High-spin states in the odd-odd N = Z nucleus Co-54 have been investigated by the fusion-evaporation reaction Si-28(S-32,1 alpha 1p1n)Co-54. Gamma-ray information gathered with the Ge detector array Gammasphere was correlated with evaporated particles detected in the charged particle detector system Microball and a 1 pi neutron detector array. A significantly extended excitation scheme of Co-54 is presented, which includes a candidate for the isospin T = 1, 6(+) state of the 1f(7/2)(-2) multiplet. The results are compared to large-scale shell-model (...) calculations in the fp shell. Effective interactions with and without isospin-breaking terms have been used to probe isospin symmetry and isospin mixing. A quest for deformed high-spin rotational cascades proved negative. This feature is discussed by means of cranking calculations. (shrink)
Burns, C. R. Introduction.--Antiquity: Margalith, D. The ideal doctor as depicted in ancient Hebrew writings. Edelstein, L. The Hippocratic oath. Edelstein, L. The professional ethics of the Greek physician. Michler, M. Medical ethics in Hippocratic bone surgery. Maas, P. L., Oliver, J. H. An ancient poem on the duties of a physician.--The medieval era: Levey, M. Medical deontology in ninth century Islam. Bar-Sela, A., Hoff, H. E. Isaac Israeli's fifty admonitions of the physicians. Rosner, F. The physician's prayer attributed to (...) Moses Maimonides. MacKinney, L. C. Medical ethics and etiquette in the early middle ages, the persistence of Hippocratic ideals. Welborn, M. C. The long tradition, a study in fourteenth-century medical deontology.--The modern period: Larkey, S. V. The Hippocratic oath in Elizabethan England. Pleadwell, F. L. Samuel Sorbiere and his Advice to a young physician. Clark, G. Bernard Mandeville, M.D., and eighteenth-century ethics. Burns, C. R. Thomas Percival, medical ethics or medical jurisprudence? Burns, C. R. Reciprocity in the development of Anglo-American medical ethics, 1765-1865. Williams, T. F. Cabot, Peabody, and the care of the patient. (shrink)
Johnstone, H. W., Jr. Rhetoric and communication in philosophy.--Smith, C. R. and Douglas, D. G. Philosophical principles in the traditional and emerging views of rhetoric.--Wallace, K. R. Bacon's conception of rhetoric.--Thonssen, L. W. Thomas Hobbes's philosophy of speech.--Walter, O. M., Jr. Descartes on reasoning.--Douglas, D. G. Spinoza and the methodology of reflective knowledge in persuasion.--Howell, W. S. John Locke and the new rhetoric.--Doering, J. F. David Hume on oratory.--Douglas, D. G. A neo-Kantian approach to the epistomology of judgment in criticism.--Bevilacqua, (...) V. M. Lord Kames's theory of rhetoric.--Brockriede, W. E. Bentham's philosophy of rhetoric.--Anderson, R. E. Kierkegaard's theory of communication.--Macksoud, S. J. Ludwig Wittgenstein, radical operationism and rhetorical stance.--Stewart, J. J. L. Austin's speech act analysis.--Torrence, D. L. A philosophy of rhetoric from Bertrand Russell.--Clark, A. Martin Buber, dialogue, and the philosophy of rhetoric.--Bennett, W. Kenneth Burke--a philosophy in defense of un-reason.--Dearin, R. D. The philosophical basis of Chaim Perelman's theory of rhetoric. (shrink)
Preface, by N. Foerster.--The pretensions of science, by L. T. More.--Humanism: an essay at definition, by I. Babbitt.--The humility of common sense, by P. E. More.--The pride of modernity, by G. R. Elliott.--Religion without humanism, by T. S. Eliot.--The plight of our arts, by F. J. Mather, Jr.--The dilemma of modern tragedy, by A. R. Thompson.--An American tragedy, by R. Shafer.--Pandora's box in American fiction, by H. H. Clark.--Dionysus in dismay, by S. P. Chase.--Our critical spokesmen, by G. B. (...) Munson.--Behaviour and continuity, by B. Bandler, II.--The well of discipline, by S. B. Gass.--Courage and education, by R. L. Brown.--A list of books (p. 291-294). (shrink)
An earlier studyThe civil rights movement of the early 1960s and urban revolts of the mid-1960s led to legal system responses during the early 1970s. Federal courts ordered public school districts to draw up and implement desegregation plans. In 1975 James Coleman argued that courtordered public school desegregation was self-defeating because it led to massive withdrawal of whites from public schools. He based his argument on his own quantitative social research findings, and presented it in six papers, media interviews and (...) articles, court affidavits, and Congressional testimony. A 1976 university circuit journal article by Thomas F. Pettigrew and Robert L. Green criticized Coleman's 1975 research and transmission.Pettigrew and Green argued that press reports of Coleman's work contained distortions for at least four reasons. First, Coleman began his media campaign four months before offering other university circuit researchers any technical details of research findings. Second, he constantly changed those technical details during the course of his eightmonth media campaign. Third, there was “consistent confusion between Coleman's personal opinions and his research findings.” T. F. Pettigrew and R. L. Green, “School Desegregation in Large Cities: A Critique of the Coleman ‘White Flight’ Thesis,” Harvard Educational Review, 46: 1 (February 1976), 51. Finally, quantitative social researchers had little experience in dealing with the media and “within the news media, social science has yet to be elevated to the status of a regular, specialized ‘beat’.”Ibid., 52.Some of the reasons Pettigrew and Green provide for the distorted diffusion of Coleman's work resemble my explanations for the distorted transmission of Seattle-Denver findings. For example, Seattle-Denver researchers changed marital events findings and later models just as Coleman changed technical details. But Seattle-Denver merely updated findings and altered a model assumption that the updates suggested was false while Coleman radically redesigned his research for no apparent reason. Also, newspapers not having a specialized “beat” resembles my explanation that university and popular circuit life-worlds differ. But whereas newspapers could add a “beat,” how to alter life-world differences between circuits is less clear.The reasons Pettigrew and Green offer for distortion center on Coleman's breaches of standard quantitative social research practice. He brought findings to the media without prior peer review, radically redesigned his research for no apparent reason, and explicitly interjected his political opinions into his reported findings. Seattle-Denver researchers committed no clear breaches of standard practice, but distorted transmission of their findings occurred nonetheless. Thus while breaches of standard practice may explain some distortion in Coleman's case, my account suggests that such distortion generally has deeper origins.Reduced distortion in Seattle-DenverPettigrew and Green conclude by raising Foucault's question of the responsibility of those who write: “we firmly believe that social science can and should influence public-policy issues on which it can responsibly bring research and theory to bear.” Ibid., 52. How could the Seattle-Denver university circuit researchers have brought their research to bear more responsibly on the public-policy issue of whether or not there should be an NIT? My account suggests the researchers' lapses of responsibility were of two sorts. First, they failed to consider adequately the limited capacity of research techniques available now to answer their questions. Second, they paid insufficient attention to the political origins of those questions. The Seattle-Denver researchers should have conducted a complete sensitivity analysis of each of their findings to simultaneous attrition, self-selection, and subject-reporting biases. For the marital events findings, the complete sensitivity analysis also should have covered simultaneous reconciliation and transiency biases. Each journal article and working paper that presented findings should have contained the full results of such a sensitivity analysis. When a paper updated earlier findings it should have subjected the updated, not earlier, findings to sensitivity analysis. Had the researchers taken these simple steps most of the initial state distortion in the transmission of their findings would have disappeared.In the late 1960s liberals such as Moynihan and conservatives such as Long understood an NIT as income redistribution toward the poor in response to their revolt's pressure. Moynihan sincerely hoped an NIT would strengthten poor family stability, but also sought to use that hope as a pitch with which to sell an NIT's income redistribution toward the poor and thus restore social peace. Long sincerely feared an NIT would lead masses of the poor to stop working, but also sought to use that fear to block an NIT's income redistribution toward the poor. By 1978, however, tax revolt pressure not to redistribute income toward the poor was replacing the subsided pressure of the poor's revolt. My summary of Moynihan's view of an NIT comes largely from D. P. Moynihan, The Politics of a Guaranteed Income (New York: Vintage, 1973) - e.g. 185, 216-217, and 242-243.Addressing Moynihan, the Seattle-Denver researchers should have said only that eight years of careful inquiry with the best available statistical methods had provided no reason to believe that an NIT would strenghten poor family stability. Addressing Long, the researchers should have said only that eight years of careful inquiry with the best available econometric methods had provided no reason to suppose that an NIT would lead masses of the poor to stop working. Such testimony would have answered the questions the political debate had raised without going further than the weaknesses in the researchers' methods responsibly allow. And such cautious and conservative testimony would have left little room for distortion in transmission.Cautious and conservative testimony also might have forced honesty and responsibility into the political debate. Such testimony would have shorn liberals of their family stability sales pitch for, and conservatives of their work reduction fear-mongering against, an NIT. The debate could then have focused on how much if any income redistribution toward the poor the body politic wanted to undertake and which if any social classes would be forced to provide the income. Instead, the researchers' testimony gave Congress “scientific” justification for scrapping an NIT and joining the nascent executive branch retreat, in the face of rising tax revolt pressure, from income redistribution toward the poor.Emerging self-reflectionMy life-world explanation noted that one source of distorted transmission of Seattle-Denver findings was the researchers' shared background assumption that they practiced a science akin to physics or biology. In developing his life-world notion Habermas argues: The life-world is that remarkable thing that dissolves and disappears before our eyes as soon as we try to take it up piece by piece. The life-world functions in relation to processes of communication as a resource for what goes into explicit expression. But the moment this background knowledge enters communicative expression, where it becomes explicit knowledge and thereby subject to criticism, it loses precisely those characteristics by virtue of which it belonged to the life-world structures: certainty, background character, impossibility of being gone behind. Honneth, Knodler-Bunte, and Widmann, “Dialectics,” 16-17.Suppose Habermas's argument is correct and my life-world explanation of distortion generalizes to other instances of quantitative social research diffusion. Then by critically examining the background assumption that it practices science, the quantitative social research community could reduce distortion in transmission of its work. Such a literature of self-reflection does indeed appear to be emerging.A 1968 article by Bill Alonso offers early critical self-reflection: “avoid as far as possible models which proceed by chains” because errors “will compound through the operations of the model, as the dependent variables of one step in the chain become the ‘exogeneous’ inputs into the next step.” W. Alonso, “Predicting Best With Imperfect Data,” American Institute of Planners Journal, (July 1968), 252. For example, in Seattle-Denver “normal income for each family was estimated judgmentally because of the absence of any reliable models to make the assignment.”B. A. Muraka and R. G. Spiegelman, Sample Selection in the Seattle and Denver Income Maintenance Experiments (Menlo Park, California: Center for the Study of Welfare Policy, SRI International, Technical Memorandum 1, 1978), 35. Then normal income became an input in estimating change in hours-worked and change in hours-worked became an input in estimating the cost of a national NIT. Hence the cost estimate contained error compounded from the original errors of judgmentally estimated normal income. Recent articles by Ed Leamer and other econometricians question standard practices of quantitative social research. ... disorganized studies of fragility are inefficient, haphazard, and confusing. ... What we need instead are organized sensitivity analyses. We must insist that all empirical studies offer convincing evidence of inferential sturdiness. We need to be shown that minor changes in the list of variables do not alter fundamentally the conclusions, nor does a slight reweighting of observations, nor correction for dependence among observations, etcetera, etcetera.... Normally, this experimentation is limited to a small subset of the possible models that could have been estimated. Suppose instead that we consider the whole continuum of models....E. E. Learner, “Sensitivity Analyses Would Help,” American Economic Review, 75:3 (June 1985), 308-309. Learner refers to other recent articles which question empirical econometric practice.So Leamer calls for future empirical studies to include systematic analysis of the sensitivity of findings to inclusion of variables, weighting of observations, choice of models, and other researcher data analytic decisions. Seattle-Denver studies included no such systematic analysis of findings to researcher data analytic decisions. For example, the marital-events research included no systematic analysis of findings to inclusion of variables, weighting of observations, rate definition, reconciliation noncounting, and choice of a model with no transiency effect.Recent articles by statisticians explore the connection between random assignment and cause and effect conclusions. In one such article, “regarding large sample significance tests, the usual statistical procedures are shown to be conservative.” J. B. Copas, “Randomization Models For the Matched and Unmatched 2 × 2 Tables,” Biometrika, 60: 3 (1973), 468. That is, p-values in random assignment studies may understate cause and effect relations. I argued that random assignment studies of human social behavior may overstate cause and effect relations because of attrition, self-selection, and subject-reporting biases. Hence the connection between random assignment and social cause and effect relations is weaker than many believed when the income maintenance experiments began. Statisticians have even asked philosophers to help explore the connection further.Paul W. Holland (and commenters), “Statistics and Causal Inference,” Journal of the American Statistical Association, 396 (December 1986) contains a survey of recent articles that explore the connection between random assignment and cause and effect conclusions, and also includes an invited comment by the philosopher Clark Glymour.Critical reflection on their techniques' limitations by econometricians, sociometricians, and statisticians should reduce future initial state transmission distortion of their empirical findings. One hopes those researchers' critical reflections will become a part of the academic curriculum. For example, a seminar on the limitations of statistical techniques taught jointly by quantitative social researchers and philosophers might become required of all social “science,” journalism, and law students. Such curriculum reform should eventually lessen differences in background assumptions in the different circuits' lifeworlds and so further reduce future distortion in transmission of quantitative social research findings. Consider finally the following passage: In order to design a bridge an engineer must have the assurance that, if he follows certain formulas dealing with gravitational stresses and the strength of materials, his bridge will hold. He must be able to predict physical events. That he has such an assurance and ability the entire science of building engineering will attest. Now one circumstance alone has made this prediction possible, — the fact that natural events, in the realm of bridge-construction, operate in a fairly orderly and predictable manner. We have laws of physics. Similarly, an industrial chemist works out formulas upon the basis of which managers plan large scale operations and investments. Such planning depends upon the possibility of reliable prediction; and this prediction, in turn, rests upon the fact that there are such things as laws of chemistry. A medical director lays plans for public sanitation which are of the greatest social value. This, again, is possible only because he can predict, according to certain laws, the course of the propagation of micro-organisms. In every field of natural science we find that the ability to plan depends upon our ability to predict, and prediction, in turn, is possible only because events happen, in that field, according to fairly definite and universal laws. But how about the field of social science? What broad and precise societal laws have been discovered upon which intelligent social prediction and planning can be based? To this question the labors of social scientists have, in general, returned a baffling answer: There are none. Events in society, depending as they do on so many, continually shifting circumstances, simply do not fit themselves into any orderly and predictable array. A few rough generalizations there are, to be sure; but most of these are either too vague to apply, or they foretell only what will happen under conditions of a highly specific sort, so that, in our ignorance of when or where these conditions will obtain, our attempt at prediction is practically worthless. Such social or economic “laws” as we possess will never enable us to plan a structure which, like the bridge of the engineer, will do its work unaltered through change and storm. F. H. Allport, “The Dilemmas of Social Planning,” chapter 14 from Institutional Behavior (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1933), 287-288.So, for example, Seattle-Denver researchers gathered data during a period of rising divorce rates and widespread revolt against work. Once divorce rates leveled off and social tastes and preferences for laboring returned to a hard work ethic, Seattle-Denver's findings on maritalstability and hours-worked reductions probably became overestimates of what to expect from an NIT's introduction. So the passage, written by a social theorist in 1933, contains lessons on the limitations of our techniques that many of us quantitative social researchers have yet to learn. (shrink)
This paper challenges both the traditional view of L. Stephen and E. Albee that Bentham's attitude towards religion was irrelevant to his moral and political thought, and the revisionist critique of J.C.D. Clark and J.E. Crimmins that his religious radicalism was the prerequisite for his political radicalism. It also challenges the two further claims advanced by Crimmins: first, that Bentham was an atheist; and second, that he wished to eliminate religion from the mind. In contrast it is argued that (...) Bentham's theory of logic and language lay at the foundation of his thought. His religious radicalism was therefore not the prerequisite for his political radicalism, but rather one aspect of it. Moreover, Bentham never committed himself to atheism, and advocated religious freedom rather than any form of enforced belief or non-belief. It is suggested that unless historians recognize the centrality and originality of Bentham's theory of logic and language, they will fail to explain adequately the emergence of his distinctively utilitarian political radicalism. (shrink)
Before there was the digital divide there was the analog divide– and universal service was the attempt to close that analogdivide. Universal service is becoming ever more complex in terms ofregulatory design as it becomes the digital divide. In order to evaluatethe promise of the next generation Internet with respect to the digitaldivide this work looks backwards as well as forwards in time. Byevaluating why previous universal service mechanisms failed andsucceeded this work identifies specific characteristics ofcommunications systems – in particular (...) in billing and managinguncertainty – and argues that these characteristics underliesuccess or failure in terms of technological ubiquity. Developing a setof characteristics of services rather than a set of services is afundamental break with the tradition of universal service. In fact, theimplications of our proposal is that basic characteristics in theoffering of the service rather than the absolute price are critical toclose the digital divide: certainty of total charge, ability to avoiddeposits or disconnection via best effort service, and payer-basedcontrol of all charges. While all of these principles sound obvious infact none of these hold in the telephony network. Universal service hasevolved from common carriage (serve all with no discrimination) to aright to basic services (100% penetration). Universal service isnow discussed as the digital divide, as the access to information asopposed to services becomes increasingly critical. However, we arediscussing in this paper access to the bits and the network rather thanaccess to the information (or intellectual property) once connected. Theprovision of universal service is seen as a technical problem only in thatthe technology costs money – universal service debates have longbeen the domain of economists. Yet the design of protocols has been thedomain of engineers, the building of systems the corporate domain, andthe discussion of equity the interest of ethicists. The design ofprotocols can define the parameters of the corporate decision-makers,the variables of the economist, and the questions for the ethicist. Thedesign decisions made at the fundamental levels can make communicationsequity more or less likely. In this work I focus on the design ofprotocols for the next generation Internet, protocols which willfundamentally change the best-effort nature of Internet services.Building on the economic and ethnographic work of others I argue thatthe effects of protocols adoption on universal service can be predictedto some degree. By examination of past and current technologies Iexamine a set of technical mechanisms to determine how such mechanismsmight harm or enhance universal service. I define each mechanism (e.g.denial of entry) and offer observations about each particularmechanism''s implicit pricing assumptions. I close with a discussion ofinterest to ethicists and regulators on evaluating communicationsprotocols with respect to universal access. Protocols for developingmultiple qualities of service for packet-switched networks have focusedon economic efficiency (e.g. Mackie-Mason, 1995; Choi, Stahl &Winston, 1997; Shapiro & Varian, 1998), billing to encouragewidespread adoption of network innovations (e.g. Xie & Sirbu, 1985)and billing in a manner consistent with the underlying network (e.g.Clark, 1996). Here we examine a set of protocols which include varyingquality of service mechanisms with respect to the compatibility of theprotocols with universal access. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Consensus has it that Putnam-Burge style arguments for content-externalism do not strengthen the case for vehicle-externalism, i.e., the thesis that some mental states include as their parts notebooks, iPhones, and other extra-bodily phenomena. Rowlands and Sprevak, among others, argue that vehicle-externalism gets stronger support from Clark and Chalmers’s parity principle and functionalism, generally. I contest this assessment and thereby give reason to reconsider the support that content-externalism provides the extended mind thesis: although content-externalism does not entail vehicle-externalism, as (...) Rowlands argues, neither does functionalism. The functionalist cannot reject the content-externalist argument for vehicle-externalism on these grounds without undercutting her own. (shrink)
continent. 2.2 (2012): 76–81 Comments on Eugene Thacker’s “Cosmic Pessimism” Nicola Masciandaro Anything you look forward to will destroy you, as it already has. —Vernon Howard In pessimism, the first axiom is a long, low, funereal sigh. The cosmicity of the sigh resides in its profound negative singularity. Moving via endless auto-releasement, it achieves the remote. “ Oltre la spera che piú larga gira / passa ’l sospiro ch’esce del mio core ” [Beyond the sphere that circles widest / penetrates (...) the sigh that issues from my heart]. 1 The axiomatic sigh of the pessimist is in a way the pure word of philosophy, a thought that thinks without you, speaks where you are not. The live pneumatic form of the soul’s eventual exit from the dead body’s mouth, the sigh restores consciousness to the funeral of being, to the passing away that is existence. Pessimism speaks in piercing aphorisms because first it sighs. “Beyond the sphere passeth the arrow of our sigh. Hafiz! Silence.” 2 … pessimism is guilty of that most inexcusable of Occidental crimes—the crime of not pretending it’s for real. To the pessimist, the ‘real’ world—the world on whose behalf we are expected to wake up in the morning—is a ceaseless index of its own unreality. The pessimist’s day is not an illumined space for the advancement of experience and action, but a permanently and inescapably reflective zone, the vast interior of a mirror where each thing is only insofar as it is, at best, a false image of itself. Within this speculative situation, inside the doubleness of the mirror, pessimism splits into two paths, false and true, one that tries to fix pessimism (establish a relation with the mirror) and decides in favor of the apparent real, and another that totally falls for pessimism (enters the mirror) and communes with the greater reality of the unreal. These two paths are distinguished by their relation to pessimism’s guilt vis-à-vis the world’s reality-project. The first form, that which remains pessimism for the world and puts on a smiling face, stays guilty to itself (i.e. unconscious) and thus turns hypocritical, becoming at once the pessimism of the commoner who really just wants things to be better for himself and the pessimism of the elite who wants to critically refashion reality in his own image. The general form of this worldly, hypocritical pessimism is the impulse to ‘make the world a better place’, which is the global mask under which the world is diurnally made worse. The second form, that which follows pessimism away from the world and ceases to put on a smiling face, refuses guiltiness as itself theessential Occidental mode of pretense and turns honest, becoming at once the intelligent pessimism required of all ordinary action and the radical pessimism necessary for self-knowledge: seeing that no one is capable of doing good. The general form of this universal, honest pessimism is the impulse not to worry, to give up and embrace dereliction, which is the only real way the world is actually improved. Where worldly pessimism is the engine productive of interminably warring secular and sacred religions (good-projects), universal pessimism strives hopelessly for the paradise of a supremely instantiated pessimus: things are getting so bad that there is no longer any time for them to get worse; things are so constantly-instantly worst that this is BEST. Cosmic pessimism is the mode of universal pessimism which can yet discourse with the world, which has not chosen silence and can spread the inconceivably BAD NEWS in an orderly form ( kosmos ) that the world can understand (if it wanted to). … the result of a confusion between the world and a statement about the world. That is what the world is (the result of a confusion between the world and a statement about the world). … a generalized misanthropy without the anthropos. Pessimism crystallizes around this futility—it is its amor fati , rendered as musical form. Pessimism’s love of fate is a blind love, a love of the blindness of being human in a cosmos conceived around the human’s eclipse, a heavy levitation in the contradictory space between the inescapability of its having been and the impossibility of its will-be. Pessimism’s song of futility is a sensible way of loving fate, with a minimum of eros, by means of a kind of matrimonial love of the fatal. As music, pessimism stays open to the irreparable and the inexorable without the binding of affirmation, in the apparent absence of the radical, infinitely surplus will that absolute amor fati seems to require. Crying, laughing, sleeping—what other responses are adequate to a life that is so indifferent? “Unless a man aspires to the impossible, the possible that he achieves will scarcely be worth the trouble of his achieving it. We should aspire to the impossible, to absolute and infinite perfection [….] The apocatastasis is more than a mystical dream: it is a norm of action, it is a beacon for high deeds [….] For true charity is a species of invasion [….] It is not charity to rock and lull our fellow men to sleep in the inertia and heaviness of matter, but rather to arouse them to anguish and torment of spirit.” 3 … the impossibility of ever adequately accounting for one’s relationship to thought. “The paroxysm of interior experience leads you to regions where danger is absolute, because life which self-consciously actualizes its roots in experience can only negate itself [….] There are no arguments [….] On the heights of despair, the passion for the absurd is the only thing that can still throw a demonic light on chaos [….] I live because the mountains do not laugh and the worms do not sing .” 4 It took three attempts before she was fully decapitated, all the while she continued, perhaps miraculously, to sing. According to the earliest account of Cecilia’s martyrdom, the beheading turns out worse. After not severing her head in three strokes, “the cruel executioner left her half dead” (seminecem eam cruentus carnifex dereliquit). 5 Cecilia’s effortlessly powerful endurance of the three strokes—a fitting icon for pessimism as an art of dereliction—demonstrates the “passivity and absence of effort [….] in which divine transcendence is dissolved.” 6 There’s a ghost that grows inside of me, damaged in the making, and there’s a hunt sprung from necessity, elliptical and drowned. Where the moving quiet of our insomnia offers up each thought, there’s a luminous field of grey inertia, and obsidian dreams burnt all the way down. Like words from a pre-waking dream. There is no reason to think that they are not. NOTES 1. Dante Alighieri. Vita Nuova . ed. and trans. Dino S. Cervigni and Edward Vasta. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. 1995. 41:10. 2. Hafiz of Shiraz. The Divan . trans. H. Wilberforce Clarke. London: Octagon Press. 1974. 10.9. 3. Miguel de Unamuno. The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and Nations . trans. Anthony Kerrigan. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1972. 305-6. 4. E.M. Cioran. On the Heights of Despair . trans. Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1992. 9-10. 5. Giacomo Laderchi. S. Caeciliae Virg[inis] et Mart[yris] Acta. . . Rome. 1723. 38. 6. Georges Bataille. On Nietzsche . trans. Bruce Boone. London: Continuum. 2004. 135. See Nicola Masciandaro. “ Half Dead: Parsing Cecilia .” A Commentary on Eugene Thacker’s "Cosmic Pessimism" Gary J. Shipley Pessimism is the refusal to seek distraction, the refusal to remodel failure into a platform for further (doomed) possibilities, the refusal of comfort, the acceptance of the sickness of healthy bodies, the cup of life overflowing with cold vomit. If, as Ligotti suggests when discussing Invasion of the Body Snatchers , 1 humans prefer the anxieties of their familiar human lives to the contentment of an alien one, then the pessimist, we could argue, represents some perverted combination of the two, preferring (presuming he has a choice) the defamiliarization of human life to the contentment of its unquestioned mundanity. The quasi-religious state of mind that Wittgenstein would mention on occasion, that of “feeling absolutely safe,” 2 is a state the pessimist could only imagine being approximated by death, or perhaps some annihilative opiate-induced stupor. This Wittgensteinian commingling of certainty and faith looks every bit the futile gesture, a mere rephrasing of collapse or partial collapse. The only certainty open to the pessimist is that of the toxic formula of life itself—a formula known and lacuna-free. Certainty, far from being the gateway to deliverance, becomes the definitive impediment; and the possibility of salvation, as long as it remains, becomes crucially reliant on postulations of ignorance, epistemic gaps, a perennial incompleteness: “the perfect safety of wooed death […] the warm bath of physical dissolution, the universal unknown engulfing the miniscule unknown.” 3 The height of Leibniz’s Panglossian insanity nurtured the idea that our knowing everything—via the universal calculus—could be accurately described a triumph, as opposed to a nightmare in which our every futility is laid bare. Stagnancy and boredom are perhaps two of the greatest ills of Western civilisation, and the most potent pessimism tells you that you’re stuck with both. The most we can hope for, by way of salvation, is to throw open our despair to the unknown. The fact that Schopenhauer’s pessimism stopped short of morality and allowed him to play the flute, as Nietzsche complained, highlights the predicament of a man who despite having adorned nothingness with a smiling face still found himself alive. The demand here is that it be felt: a cross-contamination of intellect and emotion. The safety net of numerous parentheses makes for a failed philosophy, rather than a philosophy of failure. Depressives make bad pessimists, because, unless they choose to die, living will always infect them with necessities of hope, forcing them to find something, anything (all the various “as ifs”) to make existence tolerable. For as Cioran observed, while “[d]epressions pay attention to life, they are the eyes of the devil, poisoned arrows which wound mortally any zest and love of life. Without them we know little, but with them, we cannot live.” 4 And even when cured of our depressions we’ll find ourselves consumed, eaten alive by the hyper-clinical (borderline autistic) mania that replaces them: a predicament captured all too clearly in the microscriptual fictions of Robert Walser, where spectral men and women stifle their depressive madness with protective comas of detail, their failed assimilations buried beneath thick crusts of remote data. Like Beckett’s Malone their stories may have ended, but cruelly their lives have not. Pessimism is an extraneous burden (a purposeless weight) that makes everything else harder to carry, while at the same time scooping it out and making it lighter. If pessimism had a sound it would be the harsh non-noise of tinnitus—the way that every person would hear themselves if they refused their distractions long enough to listen: a lungless scream from the extrasolar nothing of the self. The music of pessimism—if indeed we can imagine such a thing—is the reverberating echo of the world’s last sound, conjectured but never heard, audible only in its being listened for. The one consolation of this hollow paradox of audibility being, that “he will be least afraid of becoming nothing in death who has recognized that he is already nothing now.” 5 The pessimist suffers a derangement of the real, a labyrinthitis at the nucleus of his being: he’s the stumbling ghost relentlessly surprised that others can see him. If Cioran’s refusal is manifested in sleep (when even saying ‘no’ is too much of a commitment), then Pessoa’s resides in the dreams inside that sleep. Pessoa chooses to exploit the fact that he’s being “lived by some murmuring non-entity both shadowy and muddied” 6 by growing more voids to live him. His is a Gnostic breed of sleep, “sleeping as if the universe were a mistake,” 7 a sleep that dreams through Thacker’s cosmic pessimism (“a pessimism of the world-without-us.”, “the unhuman orientation of deep space and deep time” 8 ), through the critical error of there being anything at all when there could be nothing. The metaphysical pessimist is someone who, however well life treats them, still desires to wake from it, as from the poisonous air of a bad dream. Pessimism is a paradox of age, being simultaneously young and old; its youth residing in a refusal to accept the authority of existence (its rich history, its inherent beneficence), a refusal to “get over” the horror of what it sees with its perpetually fresh eyes, and its maturity in the unceremonious disposal of the philosophical playthings (those futile architectures) of adolescence. As Thacker remarks: “Pessimism abjures all pretenses towards system—towards the purity of analysis and the dignity of critique.” 9 A sentiment shared with Pessoa, who duly categorizes those that choose to enact this futile struggle: “The creators of metaphysical systems and of psychological explanations are still in the primary stage of suffering.” 10 If the pessimist has shared a womb with anyone, it’s with the mystic and not the philosopher. As Schopenhauer tells us: “The mystic is opposed to the philosopher by the fact that he begins from within, whereas the philosopher begins from without. […] But nothing of this is communicable except the assertions that we have to accept on his word; consequently he is unable to convince.” 11 The crucial difference between the mystic and the pessimist is not the latter’s impassivity and defeatism, but his unwillingness/inability to contain in any way the spread of his voracious analyticity, his denial of incompleteness, his exhaustive devotion to failure. The truth of our predicament, though heard, is destined to remain unprocessed. Like the revelations of B.S. Johnson’s Haakon (“We rot and there’s nothing that can stop it / Can’t you feel the shaking horror of that?” 12 ) the pessimist’s truths are somehow too obvious to listen to, as if something inside us were saying, “Of course, but haven’t we gotten over that?” Pessimism is simple and ugly, and has no desire to make itself more complex or more attractive. The true moral pessimist knows that the Utilitarian’s accounts will always be in the red. He can see that for all his computational containments, his only honest path is a negative one, and that such a path has but one logical destination: that of wholesale human oblivion. Thacker notes how at the core of pessimism lies the notion of “the worst,” through which death is demoted by the all-pervasive suffering of a life that easily eclipses its threat. And so with doom made preferable to gloom, death begins to glint with promise, “like beauty passing through a nightmare.” 13 But even among pessimists suicide is, for the most part, thought to be an error. Schopenhauer, for instance, regarded suicide a mistake grounded in some fundamentally naïve disappointment or other. Pessoa too thought suicide an onerous escape tactic: “To die is to become completely other. That’s why suicide is a cowardice: it’s to surrender ourselves completely to life.” 14 There is a call here to be accepting of and creative with the puppetry of your being, an insistence that it’s somehow a blunder to attempt to hide in death from the horrors you find inlife. 15 Tied up with this perseverance is the slippery notion of the good death, for maybe, as Blanchot warns, suicide is rarely something we can hope to get right, for the simple reason that “you cannot make of death an object of the will.” 16 “Even in cases where the entire corpus of an author is pessimistic, the project always seems incomplete,” 17 and this is not simply because the project itself belies something yet to be disclosed, but because the project itself is a thing waiting. It waits on a cure it knows will not come, but for which it cannot do anything (as long as it continues to do anything) but wait. NOTES 1. See Thomas Ligotti. The Conspiracy Against the Human Race . New York: Hippocampus Press. 2010. 91. 2. Ludwig Wittgenstein. “A Lecture on Ethics.” Philosophical Review . (74) 1. 1965. 8. 3. Vladimir Nabokov. Pale Fire . New York: Vintage. 1989. 221. 4. E. M. Cioran. The Book of Delusions . trans. Camelia Elias. Hyperion. 5.1. (2010): 75. 5. Arthur Schopenhauer. The World as Will and Representation. vol. 2 . trans. E .F J. Payne. New York: Dover. 1966. 609. 6. Eugene Thacker. “Cosmic Pessimism.” continent. . 2.2 (2012): 67. 7. Fernando Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet . trans. Richard Zenith. London: Penguin. 2002. 35. 8. Eugene Thacker. “Cosmic Pessimism.” continent. . 2.2 (2012): 68. 9. Ibid. 73. 10. Fernando Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet . trans. Richard Zenith. London: Penguin. 2002. 341. 11. Arthur Schopenhauer. The World as Will and Representation. vol. 2 . trans. E .F J. Payne. New York: Dover. 1966. 610-11. 12. B.S Johnson. “You’re Human Like the Rest of Them.” in Jonathan Coe. Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson . London: Picador. 2004. 177. 13. Fernando Pessoa. The Book of Disquiet . trans. Richard Zenith. London: Penguin. 2002. 415. 14. Ibid. 199. 15. “Suicide is, after all, the opposite of the poem.” Anne Sexton. No Evil Star: Selected Essays, Interviews and Prose . ed. Steven Gould Axelrod. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 1985. 92. 16. Maurice Blanchot. The Space of Literature . trans. Ann Smock. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. 1989. 105. 17. Eugene Thacker. “Cosmic Pessimism.” continent. . 2.2 (2012): 75. (shrink)
Rene Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy In Focus contains the excellent and popular Elizabeth S. Haldane and G.R.T. Ross translation of Rene Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy . It also contains a portion of the Replies to Objections II, in which Descartes discusses how the method employed in the Meditations, which he calls "analysis," differs from the method of "synthesis" employed by the geometer. In his introduction, Stanley Tweyman provides a fresh and detailed discussion of the relationship between Descartes' Rules (...) for the Direction of the Mind and the method of "analysis," and their applications to the Meditations . The six critical papers drawn together in this book present a broad and exegetical commentary on the Meditations and give an indication of the diversity of scholarly opinion which exists on the topic of method in Descartes' philosophy. An extensive bibliography is also included. Contributors: D. M. Clarke, E. Curley, D. Garber, L. Cohen, J. Hintikka, Georges Moyal, and Stanley Tweyman. (shrink)
--Father Hart, by J.D. Collins.--The meeting of the ways, by J.A. McWilliams.--On the notion of subsistence, by J. Maritain.--Metaphysics and unity, by E.G. Salmon.--What is really real? By W.N. Clarke.--Professor Scheltens and the proof of God's existence, by F.X. Meehan.--On the mathematical approach to nature, by V.E. Smith.--The assimilation of the new to the old in the philosophy of nature, by L.A. Foley.--In seipsa subsistere, by I. Brady.--St. Thomas and the unity of man, by A.C. Pegis.--Law and morality, by G.B. (...) Phelan.--Thomistic thoughts on government and rulers, by I. Smith. (shrink)
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