Were you surprised by the outcome of the recent election?

One election night I stood in my kitchen and watched the acceptance speech on the little TV on the countertop.  As I listened and watched, I felt sick with fear and dread.  I will never forget those moments.  It was horrible to know that people voted for someone whose ideas were so wrong.  How could they not see the consequences?  However, this last November, for many people the first reaction was not just fear and dread, but shock.  How could this happen?  How could so many people have voted for this man??

Were you one of those?  Were you surprised or shocked?  And then, afterward, were you horrified?  If you believed Hillary Clinton would win based on what you read and heard, then you probably also thought Donald Trump was [insert various awful things here].

My Facebook account is locked down to family and friends only, people whom I love, cherish, admire.  I am writing this post for them, but sharing it here, because it’s way too long for Facebook.

I know for a fact that my choice was different than the one some (most?) of you made this last November.  My heart aches to see expressions of fear and dismay in some of your posts.

Here’s my point:  behind all the name-calling and oppo research are ideas.  Philosophies.  Philosophy and civilization go together, no?  We want to be able to treat each other at least civilly, and we need to be able to work together, no matter what we’re dealing with.

As a trivial example, the chocolate chip cookies will not get baked if two people are in the kitchen arguing and calling each other names over which brand of morsels to use.  It’s just as disappointing if the cookies come to the table and someone makes a face and spits out their cookie, then glares at the group before storming out, only because they don’t like (or can’t eat) walnuts.

A healthy philosophy will allow for compromise, courtesy, and correction.

The outcome of an election is vastly more important than cookies.

If you’ve read this far:  are you interested in talking about the philosophy that resulted in this election?  I am.  I know how it feels to fear an administration… to feel like the people in power despise you.  I have lived under many Presidents, and some of those administrations were toxic to the American ideal.  My intention is not to convert, but to converse.

If you were surprised and shocked by the most recent election, I despise the actions of the people who misled you.  (I was going to write “lied to,” but, in fairness, I think many of the writers, reporters and pollsters were as surprised as you were.)  I despise the methods of those who keep turning the focus to personal characteristics, instead of discussing ideas in the context of what’s been learned through the millennia of human experience.  Note:  I despise the actions and the methods, not the people.

Sadly, the validity of a philosophy can be measured only one way:  by the outcomes of the societies where a particular philosophy rules daily life.  You need, and deserve, to know about these things and decide for yourself.  I propose in this blog to (continue) to post about this, if only to explain where I’m coming from.

Is Donald Trump like Hitler?

Not so far.

In 1932, the students and professors in the German universities were among Hitler’s most ardent supporters.  Today, the students and professors in universities cannot stand to even see Trump’s name chalked onto a sidewalk.

The philosophy taught in German universities in the years preceding Hitler’s rise migrated to the United States.  By now it is deeply entrenched in the schools at all levels.  It affects the thinking of countless individuals, through education and the media.  The fact that President Trump’s philosophy, so far as we can know it from his books and speeches, drives university professors, students, and a tremendous number of voters into emotional meltdown, is a likely indicator that Trump is not like Hitler.

I’m an amateur, but here’s what I’ve gleaned so far about the respective philosophies underlying the phenomena of Hitler and Trump, respectively.

The philosophy that spawned groupthink, of which Hitler took such evil advantage, came from Plato, through thinkers like Immanuel Kant.  Trump’s philosophy is grounded in the individual, whose reason and work creates the conditions in which all can thrive.  That’s Aristotle, via thinkers like Thomas Aquinas.

Plato’s intellectual children defer to the wisdom of the group, led by people who know more than they, to tell them what to think and what to do or not do.  Ultimately, it is not OK to read or think or try out ideas that do not conform to the narrative, because control is lost if people adopt a different line of thought.  Reasoning is shut down if it even hints of being against a value decided by the group.  Platonic thinkers say “Do not come and talk to us.  Your ideas might offend someone or be hurtful, and we are afraid of your words.”  People’s values are more important than ideas.

Aristotle’s intellectual children are insatiably inquisitive and test everything, including ideas.  They learn by doing, by experimentation.  Aristotelian thinkers recognize the individual as the engine of society, and encourage each individual to create ideas and methods and techniques to improve the experience of his or her life.  Aristotelian thinkers say, “Come in and let’s hear what you have to say.” In my experience, the kind of philosophical discussion that’s based on Aristotle requires a lot of mental heavy lifting.  You cannot just drop a slogan and call it a day.  Aristotle-type thinking demands reasoning.  You aren’t allowed to just send a link proving your idea; you’ll hear, “but what do you think?  Tell me why you came to that conclusion.”  Ideas are the focus, not people.

People in a Plato-based system are willing to put themselves aside for the good of the whole.  They subsume their own happiness and well-being for the state.  They allow the state to make decisions simply on the basis of “values,” which might change depending upon the need of the moment.

People who adopt the Aristotelian type of thought end up working for themselves, even if employed by others.  People whose thinking is from Aristotle are not good candidates for a society that is controlled by the state.  They believe individuals can sit down together and, through reason, decide how to set up the framework of civic administration to maximize each person’s liberty.

Both sides tend to get very impatient with each other, because they really are quite different.  The Plato thinkers see Aristotle individualists as uncaring, even evil.  The Aristotle crowd thinks the Plato types are mistaken, but tend to see them as individuals who can reason out for themselves why they truly are special and not just cogs in a group.

A politician whose philosophy is rooted in Plato and the German philosophers will call people who disagree “deplorable, irredeemable.”  A politician whose thinking is formed in the Aristotle framework is more likely to characterize people who disagree “you, my fellow Americans.”



ObamaCare: revenge against the gifted

Ace wonders in this post if 90% of the country that still has employer insurance thinks of the 10% that are losing their plans, “sucks to be them.”  I am fortunate to be in the 90% at the moment, but I certainly am paying attention.  Like a considerable number of the 90%, my paid employment is far different from what I am suited for by temperament, innate skill, and education.

Remember how, in 2010, Nancy Pelosi rhapsodized about artists and creative types being able to pursue their dreams, freed from worry about healthcare costs?


Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance or that people could start a business and be entrepreneurial and take risk, but not job loss because of a child with asthma or someone in the family is bipolar—you name it, any condition—is job locking.

Artists and entrepreneurs want and need this kind of break so badly.  Obamacare’s punitive hikes to deductibles and premiums are extremely cruel to these folks.

There were those who may have listened to Madam Speaker and couldn’t help letting themselves hope – just a little bit – even though they knew what she was saying made no sense.

It was foolish, of course; in their hearts, they knew it then.  But now, when they’re standing in the kitchen after a hard day at uncongenial work, reading the termination letter from their insurance company, and – if they can even get on that deplorable web site – knowing they will pay vastly more for much less, what they are feeling cannot be marked down to “disappointment.”  The feelings are deep, and bitter.  It is the kind of feelings that affects the way one votes for years – maybe for the rest of one’s life.

Keep in mind that those raised on “Common Core”-type math and the economic stylings of Keynes and Paul Krugman are ignorant of how money works.  This is not their fault.  The fiscally sensible need to patiently and gradually teach the acts that make artistic work possible:  rein in government, cut taxes, and wipe out regulation so that corporations can flourish.  This puts everybody back to work, and lines the wallets of the rich, who commission art and photography, need lots of redecoration of multiple residences and cars with awesome design, want beautiful music, and can finance movies and plays and build theaters.  The working folks will have money to spend on books and movies and music and scaled-down versions of the cars, and, and, and.   The artists will be busy once again.

We need to explain that President Obama and his administration are throwbacks.  They behave like ill-educated people of limited imagination.  They are not used to thinking creatively, so life is quite terrifying.  They want to be told what to do; if they are encouraged to figure it out themselves, they instead vote in a government that will tell them what to do, and shelter them from the consequences of wrong decisions.  They wrap themselves in outmoded tactics of governmental coercion and policy-inflicted poverty, in order to get and preserve power.

People like this want to harm the rich and the artists, because the making of money by producing needed goods and services, and the creation of beautiful things, are so completely beyond their ken that they appear to be magic, or somehow gotten through some kind of “connections.”  The demonstration of such talents is deeply resented.  After all, vulgarity, “transgressive” displays, and crudity are the best the unimaginative and poorly-educated can do.  Since they cannot produce elegant design, or figure out how to organize a successful company, they will make damn sure nobody else can make any money doing it.  And they will vilify and mock anyone who tries.

While sympathizing – life is miserable without beauty and gracious behavior and the skills to accomplish both – we cannot let the fretful ones spoil our lives.  We must do as Ronaldus Magnus did:  teach.  Pleasantly, respectfully, clearly, with gentle humor, with vivid explanations of how easy it is, really, to get ahead and help others when government is shriveled and restricted to only its very few rightful tasks.

A new start

I never forgot this blog, although I have not posted for quite a while.

This blog needs to fill a specific need:  the life of culture, defined as suggestions and reflections for the beautiful life.  By “the beautiful life,” I mean the life we live when we know enough to know what we don’t know, and are eager to learn.  The life of discernment, which starts with determining the standard against which good and evil are known.  The life of education, both through learning, and by teaching.  The life of inspiration, of hope provided through language that is easy to read, yet needing some thought to appreciate.

A re-launch.  Though it really is simply untying the line, then pushing against the dock to make the boat start to drift… it is a beginning.

Climate change roundup

Orchidopteran observes that the climate is changing. Climate change is something humans live with. To say that humans contribute to that change is a hypothesis which has been developing into a theory. However, when the theory is promulgated with the kind of intolerant zeal usually attributed only to Christian fundamentalists, the Orchidopteran regards this with what she calls the Meaningful Raised Eyebrow. When Al Gore and his ilk stand to make millions from selling carbon credits through an exchange which they happen to have set up as a way for those who want to continue to pollute can do so, the Orchidopteran dismisses it as simply another scam, another fruit of Eve’s unwise decision.

via Instapundit:
CO2 may not warm the planet as much as previously thought (newscientist.com)
Les Jones on the latest bitchy emails
David Appel (Quark Soup) Sorting through stolen UEA emails
Volokh – ClimateGate Part Deux

The Orchidopteran is stocking up on incandescent light bulbs.

This entry was posted on November 25, 2011, in "science".