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My Notebooks

I'm going to start a new segment on my wiki called "notebooks." It will collect and contain links and remarks on subjects that interest me. The idea is to have a storage space of material for future harvest. I often lose thoughts and resources. I can't keep them in the back of my mind. This is especially true of news items that provoke me. I lose them when the time comes to actually use them in a work product. So I'll start tossing items into my notebook, organized by subject. It will only be short remarks, links and notes to myself.

My Notebooks


Wittgenstein on Moral Philosophy

Updated on Thursday, July 9, 2015 at 3:19PM by Registered CommenterSean Wilson

This looks interesting. The way they have framed the issue looks very good. The question is whether the idea of connoisseurship will even enter the picture at all (as it should). The book I am working on now will expand upon this idea. Why do I already suspect that the conference won't mention either my work or its contribution? I doubt the answer has anything to do with cynicism and everything to do with the nature of academic "clubs."

Click to read more ...


The Rolling Stones in Raleigh: Mixed Emotions

I have mixed emotions about the Stones in Raleigh (pun intentional). On the good side, Mick was actually singing instead of howling and talking in the songs. I think that was one of the best vocal performances I have seen from him live. And his voice held up pretty well, with only a few weak moments toward the end. And the set list was interesting at times. Moonlight Mile was fantastic. And they did Shine a Light by request, and it, too, was fantastic. They had admitted not practicing that one and asked for "patience." It was awesome! And I loved Out of Control.

The big problem of the night, however, was Keith's guitar. It was waaay to loud in the mix. At times it sounded like a metal show. The guitar was trebly and obnoxiously loud. Mick twice had difficulty correlating with Keith on harmonica. He even had to walk away from him because of his guitar outburst. I don't know if Keith is going deaf or what. But he ruined several songs. I had to plug my ear to compensate.

The Stones are built upon both guitars being equal, "talking" to each other in the songs. It's about a groove. There was not enough bass tone in the guitar mix, even though Ronnie Wood played Les Paul. Those rich tones were not turned up enough. Keith's "metal sound" just ruined so much.

Bottom line: I enjoyed the show. Mick was really good. But I wish Keith had been under control.    


The Legacy of President Obama

The president is indeed cementing quite an impressive legacy. He corrected the financial collapse and had a second-term economy that was very impressive. He gave the country health care while keeping federal spending at 20% of GDP -- which, today, is lower than Reagan. He kept faith with the neoliberal economics (the Clinton tax rates, federal reserve policies, free trade), and did not move Democrats too far to the left. He brought about major advances in solar power, something that will pay huge dividends in the future. He continued to foster the power and efficacy of the modern presidency (Hamilton would be proud). He killed Bin Laden. In fact, he killed many terrorist leaders, very efficiently. He lead on matters of state in conjunction with Western allies -- dealing, e.g., with Russia in an effective way. He tried to garner innovative alliances that would alter power relationships (Iran). His administration was witness to historic Supreme Court precedents, and his appointees -- both women -- seem to have been especially good picks. I'm already a big Kagan fan. I don't know that there has been another president in history who appointed so many good women (Janet Yellen is Fed chair). He endured a massive smear campaign all throughout the process. His enemies desperately wanted to make him a failure. The truth is: they were outdated failures, and history witnessed their pathology. He beat them twice. And he got his way despite a Congress that tried to obstruct him. All the while, he stayed above the fray, always being positive (optimistic). He was kind and uplifting. He was intelligent and dashing -- something we haven't seen since Jack Kennedy. He was a great role model for kids. He was the first African American president, and, predictably, he survived not only vitriolic hate, but an opposition culture that went fanatic and berserk (Tea Party). He'll leave office with a deficit that is back to normal in the post-Reagan era and an unemployment rate that will be in the 4% range.

And most importantly, he played the game for the long run. He never played for short term gain. He was always thinking about tomorrow. A very good president -- every bit as good as Bill Clinton. I'm proud of this president: I'm proud of who he is.


Is There Any Interest in Scholarly Outlines in Political Science?

Curious if there is any sort of market for publishing really well done outlines for politics subjects, like there is for law school. Obviously it couldn't be the same kind of interest, because the information really isn't standard or part of a real profession (science). But I confess to think that it is interesting nonetheless, and that I would prefer this sort of thing over an encyclopedia or treatise if I found it in a bookstore. I think history and philosophy are the kinds of fields that would benefit from this too.

... just thinking out loud.


Seeking Feedback on a New Book Proposal

I am seeking feedback on the enclosed proposal. I wonder if people think it looks like a viable project? Would the thesis of such a book interest you? Basically, the book is a bit personal: it's based upon an intellectual transformation that I went through and how I came to see the fields of political science, law, and philosophy so differently. The premise is that Wittgenstein did this to me. But the important part is not that -- it is: (a) what this "new thinking" is; and (b) why it is important for other scholars to think this way. The enthymeme here is that the fields of law, political science and philosophy need more Wittgensteinians.

Anyway, here is the proposal:

Click to See New Proposal (PDF)

Flexible Constitution in Paperback


Star Trek, Transporter Machine & Souls

Updated on Monday, May 26, 2014 at 11:29PM by Registered CommenterSean Wilson

I don't agree that the captain would die or that the reconstituted captain would be a new person. The point seems to be based upon philosophy of soul. ... In Christian metaphysics, souls leave bodies at death and sometimes go back in them. So the beaming and reconstituting of molecules seems not to trouble anything, so long as, somehow, souls go along with the transport. If you don't believe in souls, that's another issue.

Click to read more ...


Wittgenstein on Mind and Brains

This set of lectures covers some basic ideas in Wittgenstein's approach to mind/body issues. This is intended to be cursory only. A more extensive foray will occur the next time the course is taught. Readers may also want to consult segments from a prior topic: Calculation is a Behavior.

Brains and Mind
Vulcan Mind Meld
Brains as Computers
Psychological Grammar

Wittgenstein on Religion

This set of lectures covers Wittgenstein's views on religious belief -- or at least, an important component of his views. More extended treatment will occur the next time the course is given. Readers should also consult one lecture from a prior topic: Cognitive Pictures of Jesus.

Aspect Sight and Religious Belief
Religion and Science
God Propositions and Their Grammar
The Role of Suffering in God Beliefs
Theism as an Aspect Sight?


Wittgenstein on Intelligence and Insight

This set of lectures could be titled "seeing connections." But I titled them with the idea of how to be intelligent or insightful, because this is what they really seem to be showing. This is the last installment of what I would call "Wittgenstein's tools." That is, if you can do this stuff, along with the stuff about language and the mistakes of philosophy (analyticity), how you go about thinking in other areas becomes completely changed.

Pictures of Account (Jesus)
Practice: Find the Cognitive Picture
The Relevance of Pictures
Aspect Sight
Connoisseur Judgment
Taxonomical Judgment
Natural Taxonomy?
Corporations as Persons?
The New Thinking

Wittgenstein On Philosophy

... new set of lectures was posted today. It's on Wittgenstein and Philosophy. Will have the final set of lectures, called Wittgenstein on Intelligence, up tomorrow (hopefully).

Moore & His Hands
Form of Life
False Problems
Example: Free Will
Senses of Knowledge
On Definitions
Gettier & Banality
Alternative Lexicons
On Contradiction
Calculating is Behavior
Mathematics & Proof

Why Aesthetics Matters More Than Politics

And showing that a justice has been ridiculous with the law is far more damning than picking on his political views. This is because there is nothing wrong with "being a conservative" when you are intellectually sophisticated and are giving good reasons. We don't care that he's conservative; we only care that his thinking not be poor. A good example of this is Scalia with gay marriage. If you look at his views, they are so "out there" that it seems almost comical. When the issue is gays, the guy is a cartoon.

Click to read more ...


The Failure of The Politics of Law

The difficulty with the "high politics" thesis is whether it is falsifiable. In its best form, it should be a thesis to indict non-pragmatic decision making. But I don't think Sandy and Jack Balkin are doing that. For some unknown reason -- probably ideology -- many in this network use this picture as an article of faith. It paints a caricature that gets fed to students like candy.

Click to read more ...


The Court and Partisanship

Updated on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at 3:33PM by Registered CommenterSean Wilson

(replying to the message below, which claims the Court is divided along partisan lines)

... I think it is terribly misleading to say the Court is polarized, partisan or ideological. These are mere projections that scholars of politics frequently throw onto the Court. E.g., In the health care case, all five conservatives devils voted to uphold Wickard v. Filburn. The New Deal State remained in tact, in theory, even in a Court of Five. Likewise, there isn't anyone on the Court who believes social security is unconstitutional. So I don't know how congruent any of the current conservatives are to the Tea Party, which has members that would presumably dismantle Wickard and Social Security. So, another interpretation could be that the Court has been able to insulate itself from "the crazies" that erupted in the Republican party in the aftermath of Obama's election.

Click to read more ...