ThoughtStorms Wiki

Context: DarkThings

I keep thinking I have to engage this.

Not hugely enthused. They sound to me like people who like to go around flattering themselves that they are the voice of reason against the insanity of fashionable LeftWing nonsense.

Obviously as someone who thinks that the left-wing narrative is intellectually solid, rational and defensible, I'm not impressed by this. But ... by all means, let's hear the arguments.

Allegedly these are at the forefront of SenseMaking And overlapping the SenseMakingCommunity

Problem is it seems to be all video and PodCasts

Where would I get a good readable text overview?

I'm too MarshallMcLuhanian to trust in people talking at me.

(In fact I wonder if they are, exactly, a symptom of the "thinking" that can take place via video / podcast media?)

TextPeople / TextVsSpeech

Quora Answer : As one of Quora's left-wing intellectuals, what do you think of the intellectual dark web and the conflict between PostModernism and scientists?

Feb 17, 2020

I think it's based on a lot of straw-men and exaggeration.

I'm not saying that there aren't real issues with things like "IdentityPolitics" or the needs for freedom of expression and speech vs. the need to protect people from harmful speech. (FreedomOfSpeech)

These are serious issues. That deserve serious consideration, and serious debate. And coming up with non-partisan principles.

As I've described it elsewhere. Pretty much everyone agrees you should be stopped from mendaciously shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre full of people liable to panic. The question is, how much license should you have to mendaciously shout "It's HIS FAULT!!" in a country full of angry, frustrated and resentful people looking for someone to blame. (Phil Jones (He / Him)'s answer to What are the bounderies of "freedom of speech"?)

Put the debate in those terms, as a genuine problem of practical law and politics, and you might get some sensible investigation of the problem. And maybe find some reasonable places to draw the lines. (Lawyers and judges can do this kind of thing, fairly well. Even if I sometimes disagree with their decisions.)

But what I've seen of the intellectual dark-web is that any real debate about these genuine concerns is swamped by partisan political point-scoring against the left and a more general right-wing whinging. I'm not saying that all the IDW is like that. Or that there aren't sensible and smart people in those communities.

I'm just saying that in my limited experience, I've yet to see much real debate. Or people capable of making good points without the next moment making partisan side-swipes.

On "post-modernism vs teh scientists" I believe that"post-modernism" as it's usually being attacked, is just a current in philosophy.

Stuff that looks crazy in post-modernism is often just an application or continuation of ideas and trends that have been in philosophy since the pre-socratics.

Now both philosophy and science are great things, both deserving of respect and admiration.

And most of the time the two don't really come into conflict.

The spheres of philosophy and science are largely well demarcated.

But when conflicts do arise, often it's in the form of philosophers questioning certain assumptions that scientists make. And as I point out in Phil Jones (He / Him)'s answer to Is it common among scientists to scorn philosophy? usually it's perfectly valid for the philosophers to do that, and scientists are wrong to be upset about it.

In the particular case of biology, there is a bit more overlap. I think that one of the great philosophical implications of Darwin is to push us away from seeing nature as being made of "natural kinds" with essences. And to think of nature as continuous processes that simply gives rise to individuals. And that grouping those individuals into types is largely just a taxonomic exercise for human convenience. Few biologists really think that species have a deeper essence than being a cluster of similar, very closely related individuals.

It seems to me that the same goes for the rest of biology. "Sex" is just clusters of typical body shapes. (Phil Jones (He / Him)'s answer to What do you think about non-binary genders? ) "Race" is a particular clustering of phenotypical features that may or may not be a good heuristic for predicting most of the underlying genes, given how much miscegenation has taken place in human history.

The truth about the "ontological status" of such clusterings is very much a subject for philosophical debate and can't really be resolved scientifically.

As a left-wing - I'm not sure I can say "intellectual" but as someone left-wing who does value both truth and rationality and who thinks it's important to engage with criticism - I will happily admit that things like identity politics are deeply problematic. (The left is being torn apart by infighting between, for example pro-Palestinian left-wingers and pro-Israel left-wingers, or between supporters of trans-women and radical feminists who have difficulty letting go of an essentialism about sex.)

I'm happy to say we must defend the principle of free speech.

But I've yet to encounter anyone self describing themselves as IDW who seems to approach these issues either with the sympathy that suggests they care about more than a stick to beat the left, or the subtlety that makes me think they have deeply insightful "solutions"

See also :