Thursday, September 30, 2004

Marshall Beats Miami (OH)

I've been out for a while, but I wanted to get the ball rolling again with a post celebrating Marshall University's victory over the Miami University Redhawks. The final score was 33-25, but I think that Marshall turned in a more dominant performance than that. The Redhawks had a good game plan early, which allowed them to turn in a decent rushing performance, especially in the first half. The Marshall defense, however, tightened up. Marshall's D-linemen were in Miami's backfield all night. Jonathan Goddard (DE) harrassed Miami's QB Josh Betts to the tune of 4 sacks, 2 fumbles and a couple of QB pressures for interceptions.

Marshall's offense looked a little better, but I'm wondering if we'll ever hit on all cylinders. We should get back RB Ahmad Bradshaw next week, so that will be a big help. He's a true freshman and he is going to be a lot of fun to watch for the next few years. I'll post more on weightier subjects soon.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

How to Name a Bar

A bar called 'Banana Joe's Island Party' recently opened in my hometown. My reaction was: whatever. I'm not a bar kind of guy. The interesting part is this: Next door another bar opens. This one's called 'Pineapple Tom's Peninsula Bash'. My brother and I thought that was pretty humorous so we decided that we would name our own (fictitious) bar on that model, and I thought it might be fun if everyone who visits this blog would contribute a bar name on the fruit/person's name/geographical phenomenon/festive event model. Ours was: "Cumquat Moishe's Isthmus Cotillion." Now everyone must participate or else I'll feel ridiculous.

Belated Thanks

Some thanks are in order, I think, for all those who have added me to their blogrolls. So, without further ado, thanks to: Fides Quaerens Intellectum, White Poet Warlord, Yankee from Mississippi, Maverick Philosopher and Siris.

Thanks also to those who have linked any of my posts to their sites, like Philosophy Et Cetera, Under the Sun and several of those who added me to their blogroll. You guys are great!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

On the Death Cab Bandwagon

I first heard of Death Cab for Cutie a year or two ago, but I never bothered to check them out. I guess it was because I didn't want to seem like a bandwagon jumper. Anyway, fast forward to this past weekend. I laid my hands on Transatlanticism at our local Borders and have been thoroughly impressed. Great CD. I'm a bit of a songwriter myself (emphasis on 'a bit') and I must say I found myself wishing I could write lyrics like Ben Gibbard. By that I don't mean to give short shrift to the music itself. Also very very good. So to all you Death Cab For Cutie afficianados out there: I'm a new convert. Make room on the bandwagon.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Noetic Glue: Dead in the Water?

My previous post dealt with the concept of 'noetic glue.' An interesting comment on the topic was written by Andy, and he linked a slightly longer version of the comment to his blog, Under The Sun. At first his criticsims seemed to severely undercut my theory, but as I reflected on it I was not quite so ready to pronounce noetic glue dead. His first criticism was that the concept of noetic glue begs the question. "Is noetic glue rational?" he asks. "If so, then emotions-as-noetic-glue are redundant. If not, then emotions-as-noetic-glue are wrong."

At the risk of sounding like a moron, I'm not certain I follow his objection. Is he saying that if it is rational to believe in noetic glue then noetic glue keeps that belief in place and that is question begging? I think it is evident that this is false because noetic glue and the idea of noetic glue are two different things. Noetic glue can hold a belief in noetic glue or a concept of noetic glue in place without resorting to question begging. Since that seems evident, I doubt that was the true nature of his objection. Or if it was, perhaps he has some counter to the argument I just stated. The last thing I want to do is be uncharitable with my characterizations of someone else's idea.

What else could he mean? I'm not certain, so I'm going to depend on Andy here to expand on his objection.

Regardless, Andy goes on to say that he believes that noetic glue is not rational. He then says, "if a question is close enough then one should vacillate, or (usually better) suspend judgment." Lets deal with vacillating first. I don't think it's ever better to vacillate, but I also don't think I was clear about what I had in mind when I first mentioned it. I did not mean someone who might lean one way and then the other for a while but never settles on a position because they think the arguments on both sides are good. I was referring to the kind of person who is 'fully convinced' of one position until a rhetorician who holds the other comes along and then he switches because of smooth talk. Then the person could switch back to the first position whenever presented with a slick (not necessarily rational) argument. I don't think anyone believes that this is good.

As far as suspending judgment goes, I think noetic glue can be a good mechanism for just that purpose. There are times when arguments seem to weigh heavily in favor of the position one is against ('seem to' being the operative words). It is in this sort of circumstance that our emotions can actually keep us from being swept away to a false position. To remain tethered by emotions, however, is wrong. We have certainly surrendered rationality if we do that.

Johnny Dee also had some good comments. I think he is right to say that saying that these concepts are the glue is probably extreme. He then suggests that truth itself should probably fill that role, but it's the very point when the truth of a proposition is in doubt that noetic glue would be showing its effects the most. I'll have to do further research on the intellectual virtues (any book recommendations will be gladly received).

Most of what I've posted has come from the 'thinking out loud' mode. I had toyed with this idea for a long time, but never written anything or put it up for a challenge, so thanks to everyone who has contributed to the discussion. I hope it continues. You never know, we may be on the ground floor of discovering something exciting!

Monday, September 20, 2004

Emotion and Knowing

I started this blog with an eye toward writing on philosophy and theology. So far I've done little of that, so I'll start trying to remedy that now.

I've often wondered what is the proper role of emotion in our noetic structure? (I'm sure that this has been treated extensively, but I'm just going to be flying blind here. Maybe someone else could point me to some resources on the topic) If we approach this question from a theistic perspective, or more specifically, a Christian theistic perspective, we have to recognize that we have emotions for a reason. When trying to settle on a single reason we find a variety of options. For instance, it could be that we have emotions simply because God has something akin to them and He wants us to mirror Himself. Or perhaps we have them so we can better relate to other people. Something most of us recognize, however, is that emotions often compel us to act against the dictates of reason. Assuming that God wants us to be reasonable, why must emotions be involved at all? Why not have two distinct modes, one in which we relate to people, and one in which we reason? It seems to me that there must be some positive interplay between emotion and reason.

My theory is that emotion can act as a sort of 'noetic glue.' Very often in listening to debates on topics, I'll find the side I disagree with has a persuasive argument; the kind which only further study and thought can counter. If I have no answer to an argument should I immediately abandon my position? I don't think anyone would advocate that. In fact, I think most people would lose respect for someone who was constantly vacillating between two positions just because they heard a somewhat persuasive new argument. In my experience, what often keeps me from going back and forth is that sense of 'wrongness' that some ideas have. This is noetic glue.

When ideas become entrenched in our thoughts they are not just placed in by reason, but also by emotion. It is difficult and often disturbing to surrender propositions central to your worldview. This is because of the effect emotions can have on our systems of thought. Not only that, but in the right 'dosage' the effect is good. This may seem strange at first because emotions so often cloud rational discussion, but I think as we reflect on it more it becomes clear. It is emotion that gives us that sense that we need to hang on to our beliefs.

It is certainly true, however, that the glue can get too thick. We've all seen those who will do anything to maintain a foolish belief of some sort because they have so much tied up in it. For instance, there are those within the Christian world who maintain that the King James is the only translation that God has ordained, and that all others are evil. There are [b]no[/b] arguments that can be mustered to support this idea, but it persists. Why? Because in there minds these men are the guardians of the truth and the truth must be defended at all costs. The only problem is that their beloved truth is blatantly false. They can't maintain it through reason, so they do it through emotional rhetoric, peppered with enough pseudo-scholarship to ease their consciences. This is noetic glue run amok. It holds fast what should never have been held in the first place.

I hope I've communicated clearly, here. I think emotion plays a vital role in noetic structure as the glue that keeps beliefs in place, even when the shadow of doubt has been cast upon them. When beliefs prove to be false, obviously the glue should 'dissolve' and we should discard the belief, but that doesn't delegitimize the role of emotion in knowing.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Watch Out for Snow Patrol!!

A friend recently turned me on to a great band called Snow Patrol. I bought their CD 'Final Straw' a couple of days ago and I've been listening to it constantly since then. There are some great tracks on there, and I think this band is going to make some noise in the US (they're from Ireland). Check out their website here. I'm going to rate the tracks on a five star system: no stars=nausea inducing; 1 star=skip it and get to the good tracks; 2 stars=not painful, but not that fun either; 3 stars=enjoyable; 4 stars=very good songs; 5 stars=songs that move me.

How to Be Dead: ***1/2
Wow: ***
Gleaming Auction: ***1/2
Whatever's Left: ***
Spitting Games: *****
Chocolate: *****
Run: ****
Grazed Knees: ***
Ways & Means: **
Tiny Little Fractures: ***
Somewhere a Clock is Ticking: ***
Same: *****

As you can see, the CD is worth buying. If you're a fan of a lot of the music coming from the British Isles these days, I highly recommend it.

More On Democracy and Aristocracy

Olen (White Poet Warlord), has posted some more of his thoughts on what I wrote about democracy and aristocracy (read them here), and it's about time for me to take a look at what he had to say.

I actually like much of what he had to say. The only things I have to add would be some clarifications of how I see things. Olen believes that democracy is the 'best alternative' and that it still has an aristocracy, although they are not permanent. I really wasn't concerned with what would be best, just with what is. However, if we are talking about what is best, if democracy is contrary to human nature, as I think it might be, then can we truly say it is best? Perhaps a benevolent, moral aristocracy would be best. I'm just 'thinking out loud' here.

One more thing: Olen talks about a group of people 'decid[ing] upon its initial aristocracy.' In my view it's much more organic. People may set up some form of government or they may just live in community with no clear cut government. Either way, government tend toward aristocracy.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Commenting on Maverick Philospher

I just found out from Johnny Dee (from Fides Quaerens Intellectum) that Bill Vallicella (Maverick Philospher)does welcome comments. He doesn't care for spammers or personal attacks (and who can blame hime?) so he disabled the 'comment' function on his blog. He instead subscribes to a service that tells him when other sites have linked him. I don't want to misrepresent him on my blog, so I wanted to let anyone who reads this know.

Read Mallard Fillmore

Mallard Fillmore is pretty funny today.
  • Ain't it the truth!
  • Wednesday, September 15, 2004

    The Maverick on 'One Man, One Vote'

    I've been alerted to an interesting post on the subject of democracy here:
  • Maverick Philosopher

  • While your there check out his entry regarding Kierkegaard and the chamber pot. Great stuff. I'm curious as to why he doesn't address an 'issues test' (as I advocate below) at all in his essay. I haven't read much on his site, but he doesn't seem the type to overlook obvious choices. He apparently doesn't invite commentary (or at least I couldn't find a link) so I can't ask him. That's life, I guess.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2004

    An Eerie Coincidence, or Evidence of Conspiracy?

    Obviously the government is trying to use this comic to discredit my ideas... :P

    The Warlord Weighs In

    In my last post I said something about making people take a test before could vote. I don't think it will ever happen and I'm not inclined to kick into activist mode so it will get done. Now my good friend Olen (aka the White Poet Warlord) has posted a response to the idea and the practicality of 'the test' and to my ramblings on democracy here. He makes some very good points. For instance, he says "Governmental rule is always frustrating, regardless of form or philosophy, formality or informality." He's right on this point, I think. There are always going to be problems. I disagree, though, that people want self-determination. They may think they do for a little while, but for most people it's too much work. The most efficient way to keep everyone satisfied is to give them the illusion of self-determination.

    Olen also raises this question: "But what about other folks that...are not that interested in all the issues...?" I don't think it's necessary to be interested in all of the issues. All we need, as I see it, is to have a couple of issues that are the most meaningful to us and to know them fairly well. For me the issues might be something like abortion and marriage. For others economics would be most important. He later asks about those who "don't have the time or means to educate themselves to a level that I or others might be more comfortable with." I suppose an educational apparatus would have to be set up.

    Also, as Olen suggests, 'the test' would probably not pass Constitutional muster (but that's what amendments are for, right?). He hits on the most severe problem, in my opinion, when he talks about the mess that would be involved in developing, proctoring and scoring the test. The opportunities for corruption are numerous. It's enough to make you want to just climb back into bed, but I guess I'm just going to have to go on grumbling.

    One last response to Olen: "The form of the test may be as problematic as actually developing the governmental apparatus to implement the test." I agree, but developing the Constitution was also problematic. The difficulty of the task doesn't mean that it shouldn't be undertaken.

    I look forward to the rest of Olen's respons to "Democracy and Human Nature". To me, the meat of the post is the part about aristocracy and what humans want from a government. I'm eager to see what anyone has to say about that.

    Monday, September 13, 2004

    Democracy and Human Nature

    I admit it. I'm frustrated with democracy. My frustration stems from those who pay no attention to the issues in elections, but rather they vote for their party or whomever some authority figure tells them to vote for (this is particularly true with unions). I'm assuming that many people have felt this frustration.

    Someone might say, "Josh, your frustration is with voters, not democracy." To which I respond, "The very problem with democracy is that these voters are necessary for it." Now I'm treading on dangerous ground. Do I mean to suggest that certain people shouldn't be allowed to vote? YES. I think that anyone who wants to vote should be forced to take a test on the issues. If they cannot support their beliefs with reasonable premises they fail. The test should not be slanted toward one ideology or the other (perhaps both parties could contribute questions), nor should it be full of specialized terms (which may be easier said than done), but it should allow the voter to demonstrate his or her grasp of a couple of issues they feel are important. As long as someone has a rational reason why they want to vote a certain way I have no problem.

    When I shared this idea someone asked me, "Isn't that elitist?" I said, "Probably." I don't care because as I see it, people throw the term 'elitist' around as a sophisticated form of name calling. It isn't necessarily a bad thing. For instance, a medical elitist might maintain that only trained physicians should treat patients. That sounds reasonable doesn't it? Now do you want someone who doesn't care enough to educate themselves making political decisions that affect your future? I'd wager that you don't.

    Even if you're now convinced that 'the test' should be put in place, you might say, "What's to stop the DNC or the RNC from giving people short answers to memorize to get around the test?" Good point. That's one of the problem with politics. There's always a loophole. It's human nature to seek the path of least resistance. That leads to the second part of my essay.

    Politics is the long process of the aristocracy reasserting itself. Say it like a mantra and let it sink in. Human beings are, by and large, the types of creatures that want an elite group to rule over them. Humans only "yearn to breath free" in certain specialized circumstances (such as a life lived under heavy oppression). Other than that, people want to be told what to do. If people are allowed to self-govern they will eventually set up their own artificial aristocracies (or perhaps theocracies). By 'aristocracy' I mean 'government by the citizens deemed best qualified to lead' (definition from Perhaps they will let scientists rule their lives, perhaps theologians, perhaps rhetoricians. Most likely, subgroups in the countries will choose different aristocrats to follow.

    So what does all this mean? It means that democracy is a doomed experiment. Democracy is contrary to human nature, so it will ultimately fail as most other political systems have. People say they want to rule their own destinies, but they really don't want to put in the time it takes to do so.

    One question remains: Who is your aristocrat?

    On football, Garden State and the Shins

    There are actually a couple of things I want to talk about today. I'm sure everyone was upset that I posted nothing over the weekend. The reason was that I was out of town watching a great college football match up. I was at the Marshall vs. Ohio State game on Saturday. My team (Marshall) came out on the short end of the stick, but wow, what a game it was. My advice to everyone who plays Ohio State this year: If you're leading by 3 or less don't let Mike Nugent (OSU's kicker) on your side of the 50. He kicked a 55 yarder for the win, and that thing had the distance to be good from 65. I was disappointed, but MU played a heckuva game and the OSU fans were genial. Overall, it was a good experience.

    The other thing I wanted to talk about was the movie Garden State, which I saw with my wife on Friday. Coming into it I was hoping to add it to my list of favorite movies because it struck me as the kind of movie I would like (not to mention 'the Natalie Portman factor,' which automatically adds one star to the review...). I was a little disappointed. It's not that I disliked the movie, it's just that I had such high hopes. I can't put my finger on what was wrong with it; it just lacked something. A friend of mine complained that most of the characters were quirky for the sake of being quirky, but that didn't really bother me. I guess it just never got over the hump. I guess one of the better things about the movie is that it has piqued my interest in The Shins. I've only heard a few songs so far, but I like what I've heard. I'll keep everyone posted.

    Friday, September 10, 2004

    Post 2: The POTUS Comes to Town

    Yes, that's right. George W. Bush himself came to good ol' Huntington, WV today. As you know from my previous message, I'm a conservative so I was going to vote for President Bush anyway, but I was struck by his charisma today. I'd always thought the President was likeable, but I didn't realize that he had such a good presence in person. I may have been affected by a very rah-rah partisan crowd, but I thoroughly enjoyed Bush's speech. Don't worry, though, I made sure to keep my head so I could analyze what he said at least a little.

    I must say I'm a fan of some of the 'compassionate conservative' policies the President has pursued. I think it has become trendy register Republican but call yourself 'libertarian,' and frankly I think that's a shame. Too many of the libertarians I know are either isolationists or they don't care about the problems we face in our culture. For instance, many libertarians do not want to restrict abortion or gay marriage through government action. Personally, I think that's a mistake. This whole 'live and let live' mentality is naive. Humans are communal beings, and what one does will necessarily affect those close to him/her. From there it moves on like ripples in a pond.

    I know what you're thinking. 'Nice slippery slope argument, Josh!' Maybe it is a slippery slope argument, but I think negative consequences will certainly follow if both abortion (and other related things, like ESCR) gay marriage are legal. Leaving things as they are is tantamount to government approval, and that sews dangerous seeds. I fear the fruit we reap will be terrible. I'm comfortable using the 'slippery slope' in this instance.

    Phew. Only two posts and already I've gone off on a tangent. I'll cut this one off before it gets too terribly long. Thanks for reading.

    First Post!

    Welcome to the Lazy Logician. My name's Josh, and I hope to offer some helpful and perhaps thought provoking things through this blog. I welcome criticism (just keep it nice 'cause I'm really sensitive). I also hope to be funny somewhere along the way, so keep an eye out for that!

    There's one thing I want to get out of the way: I'm conservative and I'm a Christian. I say that so everyone can know what my perspective is from the beginning. I'll wait while half of you leave...seriously, I look forward to some good comments and exchanges with people on any number of topics. Enjoy!