Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Darwinian Larry and His Friendly Critics

Arnhart talks up a second edition of his DARWINIAN CONSERVATISM, one that includes various critical responses. There’s one by ME, called "All Larry Needs is Love (and Death)." Larry was not impressed by my criticism, thinking that mentioning love and awareness of death as evolved human qualities is enough to account for them. But my point, I thought, was that he doesn’t describe uman behavior as actually profoundly altered by our species-specific EROS and THANATOS. Larry’s extreme prejudice against anything that might smack of existentialism (or, for that matter, real personal freedom) causes him to distort what we can actually see with our own eyes. The concluding chapter by Ken Blanchard is really good--better than Larry, I think--in bringing Darwin and Aristotle as close as they can be. It reminds me that that there really are similiarities between the Aristotelian and Darwinian views of the fundamental impersonality of natural reality. Richard Sherlock’s contribution is quite an incisive appreciation and criticism from the perspective of a genuine believer. All in all, this book is well worth buying.

Discussions - 9 Comments

Kenneth Blanchard's work is well worth perusal and serious notice. He writes ably on Shakespeare, Machiavelli, and modern science and politics.

You know what you should do to be scientific about such a book. You should figure out the starting points of each writer and attempt to write the objection that they make in potential essay form. Write each Objection and essay before you read the book and then see if the book coresponds to the logical structure you expect. If you can't do this then your darwinism is of limited use. There is never any reason to doubt Darwianism per se, but his attempt to agree with Nietzsche in Morality as Animal...that concludes with "I will defend his evolutionary science of morality in Human, All Too Human and Dawn as sensible; and I will reject the atheistic religiosity of his transcendent longings as unreasonable."

This view of Nietzsche strikes me as dead wrong, nevermind that I think he was replying to a sort of synthesis of Hegel and Darwin and not simply Darwin. In fact I predicted before I clicked and read his(Larry Arnhart's) article that he would take this route with Darwin. Of course you could write an essay predicting what I might predict...we are all somewhat predicatable...but I think if Darwin is right all bets are off, but that men make arguments most essential to the true interests they have, in which case Arnhart is wrong to slough off parts of Nietzsche or Hegel for that matter. I am still of the opinion that Hegel is far superior to Marx, and that resistance to Universalizing (which Dr. Lawler takes to be Arnhart's resistance to existentialism, cannot simply be eliminated, but that this is an apriori requirement for doing Darwinian science.)

On a certain level there is a real reason for getting rid of existentialism, and that reason is also the reason of Karl Popper, and it is in many ways a methodological requirement. The striking power of those who reduce everything to physics makes this same requirement. The truth about human beings is that we are in love with what we know and how we know it, because this is what and how we orient ourselves in the world. By virtue of the fact that if evolution is true it was always true, means that a Darwinian has to explain what everyone else is trying to explain, namely the effect of ideas about the world on the world, but no one really knows the relation between knowing an idea and incorporating an idea. Just as you find a lot of atheists who are well read in the bible, you might find that a lot of christians are well read in Darwin. As ideas become more and more complex there has to be a point when knowing the argument is counterproductive to not knowing the argument. In other words there is no guarantee that a certain level of ignorance doesn't produce or yield evolutionary advantages when accounting for the opportunity cost of time. What is at stake is not the truth of evolution, which if true has always been true(pervious to when we knew it was true, it was opperative in the world) but the self-consciousness of Evolution or Darwinism, its fullest expression only possible to serious biologists and its most concerned advocates probably those who are or were christian and who chose to syncretize the positive truth they are informed with, with their relation to the world.

But given that the positive truths of which the world is informed in 2008 are in Lockean fashion greater than the sum total of what could ever be known, and given that such truths have practical implications, might there not be a natural propensity to regulate what one has the duty to consider as posing a problem for the Metaphysical/religious/ethical framework folks live with?

In other words given that one could never understand all practical truth, it is unreasonable to universalize from a small subset of all such practical truth an overarching view point the conclusions of which would upset orginal religious framework that served to ground the continual accumulation of positive truth. In other words it is a Darwinian weakness to ever know so much about the world that one becomes philosophical(questions world view). Nietzsche's disease was simply being too intelligent in a way that put him out of sync(or in it imaginatively/Wagner/Romantics) with the society of his time. The Puritan/Lockeian view of the american founding was functionally perfect, and Darwinism like Locke seems to priveledge the value and virtue of hard work(eternally at war with leisure/reflection and those who object in the book)

Dr. Lawler really can't speak productively to the conservative Lockeians, because they are not self-consciously philosophical and becoming so feels wrong and is dangerous(and is so actually on Darwinian grounds...perhaps)

The book may well be worth reading, but I am not sure that its truths don't speak to a difficult to pin segment known as the self-consciousness of academia.

So your point is that Darwinian conservatism does not aptly understand EROS and THANATOS? That evolution cannot describe the Humian (irony?) desire for preservation and the (freidian) desire to die (or more appropriately explained the knowledge of death)??? I understand how human existence as a part of the manifestation of the universe (third person) of an society (second) does not aptly describe why we are so aware of the notions of preservation and death but how does it not describe the "desire" for those two? Are you not missing the point here that they do describe the desire, but not where that desire MAY come from?


I agree that maybe we do not know where these notions arise from and because of that the best answer is religion. But Maybe not... I am at least willing for find out (sorry about being agnostic). here I think that just because Dogmatism works very well in describing and explaining ones ideas to the greatest degree, that the dialogue in this instance is still appropriate in finding out the answer. I think you should at least concede that we know why the desire is there and we should spend more time on the question of why its there.

Thank heavens I can safely be ignored by rational people, my appologies will never suffice for my long winded vomit known as piss poor simply worded philosophy and market ruminations.

The strongest case for adopting Darwinian thought is that it is positive truth, and the dammage we do to ourselves by holding on to sophistry and illusion is damaging(put this way I am still on a David Hume kick), yet David Hume himself was a really jovial fellow, friends of Adam Smith and religious ladies once remarked how fair and pleasant a dinner companion he made. Darwin himself was quite carefull and apprehensive about the consequences of argueing for the truth of evolution robustly. Neither ever recanted, and both thinkers may be right. Still I can't argue without immagination that I suspect to be false that I have understood the sum of each thinker, if Darwin can be linked to Aristotle I sometimes immagine that David Hume can as well...but in the work of drawing that picture, I realize that I am linking the two not because my objective understanding of Aristotle or David Hume requires that the two be cojoined but because fundamentally I have fooled myself and am simply willing the two together because it suits my view of the world. If I wish to be scholastic I can take a catholic aristotle against Hume with force, after all he did want the old books of metaphysics burned, and yet a less catholic Aristotle with a view towards Hume's Virtue ethics, his essays on taste his influence on Madison...the influence of even a minor joker like David Hume(rejected with impunity) is quite complicated, if you add in the possibility of being Humeian without ever reading Hume then nothing gets substantially clearer except for the mind capable of making the identification, even here one wonders if the mind is so clear as to seperate a Hume from an AJ Ayer or a Hayek, a good analytic philosopher is wonderfull at drawing these distinctions, unfortunately I am not one, which means this conversation(with myself) is essentially imagination. The greatest part of this argument that is dependent upon imagination is the danger posed by philosophy in the world, a question germane to Darwin, and also german to us americans, but just because you play with etymology doesn't make you Nietszche, and if you can't speak 10 languages as I can't then you are only scrapping the surface of his insanity, but if I can't even be as insane as Nietszche then I give up...but again I am never sure when I am off topic, except that I am always sure that Adam Smith's rational spectator disaproves...stay on topic! Like Nietszche? No, you are not him. Ah! but I am not even David Hume, true. I am not Hegel, true. The rational spectator is laughing at you...I am laughing at me.

I know that if you get to where I am mentally, wherever that is, then theories about evolution cease to have great or damaging implications, they simply make up the internal structure of other minds, if someone puts foward an arguement that tells me what Darwin can teach us, I agree with limited enthusiasm, its not that I doubt the truth of Darwin, it is that regardless of what the truth about Darwin is, I acknowledge that my capability to incorporate such information and translate it into what I already know has already occured to an extent, and that just as I can't be Nietzsche, I can't be Arnhart and that he can't be Darwin, yet he has a distinct advantage in being like Darwin if he wishes to be a biologist, in fact in doing biology one burns away Darwin and maintains only as much information as modern biology has ready to hand in various periodicals, still I maintain and most biologists would agree that no biologist has the entire encyclopedic truth of biology available from human memory. In some sense I am stuck with a multiple rationality rational spectator, An Adam Smith as variated as my knowledge that commericals specifically target and demostrate the capability of selling products to different customers. I just can't be Platonic about my Adam Smith rational spectator, for one thing I can't do this because of the influence of music. It troubles me on some level that folks in New York City vote for democrats, that they forget september 11th...but I know that when I listen to Darryl Worley's Have you forgotten...and I know that my republican rational spectator when he listens to it...I know he feels goosebumps, my republican spectator is moved my democrat arms himself, this isn't a pure science, sometimes both are moved, and I suspect that the most Platonic of conservatives know only that others are moved, or are moved and arm themselves. What I suspect occurs is that folks generally go with the spirit of the rational spectator they project, and that this rational spectator amplifies and gets amplified because one does not want to be out of tune.

In many ways I am not against someone argueing that Darwinism validates that we are relational/social animals...I am not against anyone argueing anything as long as I can understand it, and I am not against folks argueing things I can't understand, but essentially nothing is opperative unless it is understood, and replaceing what someone understands as opperative for something that is neither understood nor opperative is the height of what I wish to mock in academia. What is true is what I think is true, and what I think others think is true is a rational spectator. In academia there are many rational spectators, In markets there are many but slightly different rational spectators(as seen by what a company considers to be a rational spectator/target audience) In the crude break down between republicans and democrats there are only two rational spectators, there are as many factions in conservatism as there are plausible rational spectators within it, and the same holds with liberalism. At certain times there are fewer rational spectators in america, and on some issues at some times only one. Almost all political debates can be thought of as a debate over rational spectators, or the existance of a platonic/supreme rational spectator.

What garbage passing for thought. I guess this is what so much pseudo-intellectualism breeds on this site. Reading this reminded me of reading the Unabomber's manifesto, rambling nonsense untempered by any serious thought. Sounds like someone frustrated for being denied into graduate school. Sprinkling names of philosophers as if it all were a lousy poker game. All I can do is agree with various phrases in this waste of time - yes, you are an idiot. Yes, you write about what you do not know and display it, but that doesn't make you a socrates.

I'm not going to lie john lewis but when I first read all of that I thought the same thing as sterilies but having read it again I like thAt it reads like a dialouge good step!

Ben Bell, What format do you expect what you want to know to take? Assuming Darwinism is true, what Darwinian advantages will acrue to a person aware of such truths? Secondly who is or is not a Darwinian? Suppose that I have read Origins of the Species. Suppose I have also read Malthus (whom Darwin credited for awakening the idea/sucess) Suppose I have also read Winston Churchill(who read and praised Darwin). Will not different minds themselves make different things of Darwin, such that one cannot really say that someone is or is not explicitly Darwinian.

Supposing Darwin has already permeated the intellectual market, how to decide if someone is or is not Darwinian?

Also if what Darwin says is true independently of how self-conscious we are about our condition, is not the question of the value of Darwin already answered by the current use and abuse of his ideas?

In which case a Darwinian is simply a salesman of Darwin and the adoption of Darwin as intellectually usefull is on the grounds of the theory already maximized in society.

If Darwin was given birth by Malthus, then in what regards should I turn to a Darwinian as opposed to an economist? In particular howhever I want to know what or how a Darwinian goes about thinking of the perfect information hypothesis in Economics and also the idea of that the market is a random walk. I disagree with both assumptions, contra the wisdom of economic proffesors, and can believe that a Darwinian might have useful insights in this regard.

In particular I believe that the markets must be easier to understand than sociology to include Darwianism as a sociology...But if the market is a random walk, how much more so is sociology to include Darwianism, which means that we wouldn't know that more Darwinist would be usefull in society, and we also wouldn't know that more Darwinians are needed or how to go about measureing such a number(biology majors, and evolutionary sociologists?).

Just as the madness of Nietszche is not easily seperated from the brilliance of Nietszche so Darwin and the reaction to Darwinism is difficult to capture and is only distilled by "Darwinists".

Likewise the economists who predict the markets always speak of long term, so that they can factor out the intervening irrationality...but I am convinced that there is no such irrationality(and also that there is). In any case would not a true Darwinian become a hedge fund mannager(or being of a lesser intelligence and background, a trader?)

The truth of Darwinism means simply that no one who knows the market really wants to help me learn it and all those who want to help me learn it don't know it, but have me as a guinea pig.

In other words I don't know if Darwinism can come out with an answer, and I strongly presume that it will not, at best Darwinism can tell me who was best adapted for past conditions, sometime long after the fact and probably tilted towards its systematic prejudices.

In otherwords aren't you making Darwinism into a system? Mathmatics yields a great system in blackjack, but the casino's still make money because most people fool themselves into thinking they have the discipline to addopt it...might not many people come to think they are being Darwinian and actually fail in implementation(something much more complex than a set of mathmatical rules suited to a particular game)

Also I routinely bested several extremely analytic mathmatical minds at poker, and strangely lost money to attractive women. Is not poker the most Darwinian game of all?

I predicted the stock market crash when I noticed that I could no longer win money playing poker in vegas and elsewere(horrible timeing on my new career choice) combined with the prediction of Hayward that oil would hit $75.

But people who write poker books, such as Skalinski or Caro aren't necessarily the best poker players despite having solid theory.

And not everyone who reads a book, knows as much as the author...not even by half. Perfect information wouldn't even exist if each student read the same information...there are differences in creativity, not to mention Eros and Thanatos. You could publish the truth and it would quickly be assimilated differently.

In any case my critique of Darwnism might even be properly Darwinian.

My critique is essentially the critique of market systems, if Darwnism is a system then it is in Darwinian competition with other systems, if it is a macro picture then it is open to any particular system and can teach only simple broad truths, the number of folks who correspond to the strawmen being analytically inflated.

In other words how does a Darwinian know that society is or is not optimally Darwinian?

Also in trying to make Darwinism systematic, one risks making it a system capable of loosing to a system more adaptable and thus more Darwinian the cause of much potential confusion.

As soon as you give Darwinism truth you will find that there is no Darwinian guarantee of truth if the number of views that can be called true is smaller than the number of views that can have survival bennefits/value. This is answered as Churchill does by saying that in the long run truth and virtue wins out against chance and false belief, as the role of bad luck is factored out...that is unless bad luck is fatal, or bad luck occurs when folks were playing with margin/overleveraged...I lost a fatal $16,000 pot on the river all in against one opponent with eight outs(17%). Such bad luck is also dammaging to the mind, and does cause tilt(even if such behavior is "irrational")...still I made a lot of money being a very good darwinian and learned lessons some darwinians don't consider systematically rational(pschycological truths). On one level it is always true that you are always even(which means that all future decisions depend for being right on having rational expectations) on another level even folks who know this play to get lucky when they are down...but I am just affirming the truths of poker as taught by Mike Caro, with applicability for a game with clear parameters, in the rest of life as well but much more murkily. The thing is that men can maximize happiness, or duty, or a host of things which is difficult to discern, economics simplifies for the Darwinian reason that it must have a basis to speak broadly, but in the simplification much is lost...each and every ceterus paribus assumption comes home to roost, and I think to split the gap...I can't outhink a machine or beat an analytic philosopher, but I can beat the market by outhinking it as a poker player out thinks a machine...in theory(impossible to know if I can long term)

My idea is that the tests that argue for Random Walk are flawed, that philosphers and all alike are confused and bound by language when setting forward the rational and that by maintaining the irrational reflex, reading Hegel as he should be read I can beat the random walk, not by using economics per se but by using philosophical sociology and what I learned playing poker. My critique of Darwinism as a theory then is that it actually makes it dependent upon ceterus paribus assumptions that can be gamed by those who are not attempting to be overly rational about human nature. Even this is argueing too far in the direction of confusing myself that I have a system.

When Schramm first plugged Kindle I bought some Amazon as a paper trade and latter a small amount that I sold out of for an 8% gain...I adjust my purchases to accord with my certainty...I dart in and out with small gains, if my reason for holding something is shown to be false or unreliable I am out...I can't translate my style into a philosophy or system, and I could care less if it accords with a professors view of rationality. My favorite quote is Hegel's to the effect that what you know you must follow, even if the wisdom of others/the age runs counter...this isn't exactly true in the market, most of the times I think myself a fish on a giant wave, you catch it before it crests and get out with trailling stops before it crashes(which I also find to be Hegelian).

My worry is that such Darwinism will simply become an academic mantra, as true as the teachings of proffesorial economists(as opposed to traders), my worry is also existential(which my Darwinism(if I am so, which I am not worried about being) addresses)) and in analytic terms is laid out by Toqueville in Chapter 20 of Democracy in America.

As a determinist I do suffer the existential burden, and for that reason accept Dr. Lawlers truth about the healthy man, but my determinism is only as good as my reason, and my reason is quite faulty, therefore I am not capable of knowing how determined I really am, this cripling determinism being only a function of what I think I know(which contra perfect information is incredibly small and thankfully pathetic).

Thank God I am an idiot, or as Locke would say the realm of what I do not know is always far greater than that which I know. If I am not even half as smart as Ben Franklin what entitles me to accept or use whole cloth big words that are unclear to me?

Stertinius jibes me about my Hegel, but if he knew half the truth he would know I don't even know if I am Darwinian. In any case I am incorrigibly Georgian in interpretation, which means simply that whatever cannot fit into my head is commited to the flames, not self consciously or maliciously, but that this is simply a fact of life(a hegelian one even). The joke about history that we are doomed to repeat every lesson we forget(would start to get into Nietzsche) is accepted by me as a simple fact of life. A fact of life echoed in the bible by Psalm 119:11. Everything one would have me memorize is suspect, even if as pygmalion teaches the right speech is advantageous by my Darwin, and this begins to explain the attachment of blacks to the rythm of rap music and resistance to being/speaking white...and truth unfolds as I debate myself...and while the sociology and economics that I make is defective, it is understood and would be more defective for being more accurate if it wasn't understood. The truth is what I think it is, but the truth is rarely what I think it is. Because folks want to think they know the truth they fall for the error I of all people know best, they become married to what they think, and for this sin I perish and all others perish, and I perish less because I know others perish it, and this is why teaching Darwinism will become a hilariously laughable sin, and I will laugh, but not too much because I might be Darwinian, still you can't escape thinking what you know true, because you can't think the truth true if you don't first think it, and the truth is always packaged in terms you only pretend to think with because these are the terms of truth and you must argue justly. I mock all of you openly, but I am sure some of you understand your words, so it is a cautious mocking. I also hold that blackjack is beatable mathmatically, the theory exists those who can apply it are few, and I know that it is a solid theory but I both know and don't know the theory, I also know that the Casino sells it...a vast and veritable wasteland are the theories I know as well as blackjack theory, but I know that I know far less about what I know and I know because I suspect mostly correctly. What you know is always a function of how you know it, and even less so because this depends upon memory, and often times memory even of epistemology which is supposed to explain how you know what you no longer do. Before I can be a Darwinist I will have to sit down and write from scratch all of Darwin, and I know that proffesors will know I am right when they read Final exam essays(which I could never write)

I write at length to display all that I do not know, and if I do not know it then honestly I am not rational in immagining hypothetical minds that do know it, which is why I think the dispute the inner workings of the self-consciousness of academia, or that subset of hypothetical other minds that actually know the theory, such a small subset...but you are almost forced to make darwinians out of those who never read Darwin, and Lockeians out of those who never read Locke, but you don't know who has read what, what is hidden in hearts, Locke(d) away in minds. The irrational is the uncomprehended rational, but the rational is thus always irrational, gaps filled pell mell by the immagination at work, and I am a student of the immagination at work, my own tutor and pupil. I know what I make up, and perhaps only know what I make up, but I might know in this way what others might make up, and I might suspect that Darwinism is of this cloth but for the fact that I posit the existance of greater minds informed with the wisdom of larger words, and in self-conscious ownership of them. Darwinians strip your reason of immagination and enter the market place to battle me, do you think I can't reraise with nothing? do you think I think you think I can't reraise with nothing? How many levels of this ridiculousness do you think I think you are capable of? Do you know why I think the market is reacting as it is? Poker players are at work, and good ones too, minds that make academic economists posit Random Walk, and Random Walk is true, it is true in every systematic ceteris paribus reasonableness theory yet invented, and to make it worse high tech computers are trading, each claiming advance over random walk and many a fool buys such programs, I was many a fool until I realized that you never know what you yourself don't know. Better to buy Goldman Sachs at a discount to what Warren Buffet paid, and get out even if you miss out on a large portion of the profit. Better to sit around in cash playing tight aggressive poker, with the exception that you should never bluff but rather ride only the bluffs necessitated by the epistemic criteria of the opponent...but already I am immagining, yes but it is those who count who are immagining I am simply riding the coattails of greater minds which is why I MUST hop off before they do.

I actually think this market strategy works and is darwinian of sorts, but because I think it darwinian means that I conceptualize darwin along similar lines but not that this is darwinian as a greater mind would have darwin, even if this is darwinian it does not follow that I will suceed, and if I fail this does not mean that I was not darwinian, but the darwinian will say that if I am right I am darwinian and if I am wrong I was not darwinian, the strategy is conviniently correct if I am correct and conviniently not darwinian if I am wrong, or darwinian as a rejection of my radical poker approach(I have learned bankroll management now that I no longer have one!)

In fact I am inclined to think in a similar way, if I am right I was right and if I fail I was wrong, being more systematic would allow me to fail and be right and be wrong and suceed, and this I also hold to be the case such that I think it unlikely that I ever justify a universal premise capable of falsification by experience alone.

I am always right to go all in with an 80% chance of reward especially when the pot is huge...sometimes even all in with a 30% chance if the pot is laying me, and if not all in then implied odds...but all the math is dependent and is the read of the situation/lay of the land. Ignoring bankroll management and misfigureing house rake tips in economically tightening conditions/drastically darwinian environment is what got me...the players willing to loose stupid money shrank and the weak players improved/got to know me.

Despite the fact that my game was hypothetically above that of my opponents they evolved to reach a near par, and my ability had more to do with my rest and mental state than I had known. I also discovered the absolute truth that what I chose to read and mediate on profoundly changed my poker game if nothing else(a bold lie), when I wanted to become more analytical/mathmatical I would read Kant(whom I still can't understand) and Descartes, and sometimes study math or physics(albeit those guys have immaginations) alternatively when my play turned stale or I was becomming readable I would read Nietszche, or Kierkegard whom I prefered. I certainly read more philosophy playing poker than I ever read at Ashland(but even there I was always engaging others in debate more concerned with truth and the distance between an idea and the relation of the person who expoused it.)

Certainly I am imagining myself in a better light than the truth, conveniently for me most truth is imagination. The past is immagined via selective memory, but even present memory is selective, and future memory might be the closest we get to the truth, as we seek to be as objective and precise as possible in order to best calculate(if Hume is right and all reason is calculation for passion, nevertheless such calculation might be the least passionate and the most dispassionate, so that those who cheap shot Hume are potential fools.)

Overly Harsh, but the unibomber thing made me laugh. What evidence is there that man has evolved? There are serious holes in the Science behind Darwin and its supporters treat it like scripture. I am curious to what the endgame of linking conservatism to this is? It certainly can't be so that conservatives can fit in at the faculty lounge.

Darwinian biology sustains conservative social thought by showing how the human capacity for spontaneous order arises from social instincts and a moral sense shaped by natural selection in human evolutionary history. How do positve morals get shaped by natural selection, thinking that those have changed or could change would not those who play without rules be more likely to come out on top and pass on their traits? Do we really say that nice guys finish first in history?

I'm genuinely beginning to wonder if our very own John Lewis dabbles with cocaine.

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