[ExI] Explaining Unusual Beliefs

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sat Oct 6 21:47:16 UTC 2007

Jef writes (I'm back to reading his posts, just not having a very good
ability to hold a grudge)

> On 10/6/07, Lee Corbin <lcorbin at rawbw.com> wrote:
>> My brother is a cultural anthropologist and I've been exposed to that
>> point of view a long time. Indeed, the first criticism I had of libertarianism
>> (and I'm still at least half-libertarian) is that it entirely fails to take culture
>> into account.
> An astute observation, and one I didn't realize we share.  I thought
> you claimed devout Libertarianism.

Please.  Our discussions should not be about me.

> Further to your point, I'd say it's about blindness to the essential
> structure supporting their individual efforts.  Much as an arrogant
> software engineer, proud of his creations, might extrapolate to grand
> visions of what he might achieve...

Sorry, but you lost me with the first sentence. Whose individual efforts?

> if not held back by the regressive
> forces surrounding him, with little regard for the adaptations baked
> in to the editors, compilers, OS, microcode, hardware, and the people
> and institutions (and deeper) from which these grow.

I think that you're saying something like "there can be too much
theory with too little adaptation to realities"?

> On the other hand, which is worse, Libertarian fixation on maximizing
> personal liberty or the liberal ideal of one agent: one equal vote?
> Both lack the dimensionality necessary for success in the bigger
> picture.

I agree that both normally laudable principles are dangerous
when carried to extremes. Yes, without principles we'd be
entirely lost, but just as you say we should always be careful
about their "low dimensionality".

>> Moreover, the progress of EP over the last 30 years further diminishes
>> the relevance (and plasibility), it seems to me, of the basic views
>> espoused by cultural anthropologists. There does seem to be a basic
>> *human nature*.  We all share a greater amount of behavior than was
>> appreciated 50 years ago.
> Like a tree with roots firmly grounded in its interactions with a
> consistent (but always only incompletely knowable) "physics", each of
> the individual leaves can find a basis for pragmatic agreement at some
> level.  Therein lies the seed of a pragmatic politics of private
> choices and public consequences.

Sorry!  I have a feeling that I agree with that, but it's a little too abstract.
That is, after re-reading a couple of times, I just don't want to speculate
on exactly what is meant.  In fact, this seems to me to be an example
of what we are talking about:  unless such description is tied more closely
to actual circumstances, its "dimensionality" may be too large or too small.
Besides, it seems to blow communication all to hell.

Rather than complaining, I probably ought to just remain silent. Sorry.

>> > A lot of people make what they believe are intelligent statements about the
>> > thoughts and motivations of other people.  But, IMHO, if you want to learn
>> > why other people think the way they do, you have to put yourself in their
>> > position (if not literally, then at least figuratively).  That is, if you
>> > cannot walk in their shoes, then at least read and listen to what they are
>> > exposed to.
> The degenerate case exemplified by the all-to-common practice on these
> discussion lists of one aiming to attack the points of another, all
> the while being unable to effectively summarize the other's position.
> True understanding entails encompassing, rather than undermining, the
> understanding of another.

An admirable bit of Rogerian psychology.  Indeed, if I knew that I
was indeed incapable of effectively expressing someone else's position,
it would give me grave concern.  You're probably right that all too
often we just *think* that we could make the same points. But it's
an expensive exercise to check some original prose you have written
to see if it passes criticism from the person whose views you are trying
to successfully articulate. 

>> Another is a single individual who is almost
>> always sensible from the majority's viewpoint, but has one or two
>> pet-peeves that seem incomprehensible. This latter case evades any
>> comprehensive explanation that I can offer.
> Like a child raised in an abusive home becoming a bully in turn?  Or
> perhaps closer to home, one who has been bullied tending to view any
> sharply pointed criticism as bullying?

Are you into discussing your favorite subject, i.e. me, again?
I'll not waste my time with that.

But I do sincerely thank you for your substantive comments, a few
of which were both productive and illuminating.  I am not being


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