Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Still clearing the decks...

More misc stuff to get rid of!

First and most important... one of the core concepts of modernism is skepticism in the sense of watching out for the worst human trait (and sometimes its best) that has been responsible for most bad governance... and some great art... our relentless subjective willingness to be fooled. As Richard Feynman said, “the easiest person to fool is yourself.”

This matter will come up here, time and again, so let me just cite a couple of interesting items. (Isn’t this the underlying notion behind CITOKATE?)

One of the great flamboyant impresarios of skepticism, “The Great Randi,” will be holding a grand festival of skepticism and magic (yeah you heard that right!) along with my pals Penn & Teller and the MythBusters and many others, in Las Vegas in January. I hereby forgive them for not inviting me. And I urge you all to drop by http://www.tam4.com/

And there are few things you can do to help that will come easier, cheaper, and better than subscribing to Skeptic Magazine. http://www.skeptic.com/

Also, buy my novel EARTH and look on the back pages. There’s a list of other organizations you can join in order to help save the world, without doing anything more than writing a check for subscription to a cool magazine, once a year. It’s called “proxy power” and if you are not doing at least THAT much - joining half a dozen groups who will use your dues to go save the world FOR you -- well, then, then you are simply part of the problem, not part of the solution.

---

Now to miscellany. Any of you out there Huxley aficionados? A friend recently discovered a very direct debate in the 1940s between Aldous & Julian Huxley on the possibility of progress. Dour old Aldous called it another "idol" while Julian (co-founder of UNESCO and the World Health Organization) was all for it. JH makes his case for progress with the caveat that progress is not inevitable as some millenarians had thought. But, since we're in charge of the planet now, it is absolutely necessary.

Ah, but if you go back to my initial modernism articles, you can see that the Huxleys were arguing during in the can-do period of 1945-1969, when nothing seemed out of reach, the social diamond was at its flattest, and modernism seemed unstoppable. The unbelievable irony? We have accomplished vastly more than anybody then could have expected.

No, we don’t have unmetered/free nuclear power & nuke cars. But we have better race and gender justice than even a utopian would have imagined, then! And many wonders like this one I am using now. And after all of those accomplishments? A civilization with plummeting confidence! Aw, man.

---

Among our purposes online is to help each other find useful sites. Here is one. The Progressive Policy Institute examines mostly trade matters but with an eye to policy. http://www.ppionline.org/ Here’s a recent excerpt:

”The Numbers:

U.S. "edible ice" imports, 1996: 1,024 tons
U.S. "edible ice" exports, 2000: 6,800 tons
U.S. "edible ice" exports, 2004: 16,300 tons

What They Mean:

“Ingenious attempts to cool off are not at all new. In the 16th chapter of Walden, for example, Henry David Thoreau notes the arrival of a hundred Irish workmen at Walden Pond, who spent the winter of 1846-47 cutting blocks of ice from the pond's frozen surface. By March they had built an ice tower weighing 10,000 tons, which stood by the pond, insulated under a pile of hay, until it was dismantled and shipped off to India by ice king Frederick Turner the following autumn. The ice boats left in September and reached Bengal in May. New England at the time was exporting 5,000 tons of ice a year -- a figure which reached 12,000 a year in the 1870s -- to Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Brazil, Cuba, and Central America, as well as India. Turner was also the first man to sell ice cream in Cuba, the Virgin Islands, and St. Kitts. Thoreau smugly comments: "the sweltering inhabitants of Charleston and New Orleans, of Madras and Bombay and Calcutta drink at my well ."

“America's modern ice trade, though growing fast, is still pretty small. The "edible ice" totals last year were $3 million in exports, mainly to Mexico, and $28 million in imports. U.S. trade in ice cream is considerably bigger, at $50 million to $100 million a year in exports and $10 million in imports. Hong Kong and Singapore are still on the ice cream export map, but India is not. Trade in air conditioners and refrigerators of course is bigger still...” “... Probably more interesting, China's first major industrial manufacturing venture in the United States is in refrigeration. Appliance giant Hai'er opened a plant in Camden, South Carolina, in 2003, which now employs 225 people and has the capacity to produce half a million refrigerators a year...


Fascinating! Now more snippets. Mostly about science persevering amid and despite the new barbarians...

'Strange Things' Along Pacific Coast Waters -- (Associated Press -- August 2, 2005)
Marine biologists are seeing mysterious and disturbing things along the Pacific Coast this year: higher water temperatures, plummeting catches of fish, lots of dead birds on the beaches, and perhaps most worrisome, very little plankton - the tiny organisms that are a vital link in the ocean food chain. "The bottom has fallen out of the coastal food chain, and there's just not enough food out there," said Julia Parrish, a seabird ecologist at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Siberia's Rapid Thaw Causes Alarm -- (BBC -- August 11, 2005)
The huge expanse of western Siberia is thawing for the first time since its formation, 11,000 years ago. The area, which is the size of France and Germany combined, could release billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This could potentially act as a tipping point, causing global warming to snowball, scientists fear.

Scientists Sound Alarm on Arctic Ice Cap -- (CBC News -- July 29, 2005)
Satellite data for the month of June show Arctic sea ice has shrunk to a record low, raising concerns about climate change, coastal erosion, and changes to wildlife patterns. The National Snow and Ice Data Center in the United States uses remote sensing imagery to survey ice cover at both poles. The center says 2002 was a record low year for sea ice cover in the Arctic, since satellite observations began in 1979. There's evidence that may have been the lowest coverage in a century. Now scientists fear this year could be worse

How Earth-scale Engineering Can Save the Planet -- (Popular Science -- August 1, 2005)
As scientists stretch to find a solution to global warming, an array of innovative and imaginative ideas have emerged that constitute tinkering on a global scale. We already are inadvertently changing the climate, so why not advertently try to counterbalance it? asks a community of forward thinking scientists and designers. Here are some of the proposals.

-

And a FINAL QUOTE... which could be almost a modernists motto or manifesto...

“We are at the very beginning of time for the human race. It is not unreasonable that we grapple with problems. But there are tens of thousands of years in the future. Our responsibility is to do what we can, learn what we can, improve the solutions, and pass them on.” --- Richard Feynman

(I met Feynman several times and attended lectures while I was a student at Caltech. In fact, at a party he once borrowed my date to dance, not realizing the song was Inna Gaddadavita! After 20 mins he (sweating/panting) returned her saying “You...you must take my place.”

(Like an idiot, I misunderstood and switched my major to physics. Agh! ;-)

38 comments:

Watch 'n Wait said...

Hey David! How neat that you also have a blog. I discovered yours because you tapped into mine today...aggravated.blogspot.com :))

Did you know that a bunch of the Writers Haven Writers are still gathering on Tues eves on the patio of La Pinata in Old Town? Come join us if you get the chance! Hugs...Betty

Tony Fisk said...

Siberia's Rapid Thaw Causes Alarm...

How Earth-scale Engineering Can Save the Planet...

Gotta point out Cascio's article on using genetically engineered methanogens to breathe in the new ambience bubbling out of Siberia's peat bogs!

...and the folk messing about with their hybrid vehicles to boost effiencies (Who's for a solar powered Prius?).

Which leads to the silly thought for today:

Tinker, tinker, clever monkey!
Sprung from brow? Yer gunna flunkee!'

Anonymous said...

The strange goings-on off of Oregon's coast reminded me of something from long ago . . .

In the early 70s, Harry Harrison's novel Make Room, Make Room about an overcrowded future NYC was adapted for the big screen. Harrison, or a screenwriter, added some environmental warnings that -- thanks to another added twist -- have been almost entirely forgotten.

Near the beginning of the film, the cop-hero's elderly room mate bitches about how hot it is due to the greenhouse effect. Yeah, scientists knew what this was, but this was almost certainly the first time the notion was broached in popular culture. Thirteen years before NASA scientists warned that it was actually happening.

Later, the cop gathers evidence at the scene of a murder; a big hardbound research report put together for the board of the victim's employer, a big food processing outfit.

The cop's roommate reads the report. The krill that form the basis of the food chain, and are the main ingredient of the corporation's signature food product, have died off. In a scene cut from the edited-for-TV version, the old guy and his researcher cronies discuss the news with ashen faces.

At the end of the film the cop character, mortally wounded, cries out "The oceans are dying!" Bad news. Really bad news.

But, damnit, that other twist they added, and the other thing that Thorn cries out, THAT is the one that people remember:

"Soylent Green is people!"

People eating each other is nothing compared to ocean currents changing enough to f%^# up ecosystems.

Stefan

NoOne said...

According to Dr. Brin,

And there are few things you can do to help that will come easier, cheaper, and better than subscribing to Skeptic Magazine. http://www.skeptic.com/


Sorry but the Skeptic Magazine doesn't work for me. It trots out the usual tired old farts like Dennett, Dawkins etc. I guess I'm too much of a newage scientist and while I'm glad that something like the Skeptic Magazine exists - in order to keep in line the astrology, crystals and bogus alternative medicine wackjobs - I'm too much into consciousness research and spirituality for something like this to be appealing.

Anonymous said...

Blogs Pose Liability Issues for Employers
When Hurricane Bonnie roared toward the Carolinas in August 1998, the Knight Ridder-owned ... Julin, a media lawyer and partner at Hunton & Williams in Miami, said blogs pose liability risks because they "are likely to attract some of the most extreme forms of speech.
Hey, you have a great blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

I have a swimming pool chemicals site/blog. It pretty much covers
swimming pool chemicals related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

David Brin said...

Wow, Anonymous, your posts vary SO much in quality. One moment you're a screecher and the next moment so cogent. Almost as if more than one person is using your name!

;-)

Stefan, I agree Skeptic has its own view. But the trick of Proxy Power is that you are not trying to find one group that perfecty overlaps your views. What Proxy Power is all about is finding a dozen or so activist magazines or groups or NGOS who you feel are on target 66% of the time in different areas, ADDING UP to some overlap of your passionate cares.

Hey, you aren't giving them million dollar grants. It's 35$ a year for a membership and a magazine and a little boost to efforts that you *generally* think help boost the civilization you want.

I am writing a book review (I'll share it soon) on Mooney's "The Republican War on Science". Though of course I generally agree, In my review I also skewer Greenpeace as an example of an organization that has used shady science to oversimplify issues from a leftist perspective.

Still, I send them money every year! I want Greenpeace to be out there, yelling and howling about danger... so that the Sierra Club can look really moderate and have more negotiating leverage. See how it works?

Again, it's up to you which of these orgs you join... and how many memberships your income/enthusiasm/passion can support. (Shall we start listing favorite activist groups? Start with Witness.org!)

You may also choose to do genuine activism, such as I do in supporting efforts to get good science fiction stories & novels into schools. (A frontline memic weapon in favor of modernism/enlightenment! Any volunteers?)

But I won't preach specifics. What matters is that at SOME level this is the absolute minimum thing any real citizen should be doing right now... especially since gerrymandering has rendered most of our votes worthless. If you are member-supporting half a dozen orgs, they will at least fight to save the world FOR you. The lazy guy's activism.

If you aren't doing this much, you are part of the problem.

.

PS...Oh... one more thing about SKEPTIC. Anyone who subsidizes Randi has got to be on our side!

Anonymous said...

Note that it wasn't me who dissed the Skeptic. I don't subscribe, but read it now and then.

I feel, to some extent, that they're fighting a rearguard action. For every Randi and Penn, there are a dozen shameless hucksters and ten thousand lazy-minded suckers eager to enrich them.

Orgs I contribute to:

FICA: A micro-loan outfit.

The Heifer Project: Buys livestock for poor people.

The Southern Poverty Law Center: Because there are still a lot of bastards out there.

The local food bank and Second Harvest.

The ACLU.

Stefan

Mabus said...

Your...snippets...are all so alarming, I almost wish I hadn't noticed you were posting again. Except for the last one, which suggested some genuine hope. Kinda reminded me of some of the odder ideas I had about ozone depletion and large electrical discharges back in high school....it's a shame I didn't understand lasers better at the time (my ideas were way off).

Don't worry that you'll put me off continuing to read, of course. My real problem is the dismal state of my financial and personal affairs--it's all too easy to project my individual troubles onto the state of the world. Fortunately, it appears not to be in my nature to quit; I just repeatedly say that I will.

Earlier, you questioned the size of your readership here. I should probably mention that some of us may be a little intimidated about posting here, either because of your...ahem...exalted status as an author or because we question our own credentials as authentic modernists. So if you don't plan to add a counter, by all means keep that in mind as a source of error in your estimates!

Mark Johnson said...

David, Richard Feynman is one of my all time favorite idols. Of anyone living, I would have liked to meet him. He would approve that I married a latin woman with rhythm. ;-)
I really enjoyed that mans ability to simplify, and that with his huge intellect, he discovered how to ground himself with the REAL joys in life. I hope to be more like him.

I had read some of the news about Siberia and other eco-distasters in the making. There are anecdotal reports of more red tides, melting glaciers and hurricanes which can be dismissed--but melting permafrost is the clincher. Once that vast expanse becomes a bubbling bog there will be alarm bells going off.

I feel that giant science projects that you speak of are our only real hope -- though I agree with the Sierra Club that we should conserve and limit our damage -- it is pretty much too late for that to have a significant impact. We could leave the planet right now and a lot of this damage will play out anyway. That is the worry of the "Tipping Point". In our headlong search for an answer to this problem... let's at least nod the hat the the people who have been "right all along". When Jimmy Carter was president, there was nothing but bitching about a few inconveniences--how much would people complain now if we had to go to Zero Impact conservation? It just that it irks me that all the Economics 101 know-it-alls got to dismiss everyone who was trying to make America a better global citizen -- if we had listened then, how much international and environmental turmoil could we have prevented?

I fear some of these ideas about genetically altered organisms because you can't control them later. Something that can be turned on and off like a space mirror (and why not use that to gather energy as well) and interesting -- but we need to have an OFF SWITCH on anything we do. Greenhouse gases are trapping more solar heat, but a giant mirror would reduce the amount of UV energy reaching plants if it isn't designed right -- does anyone know what that would do? Would plants die quicker with less UV? I have been posting on slashdot often, that Environmental Super Projects and alternative energy need to be the new Manhattan Project / Apollo Mission for this century.

But I really don't think I trust Bush Administration to be the ones to solve this problem. On one hand, he tells the populace that Global Warming isn't real. The rest of the Republican Radio Pundits tell us we are tin-foil hat wearers. Then he actually treats it seriously and has secret meetings on the side. But it's too important to keep the myth going with his political base. What an ass. This is the kind of group that would spend resources on an escape vessel to create the ultimate golden parachute. Remember the move "When Worlds Collide"? Except, I'm sure the lottery would be run on Diebold machines.

I think the best donation I can make is to an impeachment process. The quicker we get rid of these criminal parasites, the quicker we can get to honest government that might actually have solutions that include you and me. The solutions are going to require that everyone quit fighting over straw man issues and get with the mission of leaving something for our children.

Anonymous said...

I have to ask, what was your major before physics?

Jon (who is still trying to figure out what his whould be, grumble)

Anonymous said...

"It isn't that they lost sight of the future, they weren't looking in that direction to begin with."

-- Blog commentor using the handle "mayorbob," describing the administration's Iraq planning but that fits their view of the environment, too.

Wintermute said...

Well if it isn't David Brin, one of my all time favorite authors (even though I've only read the one non-fiction book, The Transparent society). As a popperian and Orwell lover with severe reservations about any kind of surveillance, The Transparent Society was extremely welcome reading. One of my professors, Kevin Haggerty, recommended it to me.

It is not a word of a lie to say that the Transparent Society changed my life. Even though I want to follow Popper because it is rational, the anarchist in me was bubbling over into my academic work, and Kevin rightly pointed me to your book to set me back on the right track. Transparency for the sake of accountability, because accountability is our only tool for correcting error and guarding against tyranny. That's sweet, it makes so much sense. You must have had fun writing that book, especially organizing and integrating all those wicked quotes.

I have been reading your blog for maybe a month, and I am enjoying your thoughts. I plan to stick around, because without some of your memes my anarchism and radical environmentalism tend to take on a life of their own. :)

As regards this thread, that's a cool Feynman anecdote. After Einstein he's probably the most quoteable of physicists.

Stefan's soylent green reference was insightful. I agree that cannibalism is the least of our worries after the tipping point.

The problem, as I see it, is that in a postmodern society, academia has been largely tied up in debates over 'what is truth'. This is especially true of philosophy and sociology, where postmodern memes have penetrated and neutralized our most socially critical disciplines. When trying to communicate with Joe public many modernist's memes have been so warped by fighting off postmodernism and pragmatic/instrumentalist epistemological arguments that they have become unintelligible to the layman.

Thus academically derived dissent and criticism has been neutralized twofold in the political arena by postmodern memes: we have lost the authority of Science, and many modernists have become unintelligibly esoteric when speaking (I pray that this post is not an example of this proposition). In honor of Nitezche's noting of the death of God, I like to call the rise of postmodernism The Death of Knowledge.

With academia neutralized and the mass media controlled by corporations, those in power today are left more unaccountable than any administration in history, with more power than any administration has ever had before as well. A dangerous combination that is, immense power without accountability.

Not only are those in power today so devoid of accountability that they don't have to listen to sociologists or criminologists, they no longer have to listen to practicioners of hard science either! There is scarcely a study which would even come close to falsifying the global warming models, and those that do offer contradictory evidence seem invariably funded (and biased) by oil interests.

What I think one of the biggest meme pushes should be is that of the reliability of the scientific method, and the distinction between science and non-science. The global warming hypothesis, for lack of a better word, is true ('probably a good approximation', for any popperians out there). Intelligent Design, in turn, is not science. These are not even debates that we should be having on a national level. We should not allow our president to deny the reality of global warming, that just demonstrates his irrationality. Where is the truth in all this? And as has been said here; from the republicans of all people!! Neo-con rubbish it is.

The other meme that needs to be pushed is a simple understanding of the neo-con ideology. Understanding that there is a group in power today that actually espouses and adhers to a philosophy of keeping the masses distracted and ignorant in an effort to turn our democracy into a functional oligarchy might make more than a few voters angry. Even if all they end up doing is just subscribing to a few choice magazines, as you say, at least then they wouldn't be part of the problem anymore (at least not a part of all the problems).

Sorry for the volumous post, but there's my two cents (maybe more like two dollars). I'll try to be more cogent in the future. Keep fighting that non-violent meme war. Please. For all of us.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Wintermute. (And fellow W Gibson fan.)

I am on the road at an exobiology conference so I must be brief.

I believe it is important to note that for every insatiable neo-aristo out there, who is reflexively trying to re-establish a pyramidal social order, there is probably another, smarter, satiable who is loyal to the diamond, whose teeth grate over what the frat boys are doing.

A few, like Warren Buffett, have been expressing this dismay. I believe a big part of our counter attack must be to shake a bunch of the satiables out of their torpor and sullen unhappiness and make them militant for the social diamond. They have money and power, and must realize that this is NOT the time to be "loyal to other conservatives".

Smart conservatives must do what the AFL CIO did in 1945.

Realize that it's your "side's" turn to have gone mad. Do something about it. If the AFL could declare war on left-mad communism, the satiables can do the same with Right-mad neocons.

They must.

db

Mark Johnson said...

I just had a troubling thought... in reference to Stefan's "Soylent Green is people!" story. The main issue in the book is that the oceans are dying--not cannibalism. Well, it has been very strange to me that the Democrats have been very silent,.. almost cooperative with Bush's purges and placement of loyalists. Patriot Act I & II seem more suited for controlling the population than in protecting it. What if the hidden reason that would justify what would otherwise be a willing corruption of our government is putting in place a Marshall Law government because, "the oceans are already dying"?

That scares me more than the transitory power grabs and corruption.

Anonymous said...

I want to suggest a blogger called The Enlightened Caveman, who just posted a pointed description of the philosophical roots of postmodernism and the horrifying assumption at its heart. You and he are fighting the same battle against the same enemies.

Pat

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Anonymous said...

Wow, even spam robots enjoy DB's blog!

RE what Mark Johnson woders:

i) I think the neocons and oil men and fundamentalists (religious and free market) are totally clueless and so in denial about environmental problems that the thought of long-term preparations for trouble wouldn't even occur to them, but you never know.

ii) One of Patrick Farley's comcs (www.e-sheep.com) concerns this scenario . . . alas, it doesn't seem to be on his site any more.

Stefan

Dave Baker said...

Wintermute said:
This is especially true of philosophy and sociology, where postmodern memes have penetrated and neutralized our most socially critical disciplines.

Whoa, hold on there. As a philosophy grad student, I can't let this stand. Postmodernism has never been popular in the dominant "analytic" school of philosophy that's existed in the US and Britain during the 20th Century. Such things are only associated with the (aptly named) "Continental" school of thought that has dominated continental Europe.

This is a bit of an over-simplification, but generally speaking there are no postmodernists in the average American philosophy department. American and British philosophy is largely concerned with justifying and interpreting the successes of Western science.

Wintermute said...

Brin said: Realize that it's your "side's" turn to have gone mad. Do something about it. If the AFL could declare war on left-mad communism, the satiables can do the same with Right-mad neocons.

They must.


Good call. Someone get me McCarthy!!! (just kidding).

Dave Baker said: Whoa, hold on there. As a philosophy grad student, I can't let this stand. Postmodernism has never been popular in the dominant "analytic" school of philosophy that's existed in the US and Britain during the 20th Century. Such things are only associated with the (aptly named) "Continental" school of thought that has dominated continental Europe.

True enough, but the analytics have been fighting it out with the continentalists since the divide was created (originally as more of an enlightenment/romantic distinction). And yes, the analytic school can stand on its own two feet, but they have been warped by their battle to the point that joe public has no hope of understanding what they have to say about science or politics without two or three years of a philosophy degree.

The problem is not so present in philosophy, though the never-ending realism/anti-realism debate does drain resoures from more profitable endeavours. Sociology is the one that has really been penetrated by postmodernism, and as the discipline which is supposed to offer a critical and progressive stance on the state of our society, this simply will not do. Their critiques have become not only more radical, but more importantly they have become unintelligible to the layman and the policy maker.

This is a bit of an over-simplification, but generally speaking there are no postmodernists in the average American philosophy department. American and British philosophy is largely concerned with justifying and interpreting the successes of Western science.

I don't know how many pomo people are in the Average American phil department, and I agree with the fact that most analytics are concerned today with justifying the successes of Western science.

But why is this their main activity? Could it be because the postmodernist/continentalist/romantic camp has criticized science to the point where the analytics are constantly trying to fight them off?

An effort to justify the successes of science is, in my mind, a completed task. Popper solved most of these problems a long time ago, but they still come up because as soon as analytic philosophers of science say that science reliably produces true theories someone will invariably ask "what do you mean by true" or simply say "there is no Truth," thus taking issue with the correspondence theory of truth.

We have lost our factual grounding, even science cannot be trusted. The fact of the matter is that we need facts to make decisions, and science is the most reliable place to get facts, so long as we can all agree that they are facts.

Analytics (myself included) end up in prolonged debates with their continental counterparts over realism/anti-realism. This is not a debate we need to be having right now. We don't need to be justifying the successes of modern science: they are and have been justified! Postmodernism has draw us into this debate, and neutralized some of our most precious and powerful cognitive resources-The Philosophers. The state of affairs in sociology, as I percieve them, are much graver still (though I am going to school in Canada, so this could just be their thing, but I doubt it).

Without bringing the academics back into the debate I think the neo-cons will be in power for a long time. If, as a modernist, you do run into a raging postmodernist, he will likely tell you that your way of thinking tends to perpetuate power inequalities ( a standard pragmatic refutation of modernism). You can then argue, along these lines, that his way of thinking perpetuates power inequalities more than a modernist outlook does. We need to fight postmodernism, and in some sense this involves stopping the effort to justify science, because it is justified.

Analytics trying to justify science is an effect of postmodernism. We need to shut down postmodernism more directly, rather than indirectly via the realism/anti-realism debate. Viva la Modernism!!



Yeah, that whole brevity thing didn't really work out. But I'm trying.

Dave Baker said...

Hm, I don't know if I can address all of your points without getting technical. As you say, this is one of the problems with doing philosophy...

But why is this their main activity? Could it be because the postmodernist/continentalist/romantic camp has criticized science to the point where the analytics are constantly trying to fight them off?

I don't think so at all. It's not the challenge of the continentals we're trying to answer. Broadly speaking, it's the challenge of skepticism. There are a trillion unsolved problems about inductive thinking and the scientific method. Without good answers to these, the philosopher is compelled to say, we know that science works but we don't know how or why.

Set aside theories of truth, which I agree are pretty needless. I still don't think Popper has solved the most interesting problems about experimental learning and science. He claims to have solved Hume's problem (basic inductive skepticism), but I don't think so -- an un-falsified theory is not the same as a confirmed theory. He is as vulnerable as anyone to Hempel's paradox -- why doesn't my seeing a non-black non-raven confirm the theory that all ravens are black? Then there's the New Riddle of Induction. Now there's a problem I can't even conceive of how to solve.

And what about all the issues besides experimental results that can lead us to believe one theory over another? There's no good explanation in Popper for why Special Relativity superseded the empirically equivalent Lorentz ether theory.

Suffice it to say, I don't think the problems we're trying to solve in philosophy of science were posed to us by the continentals. Most of us don't even read continental philosophy. The problems we're trying to solve are problems that we've posed ourselves, out of intellectual honesty, because it's a genuine mystery how and why we know anything.

As to the Modernism vs. Romanticism question, I think we shy away from that because (i) most of us don't want to spend our careers arguing about politics and (ii) it's not a very hard question! The answer (Modernism) is obvious.

Anonymous said...

Pastafarianism -- the belief that the unfathomably complex world about us was created by a flying spaghetti monster -- is really getting legs.

The editors of the net culture blog bOING-bOING are all converts and are putting their money where there marinara sauce is. They are offering a prize of $250,000 to anyone who can prove, with empirical evidence, that Jesus is not the son of the Flying Spaghetti monster:

Pastafarian Challenge

Stefan

David Brin said...

===

Dave Baker, you may be right that US philosophy depts are engaged with pragmatic-enlightenment-science related issues. (Certainly not all of them are! I’ve met some platonists in philosophy depts!) But the same cannot be said of English, literature and communications and similar departments, which are often rife with ex- or crypto Marxists, faux-Euro postmodernists and the like.

If you are right, perhaps the PHILOSOPHY departments are where science fiction should seek refuge from the relentless purge by narrowminded deconstructionalists. Is it possible that the very nature of SF as a relentless exercise in gedankenexperimentation might be highly relevant to modern and modernist philosophical inquiry? After all, doesn’t the tentative and conjectural come before falsifiable theorization, which then comes before experimentation and then contingent verification?

Just a thought.

sayeth wintermute: “An effort to justify the successes of science is, in my mind, a completed task. Popper solved most of these problems a long time ago, but they still come up because as soon as analytic philosophers of science say that science reliably produces true theories someone will invariably ask "what do you mean by true"”

I agree up to a point. Science still faces serious philosophical issues where it comes to its relationship with the future, with policy, with notions like human and social improvability, with agenda setting, with science management, and so on.

“You can then argue, along these lines, that his way of thinking perpetuates power inequalities more than a modernist outlook does. “

Of course, that is what the diamond vs pyramid metaphor is FOR. To provide a weapon to knock these jerks on their arses. They are pyramidalists who differ from capitalist aristocrats only over WHICH elite should rule for the ultimate good of the benighted masses. They are still platonists who year for philosopher kings. And proof of this is in their habit of scholasticism... proving things by citation of past masters, rather than proposing testable falsifiable hypotheses.

Not their fault. Romantics CANNOT get it. You can grasp what they are saying. They are inherently incapable of understanding you. And because of that they must attribute their confusion to your immorality.

The pragmatism question is simple. Those with a look-forward mentality simply assume that our grandchildren will be better than us. Therefore, any attempt to have the last word on any issue, even philosophy, is asinine and ridiculous. Our brainer descendants will know what’s what, far better than we do.

That is NOT to say that deep issues aren’t fair territory to explore. But it should be with a sense of contingency and awareness THAT we will not have the last word.

Still, if you accept the one core premise of modernism.... that children can and should be better than their parents... then there is only one central and first priority task.

To make that outcome happen.

Wintermute said...

Dave Baker said: "I still don't think Popper has solved the most interesting problems about experimental learning and science. He claims to have solved Hume's problem (basic inductive skepticism), but I don't think so -- an un-falsified theory is not the same as a confirmed theory. He is as vulnerable as anyone to Hempel's paradox -- why doesn't my seeing a non-black non-raven confirm the theory that all ravens are black? Then there's the New Riddle of Induction. Now there's a problem I can't even conceive of how to solve.

If you want the most cogent explication of Popper's solution to the so-called "new problem of induction" see David Deutsch's The Fabric of Reality. I disagree with the assertion that:

There are a trillion unsolved problems about inductive thinking and the scientific method. Without good answers to these, the philosopher is compelled to say, we know that science works but we don't know how or why.

The problem of induction has been solved, in all its formulations. We have good answers to these problems, popperian solutions. We know why science works, it proceeds by conjecture and refutation. It subjects its hypotheses (theories) to empirical testing and puts them in competition with any other tenable hypotheses. The scientific method evolves better theories, better meaning that they are closer to the truth. Popper has solved many of these problems, and we don't, especially as analytic philosophers, need to keep reformulating the problem of induction or adhering to pragmatic/instrumentalist (anti-)epistemologies. For more on this, see Deutsch.

Dr. Brin, do you know of David Deutsch? I'm curious as to what you think of him, as a physicist. I agree with you that:

The pragmatism question is simple. Those with a look-forward mentality simply assume that our grandchildren will be better than us. Therefore, any attempt to have the last word on any issue, even philosophy, is asinine and ridiculous. Our brainer descendants will know what’s what, far better than we do.

That is NOT to say that deep issues aren’t fair territory to explore. But it should be with a sense of contingency and awareness THAT we will not have the last word.


and I think that "making that outcome happen" involves, for the moment, putting the problem of induction on the 'solved' shelf, and accepting the scientific method as our most reliable empirical fact generating process. We can then move on to more pertinant issues, issues of justice within globalization and how to bring about as much transparency as possible. If we do this we will also be able to use the facts generated by science in our dealing with these transparency/globalization issues.

I disagree that:

"Romantics CANNOT get it."

They just need to read Popper (or even just Ch. 7 of Deutsch). But they are fairly incorrigible, they have some pretty immpenitrable memes.

I think your idea that:

the PHILOSOPHY departments are where science fiction should seek refuge from the relentless purge by narrowminded deconstructionalists. Is it possible that the very nature of SF as a relentless exercise in gedankenexperimentation might be highly relevant to modern and modernist philosophical inquiry? After all, doesn’t the tentative and conjectural come before falsifiable theorization, which then comes before experimentation and then contingent verification?

is very insightful. Philosophy of Mind courses could benefit from the works of many of the top notch SF writers (Chaing, Gibson, I would say you as well but you're still stuck in the reading queue), Philosophy of Cognative Science classes even more so.

However, if we are going to pick our battles, I think the english departments and sociology departments would benefit even more, if we could get these books and ideas in there. Philosophy would be a good place to start, but the real target should be the English and Sociology departments (Sociology would be tough. Only Orwell seems able to penetrate there.)

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know if anyone else find this article relevant to the "enemies of modernism" debate:

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/_/id/7539869

It's a look at how congress is (not) working these days.

Also, I realize that David Brin is super busy, but I'd like to read his opinions on Penn and Teller's Bullshit! Helpful debunking or High-outrage smug screaming that alienates people? I'm still trying to decide myself.

Jon

David Brin said...

I agree with much you say. And yet, I do find it hopeless to try and budge the postmodernists and the crypto-Marxists in most university English and sociology departments. They are drenched in romantic/dogmatic sanctimony of the sort that I describe in my "Open Letter on Addiction"...

... indeed, they are the left wing counterparts of the neocons and apocalypts, with the saving grace that they currently are impotent to harm anything more than a few impressionable minds.

I am intrigued by the notion of slipping science fiction in through philosophy departments. Huh. Let us ponder. I'd be willing to talk at some department, some time.

As to my seemingly outrageous comment about romantics being unable even to perceive what modernists and scientists are saying... I am coming to really believe this is the root of their anger.

I think they really cannot perceive THAT the Enlightenment worldview is different in the ways we describe. They try endlessly to cram us into platonist or other romantic/traditional motive sets. If we deny all that, then we must be hiding something. The more confused they get, the more they suspect science must be fundamentally about power and theft... in other words, immoral.

But another time...

Wintermute said...

Dr. Brin said: "I am intrigued by the notion of slipping science fiction in through philosophy departments. Huh. Let us ponder. I'd be willing to talk at some department, some time."

We are hosting a undergraduate philosophy conference at the University of Alberta this January (near the end of the month). You are obviously welcome to attend and present on any topic you wish. We have two guest speakers already, but you would be a more than welcome third (if you aren't too busy, which I imagine that you would be).

Our theme is very broad, "Philosophy and the City." Most of what you seem to be into would be applicable, even the inclusion of SF novels in philosophy curricula, or something on transparency, or whatever. We don't really seem to be sticking to the theme anyways, so the topic would be entirely up to you.

Transportation and accomodation would indubitably be provided. No pressure, obviously, but you mentioned it, and you are hereby given the opportunity to present your ideas to a departement, even if only to our undergrads (though grad students and faculty will also be in attendance).

As regards: "I do find it hopeless to try and budge the postmodernists and the crypto-Marxists in most university English and sociology departments. They are drenched in romantic/dogmatic sanctimony of the sort that I describe in my "Open Letter on Addiction"...

... indeed, they are the left wing counterparts of the neocons and apocalypts, with the saving grace that they currently are impotent to harm anything more than a few impressionable minds."


that is an interesting analysis. But if we are just going to brush these lost causes away, don't we run the risk of becoming arrogant? What happens when we start brushing aside good ideas because they are produced by "crypto-marxists" or postmodernists? Isn't it a popperian maxim to argue in your opponents terms? I have turned some marxists, but only the young ones. The old one's memes are pretty rock solid, but the young ones are still solidifying. So, let the old fogies die out (Kuhn style), but fight for the young ones, is what I would prescribe. As Morpheus said in The Matrix: "we never free a mind once it reaches a certain age." The young marxists are not lost causes, but I agree that the old ones can just be ignored (for lack of a better solution).

I can empathize with your statement that: I think they really cannot perceive THAT the Enlightenment worldview is different in the ways we describe. They try endlessly to cram us into platonist or other romantic/traditional motive sets.

I too find myself being misinterpreted by postmodernists and marxists, constantly being crammed into platonic boxes. It gets fairly irritating after a while. I still hold out hope that the young ones can be shown the way, but I too am becoming increasingly disenchanted with this optimistic hope.

Frank said...

Maybe silly but...

Accountability
(social) Mobility
Positive-sum

A.M.P.? AMP up the diamond! :)

Dave Baker said...

Wintermute,
Agree to disagree, I suppose. And disagree we do, quite profoundly. I don't see it as much of a stretch to say there are still unsolved problems in the epistemology of science.

Nor should our lack of a solution be a problem for practicing scientists! Even if you're right that Popper solved everything, Newton was doing great science centuries before Popper.

I will check out the Deutsch book (so far the only Deutsch stuff I've read is his paper on many-worlds quantum mechanics). If it changes my mind I'll let you know.

Dave Baker, you may be right that US philosophy depts are engaged with pragmatic-enlightenment-science related issues. (Certainly not all of them are! I’ve met some platonists in philosophy depts!)

One can be a Platonist and still serve the true Good. Roger Penrose calls himself a Platonist.

There aren't many philosophers who'll call themselves pragmatists, but that's because pragmatism (as Wintermute has alluded to) has a specific technical meaning in philosophy. It's a theory of truth, in which the truth of a statement is determined by its usefulness to the person asserting it.

I am intrigued by the notion of slipping science fiction in through philosophy departments. Huh. Let us ponder. I'd be willing to talk at some department, some time.

I may hold you to that. But be warned, you might have to curb your tendency toward real-world problem solving and get down and dirty with some abstraction. :-)

Dave Baker said...

By the way, David, the theory of the mind as a union of many sub-selves that you mention in Earth always struck me as something of great philosophical interest.

tc said...

Dave Baker said:

One can be a Platonist and still serve the true Good. Roger Penrose calls himself a Platonist.

I think it's important to underscore this, especially considering you thought it a matter of contrast to point out a Platonist who wasn't an enemy of empirical science (at least, that's how I read your post).

Platonism and its descendent, Augustianism, have done a lot to harm any kind of modernist movement in the Western church, especially the Catholic Church. It's hard to say how the world would be different if Aristotelian Thomism had prevailed, but I’d like to think at least we wouldn't have to explain why the scientific method is a good idea.

You know, Thomists are a perfect ally for a moderate, modernist movement...

Wintermute said...

Dave Baker said: Agree to disagree, I suppose. And disagree we do, quite profoundly. I don't see it as much of a stretch to say there are still unsolved problems in the epistemology of science.

I agree that there are still many problems, but the so-called "new problem of induction" is not one of them. Basically this 'grue' theory asserts an anomoly, a color shift on Dec 31st 2000 (or whenever). But, it does not explain this anomoly. In fact, asserting this anomoly spoils the whole explanation we have for colors-why would the wavelengths of light that produce the green sensation in me switch over at some arbitrary date? That would be like saying that David Brin is unaffected by gravity (which I'm pretty sure he is) without saying why. Without a good explanation for the theory's new predictions there is no good reason to accept something like the grue theory or the flying Brin theory over and above the present color theory or gravitational theory. If, in fact, we did accept these theories, our present explanations (wavelength of light, spactime curvature) of color or gravity would be entirely ruined-color theory and general relativity do not work with such anomolies. And because science is searching for good explanations the grue theory or the flying Brin theory can be rejected because they explain nothing, they merely spoil our best explanations with unexpained anomolies.

In the case of the "blue after 2000, but green before" thesis, evidently this has been falsified by waiting til 2000 and checking, a test which no one did because we can reject the theory without a crucial test because it lacks a good explanation. The theory that eating 2 pounds of grass clippings will cure the common cold, like the grue theory, is not so much a theory as it is an unjustified assertion: Neither are accompanied by an explanation of their predictions.

"Why would colors change?" scientists would ask; "Why does Brin fly why everyone else falls?"; "Why do you think that eating 2 pounds of grass clipping will help my runny nose?". Without a good explanation behind it a theory like the grue theory is rationally untenable to the scientist. All of this is in Deutsch. Read Ch. 7 first, it's the best one and it's about the "problem of induction" which is a direct response to Goodman, 1954.

Now you may (but not necessarily will) wish to adher to an instrumentalist/pragmatic epistemology and dispute the fact that science aims at explanation, saying that it is more about predicting and controlling, and that explanation is superfluous and unnecessary. This seems to me to be what you are saying when you state that:

Nor should our lack of a solution be a problem for practicing scientists!

A instrumentalist (or inductivist, or crypto-inductivist) position on science, however, does not account for the successes of science. Popper's evolutionary epistemology does, it tells us why science works to give us good theories-because the scientific method of testing hypothesis is in fact valid. Newton and Galileo may not have had this methodology explicated as we do now, but they were using it, and thus produced good approximations to the truth.

Even if you're right that Popper solved everything, Newton was doing great science centuries before Popper.

Even I would go as far as to say that Popper solved everything. But he solved more than most think he did.

I will check out the Deutsch book (so far the only Deutsch stuff I've read is his paper on many-worlds quantum mechanics). If it changes my mind I'll let you know.

Cool, I hope you like it. Ch.7 is the best one (in terms of this debate the most pertinant one as well, but ch.1 and 3 also apply). His multiverse stuff is pretty out there (and I don't think he adheres to his espoused methodology), but his epistemology is bang on; by far the best explication of Popper I have ever read. I'm still curious as to how Dr. Brin feels about Deutsch, if he's familiar with him.

Dave Baker said...

I see why you might think I'm an instrumentalist from the above, but really I'm not. I'm probably a scientific realist. And I do think that explanation is an important virtue of theories. When I say that the open questions about scientific methodology shouldn't be a problem for working scientists, I just mean that we haven't found the answers yet but there are answers out there. Scientists can go about their business and leave the justifying to us philosophers.

Now some might say this attitude is dangerous, it gives Romantics a foot in the door by admitting we don't have a rock-solid account of why science works. First of all, even if that's true, this sort of objection is dishonest -- we're good Modernists, which means we don't ignore problems just because they conflict with our ideology. Second, we still have good grounds for criticizing the Romantics: they're being inconsistent.

They benefit from science's success every day, and even if they deny that, Hume showed us that we all use inductive, experimental reasoning every time we get out of bed or have something to eat. Why don't they apply the same scientific method that works with their cars and computers to their mystical mumbo-jumbo?

The response would probably be something about the mysteries of Heaven or the indeterminacy of language, at which point I usually tune out.

Basically this 'grue' theory asserts an anomoly, a color shift on Dec 31st 2000 (or whenever). But, it does not explain this anomoly.

That's sort of an unfair way of presenting the problem. It's really a problem about what makes a property like color natural. The grue theorist doesn't tell you "emeralds are going to change from green to blue all of a sudden," rather he says "emeralds have always been grue, and that's how they'll stay."

Now, you could bring in this stuff about light wavelengths, but there could also be a grue-like definition of wavelength that he could use as an alternative to yours. And he would have an explanation of the grueness of emeralds that's exactly parallel to your explanation of their green-ness.

Frank said...


Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory

David Brin said...

I have found the “grue” discussion both fascinating and gruesome!

“Also, I realize that David Brin is super busy, but I'd like to read his opinions on Penn and Teller's Bullshit! Helpful debunking or High-outrage smug screaming that alienates people? I'm still trying to decide myself.”

Penn is a pal. Great guy. Rants a lot like Bruce Sterling. Confrontation has its place and he’s good at it. I am better at engagement and argumentation. Not the same thing.


“What happens when we start brushing aside good ideas because they are produced by "crypto-marxists" or postmodernists? Isn't it a popperian maxim to argue in your opponents terms?”

Just wait till I post my religion article. You’ll see that I am willing to play on the other guy’s cricket pitch. But the spectrum of religious folk include many who might be won over. I’ve never seen a Marxist or sanctimonious deconstructionalist who could be cure by wnything other than time... and then they usually become fervid right-wingers.

AMP? cool

Dave Baker s”By the way, David, the theory of the mind as a union of many sub-selves that you mention in Earth always struck me as something of great philosophical interest.”

Yeah, I gotta get back to novels some time ;-(

Anonymous said...

"Penn is a pal. Great guy. Rants a lot like Bruce Sterling. Confrontation has its place and he’s good at it. I am better at engagement and argumentation. Not the same thing."

I go back and forth of my view on his show. Calling people motherfuckers and screaming "Shut the Fuck up!" at the end of his show makes him sound like one of the outrage junkies you've warend against in "The Transparant Society" and elsewhere on this site.

On the other hand, he puts up links to his oppoenents agruments on his webistes and invites them on his show. When I read some of his statements in interveiws, he shows self doubt and a willingness to question himself.

Then I watch him making fun of and completely dismissing his opponents on his show and he sometimes comes across as near Rush Limbaugh or Micheal Savage levels of scorn. I may be an atheist, but I don't see religous people as batshit stupid.

As I said, I'm conflicted.

Jon

Wintermute said...

Sorry everyone, but this:

Even I would go as far as to say that Popper solved everything. But he solved more than most think he did.

should read more like this: Even I would NOT go as far as to say that Popper solved everything. But he solved more than most think he did.

Sorry if this caused confusion.



Dr. Brin, as regards this suggestion; Realize that it's your "side's" turn to have gone mad. Do something about it. If the AFL could declare war on left-mad communism, the satiables can do the same with Right-mad neocons.

They must.


I think the best way to do this is to illustrate how the creation of neo-conservativism is basically motivated by the same observations as the creation of militant fundamentalist Islam was. Strauss and Attas (I think that was his name, I'll check) both saw liberal democacy as a doomed and self-contradictory system: people need to be controlled, plain and simple, and if they don't want to be controlled, we can kill them like pesky insects.

If we show people how the neo-cons are the occidental equivalent of Terrorism inspiring Islam, I think (and hope) that people will be able to realize that neo-cons cannot be allowed into positions of power, ever. They are anthema to our liberal democracy, and an enemy of transparency in all its worthwhile forms, and they must be stopped before they take over permanently.


On Grueness

Dave Baker said: The grue theorist doesn't tell you "emeralds are going to change from green to blue all of a sudden," rather he says "emeralds have always been grue, and that's how they'll stay."

Okay, so they can be surreptitious about it and not actually tell you that this changeover is going to happen, but the "Theory of grueness" (if you can call it a theory) asserts this changeover, and by calling something grue one is expressing belief in the grueness theory, which says that blue will turn green (or vice versa) at some arbitrary time in the future. Just because the assertion is implicit within his language does not mean that the grueness theorist has not asserted a changeover. The theory of grueness itself does this for him, and he is implicating a belief in this theory (and its asserted changeover) by using the word "grue". Even if he is not being explicit about the existence of a changeover, that assertion is still there in his language.

In response to this statement: you could bring in this stuff about light wavelengths, but there could also be a grue-like definition of wavelength that he [the grue theorist] could use as an alternative to yours.

I would like to say "please, show me such an explanation." Sure there could be a grue-like theory using wavelengths, but is there? No there isn't.

I would be willing to bet that any theory of grueness would be nothing but arbitrary assertions and unexplained predictions. I don't see how someone could produce a testable theory of grueness or a working model that was not merely the assertion that this blue-green changeover would happen. Rather, what we want is an explanation saying why the grue changeover will happen.
Simply saying that green turns to blue at such and such a date (even if it expressed implicitly by saying "grue") does not give us an explanation as to why this will happen.

We understand why green stays green, but I don't understand why it would one day turn to blue.
I would be impressed if someone could "have an explanation of the grueness of emeralds that's exactly parallel to [my] explanation of their green-ness." without spoiling the explanation that I use in my model (namely that light is made of photons of different wavelegths that stimulate different kinds of cones in my retina.) Why, all of a sudden, do the same photons produce different effects (or if they are different photons, then why are they different photons)?

But, I could be wrong, and if someone ever does produce such a theory of grueness, they are welcome to subject it to criticism and empirical testing and pit it against any of its competitiors. The problem is, of course, that there is no such theory of grueness, so it can't be entered into the scientific adjudicatory process. The theory of grueness is not a contender, it is not even an actual theory, and as a non-existent theory it is obviously not rationally tenable. This leaves only one contender, the theory of blue and greenness, the only rationally tenable theory available to us.



Simply put, my objection is this:

"why? why are things grue and not green? Does the theory of grueness explain its assertions and predictions, or does it just make them arbitrarily to illustrate a philosophical point?" If someone is proposing a new scientific theory, such as eating two pounds of grass cures colds, we are emplored to ask "How does that work?" And without a good explanation of this prediction (grueness or the healing power of grass) given in return of this query there is no reason to reject our present theories in favor of these new (explanationless) 'theories' because these 'theories' are not but unsupported and unexplained assertions.

The theory of grueness, as it stands so far, is nothing but unsupported assumptions. If one day it does form a coherent theory which included models and explanations for its predictions, then it would be subjectable to empirical testing. But until then you should rely on the theory of green and blueness, cause it's your best (and only) option.

It is true that our evidence is likely supportive (non-refutational) of many many theories, but the problem is that we don't know about those other possible, undiscovered theories. We only know about and can test the theories that we have, not all logically possible theories.

If it is in fact possible to come up with a consistent and good explanation for grueness, then by all means please do so, and then test it against our current theory of green and blueness. But until we have a consistent theory of grueness we have only one rationally tenable (or reliable) theory at present, the theory that green is green and blue is blue, forever and ever, as long as we both shall see.

I'll continue this grueness thing tommorow, as I imagine that Dave (who seems to be enjoying this as much as I am) will respond by the time I get home, but for now I must sleep. Suffice it to say that anyone interested in this debate over grueness, grass cures, flying Brins, induction and what constitutes a good theory/explanation should read David Deutsch, The Fabric of Reality, Ch.7.

PS. Popper solved Hempel's paradox along with the problem of induction (I think).

Oh precious sleep, here I come...

Rik said...

Environmentalism: count me (a Dutchman) on the side of Bjorn Lomborg. What comes first of our collective 'to do' list? Preventing extrememly cold / hot weather, likely to hit us in a hundred years? Or alleviating poverty and bring clean drinking water to the poorest nationz in the world?
I don't like the gloom and doom of the likes of Greenpeace. To me, they fear tomorrow even more than conservatives... At least the Copenhagen consensus allows for progress, priorities and technology.

(oh yeah, refound a *very* interesting link to an article which claims that America is NOT the greatest polluter: http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/archives/001597.php... hahaha!)

Now, for the anti-realists... I once read a Dutch book in which the author presents all the important philosophers of the 20th century. It's titled: "The Position Of Man In The Twentieth Century", but all the listed philosophers suffer from some world-hating syndrome. Nearly all of the men (and quite of number of women) seem to be stark-raving mad, while the only ones saying something positive or remotely interesting about man's position are two (possibly three) women: Ayn Rand, Hannah Arendt (and Martha Nussbaum). Certainly Arendt gets the idea of 'when a group of citizens get together'... Maybe Hayek gets some of that too, but he isn't recognized as an *important* philosopher either. Sigh...