Month: March 2023

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:12 am

“Normal humans in all societies manifest a sense of sympathy: an ability to treat the interests of others as comparable to their own. Unfortunately, the size of the moral circle in which sympathy is extended is a free parameter. By default, people sympathize only with members of their own family, clan, or village, and treat anyone outside this circle as less than human. But under certain circumstances the circle can expand to other clans, tribes, races, or even species. An important way to understand moral progress, then, is to specify the triggers that prompt people to expand or contract their moral circles. It has been argued that the circle may be expanded to include people to whom one is bound by networks of reciprocal trade and interdependence, and that it may be contracted to exclude people who are seen in degrading circumstances. In each case, an understanding of nonobvious aspects of human nature reveals possible levers for humane social change.” – Steven Pinker, “Why nature & nurture won’t go away”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:03 am

“Developmental psychology has shown that infants have a precocious grasp of objects, intentions, numbers, faces, tools, and language. Behavioral genetics has shown that temperament emerges early in life and remains fairly constant throughout the life span, that much of the variation among people within a culture comes from differences in genes, and that in some cases particular genes can be tied to aspects of cognition, language, and personality. Neuroscience has shown that the genome contains a rich tool kit of growth factors, axon guidance molecules, and cell adhesion molecules that help structure the brain during development, as well as mechanisms of plasticity that make learning possible. These discoveries not only have shown that the innate organization of the brain cannot be ignored, but have also helped to reframe our very conception of nature and nurture.” – Steven Pinker, “Why nature & nurture won’t go away”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:07 am

“Every evening our eyes tell us that the sun sets, while we know that, in fact, the Earth is turning us away from it. Astronomy taught us centuries ago that common sense is not a reliable guide to reality. Today it is neuroscience that is forcing us to readjust our intuitions. People naturally believe in the Ghost in the Machine: that we have bodies made of matter and spirits made of an ethereal something. Yes, people acknowledge that the brain is involved in mental life. But they still think of it as a pocket PC for the soul, managing information at the behest of a ghostly user. Modern neuroscience has shown that there is no user. ‘The soul’ is, in fact, the information-processing activity of the brain. New imaging techniques have tied every thought and emotion to neural activity. And any change to the brain—from strokes, drugs, electricity or surgery—will literally change your mind.” – Steven Pinker, “How to think about the mind”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:19 am

“Though visible signs of the ability to prevail in a fight are the most salient advertisements of authority, they are not necessarily the qualifications that earned the authority in the first place. Dominance in humans is tied up with status: the possession of assets like talent, beauty, intelligence, skill, and wisdom. And in the end, dominance and status are social constructions that depend crucially on the perception of others and of oneself. How much authority one possesses depends on how much authority one is prepared to claim, and on how much authority others are willing to cede to you.” – Steven Pinker, “The evolutionary social psychology of off-record indirect speech acts”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:33 am

“Law, without equity, though hard and disagreeable, is much more desirable for the public good, than equity without law: which would make every judge a legislator, and introduce most infinite confusion.” – William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:30 am

“Judges should not be allergic to acknowledging that any one of our legal conclusions might be wrong. Judges are just humans in robes. We try to have as high a batting average as possible, but no one can get it right all of the time. All a judge can do is try his or her best to fairly, honestly, and faithfully interpret and apply the statute at issue and the relevant caselaw.” – Judge Lee P. Rudofsky, Arkansas State Conference NAACP v. The Arkansas Board of Apportionment

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:59 am

“But if there be no great philosophic idea, if, for the time being, mankind, instead of going through a period of growth, is going through a corresponding process of decay and decomposition from some old, fulfilled, obsolete idea, then what is the good of educating? Decay and decomposition will take their own way. It is impossible to educate for this end, impossible to teach the world how to die away from its achieved, nullified form. The autumn must take place in every individual soul, as well as in all the people, all must die, individually and socially. But education is a process of striving to a new, unanimous being, a whole organic form. But when winter has set in, when the frosts are strangling the leaves off the trees and the birds are silent knots of darkness, how can there be a unanimous movement towards a whole summer of fluorescence? There can be none of this, only submission to the death of this nature, in the winter that has come upon mankind, and a cherishing of the unknown that is unknown for many a day yet, buds that may not open till a far off season comes, when the season of death has passed away.” – D. H. Lawrence, Women in Love

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:35 am

“Modernity has not turned out altogether well. To the pioneers of Enlightenment, it appeared that false certainties and artificial hierarchies were the chief obstacles to general happiness. To many the suspicion has by now occurred that there are no true certainties and no natural hierarchies, yet also that individual and social well-being require some certainties, some hierarchies. The rapid increase in mobility and choice, in sheer volume of stimuli that followed the erosion of traditional ways of life and thought has taxed, and occasionally overwhelmed, nearly every modern man or woman. This no longer seems, even to the most optimistic partisans of modernity, merely a phenomenon of transition. It may be that just as in any generation there are broad limits to physical and intellectual development, so also there are psychological limits, which likewise alter slowly. ‘Human nature,’ in short, though in an empirical rather than a metaphysical sense; not eternal and immutable, but with enough continuity – inertia, to be precise – to generate illusions of essence and a need for roots.” – George Scialabba, “Demos and Sophia: Not a Love Story”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:25 am

“None of us want to see portents and omens, no matter how much we like our ghost stories and the spooky films. None of us want to really see a Star in the East or a pillar of fire by night. We want peace and rationality and routine.” – Stephen King, The Stand (emphasis in original)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:22 am

“The culture of professionalism and expertise, the bureaucratization of opinion and taste, are not merely mechanisms of social control or a failure of nerve. They are also in part a response to genuine intellectual progress. There’s more to know now than in the ‘30s, and more people have joined the conversation. Perhaps the disappearance of the public intellectual and the eclipse of the classical ideals of wisdom as catholicity of understanding and of citizenship as the capacity to discuss all public affairs are evidences of cultural maturity. Intellectual wholeness is an almost irresistibly attractive ideal; but nowadays too determined a pursuit of it must end in fragmentation and superficiality.” – George Scialabba, “The Sealed Envelope”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:47 am

“The beginning of political decency and rationality is to recognize others’ similarity in important respects to oneself; that is, to identify imaginatively. Which is what one does when reading fiction. Literature is, in this sense, practice for civic life.” – George Scialabba, “The Sealed Envelope”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:53 am

“Time past was time past. You just couldn’t get hold of the things you had done and turn them right again. Such power might be given to the gods, but it was not given to men and women, and that was probably a good thing. Had it been otherwise, people would probably die of old age still trying to rewrite their teens.” – Stephen King, The Stand

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:03 am

“In most times, places, and stages of development, people’s abilities in arithmetic consist of the exact quantities ‘one,’ ‘two,’ and ‘many,’ and an ability to estimate larger amounts approximately. Their intuitive physics corresponds to the medieval theory of impetus rather than to Newtonian mechanics (to say nothing of relativity or quantum theory). Their intuitive biology consists of creationism, not evolution, of essentialism, not population genetics, and of vitalism, not mechanistic physiology. Their intuitive psychology is mindbody dualism, not neurobiological reductionism. Their political philosophy is based on kin, clan, tribe, and vendetta, not on the theory of the social contract. Their economics is based on tit-for-tat back-scratching and barter, not on money, interest, rent, and profit. And their morality is a mixture of intuitions of purity, authority, loyalty, conformity, and reciprocity, not the generalized notions of fairness and justice that we identify with moral reasoning.” – Steven Pinker, “The cognitive niche: Coevolution of intelligence, sociality, and language”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:01 am

“The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance . . . or change. Once such incantatory phrases as ‘we see now through a glass darkly’ and ‘mysterious are the ways He chooses His wonders to perform’ are mastered, logic can be happily tossed out the window. Religious mania is one of the few infallible ways of responding to the world’s vagaries, because it totally eliminates pure accident. To the true religious maniac, it’s all on purpose.” – Stephen King, The Stand (emphasis in original)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:05 am

“Roads are not passive; they have instrumentality and agency because they direct us – they give us our limits – even when we stray from them.” – Mary Carruthers, “The concept of ductus

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:44 am

“Children are not invariably conservative, but show conservative tendencies.” – Jess Gropen, et al., “The Learnability and Acquisition of the Dative Alternation in English”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:08 am

“I had always been impressed by the fact that there are a surprising number of individuals who never use their minds if they can avoid it, and an equal number who do use their minds, but in an amazingly stupid way. I was also surprised to find many intelligent and wide awake people who lived (as far as one could make out) as if they had never learned to use their sense organs: They did not see the things before their eyes, hear the words sounding in their ears, or notice the things they touched or tasted. Some lived without being aware of the state of their own bodies. There were others who seemed to live in a most curious condition of consciousness, as if the state they had arrived at today were final, with no possibility of change, or as if the world and the psyche were static and would remain so forever. They seemed devoid of all imagination, and they entirely and exclusively depended upon their sense-perception. Chances and possibilities did not exist in their world, and in ‘today’ there was no real ‘tomorrow.’ The future was just the repetition of the past.” – Carl G. Jung, “Approaching the unconsciousness”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:16 am

“A sane and normal society is one in which people habitually disagree, because general agreement is relatively rare outside the sphere of instinctive human qualities.” – Carl G. Jung, “Approaching the unconsciousness”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:00 am

“The attitude of modern civilized man sometimes reminds me of a psychotic patient in my clinic who was himself a doctor. One morning I asked him how he was. He replied that he had had a wonderful night disinfecting the whole of heaven with mercuric chloride, but that in the course of this thoroughgoing sanitary process he had found no trace of God.” – Carl G. Jung, “Approaching the unconsciousness”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:24 am

“The two fundamental points in dealing with dreams are these: First, the dream should be treated as a fact, about which one must make no previous assumption except that it somehow makes sense; and second, the dream is a specific expression of the unconscious.” – Carl G. Jung, “Approaching the unconsciousness”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:56 am

“Not ‘Forgive us our sins’ but ‘Smite us for our iniquities’ should be the prayer of man to a most just God.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:29 am

“Anybody can be good in the country. There are no temptations there. That is the reason why people who live out of town are so absolutely uncivilized. Civilization is not by any means an easy thing to attain to. There are only two ways by which man can reach it. One is by being cultured, the other by being corrupt. Country people have no opportunity of being either, so they stagnate.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:46 am

“Actual life was chaos, but there was something terribly logical in the imagination. It was the imagination that set remorse to dog the feet of sin. It was the imagination that made each crime bear its misshapen brood. In the common world of fact the wicked were not punished, nor the good rewarded. Success was given to the strong, failure thrust upon the weak. That was all.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:07 am

“One’s days were too brief to take the burden of another’s errors on one’s shoulders. Each man lived his own life and paid his own price for living it. The only pity was one had to pay so often for a single fault. One had to pay over and over again, indeed. In her dealings with man, destiny never closed her accounts.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:26 am

“When a woman marries again, it is because she detested her first husband. When a man marries again, it is because he adored his first wife. Women try their luck; men risk theirs.” – Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray