March 25, 2010

Always our Captain holds the rudder well, He does not sleep

On the one hand, at the core of my onticology is the thesis that objects are powers of acting, and thus are better thought as verbs and perhaps events, than nouns. When Spinoza asks, in book 3 of the Ethics, what can a body do?, I want to take this question seriously and treat bodies as doings. Objects Act from Larval Subjects

I most immediately thought of Lewis Mumford’s wonderful bit comparing Ralph Waldo Emerson and Melville:
“Emerson was the perpetual passenger who stayed below in bad weather, trusting that the captain would take care of the ship.  Melville was the sailor who climbed aloft, and knew that the captain was sometimes drunk and that the best of ships might go down.” “Ecstasies before bunnies’ burrows” from An und für sich by Brad Johnson

About twenty four hours have passed since President Obama signed the horrible socialistic & nazi-rrific health care bill into law. And you know what? Armageddon is awfully late in coming. Where is God coming to smite the land? Where are the death panels coming to take Granny away? 
I am beginning to suspect that the communist-muslimistic takeover of All Things American has gone so far as to include the Marxist-ization of the Rapture. The reds got that too! (title unknown) from For The Turnstiles by DGA

As it pertains to Obama, the really frightening thing about him is his "superior ignorance," but especially his conspicuous ignorance of that which he blindly opposes. For example, his long-time membership in that racist, anti-American religious sect can only mean that he must take this diseased Marxist aberration for normative Christianity. But I think the real source of Obama's ignorance is that he is our first postmodern president. […] Linear-thinking Leftists never understand the non-linear system of incentives they are putting in place when they enact complex legislation, so they inevitably must introduce more legislation to deal with those baleful consequences. Never forget that the government programs of the 1960s were sold as a way to end poverty, not to make it a permanent feature to justify the need for more big government. See What Happens, Barry, When You F*ck a Stranger in the Ass? from One Cosmos by Gagdad Bob

Yesterday, I had quoted Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (1776) on how “society” and “government” are two different things, and how some people, even in his day, had confused the two. This is what is happened in India in 1947, and is continuing today. Society has to feed itself, through production and exchange, in The Free Market. Throw Out This Government from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik

In Moral Sentiments, the object of the metaphor of ‘an invisible hand’ is the absolute necessity, whatever the ‘unfeeling’ landlord’s lack of concern for his ‘brethren’, for him to provide subsistence for his ‘toilers’.
In Wealth Of Nations the object of the metaphor of ‘an invisible hand’ is the absolute unavoidable consequence of those merchants who invest at home, for whatever reason, including their risk-avoidance, of their adding to aggregate national output (and thereby employment of labour), which in terms of ‘spreading opulence’ is a public benefit. On Misleading Humanities Students from Adam Smith's Lost Legacy by Gavin Kennedy

That is the new book by David Schmidtz and Jason Brennan.  It is ideal for anyone looking for a broad overview of human history from a classical liberal point of view.  Self-recommending, as they say.  Buy it here.  Here areSchmidtz and Brennan on CatoUnbound. from Marginal Revolution by Tyler Cowen

Chris, a loyal MR reader, asks: I'd like to see you list the top 10 books which have influenced your view of the world. I'll go with the "gut list," rather than the "I've thought about this for a long time list."  I'll also stress that books are by no means the only source of influence.  The books are in no intended order, although the list came out in a broadly chronological stream:
1. Plato, Dialogues.  I read these very early in life and they taught me about trying to think philosophically and also about meta-rationality.
2. The Incredible Bread Machine, by Susan Love Brown,  This was the first book I ever read on economics and it got me excited about the topic.
3. Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, by Ayn Rand.  This got me excited about the idea that production is what matters and that producers must have the freedom and incentives to operate.
4. Friedrich A. Hayek, Individualism and Economic Order.  The market as a discovery procedure and why socialist calculation will not succeed.  (By the way, I'll toss a chiding tsk-tsk the way of Wolfers and Thoma.)
5. John Maynard Keynes: The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money.  Keynes is one of the greatest thinkers of economics and there are new ideas on virtually every page.
6. John Stuart Mill, Autobiography.  This got me thinking about how one's ideas change, and should change, over the course of a lifetime.  Plus Mill is a brilliant thinker and writer more generally.
7. Willard van Orman Quine, Word and Object.  This is actually a book about how to arrive at a deeper understanding than the one you already have, although I suspect few people read it that way.
8. Reasons and Persons, by Derek Parfit.  This convinced me that a strictly individualistic approach to ethics will not in general succeed and introduced me to new ways of reasoning and new ways to plumb for depth.
9. Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae.  I don't think the ideas in this book have influenced me very much, but reading it was, for whatever reason, the impetus to start writing about the economics of culture and also to give a broader focus to what I write.  Alex, by the way, was the one who recommended it to me.
10. Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past.  This is still the best book on interiority.
I'd also like to mention the two books by Fischer Black, although a) I cannot easily elevate one over the other, and b) I capped the list at ten.  La Rochefoucauld's Maxims also deserves honorary mention, on self-deception and related issues.  Plus there is Shakespeare -- also for thinking with depth -- although I cannot point to a single book above the others.  Harold Bloom's The Western Canon comes to mind as well.
I would encourage other bloggers to offer similar lists. from Marginal Revolution by Tyler Cowen

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