held a prayer event in Houston this past weekend, as if prayer could do something to change our political system or solve our economic problems. As a Texas resident I recall he also recently noted that we needed to pray for rain to combat a terrible drought. The drought continues and the political climate still sucks. So much for prayer.

But the fact that he crosses the line and mixes church and state or believes in magical thinking toward a sky god pales in comparison to the group with which he collaborated for the recent Houston prayer event. Rachel Maddow is highlighting this story from the Texas Observer. Neither I nor Maddow are prone to conspiracy theories because they often have little to no basis in fact. And yet check out the clips from leaders of the New Apolstolic Reformation. This is astounding religious lunacy and fanaticism, and their chosen representative to lead God's army is Rick Perry. And it seems Perry is honored to play his part in infiltrating government on a mission from God backed by the NAR.

Wisconsin victories significant

While it is true that the Wisconsin recall elections failed to win the 3 Senate seats necessary to gain control, and while the conservatives therefore spin this as a “loss,” don’t be fooled. This is a major victory against the conservative agenda instituted by Governor Walker and his legislative cronies. Robert Creamer notes the immense ground gained by the recalls as follows. The 6 recalls on Tuesday were in heavily conservative districts, and that the Dems won 2 of the 6 is indicative of a huge swing. A third race against Alberta Darling, Walker’s darling rubber stamper, was quite close. That is was this close despite the millions spent by Darling and her financiers is astounding.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Comments on downgrade and market

Tom replied over at IPS to my post about the S&P downgrade and market crash. Read his post for some insightful analysis. I responded to him in part below, his comments in italics.

The option not bargained in the debt deal is the only eventual cuts to domestic spending for tax increases.

You say the Dems can convince the Reps to agree to this because if they don't the automatic cuts to further spending, including military spending, will kick in. Yet tax increases, or even closing tax loopholes and ridiculous subsidies, was forbidden on the conservative side from the beginning and why we got the shitty deal we did. You really think 1) the Dems will grow balls that fast and 2) the Repubs will shrink theirs? There has been no evidence of either to date.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

S&P downgrades US debt yet Treasuries soar?

So S&P downgrades our debt rating, and US Treasuries are what we sell to finance our debt, so one might assume the downgrade was a statement on our ability to pay on the debt held by those invested in Treasuries? No, that would be too sensible. Yes, the stock market crashed again yesterday but there was a heavy influx of investment into Treasuries, not out of them. It is still the safest and most trusted bet in the marketplace, investing in the US's ability to pay on its debt. So what then is the downgrade all about if not that? Is S&P credible to judge on something that is not about the actual debt? Or even a credible rating agency at all, given their AAA rating of the toxic mortage-backed securities that caused the last crash? And why the market crash and simultaneous investment into US debt?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Michael Moore on the day the middle class died

Moore says it best so I'll let him speak, from his 8/5/11 blog:


From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, "When did this all begin, America's downward slide?" They say they've heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent's income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how "lowly" your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated.

Bill Maher on a liberal Tea Party counterpart

I watch Real Time "religulously" every week and last Friday he did a New Rules sketch on having something akin to the Tea Party on the liberal side. It is in part where I'm getting my notion of having principled progressive representatives to counter the Tea Party. He denigrates them as crazy and humorously suggests we elect Democrates equally as crazy to combat them. He suggest they be called the Donner Party, since they'd rather eat their own than give in. As Maher is always complaining about spineless Democrats I think the hyperbole is intended to elect a strong liberal faction that sticks to their principles,* like the Tea Party which doesn't back down and compromise. He appreciates their steadfastness but detests their policy and only wishes liberals would have more of the former.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Change from within the political system?

I quickly skimmed the posts from Eco-Transitions since 6/5, reading a few sections here and there. It seems the bottom line is that effective transition to the "next-step economy" must come from those within the existing business and political structures through individual "changes in consciousness." And that this will have to happen in transition stages over a long period. Arnsperger does though realize that to do so within the system has the high likelihood of being corrupted by that system, much like freshly minted lawyers start their first job believing in truth and justice and are quickly disabused of such pipe dreams. And that there will be those within the system who will use the language of the new ecopreneurs to maintain the status quo by rhetorically manipulating those truly interested in such change. Like Obama, for one.  Or oil company subsidies to research alternative energy while really using the money and research to sabotage such alternatives.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hägglund's response to Caputo

See Caputo's comments at this link. Here are excerpts from Hagglund's response:

"We can thus understand why Derrida insists on a distinction between faith, on the one hand, and the religious ideal of absolute immunity (the unscathed) on the other. The two are usually conflated in the notion of religious faith, which is understood as the faith in an absolute good that is safe from the corruption of evil. Drawing on his logic of radical evil, however, Derrida reads the religious ideal of absolute immunity against itself. To have faith in the good is not to have faith in something that can be trusted once and for all. On the contrary, the good is autoimmune because evil is inherent in its own constitution. As Derrida emphasizes, there is 'nothing immune, safe and sound, heilig and holy, nothing unscathed in the most autonomous living present without a risk of autoimmunity.' The argument here—articulated in Derrida's main essay on religion, 'Faith and Knowledge'—is that the very movement of sacralization is contradicted from within by a constitutive autoimmunity. To hold something to be sacred is to seek to immunize it, to protect it from being violated or corrupted. Yet one cannot protect anything without committing it to a future that allows it to live on and by the same token exposes it to corruption” (132).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tea Party lessons

Jon Stewart is bewildered by the winners of the debt “debate,” the Tea Party. Their intransigence led to trillions of dollars in cuts with no revenue so you’d think they be basking in their glory. But noooo. Many of them voted against it because it wasn't draconian enough! And yet a large contributor to the deficit was maintaining the Bush tax cuts on corporations and the wealthy, which cuts they supported. Stewart correctly understands that they’re not happy because government still exists. We still have traffic lights, those evil controls on our “freedom.”

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Olbermann on the sellout

Keith Olbermann's special comment on Monday points out the 4 hypocrisies in the debt ceiling deal. And all of it due to a self-created “crisis” unprecedented in US history for political gamesmanship. The debt was run up by a prior President spending wildly on wars, all of which was approved without a peep by the very same conservatives now crying about the problem. Meanwhile some credit the President for compromising with these jackals, but this only further reinforces that whatever principles he espouses with effective rhetoric are empty of political fact.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Surrender on the debt ceilling

Paul Krugman is adamant that what the President and the Dems did was capitulate completely yet again to the fanatical Tea Party extremists. And of course he's right. And worst of all it was further debilitate an already anemic economic recovery, and likely send it back into another recession. Which is exactly the goal of the conservative plan. The myth that increased spending cuts are somehow magically going to instill business and consumer confidence to the point of a turnaround has been proven a failed policy for so many years now that anyone still clinging to this ideology surely has lost any credibility with those with "half their brains tied behind their backs," to steal a line for one of those half-wits.