Wednesday, March 16, 2022

overcoming negate-ive ("Dialectical") thinking



‘Dialectic’, in the modern sense (not Socratic), names an approach to thinking about differences as primarily oppositions. The opposition is resolved through synthesis which transcends the opposition. Typically, opposition is understood negatively: “A is opposed to B” is the same as
“A = not B” or A is the negation of B.

The appeal of this arises in two ways:
  • A person (or party) finds oneself in a distburbing condition of opposition to something, and thinks of this dialectically, i.e., as a challenge of getting beyond the opposition through “synthesis” of some kind (“situated transcendence,” for example: ch. 7 here). 
  • One comes to a disturbing situation already thinking dialectically, so the disturbance is understood oppositionally (e.g., disagreement; or alienation which objectifies the other). 
But the etymological history of the notion isn’t dialectical in any sense,
not even in the Socratic sense, which pertains to a conception of pedagogical debate.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

better humanity through better being



This day, Our humane planet—the True humanity of Us—continues
an historic show of coordinated global response to the invasion
of Ukraine, whose men are fighting to death for their democracy.
Whatever the outcome, this March marks a milestone in Our decade.

Friday, October 29, 2021

for a Literary university in a democratic ecology


for someone engaged with “scholarly work on ecology
and literary modernism” 

What Universities Owe Democracy, by John Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels et al. (Oct. 2021), inspires (for me) an idea of interplay wider than conceptions of the university and democracy:

Literary understanding <—> the university <—> democracy <—> ecological understanding.

Moreover, the interplay isn’t linear. Literary <—> democracy;
university <—> ecology; and Literary <—> ecology are equally relevant.

Indeed, a rich appreciation of ecological thinking—highly humanistic thinking—can contribute importantly to the university <—> ecology interface (which is absent from Daniels et al.’s book).

Usefully, though, they advance four foci, i.e., “four distinct functions of American higher education that are key to liberal democracy: social mobility, citizenship education, the stewardship of facts, and the cultivation of pluralistic, diverse communities” {publisher’s description].

Friday, October 15, 2021

It Just Is: The City, Life



Late night, looking at the S.F. lights (for the “millionth” time, from
my spot in the Berkeley hills), I realized again that there never was any Purpose to It All.

No news here. The City—the urban kluge—gradually emerged (like brains in nature) for specific functional efficiencies: roads, lights, buildings, which altogether implied no conception of aggregate consequentiality (e.g., neighborhood, traffic congestion, inspired community, crime, deterioration of infrastructure, spectacular architectures oblivious of adjacent ugliness).

Unlike nature, which adjusts itself ecologically, the structural City forces upon itself unadaptability to consequences that its opportunistic humans are compelled to face.

Friday, February 5, 2021

democratic life involves perpetual renewal,
in small degrees



The point of transition to a new governmental era performs a constitutionally derivative act of re-Founding that idealizes citizen commitment to their part in making the new era real.

A normal response is that one doesn’t have the time to honor such promise.

That suits the capitalist world well, as its under-monetized demands of work time commonly deny folks freedom for a high degree of citizen presence—even denying folks time for good attention to reliable news, little time for self-directed learning, little time for enriching friendships and sustaining neighborhood, even denying us time for good family, good-enough parenting. (The capitalist world spends heavily to prevent legislation of fair minimum wages.)

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

people, nation, nationality, nationalism, transnationalism



Persons commonly use ‘people’ in the sense of ‘persons’, but a person isn’t primarily one of the people or a member of some people, understood as the people or a people. A person among persons is an individual among individuals. Indeed, the first recorded use of ‘people’ (i.e., the item of English) was a sense of “human beings not individually known or considered as individuals” (Merriam-Webster Unabridged).

Indigenous persons didn’t originally understand themselves as a people (i.e., one variety of a European general kind); rather, they were Navajo, Inuit, Mongolian, Persian, Gallic, or Angle, etc.: a self-determinative singularity, conceived as a distributed language family or regional version of The Family.

The English notion of people has its first known use in the 13th century, followed by first known use of ‘nation” in the 14th century, meaning the same as nationality, emergent through Middle English from the Latin ambiguity of ‘natio’: birth, race, people; and earlier Latin ‘gnatus’: to be born, like Latin ‘gignere’: to beget.

Monday, February 1, 2021

the challenge of humanistic union
for the confederated planet



A challenge of confederacy exists in the U.S. which traces back to the conception of our Constitution: states’ rights.

The admirable idea is that grassroots democracy calls for local freedom for shaping regional policy; regional freedom for national policy.

Great-scale frustrations of that are expressed in the European Union’s challenge to respect intra-E.U. sovereignties while trying to find a unifying basis for constitutionalizing a United States of Europe—an idea which may never be actualized, but an idea which is very integral to E.U. evolution.

The challenging idea of e pluribus unum—from the many, One—is also integral to the future of African union, and—more abstractly—for international associations strapped with sustaining and advancing manifold global dynamics (e.g., the WTO vs. China) fruitfully—with telic cohering, I like to say.

The G-7, the G-20, and the U.N. Security Council all face the challenge of constructiveness among sovereignties. Persons live with that challenge among friends, colleagues, and neighbors.

All in all, We want what expresses our flourishing, even Our evolving, durably.