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Saturday, 11 August 2007

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Ahistoricality

I fully expect my obituary to include an "&c."

If I'm lucky.

CR

Ok, I'll just say it. I looked at that Will Wilkinson guy's stuff. He's just a institute-funded sophist, just like all of the other ones. Stuff like "capitalist inequality is usually quite just, for reasons it's best not to get into here." (He's actually got a point. Did you know the housing projects here are mostly filled with Ivy Leaguers with drinking problems and hedge funders who placed bad bets? All the blacks who were born in them - they live up in the tonier suburbs now, save for a few who bought too many tech stocks...)

And "because Social Security payments aren't guaranteed by law, and despite the fact that people really love Social Security, we should replace it with IRAs..." Great argument. I was expecting "so we should simply guarantee them by law." But that would be too easy - best to keep the reader on her or his toes, eh?

I especially love the one on Gore and the fact that businesses know how to capitalize on long-range thinking while governments are doomed by nature to be terrible at that. If you've been watching CNBC over the last week, you can really see what Will means. Hundreds of corporations, faced with the question "so what will happen with these ARMs when the rates go up" each, independently came up with the right answer: "We'll duck and cover, demand government intervention, and failing that, load our pockets with rocks and walk ourselves and the american economy into the surf off Montauk."

You can literally hear the pressure of Cato money in the tortured sentences. Awful what people will do for a buck.

Tim Lacy

SEK: I'm sorry you've been saddled with a broken down, swayback horse book.

At the risk of accusations of presentism, the way for one to present Spencer's seemingly boring life is to parallel it, in a limited way, with some other, more recent intellectual whose problematic ideas started a faulty school of social thought. For instance (many others could do here), what of Milton Friedman and others who believe that "the market" can solve social problems (i.e. that the market has morals)? One use a prologue and an epilogue to set up the parallel with someone like Friedman - and hopefully forward a few timely points to the twenty-first century reader. - TL

Adam Kotsko

The only interesting thing I ever heard about Kant's life was that for a time, he made his living as a professional gambler. Some have also recently argued that he may have had sex at some point, which if true would require rethinking the entire history of modern philosophy.

SEK

Further signs of Kant's dull life: he had his servants wrap his bedclothes tight around his body, so that he might not masturbate in his sleep.

Tim, the book's actually quite interesting, and I'm thinking of writing a little something about "setting the bar low," which may have Francis' intent. If so, it's a lesson to be taken to heart.

Adam Kotsko

What do we know about Hegel's masturbation habits?

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