Sunday, 15 June 2014

Bilgrami's Evil Enchantment.


Bilgrami believes that Pantheists protested against Sauron but were mercilessly crushed. Perhaps, if he were writing about Islamic history, he would equate the Zanj rebellion (whose leader, though claiming to be a Syed, had an Indian slave in his maternal lineage) with a similar Pantheistic protest against Puritanical Plutocratic Capitalism. However, the crushing of the Zanj rebellion did not involve a Sauron who co-ordinated Capital, Religion and Science in such a manner that they turned into an evil 'thick' concept of Scientific Rationality which went on to rule the World and systematically exterminate fairies and elves and hobbits and everybody just worshiping trees and peacefully having orgies under the Midsummer Moon and other such hippy shite.
Why did Seventeenth Century succeed in yielding all power to Sauron while Ninth Century Iraq failed to achieve the same thing? The answer, judging by the evidence Bilgrami provides, is that Ninth Century Iraq did not have the Printing Press and so all manners of Pantheistic nutjobs- Ranters, Diggers, Quakers, Levellers, Anabaptists, Monetarists etc- did not get to circulate their silly pamphlets. True, they were crushed, just as the Zanj rebellion was crushed, but they were not exterminated and continued their corporate existence and textual availability cascades and preference falsification hypocricy down to our own day. Gandhi, according to Bilgrami, was part of this long running tradition of stupidity but for the shrill existence of which Sauron doesn't get hegemony and the ability to enforce 'thick' scientific rationality which is like totally evil and genocidal and not at all nice.
So there we have it. For Evil to triumph- i.e. for 'thick' Scientific Rationality to become hegemonic and make fun of Pantheism's pee-pee- it is both necessary and sufficient that Gandhian shite is endlessly spouted. Suppose Gandhian shite isn't spouted or its spouting is ended by killing those who spout it then Sauron doesn't get the Magic Ring which enables the unification of Capitalism and Science and Metaphysics and Ethics and dunno other such shite such that the entire planet is laid waste and no blade of grass is spared by Mammon's maw.
Bilgrami writes - 'Were we to apply the thin conception of “scientific” and “rationality” (the one that I imagine most of us in this room embrace), the plain fact is that nobody in that period was, in any case, getting prizes for leaving God out of the world-view of science. That one should think of God as voluntaristically affecting nature from the outside (as the Newtonians did) rather than sacralizing it from within (as the freethinkers insisted), was not in any way to improve on the science involved.
'Both views were therefore just as “unscientific,” just as much in violation of scientific rationality, in the “thin” sense of that term that we would now take for granted. What was in dispute had nothing to do with science or rationality in that attenuated sense at all. What the early dissenting tradition as well as Gandhi were opposed to is the metaphysical orthodoxy that grew around Newtonian science and its implications for broader issues of culture and politics. This orthodoxy with all of its implications is what has now come to be called “scientific rationality” in the “thick” sense of that term and in the pervasive cheerleading about “the West" and the Enlightenment'.'

So, kids, what have we learned in School today? Bilgrami admits that Pantheistic shite is shite. He doesn't say- 'if stupid Lefty nutjobs stop spouting holier-than-thou Pantheistic shite then there would be no market for 'thick' Scientific rationality and endless triumphalist cheerleading for 'Western Enlightenment' values and that would be a good thing coz Sauron would be foiled in his quest for the Magic Ring'. He doesn't need to say it. That's the only possible take-away point from his lecture. Unless you really believe there are fairies at the bottom of your garden. In which case, lay in a couple of six-packs and get busy with the weed whacker.

This follows if you believe, as Bilgrami does, that Spinoza was right when he said you can't predict and intend to do something at the same time- i.e. if you intend to do something it can't be because you predict it is what you want to get done. Hence, if your are an Ethical Consequentialist or Epistemological Instrumentalist, you can't intend to do anything at all- unless you are stupid and don't get Spinoza though you intend to get Spinoza and haven't predicted that you won't coz Spinoza is stupid and so are you and there is nothing to get anyway. But this also means there really are fairies at the bottom of the garden whom you are currently killing with your weed whacker while drunk off your head on Special Brew. This is because there is a predictive element in visual and all other perception. But, since you can never intend to see what you predict you will actually see, the fact that you don't see you are in the garden killing fairies proves that you can't have the intention of not killing fairies at this very moment.
 Predictions can be falsified, not so intentions. We can imagine a situation where you can intend to have your predictions falsified in a systematic way. Perhaps not seeing you are killing fairies when you intend to do so and are doing so is good strategy on your part. Ergo you can't prove you aren't killing fairies if and only if you don't see that you are killing fairies.
Bilgrami wants us to see that the World may be value laden. This is the phenomenological project which features such egregious shite as Hegel's refutation of Newton and Goethe or Schopenhauer's theory of Color and Malfatti's crazy Tantric nonsense and so on down to Weber's silly ideas about Capitalism and Protestantism and Husserl's wasting his time on Phenomenology and Heidegger's worthless rubbish and so on and so forth.
Bilgrami doesn't get that Gandhi fucked up big time with his Khadi (his chakri added negative value to cotton) and Basic Education (Zakir Hussain ultimately called it a fraud) and other such fuckwittery.
Kenneth Boulding, a Quaker and Environmentalist avant la lettre but also a great Economist, has written about why Gandhians fucked up. It was because they were as stupid as shit and refused to use their brains. Screw Scientific Rationality. Common sense tells us that prediction and intention are inextricably intertwined. But this means when you see that stuff aint panning out as you intended you stop doing what you're doing and try to think of a better solution.  Scratch that. Don't try to think of a better solution. Ask around till you find a guy who HAS a better solution. Copy him.
The alternative is killing fairies.
To see why consider Bilgrami's rejection of Economics on the basis that it doesn't permit a 'secular enchantment' of the world such that if you see a glass of water you don't think of the opportunity cost of your drinking the water but rather ask yourself- whom does that glass of water want to be drunk by?- and then go out on a mystic quest to hunt down that suffering Grail-King because only in this way can you end your own 'alienation'.
That way all the water gets spilled and you lose your job as a waiter at the Tandoori Restaurant coz the customer choked to death on his onion bhaji when you snatched away his water and so your kids back home starve to death and as for them fairies they all just laughed themselves to death at the spectacle of your stupidity.

Bilgrami thinks Gandhian politics in pre-Independence India was made possible because Indians were stupid and believed in fairies. He is wrong. Gandhi got money off the Hindus and Jains and Khojas and Memons and other such business castes. They got a 'reputational' benefit from such largesse as did lawyers who signed up with Gandhi. In the short run, some weavers did get a bit of money out of it and, ultimately, secured their main goal which was to get a quota of mill-spun (NOT HAND SPUN) yarn. Still, the Gandhian interlude meant a lot of weavers starved to death and the industry as a whole was de-skilled. Capitalist methods have revived some sectors. Gandhi himself wanted to boycott the one prosperous section of weavers because they were doing well by supplying the luxury market.
The reason the 'Untouchables' are so angry with Gandhi is that his ideas fucked them up big time. They now shrilly campaign for compulsory English medium Govt. schools. They have even declared English a Goddess and worship a statue of Macaulay!
 Scientific rationality says all human beings have evolved such that there is territory specific canalization of Cognitive and Perceptual faculties.
Bilgrami type shite says that fairies are a persecuted minority or silently suffering subaltern majority whose cause only Ivy League Professors of Philosophy can legitimately champion. But, this is killing fairies with a vengeance because only kids can see fairies and a Credentialized 'Liberal Arts' Education System,  the apex of which pyramid Bilgrami occupies, is itself the blazing eye of Sauron which destroys all that is enchanting about this our, albeit ontologically dysphoric, World.
For which, needless to say, I blame David Cameron. That boy aint right.

5 comments:

  1. Bilgrami is not using Spinoza's dictum in the manner you rather unfairly suggest. However, it is certainly something he should himself have clarified. Perhaps, his notion of 'reinforcement'- such that some intentions count for more than others by reason of better promoting a persons well-being- is germane to what he says here. The 'third person' perspective of 'prediction' (which certainly isn't Perceptual, as you make out) can't be the same as 'first person' intention because it is possible for us to intend things we don't intend ourselves to intend- like an alcoholic intending to get drunk though he has previously signed the pledge and knows that getting drunk will ruin his life.
    More generally, your repeated diatribes against Bilgrami- no doubt intended as a low form of humour- reveal nothing but your own ignorance of an entire field of discourse which far from being 'stupid' has in fact been the leading engine for Social and Institutional Reform- at least in 'advanced' Western countries.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. You are quite right that I intended a species of low humor but only because I had a meta-intention to perform a Ricky Gervais type operation such that low humor is actually high humor or something of that sort.
      Bilgrami's 'reinforcement' is nothing but 'Tiebout sorting' to reduce cognitive dissonance or make certain sorts of local public goods available. Thus the alcoholic can relocate to a Quaker housing estate where no pubs are permitted, or- more radically- emigrate to Qatar or Saudi Arabia or wherever. Notice that such relocation still relies on a univocity between 'intention' and 'prediction'. If human beings evolved by natural selection there there is epigenetic canalisation 'hardwired' into cognitive and perceptual faculties such that this is most often the case. No doubt, the Evolutionary Stable Strategy militates for idionomia or antagonomia for some minority but this isn't a big deal provided deontics doesn't have its range restricted to exclude mixed-strategies.
      The leading engine for Social and Institutional Reform in Market oriented countries has been mimetic effects in the Market- not substantive responses to elite pi-jaw because such pi-jaw has never been univocal and, in any case, is highly manipulable and impotent to generate incentive compatible solutions.

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    2. This sounds like an argument from 'Internal Universalism'- presumably, what you are saying is that everybody who agrees that human beings evolved morality- i.e. this is the relevant Social praxis for all humans- would also agree that people should be allowed to create and migrate to communities where their own values are locally 'universal'.
      Unfortunately, this doesn't really get round the basic problem for internal universalism because not everybody thinks human beings have in fact evolved by natural selection. Furthermore what is to stop one community waging a war of expansion or proselytization on another contiguous community? Indeed, might that not be the rule rather than the exception?

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    3. I googled 'internal universalism' but still aint to clear as what it is. Something like Putnam's exploded 'internal realism' perhaps? The problem is that just looking at what the Anthropic principle constrains the Universe to be like can't constrain the Maths or Physics of those same human beings. Similarly, ontological dysphoria as a motivator for Ethical Praxis explodes 'internal universalism' based on communities arising out of Tiebout sorting or territory specific epigenetic canalisation or anything of that sort.

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    4. Good discussion of Bilgrami, featuring 'Internal Universalism' by Dusche here- http://www.mdusche.de/media/publications/file/Dusche32_3746.pdf

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