Rad Geek People's Daily

official state media for a secessionist republic of one

Posts filed under Philosophy

What I’m Reading: Barbara Carnevali, “Against ‘Theory'”

Shared Article from The Brooklyn Rail

Against Theory

A simulacrum of philosophy has risen in university departments all over the world: theory, fake philosophy for non-philosophers.


A simulacrum of philosophy has risen in university departments all over the world: theory, fake philosophy for non-philosophers . . . a sort of collective thinking, of a koine, well-known to anyone who teaches in a field of the humanities at a university: a mix of ideas and phrases . . . blended into one melting pot, in varying doses and combinations. . . . Formed in a DIY fashion inside a limited thematic agenda–power, gender, desire, the subject and the multitudes, the dominated-dominating couple–theory is defined and recognized mainly by its pragmatic use. Those who cultivate it, coming from other disciplinary sectors–mostly comparative literature, art theory and criticism, and cultural studies–seek to justify their own research inside a wider and more “committed” framework, that is programmatically turned towards the challenge of the present. . . .

Differently from philosophy, which functions under long, frustrating timings, and very rarely reaches any certainty, theory is quick, voracious, sharp, and superficial: its model is the reader, a book made to help people make quotations from books that are not read. Exactly for that reason, it functions as a common language and a ground for transdisciplinary aggregation. Those who teach risky subjects such as aesthetics and political philosophy have begun to worry a long time ago. . . . The main weakness of theory is the loss of all the specific attributes, which have allowed to define philosophy in its different traditions: it does not have the rigor, the clarity, the solidity of definitions and argumentations, which characterizes the practice from a formal viewpoint; it does not have the ability to raise truly defamiliarizing questions, and, above all, it does not have a taste for a passionate search for truth. Not only does theory not exceed the doxa, but it produces a second level thereof. Therefrom comes the paradox of a radical gesture, which becomes a habitus, conformist and predictable.

–Barbara Carnevali, Against Theory,
The Brooklyn Rail, 1-Sep-2016

Dialectico-Political Semantic Drift (or: I Learned It From YOU, Dad…)

Shared Article from Reason.com

Let's Be Clear About Who Drained the Meaning from the Phrase 'Fa…

Don't scapegoat the right for this. You can spread the blame a lot more widely than that.

Jesse Walker @ reason.com

Let’s be clear about the chain of events here. A year ago, “fake news” had a pretty specific meaning: clickbait sites that publish hoaxes[1]. The hoax of the hour might be political, but it could as easily be a fraudulent report of a celebrity death or a weird-news story that’s too good to be true. Over time the term was also applied[2] to aggregation sites that don’t specialize in hoaxes so much as they simply don’t care whether the stories they’re promoting are hoaxes. Not exactly the same thing, but you still had that basic model of a click-driven indifference to truth.

But when the opinion-spouting class grabbed the phrase en masse right after the election, they used it much more broadly. . . . Once you’ve started slapping the fake news label on anything that looks like sloppy reporting or ideological bias in the alternative press, you’ve pretty much guaranteed that people will start flinging it when they think they’ve spotted sloppy reporting or ideological bias in the mainstream….

–Jesse Walker, Let’s Be Clear About Who Drained the Meaning from the Phrase Fake News
Reason.com, Jan. 9, 2017

  1. [1]Instance from Snopes.com, January 2016. -RG
  2. [2]Instance from Buzzfeed, November 2016. -RG

On the Island of Logical Robots

Suppose you are a maintenance tech who works on an island with many different robots, in three different models. (1) Truthinator 9000, (2) D-Seevr 4.0, and (3) Benders. All three kinds of robots look exactly alike, so you can’t tell them apart based on what they look like. They all know everything there is to know. But Truthinators are programmed always to tell the truth; D-Seevrs are programmed always to tell lies. Benders mostly lie, of course, but they can choose to say false things and they also can choose to say true things. All of them only output intelligible declarative sentences with definite consistent truth values.[1]

Now suppose that a robot needs a repair and wants to identify its model to you. Truthinator 9000 would say “I am Truthinator 9000.” But then, D-Seevr might also say that, and so might Bender, if he chooses to lie, which he often does. Bender could truthfully say “I’m a Bender, bub” but a D-Seevr might say that too.

  1. Is there one sentence that a Bender could say that would allow you, as a sufficiently logical maintenance tech, to identify the robot as a Bender rather than a Truthinator or a D-Seevr? If so, what?

  2. Is there one sentence that a Truthinator could say that would allow you to definitely identify the robot as a Truthinator and not as a Bender or a D-Seevr? If so, what?

  3. Is there anything that a D-Seevr could say in one sentence that would allow you to definitely identify the robot as a D-Seevr, and not as a Truthinator or a Bender?


  1. [1]This is of course a modified Knights and Knaves problem, of the sort popularized by Raymond Smullyan. But the presence of Benders on the island should significantly change the sort of strategies available.

Enter the Molinari Review

Shared Article from Austro-Athenian Empire

Molinari Review 1.1: What Lies Within? | Austro-Athenian Empire

[cross-posted at C4SS and BHL] The Molinari Institute (the parent organization of the Center for a Stateless Society) is proud to announce the publica…

Roderick @ aaeblog.com

Here’s an announcement from Roderick Long about the debut of the Molinari Review.

The Molinari Institute (the parent organization of the Center for a Stateless Society) is proud to announce the publication of the first issue of our new interdisciplinary, open-access, libertarian academic journal, the Molinari Review, edited by yours truly, and dedicated to publishing scholarship, sympathetic or critical, in and on the libertarian tradition, very broadly understood. (See our original call for papers.)

You can order a copy here:

Print Kindle
Amazon US Amazon US
Amazon UK Amazon UK
CreateSpace Store

It should also be available, now or shortly, on other regional versions of Amazon. And later on it’ll be available from our website as a free PDF download (because copyright restrictions are evil).


So what’s in it?

In “The Right to Privacy Is Tocquevillean, Not Lockean: Why It MattersJulio Rodman argues that traditional libertarian concerns with non-aggression, property rights, and negative liberty fail to capture the nature of our concern with privacy. Drawing on insights from Tocqueville and Foucault, Rodman suggests that privacy is primarily a matter, not of freedom from interference, but of freedom from observation, particularly accusatory observation.

In “Libertarianism and Privilege,” Billy Christmas charges that right-wing libertarians underestimate the extent and significance of harmful relations of privilege in society (including, but not limited to, class and gender privilege) because they misapply their own principles in focusing on proximate coercion to the exclusion of more indirect forms of coercion; but, he argues, broadening the lens of libertarian inquiry reveals that libertarian principles are more powerful tools for the analysis of privilege than privilege theorists generally suppose.

In “Capitalism, Free Enterprise, and Progress: Partners or Adversaries?,” Darian Nayfeld Worden interrogates traditional narratives of the Industrial Revolution. Distinguishing between capitalism (understood as a separation between labour and ownership/management) and free enterprise, Nayfeld Worden maintains that the rise of capitalism historically was in large part the result of a suppression of free enterprise, and that thanks to state intervention, the working-class benefited far less from industrialisation and technological innovation than they might otherwise have done.

In “Turning the Tables: The Pathologies and Unrealized Promise of Libertarianism,” Gus diZerega contends that libertarians misunderstand and misapply their own key concepts, leading them to embrace an atomistic vision of society, and to overvalue the market while undervaluing empathy and democracy. (Look for a reply or two in our next issue.)

Finally, Nathan Goodman reviews Queering Anarchism: Addressing and Undressing Power and Desire, an anthology edited by C. B. Daring, J. Rogue, Deric Shannon, and Abbey Volcano. Goodman praises the book for its illumination of many aspects of the intersection between anarchist tradition and the LGBTQ community, with particular emphasis on the tension between LGBTQ activists who seek to dismantle oppressive institutions and those who merely seek inclusion within them; but in the area of economics, he finds its authors to be too quick to dismiss the free market or to equate it with the prevailing regime of corporatist privilege.

Want to order a copy? See the ordering information above.

Want to contribute an article to an upcoming issue? Head to the journal’s webpage.

Want to support this project financially? Make a donation to the Molinari Institute General Fund.

— Roderick Long, Molinari Review 1.1: What Lies Within?
Austro-Athenian Empire (19 May 2016)

Anticopyright. All pages written 1996–2018 by Rad Geek. Feel free to reprint if you like it. This machine kills intellectual monopolists.