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The Value of Education September 30, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, Education, Philosophy.
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Martha Nussbaum’s recent back to school message makes a crucial point in defense of the humanities:

It’s easy to think that college classes are mainly about preparing you for a job. But remember: this may be the one time in your life when you have a chance to think about the whole of your life, not just your job. Courses in the humanities, in particular, often seem impractical, but they are vital, because they stretch your imagination and challenge your mind to become more responsive, more critical, bigger. You need resources to prevent your mind from becoming narrower and more routinized in later life. This is your chance to get them.

This is the sort of argument that is typically ignored in the zeal to show how education improves job prospects. Job prospects are important but are not the primary aim of education.

Climate Change Uncertainty is No Argument for Doing Nothing September 29, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics, Science.
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The general strategy of conservatives and some business interests has been to try to increase uncertainty about global warming in order to defeat climate change legislation. And if recent polls are accurate, the public has been listening to their arguments.

But they should not.  The argument from uncertainty in fact strengthens rather than weakens the case for strong action on climate change.

Let’s assume, for the sake of the argument, that global warming predictions are as uncertain as conservatives claim.

The IPCC predicted an increase in global mean temperature of roughly 3.5 degrees Celsius as the most likely scenario. At this level of warming, if left unchecked, the National Resource Defense Council estimates that this would cause a loss of 3.6% of GDP by 2100 in the U.S. with more significant losses elsewhere in the world. And of course this does not include non-economic effects which may be considerable.

Given the uncertainties of climate modeling, and the inherent difficulty of predicting the behavior of complex chaotic systems, there is some possibility that conservatives are correct. Perhaps there will be no warming. But uncertainty does not apply in only one direction. A margin of error sufficiently large such that a prediction of 3.5 degrees C could yield a possibility of no warming entails an equal possibility that global warming could be as bad as a 7 degree increase in global mean temperature. In other words, in the absence of auxiliary hypotheses that would skew the distribution, the margin of error is equal on both sides of the prediction.  Assuming a confidence level equivalent to no warming on the left side of the distribution, the possibility of catastrophic warming is as likely as no warming. [h/t to John Quiggin at Crooked Timber for making this point.]

And in fact there are a variety of auxiliary hypotheses that lead to the conclusion that the IPCC prediction is too low.

The belief that uncertainty must mean that things can only be less bad than predicted is purely wishful thinking, not science.

This has profound implications for policy proposals.  When considering the expected consequences of proposals to mitigate global warming, we must also consider the expected consequences of doing nothing which must include the costs of doing nothing if the worst case scenario develops. An increase in global mean temperature of 7 degrees C would according to some estimates produce massive ecosystem collapse and the deaths of billions of people.

Thus, taking account of uncertainty, the expected costs of doing nothing overwhelm any reasonable account of the expected costs of mitigating climate change, which as Paul Krugman argues will be minor.

There is utterly no case to be made for inaction and a strong case to be made for developing mechanisms to quickly ratchet up reductions in emissions if, as we reduce the uncertainty of the science, we find catastrophic warming becoming more likely.

There is lots of uncertainty in the science and economics of global warming but that uncertainty is an argument in favor of action now.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

L’Affaire Polanski September 28, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Criminal Justice, Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts.
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One of my pet peeves is the widely held belief that the wealthy and talented are morally virtuous because they are wealthy and talented. This seems to be the underlying assumption behind much of Ayn Rand’s work. It is also the assumption driving the noisy approval of right wing tea-partiers for Wall St. bankers with blood on their hands, who are now getting rich by leveraging the public’s money.

Apparently, the French have their own version of this nonsense

Film director Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland on charges of fleeing sentencing for the rape of a 13 yr. old girl in Los Angeles 31 years ago.

Polanski, 76, was arrested at the Zurich airport Saturday night by Swiss authorities acting at the request of the Los Angeles district attorney’s office. Prosecutors there had learned of the Oscar-winning director’s plans to receive an honor at a film festival, and passed a request through the U.S. Justice Department.

The arrest has outraged the French, who have been harboring Polanski for the past 31 years.

“To see him thrown to the lions and put in prison because of ancient history — and as he was traveling to an event honoring him — is absolutely horrifying,” French Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand said after Polanski was arrested upon arrival in Switzerland to attend the Zurich Film Festival, where he was to receive a lifetime achievement award. “There’s an America we love and an America that scares us, and it’s that latter America that has just shown us its face.”

Please. “Thrown to the lions?”There is substantial evidence that he drugged and raped a 13 year old girl, a crime to which he confessed before escaping to Europe. How is he a victim?

There is also evidence of misconduct in the trial by the prosecutor and judge, but that is an argument for retrying the case, not letting Polanski go. The case cannot be retried without having him in custody.

If Polanski was an ordinary person he would have been behind bars for a very long time.

It is not only France that seems unduly friendly to child molesters. Some members of the press, who fancy themselves the arbiters of moral values, are busy trying to exonerate Polanski. Here is Patrick Goldstein of the LA Times:

I think Polanski has already paid a horrible, soul-wrenching price for the infamy surrounding his actions. The real tragedy is that he will always, till his death, be snubbed and stalked and confronted by people who think the price he has already paid isn’t enough.

What price?  He has lived as a celebrity film maker in France for over 30 years.

And here is Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post:

There is evidence that Polanski did not know her real age. Polanski, who panicked and fled the U.S. during that trial, has been pursued by this case for 30 years, during which time he has never returned to America, has never returned to the United Kingdom., has avoided many other countries, and has never been convicted of anything else. He did commit a crime, but he has paid for the crime in many, many ways: In notoriety, in lawyers’ fees, in professional stigma. He could not return to Los Angeles to receive his recent Oscar. He cannot visit Hollywood to direct or cast a film.

What trauma! He can’t visit Hollywood anymore where the young women apparently disguise themselves as tweens.

One omission from Applebaum’s sob story is that she is the wife of Radislaw Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister who is lobbying for the U.S. to drop the charges against Polanski, who was born in Poland.

As Mark Kleiman writes:

…in a well-functioning journalistic world, the egregious failure to disclose a direct conflict of interest would end her journalistic career.  That world is not, however to be confused with the actual world.

This really is a tale of three cultures and their characteristic obsessions. If you’re wealthy and talented in the U.S. you can get away with economic crimes. If you’re wealthy and talented in France you can get away with sex crimes. If you’re a journalist, you operate in a moral-free zone where defense of celebrity is the coin of the realm and conflict of interest a qualification for employment.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

What Happened to Higher Education in California? September 27, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, Education, politics.
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For readers unacquainted with the background to the budget cuts that will cripple education in California for generations, here is a quick primer from Calitics.

It’s been a long time, nearly 50 years, since Governor Pat Brown‘s vision for California brought us what was so frequently dubbed the “California Dream.” We had infrastructure that rivaled if not exceeded any in the world. We had a strong social safety net that enabled Californians to pursue careers in the burgeoning middle class. And we had the “Master Plan for Higher Education” that promised highly subsidized education for those Californians that met a basic set of requirments, and shut nobody out.

At the heart of the Master Plan, were the community colleges. The community colleges allowed students who underperformed at high schools to get back on track for a higher degree. They were to be plentiful, high-quality, and cheap. The state was going to kick in 35-40% of the operating revenue, with a bunch of additional funding coming from the county level. You may think that strange given the way the state works today, but back then, pre-Prop 13, counties actually had their own sources of revenue. They could rely on the property taxes and other local taxes to provide opportunities to fund programs like the community colleges.

Then Proposition 13 and the rest of the right-wing agenda happened

And with the election of Ronald Reagan, and later Deukmejian and Wilson, and to an extent, even Brown’s son Jerry, the Master Plan has been gradually chipped away. As we stand right now, of the approximately $18 Billion UC budget, around $3 Billion now comes from the state.

Community Colleges and the Cal State system have also seen declining support from the state over the past 30 years. In fact, the main factor in increases in college tuition across the country over the past 20 years is declining state support for higher education.

We have destroyed what was once the envy of the world, and are hard at work turning it in to nothing better than a mid-level private education system.

In the words of Berkeley professor George Lakoff:

It is about whether we have a democracy that works for the common good, or a plutocracy that privileges the wealthy and powerful. Privatizing the world’s greatest public university is a giant step away from democracy.”(Berkeley Daily Planet 9/17/09

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

The Battle of the Burqa September 24, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Culture, Dwight Furrow's Posts, Philosophy of Gender, politics.
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It has become fashionable in recent years to argue that for many Muslim women, wearing the Chador or Burqa is liberating. Feminist icon Naomi Wolf, recounting a visit to the Muslim world, wrote a couple years ago:

The West interprets veiling as repression of women and suppression of their sexuality. But when I travelled in Muslim countries and was invited to join a discussion in women-only settings within Muslim homes, I learned that Muslim attitudes toward women’s appearance and sexuality are not rooted in repression, but in a strong sense of public versus private, of what is due to God and what is due to one’s husband. It is not that Islam suppresses sexuality, but that it embodies a strongly developed sense of its appropriate channelling – toward marriage, the bonds that sustain family life, and the attachment that secures a home. […]

Indeed, many Muslim women I spoke with did not feel at all subjugated by the chador or the headscarf. On the contrary, they felt liberated from what they experienced as the intrusive, commodifying, basely sexualising Western gaze. Many women said something like this: “When I wear Western clothes, men stare at me, objectify me, or I am always measuring myself against the standards of models in magazines, which are hard to live up to – and even harder as you get older, not to mention how tiring it can be to be on display all the time. When I wear my headscarf or chador, people relate to me as an individual, not an object; I feel respected.” This may not be expressed in a traditional Western feminist set of images, but it is a recognisably Western feminist set of feelings.

It is easy to grasp why some Muslim women feel this way. To no longer feel the need to display oneself in a way that is pleasing to men is undoubtedly a relief.

However, it is a bit of a stretch to argue that such clothing is liberating, not oppressive. The need to cover themselves is itself a product of the repressive patriarchy from which they desire to escape.

Via the National Post,

But what exactly does it symbolize? Many say it stands for piety. No, that’s wrong, says Marnia Lazreg, an Algerian-born professor of sociology at the City University of New York. Piety has little to do with it; the Koran doesn’t even mention the veil. In truth, the veil stands for political ideology and male power.

It also establishes the wearer’s extreme distance from the rest of us. We recognize people by seeing their faces and we acknowledge their humanity by reading what their faces tell us. Without that information humans cannot come alive to each other. A woman wearing a mask is a woman declining to be human. Unable to look anyone in the eyes, lacking peripheral vision, her hearing muffled, she becomes an abstraction. Encouraging a woman to wear the burka is like offering her a portable isolation cell. (h/t to Butterflies and Wheels)

Lazreg, author of Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women, is right. A system of belief that forces women to hide themselves is barbarous and inhumane. Women who embrace the custom are making the best of a bad situation; they ought not be criticized for their decision. But feminists who praise it as liberating in the name of cultural tolerance are loosing sight of the conditions that give rise to the custom.

In France, President Sarkozy has called for banning the burqa.

In a speech at the Palace of Versailles, Mr Sarkozy said that the head-to-toe Islamic garment for women was not a symbol of religion but a sign of subservience for women.

“The burka is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience,” he told members of both parliamentary houses gathered for his speech.

He added: “It will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic.”

But this strikes me as wrong-headed as well. Women who choose to wear it are doing so for personal reasons. The burqa may be a symbol of repression, but it is a violation of their personal liberty to ignore those reasons and force woman to become symbols in a culture war they do not wish to fight.

We can oppose the burqa while granting the strategic role it plays in making a woman’s life livable.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

Pop Culture Invades Philosophy September 23, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Culture, Philosophy.
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Via Neil Sinhababu:

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Was Christ a Libertarian? September 22, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics, religion.
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This past weekend so-called “values voters” had their annual summit, featuring speeches and workshops with conservative political and religious leaders.

The Christian right has always arrogated to themselves the title of “values voters” implying that everyone else votes by flipping a coin. (And the press plays along by repeating this canard)

So it is worth considering what the values of these folks are that make them special.

Most of them are evangelical Christians, so they believe in God. But it is a vengeful, unforgiving, cruel god of the Old Testament offering conditional love based only on acceptance of his authority and bent on the destruction of anyone who lacks faith.

They defend the institution of marriage. But the norms of this institution devalue romance, require male dominance, and preclude the participation of loving, same-sex couples. Thus, their “marriage” institution is one that few people would find attractive today and would undermine marriage if it were institutionalized.

They claim to adhere to a culture of life that forbids abortion and contraception. But their indifference toward the suffering of real lives, unyielding support for war, and enthusiasm for Armageddon belie a different agenda that treats lives outside their community as worthless.

They claim to value the stability of social life and community and thus condemn social change, public education, immigration, etc. But they fail to acknowledge that the greatest threat to the stability of our communities is rampant, unregulated capitalism which abandons communities and creates a market for any destructive desire humans manage to conjure.

They claim to value self-reliant individuals. And they do believe that the consequences of bad luck ought to rain on individuals with no protection from the “welfare state”. But they abhor individual self-expression and enforce a rigid, conformist ideology wedded to the authority of the Bible.

They value faith and the religious life but with none of the humility that supports faith and bereft of the understanding that the religious life can be corrupted by Mammon.

Traditional American values of liberty and equality seem to play no role outside of advocating the freedom to express their views and complaining about suppression of Christian speech.

In each case the value they endorse is a peculiar, idiosyncratic, and repellent understanding of an important value concept. It is striking the degree to which the above values are incompatible with modern life, a fact that most evangelicals freely admit.

That in itself is not problematic—we live in a pluralistic society where idiosyncratic beliefs that are out of step with the mainstream flourish.

The problem is they are offering these values as solutions to contemporary problems. Yet, it is hard to see the connection between the above values and practical proposals to solve problems such as unemployment, financial market reform, health care reform, global warming, immigration, nuclear proliferation, or terrorism.

In fact, as was evident at the Value Voters Summit, their political positions are simply garden variety Republican Party talking points, essentially anti-government screed and opposition to anything the Democrats propose. Here is a sample of their workshops:

“Thugocracy: Fighting the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy”

“Defunding Planned Parenthood”

“Speechless: Silencing the Christians”

“Obamacare: Rationing Your Life Away”

“Global Warming Hysteria: The New Face of the ‘Pro-Death’ Agenda”

What is the connection between Christianity and being opposed to government? Was Christ a libertarian?

A poll of evangelical activists from last year is revealing. A comparative Religious Activists Survey found that more than two-thirds (67%) of conservative Christian activists agree that “if enough people were brought to Christ, social ills would take care of themselves.” This view was shared by only 13% of progressive Christian activists.

Apparently, many “values voters” are anti-government (and  opposed to progressive social and economic change)  because they think we should just leave matters up to God. Government interferes with the hand of God.

This is a dangerous belief; it is nihilistic at its core.

Modern societies are held together by the willingness of their citizens to forge  agreements that enable cooperation to solve problems. And problems can be solved only if we commit ourselves to grasping the nature of a problem, devising solutions that respond to it, and coordinating action to bring about change that solves the problem.

This activity requires a commitment to the truth. We can’t solve problems if we don’t understand how the world works, and we can come to agreements about how to proceed only if we allow a commitment to truth to govern our competing agendas.

The Christian right lacks such a commitment to truth. We do not have the luxury of fantasies. When we abandon logic and evidence, in the belief that God will save us, we abandon any hope of agreement, cooperation, or problem solving. When we give up on the belief that our actions must conform to reality, we have given up on the only capacity that kept us from being eaten by saber-toothed tigers on the East African savannas—our intelligence.

The refusal to accept evidence of global warming, evidence of the limits of unregulated markets, evidence of the limits of U.S. military power, evidence that some people are crushed by economic forces beyond their control, or evidence that some U.S. policies are unjust is of a piece with the refusal to accept evolutionary theory or Obama’s genuine citizenship. “Values voters” renounce the value of truth—and they thereby renounce all human value.

It is self-deceptive nonsense to think questions about God’s existence can be answered in the political sphere; and to hold our political process hostage to a religious point of view is to give up on ever coming to agreement about anything.

The “party of no” is not just an opposition party; it is bent on the destruction of human value.

One of the funniest scenes to ever grace a film was in The Big Lebowski when Donny asked Walter “Are these men Nazis?” Walter replied, “No, Donny, these men are nihilists. There’s nothing to be afraid of”.

Unfortunately, Walter was wrong. We should be very afraid.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

Update on Flu Coverage September 22, 2009

Posted by Nina Rosenstand in Current Events, Nina Rosenstand's Posts.
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There is a very good article today from HealthDay News making more or less the same point that I made below in my posts about media coverage of the H1N1 flu, reassuringly putting things in perspective, and warning about the risks of “societal panic”:

Not only does societal panic not help during a public health situation, such as the current H1N1 flu pandemic, it can actually backfire, creating its own set of problems, the experts said.

“We have limited resources in the U.S. — if this [swine flu] captures our negative imagination, it’s going to hurt our health-care system,” said Dr. Marc Siegel, associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine in New York City. “Our emergency rooms will be flooded with worried people, doctors’ phones will be hanging off the hook, everyone will be afraid of every sniffle and wanting to get tested for the flu.”

 In addition, the article has a piece of advice I hadn’t even thought of:

Remember that fear is unhealthy. “All that anxiety does is weaken your immune system, which puts you at greater risk for catching this virus or any other virus,” Klapow said. “Getting a grip is critical — not just so you feel better emotionally but it will increase the chance that you ward this off.”

Of course that’s double-edged: “Don’t panic because panic can make you sick!” That’ll really make people panic…but the whole point is to “get a grip,” like the article suggests, and see things in the proper perspective.  Here we could add, with Aristotle, that sometimes fear—or should I say hightened mental and emotional alertness—is appropriate: In cases where we need our amygdala to kick in, because we’re facing an actual life-threatening situation, we need that extra adrenaline. But judging when, and if, such a high-alert response is needed is a matter of rational evaluation, in addition to our emotional reaction.

Smack Down September 21, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, Political Philosophy, Science.
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In the wake of the on-going financial crisis, the field of macroeconomics has been embroiled in its own crisis. Critics such as Paul Krugman have argued that the inability of macroeconomics to recognize the dangers of the real estate bubble and the precarious position of the banking system calls into question the reigning models of how economies work and undermines the claim that economics is a predictive science.

The reigning model for the past few decades has been the “efficient markets hypothesis” (EMH) which asserts (roughly) that, because economic actors are rational and self-interested, markets tend to establish the correct prices for goods. Poor decision making in this regard will be punished by competitive pressures and the market will inevitably return to equilibrium.

This of course leads to the conclusion that government should not regulate or intervene in markets because such interference disrupts the “natural” price setting mechanisms.

Some of us philosophers have suspected for many years that EMH is nonsense—we know that human beings are neither rational nor (always) self-interested and that information is seldom sufficiently available to make fully informed decisions.

But we are philosophers noted for our lack of practical knowledge and no one pays attention to us.

But now that the financial crisis has shown that the emperor has no clothes evidence that EMH is false should be overwhelming. However, this has not stopped the defenders of EMH from pushing back against their critics.

At any rate, a former professor of mine, Alex Rosenberg who is widely published in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of economics, recently wrote a devastating critique of EMH which has been posted at Leiter Reports.

Here is the key point:

The first thing a philosopher notes about this notion is that since most people have false beliefs, especially about the future, an efficient market doesn’t internalize knowledge, but only beliefs. If they are mostly false, then the market isn’t efficient at internalizing (correct) information, it’s efficient at internalizing mostly false beliefs. If false beliefs are normally distributed around the truth, then they’ll cancel out and the proof of a probabilistic version of the efficient markets theorem will go through—market prices reflect the truth most of the time. Too bad false beliefs don’t always take on this tractable distribution. Even worse, when enough people notice the skewed distribution of false beliefs, they can make rents, as the markets crash.

There are an infinite number of ways human beings can be irrational, and given the herd mentality of the financial markets, forming a consensus around false beliefs can seriously lead us astray.

It may be true that in the long run the market will get around to correcting itself when enough people recognize their mistake, but as John Maynard Keynes so aptly noted, in the long run we are all dead.

The entire blog post and comments are worth checking out.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

Travels with Jung: The Red Book September 21, 2009

Posted by Nina Rosenstand in Culture, Current Events, Nina Rosenstand's Posts, Science.
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Amazingly, a book by C.G. Jung is about to be published, for the first time. It has been known to exist, but the manuscript has been locked away in a vault since his death in 1961. It was probably never meant for publication; it is the journal of Carl Jung’s own mental crisis in his late 30s in the second decade of the 20th century, during which he—following his own associative method of imagery, drawing on his theory of human archetypes and the collective unconscious—allowed the visions to flow, rather than try to bring them to a halt and “cure” himself. The crisis lasted some 6 years, and he worked on the book for another decade, and then locked it away—but just a few years before his death he added a postscript, hinting that he did consider the possibility of having it published. Sonu Shamdasani, who became the English translator of The Red Book, approached the Jung family in 1997, having found two partial copies of the book elsewhere, and persuaded the family to release the original work for translation and publication. Sara Corbett writes in the New York Times,

The central premise of the book, Shamdasani told me, was that Jung had become disillusioned with scientific rationalism — what he called “the spirit of the times” — and over the course of many quixotic encounters with his own soul and with other inner figures, he comes to know and appreciate “the spirit of the depths,” a field that makes room for magic, coincidence and the mythological metaphors delivered by dreams. “It is the nuclear reactor for all his works,” Shamdasani said, noting that Jung’s more well-known concepts — including his belief that humanity shares a pool of ancient wisdom that he called the collective unconscious and the thought that personalities have both male and female components (animus and anima) — have their roots in the Red Book. Creating the book also led Jung to reformulate how he worked with clients, as evidenced by an entry Shamdasani found in a self-published book written by a former client, in which she recalls Jung’s advice for processing what went on in the deeper and sometimes frightening parts of her mind.

…..

Shamdasani figures that the Red Book’s contents will ignite both Jung’s fans and his critics. Already there are Jungians planning conferences and lectures devoted to the Red Book, something that Shamdasani finds amusing. Recalling that it took him years to feel as if he understood anything about the book, he’s curious to know what people will be saying about it just months after it is published. As far as he is concerned, once the book sees daylight, it will become a major and unignorable piece of Jung’s history, the gateway into Carl Jung’s most inner of inner experiences. “Once it’s published, there will be a ‘before’ and ‘after’ in Jungian scholarship,” he told me, adding, “it will wipe out all the biographies, just for starters.” What about the rest of us, the people who aren’t Jungians, I wondered. Was there something in the Red Book for us? “Absolutely, there is a human story here,” Shamdasani said. “The basic message he’s sending is ‘Value your inner life.’ ”

My first thought was that had this book been published earlier, it might have made an impact on psychoanalysis as well as philosophy, but that it was probably too late now—both Freud and Jung have become historic icons rather than gurus for most of us (who are not Freudians or Jungians), and an unpublished work seeing the light of day is not likely to change that. And yet…there is a willingness among neuroscientists these days (see Antonio Damasio and others) to break with the Cartesian tradition and accept that our fundamental human nature is not a thinking thing, but rather a feeling thing, and that most of our decisions (for better or for worse) are fundamentally grounded in our emotional life rather than in our rational mind. This is not exactly the same as saying that we are primarily influenced by our unconscious, emotional self, but it could be interpreted as being in the same neighborhood: the path toward (paradoxically) a science-based emotionalism has been opened up—for better or for worse. So it is just possible that this book might coincidentally hit the bookstores at exactly the right time, after all—with more opportunity to make a philosophical difference now than, say, ten or twenty years ago. But regardless of whether it is going to be seen as a historical document, allowing us to peer into a great mind struggling with itself, or a work giving further inspiration to a new anti-intellectual wave, it should be an interesting encounter…