The most positive thing I can think to say about Sarah Palin with regards to her capacity as a public figure is that she is very good at feeding red meat to certain elements of the party base. I tried hard to think of something nice to say about her. I failed. If we extend the conversation to her personal life, there are a few things I do find admirable about her. But I'm not so certain that those things are pertinent to public office.
I started writing a summary of the lecture I attended last Friday on the creation and transformation of metaphysics as a science in late antiquity. The easy part was the actual summary. The hard part is trying to explicate why anyone would care. One of the challenges for me in a history of philosophy program like the one at Catholic University is understanding why so many philosophers care/cared/will care about issues that make me want to say ``Who gives a $%&@#?'' While the lecture was extremely interesting to me, while trying to summarize the argument that had been made, I found myself wondering ``who, if anyone, on the Internet is going to read this and think that the time spent reading it was worthwhile?''
I really liked this NY Times article on ugliness. It had a couple of really good points like one from a Cornell professor, ``Because of successful identity politics, people have come to identify profoundly with other kinds of groups `I am a Jew,' or `a French person.' But it’s not likely with `I am an ugly person and let’s have a meeting of all ugly people.''' They also quoted one of my favorite living authors, Umberto Eco, who apparently recently published a book on the history of ugly that escaped my notice. They quoted the introduction.
In every century, philosophers and artists have supplied definitions of beauty, and thanks to their works it is possible to reconstruct a history of aesthetic ideas over time. But this did not happen with ugliness. Most of the time it was defined as the opposite of beauty but almost no one ever devoted a treatise of any length to ugliness, which was relegated to passing mentions in marginal works.
I've read some of Eco's nonfiction before. His book on writing, Postscript to the Name of the Rose is a fantastic reflection on the writing process and a book I'd recommend to anyone who wants to learn to write good fiction. (Anyone who can already write good fiction is probably beyond most of the content.) The collected essays debating belief in God between Eco and Cardinal Martini, Belief or Nonbelief? was also entertaining if less substantial than I had hoped. On Ugliness looks very interesting.
Over at the NY Times Krugman and Brooks are both advocating for a Keyenesian stimulus package rather than just sending out more money in the hopes that consumers will spend it rather than paying down debt or plopping it into savings. It's a bit odd to see Brooks and Krugman on the same side of any given issue.
It seems to me that Libertarians are reduced to making the same move that Communists were making back in the late eighties. Oh, but that wasn't really a free market that caused this crisis.
Speaking of libertarianism, more problems with the suggestion that negative rights never conflict hit me while out on my morning run. I need to spend more time developing the idea but it seems to me that property (specifically title to property taken from the commons) and pregnancy are two situations where negative rights are in conflict. The former is most acute for libertarians that adopt something like a Lockean theory of property which, presumably, is not essential to libertarianism although it does seem to me to be enormously prevalent in libertarian circles. The latter, it seems to me, presents an insurmountable obstacle to the idea that negative rights are never in conflict.
Towards the beginning of the week I clocked in at 180lbs. I'm nt certain why. Frustrated, I ate half a cheesecake for breakfast the next day and had as many servings for dinner as I pleased. The next day I was down to 176. Go figure.
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