Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Democratic Party Angst

From Donald Lambro to Howard Fineman it is becoming increasingly obvious that the Democrats are having huge problems. It is bad enough that they can’t overcome their habit of pandering to special interests (Leon Panetta seems to understand this problem), but now what they have to look forward to is nothing but Hillary, Hillary (and next year, Bill, Bill). I confess that it will be fun to see how they get around all this. The Democratic candidates for president can’t get any traction, no one is paying them any attention. The election of 2004 is likely to be a massacre (including Demo losses in the Senate and House). There is an outside chance that the Clintons, in pushing their own tyrannic self-interest and self-assertion--with Hillary campaigning for 2008--will eventually be seen to be the ones responsible for killing the Democratic Party, rather than being its savior, which Bill, by running in the center and being the only Democrat since FDR to be re-elected to the presidency, was thought to be. What interests me about articles like Fineman’s, is that more ordinary (or liberal) reporters and journalists are beginning to see this. Now I’m waiting for one of the Democrats running for president to address it; the person that does, would prosper. Maybe Howard Dean will. Even the New York Times admits that it is not just a book being rolled out, but the Clintons themselves embarking on the latest chapter of their "perpetual campaign" (no, I mean really, a real everlasting-until-death kind of perpetual campaign). Now why would anyone want to study physics?

Discussions - 10 Comments

"Even the saltiest of old dogs, Harry Truman, more or less bit his tongue until he let loose in Merle Miller’s “Plain Speaking”—20 years out of office. But the Clintons are not only front and center, they are in our face and will be until we (and they) cease breathing." -- Howard Fineman

Sorry, but you Democrats were soooo desparate after twelve years of Reagan/Bush, ya decided to take the plunge with a sweet talkin’ boy from Arkansas. You all knew he was a lyin’ cheatin’ sob, but ya decided "character didn’t matter," anyhow. Just win, baby! was the new motto. "It’s the economy, stupid!" And to hades with character! This was the so-called New Democrat: "We’re for a middle-class tax cut," they said. And then they raised them instead. "We’re for business and capitalism," they said. Then they tried to take over the health care industry. "We’re gonna be the most ethical administration in history," they said. And then they took us into the gutter of gate after gate after gate!

So now you all are stuck to ’em. Glued together like the thumb and fore finger of a little kid who got too messy with mom’s super glue. But only now, now it’s becoming too obivous what a frickin’ mistake it was to play around with "character" just for the sake of winning power.

But now I’m singin’ "Justice, sweet justice." At long last, the Democrats might rediscover the abject shame of it all!

But I doubt it.

Why would anyone want to study Physics? Recall that Paul Wolfowitz studied Mathematics and Chemistry prior to earning his PhD in Politics and thereby joining the VRWC-CSNC (Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy - Cabal of Straussian Neoconservatives. I figure we deserve to have our own federation along the lines of the AFL-CIO.). Indeed, Strauss’ undergraduate studies were in Natural Sciences. The philosophical elite who will guide your rulers must, after all, venture into the World of the Forms in order to contemplate the truths which the puny minds of the masses cannot fathom, and Socrates tells us clearly that we must study the natural world before studying the political. Besides, what better way to send coded messages to the rest of the Cabal than mathematics?

Oh, oh, this note has many serious points and I am not ignoring the wit. If the mind is only able to work (think) with either numbers or words, then either way will do for exercise. If numbers are able to help you understand the movement of nature, then that is what must be used. I do not deny that understanding physical world is a good. But, when the mind must ask what else is there to understand about the rest of nature (the human) that would be good or necessary to know, then it is done through words. You are led into the seemingly changing human world and you look for patterns and repetitions. Those may lead you to a consideration that the human--in its own way, in a messy kind of way (compared to mathematics)--is quite difficult to know in part because it seems to change. And yet it seems to be very important to know because, unlike the stars, you want to know how to live well. Mathematics will not teach you anything about that; but it will be a good training, maybe even a necessary one. I’m open.

I certainly agree that the study of nature to the neglect the human things is problematic (which is why I am only doing the BA program in Mathematics and adding a major in English and a minor in Philosophy), but I maintain, very seriously, that Mathematics is the best way to venture into the enterprise of examining life. The working principle is that one must deal with the ’simplest’ things first: those things which are predictable and rational absolutly. In pure mathematics (as opposed to applied math), everything fits the model and everything can be predicted. Mathematics is, indeed, the language of pure reason. We then look at the real world and try to understand it as best we can within the framework of mathematics, but even physics, the most exact of the sciences, must deal with a significant degree of uncertainty. However, we must have the linear model, since that is the simplest, in order to have a reference point from which to examine the nonlinear. We must have some understanding of the clean before we venture to understand the messy. Further, we must look to the tradition that produced the great minds of the Western Cannon. Certainly Plato and Aristotle believed that anyone wishing to study the moral and political sciences must first study geometry and arithmetic (I think the prescription was 10 years of mathematical investigation). Geometry held a central place in the medieval curriculum which produced Aquinas, Dante, Descartes and others, and it is no coincidence that the development of the "Self-evident truths" upon which the United States was founded was preceded by the discovery of the calculus by Newton and Leibnitz. It is also no coincidence that the objectively evil continental philosophies have been perpetuated by people with no understanding of mathematics, and that the great evils of the Twentieth Century were preceded by the Ninteenth Century’s divorce of the natural sciences from the other fields of human inquiry. Certainly, devoting one’s entire study to mathematics seems to destroy the capacity for humane living (I have many soulless-engineering-major stories I can tell), but it is equally problematic for those who have not yet had their minds prepared for the consideration of ’words’ to step immediately into philosophy. I would submit that among the great tragedies of the modern university curriculum is that students can earn a university degree without studying calculus, physics and biology (the others are that they can earn a degree without reading Plato, learning a foreign language, or studying the history of their own civilization). Perhaps we can agree upon Eistein’s statement, "Religion without science is blind, and science without religion is lame", extended to refer to philosophy and mathematics.

Absolute Universal Truth in one sentence:

It is either snowing or not snowing.

You look at the world and try to understand it from within the framework of Mathmatics????

In the preface to his Essay Concerning Human Understanding John Locke writes that he is looking to clear the ground to make room for Newton. The John Locke link to the founders is probably a little stronger...

"It is also no coincidence that the objectively evil continental philosophies have been perpetuated by people with no understanding of mathematics"--- lol... Continental philosophy grew out of Kant and Leibnitz. Leo Strauss was a continental philosopher... What exactly continental philosophy "is", is the question. Some Continental philosophy grew out World War I, when students decided to put down truth tables and math books and look at the state of Europe and the conditions of life. Even more grew out of World War II... Suddenly people rediscovered Kierkegaard...(he was unknown in his own day) This might not be a bad thing. Adolph Eichman on the other hand decided to do the math, and because of it the trains ran much more efficiently in Germany... But if you think of getting trains to run simply from the perspective of the Mathematics of it all...(don’t forget Kantian Duty to the State)

I don’t think the Germans were ever poor in Math, i.e "german engineering" and Continental philosophers are not lacking in references to Plato and appropriations of Socrates.

Mathematicians are always strange philosophers, (and almost always Platonists) because of the insistence upon two always seperate relms. Pure mathematics vs. applied math. The Dirty and the Clean... The dirty is the actual the clean is the rational. The more rational the less it is found on earth. The purely rational such as the perfect theoretical circle cannot exist. Finding the value for pi past 100,000 decimals is so rediculous because such accuracy would never apply to any actual shape.... On the other hand I wouldn’t recommend legislation making pi 3...

It is strange how a post on Democratic Angst goes back to Plato... All history may yet be fotenotes...

Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy. Psalm 65:8

Was this Psalmist full of it?

Do the math. In truth, I’ve never seen a sun rise. Have you?

Alas, there is no joy in Mathville, today.

Not to mention the fact that there is no such thing as the "ends of the earth" where one can "stand in awe of your wonders."

Regarding Mr. Weick’s thoughtful short essay: One comment only to illustrate the, as it were, clarity (and therefore simple complication?) of one of his points. You don’t really mean to suggest that the idea of a self evident truth cannot be known before the discovery of calculus? What about the discovery of the human mind, the common sense of the subject? never mind Euclid.

In reference to Mr. Lewis’ statement about snowing: you have failed to move beyond mere perception and into understanding. Yes, any animal can perceive whether or not it is snowing, but no animal other than the human being can understand why it is snowing. We understand this from the principles of atmospheric physics which are invariably mathematical. It is this understanding that allows us to determine that natural forces are at work when it snows as opposed to say gremlins shaking the gremlin equivalent of salt shakers above us. By the way, Kant was a failed mathematician, as evidenced by his laughable attempt to derive (and correct!) Newton’s Laws of Motion a priori. Arm-chair physics! Eichman was also a failed engineering student.

Also, I did mean to suggest that we had to understand that the universe abides by universal, rational and understandable laws before we could understand that human political affairs should be governed by similarly universal, rational and understandable laws; that man’s rights are not the product of fleeting whim but are instead eternal, fixed and universal, derived from a God who Himself is bound by nature not a God who controls it. This is the last I am going to write on the subject because I am in Manhattan for the summer and there is an exhibit of Medieval Art that is calling to me. Cheers to all. By the way, New York is not nearly the communist enclave I expected it to be. It is actually quite nice post-Giuliani.

Why study physics? To broaden your grasp of truth.

Something not be done in the reading of Living History.

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