How could Cain not realize that all this would come out if he ran for president?

Michelle Cottle at The Daily Beast writes:

OK. So the Herminator, who clearly counts himself as a master-of-the-universe type, couldn’t keep his hormones to himself. Why then run for president? After (allegedly) misbehaving for years and (evidently) more or less getting away with it, why risk everything by voluntarily entering an arena where there are entire professions devoted to making sure that no skeleton stays closeted?

Therein lies the real mystery, the one you hear people everywhere puzzling over this week: have you been unconscious for the past 20 years, Herman? Did you fail to notice the way politicians’ private lives are now picked apart like soft-shell blues at a crab boil? Good God, man, does the name Bill Clinton mean nothing to you? How about John Edwards? Mark Sanford? John Ensign? Gary Hart? Eliot Spitzer?

I know. I know. No man ever thinks he’s going to get busted for screwing around. The libido wants what it wants, and damn the torpedoes. As for trying to analyze the dangers rationally, good luck: here again our brains are hard-wired to betray us.

The rest of the article consists of quotes from two psychologists who talk of humans simultaneously as “hard-wired” automatons and as conscious beings who make wrong choices because we think we can get away with them. It’s the usual materialist-Darwinist doubletalk. If the materialist model of human nature that Michelle Cottle and the two psychologists believe in were really true, we wouldn’t have mental lives, we wouldn’t be making choices, good or bad. But of course that’s obviously not true, and no one can pretend that it is. So the materialists dishonestly have it both ways, speaking of us as genetically and hormonally controlled robots (thus promoting the current materialism) and as morally responsible or irresponsible beings (thus keeping the drama and fun of being human, which the materialist view, consistently followed, would utterly preclude).

- end of initial entry -

Mark Jaws writes:

The 9-9-9 program is moot,
Since Cain is now getting the boot.
He clearly has shown
What we should have long known
That he’s just one more empty black suit.

Alexis Zarkov writes:

Mr. Auster writes, “It’s the usual materialist-Darwinist doubletalk. If the materialist model of human nature that Michelle Cottle and the two psychologists believe in were really true, we wouldn’t have mental lives, we wouldn’t be making choices, good or bad.” It looks like Mr. Auster comes down as a strict dualist with respect to the mind-body problem. This philosophical debate, which predates Darwin, isn’t solved by simple assertion. Moreover dualism is in retreat as the science of behavioral neurology advances. In his last novel, I Am Charlotte Simmons, Tom Wolf explores these ideas, particularly in the first chapter. In my opinion, this is what the novel is all about.

LA replies:

I don’t know about dualism and the mind-body problem; and frankly I recoil from those kinds of traditional philosophical categories because I consistently find that they lead the people who use them into unhelpful abstractions and make it harder for them to understand the essence of issues. I was making a simple, logical point that I’ve made many times before: that you cannot reduce man to a robot controlled by genes and chemicals, as modern materialists do, and simultaneously speak of man as being possessed of consciousness and moral choice.

Of course, man consists of different “levels.” He has, for example, desires, and the capacity to direct and constrain the expression of his desires. That’s a fact about human nature that has been known at least since the ancient Greeks and Jews. But that’s not what Michelle Cottle and her psychologist experts said. They said that human beings are “hard-wired” machines, AND that these machines are capable of independent consciousness and judgment. And that is a flat-out contradiction that should not be allowed.

Kristor writes:

The mind-body problem is an artifact of dualism. Prior to Descartes, it didn’t trouble philosophers. So far as classical philosophy was concerned, the mind was the form of the body. I’m speaking loosely here—technically, the soul is the form of the whole person, including the body, and the mentation is one of the powers of the soul (as also are volition and sensation). Before Descartes, the soul and the body were understood to be a substantial unity, like the form and the material of a ball.

Descartes divided things into two radically different categories: those that have extension and those that think. Then he had to explain how thinking things with no extension can interact with thoughtless extensive things. His answer: God takes care of it.

Materialists dispense with thinking things altogether. They are in even worse trouble than dualists, when it comes to explaining minds.

Neither the Cartesian nor the materialist moves are forced. Their ascendancy of the last century or two is the product of intellectual fashion. But the philosophical problems raised by dualism, and a fortiori by materialism, are so profound and intractable that many philosophers are abandoning them in favor of a quasi-Aristotelian notions.

LA replies:

May I take you to mean that, notwithstanding my ignorance of philosophy, I was intuitively correct in staying away from the mind-body problem? :-)

December 1

Kristor replies:

Well, yeah. You were correct to declare your lack of interest in the question whether you are a dualist or not, in respect to your discussion of the understandable inveterate desire of the materialist to hang onto some shred of confidence in the reality of his own inner life, when his philosophy declares it to be utterly null. A dualist can retain some conviction that his inner life is somehow real. A materialist cannot. Materialists who talk as if they believed their speech is meaningful should not be allowed to avoid a confrontation with their oxymorony.

Besides, you were not advocating dualism. You were demolishing materialism, pointing out that it is at odds with the most basic and inarguable thing it is possible to think about, indeed the very sine qua non of thought as such: the reality of our experiences. And no one is forced toward dualism by the incoherence of materialism. You were correct to distance yourself from the dualist position for the excellent substantive reason that it is not the only, nor I think anywhere near the best, alternative to materialism.

Nor should you feel as though you are particularly ignorant of philosophy in this respect. Even very highly educated moderns—including many, many professional philosophers—apparently just flat don’t know that there are alternatives other than materialism and dualism. Our culture is deeply, deeply Cartesian, so that truly to comprehend Aristotelian metaphysics—or its latter day elaborations by Aquinas and Whitehead—is like learning to speak Martian or something. It requires a huge effort of thought, a radical rooting out of presuppositions we’ve absorbed since infancy, that had seemed axiomatic, basic, obvious.

So, your instincts were right. Instincts usually are. When liberals heed their instincts, they are making unprincipled exceptions.

December 2

Buck O. writes:

I got my advanced dualism learn’n and introduction to Descartes years ago watching Japanese anime films with my adolescent son. Ghost In The Shell 2, Innocence is my favorite. “A thrill-ride through the darkest regions of human—and inhuman—nature.”

I pretty much learned about sex on the street, along with most of my friends. There are still crass sayings in use, that we all have heard; that men or women will say about men and the “independence” of a certain body part or “other brain.”

So, here’s something fascinating that I just learned about the octopus, my new favorite creature. They actually have more neurons in their arms than in their brain. If you cut off an arm (which will grow back) it will crawl away on its own and if it finds food, it will actually seize it and attempt to hand it back to where the mouth used to be. It has a “mind” of its own.

Alexis Zarkov says: “dualism is in retreat as the science of behavioral neurology advances.”

Maybe Cain, Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Mark Sanford, John Ensign, Gary Hart, and Eliot Spitzer need to submit to advanced neurological testing. Maybe it’s not their fault.

Remember what Descartes says—doubt everything in the absents of certain proof.

Alan Roebuck writes:

Kristor said

… the soul is the form of the whole person, including the body … Before Descartes, the soul and the body were understood to be a substantial unity, like the form and the material of a ball.

But the Bible says the soul can exist even when the body dies and disintegrates. For example, II Corinthians 5:8:

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

At least some part of the soul can exist without the body.

And if the soul can exist “on its own,” wouldn’t it be a “substance” by definition? A substance, in the philosophical sense, is something that exists in and of itself, as opposed to an event or a property, which only exists “through” something else.

So it seems inescapable that the soul is a substance. And isn’t that, by definition, soul-body dualism?

A female reader writes:

When I was living in Dallas, Texas during the 90s, the City of Dallas schools were already majority-minority, and led by a cabal of ridiculous blacks whose antics were highlighted on the local news at least once or twice a week. I asked a black co-worker if she understood why whites would move out of the city school district rather than allow their children to be taught in schools run by such a dysfunctional school board. She took a moment to think, and then said, “What you have to understand, is that if you put a TV camera in front of a group of black people, they are going to Put On a Show. They can’t stop themselves. It’s just in the nature of black people.”

That’s all the explanation you need for Herman Cain. He KNEW from the beginning that he was unelectable, but he LOVES being on TV.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 30, 2011 07:47 AM | Send

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