April 8, 2011


On Searle's "The Storm Over The University" - 3

other parts of the series

"Orwell marked this passage in a copy he gave to Geoffrey Gorer, telling him that it was the key passage" and that "all the pigs were in agreement on this point, even Snowball and Napoleon:"

'Comrades!' he cried. 'You do not imagine, I hope that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brain-workers. The whole management and organization of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.' " From Crick: "George Orwell - A life" p. 490

Put "pomo" for "pig"; "power" for "milk" and "tenure" for "apples" and you get the idea...



1. Introduction
2. On Searle on pomo, Kimball, Kuhn, Rorty and education

This continues Part 2 and is the last of the series.

1. Introduction

This is the final part 3 of my review of Searle's 1990 essay that you'll find here in its entirety:

and that was published the year after I wrote and published my opinions on the subject:

Part 1 and Part 2 of my review are under the links, and are presupposed here, where I continue where I left quoting and commenting Searle's text in Part 2. As before, quotations from Searle's essay are indented and in blue.

2. On Searle on pomo, Kimball, Kuhn, Rorty and education

Most of Part 2 was given to Searle's discussion of Mr Kimball's book "Tenured Radicals" that is continued below, but first I turn to Searle's discussion of a pomo-pamphlet that attacked Bloom's book I briefly discussed in Part 1 and - in 1989 - in Truth and value. This contained a remark Searle quotes that fits well with my motto and my notion that postmodernism was and is basically a political and propagandistic congame for power, status and tenure by persons who are not interested in science but in "pigs" getting "apples" and "milk":

- And again,

As the most powerful modern philosophies and theories have been demonstrating, claims of disinterest, objectivity, and universality are not to be trusted and themselves tend to reflect local historical conditions [my italics]..

As someone who takes more than a passing interest in "the most powerful modern philosophies," I know none of which it could be said that it "demonstrates" that such claims are "not to be trusted." Unfortunately the authors do not tell us exactly what results in these disciplines they have in mind. They also confidently quote "relativity and quantum mechanics" as supporting their new conception of the humanities. One wishes they had told us in some detail how the study of, say, inertial frames in relativity theory or the collapse of the wave function in quantum mechanics support their peculiar conception of the study of literature.

Quite so: It was all flimflam sauced with bullshit, or the other way around, and I would not be amazed - but don't know - if Sokal (<-Wikipedia)got his inspiration from this passage.

See also, for a frightening bit of pomo flimflam + analysis and many linkse my Morningstar shines a bright light on postmodernism, Postmodernism disrobed (by Richard Dawkins) and for the pomo prose style and incredible pretentiousness

The Postmodernism Generator

Instructions for use, also for instantaneous enlightenment and enduring bliss:

1. Click the link
2. Savour and Enjoy (save if useful for your coursework in clinical psychology!)
3. Reload the page.
4. Savour and Enjoy (save if useful for your coursework in modern philosophy!)
5. Return to step 3.

As to the pomo nonsense - in fact a piece of innuendo - that such and so "tend to reflect local historical conditions", first notice that holds or any human idea, including postmodern ones, and so can't be relevant, and therefore is a fallacy, and next consider Searle' retort, who quite correctly points to a prejudice at its basis:

- One recurring fallacy deserves special mention. There is throughout the pamphlet a persistent confusion between epistemology and ontology; between how we know and what it is that we know when we know. It is an obvious fact that our epistemological efforts are undertaken by historically situated people, subject to all the usual imperfections, not merely of prejudice but of intellect. All investigations are relative to investigators. But it does not follow, nor is it indeed true, that all the matters investigated are relative to investigators. Real human investigators have to discover, e.g., that water is made of hydrogen and oxygen, but the fact that water is made of hydrogen and oxygen is not relative to any investigators.

Quite so, but effectively the postmodernists - who do not argue rationally but rhetorically, and who never had a consistent rationally tenable position, which indeed makes them all the more slippery - based most of their nonsense on what should have been a piece of manifest absurdity:

Derrida: ' "there is nothing outside the text"
             (il n'ya pas de hors-texte) '
(quoted from Wikipedia)

but which was instead was lapped up as if it was manna from high heaven, a divine satori, the ultimate in philosophical insight and acumen...whereas in fact it is precisely what a propagandist, liar, born collaborator would want to insist on, at least privately: There is no truth of the matter I discuss - all is fiction, make-belief, pretense posture - and see my Scientific Realism versus Postmodernism and indeed Frankfurter's "On Bullshit", with my bolding and coloring:

It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction. A person who lies is thereby responding to the truth, and he is to that extent respectful of it. When an honest man speaks, he says only what he believes to be true; and for the liar, it is correspondingly indispensable that he considers his statements to be false. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.

And that purpose stands in my motto: "milk" and "apples" for "pigs".

Now we are back with Searle on Kimball - and see my The ideological ape also linked in the quote from Searle (by me, not him, of course):

- Kimball sees that something very important is at stake in the debate concerning Speaking for the Humanities. He quotes Tzvetan Todorov's review of the pamphlet in the New Republic, pointing out that its claim that most of the "dominant theories" reject the idea of disinterest and objectivity is "awkwardly reminiscent" of O'Brien's speech to Winston Smith in Orwell's 1984:

You believe that reality is something objective, external, existing in its own right.... But I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind and nowhere else.

Kimball is mostly concerned with the political implications of this denial of an independently existing reality, but I would like to stress its purely intellectual implications. If you think there is no reality that words could possibly correspond to, then obviously it will be a waste of time to engage in an "objective and disinterested search for truth," because there is no such thing as truth. There are just various forms of discourse engaged in by various groups of people. Philosophers have a name for the view that there exists a reality independent of our representations of it. It is called "realism" or sometimes "metaphysical realism" or "scientific realism." An immediate difficulty with denials of metaphysical realism is that they remove the rational constraints that are supposed to shape discourse, when that discourse aims at something beyond itself. To paraphrase Dostoevsky, without metaphysical realism, anything is permissible.

In fact, this explains part of my anger with the University of Amsterdam and the "education" I and everyone else was offered there: Not only was much that everyone was offered politicized bullshit, but that same politicized bullshit relied on the absurdity that there is no truth and no valid argumentation, thereby making all conflicts of ideas or values on solvable by force or violence.

Searle being a philosopher takes up the philosophical theme, and arrives at Thomas Kuhn, for my view on which see Three philosophical interviews: Kuhn, Searle, Gardner:

- Many arguments have been made against metaphysical realism, all of them in my view inadequate. This is not the place to go through each argument, but one can at least cite some of the texts. As a matter of the sociology of contemporary studies in the humanities, the two most influential attacks on metaphysical realism are supposed to have come from Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and Richard Rorty's Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Kuhn is supposed to have shown that science does not consist in the detached search for the truth, but that scientists instead are an irrational community, who grasp hold of one "paradigm" until they find it dissatisfying; then they have another "scientific revolution" and rush to another paradigm.

Indeed, though another influential book with the same import was Feyerabend's "Against Method", that - in itself not inconsistently - argued on the line that there is no ascertainable truth, and therefore no valid method whatsoever to arrive at it. And I should here make three general points:

First, see my On natural philosophy, philosophy of science, and psychiatry for some basic philosophy of science and a review of texts that may help you not be deceived by philosophical bullshit.

Second, one basic argument for realism is very simple and indeed ad hominem: (1) No one believes everything is relative or that truth does not exist as soon as his or her own interests are concerned. This holds for academically employed philosophers too - for which reason I suggested in 1988 (and earlier) that it would be a morally good thing if professors teaching that there is no truth, get no salaries. (Perhaps that is why I was removed from the university.)

Third, two other basic arguments for realism are that (2) it is involved in the learning of any natural language, among other things because (3) that things with an outside have an inside, that the world continues to exist while you are asleep, also on all places you have never been to, and that other persons have feelings, desires and beliefs too are the simplest tenable explanations for the facts we do and did experience.

Now back to Searle, who continues the above quotation as follows:

I do not for a moment believe that this is the correct interpretation of Kuhn's book, although he could have been clearer about whether he was referring to the sociology of scientific communities or the epistemology of scientific discovery. But whatever Kuhn's intentions, the effect has been to demythologize science in the eyes of people in literary studies, many of whom think that the claim of science to represent any independently existing reality has been discredited.

Well... personally I think ever since reading Kuhn that he was bullshitting or mentally/verbally confused or both: There simply were far too many unclarities in his usage of terms - such as "paradigm" and "incommensurable" - wedded too far too much pretentiousness to be credible, and besides Kuhn looked too much as if he had borrowed a lot from Popper and then altered it to fit his own conceptions, without saying so.

We arrive at Searle on Rorty - and remember Searle is discussing here a pomo-pamphlet:

- What Kuhn did for science, Rorty did for philosophy. Rorty is supposed to have shown that philosophical claims do not correspond to an independently existing reality either. Both Kuhn and Rorty are supposed, oddly enough, to be supported by the deconstructive works of Jacques Derrida, who is alleged to have shown that the very idea of truth can be deconstructed, that the opposition between truth and falsity, between fact and fiction, is an illusory one, and that it is a "logocentric" prejudice to suppose that there is an independent reality that exists beyond texts. In fact, according to the literary theorists influenced by Derrida, there is nothing beyond or outside texts. So O'Brien is supposed to have triumphed over Winston after all.

Quite so - and see my "Truth and value", that antedates Searle's text, for a similar line of reasoning ending in O'Brien's triumph over Winston. Incidentally, in case you missed it: That "the opposition between truth and falsity, between fact and fiction, is an illusory one" again is inconsistent, with the normal meaning of "illusory", for that presupposes there is a distinction between truth and falsity. Pomo-prose is full of such inconsistencies, and some leading pomos even seem to take pride in it, as a kind of superior irony, though most ordinary pomos swallow anything that has the right pomo smell and appearance of utter verbal and intellectual confusion wedded to great moral pretensions.

- Are there convincing arguments for metaphysical realism? The demand for a proof of the existence of a reality that is independent of our representations of reality is a puzzling one, because it looks like making the demand itself already presupposes what is demanded to be proved. The situation is a bit like those challenges one used to hear in the 1960s, when students would ask for a proof of rationality, "What is your argument for rationality?" But any demand for an "argument" or "proof" already presupposes standards of rationality, the applicability of which is constitutive of something's being an argument or proof. You cannot in the same breath appeal to argument and proof and deny rationality.

See my On natural philosophy, philosophy of science, and psychiatry for my take in extenso, and the above three arguments that (1) no one believes there is no truth or falsity if his or her own interests are at stake (2) realism - there is an independent reality we are all part of, and informed about via our senses - is involved in the learning of any natural language, among other things because (3) realism is the simplest tenable explanation for the facts we do and did experience.

Here is Searle again, to a similar effect:

- A similar point applies, but even more radically, to metaphysical realism. The person who denies metaphysical realism presupposes the existence of a public language, a language in which he or she communicates with other people. But what are the conditions of possibility of communication in a public language? What do I have to assume when I ask a question or make a claim that is supposed to be understood by others? At least this much: if we are using words to talk about something, in a way that we expect to be understood by others, then there must be at least the possibility of something those words can be used to talk about. Consider any claim, from particular statements such as "my dog has fleas," to theoretical claims such as "water is made of hydrogen and oxygen," to grand theories such as evolution or relativity, and you will see that they presuppose for their intelligibility that we are taking metaphysical realism for granted.

Indeed - and notably because such "grand theories", just like common sense reality goes beyond such experiences people have, and indeed MUST do so in order to make ANY prediction by which it can be tested, since a prediction is a statement about a possible future that has not arrived yet, until the prediction has materialized or failed to hold in some appropriate experiment or test. (This may be as simple and commonsensical as "I thought I'd left my book under the bed. Let's see whether I am right...yes, there it is.")

Back to Searle:

- I am not claiming that one can prove metaphysical realism to be true practices. What I am arguing, rather, is that those practices themselves presuppose metaphysical realism. So one cannot within those practices intelligibly deny metaphysical realism, because the meaningfulness of our public utterances already presupposes an independently existing reality to which expressions in those utterances can refer. Metaphysical realism is thus not a thesis or a theory; it is rather the condition of having theses or theories or even of denying theses or theories. This is not an epistemic point about how we come to know truth as opposed to falsehood, rather it is a point about the conditions of possibility of communicating intelligibly. Falsehood stands as much in need of the real world as does truth.

I have given my own arguments above - not completely the same as Searle, but similar - and only note here that I supplement Searle's point about "the conditions of possibility of communicating intelligibly" by noting we communicate in part to test our ideas, and we can't test our ideas if there is nothing our ideas can represent or fail to represent - and this even holds for postmodernists who insists that there only is approval or disapproval rather than truth or falsity, for even the approval or disapproval of others depends on inferences, that depend on the notions of truth and falsity.

Then again, a point Searle doesn't make but must have crossed his mind in some form or other: Discussing with postmodernists is unpleasantly like discussing with fanatic religious believers, who just "know" you must be wrong and mistaken and immoral simply "because" you don't talk and think like they do.

In Searle's text I have arrived at his section 4, in which there is Searle's discussion of a book by the English conservative and philosopher Michael Oakeshott. I will only quote and discuss one part of it, in which Searle discusses something Oakeshott wrote in the year I was born:

In a chilling passage originally written in 1950, he says,

In the past a rising class was aware of something valuable and enjoyed by others which it wished to share; but this is not so today. The leaders of the rising class are consumed with a contempt for everything which does not spring from their own desires, they are convinced in advance that they have nothing to learn and everything to teach, and consequently their aim is loot—to appropriate to themselves the organization, the shell of the institution, and convert it to their own purposes. The problem of the universities today is how to avoid destruction at the hands of men who have no use for their characteristic virtues, men who are convinced only that "knowledge is power."

Kimball or Bloom might have written something very like this passage today. The characterization was true of some members of the new class of students who were entering the British universities after 1945, but it was not true of most of them. In the United States of 1990, it accurately characterizes a small number of academics who are attacking the traditional standards of rationality, intelligence, truth, and excellence in order to advance a political ideology. But for the most part, the new groups of people coming into the universities, many of them from poor families, are sadly unformed. It is not their aim to "loot"; they are often too bewildered to have well-formed aspirations.

That's all fair enough, but - having extensive personal experiences of academic and would be academic postmodernists in the Dutch universities - I do agree that they seemed to me, from the beginning to have been out "to "loot"": "to appropriate to themselves the organization, the shell of the institution, and convert it to their own purposes." (*)

Indeed, in Holland they mostly succeeded, outside those departments that require talent and work, such as physics, mathematics and chemistry, and this happened because postmodern ideas and values - what I called in Part 2  a climate of opinion and a standard of discourse (relativist, PC) - found wide favour, mostly because their association with moral values - emancipation of women, homosexuals, blacks, foreigners - that many local academics agreed with. Consequently, this also had trickled down to the Dutch schools, where the teaching of long division was already terminated around 1980, and where spelling also was preferably not taught "because the computer will be able to do that for you.

How this worked out in the US - a far greater country than Holland, with a different kind of education - I do not know, but Harold Bloom's opening sentence

"There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes that truth is relative."

held for The Netherlands since the late seventies, and ever more since, because that is what they had been taught in their preparatory schools, indeed combined with the notion that this would help combat discrimination. That is, it was a fallacy like Tertullian's "Credo quia absurdum": "You must believe there is no truth, because that will help to put a stop to discrimination - verily, cross my heart!"

Finally, a last quotation from Searle, that is the end of his essay, and his attempt to describe some of the necessary conditions for being a well-educated person - which indeed is what the postmodernists, Kimball and Oakeshott contended about. Searle's quote is continues, but I split it in paragraphs for my comments following them immediately:

In fact, it does not seem to me very difficult to describe some of the necessary conditions for being a well-educated person.

I will mostly agree, but note here that Searle speaks explicitly of "some of the necessary conditions", that is, presumably neither all of them nor all of the sufficient conditions, and also note that - of course! - it is "relative to the US educational system around 1990, as seen by Searle".

First, the student should have enough knowledge of his or her cultural tradition to know how it got to be the way it is. This involves both political and social history, on the one hand, as well as the mastery of some of the great philosophical and literary texts of the culture on the other. It involves reading not only texts that are of great value, like those of Plato, but many less valuable that have been influential, such as the works of Marx. For the United States, the dominant tradition is, and for the foreseeable future, will remain the European tradition. The United States is, after all, a product of the European Enlightenment. However, you do not understand your own tradition if you do not see it in relation to others. Works from other cultural traditions need to be studied as well.

I agree, and especially that a university should teach "enough knowledge of his or her cultural tradition to know how it got to be the way it is". Personally, I am not so convinced most students will like or learn much from Plato, or indeed Marx, but indeed they should have been exposed to some of their texts, and have some understanding what is in them.

If these two streams, both the political-social and the philosophical-literary, are well organized and well taught, the claims of the various minorities should have their place. Intelligently taught social and political histories of Europe and the United States, for example, should recognize the history of all of the major components of European and American society, including those that have been treated unjustly. It is important, however, to get rid of the ridiculous notion that there is something embarrassing or lamentable about the fact that most of the prominent political and intellectual leaders of our culture over the past two thousand years or so have been white males. This is just a historical fact whose causes should be explored and understood. To deny it or attempt to suppress the works of such thinkers is not simply racism, it is unintelligent.

Indeed - but I note that personally I am not much concerned with "the various minorities", and that mostly because of my experiences in the University of Amsterdam: This very easily got corrupted in "undoing the harm minorities had suffered" or at least were supposed and claimed to have suffered, by promoting specific members of them into the universities, and give them tenure and research funds, not because they were highly qualified scientists or thinkers in their own right, but because they happened to be a member of some currently favoured minority with personal friends at high places in the university. (*)

Second, you need to know enough of the natural sciences so that you are not a stranger in the world. This means, at a minimum, that you need to know enough about physics and chemistry to understand how the physical world is constructed. This would also include at least a smattering of knowledge of the general and special theories of relativity, and an understanding of why quantum mechanics is so philosophically challenging. Furthermore, at a minimum, you must have enough biology to understand the Darwinian revolution, and to understand recent developments in genetics and microbiology.

I agree in principle, but observe bitterly that (1) what Searle requires was given in Holland in the classical preparatory schools for university until the sixties, since the 1860ies, which schools then (2) were radically dumbed down from the 1970ies unward: Much less or no mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology, that used to be all required but then were no longer; no required foreign languages except language, whereas the Dutch formerly - a small nation, living mostly by trade with foreigners - were required to learn at least three, and so on.

Third, you need to know enough about how society works so that you understand what a trade cycle is, or how interest rates will affect the value of the currency, for example. In short, you need to have some knowledge of the subject matter that used to be called political economy.

With this I agree as well in principle, with a similar proviso, though "how society works", according to the sciences of economics and politics, was less well taught in Dutch preparatory schools for university when they still were fairly good and not dumbed down. But then good teachers of history on those schools - history again disappeared from the curriculum in the 1970ies - did teach some of this.

Fourth, you need to know at least one foreign language well enough so that you can read the best literature that that language has produced in the original, and so you carry on a reasonable conversation and have dreams in that language. There are several reasons why this is crucial, but the most important is perhaps this: you can never understand one language until you understand at least two.

I doubt the concluding statement, though I agree with the sentiment, and personally I believe it makes considerable sense for intelligent persons to learn several foreign languages while young, because it then comes easiest to them, and because it will much extend their capacities to communicate with others and to read books in the languages they know. (Speaking for myself, I did not much like learning foreign languages, though it came easy to me, but was always thankful I could read English, French and German texts, since I had had to learn that in high school.)

Fifth, you need to know enough philosophy so that the methods of logical analysis are available to you to be used as a tool. One of the most depressing things about educated people today is that so few of them, even among professional intellectuals, are able to follow the steps of a simple logical argument.


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you need to acquire the skills of writing and speaking that make for candor, rigor, and clarity. You cannot think clearly if you cannot speak and write clearly.

Quite so, though I have to add that speaking and writing clearly, about most subjects, is something very few persons know how to do well, even if they are honestly doing the best they can.

Just acquiring this amount of "education" will not, by itself, make you an educated person, even less will it give you what Oakeshott calls "judgment." But if the manner of instruction is adequate, the student should be able to acquire this much knowledge in a way that combines intellectual openness, critical scrutiny, and logical clarity. If so, learning will not stop when the student leaves the university. None of the books I have been reading about higher education makes even these elementary points.

Yes - but then, also in view of Searle's concluding statement, there are some provisos.

First, here is Gibbon, quoted twice:

"The power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous"

- which lack of intelligence in ordinary men - in my estimate - is the main though not the only cause that

"History is little else but the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind."

See my: On a fundamental problem in ethics and morals.

Second, it is not possible to teach one beyond one's talents and intelligence, just as one cannot reach higher than one's length allows.

Third, it is a factual misconception that anybody can do anything anyone else can: On the contrary, to do valued and important things really well is quite rare, and requires at least three things in those who can: A talent for doing these things - whether for soccer or for mathematics or for whatever; a sustained personal effort to educate that talent; and the social chance to make that effort, if one has that talent, for something that many humans consider valuable and important.

Fourth, this also is the reason why the highest education, such as universities are supposed to provide, should be given only to those who have clearly shown that they have the talent and the will to benefit from it, and not to others, even if all would want to be a Ph.D. for financial and careerist reasons.

Those who consider this "unfair" must be those who prefer to be cured by witchdoctors and to be lectured by nitwits - or, what is much worse, but which seems to to be what postmodernists, if they were honest, should insist they want for all others who are not postmodernist academics:

"Since there is no truth, the lot of you common folks, unblessed by a postmodern prefrontal lobotomy, should be glad and thankful that witchdoctors will attempt to cure you from your ailments, and that professors in universities are, if postmodernistically correct, indistinguishable from madmen in asylums. There's real postmodern progress for you, with the real emancipation of the incompetent and the mad!"

Fifth and last, there is no high civilization without the best possible education for the best, indeed - in the present postmodern epoch this manner of argument must be resorted to, if one wants to make a chance to be widely understood - just as the masses can't enjoy top quality soccer or boxing without preferential treatment of those who excel in that. (See also my 39 Question about the decline of education and government in the Netherlands, where I publicly said the same in the University of Amsterdam, and was kicked out.)

To end this third section of my review of Searle's "The Storm Over The Universiyity" I note the following, for your convenience pointwise:

  • I mostly agree with Searle's diagnosis of postmodernism, which indeed is very similar to my own position since 1977, probably - for a considerable part - because he and I know rather a lot of philosophy of science, logic and analytical philosophy
  • My main disagreement with Searle - as he wrote in 1990, to be sure - is that I considered postmodernism from the beginning a catastrophy for higher education if it got to be succesful, which it did - however:
  • I do not have good factual data on the ruins it caused, and very much doubt there are such data, except for two observations:
  • First, in all of Western Europe, pre-university education has been systematically dumbed down, it seems largely to give the masses a democratic right to enter a university and become a Ph.D. in Sports Studies, European Studies, or - for the really talented - Business Administration, since
  • Second, in countries like Holland and England around 50% of the 18-20 year olds is formally qualified to attend a - pomoified - university (for which reason there are hardly any artisans: People rather become a Ph.D. in popmusic than a bricklayer or carpenter, even though the last two professions are far more useful and "socially relevant" than professors in pop music).
  • I see very little hope for high civilzation in countries were the whole political and moral climate has been pomoified i.e. were the majority is convinced everything is relative and everyone equivalently entitled to all social benefits of any kind, including academic degrees, also because
  • The main psychological reason postmodernism succeeded as it did is that ordinary men and women, including ordinary academics and would be academics, are not really gifted intellectually, nor really gifted morally, and for these two reasons may be easily deceived and easily frightened, while they besides agree with postmodernism in having strong totalitarian inclinations, and to be prone to wishful thinking, posturing and lying to make a career, and to be very hypocritical about truth.

What I therefore plan to do is to write some sort of coda to this review-series of 3 Nederlogs, perhaps by another title, though the title will include "postmodernism", and that because I want to get to a real listing of the relevant considerations, also because I disagree with Searle-in-1990 about the relative non-importance of postmodernism: I think it has ruined much in modern Western societies, including the relatively good schools and universities these had from 1865-1965.

And yes - a great part of my generation and the one before it, both in so far as they attended university or pretended to be intellectuals, betrayed the ideals of civilization and the Enlightenment, for they betrayed and denied truth, rationality, reason, honest morality and real science, and did so because they had misled themselves by totalitarian relativistic political correctness, or because they misled others by the same, in either case ostensibly - "in the text" - for the highest of moral and emancipatory reasons, but in fact out of conformism, careerism and lack of character to speak socially unliked truths.


(*) The reason I was very certain of this from the very beginning that I was exposed to postmodernism, is that I happen to be the highly gifted son of Amsterdam communist heroes of the resistance in WW II, which is precisely what the local leftists and postmodernists claimed to act in the name of, and to be much inspired by:

I knew none of them was highly gifted in any way (other than careerism through posturing, to be sure: Derrida, Lacan and Deleuze may have been geniuses in that respect); hardly anyone had an intelligence fit for understanding real science, in which indeed hardly any one of them had any real interest; and that they pretended to be marxists and revolutionaries because they did not even know Marx, and were personally just not of the qualities of character, courage and morality of my parents and their friends from Dutch resistance, of which I have known quite a few.

(**) In the university of Amsterdam, during quite a few years, one could get tenureship for life, in principle, at age 25 or so, merely for being both a member of some currently popular minority and a student-activist. Strikingly, for this ill and gifted person, the ill or the highly gifted were never such minorities.

P.S. Corrections, if any are necessary, have to be made later.

other parts of the series

As to ME/CFS (that I prefer to call ME):

1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS (pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf)
5. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

6. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
7. Paul Lutus

Is Psychology a Science?

8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)

Short descriptions:

1. Ten reasons why ME/CFS is a real disease by a professor of medicine of Harvard.
2. Long essay by a professor emeritus of medical chemistry about maltreatment of ME.
3. Explanation of what's happening around ME by an investigative journalist.
4. Report to Canadian Government on ME, by many medical experts.
5. Advice to psychiatrist by a psychiatrist who understands ME is an organic disease
6. English mathematical genius on one's responsibilities in the matter of one's beliefs:
   "it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence".
7. A space- and computer-scientist takes a look at psychology.
8. Malcolm Hooper puts things together status 2010.

    "Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!

No change, no pause, no hope! Yet I endure.
I ask the Earth, have not the mountains felt?
I ask yon Heaven, the all-beholding Sun,
Has it not seen? The Sea, in storm or calm,
Heaven's ever-changing Shadow, spread below,
Have its deaf waves not heard my agony?
Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, forever!
     - (Shelley, "Prometheus Unbound") 

    "It was from this time that I developed my way of judging the Chinese by dividing them into two kinds: one humane and one not. "
     - (Jung Chang)


See also: ME -Documentation and ME - Resources

Maarten Maartensz (M.A. psy, B.A. phi)

        home - index - top - mail