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August 02, 2006

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Kimball Corson

LAK,

You´re too bright and too unCatholic to be so steeped in general spicie discrimination as you are, with humans at the top and every other specie grouped lower as "the animals" to be used or abusewd as we see fit. Our human track record on this earth of murder, rape amd pillage arguably could be viewed to place us at the very bottom of the spicie order, not at the top. Much of all our history yields in some intermediate or final stage to be a military history of killing under one banner or slogan or the other. It is pathetic. Being clever is not the end all be all. Perhaps being good is. That was the view of the ancient Greeks and the idea really seems to have gotten lost over time. I would argue some dogs are better than some humans and visa-versa. Generalities are difficult except perhaps dogs are often more loyal and less opportunistic than humans. I am just not very impressed with us, that is all. Too few of us are truly kind, smart, considerate, helpful and competent. To be sure, we are more capable of manipulating and controlling our environment, instead of learning how to live well in it. Indeed, we have and have used atomic weaponery and we also foul our nest at every turn. Now how clever is that? As to art, I suggest it is a construct of our imaginations, experiences and desires but who knows what goes on in the minds of animals that might be analogous or more realistically based and less abstract. I had a dog once that watched sunsets with a dying neighbor in his front yard, literally watched them and not just kept him company. We marveled. What do we know?

Just cut the fidos and pootats of the world a bit more slack is all I would ask and perhaps suspend a bit of judgment until we learn more. I really appreciate animals of all kinds, including us and you. All need protection and promotion and we need to learn much better how to do that instead of being at each others throats much of the time.

LAK

Kimball,

As much as we as a species are capable of profound violence, so too are other animals in whom violence evolved as a means of survival in conditions of scarcity. It is completely natural in most animals. In fact I just recently watched a NOVA? episode on fratracide in chimps. You sound like ther is some kind of socialist utopia in the African plains, or that dogs wouldn't be trying to kill you if they were wild an hungry.

That we can be ashamed of violence in the first place, and organize ourselve as a species to attempt to minimize violence and scarcity is what is profound to me. Violence is a part of nature and is common to the vast majority of animals. But what makes us uniquely human is what is more important, what sets us apart from all other animals. Our reason, our emotional capcities, and our abilities to use reason and self consciousness to resist our animal urges when necessary. Even those in whom these uniquely human capacities remain dormant or stunted, and in whose lives violence rages, they still deserve your love and compassion before all other forms of living things, by virtue of being human.

I love dogs, I know how we treat animals is outrageous. I believe in minimizing the suffering of animals in every possible way, especially in killing them, and believe we should kill far fewer animals than we currently do for food in this country. But I will not make some leap to apply Kantian or Rawlsian ethics to animals, as they are not individuals and cannot be ends in themselves or worthy of policy decisions in which their welfare can never be decreased to increase the welfare of humans.

In this world, alienation from other human beings, the erosion of community, the lack of brotherly and erotic love so many people suffer, all contribute to people building relationships with their pets that are proxys for real human relationships, community and love. The SS were famous for their intense emotional bonds with their Shepards, as. Cass Sunstein, who I adore, is still an asetic intellectual isolated to some degeree by his outrageous intelligence, who is famous for walking with his head down in the hallways, sometimes reading, sometimes thinking, shoes untied, rarely making eye contact, gentle to the point of almost meek, he has this famous bond with his dog and use to bring the dog to school with him every day. And you Kimaball? Live on a boat away from the shit show that is humanity? It is consistent with the theory that good ol' alienation from other human beings is the source of displaced or misplaced bonds and compassion for animals. And that is what I think is going on wth you, and this post.

The Law Fairy

I don't think that's quite a fair characterization, LAK -- my grandmother, for example, shares an uncanny bond with animals that none of us will ever understand. Animals she's never met trust her automatically (including an abused dog she rescued from the streets, who doesn't trust anybody), and she possesses a love for animals that I can almost explain, but not quite.

Yet she's hardly a hermit. She regularly has people over and goes on outings with her friends. She volunteers for her local library. She welcomes visits from family. She's outgoing and friendly and initiates conversations with complete strangers on a regular basis.

So I don't think isolation explains love for animals. I, too, love dogs very very much -- but I don't understand this deeper connection that some have with them. To me, their bond with animals is not something to scoff, but rather to admire.

LAK

Lawfairy,

I think I came off a little harshly. I think alienation from other humans isn't the only source of such extreme love of animals. But in some cases I've seen it does contribute signficantly. I should talk, I'm the one at work on a sunday.

Kimball Corson

LAK,

But it is we who eat the salmon, not visa-versa. As for our violence, I believe we get it from the chimps, not the more peaceful bonobos, who may be the ancestors of the more peaceful among us. Unlike most other animals we can kill in cold blood and also use our higher intellects to kill more and quicker.

LAK then writes:
"I love dogs, I know how we treat animals is outrageous. I believe in minimizing the suffering of animals in every possible way, especially in killing them, and believe we should kill far fewer animals than we currently do for food in this country."

I respond: We are on the same page to here.

LAK again: "But I will not make some leap to apply Kantian or Rawlsian ethics to animals, as they are not individuals and cannot be ends in themselves or worthy of policy decisions in which their welfare can never be decreased to increase the welfare of humans."

I respond: Why not? They are individuals just as your pets have been. Why should not ethical considerations apply to them, just as your quote above this one implies. We can argue over weightings and should. As I have facitously suggested on this blog elsewhere, if a random Iraqi Arab is 2/5ths of one of us on the life value scale, is not the family pet on at least as good a footing? 0 < x < 1. (Remember blacks were 3/5ths in our Constitution).

We differ largely by degree. You are not quite so "use ém, abuse ém¨Catholic after all.

Kimball Corson

LAK, writing in regard to isolation, says:
"And you Kimball? Live on a boat away from the shit show that is humanity"

I respond: I am more up to my eyeballs in the shit show of humanity traveling the world and interacting with so many people as I do, than I ever was practicing law. What I am free of is binding ties, clocks, phones, restraints and commitments, so I give the shit show the slip by at least that much.

I do not even have a pet aboard, although if I found the right cat, or moving away from pets, woman, I might change my mind. But I am not looking for either because both entail obligations and attention. But I do like being unfettered and able to pick and choose my new frinds as I go.

The hard part of what I am doing is leaving people to move on and stay with the adventure. I spent a year in a Mexican town learning Spanish in part, but mostly trying unsuccessfully to leave friends. As the son of diplomatic parents, I can be very outgoing and socialable, and am much of the time, but I also very much like my private and quiet times to think and read.

I am almost 65, so I have a bit of a race against the clock to circumnavigate the world in a culturally meaningful way, because this world is so big and there is so much diversity to the peoples on it and I want to see and encounter most all of it before I croak. What I can tell you so far is that, from what I have learned, this world is very full of many wonderful people and Americans by no means have a lock on the best way of living. (I think Latins do.)

Kimball Corson

Cass Sunstein sounds truly wonderful, as you discribe him. I wish I knew him, but he came in after I left.

Also, some individuals (particularly intelligent ones) just prefer meaningful human interaction and ideas to much of the social frivolity that passes for such. It is that very sentiment that gets me into friendships I have trouble leaving. I suspect silly small talk is not the real forte of most who write on this blog. We all seek to give meaning to our lives in one way or another but some approaches are better for doing that than others. For the likes of us, Chicago seems to have made a significant difference. I was lucky to experience both sides of the Midway.

curtisstrong

Kimball,

Sounds like you're having a nice time there in Mexico. I've lived in Brazil, and my wife's family is originally from Colombia (she, however, grew up in Spain). Anyway, this really has nothing to do with the blog, but I am curious as to why you would say latins have the best way of living.

There certainly are some things to glean from that way of life, sure, but I think there are some serious shortcomings as well. Just would like to know your take.

By the way, you really should give China a visit. It's like smacking your head against a wall sometimes, but people here are very nice (in their way, remember, not ours). It's quite the experience, anyway.

Matthew Larsen

Meg,

Yale degree or not, you seem to lack a proper understanding of ambiguity. As more than one person here (including me) has pointed out, assuming that humanism and feminism are necessarily the same thing is utterly ridiculous, which you did in your first post on this thread. You make the same error of conflation when you make a false accusation about me:

Meg: 'You are the one who claimed to speak for all feminism: "I recognize that humanism has historically been opposed by feminists precisely for its unthinking misogyny."'

If you actually analyze the sentence, I do not say "all feminists". The unadorned use of the term "feminists" could mean all feminists or some feminists. I don't state which feminists I am talking about, but I do qualify the term feminists by saying "historically," which would appear to exclude present and future feminists. That is certainly not "all feminists," and it suggests a development among competing feminisms that has weeded out the humanist-hating ones. But ignoring such lofty implications, even a flat-out retard could see that I am referring at the very least to those feminists who oppose humanism -- and, despite your protests to the contrary, they do exist, which is why I cited to the "obscure" feminist reader. I suppose obscure is code for "Meg has not read the book," but, then again, even if you read it, you would probably miss all the ambiguities, e.g., you might read a Martha Nussbaum book that makes an argument for a new humanism that is robustly feminist, but miss the point that one wouldn't need to write such a book to any audience if it were a priori true that feminism and humanism were one and the same or obviously convergent as a matter of fated history. You also make contradictory arguments, such as on the one hand claiming I adhere to notions culled from obscure radical feminist texts but then calling me misogynist -- I don't know of many misogynists who read obscure radical feminists texts and cite to them favorably or who do so in order to chide another man publicly for comparing women to dogs. If it is true that you majored in women, gender, and sexuality, you must have minored in dislogic, absurdity, and rage.

And how one could possibly imply that Foucault is a minor thinker, from a historical standpoint, is quite silly. How could you earn a degree in women, gender, and sexuality, and not read any Foucault? That is quite possibly the silliest thing I have ever read on this blog, including Martha Nussbaum's definition of "violence," which appeared to include male-initiated divorce or raising one's voice.

curtisstrong

As far as the feminist thread of this blog goes, there are some things that just need to be let go. No one can be an avid ANYTHING 24 hours of the day, and not go a little crazy. I think I mentioned before (maybe not on this blog, but on another one) that I'm a Mormon. I've known many other mormons who take it to the extreme sometimes, critiquing themselves to the point of insanity.

I think it's the same with anything, law, feminism, the quest for knowledge, attacking Republicans...etc. There IS a need to just settle down and roll with the punches, otherwise, the world is too difficult a place to live. Not to say that you can't fight for what you believe in, but everyone has to take the chip off their shoulder every once in a while. I have to do it when people make fun of me for not drinking, not smoking, for believing the things mormons do...etc., all regular occurances.

Anyway, I'm not trying to be antagonistic here at all. I just think that some of the stuff Kimball has said on this topic makes some real world sense, although I would add that men need to realize some of this stuff without having to be told (and before, not after, they've offended).

Matthew Larsen

Curtis: As far as the feminist thread of this blog goes, there are some things that just need to be let go.

It is very nice of you to say that to a man when he posts his reply. But you did not say that when Meg called me a misogynist, which is libel. It is nice to see that you are in support of libel when uncouth slatterns do it. I suppose you have some fancy argument for how that advances true equality, because men are evil and women are victims, or some such nonsense, but the fact remains that the same judgment we pass on dog massacring public officials can be made of anyone who supports the destruction of similarly developed life, whether his belief is that true equality is promoted or not.

Meg

"Yale degree or not, you seem to lack a proper understanding of ambiguity. As more than one person here (including me) has pointed out, assuming that humanism and feminism are necessarily the same thing is utterly ridiculous, which you did in your first post on this thread."

I did? Where did I do that? 1 cent for you if you if you can show me where. My first post:

"This takes the cake! Humanism opposed by feminists? LAK comparing women to dogs? Who is this guy?"

I pointed out you being an idiot for claiming "I recognize that humanism has historically been opposed by feminists precisely for its unthinking misogyny." They don't. Some radical feminists aligned with cultural relativism critique any western projects that attempt to establish anything universal in humanity. Rarely are humanists the target either. While the truth is most feminists are willing to make universalizable claims about women.

The others who "pointed this out" were referring to my sarcastic response to your idiotic post. You should try to get better at reading and writing first before you continue to make a fool of yourself.

Kimball Corson

curtisstrong writes "I am curious as to why you would say latins have the best way of living."

I think they have the greatest capacity to really enjoy each other and love personal interation, extended meals, talking and just plain spending time with each other in a wide variety of settings. To be sure it interfers with getting things done and work suffers, but then they have their priorities. Also, there is much more interaction across different age and social barriers in larger groups. Cool teeens will talk with other´s grandparents. Largely everyone appreciates and enjoys everyone else, in most cases. They have a spectacular sense of family and community. They are also more romantic and more interested in opposite sex than most. Even their languages are romantic. That is my take from my experience here in Mexico and from living for six months in southern Italy as well.

Kimball Corson

Mathew Larson,

I think that a case can be made that some versions of feminism can approximate some versions of humanism, especially when the sexual element is repressed, expunged or rendered neutral by all where it doesn·t really matter. But then you would argue it is a form of humanism and not feminism, almost by definition. But I don·t think so because it may also be also argued, more dynamically, that in a seriously improved and improving world feminism can still move toward humanism and not loose its own identity (reducto ad absurdum, the idea in math of the ever smaller difference becoming a differential)

The Law Fairy

"They are also more romantic and more interested in opposite sex than most. Even their languages are romantic."

Yeah, but... that also comes with an unhealthy dose of machismo. I'm not convinced that greater romance enhances a culture -- although I will say that as far as lose for family and friends goes, they have their priorities much better structured than we (though that's largely true of most Asian and European countries as well).

Kimball Corson

Mathew Larson writes,
"And how one could possibly imply that Foucault is a minor thinker, from a historical standpoint, is quite silly."

I would argue that Foucault is indeed a minor thinker and further the world is going to recover from him and much of the French School, although pieces and the perceptions of Dereda and some others -- perhaps even Foucault -- might last as fringe elements in the flow of philosophical and social history, but this does not make him still more than minor footnote, even in that subtext. Too much of Foucault·s work is corrupted by a terrible sense and knowledge of History and some say too much of a capacity to make it up. He and the French school were foreshadowed and indeed predicted by Nietzsche. who clearly had the gumption not to sucumb himself and sort of even explained why. Indeed, Foucault is truly the last person in the world qualified to write about the order of things. Even the French and other Europeans have recovered from the French School and laugh at the elements in American academe which are still inspired and roiled by it.

The Law Fairy

er... that should be "love," not "lose"

Kimball Corson

Law Fairy,

From what I see the machismo factor is fading a bit, family orientation is on the rise, but it is still thought desirable to have a mistress squirreled away somewhere but then even some women are stepping out in response, which makes things very entertaining and the subject of many Mexican sitcoms. Latins are fun, as I see them. I used to think they had large families because of the influence of the Catholic Church, but I no longer believe that and think instead their romanticism is responsible. Woman and men alike want a big family life.

Jim

There have been dozens of ridiculous statements in this thread from all sides but I'll pick one example to make my larger point, "I pointed out you being an idiot for claiming "I recognize that humanism has historically been opposed by feminists precisely for its unthinking misogyny." They don't." The degree of vitriol seeping into a debate between a couple of excessively tightly wound egg-heads is just amazing. Somehow I doubt "idiot" is really the apt term for anyone who can even write lucidly about feminist vs humanist theory much less one who even knows who Foucalt is, much less one who has read him.

Ah, the snobbish and bizarre insularity of academia. Perhaps it is because I am poised to begin my UofC law career this fall after a much more normal undergraduate experience than you Yalies and your cohorts that I find this viscious debate over obscurities odd.

In any case, several of you remind me of O'Tooles indomitable Ignatius J. Reilly, shreiking at all he encountered for not appreciating the symmetry and balance of his personal intellectual cosmic world.

Kimball Corson

Jim,

"Debate over obscurities, indeed." This is core stuff that matters to lives of the mind. If you dont get that, you missed something big in your undergrad experience. We only talk about what we think matters at base. The vitrol and childish name calling can be proof on point, although I admit at times it only proves we loose our patience. Stuff matters and it may well be that we are a tad too tightly wrapped, but we are interested, which is much more than can be said for most of the world. Much discussed here has presumptive underpinnings in the law you are to study so be sure to look behind the words. You·ll be much the better for it.

Jim

I was not criticizing the esoteric nature of the debate but rather the 7-year-old name calling. Also, my comments were directed more at earlier discussion rather than your points and the later issues.

Anyhow, I was ridiculing the insults not the subject matter. Apologies if I was unclear.

The Law Fairy

Why do so many people make comments here that purport to lump together everyone else who has commented? I'm pretty different from anyone else here, and I think most people are different from each other.

Newbies to the board aren't the only ones guilty of this, of course.

Jim, not that I'm particularly coming down on you. It's just something that struck me right this moment. I wouldn't purport to speak "for" or "against" all the commenters, or say "this is what we're like" or make, for example, irrelevant comments about whether or not I thought they were "U of C caliber," whatever that may mean.

Welcome to the Law School, by the way -- for what it's worth, I'll give you the piece of advice a kind 3L gave me my 1L year -- don't ever lose sight of your broad liberal arts education. It's tempting to do it in law school, much as this place is hyped up for being "more philosophical" than the others, or something. Never take something as true or right just because your law professor told you it was so. Never forget life and philosophy outside the law.

Cheers and good luck.

curtisstrong

Kimball,

"Lives of the mind"...Quite the anecdote. Reminds me of Lady Chatterley's Lover.

Anyway, in response to the latin discussion we have going, I think that's a fair assessment. I really wish that the U.S. had the little neighborhood squares, or bars, that latins/mediterraneans go to (the entire neighborhood on occasion, it seems) to have a nice chat. They've got one here in the city where I am now, and it's really a nice thing to see.

Also, latins work together amazingly well, and they look out for each other a lot, especially family. They get along well with what they have, and share just about any excess that comes along (this is quite the generalized statement, not everyone is that way of course...but you get my drift).

As far as the machismo goes, Kimball thinks it's on the decline, and that may be true. I think it's still a fairly serious problem, but it will undoubtedly improve as society changes (not without thanks to those "angry" feminists).

curtisstrong

Matthew...

I apologize for the timing of my earlier post. The statement that things need to be "let go" was not a reference to this blog, but rather to one's personaly response to things that may be considered injust. We were actually writing at the same time, and I hadn't seen that you had written another post in between my two. It was in no way a criticism of/response to your post, because I hadn't even read it until after I posted my comment.

It was actually a response to what law fairy had written about letting others sharpen their knives, and that she'd "still win." What I was trying to say was that no one can "win" all the time. Trying to win, promote justice, fight discrimination, or whatever it is, is a tiring and unhealthy enterprise if one has to worry about it all the time. Like Kimball says, one needs to pick their fights.

As far as Meg calling you a mysoginist goes, you further my point that people can jump out at the wrong people and in the wrong situations when they're ready for sharpened knives...so to speak.

In any case, you let me know how your libel suit against Meg turns out.

curtisstrong

"personal"

and "unjust"

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