Thursday, December 15, 2005
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
'I miss the old days when people would say that the reductio of consequentialism was that is could be used to justify torture.'
the appropriately named Krauthammer :
Question: If you have the slightest belief that hanging this man by his thumbs will get you the information to save a million people, are you permitted to do it?
Now, on most issues regarding torture, I confess tentativeness and uncertainty. But on this issue, there can be no uncertainty: Not only is it permissible to hang this miscreant by his thumbs. It is a moral duty.
What does it mean to "break" an individual? As the French essayist Michel de Montaigne once commented, and Shakespeare echoed, even the greatest philosophers have difficulty thinking clearly when they have a toothache. These wise men were describing the inescapable frailty of the human experience, mocking the claims of some seers to be above basic human feelings and bodily needs. If that frailty is exposed by a toothache, it is beyond dispute in the case of torture. The infliction of physical pain on a person with no means of defending himself is designed to render that person completely subservient to his torturers. It is designed to extirpate his autonomy as a human being, to render his control as an individual beyond his own reach. That is why the term "break" is instructive. Something broken can be put back together, but it will never regain the status of being unbroken--of having integrity. When you break a human being, you turn him into something subhuman. You enslave him. This is why the Romans reserved torture for slaves, not citizens, and why slavery and torture were inextricably linked in the antebellum South.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Friday, December 09, 2005
...So it should be clear that, contrary to the apparent practice of "essentialists", to find out what is essential to a given kind of thing is not a matter of personal intuitions, but rather a matter of experience, indeed, of scientific experiments, putting the thing in "abnormal" circumstances, making it interact with other things (after all, as St. Thomas says, the nature of the thing is the principle of its proper operation), precisely the way modern science investigates the nature of things. So modern science in no way needs to undermine Aristotelian essentialism. On the contrary, if we manage to recover the adequate conceptual framework of traditional essentialism in the broadest, formal semantical terms, modern science can in principle just as well be integrated into the project of the traditional metaphysical enterprise, studying the first principles of being qua being, as Aristotelian science could. All in all, it seems that the time is ripe for a radical recovery of our lost metaphysical tradition, yet this is possible only through recovering the language in which it is properly conveyed, uniting the formal rigor of contemporary logical techniques with the metaphysical vigor of the pre-modern tradition.
Friday, December 02, 2005
But it's not quite the same as the first time round. Take The Game's album; The Documentary. It's got all the west coast trademarks - vaguely menacing beats, superb production, all the nihilism you could want etc. But The Game is very aware of himself as the latest tradition of west coast gangstas and he just won't shut up about it. So on the one hand, this give the album some sort of, I don't know, dramatic weight. On the other hand, this vitiates the immediacy of the whole business - after all, one of the attractions of the genre was that it was a sort of direct expression of what a particularly unattractive way of life was like.
Anyhow, it's worth a listen.