The Art of Tetman Callis

Some of the stories and poems may be inappropriate for persons under 16

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Entries Tagged as 'George Scialabba'

Good luck with all that

August 3rd, 2017 · No Comments

“Our culture’s trek to the present has been a Long March through one province after another of philosophical folly: Plato’s Ideas, Aristotle’s essences, Descartes’ mind-body distinction, Kant’s Ding-an-sich, Husserl’s phenomenological method, the logical positivists’ scientific method—all in quest of absolute, suprahistorical Certainty. At last we have learned from the great antiphilosophers—James and Dewey, Nietzsche and […]

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Tags: George Scialabba · Lit & Crit

Thor of the boardroom

August 2nd, 2017 · No Comments

“Modern culture has produced a distinctive character-type, our equivalent of the Homeric warrior-hero, the Athenian gentleman-citizen, the Christian saint, the 18th-century honnete homme. The defining activity of this character-type is manipulation; its most common embodiments are the aesthete, the therapist and, above all, the manager. All three express their culture’s understanding of social relations as […]

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Tags: Economics · George Scialabba · Politics & Law

What it’s about

July 31st, 2017 · No Comments

“In theory, the outcome of elections in the United States reflects, with only minor distortions, the political preferences of the electorate. That’s what representative democracy is supposed to mean. Only it doesn’t work out that way. More precisely: the range of choices over which the American electorate is allowed to exercise its preference is sharply […]

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Tags: Economics · George Scialabba · Politics & Law

Just lie back and relax

July 28th, 2017 · No Comments

“The tendency of every utopian movement is totalitarian: when perfectibility is the assumption, coercion must be the result.” – George Scialabba, “The Crooked Timber of Humanity”

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Tags: Economics · George Scialabba · Politics & Law

Apples are not oranges

July 27th, 2017 · No Comments

“The aims of scientific method—predictiveness, universal applicability, logical simplicity, ontological parsimony—cannot be imported into the study of psychology, history, or politics. Individuals and cultures are radically diverse, ineffably deep, infinitely complex. Only imaginative identification, a renunciation of the urge to theoretical mastery, and a yielding to the sheer particularity of things can produce genuine understanding. […]

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Tags: George Scialabba · Lit & Crit

Freedom isn’t free

July 26th, 2017 · No Comments

“Whatever else liberal democratic societies have had in common, there’s this: they’ve all been rich. The two pillars of liberal ideology—the right to undisturbed enjoyment of one’s property and the right to a fair share of society’s resources, at least enough for a decent subsistence—may be fundamentally inconsistent, but the contradiction has usually remained implicit. […]

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Tags: Economics · George Scialabba · Politics & Law

Imagine all the people

July 25th, 2017 · No Comments

“Culture and psychology are central to politics. But cultural politics must reckon with our psychic ecology: the sum of our adaptations, over the course of two million years, to infantile dependence, territoriality, scarcity, mortality, and the other hitherto inescapable limits of human existence. We are organisms; we cannot flourish at just any tempo, pressure, or […]

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Tags: Economics · George Scialabba · Politics & Law

You can’t get there from here

July 24th, 2017 · No Comments

“Utopia, then, is in the future. Why is this worth emphasizing? Revolutionists and abolitionists, utopia’s false friends, insist that it can be constructed out of present materials through a heroic act of will. This is to underestimate recklessly the depth and subtlety of the necessary changes and the intricacy and inertia of every moral culture. […]

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Tags: Economics · George Scialabba · Politics & Law

What’s the price on that?

July 22nd, 2017 · No Comments

“Critical rationality, as propagated by the Enlightenment and modeled on the natural sciences, has (along with market rationality) undermined the cultural authority of virtually all moral values, norms, customs, and beliefs in virtually all modern societies. The moral foundations of Western culture have been hollowed out. To the question ‘why be good?’ there is now […]

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Tags: George Scialabba · Lit & Crit · Politics & Law

Divided we stand

July 21st, 2017 · No Comments

“Is it necessary to choose between cosmopolitanism and agrarian populism? Let us hope not. The liberal virtues and the republican virtues are both indispensable. But that does not mean they are, at this moment, equally urgent or equally vulnerable. The apparently irresistible thrust of global capitalism threatens the latter virtues far more than the former, […]

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Tags: Economics · George Scialabba · Politics & Law

Making sense of it

July 18th, 2017 · No Comments

“Symbolic expression, however forceful, leaves a space between communicator and recipient, a space for contesting, fighting back with one’s own words and images, organizing to oppose whatever action the abhorred speech may incite. Though speech may, and often does, support the structure of domination, whether by lending aid and comfort to the powerful or frightening […]

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Tags: George Scialabba · Lit & Crit · Politics & Law

Making America Great Again

July 14th, 2017 · No Comments

“Safe, simple, effective, and relatively cheap ways to increase intelligence and longevity in the American population include mounting the equivalent of the antismoking educational campaign against the high levels of fat, sugar, and salt in our national diet; encouraging physical activity, for example by forcing ourselves, through gasoline taxes and urban rezoning, to walk more, […]

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Tags: Economics · George Scialabba · Politics & Law

Not just another word

July 13th, 2017 · No Comments

“What is free speech supposed to be free from? Political and legal restrictions, presumably. But commercial fraud, libel, perjury, declaiming in a stranger’s living room, and shouting ‘Fire!’ in a crowded theater are all uncontroversially restricted forms of speech, whose boundaries are nevertheless sometimes contested. Those contests are resolved—and hence the boundaries of ‘free’ speech […]

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Tags: George Scialabba · Politics & Law · The American Constitution

Making sense of it all

June 24th, 2017 · No Comments

“The political and the non-political, freedom and restriction, fairness and unfairness, ideas and their consequences: these distinctions are all indispensable but contingent. They are working distinctions. We can’t do without them, on pain of intellectual and social incoherence. But what content we give them is determined by our fundamental goals and values, our deepest sense […]

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Tags: George Scialabba · Politics & Law

Making art safe

June 23rd, 2017 · No Comments

“Contemporary society, and in particular contemporary criticism, has tamed the arts, gradually deprived them of their prophetic and subversive possibilities. There’s no place in modern life for the mystical or the unpredictable; the arts have been institutionalized and are now managed by a cultural bureaucracy of scholars, critics, patrons, businessmen, and publicists. . . . […]

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Tags: Economics · George Scialabba · Lit & Crit

It’s a free country

June 22nd, 2017 · No Comments

“A four-letter word beginning with ‘f’ has tragically corrupted the minds of countless innocent Americans. I mean ‘free,’ in the expressions ‘free market’ and ‘free enterprise.’ It is a glorious word, of course, but its association with these morally neutral abstractions generally serves to obscure their often harsh and irrational consequences.” – George Scialabba, “The […]

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Tags: Economics · George Scialabba

All you need is

June 21st, 2017 · No Comments

“Literature has always been about love; the modern novel has been about love as a problem. More precisely, about love as one instance of the fundamental modern problem: autonomy, individuality, selfhood. Enacting one’s identity, living up to one’s inherited role, offered premoderns plenty of scope for literary heroism; but devising one’s identity, choosing one’s role, […]

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Tags: George Scialabba · Lit & Crit

You’ve been warned

June 18th, 2017 · No Comments

“A little learning is a dangerous thing, though not nearly as dangerous as a lot of it.” – George Scialabba, “Errata”

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Tags: George Scialabba · Lit & Crit

Apples and oranges

June 14th, 2017 · No Comments

“The leading British conservative of the 19th century, Benjamin Disraeli, was a legendary wit and a successful novelist whose books are still worth reading. The leading American conservative of the 20th century, Ronald Reagan, was an amiable duffer with a head full of old movies and a shoebox full of old newspaper clippings. The leading […]

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Tags: George Scialabba · Lit & Crit · Politics & Law

You can’t buy that

April 20th, 2017 · No Comments

“When Jefferson opposed the spread of manufacturing, Jackson opposed a centralized financial system, Lincoln criticized wage labor, the Progressives criticized the trusts, and numerous states tried to halt the spread of chain stores, they did so not only for reasons of distributive justice, but even more from a desire to preserve the material conditions of […]

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Tags: Abraham Lincoln · Economics · George Scialabba · Politics & Law · Thomas Jefferson

In theory

April 18th, 2017 · No Comments

“As a political theory, liberalism is systematically ambivalent. In its historically dominant version, it holds that maximum individual autonomy is the highest political good; that value preferences are purely subjective and arbitrary, hence none is more worthy of encouragement through social policy than any other, and that individual behavior is largely intentional rather than deterministic, […]

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Tags: George Scialabba · Politics & Law

Mox nix

April 14th, 2017 · No Comments

“If it can make no practical difference which of two statements be true, then they are really one statement in two verbal forms. If it can make no practical difference whether a given statement be true or false, then the statement has no real meaning.” – William James (quoted by George Scialabba in “Genuine Reality”)

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Tags: George Scialabba · Lit & Crit · William James

The house always wins

April 13th, 2017 · No Comments

“The romantic, reckless, very lucky Colonel John Charles Fremont stumbled down into northern Nevada from Oregon in 1843. Against all advice, he decided to cross the Sierras in winter. It was a mild winter, so he discovered Lake Tahoe and returned East in glory to write a best-selling account of the expedition. Three years later […]

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Tags: Economics · George Scialabba · Lit & Crit

How that all turned out

April 4th, 2017 · No Comments

“In 1900 there were grounds for optimism about the coming century. Apart from bloody but brief contests between Prussia and Austria and Prussia and France, Europe had been at peace since Napoleon. The first great age of industrialization had vastly increased national wealth and standards of living throughout Western Europe and North America. A moderate […]

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Tags: Economics · George Scialabba · Lit & Crit · Politics & Law

One and the same

March 28th, 2017 · No Comments

“The God of Plato and Aristotle, of Plotinus and Augustine, of Aquinas and Bonaventure, of Newman and C. S. Lewis; the eternal immutable, infinite, ubiquitous, omnipotent, omniscient Supreme Being, Unmoved Mover, ens realissimum, whose existence is identical with His essence and who is without body, parts, or passions, is one of the sublimest achievements of […]

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Tags: Aristotle · Friedrich Nietzsche · George Scialabba · Lit & Crit · Plato

The end of the world and we missed it

March 16th, 2017 · No Comments

“All too often ‘modernity’ has meant nothing more than the assault of capitalism on tradition, with enlightenment nowhere in view. Commodification, wage labor, and mass production have drastically undermined craft, regional, ethnic, religious, and even familial loyalties and virtues, substituting only the abstract disciplines of the market. Industrial capitalism may be readier than traditional societies […]

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Tags: Economics · George Scialabba · Politics & Law

You’re a big boy now

March 15th, 2017 · No Comments

“The infant’s and child’s outsized fantasies — of omnipotence and terrified helplessness, of rage and undifferentiated union, and so on — must gradually be worn down, reduced to human scale. And this inward, intensive identification — different from the outward-turning, assimilative identification that enlarges our sympathies — is what gives us human shape, psychically speaking, […]

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Tags: George Scialabba

For others, it’s no so hard

March 3rd, 2017 · No Comments

“For an intellectual, it is the hardest thing in the world to be both passionate and disinterested, committed and open-minded, eager to convince and willing to listen: to be, in a word, fair.” – George Scialabba, “Why Orwell Matters”  

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Tags: George Orwell · George Scialabba · Lit & Crit · Politics & Law

No matter how little sense they may make

March 2nd, 2017 · No Comments

“Because old beliefs are not simply displaced but persist within new ones, dominant ideologies cannot be merely refuted but must be demystified, which means that their plausibility must be acknowledged and accounted for.” – George Scialabba, “Moneybags Must Be So Lucky”

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Tags: Economics · George Scialabba · Politics & Law

Turning to the hard work

February 23rd, 2017 · No Comments

“Perhaps some people believe that equality requires a strictly proportional number of doctors, lawyers and poets from every ethnic group. More to the point, it requires addressing the huge disparity in medical and educational dollars spent on fortunate and unfortunate children.” – George Scialabba, “In Defense of Elitism”

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Tags: Economics · George Scialabba · Politics & Law