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Showing posts from February 7, 2021

A troop of baboons in Caddies

I know what boys like I know what guys want John Dupre, in an nifty little takedown of the use of rational expectations theory as the master key to all the social sciences in Human Nature and the Limits of Science, noted the convergence of the ideology of the theory with the ideology of evolutionary psychology – both emanating from a conservative view of human nature, the one derived from Adam Smith’s notion that we are designed to truck and barter, the other finding justificatory fables in nature for social hierarchies which, in reality, we see dissolve all of the time. There’s a nice article by Amanda Rees that explores the primatology behind evolutionary psychology in the Fall issue of the History of Science. As anybody knows who has read comments threads on feminist sites, or any site that ventures into that classic boobish trope, men vs. women (why do women do this? why do men do that?), sooner or later the male as hunter and sperm sprinkler will emerge – extra points for the come

Conversation and argument

Philosophers present arguments; other people, lower in the pecking order, just argue.   Among the meanings of the Latin verb, arguere, is blame a person for a crime. In Roman law, this is the initial moment in the process of bringing the defendant to trial. James Ayto, in his book Word Origins, takes the arg back to its putative Indo-European origins, where it means white or bright – silvery, as in the French l’argent. How one hop skips and jumps from the silvery moon to “presenting a thesis” is one of those moments in which etymology most slavishly follows an enlightenment ideology, even though it means reasoning by wild analogies. Another etymological school holds that the Hittites, my fave mystery civilization, were at the bottom of the word, with arkuuae – to make a plea. In this history, the quarreling and blaming emotion hidden in argument came out, in English, long after the legal use of the term. Perhaps: or perhaps, because etymology depends so much on written texts, t

Rilke on the 10

  Surely, giving the finger to the man tailgating you on Highway 10 is poetry too, and should be counted   where they count such things in Rilke’s heaven. Among my tropes and ruses   and the CD playing today’s road music and the ominous signage for Pasadena looming ahead of me like the SAT   there’s room for my own version of “you must change your life”: You must change your lane. - Karen Chamisso