Friday, December 17, 2010

Taking stock

So where have I/we been? And where are we going with Conservative tendency?

1. Interaction. I want the site to be more interactive, so, if you have an interest, please click on the followers gadget and/or comment or email me (engmar3 [at] gmail [dot] com). And thank you to those who have already shown their interest, and I hope you will continue to find the time to drop by.

2. The human condition. My interests are various but are centered around fundamental questions about the universe and our place in it. I see our situation in fairly bleak terms, actually - no religious comforts. Which is why social and intellectual comforts - a compliment, a probing question, a shared interest - are so very important.

3. Randomness. I'm interested in developing my knowledge of the philosophy of mathematics and logic, especially aspects of these subjects that may relate to fundamental questions. The various types and levels of randomness which appear to underlie physical processes is my current focus, as it has potential relevance to how we see ourselves and our lives.

4. Politics. My inclination is towards quietism, not activism; but I respect activists and those more politically engaged than I am at the moment. I think the long-term political trends we are witnessing are unfortunate - especially to the extent that they involve government-initiated solutions (or supposed solutions) to social problems. Generally it is a healthier situation if individuals and families work out their own solutions to their problems as far as possible.

5. The decline of the West. I am fascinated  by the rise and fall of civilizations, and there is an awful lot of rising (in the East) and falling (in the West) going on at the moment. Cultures must be underpinned by political stability and economic prosperity and arguably we are witnessing the last throes of a two-and-a-half thousand year cultural and intellectual tradition. What can be salvaged from the wreckage?

6. Minimalism. My conservatism is a minimalist conservatism - or perhaps my minimalism is a conservative minimalism! I seek out simplicity and clarity in matters of the mind and in aesthetics. I may try to develop this idea explicitly in the new year, but it is implicit in everything I write.


  1. This is all very well, but where's the leaked documents, the emotive politics, the celeb scandal, the what-my-cat-did, the family photos, the recipes, the hobbies, and the various unmentionable things that I thought blogging was supposed to be about? Hmm?

  2. What you describe, Alan, bears a striking resemblance to the contingency plan I was keeping under wraps!

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  5. Alan, that's funny!

    Mark, all of those enumerated items are interests of mine, so you know I'm going to be here regularly.

    I just posted about "brooding" which is just another (darker) word for taking stock. I'm weighing directions to take my future posts. You have been a great touchstone and sounding board so far -- more than you realize.

    There is a form of political discourse between activism and quietism, which I have discovered and exploit. In the blogosphere you can see this technique in my occasional "comment campaign" where I will choose a target, go there, and light a fire.

    My friends call me the "quiet lion" but actually I'm an instigator. I'm trying to figure out how to make my blog reflect that. Rabblerousing.

    Meanwhile I'm coming around to Schopenhauer's point of view: caring less and less about the the issues of the day. And that is because issues of the day are structural, which means also philosophical. I believe our transient problems will diminish only if our culture changes -- and philosophy is culture.

    So there you have it ... I encourage you to continue on all these tracks because you are skeptical of current philosophy, and sustained expression of that is sorely needed now from every quarter. And nickel. And dime.

  6. Thanks for the encouragement, GC. Glad to know you're there. Will definitely continue to follow your incendiary musings with interest.

  7. The late Mel Torme, American jazz crooner, sang a song called "Isn't it a Pity?" It's a little bit about regret and the years wasted before finding love. My favorite line in the song: "My nights were sour, spent with Schopenhauer."

    Ten years ago Jacques Barzun wrote a book (From Dawn to Decadence) on the decline of the west. His thesis was that we had arrived at the terminal point of a culture, where all our institutions have gone cold and we are left with (in his precisely defined term) decadence. His definition of the word amounted to the period when everything has come to nought before the birth of something new. What will it be, I wonder? A Renaissance? A gulag? Or just...irrelevance?

  8. It would be nice to have a sense of how things are moving - and which institutions and ideas are moribund and which might have a future. I suspect the answer to your final question might be 'all of the above', depending on one's perspective and where one happens to be living.

    As China gains in wealth and power the old East/West distinction is fading. After all, there is much of Western civilization (technologies, science, economics, law, entertainment...) in the new global system. Those of us who identify with the finer products of Western national traditions will suffer a sense of loss, but then the loss of local and national cultures and customs affects all traditions, all nationalities.

    (I know the song by the way, but not the book.)