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Showing posts from September 7, 2014


Kant, in one of his obscure works (an essay entitled Speculations on the Beginning of Human History) writes that communication begins in the human desire to spread abroad one’s ego. “ The instinct to communicate must first have moved the solitary person to proclaim his existence to  other living creatures outside them, chiefly to those who produced a sound which he imitated and which he by and by used as a name. A similar effect of this instinct can be seen even now in children and thoughtless people, who through snarling, screaming, whistling, singing, and other noisy activities (and also similarly in likeminded groups) disturb the more thoughtful part of the community. Because I see no other motivation here than that they want to proclaim their existence all over the place.” In this passage, as in so much of the Gesammelte Werke of I. Kant, one sees the outlines of the rather sour Konigsberg bachelor emerging from beneath the verbiage of the scholar and one time Pietist. However,

ISIS son of surge

ISIS, son of surge In today’s New Yorker, one of the several liberal hawks in the stable, George Packer, dons his favorite style – more in sorrow than in anger, burdened by the tragic task of bringing civ to the uncivilized, etc. – and asks what are the lessons of the fall of Saigon for Obama, facing ISIS. The short answer is that Packer gets an F – he seemingly is incapable of learning a lesson that goes against his burning desire to benefit all humanity by way of the Pentagon. Because of course we must, Packer thinks, get into the struggle against ISIS. And he hopes our president will be clear about what that means: “ But he also needs to tell the country bluntly that there will almost certainly be more American casualties, and that the struggle against   ISIS —against radical Islam generally, but especially in this case—will be difficult, with no quick military solution and no end in sight. ” Now, another person might think, hmm, no end in sight, struggle against radical Islam