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I am now writing on Medium, so I think something on the order of an introduction is called for.

I have never been crazy about talking about myself. I always thought that the world at large is a lot more interesting than I am. But I am part of this larger world, and when I talk about it I am in fact also talking a bit about myself and how that world shows itself to me. …


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(By Diliff — Uploaded by Diliff, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=517895)

On the night of the attack on the United States Capitol building, my local public radio station scheduled a program with the theme “Time to Come Together?” It was hard to stay on topic given the day’s events, but they tried.

No, it’s not time to come together. Eventually, yes. But not anytime soon.

There is a lot of blame to go around concerning how we got here. The Republican “southern strategy” which has now borne its strange and rotten fruit. The assumption on the part of right-wing media and internet platforms that the devotion to freedom of expression does not involve a parallel commitment to truthfulness. The fecklessness of establishment Democrats, who have insisted on playing nice with an opposition that is emphatically not “loyal” and which considers them the enemy rather than colleagues in governance. The double standard for stringently policing the attempts of those who wish to hold the republic to its professed standards of freedom and equality while turning a blind eye to white neo-fascists who wish to obliterate those standards. The persistence of income and wealth inequality and its neglect by Republicans and Democrats alike. The badly repressed racism and sexism among “good, moderate (neo)liberals” as well as its overt and exuberant expression by self-professed “conservative patriots”. …


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(Wikimedia Commons)

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Richard Rorty’s autobiographical essay “Trotsky and the Wild Orchids”, published in 1992, begins with the following observation:

If there is anything to the idea that the best intellectual position is one which is attacked with equal vigour from the political right and the political left, then I am in good shape. I am often cited by conservative culture warriors as one of the relativistic, irrationalist, deconstructing, sneering, smirking intellectuals whose writings are weakening the moral fibre of the young. . . Yet Sheldon Wolin, speaking from the left, sees a lot of similarity between me and [conservative] Allan Bloom: both of us, he says, are intellectual snobs who care only about the leisured, cultured élite to which we belong. Neither of us has anything to say to blacks, or to other groups who have been shunted aside by American society. . . Richard Bernstein says that my views are ‘little more than an ideological apologia for an old-fashioned version of Cold War liberalism dressed up in fashionable “post-modern” discourse’. The left’s favourite word for me is ‘complacent’, just as the right’s is ‘irresponsible’. (Philosophy and Social Hope. pp. …


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(Lena Balk, Upsplash)

1: Two Spaldeens

I was about five years old, give or take a year. It was a typical New York summer day: sunny, hazy, humid but not insufferably so. I was not much of an outdoor kid, being bookish and precociously (i.e., annoyingly) talkative, but that day I was playing outside vigorously, bouncing pink rubber Spaldeen balls against the garage door and trying to catch them as they came back. I returned to my room, physically spent but still mentally wired.

My mother came upstairs to check up on me to tell me about some new books that she bought for me. She always made sure that books were plentiful in our household. We often spent hours in the living room reading silently in each other’s presence, while my father glossed over the newspaper headlines, watched the sports report on television, and fell asleep in his chair or, more often, sprawled out on the floor. …


On Wittgenstein’s Later Metaphilosophy

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(Wikimedia Commons)

“Now that my ladder’s gone / I must lie down where all the ladders start / In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.”, — William Butler Yeats, “The Circus Animals’ Desertion”

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It is unfortunate that when those trained in non-analytic contexts confront the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, they tend to be far more attentive to propositions 5.6 (“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world”) through 7.0 (“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.”) than those that precede them. The closing propositions of the Tractatus include those of the “ethical” and “mystical” Wittgenstein, the Wittgenstein interested in showing what cannot be said, the spokesperson for all the “important nonsense” essential to “seeing the world aright”. This Wittgenstein is taken to be worth serious consideration, rather than the severe logical atomist of propositions 1.0 through 5.571. …


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(Hypatia, By Charles William Mitchell — Laling Art Gallery, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49847708)

Review of Rebecca Buxton and Lisa Whiting, eds., The Philosopher Queens: The Lives and Legacies of Philosophy’s Unsung Women (Unbound, 2020), pp. 288.

Anyone who hangs out in the corridors of academic philosophy will quickly realize that it is a male stronghold. While the proportion of female to male faculty and graduate students is better balanced now than it had been in the past, the ratio remains lopsided. And women’s stories about the antics of philosophy-world still testify to patterns of condescension and patronizing attitudes on the part of male philosophers. Despite progress, the discipline remains an ocean of mansplaining.

This has led some to suggest that philosophy itself is nothing other than mansplaining writ large, and as a result given an outsized cultural cachet that it doesn’t deserve. Maybe the problem with philosophy is that it is permanently wedded to argumentative machismo. …


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(Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash)

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Well, it ain’t over. And even when it is over, it won’t be over.

As I write, it seems as if Biden will win the Electoral College by a hair. But at the moment Biden not only has close to 4 million more popular votes than Trump: he has beaten Obama’s popular vote count in 2008 and thus has set a record for the total number of votes cast for any presidential candidate in US history. And still, Biden hasn’t yet won the office.

This is, frankly, madness. Even more insane than the fact that the Trump regime is preparing to throw any legal challenge it can against the electoral results to see if any of them stick. The “damage control” election that I understood this one to be has come to pass and, hopefully, we will have dodged one bullet aimed at the heart of American Liberal Republican Democracy. …


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(Wikimedia Commons: Les Claypool 10/17/05 Photo by Thomas Ceddia tceddia@aol.com)

Just as The Doors and David Bowie were my constant companions-in-solitude during the earlier phases of the pandemic and the presidential campaign from hell, I find myself listening nonstop to Vivaldi and Primus now that we — hopefully — are on a downward slope. They are an odd couple to say the least. That Vivaldi appeals at the moment is, I think, pretty transparent: he is the baroque harbinger of seasonal change and tranquil renewal. It is hard to listen to Vivaldi without experiencing calmness and serenity.

You can’t say that of Primus. You might say it is hard to listen to them, period. …


(On Pope Francis I and Same-sex Civil Unions)

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(Photo by Ashwin Vaswani on Unsplash)

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While the recent endorsement by Pope Francis I of civil unions for same sex couples is welcome, it is not what it seems. It is not exactly breaking news. While it is his first public commendation of political protection for lesbian and gay couples and families as pope, as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he had previously gone on record supporting civil unions. In this sense, while Francis’s pronouncement was newsworthy, it was not without precedent.

Here’s the quote: in a documentary film about Pope Francis, he contends that

“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to have is a civil union law — that way they are legally covered. …


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(Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash)

Nassau County, New York, where I currently live, is a purple place: while it has trended Democratic-blue in recent years, it had long been a Republican-red stronghold — the kind of suburbia that the President has warned will disappear if Joe Biden is elected and “those” people get a foothold. If anything historically defines Nassau County, it is that its agricultural past of small-scale potato farming was supplanted in the mid-20th century by a real-estate boon defined by “redlining”, or making sure that “those” people — blacks, latinx, immigrants, the poor — stay within their geographic corrals.

Things have changed significantly in the past 20 years or so. Local Republican government had been dogged by scandals and mismanagement, and on a national level, a Republican regime presided over the 2008 Great Recession, the severest economic downturn since the 1930s. Its residents began voting Democratic. At present two of Nassau’s House districts, the third and fourth, are represented by Democrats. The second district, containing a small slice of Nassau but mostly located in the adjacent county, Suffolk, is represented by a Republican who is retiring: the 2020 race is a close one. But many towns and villages are run by Republicans, and the county is pretty much split down the middle, with 383,709 registered Democrats, 331,282 Republicans, and 36,717 Independents as of 2020. With this kind of demographic, elections can go either way, and often do. …

About

Laura Nelson

Writer, philosopher, information technologist,guitarist, neurotic, polite radical, avid and indiscriminate reader, Episcopalian, trans woman.

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