Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Harmonious Convergence

It's really late, so this will just be a stop gap. As alluded to earlier, anonymous thinks I'm "delu[ded] about [my] own subtlety and fairness," devote my YDN columns to "coerc[ing] and re-hash[ing] the same position over and over again," "interpret and judge politics in terms of a single criterion, individual rights," "seem more interested in styling yourself a public intellectual than in cultivating genuine debate."

What prompted this---and I'll get to a response in due time; for now let's just say that I apologize for my seemings, and that anonymous should apologize to me for either not reading or not competently reading my YDN columns---was my fairly obviously light-hearted criticism of Peter Johnston for rushing into print his pet interpretation of the current subject of his DS course. (That this post was a joke seems, or better yet, let us say, is irrelevant to anonymous, who incredibly thinks that "This is ridiculous" would constitute a potential counterargument to Johnston that avoids the pitfalls of coercion and repetition.)

In any case, in what was, according to anonymous, my "suggest[ion] that the author lacks intellectual poise," and what was, on planet earth, a reflection on the tendency of DSers to get absorbed in their curriculum to the point of losing their bearings, I expressed the worry that old Peter, if he's not careful with the devotion to Plato, will soon find himself a member of one of the Yale Political Union's right-wing parties, and therefore severely handicapped in his prospects for getting laid. Well, Johnston is back in print today, with an attack on, you guessed it, political individualism, and his op-ed is about as clear a giveaway as there can be that he's joined a conservative YPU party.

In closing, if anonymous is reading this, I'd appreciate it if he'd 1) give an exhaustive presentation of the multiplicity of criteria by which he judges politics, as well as a non-arbitrary account of why they are not expressable as maximization principles, and 2) use his name if he has any desire to continue this dispute.

HARMONIOUS CONVERGENCE SIDENOTE: One point I was hoping to get to in my supplement to Julian Sanchez's critique of maggiegallagherism concerned the following passage in Gallagher's farewell post on the Volokh Conspiracy:
....the reality that humanity comes in two halves, male and female, who are called to join together in love, not only as a private satisfaction, but in order to make the future actually happen....
One of the Volokh commenters describes this as "quasi-Catholic mysticism." I think it would be more accurate to call it Catholic quasi-mysticism. Quasi-Catholic mysticism is better exemplified, no bullshit, by Peter Johnston, who writes:
The declaration [of Independence], however, also includes elements of the prescriptive Judeo-Christian tradition inherited by the founders. This tradition emphasizes the concepts of divine providence, natural hierarchy and a respect for authority.
Yes indeed, "natural hierarchy." Now you know whence the famous "telos of man" clause of the 14th Amendment originates.


At 12:35 PM, Blogger Nostradamus said...

Finnegan-- I didn’t write the anonymous response, and the comment I did make I think registered the joking nature of your mockery. That said, I did feel like you were perhaps being a little overzealous with regards to the tone of your response. It was like you were joking buts till took the initial premise that spawned the joke quite seriously.

The likely author of the anonymous comment is someone who obviously responded more to your initial premise, let’s call out Peter Johnston for making the irreparable sin of using his classroom knowledge in a naïve public way, than to the actual content of your post. Such a person probably felt that you were in fact more naïve and “out of line” in your remonstrance than Johnston was in his initial sin… After all, is there really any justification for attack punditry, even if it is joking, especially when everyone who reads and respects your opinions obviously already knows you are more sophisticated (in part simply by virtue of your being older) than a Freshman DS student?

I didn’t take DS, so I didn’t experience the writers you mention in the same way as you and Johnston, and I greatly object to your equation of the allure of Plato with the allure of right wing politics, but perhaps most importantly, I am no longer a Yale student. I found the specificity of your humor at once petty and hubristic. You are slamming Johnston for having only progressed so far in a course that you clearly learned from yourself. You even use DS lingo, so thorough is your own indebtedness to the program. For those of us outside of the world of the Yale classroom, your joke just makes you seem like an undergraduate who is still completely enmeshed within the meaningless hierarchies of knowledge, not at all the wizened “above-immature academic games” public thinker you, at least in my estimation, usually are…

By the way, is it surprising that Johnston has now turned against your point of view and is attacking you? Isn’t that the logical result of your public attack of him here? Might one not gain more friends and ideological allies through encouragement?

At 11:17 PM, Blogger Tom said...

Why, Nostradamus, did you not come to my defense when Dan slammed my Kelo article?

For that matter, did anyone even read that fucking thing? For the record, it is really good.


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