Thursday, 29 November 2018

Barkha Dutt, Twitter & 'Brahminical Patriarchy'.

While I had no knowledge of the poster, Brahminical Patriarchy is a fair & entirely mainstream phrase in the way that we now know the intersectionality of Feminism & the critique of upper caste hegemony. It is NOT an attack on Brahmins but on hierarchy much like White Privilege
1,270 people are talking about this

Is it really true that 'Brahminical Patriarchy is a fair & entirely mainstream phrase'? What about 'Jewish Capitalism'? Surely that is not a mainstream phrase? It unfairly stigmatises a particular set of people on the basis of their ancestral religion. Moreover, it imputes occult powers and sinister motives to a group of people no different from their neighbors of other faiths or communities.

I suppose it could be argued that Rahul Gandhi's claim to the Premiership of India is an example of 'Brahminical Patriarchy' because he now declares himself a Brahman and his father and great-grand father held that position before him. But there is no need to 'smash' this example of Brahminical Patriarchy because people are free to vote for whom they please.

Barkha Dutt says that 'Brahminical Patriarchy' is a mainstream phrase ' in the way that we now know the intersectionality of Feminism & the critique of upper caste hegemony'. Does she really believe that 'intersectionality of Feminism' is a mainstream phrase? Does the average American use this term? I see from Wikipeidia that the first person to use it was one Kimberle Williams Crenshaw- a Professor at Columbia (where Barkha studied) in 1989. Since then it has gained no traction among ordinary people. Rather it features in an elite academic availability cascade more famous as a target of satire than for any real world achievement or accomplishment.

Similarly the Gramscian term 'hegemony' is associated with the elitist 'Subaltern School' scarcely any of whom remain domiciled in India. No one could understand what these people were talking about and they have had no political influence whatsoever.

Caste is a reality in India. To speak of 'Brahman patriarchy' is to attack a particular group of people who will respond in like terms. Barkha Dutt says 'it is NOT an attack on Brahmins but on hierarchy much like White Privilege'. However, in India, it means don't vote for X because he is a Brahman. Since most Brahmans are poor where they are numerous, it is not the case that any 'hierarchy' is being attacked. Rather, it is a particular group of people who will retaliate in like terms if they are able to do so.

Talk of 'White Privilege' may seem innocuous- more especially to dark skinned people like myself. However, it has created a backlash and polarised Society in the US. White people in certain occupational/regional groups can see their life-chances have declined relative to other groups. If White Privilege was what enabled them to prosper previously, then they will fight to impose it once again. There is no point in stigmatising people according to their birth or colour. They will retaliate in like terms. When it comes to 'smashing' things, they may turn out to be more effective. Why provoke them to do so if your aim is to improve Society by lifting up weaker sections?

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Was Sukhamoy Chakravarty the World's Worst Economist?

A laudatory booklet available here, suggests that if not the World's worst Economist, Sukhamoy Chakravarty was a strong contender for the title.

An ex-student of his writes-
 the first sentence he uttered in the first year undergraduate course on production theory at Presidency College was that the production function is concave because of super additivity. Since we had not even heard of additivity let alone super additivity, we couldn’t understand a word of what he said. He, on his part, couldn’t understand what we couldn’t understand.
Short run production functions are concave because of 'decreasing returns'- adding inputs does not lead to a proportionate rise in output because of some bottleneck or resource crunch. Superaddivity means a sequence such that {\displaystyle a_{n+m}\geq a_{n}+a_{m}}- i.e. it has increasing, not decreasing returns. Now if a function starts from zero, is convex and increasing then its sequence is superadditive. But a superadditivity does not imply convexity. Thus, the cause of concavity can't be superadditivity. On the contrary, a convexity, under certain conditions, implies superadditivity but the reverse is not the case. Furthermore, there is no mathematical reason to tell a bunch of beginners in Econ that superaddittivity causes anything or, indeed, has anything to do with the assumption of diminishing returns.

Perhaps Chakravarty simply wasn't very good at maths. The firs paragraph of the booklet concludes with this anecdote-
In the Netherlands in 1981 he was visited by professors from many different disciplines and they would engage in engrossing conversations as between equals. The only exception was when a mathematician visited him. Sukhamoy da asked him what he was working on. He replied don’t ask Sukhamoy. You won’t understand. 
A little later on the booklet appears to contradict this view. But does it really? It seems to me that something is being left unstated after each sentence. I will take the liberty of uttering what I think the authors are skating over discreetly. My remarks are in bold.

He was renowned for his mathematical prowess. But not among genuine mathematicians who knew he couldn't understand what they were working on. Yet mathematical economics was not an end in itself.  D'uh! Mathematical Economics aims at the same thing Economics does- viz. economizing on scarce resources. A good mathematician can save a company, or a consumer, or a country money by coming up with a better algorithm or formula. 
Analysis of economic development and economic policy choices did not flow immediately from these abstract mathematical models. Unless they weren't wholly worthless. A mathematical model devised after analysing economic development and policy choices might help save money or improve efficiency. Putting the cart before the horse could never do so. According to him, they emerged from the combination of such constructs and analysis of historical experience. “Economics as a discipline appears to me to be located at the edge of ‘history’ and ‘theory’.” History comes in not only as time is irreversible, but provides important insights into the emergence of institutions over time, an open ended process. Insights are not necessarily provided “by looking at institutions as solutions of suitably defined repeated games”.
This is sheer nonsense. Economics is about looking at a time series and saying- this is where things started to go wrong. We've got to restore the system to how it was before we screwed up. Time is not reversible, but Policy is. History provides time series data. It does not provide 'insights'. There is no such thing as 'Theory' or 'Economics as a discipline'. What Chakravarty is talking about is academic availability cascades with zero alethic value or social utility. 

Institutions may be 'focal points' for coordination games. They are not solutions to repeated games because, by the folk theorem, there would be no need for them. Thus they would have neither any coercive power nor any budget allocation. 
Chakravarty was keenly aware of the limitations of such models. Their limitation was that they were utter shite.  However, they were not useless (1989) as they provide a basis for discussions with political decision makers. Hilarious! Political decision makers are people like Ron Reagan or Rajiv Gandhi or, nowadays, Donald Trump. They don't know any math and have zero capacity to evaluate mathematical models of the economy. When, in the history of the world, has a mathematical economist been able to use his model as a 'basis of discussion' with anybody with real power? All he can do is pretend to be wiser than he is. But that is the modus operandi of the mystagogue and charlatan through the ages. Optimal growth paths provide scenarios for a dialogue between planners and the policy makers (Chakravarty, 1988). No they don't- for the same reason that Astrological Charts don't provide scenarios for dialogue between the scoundrel and the person he is duping. His proficiency in mathematical modeling and reasoning as in the well known Chakravrty, Eckaus, Lefeber Parikh model and his awareness of their limitations was one of his dualities, different to that pointed out by Prof. Samuelson of his being at home in both the sciences and humanities in his preface to his Capital and Development planning.
This CELF model was incredibly stupid. It assumed no technological or structural change between 1960 and 1972! Man had landed on the Moon, but this model assumed technology did not change! Indira Gandhi appointed this idiot head of the Planning Commission (because more honest, less sycophantic people had turned down the job) where he turned a blind eye to Sanju's corrupt and criminal dealings. No wonder India stagnated under Indira! Chakravarty's entire approach was worthless. He'd have been better off practising Voodoo!

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Amia Srinivasan on Genealogy, World-making and a parrot

Nelson Goodman's 'ways of World-making' came out in 1978. Its 'irrealism' seemed quaint. After all, some Dr. Strangelove or other was bound to split the photon any day now and thus all worlds were on the point of turning weirder than we could possibly imagine. Sci Fi shows on the Beeb already took it for granted that everybody was their own Oedipal father as well as virginal Jocasta waging a relentless guerrilla war against her own conception. Salman Rushdie had just published his unreadable 'Grimus'. John Barth was about to jump the shark with 'LETTERS'. It had become clear that a way of World-making that didn't make the actual world a better and less psychotic place was utterly worthless.

Thus, thankfully, with the death of Brezhnev and the rise of Thatcher and Reagan, irrealism retreated and realty gained salience. The world was now a fixer-upper to be flipped. Conveyancing mattered, Provenance or 'Genealogy' did not.

Amia Srinivasan, seeking to find a relationship between Seventies style 'critical genealogy'- stuff like how Society had brainwashed prostitutes into taking money from johns instead of paying them for their jizz- and irreal 'World-making'- which is about how visualising the world as being one where you've already done your homework and the washing up means not having to do your homework or your chores- writes-
A genealogy endows us with more than the knowledge that there were once people who thought differently than us.
How? Looking at a family tree does not endow us with knowledge about different modes of thinking. The same is true about intellectual or aesthetic genealogy. The Mathematics genealogy project picks out mathematicians who are likely to belong to the same methodological school or research project. It gives us no information about those who thought differently from each other.

Amia's next sentence appears to acknowledge this-
(Indeed, certain genealogies, such as evolutionary genealogies, do not endow us with such historical knowledge at all.)
But, if she knows this, why does she say the opposite? A genealogy that is not 'evolutionary'- i.e. track genetic or memetic changes- is no genealogy at all.
A genealogy (also) endows us with the knowledge that there are other, perhaps many other, uninstantiated possible ways of thinking.
Rubbish! My neighbour's pedigree cat has a genealogy. It doesn't endow anybody with knowledge of the sort Amia mentions. How could it?
Put more simply, when genealogies reveal to us the contingency of our representations, they reveal to us that we could, perhaps even easily, represent the world otherwise.
The 'contingency of our representations' are immediately revealed to us when they disappear when we get drunk off our heads or are coshed by a mugger or fall asleep. Genealogy, on the other hand, doesn't reveal anything at all save who begat whom.

We all know we can represent the world differently because that is what happens when we take drugs or dream or listen to a persuasive speaker or study a subject, like Mathematical Physics or Economics, which makes representing aspects of the world its business to some useful end. Marxism is based on Economics- its votaries thought it enabled them to envision a very different Social and Political world. The same is true of the 'Washington consensus'- it is based on a mathematical model of the economy. Similarly, the world that Edison and Ford and the digital computer and A.I and so forth ushered in was based, ultimately, on Mathematical Physics. Even the theory of Evolution got a second wind and was able to dispose off false notions such as that 'homosexuality' was unnatural, once it got a consistent mathematical representation.

However, all this sort of scientific and mathematical progress which enables us to represent the world very differently- for e.g. by getting rid of the notion that there is some essential difference between the races or genders- restricts our ability to represent the world otherwise. The Nazi's found out that they couldn't get rid of 'Jewish Science' without falling behind technologically. Stalin and Mao found out that Lysenko type Lamarckian theories caused mass famine. Genetics wasn't 'anything goes'. Neither was genealogy. Magick does not exist. Critical genealogy is merely magical thinking. It is not the case that reviving Vedic mathematics or Aztec cosmology will enable India or Mexico to overtake America in technology.

Amia thinks magical thinking opens doors for us-
Critical genealogies, then, open up the possibility space for our representational choices.
But imagining anything we like can only offer us a momentary respite. Castles in Spain can't ameliorate our economic condition. The psychological comfort the provide are at best masturbatory. How does it help anyone if representational choices open up a space for surreal speculations about worlds where hookers pay johns and lunatics institutionalize the sane?
Such an enhanced modal sense is not itself sufficient for practical action. But by pointing to the contingency of what we took to be necessary –or whose contingency we were dimly aware of but never seriously considered – a genealogy can prompt us to ask questions that lead in the direction of action.
Wanting to make the world better, or just our own lives better, leads directly to practical action. But only actions which do in fact make our lives better get reinforced.

In the short run, we may feel better if  we lend credence to someone saying to us- 'you don't have to believe you are dying a painful death from cancer. Imagine yourself free of that terrible disease. Say to yourself 'everyday, in every way, I am getting better and better. Soon I shall be able to rise from my bed and walk unaided. Then I will be able to go back to work. I will then invent an anti-gravity machine. I will get the Nobel Prize. I will be elected President of the Universe.'

In the medium to long term, however, we will find that this sort of 'world making' is counter-productive. It leaves us spiritually and morally impoverished. We are trapped in denial, not on on our way to recovery.

That is why pointing to something already obvious to us does not prompt us to anything buy annoyance at the imbecility of the person doing the pointing. Hence 'critical genealogy' and 'world making' died a death, or were still-born, in even the drug addled Seventies.
If our representational arrangements could be otherwise, why this way of thinking rather than that?
Coz this way is useful. If some other way were more useful we might hire someone who has mastered that way of world-making to do useful stuff for us. My 'representational arrangements' w.r.t my TV involve little people living inside that box who put on nice shows for me. When my TV breaks down, I hire a guy with a different 'representational arrangements' involving...urm...electrons? pixels?...dunno...anyway the guy fixes my TV so the little people come back to life and put on nice shows for me once again.
How do our current arrangements compare with counterfactual arrangements? Might there be better ways of thinking? Quick on the heels of these questions comes another: in what sense ‘better’? We standardly compare ways of thinking in terms of their epistemic qualities: to the extent that they are true, valid, rational, justified, apt, and so on.
No we don't. We only care about utility. Epistemic qualities don't exist anymore than little people inside my TV set.
Certainly, discovering that our beliefs or concepts are contingent can prompt such calls for epistemic comparisons. Are our beliefs more plausible, or more grounded in evidence, than the alternatives? Are our concepts better at cutting nature ‘at its joints’ than the alternatives? But we can also make non-epistemic comparisons between our actual and possible representations. Instead of asking whether our representations are superior to the alternatives at getting onto the world – viz., whether they are superior qua representations – we can ask whether our representations are superior to the alternatives at making the world: whether they are superior qua social arrangements.
Sheer nonsense! We are in the world. Representations are a way of functioning better in it. We outsource representations it would be costly for us to acquire so as to function better than we otherwise could. We don't have to evaluate other people's representations. We can 'cloud source' the evaluation provided any given agent is more likely to be right than wrong- in which case Condorcet's Jury theorem applies. Those fields in which a person is more likely to be right than wrong- e.g. is the food at such and restaurant tasty- are also those directly linked to utility.

As for 'social arrangements'- better functioning means we find social arrangements are more satisfactory for ourselves. That is the extent of our interest in the matter.
To answer this question, we will want to know what it is our representations do.
They represent.
This, I will now suggest, is also a question that can be answered by genealogy.
Which represents stupidity, so it can answer the question stupidly.

The idea that a genealogy of a representation could tell us what that representation does – what effects it has in the word – is, on reflection, puzzling
Stupidity isn't puzzling unless one is very very stupid.
. A genealogy is an account of the causes of a representation.
But it is a stupid one.
How then could it tell us anything about the effects of that representation?
By saying the effects of that representation are stupidly genealogical.
The puzzle is dissolved via the notion of a function.
The notion of a function is mathematical. It involves dependence or unique association.I don't believe Amia is smart enough to know what that is.
To say that a representation R has a function F – e.g. that theism has the function of social deterrence, or that bourgeois morality has the function of sustaining capitalist relations of production – is to say that (1) that R has a tendency to cause, sustain or otherwise produce F, and (2) that the fact that R has the tendency to produce F is the reason for its current existence.
No. It is to say no F would obtain absent R. An ignorant fool may say 'there is no social deterrence in atheistic China. Everybody goes around raping and robbing whom they please. The Chinese think rape and robbery are quite delightful. That is why they have embraced an atheistic creed'.
A functional explanation of a representation, in other words, explains the emergence and dominance of that representation in terms of the worldly effects it tends to bring about.
No. A functional explanation says if F is absent, R would not exist. Thus, if I were asleep I could not have this representation of my computer screen in my brain.

A better functional explanation would permit an entrepreneur to create a cheap implant so that I could always have a representation of this computer screen with me.

A stupid person may give a stupid functional explanation- e.g. the 1 per cent have got you hooked on computer screens because they want to steal all the oil in your hair while you are occupied watching Porn.
Since genealogies are accounts of the emergence of representations, many genealogies are also functional explanations.
Very stupid ones.
Indeed, this is true of most of the genealogies we encountered in §1 are also arguably functional accounts, including the Sisyphus genealogy, the genealogies of Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche and Freud, and Foucaultian and feminist genealogies of our sex and gender concepts.
All worthless shite.
Not all genealogies are functional explanations – recall the earlier examples from Herodotus and Xenophanes – and not all functional explanations are genealogies.
But they are all worthless shite nevertheless.
For one can offer a functional explanation (e.g. the heart is for pumping blood) without embedding that functional claim in a genealogical account (the heart evolved because it was selected for its capacity to pump blood). This raises an interesting question: if we can learn about the function of a representation not via genealogy, but simply by observing what it does now, what is the point of genealogy?
Good question. The answer is that it provides a playground for stupid shitheads.
Or, to put it differently, why take a historical approach to our representations, instead of an anthropological or sociological approach? I think there is much to say here but I will leave this question aside in the interest of space. 
Anthropological and sociological approaches, as we have all discovered, are equally shite.
For a reading of Marx as offering a functional explanation of bourgeois ideology, and a general discussion of the notion of a functional explanation, see Cohen (1978), Karl Marx’s Theory of History and Cohen (1988), History, Labour, and Freedom: Themes from Marx. See also Althusser, On the Reproduction of Capitalism. 32 Some functional genealogies – like Williams’ genealogy of the value of truthfulness, or the Sisyphus fragment’s genealogy of theism – offer explanations of our contemporary representationsin terms of the socially valuable functions they play, like social trust and harmony. In this they are (practically) vindicatory. By contrast, (practically) critical genealogies attempt to reveal the oppressive functions of one or other of our dominant representations, for one or other group. (As I will discuss below, even Nietzsche’s genealogy of morals can be read in this way.) Such genealogies, we can say, purport to reveal the ideological function of our representations: they explain the emergence and continued dominance of our beliefs, values and concepts in terms of the role they play in producing, propping up, legitimating and obscuring oppressive social arrangements. The practical upshot of such a revelation of ideological function is clear: insofar as we can – more on this shortly – we ought to jettison these representational practices.
Really? I should stop using my computer because some paranoid nutjob tells me that the 1 percent will steal all the oil in my hair while I'm watching Pornhub?

That's what I ought to do?
The idea that a genealogy can reveal the ideological function of a representation might seem to ignore Nietzsche’s warning, echoed by Foucault, not to mistake the historical function of something for its contemporary function.
If a historical function existed, it must be exactly the same as the contemporary function unless some decay or breakdown has supervened. Suppose I use an eighteenth century snuff box to hold cocaine. Its function has not changed. Even if I use that snuff box as a 'store of value', this remains the case.
But when I say that a genealogy of a representation can reveal its ideological function, I mean its contemporary ideological function.

Which cashes out as the 1 percent stealing the oil in my greasy hair.
A genealogy of a representation, like a family genealogy, does not simply pinpoint the ‘first cause’ of its explanandum. (A genealogy that simply identified a single historical ancestor of a living person would not be much of a genealogy.) Rather, a genealogy traces descent: it explains why it is that a contemporary thing – a living person, a dominant representational mode – exists, now.
Very true. The Aristocracy allied with the Church  to steal the oil in the hair of poor people like myself. They then cunningly disguised themselves as the two main Political Parties and carried on their nefarious trade.
Part of that story will be one of origination: it will identify, to the extent it can, the earliest ancestor of the relevant explanandum. But then it must explain, further, how the current phenomenon emerged from that ancestor. In the case of a contemporary representation, a genealogy will tell us not only when and how the representation was first introduced into our representational lexicon, but how and why it survived and flourished from that originary moment until now.
It's coz them 1 percenters are very cunning. Also, as David Icke says, they are actually lizard people from the Planet X.
And that story can and often will be a functional one: the contemporary representation survived and flourished because of the particular purpose it serves. The idea that a representation can function ideologically has an uneasy place in mainstream analytic philosophy. Indeed, analytic philosophers often see the attempt to reveal ideological function as a kind of historicist non sequitur. I don’t mean to suggest that it is only philosophers who in this way resist the notion of ideological function. For a defence by a historian of Enlightenment values against Horkheimer and Adorno’s argument that they function ideologically, see Wokler, ‘Ernst Cassirer’s Enlightenment’ (2012).  Thus a common response to the observation that a certain form of representation has historically gone hand-in-hand with – and thus plausibly serves to legitimate and sustain – a certain set of oppressive practices, is that there is no necessary or conceptual connection between the representation and its effects. Take, for example, John Tasioulas’ response to Samuel Moyn’s genealogical critique of human rights discourse as having done ‘far more to transform the terrain of idealism than…the world itself’.  Tasioulas objects to Moyn’s holding human rights responsible for doing, or failing to do, this or that. One might with no less cogency say that justice, equality, fairness, mercy and love have not ‘done enough’ to transform the world as it is…however, this way of speaking conflates human rights, understood as genuine normative demands, and the fallible practical measures through which we seek…to fulfil them. But Moyn is presumably not holding the discourse of human rights (morally) responsible for anything. His point is, rather, that the discourse of human rights serves the function of maintaining certain forms of political domination (specifically, material inequality), all the while purporting to serve the interests of justice. Thus the concept of human rights functions ideologically. Tasioulas’s response to this critique is to simply deny that this oppressive function could be part of the concept of human rights: thus ‘the project of limning the concept of human rights is not one of cataloguing the various uses – legitimate or not – to which speakers put that concept’ (ibid). But this retort misses the point of a functional genealogy. The connection that Moyn draws between human rights and inequality is not one of conceptual necessity. But nor is it not one of mere contingency, either. Rather, the proposed connection is functional.
No, it is wholly dysfunctional. The reason Human Rights are off the agenda is because they dilute Hohfeldian Rights. Poor people vote against Rights based approaches because their Entitlements can't be further diluted without their perishing.
Whatever the proper analysis of the concept human rights, and whatever the noble intentions of some of its users, its ascendancy as a normative concept, Moyn is arguing, has something to do with its ability to legitimate certain aspects of the political status quo.
That ascendancy vanished like a dream. Indeed, it never existed. It was an availability cascade simply.
 That said, the notion of ideological function is not without its problems. Functional explanations are teleological: they explain the means in terms of the ends. But, barring backwards causation, how could the effects of a representation explain the existence of that representation? The puzzle is easily dissolved in cases where representations are intentionally brought into use because of their effects – for example, when we say that theism was developed by a ‘shrewd and clever-minded man’ in order to deter evil.
On the contrary, if a 'shrewd and clever-minded man' could get people to believe in a God who would punish evil-doers, he could also get them to retrain as mathematicians or technologists or anything else. Moh Tzu, the utilitarian, irenic, technologist, thought that belief in ghosts (who see what you are doing when you are alone) was enough to keep the peasants honest. Why introduce a God whom, people might say, judges you to be evil and worthy of death? Ghosts is the way to go.
By explaining our representations in terms of their ideological function, critical genealogies also show us the precise ways in which our representations can and do affect the world they (purport to) represent.
Nonsense! Our representations don't affect anything. Only actions do. But actions are costly. They are pruned by economic forces and regulated by 'mechanism design'. Thus it makes sense to let go of fatuous representations because they can't hurt those against whom we feel malice. Furthermore, they irrationally constrain our own decision space thus putting us at a competitive disadvantage.
Some of these effects are straightforwardly causal. The widespread belief that women are submissive or that welfare recipients are lazy have familiar, discriminatory effects on how women and welfare recipients are treated – discriminatory effects that are plausibly part of the explanation for why these beliefs are so widespread.
Rubbish! If there were a widespread belief that women were submissive, there would be a female wage premium. Employers would see that women work more overtime than men. They have lower attrition rates. None of this is empirically true.

Welfare recipients may be lazy. So what? That does not affect how they are treated. What matters is whether or not they possess countervailing power. The same is true of employees with property righs in their job. They may be extremely lazy. But they can't be treated badly because they have the power to retaliate by getting the shop steward to declare a strike or go-slow.
Concepts like alien, immigrant, woman and homosexual also arguably serve an ideological function – legitimating the oppressive treatment of the subjects they pick out – as do, more obviously, concepts that might in fact be empty but are widely taken not to be, such as slut.
But this 'ideological function' is wholly ineffective. It changes nothing. Aliens, immigrants, women and homosexuals have gained not because ideology has changed but because of their own productivity and moral integrity. Societies and Corporations hostile to immigrants and career women and homosexuals decline relative to those which, no matter how prejudiced, take advantage of their productive and innovative power.

Only economic forces matter. 'Attitudes' don't.
The same might plausibly be said of concepts that are generally thought to pick out natural rather than social kinds. Thus Judith Butler tells us that, while the overt function of the concept biological sex is to help us limn the contours of biological reality, its covert function is to coercively order the world along the gender binary. 
But this 'covert function' has zero overt effect. It is a waste of resources. No doubt, some evil cabal of men are laughing into their sleeves about the 'covert' manner in which they've got the sheeple to believe there is more than one gender. But this evil cabal hasn't actually achieved anything. The joke is on them.
I have been speaking of the way that certain representations lead ‘us’ to treat the aspects of the world they pick out. But critical genealogy can also reveal the way in which the ideological function of our representations can work via our own self-representation. The belief that women are submissive, for example, not only leads men to treat girl and women in certain ways, but also – because of the internalization of that belief on the part of women – affects how women themselves behave, and treat each other.
Where? In Amia's ancestral South India? Are you kidding me? Tambram women pack a hefty punch. What about America or England? Where are these submissive women Amia is talking about? How come I've never met one?

The belief that women are submissive is also an example of a self-fulfilling belief: a belief that can become true, qua generic, precisely because it is widely believed to be true. Likewise, to borrow an example from Ian Hacking, being classified under the concept schizophrenic can lead people to develop schizophrenic symptoms that make it the case that they properly fall under the concept.
If this were true, then we ought to propagate the belief that schizophrenic women on welfare can prove the Reimann hypothesis. They will immediately stop hearing Voices- or rather they will hear only the voice of Reimann- and so one or other of them will very quickly win the Clay Prize.
 Is there a distinctive wrong involved, as Foucault and his followers often seem to suggest, in bringing into existence a new kind of subject (Amia is speaking of schizophrenia as a medical diagnosis) ? This is a deep and important question, and not one I can fully answer here. But let me say something brief in favour of the thought that there is in fact a distinctive wrong here. That defence takes up Searle’s way of understanding social kind concepts. According to Searle, a social kind (e.g. money) comes into existence because we collectively assign things (e.g. bills and notes) that satisfy a certain constitutive rule (i.e. are issued by a certain authority) a certain status (i.e. being money), which involves being endowed with a certain social purpose (i.e. to serve as an exchangeable bearer of value). Thus our concept money brings into existence a new thing, i.e. money.
Has anything like this actually happened in  the history of Monetary Economics? Nope. Fiat money comes into existence as part of fiscal policy- it is a way to pay one's tax which the Exchequer finds convenient. It is not the case that a new concept gave rise to something new in itself.
The assignment of the social purpose of serving as an exchangeable bearer of value to certain material objects might be perfectly innocuous.
It would also fail immediately unless backed up by a coercive fiscal authority.
We can also collectively bring into existence things with more problematic purposes.
No we can't. The best we can do is pool coercive or persuasive power. But the thing will soon collapse unless it is a focal solution for a repeated game in which case we needn't have bothered doing anything collective in the first place. Arbitrageurs would have done the job anyway.
Many radical feminists, most notably Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, can be read as arguing that the concept woman – a seemingly natural concept that simply picks out adult human females – in fact assigns the purpose of being for the sexual use of men to people who satisfy the constitutive rule of being adult human females.
Because that's how Society works, right? You are just walking down the street when some guy bends you over and unzips his pants. You say 'unhand me Sir! I do not satisfy the constitutive rule of being an adult human female.' He says 'My bad' and moves on to the next passerby.
The collective assignment of such a purpose might be (now) largely unconscious; but then so is, Searle says, the collective assignment of purpose to those things we pick out with the concept money.
There was no collective assignment. Money arose either by the activity of a 'Stationary Bandit' or else by that of arbitrageurs.

It was never the case that all 'adult human females' were assigned the purpose of sexual use by all men.
To see what purpose is essential to the social kind money, we need to examine how we in fact use money; likewise, to see what purpose is essential to the social kind woman, we need to examine how we in fact treat women.
Nonsense! To understand monetary economics we first have to understand fiscal policy. How we use money is irrelevant unless we happen to be Despots or Hedge Fund mavens.

We don't need to examine 'how we in fact treat women' because we already know we will get a tight slap if we say 'Mummy, kindly do my Sanskrit homework not due to you are so nice but because doing my Sanskrit homework is the purpose essential to the social kind 'woman' which you represent coz u don't got a dick like wot I do.'
Would it be so strange to think that such an examination would reveal that women are indeed for the sexual use of men, even if few were willing to consciously endorse such a view?
If women were 'for the sexual use of men' then there would be a demographic collapse by reason of the spread of STDs causing infertility.  Consider what happened during the brief 'collectivization of women' after the Bolshevik revolution. Its victims died very quickly.
If not – and I think not – the concept woman, rather than merely picking out people who satisfy a certain criterion, brings into existence people who have the social purpose of being for the sexual use of men. Since no one ought to have such a purpose conferred on them, there is a case for thinking there is a distinctive wrong in bringing the social kind woman into existence.
But no one has ever done so. This 'distinctive wrong' is wholly imaginary. The 'social kind' woman does not exist.
Once a genealogy has revealed the ideological function played by some representation, what practically follows?
We laugh at it.
That depends in part on what can in fact be done about it. On one extreme view – call it the idealistic view – worldly statesof-affairs are the mere products of our representations, such that a change at the representational level will necessitate a change in material conditions. But such a view is implausible. As Marx taught us, an ideology may have the function of legitimating and obscuring certain oppressive material conditions, but ideology is ultimately and also the causal product of those conditions. The mutually reenforcing nature of ideological representation and material reality might lead us to the pessimistic view that, after all, nothing can be done about either. But here, as Marx also reminds us, the correct answer is surely that something must be done about both, at once: a revolutionary practice thus consists in the simultaneous ‘changing of circumstances and…self-change’. 
Which achieved nothing. On the other hand, changes in the mode of production- which occurred for purely economic reasons- caused 'everything that seemed solid to melt into air'.
On the question of how to engage in such revolutionary practice, we might imagine that genealogy – given its essentially backwards-looking and diagnostic nature – must be silent. But this, I want to suggest by way of conclusion, need not be so.  
The thing is as crazy as a bedbug. Why would it be silent? Shrieking paranoid nonsense is all it knows how to do.
Genealogy as a guide to worldmaking In the preface to the Genealogy, Nietzsche proposes to ‘give voice to this new demand; we need a critique of moral values, the value of these values should itself, for once, be examined’.
The value of a value is its value. The truthfulness of truthfulness consists in its telling the truth. The compassion in compassion is its compassion for others. Why should this be examined even once? Univocity prevails save with respect to instrumental values which, however, can always be given univalent foundations by incorporating an intensional theory of types.
To be able to give such a critique, he goes on, ‘we need to know about the conditions and circumstances under which the values grew up, developed and changed’.
No we don't. Anyway, the thing is impossible. All we'd end up with is stupid just-so stories of a more or less paranoid type.
This pronouncement has led many to read the Nietzsche’s genealogical inquiry into the ‘conditions and circumstances’ of morality’s development as itself constituting a revaluation of values.
That is a perfectly cogent reading. Nietzche was a nutter, true enough, but he could be read as licensing a certain type of cynical power politics.
But in Ecce Homo, Nietzsche goes on to describe the Genealogy, retrospectively, as ‘a psychologist’s three crucial preparatory works for a revaluation of all values’. In what sense is the Genealogy merely ‘preparatory’ for this crucial task, and not the task itself? Nietzsche makes clear, in the Genealogy and elsewhere, that modern morality has the function of controlling, subduing and neutering the instincts of higher men, those individuals capable of the grandest reaches of human excellence.
But, there was absolutely no evidence for this whatsoever.
Nietzsche worries that ‘men of great creativity, the really great men…will be sought in vain today’ for ‘nothing stands more malignantly in the way of their rise and evolution…than what in Europe today is simply called “morality”’.
But that 'morality' had disappeared by the time he went completely off his chump. Antinomianism was de rigeur. Everybody and their Uncle was writing aphoristicall or epigramatically. Paradoxes were piled on paradoxes till outright Paranoia stood rampant.
The worship of meekness and forgiveness, the priority of the herd over the individual, the insistence on equality and universalism, the belief that suffering is to be minimised and happiness maximized: all these features of modern morality – a bastardized blend, Nietzsche tells us, of Christianity, Kantianism, utilitarianism and asceticism – conspire against what is best and most noble in men.
But the thing did not exist in Bismark's Germany, let alone that of the new Kaiser. Nietzche was tilting at windmills in a world of steam engines.
Thus Nietzsche inverts Thrasymachus’ dictum that justice is the advantage of the stronger into his own dictum that morality is ‘the prudence of the lowest order’.
Prudence, thrift, hard work, the cultivation of alethic disciplines- yes, these are the virtues of the lower order on its way to supplanting worthless shitheads who think they are the cat's whiskers.
The Genealogy constitutes a profound (if ultimately misguided) condemnation of modern morality.
How can something which is misguided also be profound?
In what sense, then, is the Genealogy merely preparatory, and not itself a full-blown revaluation of values? In a famous passage near the end of Book One of the Genealogy, Nietzsche narrates a conversation with someone who has taken up his invitation ‘to have a little look down into the secret of how ideals are fabricated on this earth’.His interlocutor, having descended into ‘this dark workshop’, reports back: I think people are telling lies; a sugary mildness clings to every sound. Lies are turning weakness into an accomplishment, no doubt about it – it’s just as you said.…and impotence which doesn’t retaliate is being turned into “goodness”; timid baseness is being turned into “humility”; submission to people one hates is being turned into “obedience” (actually towards someone who, they say, orders this submission – they call him God). The inoffensiveness of the weakling, the very cowardice with which he is richly endowed, his standing-by-the-door, his inevitable position of having to wait, are all given good names such as “patience”, also known as the virtue; not-being-able-to-take-revenge is called not-wanting-to-take-revenge, it might even be forgiveness…They are also talking about “loving your enemies” – and sweating while they do it…But enough! enough! I can’t bear it any longer. Bad air! Bad air! This workshop where ideals are fabricated – it seems to me just to stink of lies…“We good people – we are the just” – what they are demanding is not called retribution, but “the triumph of justice”; what they hate is not their enemy, oh no! they hate “injustice”, “godlessness”; what they believe and hope for is not the prospect of revenge, the delirium of sweet revenge…but the victory of God, the just God, over the Godless…Nietzsche’s interlocutor is here witnessing a sort of pantomime of the slave revolt in morality. But he is also witnessing, as Skinner tells us, the workings of an ancient rhetorical strategy, what Quintilian calls paradiastole, or paradiastolic redescription. This is the strategy whereby, Skinner explains, one replaces ‘a given evaluative description with a rival term that serves to picture the action no less plausibly, but serves at the same time to place it in a contrasting moral light’. What I want to suggest is that Nietzsche here satirizes paradiastolic description in order to call our attention to the basic mechanism by which the slave revolt in morality was achieved: to remind us that it was not a matter of sheer contingency or blind luck, but a product of human artifice and skill. In particular, the slave revolt in morality involved a conscious attempt to change our representational practices – replacing the good/bad dichotomy with the evil/good dichotomy; recasting virtues and vices, and vices and virtues; spreading belief in free will, agency, moral responsibility, and the afterlife – and thereby bringing into being a set of practices (of social debt and punishment, of promise-making and keeping, of asceticism and herd socialization) that are both sustained by and sustain these representational practices. Later in the same passage, Nietzsche describes the ‘black magicians who can turn anything back into whiteness, milk and innocence’ as having performed the ‘boldest, subtlest, most ingenious and mendacious stunt’. The slave revolt in morality is a ‘mendacious stunt’, but one that impresses Nietzsche nonetheless: it is a piece of ‘black magic’ that calls for both revulsion and admiration. It is in this sense that the Genealogy is, I want to suggest, a merely ‘preparatory’ work for the revaluation of values. A full revaluation of values will not merely diagnose the ideological function of our values, thereby prompting the ‘higher men’ to rebel against them, but will moreover revalue them, transforming them anew. For it is one thing to reveal that morality has the function of harming the strong at the expense of the weak, and another still to make the strong good once more. Nietzsche’s Genealogy, by revealing the means by which modern morality came into being, prepares the ground for the ‘reverse experiment’ and ‘redemption of this reality’ that ‘should be possible in principle’, at least for a future ‘creative spirit’ of ‘sufficient strength’.Reading the Genealogy this way is to read it as a guide to what I want to call worldmaking: the transformation of the world through a transformation of our representational practices. 
Okay. Amia has read Nietzche as a guide to worldmaking. Very good. What world has she made? Does it feature a cure to cancer? No? Then what good is it? Neither Amia nor Nietzche can guide us in any way. Nietzche was crazy and stupid. Amia is a pedant in a worthless University Department. Any 'world-making' of hers will be inconceivably dreary and fatuous.
A critical genealogy is a guide to worldmaking when it not only explains our representations in the terms of the ideological function they serve, but also shows us the role that agents have played in the emergence and continued dominance of those representations.
Anything at all, e.g the Nicaraguan horcrux of my neighbor's cat, which 'not only explains' all cognitive processes in terms of sociological functions but which also is able to specify what role any given agent has played or will play, would be able to reorder the world according to our own fancy. Every 'hard problem' of A.I, or open question in Maths, would be child's play to it. It could create Matrix like multiverses tailored to every individual. Life on earth would exceed any prevision of Heaven. Indeed, it would contain all such previsions.

Why not simply say 'a critical Raja Yoga is a guide to creating our own Trishanku heaven?' Why not dress up in Robes and claim to be the Divine Mother and drive around in a fleet of Rolls Royces?

Why does Amia pick on the ravings of a syphilitic pedant instead of some Tantric text familiar to her own ancestors?
For then we, as agents, might hope to be able to – by a similar mechanism, but to a very different end – make our representations, and thus our world, anew.
We could also ensure adequate aeronautical capacity for our porcine chums.
There are grounds to read Nietzsche as exhorting a worldmaking of a very ambitious kind.
Those are the grounds of a lunatic asylum where you can roll around in your own filth shrieking unintelligibly.
Nietzsche’s interlocutor describes the masterminds of the slave revolt as ‘telling lies’ and as ‘rumour-mongers and clandestine forgers’.
There was no such slave revolt either in antiquity or Nietzche's own century. Instead, there was Harriet Tubman.
That the slaves are lying about morality presupposes that there is moral truth that they are (deliberately) getting wrong: that they are speaking falsely when they say that the weak are good and the strong evil. 
Oho! That was Gandhi's shtick, surely? Is Amia attacking the Mahatma's slave revolt under cover of drooling over Nietzche's lunatic lucubrations?
It is doubtful however that Nietzsche thinks that the moral truth exists independently of what we make of it. In The Gay Science he writes that, ‘Whatever has value in our world now does not have value in itself, according to its nature — nature is always value-less, but has been given value at some time’.
But, this is also the conclusion that Neo-Classical Economics came to. There was no just price or natural wage or rate of interest. The paradox of Value was a piece of stupidity.
This seemingly anti-realist view of morality – on which what is genuinely valuable is constituted by what we think and treat as valuable – implies that we have the power to make what was once good now bad, and vice versa, precisely by changing our patterns and practices of valuing.
No. What matters is relative scarcity. That is purely objective. As Chichilinisky showed, 'limited arbitrage' is enough for a realist, but not externalist, Theory of Value to function consistently provided Preferences and Production functions satisfy a Goldilocks condition. If this is not met, there may be a speciation event or channelisation of a certain sort.
While rhetorical redescription thus begins as an affront to our created moral reality – an act of lying and forgery – it can, on such a view, end up as a true representation of it. For Nietzsche, I am suggesting, rhetorical description has the power not only to change our representations of value, but moreover to change what really is valuable: to bring value in and out of existence.
Why suggest this? The fact is the fellow went mad. He changed nothing, save for the worse.
Thus the ‘creative spirit’, Nietzsche says, will be ‘misunderstood by people as though [he is taking] a flight from reality’, when in fact he is here to ‘redeem it from the curse which its ideal has placed on it up till now’. In a crucial passage of the Genealogy, Nietzsche describes how it is that representations come to exercise their functional roles in the world: every purpose and use is just a sign that the will to power has achieved mastery over something less powerful, and has impressed upon its own idea of a use function; and the whole history of a ‘thing’, an organ, a tradition can to this extent be a continuous chain of signs, continually revealing new interpretations and adaptations….The form is fluid, the ‘meaning’ even more so…I lay stress on this major point of historical method, especially as it runs counter to just that prevailing instinct and fashion which would much rather come to terms with absolute randomness, and even the mechanistic senselessness of all events, than the theory that a power-will is acted out in all that happens….
 Schopenhauer, poor fellow, missed out on the Darwinian revolution which however his notion of 'Will' sought to capture. However it had no need to impress a function on anything it subordinated. Coevolved processes have high complexity in a manner driven by, but exponentially faster than, a set of random processes.
Nietzsche’s genealogy is not (as is sometimes suggested) about the revelation of sheer contingency, understood as ‘absolute randomness’ or ‘mechanistic senselessness’. Instead, his genealogy is about revealing just how deeply the way the world is depends on how we represent it; and, moreover, that how we represent it is a matter of which of the various ‘interpretations and adaptations’ vie for domination.
Rubbish. Nietzche didn't believe, like Novalis's sorcerer, that we create the world but have forgotten we did so. He did believe he had to write shite and this belief was reinforced by some who cared for him. Anyway, economic forces ensured the thing paid for itself though in a repugnancy market for adolescent psilosophy.
In revealing this, Nietzsche’s genealogy is a reminder – at least for those of us who are sufficiently strong, creative and noble – of our worldmaking power.
Very true! And Aleister Crowley's shite is a reminder- at least for those of us who are sufficiently deranged- of our power to do Magic.
It is also a reminder of the limits on that power. For simply changing one’s own local representations is insufficient to successfully worldmake. One’s proposed redescription must vie for uptake against the dominant mode of representation. What is more, for representational interventions to be successful, it is often the case that they must be taken up by the very people whose interests will be undermined if the representations do in fact take hold.
Yes dear. To remake the world it is not sufficient that we think of ourselves as very special. We must also convince everybody else that we are oh so special and everybody should do what we tell them. Then the whole world will become so nice.
The slave revolt in morality required not only, Nietzsche tells us, that the slaves believe themselves to be good. It also required that the masters come to believe themselves to be evil.
No! The masters had to come to believe that they were not just evil but also addicted to giving blowjobs to hobos. Won't somebody please think of the hobos?!
Such representational interventions – as all the most effective political actors know, and as the best histories teach us – require not only the gifts of sound judgment and persuasive style, but also the gift of good luck.
Indeed. Without good luck you can't find Alladin's lamp and command the genie to produce lots of gold and diamonds which you then use to buy political influence and media exposure and so forth.
For his own part, Nietzsche often seemed to rail against the way in which his worldmaking powers were hostage to the uptake of others.
Why just Nietzche? You should have heard me rail against Anver Shaked, my tutor at the LSE, who dared to dispute my proof that noughts and crosses is unsolvable.

More generally, every drooling nutjob is very very angry that nobody will take him seriously when he says he is the Emperor Napoleon.
He complains, for example, that his Thus Spoke Zarathustra sold so few copies, and explains that this is because it is an ‘unintelligible book…based on experiences that I share with nobody’. Of Beyond Good and Evil he writes that ‘[e]verybody has complained that I am “not understood,” and the approximately one hundred copies which have been sold have made it quite obvious to me that I am not understood’.Nietzsche’s Zarathustra begins with his title character stepping out of a cave and asking what the sun would be if not for those on whom it shines. After attempting and failing to take his message to the world, Zarathustra returns, at the end of the book, to his cave once more. It is a poignant image of a failed worldmaker. It also speaks of the pragmatic and political problems with Nietzsche’s profoundly individualistic vision of worldmaking.
There were no 'pragmatic or political problems' with saying 'Boo to Christianity' more particularly during the Kulturkampf. Ditto with respect to the revolting masses.
For an alternative vision, we should turn, I want to suggest, towards those whom Nietzsche would presumably despise: the participants in the various slave revolts still underway. I am thinking in particular of the representational revolutions, still incomplete, associated with the great liberation movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: workers’ struggle to end capitalist exploitation
which succeeded in...urm... Venezuela mebbe?
, the struggle of black and brown people against colonial and other racialized forms of oppression
which succeeded because Germany started two world wars it was bound to lose.
and the feminist struggle to bring an end to patriarchal domination.
which succeeded because patriarchal domination costs money.
All these revolutionary projects are in part projects of worldmaking: the project of  transforming our representational practices in order to bring into existence new, as yet impossible forms of life.
If so, they failed immediately. By contrast, purely commercial, not revolutionary at all, projects succeeded in bringing into existence new, previously impossible, forms of life.
Thus Marxist revolutionary practice consists, in part, in reinterpreting the world from the perspective of the proletariat.
and then fucking them over till they either run away or turn into alcoholics or hook up with a bunch of gangsters.
While the ‘Free-trader Vulgaris’, Marx says, sees the marketplace as ‘a very Eden of the innate rights of man’ where ‘alone rule Freedom, Equality, Property and Bentham’, those who are forced to sell their labour are positioned to describe a different world: to see buyer and seller transformed into ‘capitalist’ and ‘labourer’, and to see the marketplace as a place not of free exchange but of exploitation.
Much good this way of seeing does them. They get fucked over sooner rather than later as the good folk who voted for Chavez are finding out.
Indeed, Capital itself – despite Marx’s claim that it offered only a scientific theory – can be read as an exercise in reinterpretation of our economic and social realities, an exercise that brought into being whole new social categories.
Very true. New social categories like 'metrosexuals' or 'hipsters' came into existence because...oh! it wasn't Marx at all. It was Reality TV shows aimed at what Marx would have called the lumpenproletariat which is sooo unfair coz I've been dieting and am no longer just a shapeless lump of fat.
For Marx, it is the proletariat’s relationship to the means of production that allows its members to see, and thus conceptualise, the material reality under the ideological appearance.
The material reality turned out to be that they could feather their own nests by extracting a rent but that this would hurt their own children who would be condemned to the 'precariat'.
For a thinker like DuBois, by contrast, it is black Americans’ all too acute awareness of themselves as objects of white consciousness that gives rise to their worldmaking power.
Du Bois told the world about the black 'talented tenth'. By the Twenties or Thirties, the whole world could see that African Americans had prodigious talents and capabilities. The M.D of General Motors turned round the fortunes of his company first by selling Cadillacs to blacks and then hiring black women to work on the assembly lines.

By contrast, the equally dark skinned Tambrams- i.e. my and Amia's ancestors- were screwing up big time by following a stupid Mahatma. No doubt, Gandhi's 'worldmaking power' arose from how White people saw puny little Banias. But the world Gandhi made was shite and Tambrams started fleeing it for Greencard holder pastures as soon as racist quotas were lifted in '65.

I do listen to Carnatic Music- now almost entirely a Tambram preserve- but I have to admit it is as boring as shit. Non Brahmin composers like Illayaraja or  A.R. Rahman are so good even my African American friends willl listen to their tracks. By contrast, the whole world has given the highest place to African American musicians and singers. Why? Not because of their 'worldmaking' but because of their talent, innovation, and hard work.
Thus ‘the Negro…is…born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,—a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world’. What black Americans yearn for, DuBois says, is the reconciliation of two currently unreconcilable identities. (He might have added that, for black women, the challenge was to reconcile three unreconcilable identities.) To end black Americans’ oppression, DuBois says, a new sort of person will have to be made possible, a person who is simply ‘both a Negro and an American’. But that person will be made possible, DuBois thinks, only once we have reconceptualised what it is to be American. Thus DuBois ends The Souls of Black Folk – in a gesture that would later be echoed by James Baldwin -- by retelling American history as a history of its black slaves. ‘Would America have been America without her Negro people?’ DuBois asks. If our answer – or, rather, the answer of white people – is no, then we have opened up some small space of possibility for that which is currently impossible.
Facts are facts. The US Army, during the Second World War, realised that African Americans were superb and highly intelligent soldiers. To win they had to promote at least some of them on the basis of ability. Colin Powell's autobiography gives an eye opening account of the manner in which the white soldier learned to respect and honour his Black commanding officer- because the man would save his life and deliver victory. Off the Army base, however, Jim Crow might rule. The man he saluted on base could not sit down and drink a milkshake at the diner.
Similarly, for feminists such as Beauvoir and MacKinnon, it is women’s awareness of themselves as objects of men’s representations – the objects, that is, of male worldmaking – that gives rise to women’s own power to remake the world.
Neither Beauvoir nor MacKinnon succeeded in doing any such thing. Instead they helped erode the epistemic status of their own disciplines. They blighted the prospects of their disciples.  By contrast, women who never gave a second's thought to 'men's representations' of them, greatly improved life-chances for everybody.
‘[M]ale power creates the reality of the world’ MacKinnon writes, and it is the task of feminism to ‘expose it as specifically male for the first time’. She goes on 'For example, men say all women are whores; feminism observes that men have the power to make prostitution women’s definitive condition…Men say women desire to be degraded; feminism sees female masochism as the ultimate success of male supremacy and puzzle over its failures'. 
What is this shite? Who are these men? Losers, I take it. No doubt they are busy mounting in each other in some squalid prison cell.
But simply exposing our sexual reality as a result of male power is not yet sufficient. In a paradiolistic gesture more than worthy of Nietzsche, MacKinnon tells us that feminism claims the voice of women’s silence, the sexuality of women’s eroticized desexualization, the fullness of ‘lack,’ the centrality of women’s marginality and exclusion, the public nature of privacy, the presence of women’s absence. This approach is more complex than transgression, more transformative than transvaluation, deeper than mirror-imaged resistance, more affirmative than the negation of negativity. It is neither materialist nor idealist; it is feminist.
I don't wish to quibble but surely that should read 'more supercalifragilisticexpialidociously affirmative than the negation of totally un-supercalifragilisticexpialidocious negativity?' In matters of such high import, it is best to err on the side of caution when it comes to precision in language.
Feminism reinterprets the male-created world for itself, in a way that is at once true to reality,
that reality being the fact that every passing man keeps bending you over and fucking you when you are struggling with a push-chair and the grocery shopping.
resisting an idealistic flight from it,
into a world where strange men are not constantly bending you over
and transformative of it – resisting a materialistic capitulation to it. This dual demand – to resist both idealism and materialism, futility and complacency – structures all endeavours at worldmaking.
This dual demand sure is doing a swell job at structuring all the endeavours at world-making women apply themselves to in between being bent over and fucked all the livelong day.
Indeed it, in a broad sense, structures all our creative endeavours.
Very generous of it, I'm sure.
A creative act is a proposed interpretation of an artistic tradition.
Rubbish! Proposed interpretations of artistic traditions are worthless shite. They aren't creative at all. Rather, they are completely mindless.
If it hews too closely to that received tradition, it will be derivative, a complacent acceptance of what has come before.
Very true! That is why Emmy Noether was not a creative mathematician. She should have doodled figures of men being beastly to women and written 'Boo to Men!' in thick crayon on her mathematical papers.
If, however, it departs too radically from what preceded it, it will be simply be unintelligible, a futile attempt to make sense.
'Boo to men!' makes perfect sense. So does the claim that one is constantly being raped by all and sundry. I still remember all the Hollywood and Bollywood actresses who ravished me during the mid Seventies. God, they were insatiable!
Likewise with our attempts at worldmaking, individual or communal: our representational interventions must at once feel as if they are getting the world right, and to picture it anew.
So, to change the world, it is not enough to visualize Alexandria Ocasio Cortez becoming President in 2020. We must picture in her new way- maybe with her hair done up in an Afro or Mohawk. If that isn't enough, perhaps she could have a parrot on her shoulder.

I do not mean this as an argument for Fabianism, in either art or politics. Far from it.
Good! Fabians would definitely object to the parrot.
At its best, worldmaking is a radical endeavour, bringing into existence worlds we scarcely thought possible.
Coz the parrot would have the voice of James Earl Jones but the potty mouth of a Sarah Silverman.
But I do mean it as a diagnosis of the difficulty of worldmaking. In that, it is also one answer to why history matters for politics
Coz watching the History Channel can really freshen up your visualisation exercises. We must defeat neo-liberalism by forming an alliance with the Pirates of the Caribbean and the White Walkers from Game of Thrones. Also Nietzche could have a cameo as a Time Travelling hitman for a Colombian Cartel. And Sherlock Holmes would be there and Mahatma Gandhi would do a disco number and then I'd hook up with that nice girl who used to sit in front of me in Chemistry class and then we'd all go to Nirula's for masala dosas and ice-cream floats.

Amia Srinivasan on Genealogy as gaslighting

Genealogy is concerned with family trees. It is useful for two different reasons- firstly, it can help avoid marriages between people closely related by blood which may result in unhealthy progeny. More generally, it can help predict likely genetic diseases. The second reason genealogy may be important is because it can affect inheritance rights and other such entitlements.

At one time there was a 'Lamarckian' theory that genealogy mattered a great deal in determining mental abilities and ways of seeing the world. That theory has been completely abandoned. We don't think the son of a pair of Doctors will be a good Doctor whereas the daughter of a pair of field hands will be wholly incapable of entering the medical profession.

Thus Genealogy doesn't greatly matter. DNA analysis is getting cheaper and better at an exponential rate. Doctors may soon stop asking about a patient's family history of certain ailments because genetic vulnerability would be directly observable. Similarly, as 'entailed estates' become a much smaller part of inheritable wealth, one's lineage becomes less and less important in comparison with one's educational attainments and entrepreneurial or other work skills.

Thus 'Genealogy' is not important. It has no philosophical content. The World is changing rapidly. People are not just more geographically and occupationally mobile, they are also culturally and linguistically mobile. One's grandchildren- though of similar lineage- may chose different languages as their mother tongue and have different loyalties.

Amia Srinivasan should know this. Some of her cousins or second cousins, at the very least, are probably more fluent in Tamil or Hindi than in English. Often, this is as a result of early childhood choice which parents find themselves powerless to combat. I have a cousin who refused to learn English and insisted on going to a Tamil medium school. He has done very well for himself. Another cousin identified with American culture at an early age and is flourishing there. Some people make a self-conscious choice to switch language and milieu. A friend of mine gave up a successful career in America- where he had begun to publish articles in literary magazines- to return to Chennai. His now writes scripts for Tamil movies and looks like Periyar.

All of this is perfectly rational. Indeed, it is what Economic theory would dictate. Amia believes otherwise. She thinks genealogy is philosophically important. However, she has nothing to say about actual genealogy. All she is talking about is suddenly finding oneself alive in the world. Furthermore, she thinks that things which aren't biological at all also have a genealogy. This is foolish. The reason sexual reproduction exists is because it is a good error correcting mechanism. Inorganic things don't need sexual reproduction- indeed, they are incapable of it. They have no genealogy.

Yet Amia writes 
- 'Locke and Hobbes offered accounts of how the state – liberal in the case of Locke, authoritarian in the case of Hobbes – emerge out of a hypothesised state of nature. Crucially, Locke and Hobbes took their genealogical accounts to not only explain the emergence, but moreover demonstrate the value and legitimacy, of their favoured political arrangements.
These are not genealogical accounts. No Daddy or Mummy are identified. No Grandparents are named. At best we can say this is a historical account- such as that given by geology. The absence of sex and little babies means it can't be genealogical.

Consider the opening paragraph of her monograph 'On Genealogy'-

Genealogy tells us we have a Daddy and Mummy and they made whoopie and 9 months later we were laboriously delivered into the world. We weren't thrown into it at all.

What happens when we 'find ourselves' somewhere? Is it different from 'losing ourselves' elsewhere? Yes. Of course it is. Provided we are dimension hopping Secret Agents from the the Thirty First Century seeking to repair the Time Line and capture Randall Savage. It might be argued that we actually are astral projections used by Dr. Strange to trap Galactus in a Mirror World Infinity Loop. However this argument is especially vulnerable to ad hominem attacks for being like Last Airbender level Gay.

Nobody is 'thrown into the world'. The birth canal doesn't work that way. Our representations of the world don't depend on contingent facts about where we find ourselves. They depend on our own choices and the choices of those who foster and befriend us. If we have 'beliefs, values and concepts', it is because we have human genes and were brought up by humans, not wolves. However these beliefs, values and concepts- for a reason Evolutionary Game Theory elucidates- vary considerably and have a chaotic trajectory. Only 'Revealed Preference' gets pruned by Scarcity. 'Values, Beliefs and Concepts' may or may not exist independently of some juristic or pedagogic process affecting us. However, they can change discontinuously. Indeed, they must do so if neoteny is prevalent in our species.

The justification for believing one has a belief and then having another belief that that belief is true has to do with the way internalised 'common knowledge' changes the valency of 'mutual information' and makes better correlated social equilibria focal and justiciable. In other words, a public signal can embody that mutual information and use it like a ratchet or a collective Parrando game.

 If correlated social equilibria are impossible, language too would not exist. Thus, believing human beings arose by natural selection on an uncertain fitness landscape is sufficient to consider everything Amia has written to be worthless gibberish. But what is her motivation? Is it not that she is seeking to show a genealogical relationship between her hack work and 'Western Philosophy' from Xenophanes to Heidegger?

Could she write differently from this?

Xenophanes lived at a time when some people claimed descent from a particular God. This might incline them to fight with people descended from some other God. The thing had great potential for mischief. Far better to imagine the Creator as without Form but nevertheless embodying Universal Principals of Justice and Compassion- 'isonomia' of a constructive kind.

Genealogy, for the Greeks, was expressed by the notion of 'true descent' as in oikos and was linked to oikonomia. However 'values, beliefs, and concepts' were not immutably fixed. They did not represent a rigid 'akrebia'. Rather they were defeasible in an eusocial manner and thus part and parcel of 'economia'. But, this 'economia' was a correlated equilibrium based on (at least potentially) public signals which require rigid designators which pick out one and only one person who owns x rather than conjure up a panorama of all those people who might own x in some possible Universe.

Amia is making the same mistake as Amartya Sen does in his parable of the flute. One kid made the musical instrument. Other kids may have a claim to it on the basis of playing it better or having no other toys. However 'best player of the flute' is a movable feast. I play the flute better than Hari Prasad Chaurasia when he is asleep. So I get to take it away from him while he naps. Similarly, if I am awarded the flute on the basis of my not having any other toys, then I have to surrender the flute the moment any kid without even a flute turns up.

There is no 'genetic fallacy' in saying 'ownership' should rigidly designate, by some protocol bound specification of 'just acquisition', one and only one actual person. Rather this is a requirement for a correlated equilibrium to be established. The thing pays for itself by its usefulness.

By contrast, casting doubt on 'ownership' by saying 'oh! you're just being selfish or narcissistic or so not woke & like an non player character' is mischievous because it can be immediately countered with equally ad hominem charges of stupidity, malice, hypocrisy and OMG you are gas-lighting me because you want to rape me! Help! Title IX!'

Human narcissism might invoke human like Gods but those Gods would be inferior to humans and spend most of their time providing sexual or sycophantic services. There is no genetic fallacy here because there is no pretence at a protocol bound method of reasoning.

 Nothing is consistent with 'Greek theology having its roots in human narcicissim' save the postulation of some magical power which some humans are endowed with such that they can conjure up Gods of the description given above. But that is a matter of physics, not metaphysics. Either some human can create a 'God' or the thing is impossible. Only a successful experiment can confirm the possibility.

Christians believe the son of a Jewish carpenter is God. How is this an example of 'human narcissism'? Few Christians are of Jewish descent. Historically, some Christians have considered Jews, and humbly born people, to be inferior to themselves. Yet, Christ's message is the opposite of narcissistic. It has enabled countless millions to rise above ressentiment & embrace an ennobling Truth. There is no feeling here that this happens 'by mere accident'. It is certainly true that many  Christians feel they don't live up to Christ's message and that their 'beliefs are not, in some important sense, as they ought to be.' But this gives rise to no great scandal. On the contrary, we feel that Christianity is a living force, its God is truly a 'Personal Lord God and Saviour', precisely because metanoia is so signal a feature of the operation of the Church in this World. Why? Oikos- true descent- is related to Oikonomia and rejects rigid 'akrebia' in favour of metanoiac, equitable, economia. If I have wronged you, I or my legitimate heir  may have a change of heart and offer you equitable reparation. At the very least, I should submit to the judgment of a Court, in such a case, more especially if I myself rely upon that Court to right wrongs  done to me.

A 'vindicatory genealogy' is just 'cheap talk'. It does not create a separating equilibrium. For that a 'costly signal' is required. If you already think Norah Jones has extraordinary musicality, you mention her genealogy. If not, you might say 'well, these things skip a generation' and look hopefully at her progeny.

Cain and Abel have the same genealogy. Ajax's pedigree is not inferior to Achilles. So what? Only their own choices matter. Plenty of people were descended from King David. Only Christ was considered the Messiah- but it was because of his own actions and teachings.

Amia says she has a certain belief regarding a computer. Does that belief have a Mummy? Did that Mummy get jiggy with the Daddy of her belief? If not, how can that belief have a genealogy? It may have a genesis- but, for Theists, so does the Universe.

What of Amia's claim that the explanation she gives 'vindicates' her belief? How does it do so? She would say the same the thing if she were the victim of a hypnotist or was subject to a psychotic break. This isn't really an explanation at all because it does not increase the information set with respect to its explanans.  This is just cheap talk. A costly signal would be something like- 'I know this is a computer in front of me and not a psychotic delusion or something conjured up by a hypnotic suggestion because I have electrodes implanted in my brain which are being monitored by an A.I. If this computer were an illusion, the A.I would alert me because such and such anomaly in such and such brain region would be detected.'

To be fair, Amia did not invent this nonsensical usage of the term 'genealogy'. But she didn't inherit it either. She chose to pick this rubbish out of an Academic skip. 

People like Bernard Williams and Foucault grew up in a very different, very racist, world. They used the pseudo-scientific term 'genealogy' for stupid 'just so' stories. But then, they weren't smart enough to follow the breakthroughs in evolutionary game theory and genetics and so forth that were occurring in the Sixties and Seventies. But, this failure of theirs meant that the University Departments where they flourished declined greatly in prestige and became adversely selective. Only very stupid people with bizarre world-views now acquire credentials in that brand of imbecility.

Consider the following statement-
Edward Craig has offered a vindicatory genealogy of the concept of knowledge, and Bernard Williams has offered a genealogical vindication of the value of truthfulness.
Is this true? Does anyone anywhere in the world say 'OMG! I see it know! Knowledge is really nice. We should get more of it and set up Knowledge Based Industries. Thank you, Edward Craig for your vindicatory genealogy of the concept of Knowledge which showed its Daddy was an Angel and its Mummy was an Apsara so now we all know Knowledge is very nice and cute.

Similarly, 'the value of truthfulness' scarcely needed any 'genealogical vindication' from some English gasbag.
Like critical genealogies, vindicatory genealogies can be at once intuitively compelling and mysterious. We can feel, instinctively, that a ‘good’ pedigree reflects well on a person, object or institution.
We ought not to feel any such thing. There is no scientific warrant for it. A 'Just So' story may be 'intuitively compelling'- if you have shit for brains- and it may be 'mysterious'. But it is just a story that is all. It isn't a genealogy anymore than it is a geology or a geometry or a bottle of Famous Grouse.

I suppose, the fact that Norah Jones's dad is Ravi Shankar 'reflects well on her' as far as I am concerned. But Amy Winehouse's dad isn't Ravi Shankar and I listen to her even more. This does not conflict with my intuitions at all. However, it represents a different 'cheap talk' availability cascade. I might say 'Amy Winehouse is the spiritual daughter of Billie Holliday'.
But why should the causal origins of a thing be capable of conferring value or legitimacy on it?
Protocol bound juristic, administrative or market processes can confer value and legitimacy so as to solve coordination or concurrency problems. If the thing pays for itself, it is incentive compatible and sustainable. If not, the thing crashes or is captured for a corrupt purpose.
That something has a ‘good’ causal origin does not entail that it is (still) of value, and vice versa.
Quite true. Mummy and Daddy may be good but baby may grow up to be very naughty.
For example, ‘holistic’ admissions policies might have had their genesis in good faith attempts to increase diversity and address social inequalities, but that hardly means they are not deployed as tools of discrimination today. Conversely, the current widespread availability of the birth control pill might have had its origins in eugenicist programmes, but that hardly makes it a bad thing. Indeed, why should a genealogy have any sort of normative significance at all, either of the undermining or legitimising kind?
It does not have any normative significance. Also it is not alethic. There is no 'genealogy' here at all. There is only a 'just so' story.
Perhaps our tendency to think it does is irrational, simply a product of our unjustified fetish for origins – a fetish from which philosophy should seek to set us free.
But Econ and STEM subjects are free from this fetish. Only shite Uni Depts. continue to genuflect to it.
This book aims to show that the intuitive power of genealogy does not rest on mere historicist fetish: that where things come from, and how they came to be the way they are, can and does matter for how we should think of their contemporary significance.
If this were true, we should think about where Amia Srinivasan came from and how she came to be the way she is. Did her ancestors do anything very wonderful? No. They were benighted casteists whom their own people have turned against. What about Amia herself? Has she discovered the cure for cancer? Has she made billions from a new algorithm which she has used to raise up hundreds of thousands from poverty? No. She studied and now teaches a wholly worthless subject.
Another way of putting this is to say that history, in the broad sense, matters for philosophy.
But the lesson of history is that Philosophy is shite.
In putting forward this case, my focus will be, as I have already intimated, on a certain subclass of genealogies, of which Xenophanes’ genealogy of Greek theology is a paradigm case: that is, critical genealogies of our representations – in particular, our beliefs, values, and concepts.
Santa Claus is depicted as a fat white men. This is deeply unfair to fat black people like myself. We must tear down every poster of Santa Claus because 'representations' matter a great deal. Look at how the progressive Philosophers of the Taliban and ISIS and Boko Haram have mobilised their people to destroy such representations! They are bound to overtake us scientifically because their philosophy cares about 'representations' and their genealogies. We, on the other hand, think this sort of talk is childish and silly. Indeed, most educated Greeks thought Xenophanes was being a bit silly for banging on about something wholly obvious which posed no great scandal or stumbling block to the proper development of the mathematical and natural sciences.

Still, I suppose, if there is empirical evidence that market share or profits are adversely affected by advertisements or other commercial representations which exclude a specific group, then it is rational to pay attention to such matters. But, that is a problem of information asymmetry- it is not essentially philosophical. Still, as I said, it might be useful.
  Thus I will not have much to say about genealogies that intuitively vindicate what they explain, nor about genealogies of things that are not representations, e.g peoples practices and institutions. This is in part a pragmatic choice, one meant to keep the present study contained.
However, it also means that the present study can't say anything useful at all.
But it is also driven by my sense that there is something especially interesting in critical genealogies of representations. For they have been advanced, and pressed into both theoretical and political service, by a wide range of thinkers, both historical and contemporary.
So what? They backfired completely. The STEM subjects will have no truck with them which is why they have burgeoned whereas the Liberal Arts have turned to shit.
And yet, in a sense, we still do not know what they are.
Mereticious shite is what they are. Everybody knows that.
. The revelations of history I have said that this book can be thought of as an attempt to show why history, in a broad sense, matters for philosophy. So it is appropriate that I begin with history – specifically, a brief historical study of genealogical anxiety.
I don't believe you. History is vast and your scholarship is shallow.
Apart from what strikes me as its intrinsic interest, this history will help me fix my topic – i.e. critical genealogies of representation – by way of example. It will also begin to give us a sense of what the power of such genealogies might consist in, by reconstructing the uses to which critical genealogies have been put in the distant and recent past. Writing about thirty years after Xenophanes’ death, the Greek historian Herodotus echoed his predecessor’s anti-theological argument in support of his famous pronouncement that ‘custom is lord of all’. Just as all animals, according to Xenophanes, would depict the gods after their own likeness, all the different nations would, according to Herodotus, call their own culture superior. ‘For if it were proposed to all nations to choose which seemed best of all customs’ he wrote, ‘each, after examination, would place its own first; so well is each convinced that its own are by far the best….’. He goes on:
I will give this one proof among many from which it may be inferred that all men hold this belief about their customs. When Darius was king, he summoned the Greeks who were with him and asked them for what price they would eat their fathers’ dead bodies. They answered that there was no price for which they would do it. Then Darius summoned those Indians who are called Callatiae, who eat their parents, and asked them (the Greeks being present and understanding through interpreters what was said) what would make them willing to burn their fathers at death. The Indians cried aloud, that he should not speak of so horrid an act… 
Did the Greeks believe Herodotus? No. They thought he was entertaining but gullible and a 'great lover of barbarians'. The Greeks reached India soon enough and saw that Herodotus had been telling porkies. Moreover, they could themselves testify from their own experience that customs were eminently defeasible and plastic for wholly economic reasons.
Herodotus’ point is not merely that each culture prefers its own customs. It is moreover that each culture believes its own customs superior, and the customs of other cultures to be inferior, a violation of the natural order.
But this is 'Preference Falsification' merely. On the campaign trail, a politician is careful to appear as folksy as possible and as full of prejudice as the deplorables whose votes he canvasses so as to resume his comfortable existence in the Capital.

However, that same politician will make highly pragmatic decisions. Thus, a U.S President might project an anti-Islamic image while quietly cuddling up with the Saudis.
What we learn from a cross-historical study, of the sort that Herodotus’ account of the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars affords us, is that every culture shares this belief about its own case, suggesting in turn that belief in one’s own cultural superiority is an inevitable by-product of having a culture at all.
Sheer nonsense! What we learn from 'cross-historical studies' is that smart people make smart decisions whatever culture they come from. The Japanese, according to Titsingh, believed in their own superiority. However, a few decades later, they made some very smart decisions which involved importing foreign technology and mores on a wholesale basis. India went in the opposite direction and sank into squalor. Why? Because its leaders were stupid, not smart at all. They may have pretended, from time to time, that Indians had some spiritual greatness but their actions belied any such belief.
Beliefs in cultural superiority are caused not by the facts about which cultures are or are not superior – any more than the Greeks’ beliefs about the gods are caused by the gods – but instead by humans’ propensity to project their own contingent attachments onto the world, as if they were of objective value.
But it isn't and so economic forces prune it back though, no doubt, the incorrigibly stupid go to the wall.
Xenophanes’ and Herodotus’ genealogies, of Greek theology and humans’ beliefs about cultural superiority, respectively, share a parallel structure.
They also shared an incredulous reception because, though entertaining, they were shite.
Both identify a systematic pattern across beliefs in a certain domain, which in turn supports a particular causal explanation of those beliefs.
Which however common sense immediately refuted.
Xenophanes’ pattern is counterfactually established: by imagining that cattle and horses can paint, we realise that they would depict the gods in their own likeness, horses like horses, cattle like cattle.
We realize no such thing. This is a fairy story. It is entertaining. It is comic. But it is also meaningless.
From this we can infer that the Greeks’ beliefs about the gods are caused by a basic narcissistic impetus common to all animals.
We can infer no such thing. A 'narcissistic impetus' would depict Gods as sedulous providers of sexual and sycophantic services.
 Importantly, this narcissistic impulse is indifferent to the truth, in the sense that – in advance of learning what theological beliefs are produced by human narcissism, and without presupposing that the Greeks’ theological beliefs are largely true – we have no reason to believe that human narcissism has a tendency to produce true beliefs in the domain of theology.
Imperative statements- e.g. those expressive of one's wishes or desires- have no alethic content yet may bring about desirable results.
A person with a normal psychological constitution does not confuse alethic and imperative statements.
There is no reason for Amia to say 'we have no reason' to do something we don't anyway because we aint stupid and know the distinction between imperative and alethic statements.
Herodotus establishes a similar pattern in human beliefs about cultural superiority, though he does so empirically, rather than through counterfactual acts of the imagination.
Nonsense! He was telling stupid lies. There were no Indians who eagerly devoured the corpses of their parents. Instead, as Amia should know, they cremated them.
Each culture judges itself superior, in turn suggesting a unified causal explanation: that humans have a psychic propensity to believe in their own cultural superiority, or alternatively, that cultures that inculcate in their members a belief in cultural superiority are those most likely to take hold and thrive.
Nonsense! We make imperative statements like 'my baby is the bestest baby ever', 'Mum's cooking is the tastiest in the world' etc. but we listen attentively to alethic information and are careful to change our behaviour accordingly.
Either explanation, like Xenophanes’ implied explanation of the Greeks’ theological beliefs, is indifferent to the truth about cultural superiority, again in the sense that we have no antecedent or independent reason to believe that this causal mechanism will tend towards true beliefs. Intuitively, this indifference to the truth – what I will call its alethic indifference – bears negatively on the epistemic standing of the belief. And yet we know that the fact that a belief is based on an alethically indifferent method is not enough to show us that it is false. For the belief that the gods are human-like or that my culture is superior could be, as it were, accidentally true. So in what sense could these beliefs be epistemically flawed? The answer lies in the distinction between truth and epistemic justification.
No. It lies in the distinction between imperative and alethic statements.
A true belief might fail to be a justified one. (I may, for example, truly believe that Trump won’t be reelected, but if I so believe on the basis of wishful thinking, it won’t be a justified belief.)
It also wouldn't be a true belief.
And since justifiably believing a proposition is a necessary condition on knowing a proposition, this is also to say that a belief that happens to be true might yet fall short of knowledge.
Nonsense! It is a sufficient, not a necessary, condition. A belief that is true is part of knowledge. What isn't part of knowledge is the method by which it was arrived at. That belongs in a second order 'epistemological' realm.
This appears to be the epistemic upshot of Xenophanes’ and Herodotus’ genealogies: even if the gods are human-like, or my culture superior, these beliefs cannot amount to knowledge. For their genealogies are indifferent to the truth.
There was no epistemic upshot here at all. People thought Xenophanes was being silly and that Herodotus told stupid lies. Their writing may have had some entertainment or other imperative value. It was not alethic.

Al Ghazzali was a master of the 'insha/khabar' (imperative/alethic) distinction which he used to demolish 'falsafiya'. Let us look at how Amia butchers him-

 Genealogical anxiety reverberates long past the Greeks.The eleventh century Persian philosopher and theologian Al-Ghazali describes an intellectual awakening prompted by a recognition of the genealogical contingency of religious belief: the fetters of servile conformism fell away from me, and inherited beliefs lost their hold on me, when I was still quite young. For I saw that the children of Christians always grew up embracing Christianity, and the children of Jews always grew up adhering to Judaism, and the children of Muslims always grew up following the religion of Islam. I also heard the tradition related from the Apostle of God — God’s blessing and peace be upon him! — in which he said: ‘Every infant is born endowed with the fitra: then his parents make him Jew or Christian or Magian.’ Consequently I felt an inner urge to seek the true meaning of the original fitra, and the true meaning of the beliefs arising through slavish aping of parents and teachers.
Fitra is similar to the Christian concept of synderesis and opens the door to a mystical soteriology and hermeneutic. In practice, this cashes out as saying anything you don't like is 'majazi' while stuff you like is 'haqiqi'. Thus, praying in the mosque is 'majazi' while drinking in the tavery is 'haqiqi' eusebia.

The value of Ghazzali's approach is that it enables us to say that Revelation is wholly imperative and thus there is no reason to constrain any Rational system of enquiry because its findings will be merely alethic. This is perfectly sensible. On the other hand, it also means that Gazali could demand that heretics be put to death. This is because Ghazzali is embracing a type of Occassionalism which features 'causationless aetiology'. In other words, the thing is 'anything goes'.

 For Al-Ghazali, religious beliefs are the result of a childhood indoctrination that is both parasitic on and distorting of children’s natural inclination towards the divine.
But only if God has pre-ordained it so.
The alethic indifference of the origins of such creedal beliefs (viz. familial inheritance) to the theological truth means that these beliefs, epistemically speaking, ought to be discarded, and replaced by beliefs based on more secure grounds.
No. This should only be done if God wills it in which case it happens anyway.
Al-Ghazali’s critical genealogy of religious belief not only anticipates the opening passages of Descartes’ Meditations, but also a twentieth century debate in the philosophy of religion about the rationality of ‘exclusivist’ religious belief.
Ghazali does not 'anticipate' anything. He shuts the gates of Philosophy so the Ghazal might flourish. Occassionalism can have that effect.
Antiexclusivists insist that it is irrational to hold on to particular creedal beliefs – that Jesus is the son of God, say, or that Mohammed is God’s prophet – once one recognises the way in which those beliefs are formed by the contingencies of one’s particular religious upbringing. On the anti-exclusivist view, such creedal beliefs are all equally unjustified.
So what? If casting doubts on the Virgin birth of Jesus or on the final Prophethood of Mohammed  will get your head chopped off then some creedal beliefs are perfectly justified.

Imperative propositions can have instrumental justifications. In any case, it would be folly to treat them as if they were actually alethic statements. Thus when Mummy says 'my darling, you are so nice', you are not justified in saying 'you lie in your teeth, woman! I am an inveterate farter and all round bad egg'.
Meanwhile, religious exclusivists argue that Christians (and only Christians) are justified in maintaining their creedal beliefs in the face of genealogical revelations about the contingency of those beliefs – and indeed, that so doing is consistent with having knowledge of the Christian truths. They do so, in effect, by denying the truth of the proposed genealogy: Christian beliefs, they argue, are unique in being the products of divine rather than natural causes.
However, they may hold that Revelation includes alethic statements- e.g. prophesies about the imminent end of days. In this respect, they differ considerably from Ghazali or Liebniz.
In other words, non-exclusivists agree with Al-Ghazali that there is an (epistemically) critical genealogy to be given of creedal belief
No. Ghazali's position is more complex than that. He does not deny the validity of Sufi ordination and chains of transmission. He merely impugns a mechanical type of pedagogy productive only of 'munafiqat' (outward show, or hypocrisy) - but this was a perfectly orthodox proceeding.
, while Christian exclusivists insist that this genealogy leaves Christian belief, at least, untouched. Like Al-Ghazali, religious exclusivists and non-exclusivists alike take it for granted that there is some divine reality: the question is whether we can know which representations of that reality are correct, given the genealogical contingency of our particular creedal beliefs.
There is no such question. There is a mystery as to why some are elected for Grace- including knowledge of that Grace- and others are abandoned to eternal Hell fire.

If Amia is ignorant of theology, what of modern European philosophy? Let us turn to her discussion of
'the most famous critical genealogy, indeed the genealogy that gives us the metaphorical use of the word ‘genealogy’: the account of the emergence of modern morality that Nietzsche offers us in On the Genealogy of Morals.  Here Nietzsche tells us that our system of morality – a system that valorises kindness, meekness, sympathy and other values of the ‘herd’ – has its true origins not in human goodness or an omnibenevolent divine, but in a complicated and ugly interplay of forces: the ressentiment of the slave class against their masters, the paying of debts through the extraction of pain, and the will to power of the priestly caste. While the psychic force of Nietzsche’s critical genealogy is clear, it is no straightforward task to say what it is that Nietzsche is up to in offering his genealogy – in particular, whether he is interested in offering an epistemological argument against our claims to moral knowledge,  a practical argument against the oppressiveness of bourgeois morality, or perhaps something else altogether.
So Amia admits that Nietzche's writing has a certain imperative force. Why not stop there? The fact is that drooling lunatic was incapable of offering any sort of 'epistemological argument'. He was too stupid and ignorant. As for 'practical arguments'- who in their right mind would look for any such thing in the work of a crazy philologist?

What is clear is that Nietzsche is offering us, perhaps for the first time, not simply a critical genealogy of a belief or value, but also a genealogy of a concept.
Amia admits that 'genealogy' as used here is a 'metaphor'. She must know that a 'concept' exists only in a Platonic world. There is no figure of speech which could link biological engendering and Platonic being except perhaps in some purely scientific discourse concerned with the evolution of the brain.
The first essay of the Genealogy tells us that our current concepts of good and bad displaced an older set of concepts, evil and good, through a conceptual revolution perpetrated by the slaves against their masters: the ‘slave revolt’ in morality.
Where had this 'slave revolt' succeeded? Ancient Greece? Rome? Israel? Germany? The thing had never happened. It may have been entertaining to read about this non-event just as it may have been entertaining for young people, in the late Sixties, to believe that the world would be a better place if only everybody took enough LSD.
In this, Nietzsche anticipates many of the most prominent critical genealogies of the twentieth century, which take as their target not particular beliefs – e.g. in the existence of God – but particular concepts or conceptual schemes, variously referred to as forms of consciousness, epistemic paradigms, world-pictures, episteme, ideologies, and so on. I am thinking here of the critical genealogies of the ideology of industrial capitalism as offered by Weber, the Frankfurt school critical theorists, and other post-Marxists; of our concepts of sex, gender and sexuality as offered by Beauvoir, Foucault and Judith Butler; of Eurocentric ideologies as offered by Edward Saïd and Dipesh Chakrabarty; of liberalism as offered by Carol Pateman, Susan Okin, Charles Mills and Uday Mehta; and of Zionism as offered by Jacqueline Rose. These critical genealogies – influenced variously (and sometimes simultaneously) by Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, scientific naturalism, Marxian dialectical materialism, and the constructivist tendencies of German idealism – are united in subjecting not just individual beliefs but whole representational schemes to what Ricoeur called the ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’.
Very true. But our suspicion that these wankers were talking bollocks amounted to a certainty decades ago. Weber was an idiot and the German 'Institutional School' produced nothing but turgid imbecility which is why Harvard dropped the requirement to learn German for PhD students 55 years ago. Freudian quakery was dismissed by the American Psychiatric Association in the Seventies. There is no such thing as neurosis. The whole thing was a swindle to get healthy people to pay for some wholly imaginary cure. Beauvoir wasn't even part of second wave Feminism. She achieved nothing. Butler is a joke and helped fuel what Susan Faludi called the 'backlash' against Academic Feminism. Foucault literally 'died of ignorance'. Said- like other Christian Palestinians- was disintermediated by the rise of Hamas and the hopeless corruption of the PLO. Dipshit Charkrabarty is without honour in his own land and has now been accused of sexual harassment. The rest are equally shite and wholly irrelevant.
 We should also include in this list the critical genealogies (of e.g. liberty, the state, democracy and human rights) offered by intellectual historians who are explicitly committed to the amelioration of contemporary politics by way of historicist inquiry: Quentin Skinner, J.G.A. Pocock, John Dunn and the other Cambridge School historians, as well as ‘Berkeley School’ historians like Samuel Moyn.
Skinner was a smart guy who did genuine research. He was not a charlatan peddling some crazy paranoid theory. I know a student of Skinner who is a sound Constitutional lawyer. Pocock, similarly, was- if somewhat strident- not crazy at all. One could read him from a Law & Econ perspective. Moyn is more recent and reflects the sharp decline in the intellectual quality of History Departments. Still, he isn't an out and out nutjob- yet.

I suppose the common thread here is that these guys got things wrong because they thought History- that is hysteresis- mattered. It doesn't at all so they were barking up the wrong tree. Still, this was not obvious when Skinner & Pocock were starting out. However, it has become obvious since.
Whereas a genealogy of belief intuitively calls into question the epistemic justification of that belief,
Nonsense. A just so story about how the giraffe got its neck does not 'call into question the epistemic justification' of our belief that giraffe's have long necks. Nor would tracing the giraffe's ancestry to a one night stand between a donkey and the Eiffel tower.
a genealogy of a concept intuitively calls into question the concept’s ability to limn the contours of reality, or what we might call it aptness.
Rubbish. Suppose we find out that the true motivation behind Voevodsky's 'univalent foundations' was not, as we suppose, to make computerised proof checking easier but rather some abstruse Kabbalistic consideration. This would not call into question its aptness for 'carving up reality along its joints' at all. Rather, it is its consistency and usefulness which inclines us to wish to push it forward as a Research Program.`
Genealogies of racial thinking reveal, for example, that our racial categories, and the concept race itself, were introduced relatively late in human history, in order to legitimate forms of segregation and exploitation.
False genealogies may 'reveal' stupid lies to stupid people who like telling lies. Consider the concept of 'White Man' common to my and Amia's ancestors. Its genealogy has nothing to do with 'legitimating forms of segregation and exploitation'. Indeed, the reverse occurred. The Tambram- like Gandhi, the Gujerati bania- decided that the Indian caste system was an abomination precisely because Whites had no truck with things like untouchability in their own, technologically more advanced, homelands.

Things which are already profitable and convenient may be 'legitimated' by some hack trying to earn a crust of bread. But that 'legitimation' is worthless. Only economic forces matter.
This might well prompt us to ask: do concepts like race or black person pick out anything in the world – or are they in fact empty concepts, like witch or unicorn?
Of course they do! If I were of Dutch, rather than South Indian ancestry, I would not be classed as morbidly obese. My race matters because my genealogy puts me at risk of all sorts of horrible medical conditions because I'm a fat fuck who greedily eats a European diet rather than subsisting on the humble lacto-vegetarian fare of my forefathers. Also, I should be doing Yoga and walking more  and not devouring every cow I chance to meet.
For it might seem that the grounds on which our racial concepts were formed are, again, alethically indifferent:
Rubbish! To say 'you are a black person' is alethic. On the other hand saying 'you are a black hearted person' is imperative. I happen to be a particular type of black person- one who has a 'thrifty gene' which means I should avoid a Northern European diet. It is actually very helpful when my Doctor- a young white woman- explains to me that my racial origin means I should do some things and avoid others for medical reasons. It may also be helpful to me when my Mum shouts at me and accuses me of 'being black hearted' because I am dodging paying my share of a philanthropic contribution traditionally made by my family. Both imperative and alethic statements may have a positive instrumentality. Thus we have 'independent reasons' to value the receipt of good faith statements of either sort from those who care about our welfare.

Amia believes otherwise-
we have no independent reason to expect that developing concepts on the basis of what will legitimise oppressive political practices is a reliable way of producing apt concepts.
Anything can legitimise anything- but legitimation does not matter. Suppose Amia had attended my fortieth birthday party. She may well have protested when I pulled her pig-tail and made off with her share of cake. I, being a very learned mathematician, may have legitimised m-y oppressive act by saying '12 times 8 is 95. This proves I was right to pull your pig-tail and eat your cake.' Amia, who would only have been three or four years old at that time, may have not been able to counter my argument. However this does not mean 12 times 8 is not 95. As I said, I'm a great mathematician so just take my word for it already.
If so, then just as critical genealogies of beliefs can undermine their epistemic justification, critical genealogies of concepts can undermine their aptness.
So, if I said 'Philosophy Departments came into existence because the Vampire Lestart copulated with the Ghost of Christmas Past. Thus they are completely shite.' Would this 'critical genealogy' really undermine anything?

What about if I said the concept of a Prime Number is flawed because its Daddy was a drunk and its Mummy plied a nefarious trade? Would the foundations of Number theory quake and crumble?
Barring my brief mention of contemporary evolutionary debunkers of theism, I have not yet discussed the place of critical genealogies in analytic philosophy.
It has none.
Indeed, for much of its relatively short history, analytic philosophy has opposed itself to genealogical inquiry. The logical empiricist Hans Reichenbach warned against confusing the ‘context of discovery’ with the ‘context of justification’: where a theory came from, and whether it was in good epistemic standing, were two distinct questions. (Reichenbach’s distinction itself has a fascinating context of discovery. It appears that Reichenbach, who wrote Experience and Prediction in Istanbul after being dismissed from his Berlin post in 1933, was motivated by a desire to counter the Nazis’ condemnation of ‘Jewish’ theories, including his own.)
Why not simply say that this guy's motivation was to write the truth? How is his Religious heritage relevant?
This distinction, which has served as a presupposition of much of the philosophy of science, has also served as a pre-emptory defence against the idea that philosophy – as the inquiry into timeless truths – should care about the context from which its own representations emerge. Karl Popper went further, joining the conservative political theorist Leo Strauss in arguing that historicist inquiry was not only irrelevant to the pursuit of truth, but also morally pernicious.
Fair enough. Talking stupid shite is morally pernicious.
In its opposition to critical genealogical thinking, analytic philosophy has bucked a trend in the rest of the humanities.
But, the humanities turned into the sub-humanities and have been flushed down the crapper. Analytical philosophy too turned out to be a wank. Only Maths matters.
The influence of Nietzsche, Freud and Marx has loomed large over post-war research in literature, modern languages, political theory, sociology, anthropology, gender and sexuality studies, cultural studies, and so on.
All of which won't even fit you to get ahead as a barista.
In turn, analytic philosophy’s dismissal of genealogical anxiety goes some way toward explaining its isolation within the humanities.
Analytic philosophy just wasn't mathsy enough and died a death. The Humanities turned coprophagous and were shunned by all sensible people. No one doesn't know this.
From the perspective of many outside the discipline, philosophers’ seeming failure to recognise their objects of inquiry – and indeed philosophy itself – as contingent products of culture and history makes the discipline seem preciously antiquated at best, and virulently dogmatic at worst. The tide, however, is turning. Contemporary analytic philosophers are increasingly in thrall to critical genealogical reasoning.
So, there are now some coprophagous zombies mangling Analytical philosophy. But they are all as shite as Amia. I suppose, there is an element of epistemic affirmative action to this. We should congratulate Amia for not being a suttee or having to wear a burqa and let her enjoy the freedoms of the West with a modest stipend in return for babysitting our drug-addled sons or idiot daughters on their way to getting a similarly worthless credential.
This is no doubt in part due to the newfound availability of genealogical accounts from the cognitive and evolutionary sciences, rather than what philosophers tend to think of as the more speculative genealogies of psychoanalysis or Marxism. Many ethicists have claimed in recent years, for example, that the naturalistic/evolutionary origins of our moral judgments demand that we abandon those judgments, or (on pain of nihilism) adopt an anti-realist construal of their contents, including Gilbert Harman, Peter Singer, Alan Gibbard, Philip Kitcher, Richard Joyce, Sharon Street, Josh Greene, Michael Huemer and Alex Rosenberg.
These are the guys who got left behind by progress in the STEM subjects because they weren't good enough at Math.

Still, since the job of Ethics is to counsel the most mischievous course of action that is conceivable, these guys justify the three drink minimum at that Comedy Club.
With the same logic but in a very different spirit, Thomas Nagel has argued from the putative incompatibility of the evolutionary origins of moral judgment with moral realism to the conclusion that the evolutionary explanation of our moral judgments is false.
Actually, Nagel thinks evolution is rigged in a particular way. But, sure, Nagel is a poster-boy for how analytical philosophy fucked up coz it wasn't mathsy enough.

After all, minds can do maths, so the Mind Body problem has a mathematical representation. Either a contribution to the subject has some new bit of math- which can be used to make cool stuff more cheaply- or it can't 'pay for itself' and thus isn't really a genuine contribution at all. It is mere 'hand waving'.

A subject may look 'mathsy'- like Development Econ of the Sukhamoy Chakraborty sort- but if it can't pay for itself, then it is hand waving simply. That's why the subject died- or, rather, was spoon fed to people like Rahul Gandhi as part of some bogus 'Development Studies' M.Phil program for retards.
James Ladyman and Don Ross have argued that the contingent evolutionary origins of our metaphysical judgments should make us suspicious of their capacity to get onto the mind independent truths about what exists – an argument presaged by Nelson Goodman and Hilary Putnam, who both argue from the cultural contingency of our ontological schema to different forms of anti-realism about ontology.
But Putnam and Goodman fucked up. There was a time when they looked smart. But they discovered nothing useful. Still, they were cultured men and good pedagogues in their day.
And finally, the recently emergent sub-discipline of ‘experimental philosophy’ is largely devoted to arguing that people’s intuitive judgments about epistemology, ethics, philosophy of language and metaphysics systematically vary with culture, gender, socioeconomic status and extent of philosophical training – and thus that these armchair judgments should be cleansed from philosophical practice.
This is nothing but clickbait Junk Social Science.
In other words, experimental philosophers seek to offer a critical genealogy of philosophy itself. For better or for worse, analytic philosophy is no longer innocent of genealogical anxiety.

Because it is a coprophagous zombie. There were some smart people who took it up sixty years ago, but they failed to find anything worthwhile and are now dead and buried. Only idiots stepped into their dead men's shoes.

Genalogical anxiety is shite 'Identity Politics' whose only political role is to fuel a Trumpian backlash against the Academy. But, it does not matter since STEM subjects continue to burgeon in a manner transformative of local economies and global value chains.

  Genealogical Scepticism and Genealogical Luck Two central themes emerged from our examination, in the previous section, of the history of genealogical anxiety. The first is the thought that critical genealogies can be epistemically powerful, showing us that our beliefs in a particular domain are unjustified and thus fall short of knowledge, or that our concepts likely fail to map the world as it really is. (For the sake of simplicity, I will focus here on the epistemic threat to beliefs posed by critical genealogies, though much of what I say can be applied, mutatis mutandis, to the case of concepts.) The second is the thought that critical genealogies can be practically powerful, revealing the oppressive nature of our representations.
Neither theme 'emerged' from anything. They were put there by the ignorance and stupidity of the author.
It has never been the case that beliefs, as opposed to economic forces, determined outcomes. Stupid beliefs led to stupid decisions which led to extinction events. However, mimetic effects trumped beliefs, stupid or otherwise, so such events were rare or almost immediately ameliorated.
In this section I will very briefly address the epistemological significance of critical genealogy.
It has none. It is stupid.
In the next I turn to a more extended discussion of genealogy’s practical significance. When I ask whether a critical genealogy of some belief can be epistemically powerful against it, I mean to ask whether the genealogy can rationally undermine the epistemic standing of that belief.
It could only do so if it were believed. But, we don't believe 'critical genealogies'. They are just-so stories with a transparent motivation. We may, strategically, indulge in 'Preference Falsification' with respect to them- or use them as a means to stalemate a discussion, or just beat our adversary over the head with them- but we don't really lend them any credence such that a purely conceptual tie to action is created.
For it is uncontroversial that, as a psychological matter, a genealogy can undermine our doxastic confidence.
It is equally uncontroversial, that it can't at all. That is why Psychoanalytic 'Resistance' ultimately prevailed against that brand of gaslighting.
I want to know not whether a critical genealogy will cause me to abandon my belief, but whether it should.
A reasonable person wants to know whether they should abandon a belief of theirs which impacts on their life. I want to know whether I should abandon my beliefs about the direction in which the Stock Exchange is going. I don't want to know whether a 'critical genealogy of Capitalism' should cause me to do so. This is because this 'critical genealogy' is no friend of mine. It is paranoid nonsense. I don't care what it should or should not do because all it actually does is mutter to itself while pissing its pants and rolling in the gutter.
Further, when I ask whether a critical genealogy of some belief can be epistemically powerful against it, I want to know whether it can rationally require me to abandon the very belief it explains.
If something is 'epistemically powerful' against something else, then that other thing is pushed out of the epistemic circle. So Amia's question amounts to 'If x, then does x obtain?' The answer is- of course it does.
For it is also uncontroversial that a genealogy can undermine the truth of our beliefs about our representations.
Rubbish! Either our belief is true or it is false or meaningless. Truth can't be undermined by anything. It either is or isn't.
Insofar as we falsely believe that we acquired some belief or from some particular origin (from God, say, or the clear light of reason), a genealogical excavation can straightforwardly show us that we are in error.
Nonsense! Go up to Terence Tao and try doing a genealogical excavation of the Green-Tao theorem to convince him of his error. He will laugh in your face.
Consider, for example, Raymond Geuss’ account of Nietzsche’s project in the Genealogy of Morals. 
Why? Nietzche was a drooling imbecile. This Guess guy is a Professor of a shite subject..
Geuss says that the point of Nietzsche’s genealogy is to reveal that common beliefs about the origins of Christian values are false: that Christian values emerge not from a good and sacred place (e.g. Christ’s life and teachings) but instead from the ‘violent and bloody’ interplay of dark psychological forces. This genealogical revelation, Geuss claims, will have the predictable psychological effect of undermining the Christian’s belief in his own values, in turn destabilizing Christian forms of life. Whatever its merits as a reading of Nietzsche – I will go on to offer an alternative take – Geuss’ account is not, I think, particularly satisfying as a general account of the epistemic power of genealogy.
Because it is shite. But so is every other account. Why? Talking shite about shite is still just a great stinky pile of shite.
First, unlike Geuss’ Christians, we very often do not have beliefs about the origins of our representations. Rather, we simply find ourselves with various beliefs, values and concepts, whose origins we have never thought to investigate.
So, we have no genealogical anxiety whatsoever. Good to know.
Second, on Geuss’ account, the epistemic force of genealogy operates by way of a psychological trick.
No psychological trick is involved in reaching into your pants and pulling out something which smells like shit and tastes like shit, even if you explain its genealogical origin as chocolate cake.
For, as Nietzsche himself noted, there is no forced rational march from the discovery that one is mistaken about the origin of one’s representations to the jettisoning of those representations. (That one’s meta-beliefs are false generally does not entail that one’s first-order beliefs are also false; to think otherwise is to commit a version of the genetic fallacy.) As Geuss himself says, insofar as the falsity of my meta-representations disrupts my attachment to my first-order representations, this is ‘as it were my problem’, not a problem with which the genealogy has saddled me. This makes the epistemic force of genealogy, on Geuss’ account, contingent on my own psychic weakness. By contrast, I am in search of an account that will vindicate the epistemic force of critical genealogies without presuming any irrationality on our parts. Can a genealogy of a belief ever undermine its justification? And if so, which sorts of genealogies, and of which beliefs?
If Amia really had discovered a sensible answer to this, she could also have made billions on the Stock Exchange. But she hasn't. So all we are going to get is stuff she pulls out of her pants and calls chocolate cake.

That we can give a genealogy of a belief presumably does not itself suffice to cast the justification of that belief into doubt.
If Evolution is a true theory then every mental event has a true genealogy. We know we can't give this genealogy because if we did we could not have evolved under natural selection. Why? Either the genealogy is 'compressible' in which case it could be hacked by a predator or a parasite and so evolution would ensure it was inaccesible; or else genealogy is uncompressible and thus greatly exceeds our cognitive capacity.

It is not reasonable to believe we can give a genealogy of a belief. Rather we can talk ignorant shite. But talking shite does not cast anything into doubt. It is a nuisance is all it is.
For we can, in principle if not in practice, offer a genealogy of every belief ever held.
No we can't. Not unless we live in an Occassionalist universe of a momentary kind.
Everything I believe, and everything you believe, we believe because of various contingent background features about ourselves:
Sheer nonsense! Evolution militates for 'mixed strategies'- i.e everything about us, including our beliefs, have a probabilistic component and thus are not determined by 'contingent background features'.
because of what we have been taught to believe, the arguments and evidence to which we have been exposed, the languages we have been taught to speak, the concepts we have been trained to use, the claims that (because of our historical, cultural or evolutionary formations) strike us as intuitive, the workings of our evolutionarily-inherited perceptual systems, and so on.
 If Amia is right i-languages would exist and it would be an easy matter to devise a 'Babel Fish'- i.e. a universal translator. However, i-languages don't exist. All we have is e-languages which is why Google Translate mangles things so badly.
If the mere in principle availability of a doxastic genealogy were sufficient to deprive a belief of justification, then none of our beliefs would turn out to be justified.
In principle availability of doxastic genealogy means, in principle, that Evolution is false. We live in an Occassionalist Universe. Either that or life is but a dream. Let us talk any old shite rather than pursue STEM subjects.
We would arrive immediately at a place of global scepticism, in which no belief is justified, and thus no knowledge is possible.
Beliefs aren't justified they either have or don't have an instrumental value. Knowledge is possible without belief. A Mayavadi Iyer might be a good Astrophysicist even if she believes the Universe does not really exist.
Perhaps that is where we do indeed find ourselves. I have nothing much to say against such a view, except that it strikes me as false.
So what? Has anything novel or useful ever struck you as true?
I know, for example, that I am not alone in the world, that I share the world with other persons and creatures, who really are valuable, and who call on me to treat them with love and respect. I know that there are beautiful things, and sublime things too, and that they are part of what make life worth living. All of these beliefs of mine can be given causal explanations – they can, we might say, be genealogised – but an epistemology that says that any genealogisable belief is unjustified proves, in my view, too much.
But only because you think 'justification' is important in other than juristic, protocol bound, contexts. This is very foolish. It is mischievous to take a word which is meaningful in one context- for e.g. the word rape- and use it in a wholly different context- like OMG, that chocolate eclair just totally skull fucked me! Quick! Call the Police and ask them to bring a rape kit! A DNA test will show that eclair was actually Chief Justice Kavanaugh!. At last, those frat boys will get their comeuppance!'
In any case, the genealogical sceptics we encountered in the previous section – from Xenophanes and his attack on anthropomorphic theology, to contemporary evolutionary debunkers of morality – are not global sceptics, though they are sceptics of a kind.
No. They are simply self-aggrandising hacks with books to sell.
While genealogical sceptics think that the genealogy of some beliefs reveal those beliefs as unjustified – our theological beliefs, say, or our moral beliefs – they do not tend to think all our beliefs unjustified.
Theological beliefs are not genealogical at all. Nor are Moral beliefs speaking generally. Both may find reinforcement in contemporary Evolutionary Game Theory. But, this is not necessarily the case.

Only those of our beliefs which are subject to juristic, administrative, or other overview, require justification. But, in general, we are trained to formulate our beliefs in accordance with the relevant observational protocols so as to show that we properly discharged a duty of care.

However, most of our beliefs are not subject to any sort of review and so justification does not matter. Pretending it does is foolish- it is like saying a chocolate eclair orally raped you when the truth is you greedily devoured it.
This is unsurprising. For genealogical sceptics are, on the whole, naturalists.
No! They are naturists! Totally nude underneath their clothes! OMG, it is so shocking! Won't somebody please think of the children!
They are interested in the causal explanations of our beliefs, and moreover think that we can come to know the right (or at least plausible) causal explanations of our beliefs through empirical (scientific, historical, psychological, etc.) investigation. To vindicate the claims of genealogical sceptics, we need to give an account of just why it is, that certain genealogies, e.g. of our moral, theological or metaphysical beliefs, show their objects to be unjustified.
This is quite unnecessary. Things you can't be held to account for, because you had no duty of care, are, quite properly, unjustified. Since cognitive resources are scarce and costly, the greater number of beliefs must be wholly unjustified.
Specifically, we are in search of an epistemic principle that is capable of taking us from an empirical premise about the origins of a belief (or set of beliefs), to a negative normative conclusion about the justificatory status of that belief (or set of beliefs).
The epistemic principle is economic. Cognition is costly. It makes sense not to waste it on doing things which are not called for.
But such a principle, must not overgeneralise to global scepticism. Can such a principle be found?
Yes. The thing is as plain as the nose on your face.
One reason for optimism is that it is overwhelmingly intuitive to think there are at least some cases in which the genealogy of a belief undermines its justification.
Is Amia smart enough to actually come up with such a case? Let us see-
Suppose that you take a drug that causes you to hallucinate a goat in the quad. On this basis you come to believe that there is a goat in the quad. In fact, there is a goat in the quad, brought in to graze by some eccentric academic with a love of barnyard animals. Nonetheless, you clearly don’t know that there is a goat in the quad. Your belief, while true, has the wrong sort of causal formation, since it was based not on your seeing the goat, but instead your hallucination. Thus the answer to our first question – whether a genealogy of a belief can ever undermine the belief’s justification – is a clear yes.
Actually, the answer is a clear no. Why? This is because a drug can't cause you hallucinate a goat in the quad. It can cause you to see things which aren't there but not some specific thing in a predictable and reliable manner. If it could, then a genealogy of the belief in the hallucinatory goat would not, by itself, undermine that belief's justification. This is because if the number of drug users rises while the number of sober people falls then by the hallucinatory goat is part of consensual reality while the Don's goat is relegated to an occult realm.
Some genealogies of belief show their objects to be unjustified.
But only with respect to a specific juristic or quasi-juristic procedure. However, in that case, the Condorcet Jury theorem applies. That is why economic forces weed out such procedures where the likelihood of a given agent being wrong is more than half. Notice that 'cascading undertainty' would still be subject to such procedures- indeed, they would have a utile 'ratchet' effect- whereas if heterogeniety is too great there will be no 'channelisation' and only 'capacitance diversity'. Chicilnisky's work can be explicated in this way.
Hallucinogenic drugs, brainwashing, visual illusions, unreliable testimony, wishful thinking, shots in the dark, pseudo-clairvoyants: if these are the grounds of your beliefs, then your beliefs (even if true) fall short of knowledge.
No. They are knowledge of a certain type.
The real question raised by genealogical scepticism is thus not whether a genealogy of a belief can undermine its justification (it can), but which sorts of genealogies, and of which beliefs?
Genealogical scepticism does not raise any questions. It mutters to itself while pissing its pants and rolling in the gutter.
Specifically, can the sorts of (historical, cultural, evolutionary, etc.) genealogies offered by genealogical sceptics undermine the justification of the sorts of beliefs (moral, theological, metaphysical) they wish to target?
No. However Economic forces can.
Another way of putting this is to ask whether a belief’s being caused by certain historical, cultural or evolutionary forces is ever epistemically akin to a belief’s being caused by hallucinogenic drugs, brainwashing, visual illusions, unreliable testimony, wishful thinking, shots in the dark, or pseudo-clairvoyants?
If you are so stupid as to believe that a drug could exist which would cause a specific hallucination- e.g. a goat in the quad- then you are probably also stupid enough to believe that your upbringing has conditioned you completely.
What is the general features of these aberrant belief-forming methods that makes them incapable of producing knowledge – and is this general feature also to be found in the cases of moral, theological, mathematical or metaphysical belief?
The general feature is one you share with 'these aberrant belief-forming methods'. We may term it 'having shit for brains'.
Here is what I take to the most promising case for vindicating the genealogical sceptic’s claim that our moral, theological and/or metaphysical beliefs are undermined by their genealogies. These beliefs – like beliefs that have their origins in hallucinogenic drugs, brainwashing, visual illusions, and so on – are based on an unreliable mechanism. For (as I said above) our moral, theological and metaphysical beliefs are caused by forces – of culture, history or evolution – that are alethically indifferent. And such belief-forming mechanisms, even if they happen to get me onto the truth, could easily not have done.
Amia thinks there are 'belief forming mechanisms'. Why is she bothering with Philosophy when she could do research into these mechanisms and use them to make the world a better place?

We know there are 'mechanisms' for securing Justice and Economic Well Being and for funding alethic research in STEM subjects from which Humanity can greatly benefit. Such 'Mechanism Design' is studied in Economics. It is very useful. Ken Binmore secured ten billion pounds for the British Exchequer by his astute design of the 3G spectrum auction. That sort of thing 'pays for itself'. Genuine mechanisms have that property.

We also know that 'moral beliefs' are 'imperative' not alethic. They are not 'true' or 'false' though the actions that they prompt may be ranked according to the value they encode. In certain contexts, it is worthwhile for Society to invest in 'mechanisms' to provide juristic overview of actions undertaken on the basis of 'moral beliefs'. However, this only happens where there is a 'duty of care' arising out of a 'missing market'. In other words, the thing has an economic dimension.

Even if, say, my particular cultural formation endows me with true moral beliefs, there are nearby possible worlds in which I had a different cultural upbringing, and thus different (and false) moral beliefs.
A different moral belief is not false. Only alethic propositions can be true or false. The 'nearest possible world' with respect to any specific criterion- in this case a particular moral belief- would feature someone identical in that respect but, it may be, wholly different in every other.
Thus having true moral beliefs based on the contingencies of culture is like having a true belief that Trump won’t be re-elected on the basis of wishful thinking.
If 'contingencies of culture' can determine 'true moral beliefs' then wishes would be horses. Trump would never have been elected. Instead, my neighbor's cat would be President. Of course, we must first establish the right sort of culture- but I leave that to my readers as a homework exercise.
In epistemological terms, the basis of my moral beliefs fails to be safe, where a belief-forming mechanism is safe just in case it doesn’t lead to false beliefs in nearby possible worlds.
Amia is saying a belief forming mechanism should be 'robust'- i.e. immune to small perturbations in the information set. However, in that case, beliefs ought to be homogeneous. But, from a result by Chichilinisky & Heard, we know that there wouldn't be enough preference diversity to drive markets. The Economy would collapse. Innovation would cease. Language itself would cease to have any alethic value and degenerate into phatic grunts and moans.

There is a good reason why Evolution shunned robust 'belief forming mechanisms' even when it comes to things like differentiating particular colours or phonemes. If I had been raised by Khoi-San bushmen- something which would have saved Mum & Dad a lot of money and heartache- I would have a different colour palette. Had I been raised in North India, I would hear 'z' as 'j'.
The safety principle is, I think, the genealogical sceptic’s best hope. It is generally agreed that safety is a necessary condition on knowledge, and there is a plausible case to be made that the genealogy of our moral, metaphysical and theological beliefs show them to be unsafe.
Generally agreed? By whom? The safety principle is ludicrously unsafe. It says you should stick with your beliefs no matter what happens.
However, it offers no hope to 'the genealogical sceptic'. Rather, it tells them in advance that their efforts are utterly futile.
What can we say in response? Rejecting the safety principle outright is not a promising option.
Only if you are stupid and ignorant.
Thus the only option is to argue that the genealogy of these beliefs does not in fact show them to be unsafe.
This is easily done by saying beliefs don't have a genealogy. If they did, actual genealogy would be all people would bother with. Only Caste would matter- not one's accomplishments or aspirations.
There are two general ways to so argue. First, I can argue that the possible worlds in which my belief-forming method leads me into error are too modally distant to undermine their reliability. I might argue, for example, that the possible world in which a different cultural upbringing led me to have moral beliefs different from the ones I actually had -- the world in which I was raised in a conservative town in the southern United States, or in the 17th century rather than the 20th – is simply too distant to render my actual moral beliefs unjustified.
This is a foolish argument. It is saying 'the closest possible world' is not the closest possible world. The fact of the matter is that we can find someone pretty much like Amia in almost all respects with different beliefs. Indeed, we suspect, Amia herself would have had different beliefs if only she'd chosen to study something worthwhile.
. Second, I can argue that the genealogical sceptic has mischaracterised the method on which my beliefs are based – that the method I use to form my beliefs is not the same as used by my possible world counterparts with contrary beliefs. This is, recall, the response favoured by defenders of religious exclusivism. Thus Alvin Plantinga argues that Christian beliefs are justified, despite their cultural contingency, because the Christian’s beliefs are formed on the basis of a special method, namely the method of believing in accordance with the deliverances of the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile, those who grow up in non-Christian households have the bad genealogical luck of being endowed (through no fault of their own) with believing-forming methods that do not reliably put them onto the theological truth. The fact that people from non-Christian backgrounds do not tend to believe in the Christian truths, Plantinga would say, is no more threat to the Christian’s justification, than is the fact that a colourblind person cannot distinguish between red and green to the colour-beliefs a threat to those who are lucky enough to have full powers of colour-discrimination.
This is nonsense. Plantinga thinks I can become a Christian despite growing up Hindu. He also understands that a lot of people who grew up in Christian homes will reject Christianity. I may, by the inscrutable mystery of Grace, be of the elect while a more virtuous scion of a Christian family is consigned to outer darkness.

These two anti-sceptical responses rely, crucially, on judgments that are inseparable from the very issue at hand.
Nonsense. They are wholly independent of it. There are good Scientific reasons to reject robust 'belief forming mechanism' and, furthermore, Belief systems founded upon a mystery- like that of Divine Grace- are immune to 'possible world' arguments.
First, what counts as a ‘nearby possible world’ for the purposes of assessing the reliability of our belief-forming methods? Second, how should we individuate belief-forming methods for the purposes of assessing their safety? The problem for the present dialectic is that there are no principled, independent answers to be given to these questions.
Yes there are. What's more they are as obvious and as plain as the nose on your face. You choose not to see them in order to write worthless shite.
Any judgment about what does and does not count as a nearby possible world, or what do and do not count as the same method, will have to be informed, in a circular fashion, by whether we judge the relevant case to be a case of knowledge or not.
So why bother with it?
Where does this leave us? That there is no independent, principled way to settle the question of what counts as a sufficiently ‘nearby’ possible world, or the ‘same’ method, for the purposes of safety, is not itself a devastating blow against the safety principle.
No. But the fact that it is obviously unsafe devastates it entirely.
One can think of this as a kind of benign circularity, in which our judgments about epistemic justification and our judgments about modal proximity and methods mutually inform each other. But this benign circularity transforms into a serious problem whenever we look to the safety principle in the hope that it will tell us conclusively whether a given belief is or is not justified, given its genealogy. This means that the genealogical sceptic who appeals to safety will risk begging the question against his opponent.
So what? The genealogical sceptic is putting his hands down his pants and fetching out something he claims to be chocolate cake. What greater disgrace does petitio principii entail for him?
For he will have to make assumptions about which possible worlds are nearby, or which methods are in use, which will in turn be informed by his judgment that the beliefs in question are not justified.
But, such assumptions are already implicit in his opening salvo. Getting more air-time to state them explicitly is exactly the reward he desires.

Consider the sort of genealogical sceptic we all met with in our first year at College. The guy says you only think you are attracted to nice looking people. Actually, what you really want to do is suck his cock. You kick his head in but he later sidles up to you to explain how your violence towards him masks your burning desire to suck his cock. You kick his head in once again but this time you are alarmed to find you actually quite enjoy the satisfying thunk your Doc Martins make when making contact with his cranium. Anyway, you give him a wide berth thereafter. Then the fucker gets elevated to the Supreme Court and you regret not using his head as a football more frequently.

But this is to presuppose precisely what must be proven.
Which is what Amia does when she speaks of 'belief forming mechanisms'.
We arrive thus at a dialectical impasse. But things are more complex still. For genealogical scepticism is faced with a threat of self-defeat.
Quite true. The gaslighter may himself have been gaslighted. This does not mean it isn't fun to use his head as a football even if this means you are actually some complicated kind of gay.
If the genealogical sceptic is right that our genealogically contingent beliefs in moral, theological or metaphysical propositions are unjustified,
If beliefs are genealogically contingent then they are genealogically justified.
it would seem to follow that our genealogically-contingent beliefs in epistemological propositions are unjustified.
Epistemological propositions are unjustified in the first order language they refer to unless they are purely juristic. Nothing wrong with that. One can still have 'univalent foundations'.
For our epistemological beliefs appear to depend on the contingencies of culture, history and evolution in just the same way as our moral, theological or metaphysical beliefs.
How can they have that appearance unless they are justified genealogically in the first order language? Stare decisis is an epistemological principle. It is enjoined by its own first order language. Indeed, it has some bogus mythology featuring Greek speaking Druids.
If the evolutionary contingency of our moral beliefs entails that our moral beliefs are unjustified, does not the evolutionary contingency of our epistemological beliefs entail that our very belief in the safety principle is unjustified?
Yes. If x, then x. Next question.
If so, the evolutionary debunking argument of our moral beliefs entails that we ought not believe one of its own premises.
So what? The fact that a premise is superfluous and can be discarded doesn't weaken an argument, it makes it stronger.
Of course, that the genealogical sceptic’s argument is self-defeating is not to say that its conclusion is false.
But it is to say it can't be true. Nonsense has no alethic value.
But it is to say that the genealogical sceptic can offer his opponent no reason to accept his conclusion.
This is false. Amia means no compelling logical reason.
For if his argument is in fact sound, it appears to follow that we are not justified in believing that it is.
This is nonsense. If x then x. Either an argument is sound or it isn't. To mention a 'unsound sound argument' is to indulge in ex falso quodlibet. Any nonsense at all can be predicated of this impossible object.

Where does this leave us?
It leaves us thinking you have shit for brains.
Some epistemologists have suggested that if we can show that there is no dialectically compelling argument for genealogical scepticism, our work will be done.
Which is why epistemologists aren't pulling down big bucks the way endocrinologists are.
For then we will have shown that such scepticism, to use Schopenhauer’s image, is ‘an impregnable fortress but from which the garrison can never sally forth’, which we can ‘pass by it and leave…in our rear without danger’. But this, I think, is a mistake. Just because the sceptic cannot rationally compel us to abandon our beliefs does not mean that he exercises no epistemic power over us.
Yes it does. If he has 'epistemic power' then he gets to gaslight us. If not he has to suck his own cock.
Insofar as we are untroubled by genealogical anxiety, we are free to dismiss the genealogical sceptic, and carry on with our doxastic lives as usual. But for those in the grip of genealogical anxiety, this is not a real option.
Very true. But then this grip of genealogical anxiety is probably causing one to give blowjobs to hobos.
For such people, the sceptic is not inside an impregnable fortress, but lurking in our own hearts, feeding our darkest suspicions that the beliefs we hold most dear are the mere quirks of circumstance.
These dark suspicions are probably well founded if you find yourself regularly having to wash hobo jizz out of your hair.
Perhaps the genealogical sceptic can provide me no compelling reason to think I am unjustified. But what reason do I have for thinking that I am in fact justified? Insofar as my beliefs are justified, the genealogical sceptic reminds me, it must be because they are formed on the basis of a reliable mechanism.
There is no such requirement. It is sufficient that one's beliefs answer to a juristic mechanism of a certain sort. It is not necessary that they were formed on the basis of any mechanism whatsoever.
It must be, in other words, that there is something special about the belief-forming method with which the contingencies of evolution, history, culture and upbringing have endowed me: a specialness that does not characterise those who do not share my evolutionary, historical, cultural or familial formation.
No. It is sufficient to show that you are aware of what your beliefs ought to be given such contingencies for you to justify your actual beliefs by showing how they are better. Thus, if accused of negligence, a Surgeon on the witness stand must first show that he knows what existing 'best practice' is and why he departed from it. During the course of cross-examination, the surgeon will seek to show why a reasonable man, in his position, would have done as he did and that this represented a higher fidelity to his calling- as conventionally understood- than taking any other course.

The judgment the Surgeon is looking for is that he exceeded, not fell below, the standard of care he had been taught to show.
Put another way, if I am committed to the claim that my genealogically-contingent beliefs are justified, I am ipso facto committed to the claim that I am the beneficiary of what we might call good genealogical luck.
Nonsense. A thing may be contingent on a number of other things. I may say I have genealogical luck in terms of my physique while also exhibiting pride in my own efforts to maintain it. However, I am not ispo facto committed to mentioning the subject at all. There is no need for me to say 'thanks to being born in a nice Solar system, I have a cool six-pack.'

Thus the genealogical sceptic exercises what we might think of as a kind of metaepistemic power:
only if we did actually give the guy a blowjob- not otherwise.
a power to reveal just what we must believe about ourselves if we want to consistently believe that our genealogically contingent beliefs are in fact justified
as is the huge dry-cleaning bill we keep running up for getting hobo jizz stains off our suits.

In order to maintain that belief – in order not to merely dismiss the genealogical sceptic but to positively contradict him – one has to believe oneself to be genealogically lucky.
But only if hobos keep jizzing on us and we believe that's justified.
Of course, there is no in principle prohibition on thinking oneself genealogically lucky. For example, because I had the good fortune of being born well after Darwin, and being taught his theory of evolution by natural selection, I know that the appearance of intelligent design in nature is just that: mere appearance. William Paley, who died four years before Darwin would be born, was not so genealogically lucky, which is why he (falsely but quite understandably) believed in intelligent design. There feels nothing odd or illicit in saying that I and others like me are genealogically lucky vis-à-vis the truth about intelligence design, whereas Paley and others like him are genealogically unlucky.
Lots of people like Amia believe in Intelligent Design. Some are proper Scientists. Furthermore, going forward, we are going to see Intelligent Design in more and more living things. It may be that, as a species, we will migrate to another Universe whose design we ourselves perfected.

Genealogical luck will have nothing to do it. What matters is useful Research.
And yet, it can feel – to some of us, at least some of the time – problematic to think of oneself as genealogically lucky in the cases of moral, theological and metaphysical beliefs. First, it can seem as if one has no suitably independent reason for thinking oneself genealogically lucky in such cases. Take for example Plantinga’s defence of Christian exclusivism. It is obviously circular: only if Christian theology is in fact true could it be that the Holy Spirit reliably guides Christians towards the truth.
Nonsense! Some Christian theology must be false (because it contradicts other Christian theologies) but this does not matter in the slightest. Salvation is by Grace alone. Some may know this through a sense of conscious election. Others might not. The thing is a mystery. There is no justification by works in this realm.
Plantinga has no reason, independent of the Christian beliefs that are at issue, to think that he and other Christians are genealogically lucky.
The elect are not 'lucky'. God's reasons are inscrutable to us.
By contrast, it appears that I do have independent reason for thinking myself genealogically lucky vis-à-vis the truth about intelligent design.
Nonsense! You don't know the truth about it at all. Otherwise you'd have made a new type of cat to which I'd not be allergic and which would do the washing up when I can't be arsed.
For I have good reason to believe that Paley would have rejected intelligent design had he been exposed to all the relevant evidence, most importantly the elegance and power of Darwin’s theory.
Darwin's theory was only given an 'elegant and powerful' mathematical representation in my own lifetime. However, I have to admit, that the mathematical arguments I find compelling for it might be undone if quantum computing takes off in a currently plausible trajectory. In that case, irrespective of how we evolved, our species will spend eternity in an 'Intelligent Design' Universe where Paley will have displaced Darwin as Prophet.
After all, the vast majority of thoughtful people who have carefully considered all the relevant evidence agree with me, and not with Paley. Plantinga appears to have no similar reason for thinking that those who disagree with him – those, for example, who believe in the tenets of Muslim or Jewish theology – would come to agree with him if only presented with more evidence. While religious conversion is certainly possible, it rarely if ever suffices to simply explain the tenets of Christian theology to the would-be convert. This matters because, in the case of religious (or moral or metaphysical) beliefs, there appears to be a deep epistemic symmetry between me and my counterpart with a different genealogy – a symmetry that does not obtain in cases of other genealogically contingent beliefs, like my belief in evolution. In cases of such symmetry – in which me and my counterpart are equally apprised of the relevant evidence, and equally sincere and diligent in our pursuit of the truth – it seems that I can have no noncircular reason for thinking that I am the lucky one, and she unlucky.
All this is naive. There is a huge epistemic asymmetry between people like me or Amia and people who do useful research. Neither of us are lucky. We are stupid and ignorant and driven by a masochistic desire to exhibit these twin traits in our worthless scribbling. On the other hand, Amia is a well groomed young person who does not arouse feelings of disgust and revulsion in her students. All them Iyengars are like that only. What is the point of teaching Philosophy if you don't smell like a drunken bum? It's false advertising is what it is.