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Author: Briggs

February 12, 2019 | 16 Comments

You Cannot Be An Illusion

“Increasingly, however, scientists are finding that the self is a kind of necessary illusion manufactured by the brain and often more fragile than we’d like to imagine.”

So says an illusion at Quartz, in the fawning and deeply confused article “Feeling anxious? It’s not just you, it’s our philosophical era of neuroexistentialism.

Now this illusion who wrote the article would, I’m betting, carp and whine and moan if it didn’t get its fee. All the arguments the illusion used in saying “that we have no soul, no fixed self, and no inherent purpose” would be jettisoned faster than an anti-abortionist at a Democrat party convention if its check did not arrive on time. So this illusion is surely lying when it says it doesn’t exist. But why did this illusion lie?

Let’s clear the brush first. It is impossible that you are an illusion. It requires a rational mind to have an illusion. An illusion requires a mind as a platform for its illusory dance. Therefore, if you were an illusion and did not possess a rational mind, you couldn’t have an illusion. Therefore, it is impossible that you are an illusion. You need to be you before you can imagine you’re somebody or something else.

This is so obvious a deduction that we have to explain why it wasn’t made by the well-credentialed people who were the subject of the Quartz article. Or we can accept these fine people did make the obvious deduction, as we would expect of such eminences, but then we have to ask why is it that they are then trying to sell the fallacy?

The answer to the first question can be one of these two: (1) ignorance, (2) love of theory.

The eminences are Gregg Caruso, a professor of philosophy at some place or other, and Owen Flanagan, a Duke philosopher of philosophy and neurobiology. We have met Caruso before, in “You Don’t Have Free Will, Which Is Why You Make Such Bad Choices” and “Free Will Cannot Be An Illusion“. Caruso’s neuronal sheathes are not the most impermeable. Flanagan is new to us.

Both men—both illusions, that is—could scarcely have reached their positions and be ignorant of basic logic, so the above deduction must have occurred to them. But it was obviously overruled, and that is only possible because of the love of theory.

Their argument, as evidenced by their writing, goes something like this. The brain appears deterministic, ruled by physics, chemistry, biology: there is no soul (which they never define). Yet people report existing, making choices, having qualia and the like. But these acts and experiences do not follow if the theory of determinism (to give it a shorthand name) is true. Thus qualia and thoughts of self must be an illusion.

Determinism must be false, because, of course, we do have these experiences, and it is impossible we are illusions. (Our pair have no theory how these supposed illusions can work, even in principle.) But our authors believe the theory. It must be love.

Our pair are concerned, though, what others believing this false theory might wreak. “Today, there is a third-wave existentialism, neuroexistentialism, which expresses the anxiety that, even as science yields the truth about human nature, it also disenchants.”

The philosophical crisis of the 21st century…has its roots in the changes wrought by scientific discoveries, which, according to Flanagan and Caruso, have dealt the final blow to notions of god, an immaterial soul, spirit, self, agency. They explain, “[N]euroexistentialism is caused by the rise of the scientific authority of the human sciences and a resultant clash between the scientific and humanistic image of persons.”

This contemporary angst arises from the growing body of knowledge that shows the existence we experience is a result of neural processes. The findings suggest that introspection, or self-knowledge, can’t really reveal the mind, and that death is the end for us all. If the brain’s processes give us our experience of life and there is no “immaterial spirit” or soul, then when the brain stops functioning, nothing follows life, and nothing “survives” us. Along with this understanding of ourselves as animals governed by natural laws and physical mechanisms comes another loss—the sense of agency or free will.

We can agree with our mistaken authors that forcing folks to believe what is false and impossible can and will cause them angst. We already know from far superior minds, and all practical experience, what removing religion and tradition does to a people (they even quote the rise in suicide, etc.). Replacing God with science is like swapping food with photographs of food. The only possible result is starvation.

How they missed the hilarity in claiming introspection can’t reveal the mind in a book which purports to prove how introspection reveals the mind is all the proof we need of the destructive nature of “neuroexistentialism.”

Another good joke is an inclusion by our pair of an essay by CIT’s Sean Carroll which

surveys classical mechanics, quantum physics, time, and the nature of emergent phenomena, concluding that there’s no essential meaning in the universe, as evidenced by both its vastness and randomness. Yet he still argues that life matters on a personal and human scale, even if “modern science has thoroughly undermined any hopes for a higher purpose or meaning inherent in the universe itself.”

The joke is that here is a physicist who believes (or says he believes) there there is “no essential universe meaning in the universe” and that it is random yet who still writes papers finding meaning and evading randomness (unpredictability).

Again, it is proof nobody who slings this hash believes what they’re selling. So why are they selling it?

Stay tuned! We have a guest post from The Cranky Professor next week on the subject of why emergentism and so forth are inadequate explanations for intellect and will.

February 11, 2019 | 5 Comments

Tranny Madness: A Triumph Of Will Over Reality

Item Mother, 38, is arrested in front of her children and locked in a cell for seven HOURS after calling a transgender woman a man on Twitter

A mother was arrested in front of her children and locked up for seven hours after referring to a transgender woman as a man online.

Three officers detained Kate Scottow at her home before quizzing her at a police station about an argument with an activist on Twitter over so-called ‘deadnaming’.

The 38-year-old, from Hitchin, Hertfordshire, had her photograph, DNA and fingerprints taken and remains under investigation.

More than two months after her arrest on December 1, she has had neither her mobile phone or laptop returned, which she says is hampering her studies for a Masters in forensic psychology…

Confirming the arrest, Hertfordshire Police said: ‘We take all reports of malicious communication seriously.’..

Sitcom writer Graham Linehan was given a verbal harassment warning by West Yorkshire Police after transgender activist Stephanie Hayden reported him for referring to her by her previous names and pronouns on Twitter.

A man dressing as or pretending to be a woman is a man. A “transgender woman” is a man. A man who has mutilated his body, chemically or by the knife, to better resemble a woman is a man.

This is truth: this is Reality. Speaking truth, speaking of Reality is rapidly becoming illegal. And must. Everybody knows of Reality, but everybody also wants their will to be Supreme. If Reality were legal, those who claim their will is Supreme will be reminded constantly that their will is not Supreme. This being intolerable, Reality must be not be allowed to damage the illusion.

This is the true religion of man.

The man who insists of speaking of Reality is not the same as the tranny or tranny ally who claims Reality is false. For the man speaking of Reality knows his will is (or should be) subservient to Reality. While those who embrace tranny madness—and many other similar beliefs—sees himself as his own god. And this is so even if, as most don’t, use those words to describe their belief in Self. But it is still true, and is why this is not a culture war but a war of religion, which explains why heretics have to be hunted down and punished. Which is Supreme? Man or Reality?

Anyway, we hear British police don’t carry guns. Though we can suppose they are now issued with erasers.

Item The tricky business of gender identity

Last November, a school in Brighton called Dorothy Stringer made the news when it was revealed that 76 of its pupils are either transgender or gender-non-conforming (TGNC). This isn’t as unusual as you might think. At another school, which also hit the headlines last year, 17 pupils are in the process of changing gender and many schools now have policies in place to support pupils who identify as TGNC, including more than 80 with “gender neutral” uniforms. Referrals to the Tavistock, Britain’s only NHS clinic specialising in children and young people who are TGNC, jumped from 697 in 2014-15 to 2,016 in 2016-17, an increase of 289 per cent.

In some cases, these patients will be prescribed “puberty blockers”, drugs that delay the onset of puberty. If they’re over 16, they may be offered hormone therapy so they develop the secondary sexual characteristics associated with the gender they identify with — breasts for those transitioning to female and facial hair for those transitioning to male. Older patients may even be given the option of gender reassignment surgery, provided their psychotherapist is satisfied they are genuinely suffering from “gender dysphoria” (see below).

So how do these packs of girls, for it is mostly girls, suddenly decide they are really boys? Obviously, such things are “in the air”. They get the idea from their parents, from the teachers (try home schooling, please), from the culture, and from each other. Young girls are, much more than boys, pack animals.

When such a fad throbs through the student body, not one person in authority has the guts to say “Cut it out!” Not the teachers, not the parents. All live in either enthusiastic embrace of tranny madness, or in fear of the mob.

They cannot count on authority. Authority is cutting and running.

Until 2013, gender dysphoria was referred to in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the psychiatrist’s Bible, as “Gender Identity Disorder”. But it was renamed because of the stigma attached to the word disorder and it is now taboo for mental health professionals to think of it as a mental illness. (Last year, the World Health Organisation stopped classifying transgender people as mentally ill.)

A similar kind of thing happened with homosexuality, and now with “conversions”, e.g. this, this, this (since homosexuals or transsexuals do not exist in any essential way, there is nothing to convert). Doctors who speak in favor of Reality have to learn to duck: “LGBT COMMUNITY OUTRAGED AS JOHN HOPKINS PSYCHIATRIST SAYS THAT BEING TRANSGENDER IS A MENTAL DISORDER AND SEX CHANGES ARE BIOLOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE.”

Item The EU will protect you from reality (tweet)

Speech that incites racist and xenophobic violence and hatred is illegal.

Companies are now assessing 89% of flagged content within 24 hours, and promptly act to remove it when necessary, while respecting freedom of expression.

Clicking the link in the tweet leads us to Andrus Ansip, who says, “Nobody should feel unsafe or threatened due to illegal hateful content remaining online.”

“Vera Jourova, European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, said: ‘Illegal hate speech online is not only a crime, it represents a threat to free speech and democratic engagement.'”

Item There are many more examples. Such as in Australia, where “Teacher[s] are being told to ‘queer up’ the curriculum.

February 10, 2019 | 1 Comment

Summary Against Modern Thought: God Makes Things Makers

Previous post.

This chapter is mop up from the previous; dotted ‘i’s and the like. Review!


1 From this it is manifest that no lower agents give being except in so far as they act by divine power.

2 Indeed, a thing does not give being except in so far as it is an actual being. But God preserves things in being by His providence, as we showed. Therefore, it is as a result of divine power that a thing gives being.

3 Again, when several different agents are subordinated to one agent, the effect that is produced by their common action must be attributed to them as they are united in their participation in the motion and power of this agent. For several agents do not produce one result unless they are as one. It is clear, for example, that all the men in an army work to bring about victory, and they do this by virtue of being subordinated to the leader, whose proper product is victory. Now, we showed in Book One [13] that the first agent is God. So, since being is the common product of all agents, because every agent produces actual being, they must produce this effect because they are subordinated to the first agent and act through His power.

Notes Armies are not, of course, the same as they once were.

4 Besides, in the case of all agent causes that are ordered, that which is last in the process of generation and first in intention is the proper product of the primary agent. For instance, the form of a house, which is the proper product of the builder, appears later than the preparation of the cement, stones, and timbers, which are made by the lower workmen who come under the builder. Now, in every action, actual being is primarily intended, but is last in the process of generation. In fact, as soon as it is achieved, the agent’s action and the patient’s motion come to rest. Therefore, being is the proper product of the primary agent, that is, of God; and all things that give being do so because they act by God’s power.

5 Moreover, the ultimate in goodness and perfection among the things to which the power of a secondary agent extends is that which it can do by the power of the primary agent, for the perfection of the power of the secondary agent is due to the primary agent. Now, that which is most perfect of all effects is the act of being, for every nature or form is perfected by the fact that it is actual, and it is related to actual being as potency is to act. Therefore, the act of being is what secondary agents produce through the power of the primary agent.

6 Besides, the order of the effects follows the order of the causes. But the first among all effects is the act of being, since all other things are certain determinations of it. Therefore, being is the proper effect of the primary agent, and all other things produce being because they act through the power of the primary agent. Now, secondary agents, which are like particularizers and determinants of the primary agent’s action, produce as their proper effects other perfections which determine being.

7 Furthermore, that which is of a certain kind through its essence is the proper cause of what is of such a kind by participation. Thus, fire is the cause of all things that are afire. Now, God alone is actual being through His own essence, while other beings are actual beings through participation, since in God alone is actual being identical with His essence. Therefore, the being of every existing thing is His proper effect. And so, everything that brings something into actual being does so because it acts through God’s power.

8 Hence it is said: “God created, that all things might be” (Wis. 1:14). And in several texts of Scripture it is stated that God makes all things. Moreover, it is said in the Book on Causes that not even an intelligence gives being “unless in so far as it is divine,” that is; in so far as it acts through divine power.

February 9, 2019 | 5 Comments

The Week In Doom — Diversity Statement Edition

Item More Colleges Are Asking Scholars for Diversity Statements. Here’s What You Need to Know (emphasis mine)

The statements tend to be one page, maybe two. In them, scholars are supposed to explain how their experience can bolster institutional efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion. Colleges are under increasing pressure to increase access and completion rates for students from underrepresented backgrounds, the thinking goes, so they should hire faculty members who understand their role in improving those outcomes…

Rodrigues…[is] concerned about how search committees will evaluate the statements. She also worries about backlash. Committee members who are skeptical of intentional efforts to promote equity in the academy might even penalize her.

She’s worried there will be a backlash for being too devoted to Diversity!

By requiring them in the hiring process, colleges can signal to scholars of color elsewhere that they are trying to diversify their mostly white faculties. And requiring them for tenure portfolios can prompt faculty members already at a campus, particularly white academics, to think about how they might help create a more welcoming culture.

Diverse means, as we all know, non-white-male. But it also means more, as we’ll see below.

Think: if these oaths are not to enforce ideology, why have them at all?

Recall too my prediction that requiring Diversity oaths will move beyond universities and (publicly) into the corporate world this year.

Now this was from the Chronicle of Higher Education, and it’s behind a paywall. Searching for it on the standard SJW search engine led to a series of boxes of common questions, which the search engine was kind enough to list.

For instance, the first question was “How long is a diversity statement?” Answer (and these might be subject to change and search engine quirks):

2. Length: Schools vary in their length requirements for both the personal statement and the diversity statement, but in general a personal statement should be two to three double-spaced pages, while a diversity statement is usually significantly shorter. It’s often just one double-spaced page — sometimes a bit longer.

Diversity statements are now so routine the answer is banal, and like that for “How long should I leave an apple pie in the oven?”

If you click on the search engine’s question, it provides several more questions.

Like “What is a diversity response statement?” Answer:

The goal of the diversity statement is to show how your past experiences have made you a diverse candidate, and how you’ll apply that diverse perspective at your target institution in your future research and teaching pursuits. You can achieve this goal by showing how you’ve overcome a struggle in life.

From this we learn Diversity means struggle.

“What are some examples of diversity?” Answer (ellipsis original):

Diversity consists of all the different factors that make up an individual, including age, gender, culture, religion, personality, social status and sexual orientation. … Usually, cultural diversity takes into account language, religion, race, sexual orientation, gender, age and ethnicity.

From this we learn that which you lust after is Diversity.

“Why is it good to have diversity in the workplace?” Answer:

Diversity in the workplace is important for employees because it manifests itself in building a great reputation for the company, leading to increased profitability and opportunities for workers. Workplace diversity is important within the organization as well as outside.

From this we learn Diversity is pure politics. It is pure politics because the only good it does is “manifesting” a “great reputation”. And, they imply, the great reputation leads to “increased profitability and opportunities”.

“What is an inclusion statement?” Answer (ellipsis original):

The goal for each program, chapter or league should be to become an organization where diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of the values and culture of the program. … Nearly all successful organizations have an inclusion statement or philosophy that establishes the platform for their values and identity.

From this we learn nothing new: Diversity and Inclusion are pure politics.

“What does commitment to diversity mean?” Answer (ellipsis original):

A real commitment to diversity means having diverse leadership. … Minorities who have the same level and quality of schooling as their non-minority peers are falling out of the leadership pipeline.

From this we learn that minorities at the same level and quality of schooling are not, presumably, as good at getting into the pipeline as non-minorities. So they must be crammed in regardless.

“What is statement of contributions to diversity?” Answer:

The purpose of the statement is to identify candidates who have the professional skills, experience, and/or willingness to engage in activities that will advance institutional diversity and equity goals.

From this we learn that those who are unwilling to play along with the politics of Diversity will find themselves unidentified. And therefore without jobs.

Item Prison slave labor: hey, if it’s woke, it’s fine.

Item “Compared to 2016, significantly fewer Americans feel that political violence is ‘not at all’ justified–with the largest decreases observed among liberals, democrats, moderates (wtf), and independents.”

Won’t it be a surprise when the blows begin. Here’s one fun example.

Item We are officially the stupidest civilization in all of human history

Adidas has pulled a sneaker it was selling in honor of Black History Month after the all-white running shoe was slammed on Twitter.

Has nobody noticed the February snows yet? And from the Update at the bottom:

So, should white boys still be allowed to share their “opinions”? Should we be forced to listen? In honor of Black History Month, I’m gonna go with a hell no.

Black privilege is not being put to good use. Look for it coming to an office near you.