Constitutional Hill

On the tragic brilliance of Thabo Mbeki

Former President Thabo Mbeki created the first memorable phrase in our political discourse for the year when he warned against the propagation of “false knowledge” by powerful forces, forces that largely control knowledge production in a world dominated by Western interests.

In a speech, delivered earlier this week at the Stellenbosch Business School, Mbeki seems to argue from a philosophical position that tries to marry very valid post-colonial concerns about the dominance of the world by Western-generated ideas promoted by a Western-centric media and Western military and political power, with insights from post-modern philosophy (in a decidedly Foucauldian turn) about the way in which our thoughts and actions are constrained by what we know and have the intellectual tools to think.

Mbeki quotes Donald Rumsfeld, who famously said:

Reports that say something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me because as we know, there are known knows: there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns: that is to say there are some things [we know] we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult one.

Of course, it is difficult not to read the speech as an intellectual justification for some of Mbeki’s more disastrous interventions during his time as President of South Africa, most notably his dabbling in Aids dissidence, which we all know did not turn out too well for the former President or for all those who subsequently died of Aids related illnesses after choosing not to take live-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs (or did not have money to obtain such drugs in the private health care sector).

Mbeki seems to believe that one can distinguish between three types of knowledge. First, he seems to believe in something he calls “objective reality” or “objective truths” – that which “can logically and independently be established as ‘the truth’”. This kind of knowledge, he argues, “might very well be at variance with what we as Africans know to be the ‘knowledge’ at our disposal”. In other words, what is generally accepted as “true” (HIV causes Aids; Gadaffi was a tyrant; South Africa has a high crime rate), might differ from what Africans experience to be true.

Second, the knowledge we think are at our disposal may very well constitute “false knowledge” which may not be in accordance with the “objective truth” – independently established as the truth. We nevertheless may think it is true because we are told that it is true by those who control the discourse through control of the media, the culture and the political landscape. Thus we may believe that Gaddafi was on the brink of slaughtering many civilians because he was reported to have warned those who resisted his rule that patriotic Libyans would “cleanse” Libya “house by house” from the rats and cockroaches supporting the uprising against him, but this is a “false knowledge” as he would not have followed through on his threats.

As I understand Mbeki’s speech, he believes that there is also a third kind of knowledge. This is knowledge that ordinary people have about their lives or that is being explored by “outside-the-box” thinkers (like Mbeki!), but which have neither been accepted as “objective truths” nor exposed as “false knowledge” yet. (I imagine for Mbeki this would include the idea that many young people die in South Africa in part because they are poor and malnourished, not necessarily because they have the HI virus – which, after all, cannot cause a syndrome.)

Regardless of whether one agrees with this taxonomy of truth and falsehood, it is difficult to find fault with Mbeki’s contention that knowledge is contested and that the terrain is intensely political – especially for us Africans who live in a world profoundly affected by the consequences of colonialism and the traces of colonialist thinking. It is also difficult to disagree with his plea for more openness and a more critical approach to knowledge production. Only a fool will form firm opinions about world affairs by only watching CNN or Sky News.

Mbeki argues that the “false knowledge”, the kind of knowledge that we just know we know but has not been independently established as true, is produced by those who control the media and the means of knowledge production. That is why “it matters who has the capacity and ability to persuade the public about which ‘knowledge’ is ‘true’, and which ‘false’!” It is only when we democratise knowledge and let a thousand ideas bloom that false knowledge will be exposed and other kinds of knowledge will become accepted and, who knows, even accepted as “objective truth”.

This dialogue, says Mbeki, is important as it may also affect our understanding of what is “objectively truth”. Such truths can be overturned. This is because discovery of “the truth”, and therefore the accumulation of “knowledge”, constitutes an unending journey of discovery and what we consider to be truths today may well turn out to be false tomorrow as our understanding of the world around us change and hopefully deepens.

But how do we distinguish between (tentatively established) “objective truths” and “false knowledge”? And how do we distinguish between valuable truth and quackery? If all “objective truths” may well one day be falsified, why are they true now while “false knowledge” is not? Is it just true or false because powerful people said so? It seems that it is at this point that Mbeki’s valid argument about the intensely ideological nature about the production of knowledge deteriorates into mild paranoia and incoherence. Thus Mbeki warns against the destructive potential of the abuse of “knowledge” by those who exercise power, but does so in rather stark terms:

I say this because of the frightening reality contemporary society faces, of the capacity of a small but powerful minority of humanity, to determine what society should ‘know’, which passes as ‘knowledge’.

Is there really a grand conspiracy to fabricate some kinds of knowledge and suppress other kinds of knowledge to further the interests of those who dominate the world? I am not saying this never happens. After all, facts were twisted and intelligence reports manipulated to try and convince the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and had to be stopped. But surely, more often than not people are the prisoners of their own world views and actually believe the things that they say and do (just like Mbeki is the prisoner of his own world view and believes the things he says and does.) This might produce tainted knowledge, but seldom because of some grand conspiracy.

Of course, the national and international media selectively report on news events and ignore some events and highlight others. That is why my Cape Times yesterday reported in a screaming front page headline that Baboons have invaded the houses of upper middle class residents, but said nothing about similar trials and tribulations experienced by inhabitants of poor areas of Cape Town. And scientists selectively investigate those problems that they find interesting or that that they think would bring them fame and money. Hence, lots of money is poured into medical research about heart disease and Alzheimer’s and very little on curing malaria. But it is not clear how this is part of a deliberate conspiracy to keep the rest of us ignorant and to push a nefarious agenda.

A second problem is that Mbeki does not consider the possibility that he may be part of the very system that produces “false knowledge” and that he might be producing such knowledge himself to further his own interests. After all, he is a powerful person (and used to be President of the most powerful country on the continent and what he said and did had enormous consequences – sometimes good and sometimes bad) for millions of people inside and outside South Africa. Mbeki somehow seems to exempt himself from the rules of the game that he is critiquing. Only other people fall into the trap of embracing “false knowledge” and only other people deploy such “knowledge” to advance their own interests.

While the rest of us are engaged in a never ending struggle to determine what the “objective truth” might be and while we are continuously duped by powerful dark forces into believing things that are just plain wrong, Mbeki alone (in his own mind) is far too clever to do so and therefore has the ability to identify “false knowledge” and “objective truths” properly. And when he does so, his own self-interests never come into play.

Yeah right.

Has Mbeki not, in the past, perpetuated “false knowledge” to advance what he believed to be his own interests and the interests of the government which he led? Thus, a few years ago Mbeki said in a TV interview that it was just a perception that crime was out of control in South Africa: “It’s not as if someone will walk here to the TV studio in Auckland Park and get shot. That doesn’t happen and it won’t happen.” Within days a CNN journalist and his pregnant wife were held up at gunpoint and robbed outside the very same building. He was defending his government and was trying to persuade us of something that was clearly not true.

And when he started questioning the link between HIV and Aids (“a virus cannot cause a syndrome”) and made statements warning against the toxicity of anti-retroviral drugs, he was using his power as President of the country to create a kind of knowledge (sadly accepted as “true” by many South Africans) that turned out to be very false and very deadly. Just ask Parks Mankahlana who reportedly died of an Aids related illness because he had stopped taking the live-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs that his boss had warned against.

The big problem is that Mbeki does not seem to heed the warning of Albert Einstein which he quotes in his speech. Einstein reportedly said: “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” He correctly identifies a problem – namely that the construction of knowledge is not free of ideology and the influences of powerful interests. But he then seems to exempt himself from the rules of the game and sets himself up as the final judge of what is “true” and “false” knowledge, something that is impossible to do in terms of Mbeki’s own previous argument about the construction of knowledge.

When Mbeki pontificates about “objective truths” and “false knowledge” he is not free from ideology and self-interest and in this case the self-interest that runs like a golden thread through this speech is his need to justify his deadly dabbling in Aids dissidence and medical quackery. His tragedy is that – brilliant as he might be – he cannot see the contradiction in his own position.

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  • ozoneblue

    “Mbeki seems to believe that one can distinguish between three types of knowledge. First, he seems to believe in something he calls “objective reality” or “objective truths” – that which “can logically and independently be established as ‘the truth’”. This kind of knowledge, he argues, “might very well be at variance with what we as Africans know to be the ‘knowledge’ at our disposal”. In other words, what is generally accepted as “true” (HIV causes Aids; Gadaffi was a tyrant; South Africa has a high crime rate), might differ from what Africans experience to be true.”

    What would Dr. Katumba say about this before starts drilling holes into your head?

  • Phindile

    Your hatred of Thabo Mbeki blinds you Prof. You do so well in other instances in playing the ball, not the person. But when it comes to Mbeki you seem to have this uncontrollable impulse to play his person. You are however no exception. South Africans are very good at polarising debates. We quick in breaching the rules of logic that guides us to attach the debate not the person. For example, it is of no significance whether Malema flew to Mauritius and drank expensive wine on the debate about economic freedom. There are many other examples like this. We must learn as South Africans to address what is being raised without having to look for dirt to use against
    the person raising issues.

  • Pierre De Vos

    Phindile, I am not sure how my post demonstrates any hatred or how it plays the man and not the ball. I had the decencuy to take the former President’s sp[eech seriously, to take time to study it and to analyse it. You might not agree with my analuysis or of the criticism I have levelled but how tyou can say I attack his person and not what he has said and done is beyond me. Did he write the speech? Yes! Did he dabble in Aids dissidence? Yes! Did he say a virus cannot cause a syndrome? Yes! So am I not allowed top express a considered opinion about this?

  • ozoneblue

    “Einstein reportedly said: “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.””

    Of course Einstein also said: “The important thing is to not stop questioning.” That is now when you are not dealing with the AIDS gestapo and you have some respect for a culture of academic and scientific inquiry.

    http://www.duesberg.com/

  • magabangeljubane

    Pierre

    “Of course, it is difficult not to read the speech as an intellectual justification for some of Mbeki’s more disastrous interventions during his time as President of South Africa, most notably his dabbling in Aids dissidence”

    Really? What a load of crap. So, on your version he somehow influenced the Stellenbosch University Business School to host the event and to invite him, and the other delegates, to address the gathering on the theme of the conference so that he could justify government policy on HIV during his term? The suggestion that the speech has anything to do with HIV will not be your brightest moment.

    “it is difficult to find fault with Mbeki’s contention that knowledge is contested and that the terrain is intensely political” – Your post should’ve begun and ended right there, with that rare moment of lucidity.

    “Is there really a grand conspiracy”. Really?

    The few examples he uses are sufficient to make the point about “the frightening reality contemporary society faces, of the capacity of a small but powerful minority of humanity, to determine what society should ‘know’, which passes as ‘knowledge’.” How you manage to make the leap to some “grand conspiracy” is difficult to understand. Please do share. And please be coherent this time.

    “A second problem is that Mbeki does not consider the possibility that he may be part of the very system that produces “false knowledge” and that he might be producing such knowledge himself to further his own interests”. “Mbeki somehow seems to exempt himself from the rules of the game that he is critiquing.” Really? Have you even bothered to understand his speech at all? Please could you substantiate this.

    I’ll leave it there for now. At this stage I am persuaded that had you delivered this incoherent piece right after Mbeki’s speech it would be abundantly clear to the delegates that YOU really are the “pseudo-intellectual”. Your piece scores a solid two out of ten.

  • Pierre De Vos

    magabangeljubane, I think Mbeki (unlike you) would have engaged critically with my ideas and would not have tried to address the concerns I raised with the speech by merely shouting at me and calling me names. Surely you can do better and can write something coherent to argue why you believe my views are wrong instead of shouting at me and calling me names. Not very much in the spirit of the speech which you so emotionally defend!

  • Coenie

    @magabangeljubane says:
    January 20, 2012 at 14:53 pm

    The few examples he uses are sufficient to make the point about “the frightening reality contemporary society faces, of the capacity of a small but powerful minority of humanity, to determine what society should ‘know’, which passes as ‘knowledge’.” How you manage to make the leap to some “grand conspiracy” is difficult to understand. Please do share. And please be coherent this time.

    Um…the answer is in the above..um…small, powerful minority of humanity…um…controlling knowledge…conspiracy??um…but hoodwink everyone except the ‘out of the box’ thinkers…um…could that be your coherent ‘answer’? THINK MAN! T Mbeki is idiota!

  • Neville Basson

    A few years back when I worked at a Anti-Retroviral Treatment Centre at a District Hospital in Northern Cape – Namaqauland, one of the nurses told me that she don’t like the idea of me advocating that PLWA(People living with Aids) should feature so much in our prevention work. Her false argument was that people with Aids should not talk about Aids because they don’t have the moral high ground to do so. This article of you Prof. have all the ingredients of that false argument the nurse made, which is: because Mbeki did certain things wrong he should now shut his mouth.

  • Neville Basson

    A few years ago when I worked at a Anti-Retroviral Treatment Centre at a District Hospital in Northern Cape – Namaqauland, one of the nurses told me that she don’t like the idea of me advocating that PLWA(People living with Aids) should feature so much in our prevention work. Her false argument was that people with Aids should not talk about Aids because they don’t have the moral high ground to do so. This article of you Prof. have all the ingredients of that false argument the nurse made, which is: because Mbeki did certain things wrong he should now shut his mouth.

  • sirjay jonson

    Mibeki will forever be know for his ‘false knowledge’ comment, especially as it was his ‘false knowledge’ re HIV/Aids, and for that matter many other things, even his recent comments on Gadfly.

    He played is part in a very sad minimal period on the African Continent, and he played it poorly. Those who think highly of him have mostly false knowledge flooding their intelligence.

  • Max

    1. It is worth noting that Mbeki based his HIV policy on the views of a very small group of marginal figures and ignored the vast majority of scientists and scientific evidence. His own response to HIV is thus actually a perfect example of the kind of thing he proposes to be warning us about.

    M2. beki’s greatest failure was his inability to see science and the scientific method as a tool that we can use to better society. Instead, he conflated it with things like imperialism and the often unethical behavior of pharmaceutical companies. It is like rejecting mathematics because you disapprove of the behavior of certain bankers.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    magabangeljubane
    January 20, 2012 at 14:53 pm

    Hey magabangeljubane,

    “Have you even bothered to understand his speech at all? Please could you substantiate this.”

    It seems that you understood what Mbeki had to say.

    Please do share.

    Khosi understands it, but, being the meanie that he is, he won’t share.

    p.s. During his term as President, democratisation of knowledge was hardly his strength. “Trust me” on Selebi – who was clearly corrupt and crooked.

    The cliched “HIV does not cause AIDS” saga the basis of which he did not think was important enough for the rest of us to know.

    Charlene Smith should shut up about being raped for reasons best known to Mbeki.

    Winnie Mandela got klapped for not knowing her place in the higher order of things.

    We were and still are denied the report on Zimbabwe which would have neutered the “false information” about the election there.

    It’s a much longer list!

  • Sivakashi

    Prof

    In your exchange with Magabangeljubane are you seriously trying to take the moral high ground there? Have you forgotten that it was you who first called Mbeki a misguided pseudo-intellectual? Do you not even at least concede that you draw an unwarranted inference from Mbeki’s speech to HIV policy? If not then surely the onus is on you to substantiate your surprising inference rather than (seemingly)trying to run away from your own argument?

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Maggs, I have read the speech twice over, and fully understand it. Please post any specific questions you may have, and I will do my best to assist.

    Although I agree with most of what Mr Mbeki said, I choked a little when I read him calling for the “the establishment of Centres of Excellence.” We all know that “Excellence” is a code word for whitish hegemony. He should perhaps have used a different term.

    That aside, I was intially puzzled as to why Pierre called Mbeki “brilliant.” Then I saw that Mbeki used the word “epistemology” not once but twice in his speech. I think that explains it.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Sivakashi, Mr Mbeki did not speak specifically of HIV-AIDS. (Probably because he did not want to inspire the ire of what Ozone cleverly calls the “AIDS Gestapo” — in which our Pierre plays the role of Josef Goebbels.) But Mbeki did refer to the fact that academic medicine has been hijacked by Big Pharma. I think that tells the story clearly enough. Don’t you?

    Thanks.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    January 20, 2012 at 22:00 pm

    Hey Dworky,

    Welcome back – I was starting to think that you died and went to join JR in racist heaven.

    Thanks for offering to interpret Mbeki.

    Does “Happily, today we are a democratic country” mean – eish, they fired my ass?

    I randomly chose this for you to explain (many other paragraphs would be equally hilarious) :

    This posits the thesis that it is possible for individuals and societies to share an understanding about various processes and phenomena which would constitute their bank of ‘knowledge’, while such ‘knowledge’ would be different from, and even contrary to the ‘objective truth’ relating to these very same processes and phenomena.

  • Michael Osborne

    Pierre, I see the “tragic” part, but I do not see what is “brilliant” in this speech. It strikes me as a rather inept second year’s summary of Jurgen Habermas’ ‘Knowledge and Human Interest’ (1972.) Both Habermas and the life-world have moved on a little since then.

  • Brett Nortje

    Wow, Michael! Will someone say ‘Well spotted!’?

  • Brett Nortje

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder says:
    January 20, 2012 at 22:00 pm

    Dworky, you ninny!

    ANC spokespersons when moonlighting as SABC reporters refer to every ANC politician from town councillor up as ‘Your Excellence’!

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    January 20, 2012 at 22:00 pm

    Dworky,

    “Please post any specific questions you may have, and I will do my best to assist.”

    There’s one puzzling aspect which you MUST please explain.

    He of “I am an African” fame goes to great lengths to reference the wisdom of Americans and English (White okes at that) and their media.

    Nothing, nada, zilch from the African diaspora. No Biko, no Mandela, no King, no Malema.

    Why?

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Maggs

    Mr Mbeki cites only US and UK whites (Rumsfeld nogal!), because he is engaged in what my mentor and countryman, Slavoj Žižek, calls “imminent critique.” Roughly, you use the enemy’s own discourse again him, to demonstrate that, even in his own terms, he is mostly rubbish.

    Glad I could help.

  • Dmwangi

    MO:

    “It strikes me as a rather inept second year’s summary….” Were you referring to Mbeki’s speech or PdV’s blog?

    Those who cling to post-modern inanities, in the face of a staggering amount of contradictory evidence, are merely employing pseudo-intellectual nonsense to justify their willfulness.

  • ozoneblue

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder says:
    January 20, 2012 at 22:09 pm

    “But Mbeki did refer to the fact that academic medicine has been hijacked by Big Pharma”

    Although he forgot to mention that Africa studies at UCT has been hijacked by Anglo-American.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Theo_Goldberg

  • ozoneblue

    Max says:
    January 20, 2012 at 20:48 pm

    “It is worth noting that Mbeki based his HIV policy on the views of a very small group of marginal figures”

    Correction – marginal scientists. Please note that science doesn’t work like a democracy. There was for example a point in time during the dark ages that the majority of scientists believed that the earth was flat and that the moon was made of cheese. That was until the advent of enlightenment and postmodernism when the honorable Elijah Muhammad came along suggesting an alternative explanation that the moon is in fact made of chicken and is the home planet of the Asiatic Black race.

    “— Malcolm X

    The Nation of Islam was founded in 1931 by Wallace D Fard. He presented himself as a Muslim prophet and preached a message of “black redemption within Islam”. He claimed “the Asiatic Black Man” had been the original inhabitant of the earth. The white race had been given 6,000 years to rule and eventually whites and white Christianity would be destroyed. Elijah Muhammad, who became leader of the Nation after Fard disappeared, developed this. He claimed originally that the black race had inhabited the moon and that at one time the moon and earth were one. A black scientist, Yakub, supposedly caused an explosion that separated the two. The first people to inhabit the earth were members of a black tribe called Shabazz.”

    http://socialistalternative.org/publications/malcolmx/ch2.html

    And while we are on the subject of POSTMODERNISM and Critical Race Theory.

  • ozoneblue

    Mbeki would agree:

    http://www.xenos.org/ministries/crossroads/dotlaw.htm

    “Race-Crits

    Angela Harris explains how the same postmodern ideas apply to race-oriented Critical Legal Students, or “race-crits,” as Gary Minda calls them:

    “For race crits, racism is not only a matter of individual prejudice and everyday practice, rather race is deeply imbedded in language, perceptions, and perhaps even ‘reason’ itself. In CRT’s [Critical Race Theory's] ‘postmodern narratives,’ racism is an inescapable feature of western culture, and race is always already inscribed in the most innocent and neutral-seeming concepts. Even ideas like ‘truth’ and ‘justice’ themselves are open to interrogations that reveal their complicity with power . . .
    Long ago, empowered actors and speakers enshrined their meanings, preferences, and views of the world into the common culture and language. Now, deliberation within that language, purporting always to be neutral and fair, inexorably produces results that reflect their interests.”

    Remember, these are not a lunatic fringe at the margins of legal practice. They include department heads, and leading professors at law schools like Harvard Law! They are practicing lawyers and legal authorities, like Lani Guinier, who recently attracted attention when she was nominated to be the attorney general before withdrawing.”

  • ozoneblue

    A lot of research has been done on the subject.

    http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/

    Although the very concept of research, in fact the word “concept” and the concept of “word” are both imbued with racism itself and are therefore not an appropriate choice of sounds to make when you attempt to communicate the above.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    January 21, 2012 at 0:15 am

    Dworky,

    “Roughly, you use the enemy’s own discourse again him, to demonstrate that, even in his own terms, he is mostly rubbish.”

    My countryman said it much better than your countryman!

    “Rubbish is in your pants …”.

    Mbeki should carefully choose icons to lust after (intellectually that is).

  • Sivakashi

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    I’m afraid I cannot agree with you . Mbeki says:

    vi) successive scares about world health;

    [The Council of Europe has asserted that false ‘knowledge’ was propagated during 2009, which resulted in billions of tax-payer dollars being spent in many countries to respond to a fictional ‘swine flu epidemic’, which benefited the globally dominant and highly profitable pharmaceutical companies.]

    How anyone can take these words, remove them from the context of the paragraph in which they appear, then further pluck them out of the context of the speech, and then somehow do some sort of magic dance and come out at the other end with the claim that Mbeki is really referring to his HIV policy, I don’t think that is reasonable.

  • Pierre De Vos

    Sivakashi, sadly you did not read my post properly. I did NOT say Mbeki referred to HIV in his speech. I said the speech could be read as an INTELLECTUAL justification for previous dabblings in Aids dissidence. But of course one needs to be familiar with Mbekis arguments at the time to see that this speech is more of the same. You clearly are not.

  • ozoneblue

    Glamorous ex-UCT scholar in the revisionist science of Critical Race Theory and one of Dr. Katumba’s former and most renown patients – on the Historic Global Conspiracy by Racist Whites against the Black Race:

    http://www.darkmatter101.org/site/2007/10/02/contemporary-racisms-david-theo-goldberg-and-paul-gilroy/

    Note in that video clip the clever concealment of the holes in Goldbergs head where Dr. Katumba tried to remove the cathode mind control plasma-ray device planted by Yakub to make the evil White Race forget that 4/5 human beings on this planet are not “Negro” or racist Whites but are in fact Chinese.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    Usual comical mumbo jumbo from Pierre De Vos, this time about the nature of knowledge . As always the claim is ‘everything is ideological’ whether it is what we know about what is right and wrong or what we take truth about the empirical world to consist in. As most good philosophy undergraduates know this idea holds water only as long as you dont press it and dont examine it . The moment you take a closer look , however, its wheels come off very quickly and it becomes obvious that the claim that all knowledge is ideological is based on a muddle.

    Just very quickly, if what is true ( note that knowledge is justified true belief ) depends on ideology in any interesting sense then for example that AIDS is caused by HIV ( or that earth is round or that humans and primates share a common ancestor etc ) depends on ideology in the sense that the proposition ‘ HIV causes AIDS ‘ is made true by ideology or depends on ideology in the sense that the proposition would not be true if the ideology in question did not exist . This implies that we make it true that earth is round , that evolution is true or that HIV causes AIDS. We with our ideologies create such facts.

    This way of thinking ( postmodernist take on knowledge ) confuses language and what language describes . It assumes falsely that because we need language to describe the fact that earth is round for eg with the fact which is described viz ‘earth’s roundness’ . But of course language is one thing and what it depicts or represents is quite another . And it is on the basis of this muddle that an inference is made that the facts themselves or what we know is ideological .

    This is then the sense, roughly, in which once the muddle underwriting the pomo gambit is exposed the wheels of this idea that Pierre De Voss is peddling come off.

  • magabangeljubane

    Pierre

    I agree with you that Mbeki would critically engage with your ideas, but I think this is precisely the same courtesy which you fail to afford to Mbeki. You level all manner of accusations at him at a whim.

    Your critique gives me the impression that you were never interested in engaging honestly with Mbeki’s speech. The first indicator would obviously be your theatrical announcement a few days earlier that you had yet to find the time to critically consider Mbeki’s speech, but that you had already decided that it revealed to you that he is a pseudo-intellectual.

    When you say,” Of course, it is difficult not to read the speech as an intellectual justification for some of Mbeki’s more disastrous interventions during his time as President of South Africa, most notably his dabbling in Aids dissidence” I think that in part you are really leveling the claim that he is inherently some sort of scheming conman who can’t so much as critically engage on any topic without turning it into a wild plot about his time in government.

    When I read the speech and find Mbeki saying things such as:

    “I would like to believe that what I have said surely means that this Conference must address a number of vitally important questions.

    Some of these are:

    • who will produce such “knowledge”;

    • what should be done to ensure that such “objective knowledge” is propagated, including through the mass media, while necessarily allowing that all other alternative “knowledge”, even though it is not part of “what is generally accepted”, is allowed unrestricted freedom to express itself, able to challenge “established and generally accepted truths”, including through all the available media.”;

    it is not clear how you wind up with the conclusions that “… Mbeki does not consider the possibility that he may be part of the very system that produces “false knowledge” and that he might be producing such knowledge himself to further his own interests.” “Mbeki alone (in his own mind) is far too clever to do so and therefore has the ability to identify “false knowledge” and “objective truths” properly. And when he does so, his own self-interests never come into play.”

    These are just two examples of the deceitful slurs you merily dispense. He says, “As happens in all democratic countries, during our years in Government, naturally there was always a lively debate in our country about the policies of the Government. In part this was naturally driven by different political and ideological perspectives.”

    In this sentence: “he then seems to exempt himself from the rules of the game and sets himself up as the final judge of what is “true” and “false” knowledge”; I note your use of the word ‘seems’. I believe this word is included only because you know that you have ‘mischaracterized’ Mbeki’s words. Is it not there only because you know you are not in a position to back-up your claim with anything Mbeki actually says in his speech?

    A few weeks ago one of your blogs was published in full in the Sunday Times. Every once in a while you tell us how popular your blog is. I do not buy for one second that your own capacity to disseminate false knowledge is lost on you, what with all the journalists only too happy to get a quote from you. Yet you say it is Mbeki who seems to exempt himself from the rules of the game?

    Even the “grand conspiracy” is also your own creation. This part of your critique is again remarkable, unless one accepts that you have once again tried to smuggle into the debate your own lies. You start off citing the Iraq war bit of ‘false knowledge’. And then, without any substantiation, you imply that Mbeki sees in all of this some other greater ‘grand conspiracy’.

    It is not clear if you are arguing that the Iraq case or any of the other examples were not conspiracy enough or not enough false knowledge to illustrate Mbeki’s point. You pose the (false) question whether there is some other grand conspiracy that Mbeki must be referring to, as if you can find any support for this from his speech.

    By all means, let’s all critically engage each other’s ideas. The debate can certainly do without people such as yourself who have huge audiences constantly twisting the facts. When you do that it is you who makes it difficult to critically engage.

  • magabangeljubane

    Maggs

    Indeed, I did understand.

    Here it is, in Pierre’s own words, “knowledge is contested and … the terrain is intensely political”. Do you get it now?

    It can’t be that just because Mbeki is a flawed human being like everyone else, then we must accept that whenever he speaks people like Pierre can feel free to distort his words.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    I would also point out that Pierre De Vos cannot escape the consequences of Thabo Mbeki’s pathetic and dangerous views about the nature of AIDS because De Vos is committed to exactly the same view about what we know what causes AIDS .

    That is , since Mbeki’s views are based on precisely the sort of epistemology De Vos endorses viz that all knowledge is ideological and since it is precisely this postmodernist take on the nature of knowledge which accounts for Mbekis’ stance on AIDS and his Denialism , I would suggest that De Vos has exactly the same problem and is a crypto denialist .

    That is , If he wishes to maintain a consistent position then he too should endorse the relativism based view about what causes AIDS . He and the denialist Mbeki hold exactly the same view. De Vos own view implies that what we know about what causes AIDS is relative to specific ideology : according to western scientific paradigm AIDS is caused by HIV but according to an African medical paradigm it is not caused by HIV . Since all knowledge is ideology laden there are no facts of the matter as to what causes AIDS !

    This is the view underwritten by the pomo epistemology both Mbeki and De Vos both endorse and accept and therefore De Vos , once his view is unpacked , is committed to exactly the same view about AIDS.

    It seems to me that Pierre De Vos should either jettison his absurd pomo epistemology or continue to endorse it but in that case he should also make it clear that he endorses Thabo Mbeki’s views about AIDS.

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 21, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Luckily for all of us who fly regularly this POSTMODERNISM haven’t infiltrated our science and engineering schools yet. Don’t know about UCT though – I haven’t noted any CRT papers denouncing Sir Isaac Newton as a racist White yet.

  • Michael Osborne

    Yes, of course, everything is ideological — if by that we mean that one always speaks from a given position, that at the bottom of every argument is a taken-for-granted axiom, and that every text is always a “re-presentation” of the world.

    The catch of is that the claim that “everything is ideological” is itself “ideological.” Its truth is subverted by its very articulation. Such self-negation is akin to an X value on both sides of the equation. We can ignore it, and revert to the old-fashioned “liberal” tests: logic, evidence of bias, falsifiability, etc.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    @ozoneblue,

    And it is not likely to happen ( Alan Sokal attitude is typical ) but social sciences including law ( as can be seen from De Vos who forever makes allusions to postmodernist themes ) are totally infected.

    What is interesting is that philosophy itself has always been clear that postmodernism is a dead end intellectually .

    Postmodernism then is a philosophical outlook promoted not by philosophers but by people who are just moonlighting ( ie people who are paid to teach law , English lit . sociology etc ).

    Agaist this background Pierre De Vos is typical.

  • ozoneblue

    magabangeljubane says:
    January 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    “Here it is, in Pierre’s own words, “knowledge is contested and … the terrain is intensely political”. Do you get it now?”

    I think Pierre meant that popular versions of history is not an objective reality. Chomsky for example points to example how the main stream media is manipulated and used as a propaganda tool in his “Manufacturing Consent”. Chomsky (being a self-confessed Anarcho-syndicalist) however is skeptical of the “intellectual” tradition of POSTMODERNISM and I suspect would also have great difficulty in comprehending the central philosophical tenets of CRT as articulated by Farrakhan et al.

    http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/chomsky-on-postmodernism.html

  • Sivakashi

    Prof

    I think you may have misunderstood. MDF engaged me and I was responding to him specifically. I was not at all ascribing his apparent reasoning to you.

    Yet I find it interesting that you feel free to make such bold claims “But of course one needs to be familiar with Mbekis arguments at the time to see that this speech is more of the same. You clearly are not.” You are of-course making a wild speculation – which appears to be your favoured method of argument.

    I did not intend to argue that you claim Mbeki referred to HIV in his speech. I say only that the onus is on you to explain why you would reasonably see the connection at all. Are you now saying that you based your thought that Mbeki’s speech could be read as a justification for his HIV policy on the fact that he has not changed the manner in which he presents his arguments?

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    M. Osborne :

    “Yes, of course, everything is ideological — if by that we mean that one always speaks from a given position, that at the bottom of every argument is a taken-for-granted axiom, and that every text is always a “re-presentation” of the world.”

    But this is not true never mind incoherent. Knowledge doesnt have to be understood in these pomo terms to start with as something which involves truth necessarily dependent on some perspective, or necessarily involve axioms or involve texts.

    For eg if I see a dog in front of me and my eyes work properly then I have knowledge that there is a dog in front of me because I see it. The truth of the statement ‘ there is a dog in front of me ‘ doesnt depend on my speaking from a position in a sense that my subjective perspective doesnt justify the proposition that there is a dog in front of me ; point of view plays no epistemic role in this type of common knowledge.

    Similarly , the truth of the statement doesnt depend on any argument or axiom I am in possession of ( it depends on my veridical visual experience ) : a prelinguistic child who doesnt deploy any arguments or even an animal is capable of possessing this type of knowledge re world and dito as far as texts go :the truth of the proposition and the extent of the justification of the claim involved has nothing to do with any texts or representations of the external world.

    The reason why I have knowledge that there is a dog in front of me is because the belief in question is produced by a reliable belief- forming mechanism viz visual experience which reliably generates true beliefs about the world.

    So it is simply not true that *all* knowledge is inescapably ideological.

  • Michael Osborne

    @ ZV:

    1. You may note that my second paragraph essentially agrees with you (albeit perhaps for different reasons), that a consistent reading of claims as all “ideological” is at best trite, and at worst nonsensical. See especially my last sentence, to the effect that POMO relativism, for all its radical claims, ultimate leaves us exactly we were; we have no choice but to evaluate claims in terms of the boring old conventions.

    2. Nevertheless, even a statement of a bald fact as true – “there is a dog standing in front of me” — can indeed be described as ideological, insofar as it is premised on some variety of the “ideology” of empiricism, viz, that in the ordinary course our sensory apparatus conveys reliable information about the state of the world which warrant the honorific label “knowledge.”

    3. That aside, the more interesting respect in which statements like Mbeki’s and PhD’s, may be said to be unavoidably “ideological” (an imprecise term, to be sure), is that the decision to articulate any brute fact entails a process of selection from the vast array of statements anyone could utter at any given point. In this setting, let us assume that the banal observation that Big Phrama funds research institutions is non-ideologically “true” in the abstract. The moment that is articulated, however, it become “ideological”, in the sense that its articulation reflects a choice. That becomes all the more so when the claim is conjoined with others to construct an “argument” of any kind, and when one recalls, as PdV does, that Mbeki’s current statements must be interpreted in light of his prior, somewhat worrying, positions.

    4. While it does not contribute anything of substance merely to dismiss Mbeki’s argument as “ideological,” it is a smart rhetorical move to observe, as PdV did, the irony that he appears to exempt his own discourse from that category.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    @M.O. : “Nevertheless, even a statement of a bald fact as true – “there is a dog standing in front of me” — can indeed be described as ideological, insofar as it is premised on some variety of the “ideology” of empiricism, viz, that in the ordinary course our sensory apparatus conveys reliable information about the state of the world which warrant the honorific label “knowledge.””

    No , the idea is that even an animal or a prelinguistic person ( a small child ) can have such knowledge without of course possessing any sophisticated concepts and hence without ideology being involved.

    We possess knowledge *before* we have knowledge about such knowledge ( you seem to be confusing knowledge with analysis of the concept of knowledge ).

    That is why animals can hunt and actually succeed in feeding themselves ( they actually know where the prey is or will be or was etc ) and that is why small children can have knowledge that their mother is standing in front of them .

    My point is that if this is possible the claim that all knowledge is ideological must be false.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    MO : “viz, that in the ordinary course our sensory apparatus conveys reliable information about the state of the world which warrant the honorific label “knowledge.”””

    Sorry I should have said that it seems tome that you are confusing knowledge of something being the case with knowing that one knows / knowing what knowledge is.

    The latter is not necessary for the former and actually presupposes the former: I am able to speculate and form theories about how cognition works or how language works because I have some knowledge of the world in the first place which is presupposed by my theorizing .

    Again this shows that it is crazy to claim that all knowledge is ideological.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    MO :

    “While it does not contribute anything of substance merely to dismiss Mbeki’s argument as “ideological,” it is a smart rhetorical move to observe, as PdV did, the irony that he appears to exempt his own discourse from that category.”

    Pierre DV is in no position to make this criticism because it applies to him too .

    Secondly, and more interestingly, PdV own intellectual commitments lead him to exactly same view Mbeki holds, not just re knowledge etc but about AIDS, since his own view commits him to thinking that whether HIV causes AIDS is true only relative to some ideology or other.

    This is basically Mbeki view .

    Interestingly, if PDV is committed to something like this view too, then he is in no position to criticise Mbeki a fellow traveler.

    What this shows in my opinion is that PDV hasnt thought through his criticism of Mbeki plus it shows , it seems tome , that PDV doesnt really understand his own view that well !

    That is interesting.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    magabangeljubane
    January 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Hey magabangeljubane,

    “Here it is, in Pierre’s own words, ‘knowledge is contested and … the terrain is intensely political’”.

    It certainly is.

    Perhaps, without accepting or rejecting someone’s views, understanding the context will guide us in interpreting whatever it is that is said.

    Rumsfeld represents amongst the worst that “democracy” has to offer – quoting him must mean that Mbeki has scraped the bottom of the barrel to support whatever it is that he tried to convey.

    But I agree with you, in that not everything that Rumsfeld (or Mbeki) had to say is necessarily wrong and not everything that Einstein (or Malema) had to say is necessarily correct.

    Pierre, I think, attempted (albeit rather clumsily) to convey that Mbeki’s speech was to create the space to justify his rather flawed intellectual positions previously on several very important matters even though he did not touch on those matters in the speech itself.

    Be that as it may, the essence of that speech i.e. “democratisation of knowledge” is a conversation which should be had, ongoing and elevated.

    It’s unfortunate that in this blog its ended up being assassinations of the intellectual characters of Mbeki and PdV (maybe justifiably so) – but that’s entertaining anyway.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    Let me also add that if it is true that all knowledge is ideological and all values too depend on ideology then what we have here is nihilism which is the view that there are no independently existing facts and values.

    The point is if this is true ( and I take PDV to hols just such a view ) then anything goes, literally .

    And in that case there is no way and no point in criticizing evil , falsehood , wrongness , oppression etc because there are no such things on this weird view PDV peddles here.

    As I keep pointing out to PDV when I comment on these posturings of his ( PDV writing on this type of topic is not really philosophy as this is understood in the business but a type of self display or bullshit as Harry Frankfurt calls it ) this is not a stable view which can be taken seriously because on basis of this type of “outlook” you cannot criticize anything nor does the notion of criticism makes sense .

  • joeslis

    “… it seems tome , that PDV doesnt really understand his own view that well!”

    Jsi blázen, Zdenek.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    “Jsi blázen, Zdenek.”

    Why do you think this ? Remember PDV is moonlighting when it comes to philosophy and that he gets paid for teaching law .

    When it comes to phil. I find that PDV talks shit so it is small wonder that he doesnt understand the implications of his claims .

    Anyway proc myslis ze jsem blazen ?

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    joeslis
    January 21, 2012 at 16:11 pm

    Lol joeslis!

    It’s refreshing that I ain’t alone.

    :P

  • Michael Osborne

    @ ZV

    ZV, we are to some extent at cross purposes. Note please that I referred in my post of 14h46 to “statements,” “claims,” and “arguments” as being “ideological.” I did not mean to refer to “knowledge” in the sense you are using it. So, your point about pre-lingusitic and animal “knowledge,” while valid, is not apposite.

    There is an ambiguity in the word “knowledge” that has given rise to confusion. I think that, when Mbeki uses the word, he is has in mind the fashionable contemporary sense of “knowledge” as public discourse. (Hence the term “the production of knowledge,” which is plainly not intended to denote incorrigible first person apperception.)

    Note also Mbeki’s express denial (!) that he is engaged in epistemology, for whatever that is worth.

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 21, 2012 at 15:51 pm

    “Let me also add that if it is true that all knowledge is ideological and all values too depend on ideology then what we have here is nihilism which is the view that there are no independently existing facts and values. ”

    Agreed. Even if there is no such a thing as objective knowledge or values then it is still up to humanity to invent such things that will attempt to describe our sense of collective humanity and to transcend our individual mortality. These attacks on rationality and moral philosophy is also an attack on what we understand to define us as being “human”.

    The more worrying aspect however is that pomo culture encourages and synically rewards academic inferiority, poor scholarship, intellectually superficiality and a general lack ctitical analyses. As I pointed out all of these are underlying currents in PdV et al’s special brand of indigenized CRT dressed up as unavoidable political imperatives, AA, BEE, “transformative constitutional” analysis, etc.

  • ozoneblue

    correction: “cynically”

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    @ozoneblue

    Excellent and thoughtful analysis.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    @ MO :

    “ZV, we are to some extent at cross purposes. Note please that I referred in my post of 14h46 to “statements,” “claims,” and “arguments” as being “ideological.” I did not mean to refer to “knowledge” in the sense you are using it. So, your point about pre-lingusitic and animal “knowledge,” while valid, is not apposite.”

    First, note that you are conceding that it is not the case that all knowledge is ideological. Your view now is that knowledge in the sense of arguments or statements are ideological. But secondly this view of knowledge is implausible because knowledge cannot be understood ( and no one understands it in this manner ) as just involving claims or arguments : I claim that earth is flat , that garlic cures AIDS or that earth is 3000 years old . These are claims which I may back up with argument but I dont possess knowledge that earth is 3000 years old if it is not true tht earth is 3000 years old. Truth is the issue in knowledge.

    Knowledge involves truth ( knowledge is justified true belief ) : when I say that I know that earth is round I am saying that it is the case or that it is a fact in the world that earth is round. In other words knowledge claims make metaphysical commitments about the world and when we in fact have knowledge of something or other then we know some truth or other ; we dont just have a belief or are in possession of some argument but rather stand in certain relation ( truth ) to the world.

    This is by the way why my point about animals is relevant and is a refutation of the claim that knowledge understood as justified true belief is ideological. It is a refutation because it is a counterexample to the claim that all knowledge is ideological.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    @MO :

    “There is an ambiguity in the word “knowledge” that has given rise to confusion. I think that, when Mbeki uses the word, he is has in mind the fashionable contemporary sense of “knowledge” as public discourse. (Hence the term “the production of knowledge,” which is plainly not intended to denote incorrigible first person apperception.)”

    I dont think there is a confusion. Even the ” contemporary ” usage involves the idea that knowledge involves truth . For example public discourse about the something like say whether war in Iraq was justified involves the claim that the statement ‘ Iraq war was justified ‘ is true or false and it will obviously apply to any knowledge claims.

    What you are drawing attention to is that pomo usage wants to say that truth is constructed by us and that is why knowledge can be created or produced. The crazy idea which I keep criticizing and which keeps popping up here is that truths/facts like that HIV causes AIDs is constructed by us . We make it the case that HIV causes AIDS and it is in this sense that our knowledge is ideological : what we know ( facts ) and how we know those facts is dependent on ideology ( or language , discourse etc.).

    This is called constructivism ( goes back to Kant ) and when you combine it with relativism ( not Kant who was a universalist and not a relativist ) you have the sort of view on display here and peddled by PDV and this is also the view Mbeki defends . And we have seen where it led Mbeki with regards to AIDS.

    As I pointed out very few people in philosophy take this sort of position seriously and is defended by people who are not philosophers.

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 21, 2012 at 20:07 pm

    I don’t really have problem that Mbeki may have dabbled in AIDS dissidence as PdV put it. I think it is healthy that scientists explore alternative theories and challenge existing and excepted paradigms. This is all part of the scientific process, whether Mbeki should have made it into somewhat of a circus in the arena of public health policy is a different matter all together.

    I do have a problem with generalised statements “contention that knowledge is contested and that the terrain is intensely political” as if most of what we think we know about science should first be interpreted through a subjective political filter. Further in the context of the colonial victimhood versus domination of the “whiteness’ typical of CRT that conspiratorial state of mind that Western thinking and science is formulated in a racially segregated laboratory (never mind the fact that we use Hindu-Arabic numerals for example) and is motivated by a sort of irrational White supremacist urge to dominate and subjugate other races – and in particular the “Black race”.

  • ozoneblue

    correction: accepted paradigms

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    @ozoneblue:

    “I don’t really have problem that Mbeki may have dabbled in AIDS dissidence as PdV put it. I think it is healthy that scientists explore alternative theories and challenge existing and excepted paradigms…”

    I dont believe Mbeki is a dissident in that sense . He is more like the creationist who doubts evolution not because he has an alternative *scientific* theory to explain life on earth but because he rejects scientific picture and scientific method altogether.

    Postmodernist ( Mbeki )and the creationist both reject science because both think that science is hegemonic and supremacist because it assumes that it alone can answer questions regarding the nature of the world .

    Both claim that what science says is true from the western point of view and true for western mind but not an African mind and not from an African point of view ( Mbeki ) and similarly that earth is millions of years old or that evolution is true is true only from scientific point of view but not from religious point of view and both perspectives are equally valid (creationist ).

    The point is that this is a deeply *anti science* and anti enlightenment view and it is error in my opinion to see Mbeki as some sort of friend of science working within it challenging current scientific picture of the nature of AIDSand whojust made a mess of public health policy.

    It is this deeper view ( his epistemology /metaphysics if you like ) which explains why Mbeki holds the views about knowledge being contested and why he regards knowledge as a political matter and also why his public health policy became a circus .

  • Gwebecimele

    Mbeki is a wise man who had more than 12yrs to practise his wisdom on us. His theories, analysis and knowledge are well understood by the poor masses. Due to his thinking, now know that a ministers require a ” Ministerial Hanbook” in order to perform at their peak and that the west misled us to buy arms, tolls etc.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    January 20, 2012 at 22:00 pm

    Dwork,

    Interpret please.

    Obviously, in the past, this happened in the context of unequal circumstances, which made it impossible for the contradictory ideas to contend on an intellectually even playing field.

    Does this mean that Mbeki thinks that White people are smart and Black people are DOF?

    Khosi, is he right?

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 21, 2012 at 23:59 pm

    “He is more like the creationist who doubts evolution not because he has an alternative *scientific* theory to explain life on earth but because he rejects scientific picture and scientific method altogether. ”

    I don’t think there is enough evidence in what Mbeki has said in the past to come to such a conclusion. I believe he is an African patriot who has perhaps fallen into the philosophy of Black victimhood as explained, a deeply irrational, unscientific and conspiratorial school and train of thought originating within the USA law schools during the 80s and that has become on of its most destructive and unproductive academic exports.

    The assumption that “Western science” is the productive of “White supremacy” needs to be challenged. It is true however that Eurocentric versions of the history of humanity including the history of scientific discovery is warped. There is lot of evidence to support such a claim ranging from the omission of scientific and knowledge production in places like India and China to bizarre accounts on the origins of the Zimbabwe ruins in Africa.

    “Reason 2: Multi-polar historical perspectives must replace Eurocentrism:

    Since the dawn of history, different peoples have contributed to different branches of science and technology, often through interactive contacts across cultures separated by large distances. This interactive influence is becoming clearer as the vast extent of pre-colonial global trade and cultural migration is being properly understood by researchers. However, one finds a mainly Eurocentric perspective in the teaching of the history of science. Typically, it starts with Greece, neglecting the influences of others upon Greece. Then it ‘fast forwards’ many centuries into 1500 CE to claim modern science as an exclusively European triumph, neglecting the influence of others (especially India) on the European Renaissance and the Enlightenment. The European Dark Ages are presumed to be dark worldwide, when, in fact, other regions saw innovation and prosperity. In fact, Europe was at the peripheries, until the conquest of America in 1492.

    With the entrenchment of colonialism, the contribution made by others, including India, was ignored. The British colonizers could never accept that Indians were highly civilized as far back as the third millennium BCE when the British were still in a barbarian stage. Such acknowledgment would destroy Europe’s intellectual premise for colonization � its civilizing mission. Early British scholars documented Indian thought and its external manifestations as systems competing with their own and thus facilitated the transfer of technology into what became known as Britain’s Industrial Revolution. What was found valuable was quickly appropriated and its Indian manufacturers were forced out of business, often through draconian laws enacted by the British. This was, in many instances, justified as civilizing them. Meanwhile, a new history of India was fabricated to ensure that generations of mentally colonized people would believe in the inherent inferiority of their own traditional knowledge. This has been called Macaulayism, named after Thomas Macaulay, the civil servant who became the most prominent champion of such British cultural imperialism strategy starting in the 1830s.”

    http://www.indianscience.org/

  • Dmwangi

    @PdV:

    “knowledge is contested and that the terrain is intensely political….”

    Didn’t your Oxford-trained colleague already effectively impugn this assertion?

    And you should speak with him about the difference between ‘structure’ and ‘purpose’ in constitutional interpretation. Your comments a few days ago indicate you believe the two are interchangeable concepts. They are not.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    @ozoneblue :

    “I don’t think there is enough evidence in what Mbeki has said in the past to come to such a conclusion. I believe he is an African patriot who has perhaps fallen into the philosophy of Black victimhood as explained, a deeply irrational, unscientific and conspiratorial school and train of thought originating within the USA law schools during the 80s and that has become on of its most destructive and unproductive academic exports.”

    I cannot agree with this. Mbeki has said and written ( he used to write a weekly bit in ANC -Today ) enough over the years to make it clear that he endorses postmodernism of some flavour ( what flavour exactly is moot but not really the issue here because the epistemology is same ).

    Note that even PDV notices this above and awards Mbeki credit points for this ,calling it “Foucauldian turn” .

    That is exactly right, the only difference is that in my view Mbeki has held this sort of view for quite a long time. Not that surprising because pomo stuff goes back to 1970’s and has had huge impact culturally and on social sciences and humanities.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    @ ozoneblue:

    “It is true however that Eurocentric versions of the history of humanity including the history of scientific discovery is warped…. Multi-polar historical perspectives must replace Eurocentrism…”

    I thought we were roughly in agreement about pomo, but now I am not sure after taking a peep at the site you link to, and after seeing that you seem to endorse its position.

    In my opinion the talk of ‘multipolar historical perspectives and narratives which need to replace Eurocentrism’ which you seem to endorse is just code for pomo influenced postcolonial studies talk . All the metaphors and some of the arguments are on display : western science is Eurocentric , hegemonic ….blah , blah,

    This is interesting because this is exactly the sort of view PDV and Mbeki peddle and you are critical of their stance .

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    @ozoneblue,

    The site you linked to ( indianscience.org ) is a text book example of postcolonial studies gobbledygook . Among other things the authors say the following :

    “…Western criteria should not be the sole benchmark by which non-Western cultural knowledge is evaluated. ….Using contrived hegemonic categories – such as science verses magic, technology verses superstitions, modern versus tradition …”

    Note that as I pointed out earlier the claim is that western science has its own criteria of validity and indigenous knowledge such as witchcraft , religion has its own criteria. In other words science is true in the west and magic say is true in parts of the world where it is taken seriously. Truth is relative to particular culture and particular set of beliefs.

    For example scientific view about AIDS says that it is cause by HIV but that is true in the west and not South Africa . In South Africa however the indigenous view about AIDS may see the illness as a punishment or bewitchment by spirits and so on and this is true in South Africa. And crucially the idea is that if you try to argue that the scientific view about what causes AIDS is true independently of of where or by whom it was discovered or shown to be true ( and hence that AIDS is caused by HIV in South Africa or anywhere for that matter ) then you are promoting a hegemonic view of nature of knowledge and one which involves a type of cultural and mental colonialism and hence is wrong ( philosophically, politically, morally ).

    As should be obvious this is not only an absurd view which doesnt hold water but also a pernicious one, as we know in SA from experience.

  • Excalibur

    Hey Zdenek

    Shaddup already !

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 22, 2012 at 9:44 am

    “In my opinion the talk of ‘multipolar historical perspectives and narratives which need to replace Eurocentrism’ which you seem to endorse is just code for pomo influenced postcolonial studies talk .”

    Well it is not. Perhaps I misunderstood your pov and you are just the other side Black victimhood/White Supremacy coin?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_science_and_technology_in_China

    and how about this one:

    “Erwin Schrodinger is a prominent example showing how eastern philosophy can profoundly influence western thought in the field of fundamental science.”

    http://www.photonics.cusat.edu/article2.html

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 22, 2012 at 10:32 am

    “For example scientific view about AIDS says that it is cause by HIV but that is true in the west and not South Africa .”

    Well Duesberg for example didn’t rely on “pomo mumbo jumbo” to note key differences in the epidemiology of AIDS in the USA/Europe versus Africa for example.

    Likewise the American and European AIDS epidemics:
    (i) rose steadily, not exponentially,

    (ii) were completely non-randomly biased 85% in favor of males,

    (iii) have followed first the over-use of recreational drugs, and then the extensive use of anti-AIDS-viral drugs (Duesberg & Rasnick, 1998),

    (iv) do not manifest in one or even just a few specific diseases typical of microbial epidemics,

    (v) do not spread to the general non-drug using population.”

    http://www.duesberg.com/subject/africa2.html

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    @ ozoneblue :

    ” Perhaps I misunderstood your pov and you are just the other side Black victimhood/White Supremacy coin?”

    What has science or philosophy got to do with whiteness ? Whether scientific theory is true, justified, confirmed or has explanatory power has nothing to do with the racial identity or gender of scientists who formulated the theory in question.

    As far as your interesting Schrodinger link goes . The author doesnt come even close to showing that Schrodinger’s work in physics ( and this is what he is famous for and not his speculations on nature of life ) is based on his dabbling into Indian philosophy.

    Why ? Well , from the fact that someone has such and such religious beliefs it doesnt follow that those beliefs are or have to be involved in the persons scientific work. Darwin for eg was a Christian but it doesnt follow that his theory of evolution is based on a bible or is a religious work.

    This is exactly the sort of claim that the author you linked to is making about Schrodinger and it involves an error of reasoning called genetic fallacy.

    On a connected note what you are linking to is based on Hindu Nationalist ideology and as a number of writers have shown ( Meera Nanda 2003 for eg ) it does involve postmodernist assumptions in an effort to defend Hindu Nationalism and what they call ‘Vedic Science’.

    As Nanda points out these efforts ( and your links are examples ) involves eroding the distinction between modern science superstition and in this way growth of reactionary modernism in India is fostered.

    ( Meera Nanda : Prophets Facing Backwards : Postmodern Critiques of science and Hindu Nationalism in India; Rutgers Uni. Press 2003 )

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    @ozoneblue :

    “Well Duesberg for example didn’t rely on “pomo mumbo jumbo” to note key differences in the epidemiology of AIDS in the USA/Europe versus Africa for example.”

    Good point but first note that I agree that criticism of the mainstream theory is normal and a part of scientific method ; theory of evolution ( another of many examples ) has its own internal critics who dont accept the mainstream interpretation and this is normal and vital part of how science works.

    But also please note that Duesberg’s views have not gained support in the science community ; more recently ( 2009 ? ) Duesberg has been investigated by Uni of California at Berkeley for improper scientific conduct.

    All in all there is no very good reason to think that he and other denialists are right.

  • Michael Osborne

    @ ZV

    “note that Duesberg’s views have not gained support in the science community ; more recently ( 2009 ? )

    ZV, are you not pushing an argument from authority? You appear essentially to be saying: “I have neither the time nor the education nor the experience to investigate this from myself, therefore I have no choice but to accept the mainstream scientific orthodoxy.”

    You deference to the appointed authority within a discipline appears also to extend to the meta issues. You (rightly) point out that PdV’s “pomo” views have more currency in the literature, law and history departments than in philosophical academia. But so what?

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    ozoneblue
    January 22, 2012 at 8:15 am

    Hey OB,

    “generations of mentally colonized people would believe in the inherent inferiority of their own traditional knowledge.”

    You mean coolies, don’t you?

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Pah!

    In the words of Mbeki, Gordhan is just a “FISHER OF CORRUPT MEN”.

    http://www.citypress.co.za/SouthAfrica/News/How-Limpopo-went-bankrupt-20120121

    In the Biblical Gospel according to St Matthew, it is said that Jesus Christ saw Simon Peter and his brother Andrew fishing in the Sea of Galilee. And he said to them: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

    Some in our country have appointed themselves as “fishers of corrupt men”. Our governance system is the sea in which they have chosen to exercise their craft. From everything they say, it is clear that they know it as a matter of fact that they are bound to return from their fishing expeditions with huge catches of corrupt men.

    http://southafrica-pig.blogspot.com/2008/08/fishers-of-corrupt-men.html

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 22, 2012 at 13:10 pm

    “As far as your interesting Schrodinger link goes . The author doesnt come even close to showing that Schrodinger’s work in physics ( and this is what he is famous for and not his speculations on nature of life ) is based on his dabbling into Indian philosophy.”

    Well then you fundamentally misunderstand that culturally prevalent views on metaphysics also informs and the kind of scientific paradigms and models we construct.

    “You may recall the Schrödinger’s Cat paradox, which was first published in its “scientific form” in 1935 in Zeitschrift der Physick. However in his 1925 essay he recounts an ancient Sankhya Hindu paradox that, jazzed up with some technology, became the cat paradox. In that original form the paradox was cast in the form of two people, one looking at a garden, the other in a dark room. The modern equivalent would be one person looking in the box to see if the cat is alive or dead, while a second person waits out in the hall. As we discussed, in this modern form the state “collapses” for the first person while it does not collapse for the second person.

    In 1925 Schrõdinger resolved that paradox the way the Vedantists did: he asserted that all consciousness is one. As he wrote:

    “But it is quite easy to express the solution in words, thus: the plurality [of viewpoints] that we perceive is only “an appearance; it is not real. Vedantic philosophy, in which this is a fundamental dogma, has sought to clarify it by a number of analogies, one of the most attractive being the many-faceted crystal which, while showing hundreds of little pictures of what is in reality a single existent object, does not really multiply the object.”

    Here is another fragment of that essay:

    “… you may suddenly come to see, in a flash, the profound rightness of the basic conviction of Vedanta: … knowledge, feeling and choice are essentially eternal and unchangeable and numerically one in all men, nay in all sensitive beings.”

    Do you think that Schrödinger had such a flash of insight? Is this the sort of insight which in the Eastern traditions is sometimes called enlightenment?

    Finally, Schrödinger himself makes an interesting analogy between Vedantic philosophy and modern physics:

    “If finally we look back at that idea of Mach [that `the universe is not twice given'], we shall realize that it comes as near to the orthodox dogma of the Upanishads as it could possibly do without stating it expressis verbis. The external world and consciousness are one and the same thing.” ”

    http://www.upscale.utoronto.ca/PVB/Harrison/DevelQM/DevelQM.html

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 22, 2012 at 13:31 pm

    “But also please note that Duesberg’s views have not gained support in the science community ; more recently ( 2009 ? ) Duesberg has been investigated by Uni of California at Berkeley for improper scientific conduct.”

    Accusations of misconduct that he has been cleared of since he published his latest paper on HIV-AIDS.

    http://www.nature.com/news/paper-denying-hiv-aids-link-secures-publication-1.9737

  • ozoneblue
  • Zdenek Vajdak

    MO ,

    Re appealing to authority.

    If I want to know why my camera is not working I ask an expert and same applies to what causes AIDS. We rely on authority of others all the time for acquiring knowledge not only in science ( scientists rely on other experts for knowledge that they themselves dont possess and acquire only via testimony of others who are experts ) but also in courts of law and in every day life ( hence my camera example ). It is a type of inductive knowledge in the sense that we acquire true justified beliefs from people who possess them and pass them on to us.

    What about postmodernism being propagated by amateurs ? What I am saying is that the discovery of such a fact ( pomo not being taken seriously by professional philosophers ) should undermine your confidence in such views just as the discovery that no astronomer takes astrology seriously should undermine your confidence in astrology.

    The claim is not that such views must be false but rather a weaker claim is being made that such views are *probably* false ( since they are not espoused by experts ).

    So my criticism is actually an *inductive* argument and not a deductive one and that is the reason why I am not guilty of arguing from authority ( appealing to authority to put it formally ) in the problematic sense ( my argument does not have the ad verecundiam form which is an invalid form of argument .)…..very long winded , sorry.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    @ozoneblue :

    “Well then you fundamentally misunderstand that culturally prevalent views on metaphysics also informs and the kind of scientific paradigms and models we construct.”

    I think this is back to front : metaphysics which comes from science viz. metaphysical naturalism influences culture. That is, the influence is largely the other way viz from science to culture.

    As far as Schrodinger goes the same applies to his views which have had an impact on science . Of course in his writings he engages in philosophical speculation which departs from the received scientific outlook which involves metaphysical naturalism but that of course doesnt show that such speculations become part of the received view.

    And of course Schrodinger knows it. You seem to be confusing quasi religious musings with science. Einstein did the same thing and of course other scientists did too : think of Newton or Kepler who saw his work as confirming astrological speculations but of course that doesnt show that astrology is part of science.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    ozoneblue:

    “Accusations of misconduct that he has been cleared of since he published his latest paper on HIV-AIDS.”

    Well, in minds of people who brought the action against Duesberg ( TAC’s Geffen ) he has not been cleared partly because the investigation doesnt endorse the article in which Duesberg makes the statements which led to the action in the first place.

    In any case I am not arguing that Duesberg is dishonest or that he is a crook etc. My point is more modest which is that D ‘s views on AIDS are not respected and have not been taken seriously in the scientific community and that for that reason there is for now at least no reason to think that the denialists are right.

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 22, 2012 at 16:02 pm

    I must admit I may be quite clued up on some aspects of this debate but I’m not worthy to criticize or speak on behalf of greats like Newton, Einstein or Schrodinger’s influences or sources of inspiration.

    What is it that makes you so insightful, Zdenek? Perhaps I have missed some great scientific discovery you have made or that you have developed an entirely new branch of theoretical physics, are is it just that you are parroting Dawkins/Hitchens that seems to be the new post-pomo vogue amongst not only “intellectuals” but every second self-opinionated arsehole you meet on the streets?

  • Excalibur

    I know you like to lick black assholes but this is ridiculous.

    I’ll bet if Hitler were black you’d be calling him a genius.

    There is no brilliance about Mbeki, tragic or otherwise.

    Megalomania and murder by proxy are not traits of brilliance. The guy is a fruitcake. He’s insane but nobody wants to say it.
    What do you think that years of alcohol and tobacco abuse have done to his brain ? Refreshed it ? And given his penchant for pussy there is a good chance he suffers from syphilitic brain damage a la Mugabe as well.

    To call this narcissistic, murdering cunt brilliant just shows what an absolute chop you are. He deserves to be infected with AIDS and given beetroot and garlic. Now THAT would be brilliant

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 22, 2012 at 16:24 pm

    “My point is more modest which is that D ‘s views on AIDS are not respected and have not been taken seriously in the scientific community and that for that reason there is for now at least no reason to think that the denialists are right.”

    It is not about whether Duesberg is wrong or right. It is about the scientific process, intellectual independence, integrity and fundamental values including the apparently forgotten noble ideal of academic freedom. Science is not a democracy, even it a billion scientists all agree that the moon is made of chicken it doesn’t necessarily make it so.

  • sirjay jonson

    Prof: I note your somewhat generous attitude towards Mibeki’ talk on false knowledge; I also questioned myself reading his many words, I believe with an open mind. However, I know I recognize spin, as it is universal to power seekers, always utilized by the speaker and directed at a nation’s interest or curiosity. give them something new to munch, show them how brilliant I think I am. Its part of life and all societies, the charismatic 3B’s of self proclaimed or anointed leaders (including celebrities), past, and/or present.

    Truth is not only dubious in most occurrences, but is decidedly personal. Thus the challenges of court. One of the reasons I enjoy law so much is that ‘facts’ are presented and evaluated, not opinions, not prejudices, not self serving desire, lies of false beliefs, although these latter variables will be considered by a wise judge. I think its the reason why just law and the courts are so important in a free Democratic society.

    He of false knowledge now comes to us with the hypocritical sound bite theme of ‘false knowledge’, similar although not as emotive as JuJu’s economic freedom, but nevertheless a staged theme, exploitive, intentional. The media is lapping it up. Much of the public is either confused or fanatical about his utterances.

    If we want real wisdom and true knowledge when listening to a Mibeki, its his brother we need listen to. Odds are that his words, not Thabo’s, are closer to a reasonable truth.

  • sirjay jonson

    PS: I know I spell his name incorrectly. Likely a Freudian slip.

  • joeslis

    “There is no brilliance about Mbeki, tragic or otherwise”

    True, Excalibur. As philosophy teaches us, a great truth is a truth whose opposite is also a great truth, which is that Mbeki remains a stupid person’s idea of a clever person.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Excalibur
    January 22, 2012 at 17:24 pm

    Hey Excalibur,

    “What do you think that years of alcohol and tobacco abuse have done to his brain ?”

    Alcohol and tobacco abuse is his reason.

    What’s yours?

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Eish redi Direko.

    Spitting in the faces of who?

    Ah those guys.

    They’re irrelevant in the grander scheme of things but they’re the necessary inconvenience.

    These are politicians and civil servants who must have an innate sense of what is good and bad but consciously and deliberately choose the bad. Much is expected of them because many of them come from humble beginnings. You would think the poverty and hardships that characterised their upbringing would galvanise them into action to create this “better life for all”. Why, then, are they spitting in the faces of the poor?

    http://www.timeslive.co.za/opinion/columnists/2012/01/22/spitting-on-the-poor

  • ozoneblue

    ‘Gordhan rightly asked: “What have we descended to when we stop giving food to patients, just to defend our political base? Where is the morality?” The answer is obvious: the financial bankruptcy of Limpopo has been fuelled by moral bankruptcy.”

    How did that fascist pig that was spitefully boasting about how his son has been selected into a provincial cricket team simply because he was entitled to it because of the color of his skin put it again. He only believes in the “survival of the fittest” and in hedonism.

  • ozoneblue

    Peter Duesberg on why he believes there is no scientific evidence that Thabo Mbeki is “responsible for genocide”.

    http://www.omsj.org/reports/duesberg%202012.pdf

  • Michael Osborne

    @ Ozoneblue

    “Science is not a democracy, even it a billion scientists all agree that the moon is made of chicken it doesn’t necessarily make it so.”

    That is so in principle. But I lack the talent, the training and the time to weigh the evidence yielded by studies in comparative epidemiology. So, pragmatically, I have no choice but to believe the “experts” who tell us that HIV causes AIDS.

    It is by the same token that I accept that evolution operating by natural selection accounts for all life on earth today. I recently won a wager with two friends that they could not find a single member of the scientific faculty at any Ivy League university that embraced Creationism. I tell my friends: if accepting the consensus of an utterly overwhelming proportion of the scientific community makes me naive, then yes, I am naive.

  • ozoneblue

    Michael Osborne says:
    January 23, 2012 at 0:29 am

    “I tell my friends: if accepting the consensus of an utterly overwhelming proportion of the scientific community makes me naive, then yes, I am naive.”

    So just to clarify. Your basic capacity for logic and scientific knowledge is so minimal that if there was a consensus amongst an overwhelming majority of the scientific community that a flying spaghetti monster in the sky created the earth and the moon by waving his magic wand 200 years ago you would unconditionally accept that?

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    ozoneblue
    January 22, 2012 at 23:06 pm

    Hey OB,

    “How did that fascist pig that was spitefully boasting about how his son has been selected into a provincial cricket team simply because he was entitled to it because of the color of his skin put it again”

    I got even better news for you.

    My ten year old son has been made captain of the provincial cricket team. My son cries a lot – he cried when he got bowled out yesterday so the umpire gave him another chance. The coach wanted to select a White boy as captain but I objected, telling them that they are racist. The coach was sympathetic. Now my son’s the BOSS of the team. The White boy is helping him – carries his kit, gets his lunch, cleans his shoes. The White boy looks sad, I think I’ll buy him a can of Coke for the next game to make him happy. Maybe he should play rugby – what do you think?

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    ozoneblue
    January 23, 2012 at 1:37 am

    Hey OB,

    “if there was a consensus amongst an overwhelming majority of the scientific community that a flying spaghetti monster in the sky created the earth and the moon by waving his magic wand 200 years ago you would unconditionally accept that?”

    Prof MO doesn’t know nothing.

    Scientists try very hard to convince us of the stupid kind of things you suggested they could.

    Those scientists you talk about are lying because if there was no earth and moon 200 years ago then there was no sky to fly his carpet. And if there was no sky, the flying spaghetti monster would have just fallen down, flat on his face and got hurt or, worse still, died. Everyone knows dead spaghetti monsters cannot make anything – not the earth, not the moon, not even dinner.

    I think we should expose those scientists – what are their names?

  • ozoneblue

    professional Black says:
    January 23, 2012 at 7:13 am

    “My ten year old son has been made captain of the provincial cricket team.”

    I would say your son must enjoy it while he can. There is a new fashion of naturalism/atheism and “survival of the fittest” thinking amongst the racist White intellectuals like Dawkins/Hitchens and they may unwittingly be planting the seeds for a new European Renaissance.

  • Henri
  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    ozoneblue
    January 23, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Hey OB,

    “I would say your son must enjoy it while he can.”

    I think you’re jealous because my son is on his way to get his national colours.

    Re : “new European Renaissance”.

    PAH!

    Those okes cannot even run their finances.

    p.s. Hitchens died.

  • ozoneblue

    “President Jacob Zuma, who shared the stage with Zwelithini, did not directly respond to the king’s remarks.

    Instead, he said: “Today, we are faced with different challenges . challenges of reconciliation and of building a nation that does not discriminate against other people because of their colour or sexual orientation.””

    If only those gay racist Whites who go holidaying in Tel Aviv could figure out a way to pinkwash these primitive Africans. http://www.jpost.com/LifeStyle/Article.aspx?id=253121

    Perhaps PdV and friends have been conducting holiday workshops there to sharpen up on the femme + race crit.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    ozoneblue :

    “Science is not a democracy, even it a billion scientists all agree that the moon is made of chicken it doesn’t necessarily make it so.”

    True, but not relevant. The consensus re some theory or other ( say that T of evolution is true ) implies that people who dont go along with the received view are probably wrong and that their dissident view is probably false ( this follows from the fact that in practice consensus re some theory or other always involves reliance on scientific method which guides us to truth ).

    So while it is true that consensus that p is true doesnt *entail* truth of p, it is nevertheless true that consensus that p is true *makes it likely* that p is true : science is a matter of induction and not deduction .

    This is roughly why what you say is true but not relevant.

    ozoneblue :”….if there was a consensus amongst an overwhelming majority of the scientific community that a flying spaghetti monster in the sky created the earth and the moon by waving his magic wand 200 years ago you would unconditionally accept that?”

    Yes, because the issue is what is reasonable to believe . The current view is that such a hypothesis ( flying spaghetti monster hypothesis ) is false but that is because of a consensus– which you too are relying on when you reject the flying spaghetti monster hypothesis–which rules out such a hypothesis. The issue is that if enough scientists on the basis of good evidence came to hold the view that FSM hypothesis is true then that would be the right thing to believe.

    Of course right now such a hypothesis has nothing going for it and seems absurd but T of evolution was seen like that before it became accepted .In its time the suggestion seemed completely crazy but it isnt now and again only and only because a consesnsus has been built which takes the Tof E to be true and that onsd only that is a reason why it is reasonable to believe in T of E.

    Coming back to Duesberg and the denialists : what they say about AIDS may be true but it is not reasonable to take them seriously for now at least because the scientific community does not take them seriously which implies that what the denialists say is probably false .

  • Gwebecimele

    2012-01-22 10:00

    Njabulo S Ndebele
    Jackie Selebi is now in jail. Found guilty of engaging in illegal financial transactions for personal gain, otherwise known as corruption, he is serving a 15-year jail sentence. Many will feel “justice has been done”. A highly credentialed “big fish” of the new dispensation has finally been put behind bars.

    Who will be next among high- profile candidates who feature prominently under a cloud of suspicion in the national news? Who among them will be the next to fall from grace?

    But there is another question that deserves attention: just how far can the tide of this social and economic epidemic be significantly reversed by the arrest and imprisonment of the prominent corrupt when they are its viral agents?

    The scourge of corruption, as we all know, cannot be entirely eliminated. Keeping it at bay effectively is what most societies try to do at best. The successful ones keep it at bay through strong governance systems and highly professionalised institutions.

    These derive their mandate, authority and legitimacy from legal instruments founded on their respective national constitutions. Strong value-based institutions exert ethical and moral constraints over and above legal ones.

    But what happens where the scourge seems to be growing at a rate faster and more persistent than the social capacity of the state to contain it? What if the seeds of its spread are to be found in the social conditions of the society itself?

    Consider that Jackie Selebi has been a member of a powerful social group that shares the circumstances that finally sent him to jail. Moeletsi Mbeki has made an incisive analysis of social groups in current South Africa in the context of which one can understand certain dynamics.

    Since 1994, Selebi’s particular group, which Mbeki describes as the “bureaucratic bourgeoisie” has been in control of the state and has managed its wealth, largely a social and economic legacy of South Africa’s history of colonialism and racist oppression.

    This accumulated wealth suddenly became available and accessible to Selebi’s ascendent group through political power.

    It has wielded this power in conditions in which the genuine personal material needs of its members, shaped by historic deprivation, brutally compete with social commitment that once gave meaning to the struggle for liberation. In this tension, personal needs, with political power now at their disposal, will tend to trump social commitment. And the more that power yields material gratifications of all kinds, the deeper grows the impulse to hold on to it.

    Access to accumulated state wealth reduces any inclination there may ever have been to ­ re-order society to create new conditions for new wealth. The wealth now available will be spent far more than it can be replaced or grown.

    In such situations, justifications to hold on to power abound. These may include messianic notions of permanent power, “until Jesus returns”; or notions that no one else can bring about the necessary social transformations – only the leaders of the group in power can.

    For such consecrated leadership, constitutional rule soon becomes an impediment. It imposes the requirement of effort that is often too demanding on personal and group capability.

    Indeed the collective capability immediately available to the group sets the standards and the norms for maintaining group cohesion.

    These norms and standards are then reproduced internally and become more and more distant from external realities and the pressures they may impose.

    The group then becomes prone to new solidarities that eventually become corruptive.

    Soon, group interest substitutes for constitutional rule. The once revolutionary commitment to radical social transformation is replaced by opportunisms of the moment.

    Selebi’s social group further defined its character when it fractured into two sub-groups.

    One sub-group negotiated with the moneyed asset holders who have historically built South African capitalism, to share its assets. Black Economic Empowerment was designed as the preferred mechanism.

    The second sub-group successfully mobilised both the working class and the underclass of millions of the poor and unemployed to gain political power.

    With direct access to enormous state wealth, it began an unprecedented looting of the fiscus at various levels of fiscal management. Examples of splurging abound to indicate a looting well under way.

    Meanwhile, traditional capitalists, overwhelmingly white, lost the buffer of the sub-group that first negotiated with them, and are now directly exposed to the sub-group in power. They are vulnerable to various forms of extortion.

    At this point, the political indulgence of personal material needs results in something far more deeply menacing for the body politic. It results in corruptive collusions.

    These collusions become new foundations of group solidarity. They effectively replace the old solidarities of struggle. The latter, though, can continue to be invoked and retained more as a necessary mantra of commitment, and far less as an objective to be pursued.

    Corruptive collusions offer group protection and will be hostile towards any regulatory measures, whatever their merits, which emanate from outside the group. Even the national constitution is an outside phenomenon.

    Any guilt from abandoning struggle values the group will share through ritualistic recalls of past heroism and numerous political declarations of intent and a plethora of policies.

    They deploy the mantras of “poverty reduction”, “job creation”, “combating crime and corruption”. These mantras have high appeal. But their effect weakens only because the more the sub-group in power asserts itself through a corrupted perspective, the less capability it demonstrates for solving social problems that require committed and principled effort.

    Thus, the corrupted perspective achieves a defining outcome: it conceals the real power of personal material needs and its enormous capacity to violate a committed and principled attention to radical social transformation.

    Corrupt concealment becomes the primary mechanism by which corruption in general spreads throughout the body politic. The impact on state governance is severe. Corruption becomes a principle of solidarity. It feeds and maintains solidarity.

    The political party thus infected becomes itself the very agent of corruption. Corruption becomes its raison d’etre, lived but never declared; condemned generally, never specifically; and threatened but never rooted out.

    So, no matter how many Jackie Selebis can be jailed, many more are concealed under the cloud of the cohesive power of corrupted solidarities. The corrupted system, in order to preserve itself, will never expose them.

    Instead it will work to evolve more inventive, and increasingly more invasive, ways of concealing their presence and their dark intentions.

    Corruption in South Africa then comes across as both transactional and then as a mode of perceiving the political and economic reality and the possibilities that reality offers. Concealment is its necessary method of operation.

    Indeed, corruption and concealment are two sides of the same coin. Seen from this perspective, South Africa may currently be moving through a dangerous transitional phase from the ad hoc practice of corruption to its steady institutionalisation through law and regulation. It is a phase that once crossed, will be difficult to reverse.

    The contours of formal consolidation are already discernible in the emergence of the intelligence services as the preferred apex driver of state security. They are the source of the recently passed Protection of State Information Bill, largely characterised by a concerned broad public as a “secrecy bill”.

    The entire process is reminiscent of the Zanufication of the state in Zimbabwe through a constellation of intelligence services, the armed forces, the police service, the broadcasting services, and the veteran and youth movements which then answer not to the citizens through parliament, but to corrupted and centralised solidarities in the party in power. Add to this the unending attempt to weaken the judiciary.

    The overall effect is to substitute sectarian political interest for professional and public accountability in the workings of these institutions.

    What we are dealing with then is corruption as a systemic phenomenon. This phenomenon involves more than stealing from the public purse, more than obtaining the undeserved tender from colluding cronies in power.

    Rather, it becomes something more existential when it occupies the very thinking and affective processes people use in making survival decisions.

    All this does not mean that the vast majority of individuals in a corrupted system choose to live corruptly. Many may probably abhor the system. But it can mean that many fail to demonstrate an inclination to resist the system, and that by their failure they permit the system to taint them. Through such accommodation, the corruptive culture triumphs.

    The power of corruptive culture is in its ability to deter dissent through the diffusive effect of corruptive collusion.

    So when the party orders those that are ashamed and wish to resign over the “travelgate” scandal revelations, to stay at their posts, the party takes over the ethical and moral lives of its members.

    In this way, the party consigns its own members to the purgatory of ethical anguish. The party then goes on to get Parliament, in which it is the majority, to write off R12 million in outstanding debt owed to it by members of Parliament who were implicated in the scandal, allowing them to steal from the public with impunity.

    Next, they are all summoned to vote in favour of the Protection of State Information Bill generally understood by a sceptical public as the protection of the corrupt information bill. How do these members feel after the voting victory? More loyal? More patriotic? More owned? Compelled to feel triumphant? Protected? Abused?
    Anguished? Low-esteemed? Depressed? Indifferent? It could be all of the above, graphically illustrating the existential impact of a corrupt culture.

    Existential anguish is the price to be paid by those who live in such a culture and opt to ignore the inner voice of conscience in favour of the deceptions and illusions of corrupted solidarities.

    Such anguish can afflict an entire society. Vaclav Havel captured for global posterity a form of such a society in his essay The Power of Powerlessness.

    Where the drivers of our particular form of emergent society are redress/redistribution and development/social transformation, redress has become the entry point to entitlement (a vehicle for corruption), and social transformation a niggling ethical burden.

    The scenario could lead us to a form of government by revolutionary sentiment in which the revolution is never articulated; loudly invoked, but never explained.

    In effect, explanations are impossible since the most manifest effect of such a government is the increase of social inequality partly through the legislated privileges of the bureaucratic bourgeoisie to access state wealth with decreasing impediment.

    We are not quite there yet. But we may be if the National Council of Provinces should decide to endorse the parliamentary vote on the Protection of State Information Bill.

    At that point we will have gone way beyond law enforcement in combating corruption. Not only could law enforcement itself have been compromised, but also because systemic corruption invades the very human capacity to imagine anything other than the corrupted world it has created.

    It attacks the public’s capacity to imagine a different future of freedom so it becomes hostage to a lower order of aspiration.

    This understanding introduces us to a new terrain in the quest for human freedom in South Africa. It is about re-orientating the state away from the assured decay towards which we have been travelling as a result of some of the decisions we have taken since 1994. But we cannot re-orientate by uncritically restoring the objectives of the struggle for liberation. Some of those have become the comfort zones of the corruptive culture.

    The fact is we still need more freedom, not less. We need to work more with what we now know since 1994 and then re-imagine our real possibilities for what we want to be by 2030 and beyond. How we will make this happen is the greatest challenge of our time.

    » Professor Ndebele is author of Fine Lines from the Box. He is also a research fellow in the Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative at University of Cape Town.

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 23, 2012 at 8:40 am

    “The current view is that such a hypothesis ( flying spaghetti monster hypothesis ) is false but that is because of a consensus– which you too are relying on when you reject the flying spaghetti monster hypothesis–which rules out such a hypothesis.”

    I happen to reject the FSM theory (no matter what any community of scientists may have to say) on the basis of a pretty solid understanding of basic scientific principles that informs my logical reasoning. So in essence we are not much further than the dark middle ages when the Catlicks ruled the world based on an implicit monopoly on knowledge/reason re-enforced through a regime of coercion?

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    ozoneblue :

    “…. There is a new fashion of naturalism/atheism and “survival of the fittest” thinking amongst the racist White intellectuals like Dawkins/Hitchens and they may unwittingly be planting the seeds for a new European Renaissance.”

    These guys are a breath of fresh air if you ask me ( there is also Dennett , Pinker and of course majority of scientists and philosophers ) although I dont get the racism accusation which seems a desperate slur if you ask me. What they stand for is science and naturalistic philosophy and also of course human rights , liberalism and cosmopolitanism ( old enlightenment values ) and this is why the racism slur is absurd .

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 23, 2012 at 9:17 am

    “What they stand for is science and naturalistic philosophy and also of course human rights,”

    I assume there must be some scientific consensus that “naturalistic philosophy” doesn’t imply a Darwinian component of “survival of the fittest” and is therefore totally compatible with metaphysical humanistic values of “human rights”.

  • Miikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Zdenek / OB

    Zdenek, I am not quote sure why OB thinks that Dawkins is “racist.” Maybe he will himself explain.

    But OB is surely right in diagnosing Hitchens as a racist. We all know that Hitchens calls the Prophet a “epileptic plagiarist,” and the Holy Koran a book of “vicious fairytales” only because he knows that Islam is the chosen faith of black people.

    Well spotted OB!

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    ozoneblue :

    “I happen to reject the FSM theory (no matter what any community of scientists may have to say) on the basis of a pretty solid understanding of basic scientific principles that informs my logical reasoning. So in essence we are not much further than the dark middle ages when the Catlicks ruled the world based on an implicit monopoly on knowledge/reason re-enforced through a regime of coercion?”

    Not *bare* consensus but consensus on basis of applying scientific method . I thought that was clear. Scientists dont count votes to see whether T of E is true or whether Duesberg’s view is true . An agreement is reached on basis of which theory stands up in tests best and on basis of that a consensus is reached .

    The notion of ‘scientific consensus’ implies that it involves due application of principles which guide inquiry especially in the context of justification .

    So if there were a scientific consensus that FSM theory is true then it would be reasonable to believe it of course . Your rejection of FSM theory in such a context would be dogmatic and irrational.

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 23, 2012 at 10:08 am

    OK – so to come back to what Duesberg is saying in his paper. If it is accepted that HIV causes AIDS and that AIDS is an irrecoverable and fatal disease, why does there seem to be no correlation between very high reported HIV infection rates (up to 30% in some regions) in Africa reported ever since the 1980s and mortality rates and/or population growth. There is the basic logical contradiction that I simply cannot rap my uninformed FSM theory rejecting mind around.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    ozoneblue :

    “I assume there must be some scientific consensus that “naturalistic philosophy” doesn’t imply a Darwinian component of “survival of the fittest” and is therefore totally compatible with metaphysical humanistic values of “human rights”.”

    I think this is an interesting issue you are raising . The answer is that there is a broad agreement that T of E is compatible with morality generally and human rights specifically.

    You can see such an account in Sam Harris’s discussion ( he is a utilitarian ) but that is not the only way to make sense of human rights from evolutionary point of view . For example John Ralws’ theory which is Kantian and therefore quite different from utilitarianism and for that reason sits very comfortably with the notion of human rights , is also compatible with T of E.

    But I also have to point out that some theorists who work on this matter ( Richard Joyce for eg ) think that Darwinism leads to moral nihilism. JL Mackie is classic example of this view .This is though a minority view in my opinion.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    ozoneblue: “If it is accepted that HIV causes AIDS and that AIDS is an irrecoverable and fatal disease, why does there seem to be no correlation between very high reported HIV infection rates (up to 30% in some regions) in Africa reported ever since the 1980s and mortality rates and/or population growth. There is the basic logical contradiction that I simply cannot rap my uninformed FSM theory rejecting mind around.”

    This is not a contradiction because being a fatal and irrecoverable disease doesnt imply that all infected people will die at same rates.

    This should be obvious .

    Some infected people resist better and of course there is the possibility that some people have hints of immunity which is a mutation in some populations and so the rates of death /survival can be all over the place.

    The reasoning Dueseberg displays is silly and perhaps sophistical and this is obviously one big reason why people dont take him seriously .

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 23, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Interesting. So again please indulge my ignorance on these matters. Lets say for a silly example that in Apartheid South Africa Whites gave up political+state power because of a general consideration of and international pressure base on the doctrine of human rights and it then turns out that because of that moral action of submission of control they suffer under a genocidal act of retribution. How would such an ostensibly natural yet suicidal moral act then be interpreted in a Darwinian “survival as the basic driver” context.

  • Vuyo

    As expected, a hatched job by Pierre De Vos. Embarrassing.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    MDF :

    “But OB is surely right in diagnosing Hitchens as a racist. We all know that Hitchens calls the Prophet a “epileptic plagiarist,” and the Holy Koran a book of “vicious fairytales” only because he knows that Islam is the chosen faith of black people.”

    This is a joke, right ?

    So what that H calls Koran vicious fairytales. He says the same thing about the bible . So what ?

    Is he a racist in the latter case too ?

    Hitchens also thinks that Islam is a type of fascism ( and again he thinks the same thing about christianity ) but again what has that to do with being a racist ?

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 23, 2012 at 11:04 am

    “Hitchens also thinks that Islam is a type of fascism ( and again he thinks the same thing about christianity ) but again what has that to do with being a racist ?”

    And that must be exactly why he sided with GW Bush in overthrowing the secular Baathist government in Iraq to replace it with an Islamic one? Or with the USA against the atheist regime in old USSR.

  • Excalibur

    @ Vuyo

    The correct term is hatchet ( a small axe) and not hatched (which is what eggs do)

    You’re fucking dumb. How embarrassing !

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    ozoneblue:

    “And that must be exactly why he sided with GW Bush in overthrowing the secular Baathist government in Iraq to replace it with an Islamic one? Or with the USA against the atheist regime in old USSR.”

    He thinks ( thought ) Baathism is a type of fascism, no doubt , and wanted to see it replaced with a secular and democratic government .

    During cold war Hichens was a marxist and was anti- American.

    If you gonna criticize H shouldnt you try to understand his views a bit better ?

  • Vuyo

    Thanks Excalibur. Hatchet job it is (its a bit tough to speak, spell, write, etc, twelve languages at the same time). I gather you agree with De Vos?

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Ozoneblue is right.

    The fact that Hitchens was a racist was made clear by the fact that he supported (white) Amerika’s war of imperialist aggression against (somewhat darker), Iraq!

    Thanks.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    MDF

    The fact that Hitchens was a racist was made clear by the fact that he supported (white) Amerika’s war of imperialist aggression against (somewhat darker), Iraq!

    Yes, let’s speak truth to power and let the oppressed masses of the world unite against the imperialist , racist , satanic , impure infidel Amerika .

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Zdenek

    I say Hitchens’ horrible attacks on Christianity were RACIST insofar as he was well aware that most Africans were Christian.

    Indeed, the brand of “new” Atheism is the preserve largely of prosperous white liberals in America and Oxford who count themselves too sophisticated to require the sentimental comforts of the traditional systems of faith that nourish the unwashed masses!

    Thanks.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    MDF

    “I say Hitchens’ horrible attacks on Christianity were RACIST insofar as he was well aware that most Africans were Christian.”

    You are just joking or are being provocative but in case you are not : Its not racism because it doesnt involve thinking that people who are Christians are inferior in any way . You have to show that H thinks that and you can not do that.

    Example : If I say feminism is incoherent/ false etc I am not being a misogynist because I am criticizing the idea and not the person / persons who subscribe to the idea . I am not saying anything about any particular persons / persons.

    Or suppose Anthony Appiah ( who is an African philosopher a black dude ) says that Kant is wrong to think that his humanity formulation of his categorical imperative can serve as a foundation of morality because the formula depends on an implausible view of human psychology .

    Is he being a racist since Kant is a white dude ?

    But that is exactly what you are claiming and it is too stupid a view to take seriously, if you cant see it you should not comment and just watch.

    ( if you are just joking etc I apologize ).

  • Michael osborne

    Zdenek, you say we should ask the “experts” about matters that fall within their respective jurisdictions. Hence, when we want to know about matters biological, we ask biologist; I take it you are saying that we must respect whatever the consensus among the biologists is.

    This makes fine pragmatic sense, But it also given credence to the postmodern view that “knowledge” – read as the received wisdom of the age – is intimately tied to power. The postmodernists ask how and why the science faculties of the elite universities in the US and Europe have acquired the institutional power to decree the truth. Is this not for you a legitimate question?

    Zdenek, you say we should ask the “experts” about matters that fall within their respective jurisdictions. Hence, when we want to know about matters biological, we ask biologist; I take it you are saying that we must respect whatever the consensus among the biologists is.

    This makes fine pragmatic sense, But it also given credence to the postmodern view that “knowledge” – read as the received wisdom of the age – is intimately tied to power. The postmodernists ask how and why the science faculties of the elite universities in the US and Europe have acquired the institutional power to decree the truth. Is this not for you a legitimate question?

    If you recommend that the laymen of the 21st century ask our institutionally ordained experts about HIV/AIDS, evolution, UFO experiences, etc, would you have offered the same advice to a curious 13th Century layman? But that would entail that he must approach the theologians of the Catholic church (the acknowledged “experts” of the day on almost every subject), if they had concerns about, say, whether the earth was the centre of the universe. Would that have been a wise course for him to take?

  • Michael Osborne

    Strike first two paragraphs of prior posting – apologies.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    MDF:

    “Indeed, the brand of “new” Atheism is the preserve largely of prosperous white liberals in America and Oxford who count themselves too sophisticated to require the sentimental comforts of the traditional systems of faith that nourish the unwashed masses!”

    I think you are a racist or are adopting a pose of one .

    This whole talk about ‘white liberals who look down on others ….’ etc is motivated some sort of hatred/ dislike / snobbery , very likely racially motivated, indicated by the language you use which emphasizes race and ethnicity.

    Hatred / dislike / fear etc of whites which you are expressing is clearly racism .

    Interesting . Look in the mirror racist.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    MO “If you recommend that the laymen of the 21st century ask our institutionally ordained experts about HIV/AIDS, evolution, UFO experiences, etc, would you have offered the same advice to a curious 13th Century layman? But that would entail that he must approach the theologians of the Catholic church (the acknowledged “experts” of the day on almost every subject), if they had concerns about, say, whether the earth was the centre of the universe. Would that have been a wise course for him to take?”

    Brilliant question .

    I agree, you need to go with the best advice available and of course in middle ages theologians were the only game in town. Today we know better and know that such advice would be crap and turn to scientists.

    How do we know this ? We see what works and which advice delivers the goods just as we know which guy is the real expert when it comes to camera repairs for example , plumbing pool cleaning or medicine .

    The person who can repair my camera time and again and also of other people’s cameras is an expert whereas imposter camera repairer who has no clue and cannot fix my camera nor explain why it is broken is not an expert.

    Only now we can see that Roman Catholic Church ( or any other church including Islamic flavours ofcourse ) is like the imposter camera repairer; a type of bullshitter.

    This seems silly and babyish but basically that is at the end of the day the only answer we can ever give because there is no super, non scientific knowledge ( a priori knowledge ) which gives absolute certainty about things . Our knowledge of the world and our selves is contingent and revisable and only science can deliver it it seems .

  • Vuyo

    Pierre, I read this interesting article on free market capitalism. What Ha-Joon Chang says of capitalism applies to most (if not all) subjects (including health policy, education, foreign policy, the nature and form of the state, gender relations, etc) . To separate “knowledge” or “conventional wisdom” from politics (and the power relations in a society) is problematic in my opinion. I suspect that was one of the underlying contents of Mbeki’s speech (an aspect you missed owing to your own ideological constraints. After all, were to fully agree with him you would have to accept the in-principle faultiness of the manner of yours, the TAC’s, the media, etc, approach in engaging dissent, be it scientific or political. Interestingly, it seems to me Mbeki’s approach is consonant with transparency and democracy than the rather fascistic approach which would suggest that certain things not be discussed or questioned because they are contemporary sacred cows).

    I like Michael Osborne’s comment (of January 23, 2012 at 12:54 pm), about the 13th century layman. It raises a point often raised by Mbeki about the tendency in history for contemporary conventional wisdom to dominate simply because of the dominance (political/social/economic/etc) of one or more group in society. Hence his regular references to Galileo, whenever the predominant (contemporary) perspective is relied on to counter an opposite proposition.

    The article is reproduced below in full:

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Ha-Joon Chang: Free capitalism is anything but free

    Ever since the death of feudalism, the captains of capitalism have churned the wheels of spin to have us believe that free markets are free, globalisation is good, capitalism is fair and other fairy tales. Cambridge development economist Ha-Joon Chang says it’s high time we stopped drinking the pro-capitalist Kool-Aid. By MANDY DE WAAL.
    Markets are not a natural phenomenon but are merely political constructs. Prominent development economist and author of 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, Ha-Joon Chang says once you get your head around that concept, you’ll begin to see that there’s no economic theory that’s totally objective and you’ll understand why you shouldn’t be awed by “economic experts” who present their views as “scientific evidence”.
    Chang, who teaches economics at the University of Cambridge, is a dissenting voice in the world of economics who believes there’s no such thing as free markets and that free trade is anything but free, and doesn’t make countries richer.
    “The myth that free markets are the ‘natural’ order of things and that therefore any attempts to change their workings – through government intervention, trade unions, consumer boycotts – are interfering with the natural order is critical in maintaining the status quo,” writes Chang in an email interview with iMaverick. “Markets, unlike democracies, are run on the basis of one-dollar-one-vote, so if you say we should not interfere with the free workings of markets, we are implicitly saying that those who have money should be allowed to decide how societies are run. Once we begin to see free markets as what they really are, we become much more willing to challenge the economic status quo.”
    Flown into Namibia late last year to counsel cabinet members, deputy cabinet members and the heads of state-owned organisations on the country’s development plan, Chang doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to dispelling capitalist myths or exposing economic hypocrisy. One of his first books Kicking Away the Ladder got its name from his proposition that rich, developed countries used interventionist type policies to accrue massive wealth but then “kicked away this ladder” so that other developing countries couldn’t join the economic elite.
    This book was followed by Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism, which became a surprising hit in Chang’s birth country, Korea. Endorsed by Noam Chomsky and Financial Times’ Martin Wolf (known as the “Jeremiah who has the financial world’s ear”), Bad Samaritans sees Chang give unfettered capitalism and globalisation another swift kick in the gonads. This time with a little help from Monty Python, The Full Monty, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Tom Cruise and Mother Teresa.
    “Bad Samaritans got a lot of attention in my native Korea, because it was put on the list of books banned in the military barracks for their subversiveness,” writes Change. “It was a bestseller even before the ban… but the ban catapulted the book into a literary stratosphere in Korea, as it had the aura of a ban but was freely available in bookshops outside the military. To date, the Korean translation of the book has sold over 400,000 copies – probably double what it would have sold without the ban.”
    Writing to iMaverick, Chang describes the early stages of capitalism as short-sighted and harsh. “In its early days, child labour was prevalent, despite the fact that, in the long run, it hurts everyone, including the employers who use child labour, because it makes the future labour force un-educated and unhealthy. In those days, many people were against the bankruptcy law, because they believed that businesses fail only because the manager is dishonest or lazy – the possibility that they could fail due to systemic crises was not recognised. This made business failures very costly and therefore fewer businesses than today (in proportional terms) were created. Likewise, unemployment was seen as a result of worker’s laziness or greed (wanting too high wages) and thus was punished with workhouses and the like.”
    Over time a lot of reforms were instituted to address these myopic and cruel aspects of capitalism in what has become a lengthy, lengthy list that includes child labour regulation, restrictions on working conditions, environmental regulation, bankruptcy law, financial regulations, central banking and the welfare state. “Of course, for three decades until the outbreak of the current crisis in 2008, many of these changes were weakened, which produced many negative results, including the crisis itself,” explains Chang.
    Awarded the Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought, Chang thinks “free-market capitalism” – which he says is the variety of capitalism that has dominated the world in the last few decades – has served humanity very poorly.
    “It has increased inequality in most countries and even increased poverty in some countries. Most importantly, it hasn’t even increased economic growth. When free-market policies were re-introduced in the 1980s, after five decades of regulated capitalism (starting with the post-Depression reforms of the 1930s), their advocates argued that, even if they may increase inequality in the short run, those policies will in the end make everyone better off by accelerating growth. This has not happened,” Chang writes in his response to questions from iMaverick.
    “The world economy used to grow at around 3% in per capita terms in the 1960s and the 1970s. In the last three decades of free-market policies, it has grown at only about 1.5%.” Chang believes that much of the western world is drunk on an Anglo-American-style free market “Kool-Aid” because this style of capitalism mostly benefits those with money, thus a lot of effort is put into constructing spin that supports the status quo.
    “Economic elites all over the world have the incentive to promote such ideas. So they have supported sustained campaigns to promote free-market ideas and put pro-rich politicians in power. As a result, their ideas were spread and put into policy action around the world, unless there were strong countervailing forces – trade unions, left-leaning parties (although some of them, like the British Labour Party, more or less swallowed the Kool-Aid goo),” writes Chang.
    “Once the idea became dominant, it was difficult to counter it. Dissenting voices were deliberately ignored, if not actively choked off, and many people accepted it without questioning, because that is the easiest thing to do. As Professor Dumbledore says in Harry Potter, the choice is usually not between the good and the evil, but what is right and what is easy.”
    And as the economic elites promoted free-market spin ordinary people too busy with their everyday lives to devote serious efforts to understand the workings of the economy started drinking the free-market Kool-Aid as well and readily believing capitalist myths. Chang says that when it comes to understanding capitalism, most people rely on what they read and hear in the mass media, which are strongly influenced by the views propagated by those who have financial and political powers – namely the views that justify the status quo.
    “The intellectuals who supply these views – some of them in the academia, some of them in think-tanks, and some in the media – find it intellectually easy, politically convenient, and (sometimes) financially advantageous to ‘go with the flow’, rather than ‘rocking the boat’ by asking inconvenient questions. The result is that people get to accept so many myths and unwarranted assumptions about capitalism, even as they occasionally feel that those dominant ‘stories’ do not conform to their everyday experiences, because they hear nothing else.”
    The media readily support pro-establishment economists, media puffs are given to free-market economists and high praise is heaped on economists like Alan Greenspan (once referred to in the media as a “maestro”). But in the wake of the financial collapse, the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement, the free market Kool-Aid doesn’t taste as good as it once used to. At a time when ordinary people are getting disenchanted with capitalism and economists like Chang are getting more exposure creating a more balanced view of what capitalism is and what it isn’t and giving rise to much needed economic scepticism.
    “I am one of the very few dissenting economists who are lucky enough to have been hired by a major university and I can tell you that I will be taken much less seriously if I worked in some less famous institution.” Thankfully Chang’s well ensconced at Cambridge which has a bold history of championing economists with dissenting voices, like its Emeritus Professor of Economics Robert Rowthorn who’s strongly influenced by Karl Marx and other fierce critics of capitalism.
    Now isn’t it high time we stop drinking the Kool-Aid and open our minds to critical thinking from credible voices of dissent on the subject of economics instead of free market defenders who present spin as fact? DM
    This article first appeared in iMaverick on 10 January 2012.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    MO

    “But it also given credence to the postmodern view that “knowledge” – read as the received wisdom of the age – is intimately tied to power. The postmodernists ask how and why the science faculties of the elite universities in the US and Europe have acquired the institutional power to decree the truth. Is this not for you a legitimate question?”

    It is a good question but note that you are smuggling in some sort of relativist constructivism with the claim that truth is decreed . Scientists make it the case that HIV causes AIDS for example but that is untenable .

    Do archaeologists make it the case that there were australopithecus africanus beings running around in Southern Africa ? Our theories create these facts ? If we did not exist these being would not exist ? Mind boggles that this sort of view can be taken seriously by anyone.

    But remove that particular claim from the view you articulated and the position becomes completely uninteresting : that there are institutions which discover truth about the world because such institutions have both the experts ( scientists ) and resources to do so. This seems obviously true .

    But of course you want to challenge this and speak truth to power . Why ?Because you buy into pomo picture in the first place which encourages the tought that since truth is made by us there is no reason why some people and only them should be allowed to make truth . Lets all make knowledge and truth .

    Again, the whole thing rests on untenable pomo mataphysics ( radical idealism constructivism ) and epistemology which says we know nothing ( scepticism ) .

    But why should anyone accept this silly view in the first place ? where are the powerful arguments / evidence showing that we should accept such premises ?

    How about in literary English Lit departments or gender studies or law ? These are the experts now in metaphysics , epistemology and science generally ….sad mind boggling stuff .

  • Vuyo

    @Zdenek Vajdak says: January 23, 2012 at 13:30 pm
    “Today we know better and know that such advice would be crap and turn to scientists”

    I disagree; we simply think we know better. In this regard, our experts are know different from the alchemists, astrologers, high-priests and practitioners of eugenics in Nazi Germany, etc. As simply example is the present financial crisis and the underlying liquidity crisis which contributed to it. Hardly a decade ago, our government was criticized for its stance on exchange controls by the predominant experts who said abolishing exchange controls would be beneficial to our economy. This would allow business to invest in the interesting financial instruments of the USA and EU, amongst others, and help ensure the stability and increased strength of the financial system. Our government relented with Excons and thus business people (and their experts) were unable to invest the better part of their resources in toxic “”assets”, such as CDOs, etc. I recall in 2008, when the then head economist of the US embassy (a globally recognized expert) said that he always opposed our excon policy but had come to agree with the logic and policy underlying exchange controls after seeing the dangers of unregulated financial capital (Greenspan himself had a change of heart about un-regulated markets in 2009). Those who perpetuated the nonsense about exchange controls and their evils largely remain respected expects, notwithstanding the debunking of their theories. Every year, our government is still advised to loosen them as though there is no contending policy proposition. Certainly because of the social/economical and political dominants of those advocate for their removal. Similar examples can be given for various other things, including HIV/Aids policy and global warming (interestingly in regard to global warming, you are not relegated to a fruit cake because of your skepticism. This is because the elites are represented in both sides of the argument. Both sides stand to lose financially and not just those who rely on the orthodoxy. So financial interest legitimates the contestation of these divergent ideas).

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    Vuyo:

    ” I disagree; we simply think we know better. In this regard, our experts are know different from the alchemists, astrologers, high-priests and practitioners of eugenics in Nazi Germany, etc. As simply example…”

    Your examples dont show that at all .

    They show that even experts can disagree with one another and perhaps that experts make mistakes . But from that the radical claim you are making viz that there are *no experts at all* just doesnt follow.

    The claim that there are no experts is basically same as saying that no one knows anything at all ( absurd & self contradictory claim ).

    Note that you need a fairly powerful argument for that but any such argument would prove also that there is some knowledge viz that you know that no one knows anything .

    This is a contradiction of course and refutes the very claim you are trying to establish .

  • Jama ka Sijadu

    Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com says:
    January 20, 2012 at 21:26 pm

    “Winnie Mandela got klapped…”

    Maggs this is a prime example of “false” knowledge! She was not klapped, she was PUSHED away after she arrived late, disrupted the programme & then had the temerity to try & kiss the vertically challenged, pipe smoking guy on the cheek.

    Rejecting conventional wisdom on HIV-AIDS treatment, Mugabe etc is one thing, but rejecting a peck on the cheek from uMam’Nomzamo is really beyond the pale. He should have been recalled there & then.

  • khosi

    I can assume that people have been wondering why I have remained silent, after expressing my interest at the prospect of this post by the self styled intellectual, Pierre de Vos.

    Frankly, I am ashamedly disappointed. So much so that if this blog had been printed on paper, I would personally take it to the nearest recycled tissue mill. This, with the express instruction that this tissue mill only include the pieces of paper, that makes up this blog entry, in the batch that would only be used for the cheapest toilet paper that the mill produces.

    Really, what this tells us is that Pierre de Vos’s ‘intellectualism’ is less that a dwarf in light of Thabo Mbeki’s ‘pseudo-intellectualism’.

  • Peter

    In this day and age it makes sense to side with the scientific consensus – a few hours on the internet doesn’t cut it anymore in terms of understanding global warming, the HIV virus.

    Claiming Gallileo status is good and well, but remember that to be a Galileo you not only need be a dissident, you also need to be RIGHT!

    Clearly one needs to weigh whether the majority of scientists have been corrupted by money (big oil, government, pharma etc) or dominant ideologies etc, or whether the dissidents have been corrupted by the same, or perhaps the vanity or pure enjoyment of the attention and limelight of tilting against windmills.

    My experience of academic scientists is that they are generally highly intelligent, ethical, curious, not motivated by money etc. This is obviously not true of all scientists, but I do think it takes a particularly misanthropic (or conspitorial) mindset to assume that an overwhelming majority of scientists are all stupid or corrupt.

    Thus, when it comes to global warming, the nature of the HIV virus, the holocaust, the nature of the collapse of the twin towers, the moon landing etc, I am a sucker for the consensus view, until some convincing evidence turns the ship in a new directioon.

  • Vuyo

    @Zdenek Vajdak (January 23, 2012 at 14:54 pm)
    That experts disagree is not a point of contention between me, you and Mbeki (his critics, including Pierre). It is precisely Mbeki’s point that there is a contestation between experts and their knowledge (not only in regard to content but also in regard to the very definition of what is knowledge). I am agreeing with this self-evident fact and simply contend that it is important to allow the free dissemination of knowledge and access to such knowledge (in this regard I differ from the likes of Pierre, the TAC, M&G, etc, who believe that some inconvenient knowledge and information must be censored if it does not accord with the accepted paradigm). I also agree with the challenge raised Mbeki (which would naturally presuppose the presence of an ill) that a hundred flowers be let to bloom (something which does not happen a great deal, particularly in RSA). For the record I make no radical claims about the absence of experts, and simply state that for society to establish the presence or absence of any experts, all voices must be heard and their “knowledge” form the subject of interrogation. This is what I read Mbeki to suggest. I accept that my interpretation differs from Pierre’s or your own, and have not seen anything to convince me yet that my interpretation is wanting. As for Pierre, he reads grand conspiracies where nobody has suggested them. I expect that Pierre knows that certain norms, rules, ideas, etc, may well be adopted in the absence of Grad Conspiracies (including through simple laziness, greed, stupidity, etc). That he introduces grand conspiracies where none are suggested reveals him for what he is: an ideological hit-men of whatever dogma is presently fashionable (in this case, the notion that certain matters cannot be discussed openly because the high priests of acceptable knowledge have determined it so). I for one reject such fascism. I am happy for Nazis, Marxists, neo-liberals (who are known fellow-travelers of Nazis, ogres and goblins), Islamists, Christians, aids denialists, bunny huggers, climate-skeptics, anarchists, etc, to present their “knowledge” for open interrogation (even school curricula must be encouraged discuss these contending ideas). All that is necessary is that our social and educational systems commensurate such a wider access to information and knowledge through dissemination of tools for interpreting such information and knowledge (including the hitherto rubbished but eminently valid tools of dialectical materialism). The reality is that this will never happen, because those who control the resources of this dear planet (and who our pundits, including Pierre, slavishly serve) have no interest whatsoever in a more informed citizen. It is therefore more likely that Mbeki’s valid call will be ignored (likely as the meanderings of an uppity nigger, who is an aids denialist and Mugabe supporter to boot!) than the likelihood that Pierre will from hence be ignored by the mainstream media as a pundit of choice for the crime of having drafted this drivel of an intellectual contribution.

  • Vuyo

    @khosi

    I think Pierre overreached himself (note his embarrassing silence). To often in the past Pierre and his hunting mates have simply silenced the likes of Mbeki by reciting well-worn comparisons with Mandela, mentioned the arms deal, HIV, Aids, Mugabe, Global warming, increased obesity, etc; blamed them on Mbeki and then written equally stringent comments about Pres Zuma (and apartheid)[to ensure an appropriate context and balance, you see]. Not once were their contributions relative to Mbeki judged solely on their merit.

  • Vuyo

    @Peter says (January 23, 2012 at 16:02 pm)

    I have greater regard for you than most of our pundits. You see, you at least call a spade a bloody shovel, and thus can cravenly admit (without any shame whatsoever) that “in this day and age it makes sense to side with the scientific consensus”. It certainly does make sense if you want to have or keep a job (in academia or the private sector), to be invited to those dinner parties in the “liberal” (and leafy) suburbs of the Cape and the Reef, to do the sensible thing. I quote from the article I sent earlier (obviously in regard to a different matter), extracts which are of relevance here:

    “Once the idea became dominant, it was difficult to counter it. Dissenting voices were deliberately ignored, if not actively choked off, and many people accepted it without questioning, because that is the easiest thing to do. As Professor Dumbledore says in Harry Potter, the choice is usually not between the good and the evil, but what is right and what is easy.And as the economic elites promoted free-market spin ordinary people too busy with their everyday lives to devote serious efforts to understand the workings of the economy started drinking the free-market Kool-Aid as well and readily believing capitalist myths.”

    PS: From my interaction with academics I’ve have found them to be no different from the average modern fella (i.e. goal driven, greedy for recognition and funding, fearful of being different etc). Like all things in a capitalist economy, follow their funding (and desired funding) and you can accurately guess where their opinions will go.

  • Peter

    Vuyo, I don’t think you understand the scientific process very well. For all the flaws that you highlight, good repeatable experiments and research that contradict prevailing views will eventually out.

    There are enough good fella scientists interested in “correct knowledge” (apart from you, the pipe smoking internet gnome and Prof Dumbledore) that will see to this. Believe it, not all scientists are money grubbing, cowardly morons. Interested in HIV AIDS, or global warming? go to UCT/WITS whatever and actually chat to a few real life scientists/experts working in the field – all this keyboard conspiracy theorising and misanthropy will leave you emotionally and intellectually stunted.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    Vuyo :

    ” ….all voices must be heard and their “knowledge” form the subject of interrogation.”

    The issue is interrogation of course. This is another way of talking about testing views for truth but who decides on what criteria should be applied ? Science and philosophy have their own criteria which are used for settling questions of truth and validity but these are western .

    What about local indigenous views about how views should be tested ?

    Mbeki’s answer is some sort of half baked postmodernism which sees truth and knowledge as something we construct together in the process of negotiation and so on.

    Whether evolution is true and humans are descended from an ancestor they share with primates or whether AIDS is caused by HIV or whether dinosaurs existed is to be settled by negotiation and debate. And of course same with the criteria for interrogation themselves.

    Science as a political process no less .

    Two observations about this : first is that this is not an African view at all . It comes from largely post structuralism in France and Germany : It is a cultural import completely. Why has Mbeki accepted this cultural colonial import ?

    Second and more interesting is that this ‘Mbekian’ view about knowledge creation which sees knowledge in political terms is how the Nazi Sociology and Soviet Physics were construed : as politically motivated efforts where epistemology is underwritten by political consideration regarding equality etc. And both of these are pseudo sciences because inquiry is driven by politics .

    Mbeki’s proposal is in other words a proposal to model knowledge creation in South Africa on pseudosciences like Nazi Sociology which is interesting and shows that he has learned nothing from the AIDS disaster of which he was an architect in chief.

  • Pierre De Vos

    The problem is that it is rather difficult to engage with bloggers if they make sweeping generalisations about a position that I do not hold. Thus, it is not really possible to engage meaningfully and intelligently with a rather shrill person who rather parochially dismisses all continental philosophers of the past 50 years as not “real” philosophers” (as opposed to analytical philosophers trained at Oxford who are “real”, I guess – speak about privileging the power position of the dominant colonial master; if we had been colonised by France I am sure old ZV smartypants would not have been so certain about his own certainty as he would have been taught about Derrida and Foucault at University in a far more reverential manner). When a person paints a charicature of so called “postmodernism” – whatever that might mean – by claiming “postmodernists” (if there is such a group at all) adhere to an absolute and nihilistic relativism and believe all facts, even facts that can be observed and experienced personally (“I have been bitten by a shark and now only has one leg”) are contested. Clearly, it is not easy to engage with somebody that does not distinguish between these kinds of facts, on the one hand, and how such facts are socially interpreted and given meaning within a society, how some facts are highlighted and others ignored, how they are made to fit into narratives in which we are embedded – whether we like it or not and whether we know it and accept it or not. A fact is that HIV causes Aids and that ARV’s can save ones life if one is HIV positive. But of course the fact that HIV is mostly contracted through sexual contact, that there are certain deeply ingrained narratives about sexuality in Africa (which were produced in the colonial encounter and lingers to this day), gives HIV and AIDS a different social meaning in South Africa than in the USA (where the disease came to popular imagination as a “gay cancer”). Mbeki’s problem, as also with some shrill defenders of a kind of a-contextual and absolute truth uber alles like old ZV, is that there seems to be a conflation of certain kinds of verifiable facts with the way in which those facts are interpreted and given meaning and the knowledge that is produced and perpetuated about a certain society based on those facts. If Mbeki had merely engaged with the latter and had accepted the former, he would not know have the blood of several hundred thousand dead South Africans on his hands. In my shark example, the fact would remain that I now only have one leg because a shark had the other leg for dinner. But how would this event be interpreted? In a world in which the story of “dangerous and wild Africa” has tractions, the story of me being bitten by a shark will be made into a a kind of “knowledge” about what this might mean for our understanding of the ocean and of nature in Africa, it might easily become conventional wisdom that one should never swim in the sea in South Africa because it is infested with sharks and far more dangerous than swimming in the sea off the coast of Australia (even if there might be more shark attacks in Australia than South Africa).

    Neither can I meaningfully engage with people who just tell me I am “embarrassing” or a hater of Mbeki or whatever other insult they can find to make themselves feel better about the awkward truth about their hero with feet of clay (feet dripping with blood), without actually telling me why my views are wrong. Did Mbeki flirt with Aids dissidence or not? Did this flirtation stem from a rather strange conflation of medical facts (seemingly proven to be correct by the millions of HIV positive people who took ARVs and lived and many more who did not and die), on the one hand with the social meaning of those facts in the African context? Does Mbeki have an answer for the question of why he would be able to identify false knowledge while the rest of us won’t be able to do so because we are blinded by ideology (him not having an ideology at all or having the “right” ideology), given the fact that he is also the product of the very intellectual system that he claims blinded us to the truth, a truth that he can see but we cannot?

    The interesting debate around Mbeki’s speech (and my response) surely centres around the issue of how we interpret facts within a specific context and whether such an interpretation of facts can ever definitively be said to constitute “false knowledge” or “objective truth” and who decides this: is there someone who floats above the world, above ideology above everything and can tell us that one meaning and one interpretation of a set of facts; one selection of relevant facts above another selection etc; is “the truth”.

    I know Mbeki is wrong on HIV, not because I am a scientist but because after being diagnosed as HIV positive and losing 10 kg and suffering from diarrhoea for 3 months, my health miraculously improved within one week after starting to take ARVs. This does not mean that I do not think (and here I am probably closer to Mbeki than some people would think) the way in which HIV is spoken about and made understandable as a social phenomenon is not influenced by power and by ideology. I just think one can distinguish between a medical fact (experienced personally by myself but not by Mbeki) and the social phenomenon of how medical facts are interpreted and their meaning mediated through discourse.

    That is why I do not know if Mbeki is wrong on Libya. I do know that he is rather brave to claim that he knows as fact that an event would not have happened (“the slaughtering of many Libyan civilians”) if it is really impossible to know this because Nato did intervene in Libiya and it seems now impossible to say for certain whether a slaughter would have taken place or not – unless one adopts an almost transcendental belief in one’s own foresight, wisdom and ability to predict the future. There are different views on what might have happened in Libiya had Nato not intervened and this depends on one’s view of Gaddafi and the kind of regime he was head of. Recent debates in the London Review of Books presented interesting arguments either way. Mbeki seems to suggest HE (as opposed to us mere mortals) can make this call. Why? Because, like George W Bush with Putin, he looked into Gaddafi’s eyes and saw right to his soul and knew that he would never lie? Because his views fit neatly with his ideological view about imperialism? Because the people of Bengazi who claim they feared for their lives before Nato intervention are known liars?

  • Michael Osborne

    @ Zdenek

    I note you description of Mbeki’s position as representing “half-baked” POMO.

    I think that is apt, insofar as Mbeki is perhaps more of a [crude] Habermasian than a full-fledged POMO exponent.

    I say that because he at some points appears to implicitly accept that a proper “interrogation” (to use Vuyo’s hackneyed term), appropriately sensitive to the various vested interests involved, may ultimately lead us to the “truth.”

    But, as you correctly point out, Mbeki’s suggestion that there exists some kind of “African” knowledge does slide into a vulgar POMO. But Mbeki and his allies shrink from the radical, and ultimately nihilistic implications of POMO carried to its [il]logical extremes, realising, perhaps unconsciously, that the effect would be to negate the possibility of the critique of ‘western’ discourse they are so anxious to mount.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    @ Pierre De Vos :

    “Thus, it is not really possible to engage meaningfully and intelligently with a rather shrill person who rather parochially dismisses all continental philosophers of the past 50 years as not…”

    Common Pierre you are a lawyer and not a philosopher so stop talking shit. I caught you out on a number of occasions talking nonsense here , showing that your grasp of philosophical positions and arguments is half baked and shallow and that is a reason why you wont ( cannot really )engage with someone who actually has philosophical training. Your wheel always come off very quickly and that is why you go into hiding when I pitch here.

    Stop being ridiculous and talk about law which you know about.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Zdenek Vajdak
    January 23, 2012 at 18:09 pm

    Hey ZV,

    “someone who actually has philosophical training.”

    Presumably “someone who actually has philosophical training” means you.

    It’s mind boggling to learn that someone actually has to be trained to talk so much kak.

    On the other hand, maybe it has to be a learned skill – nobody can be born with such crap-generating abilities.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    Zdenek is right.

    Pierre, I join his demand that you cease making observations or arguments about philosophy. The sharp distinctions between academic disciplines are there for a reason. You must show respect. (By the same token, you must also stop talking about politics and business!)

    Thanks.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Jama ka Sijadu
    January 23, 2012 at 15:55 pm

    LOL JkS,

    You’re quite the clown.

    Anyway – on Winnie Mandela, it was like a swat that I saw. Like the way one would try to get rid of mosquitoes or angry lions.

    Violence against a defenseless elderly woman is just indefensible – never mind what Khosi has to say.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    PDV :

    “The interesting debate around Mbeki’s speech (and my response) surely centres around the issue of how we interpret facts within a specific context and whether such an interpretation of facts can ever definitively be said to constitute “false knowledge” or “objective truth” and who decides this: is there someone who floats above the world, above ideology above everything and can tell us that one meaning and one interpretation of a set of facts; one selection of relevant facts above another selection etc; is “the truth””

    The thread does pick up this theme . I myself have argued at length that this entire take is based on pomo commitments and that that is problematic. The talk about ‘interpretation of facts and their meaning’ etc implies that world has literary or linguistic nature. World is like a work of fiction metaphysically speaking.

    But this is implausible without a good argument .

    That is certainly not what the scientists nor philosophers think , so why think that that is true ?

    What is the argument for thinking that something like this is true ?

    It is this way of construing the question about knowledge ( world has linguistic nature ) which naturally gives rise to the other question you ask viz who decides on interpreting what is the truth and what is true /false knowledge which also comes from thinking about literature and interpreting literature : since meaning is created and in the process of reading etc who decides on what is the correct interpretation of a text ? maybe the author’s meaning but what privilege it ?…blah, blah , blah.

    As I said the starting point here or the way of framing the question both you and Mbeki ask needs to be motivated and unless that is done the entire issue sounds like a pseudo problem .

  • Pierre De Vos

    Zdenek Vajdak, there goes Mr shrill smartypants again with the personal insults and the territorial claim to ultimate truth (only known to “real” philosophers of which there are still a few left in the world – albeit under siege in a few places like Oxford and UCT – despite the inroads being made by “false” prophets like Nietzsche, Lyotard, Derrida, Foucault, Nancy, Badiou etc).

    Yes I am a lawyer and not a philosopher, but your problem with me is not about that fact but rather with the fact that I have not dabbled in the “right” kind of philosophy. What I do not understand is your defensive and angry lashing out at “heretics”. Why are you so afraid and so angry that we do not all bow before your superior knowledge and wisdom as a “real” philosopher? What is it in your psychological make-up that attracts you to this (what seems to me) a rather a-contextual and status-quo-defending tradition? No intellectual generosity? Whistling through the graveyard of a dying and discredited tradition? I would not know.

    You seem to believe that there is only one “right” way of being a philosopher, that the rules clung to by this school of philosophy are absolutely and incontrovertibly true because you (and the other philosophers who believe in these rules – just like Christians believe in heaven and hell?) say that they are and “prove” that they are by relying on the very rules which you are defending as true and universal. (You seem therefore to have a vested interest in bullying others into accepting your rules because then you can always be right.) This is a win-win situation for you as you create the rules and then use these rules to “prove” you are correct. But like Mbeki you cannot escape the problem that you work within a specific tradition, and that you make many assumptions which you believe to be true because that is what the philosophers who work in your tradition have developed over centuries and now believe to be true (and what they try and “prove”). Unlike you I am not making claims for one or other school of philosophy. I am intellectually, emotionally and ideologicaly drawn to continental philosophy because it seems to tell me more about the world I live in than you guys ever will because it tries to confront issues of power and dominance and knowledge production in a way that threatens conventional liberal thought. I try and understand it as best I can (being a lowly lawyer and all, I am sure I often grasp only partly what I read), and I know I use some of the conventions held very dear by your school of philosophy to try and do that (as well as using other insights and concepts which your school dismiss with such defensive contempt).

    My question is: how can you know with such absolute conviction and certainty that the strand of philosophy you happen to have been schooled in (because of an accident of history – if you had done an undergraduate degree in philosophy at the Sorbonne you would probably now laughed at the kind of things you think and say and would have dismissed it as childishly old-fashioned) is correct and that you have access to the TRUTH, something us mere mortals do not have access to and never will have?

  • Lisbeth

    Maggs –

    “It’s mind boggling to learn that someone actually has to be trained to talk so much kak”

    Quite so, Maggs. But maybe we should go a bit easier on Zdenek. Even though Pierre refers to him as “old smartypants ZV”, I have a feeling that he is actually quite young and thus still has a lot to learn. But for now, he’s fired up with youthful enthusiasm.

    Who knows? In years to come he may sound much more like Nietzsche. In fact, it is inevitable.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Vuyo
    January 23, 2012 at 13:54 pm

    Hey Vuyo,

    A lot of what you raise as concerns sounds like Thatcherism.

    There was once a guy who proclaimed “Just call me a Thatcherite” – any idea who that was?

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Lisbeth
    January 23, 2012 at 18:50 pm

    Hey Lisbeth,

    “In years to come he may sound much more like Nietzsche”

    It will be a relief if he sounded like a rotten tomato.

    Until then he sounds like a cross between drunken Juju and drunken Mugabe, with a sprinkling of Brother Leader and Dubiya!

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    PDV :

    “My question is: how can you know with such absolute conviction and certainty that the strand of philosophy you happen to have been schooled in (because of an accident of history ….”

    I dont need to know it with absolute certainty , I just need to know it . How do I know it ? Well, in philosophy the context of justification is made up of the argumentation that is offered in support of some position or other Scientists have experiments which performs this job philosophers rely on arguments.

    So, if arguments offered for claims people like Rorty or Derrida are not good because they are obviously unsound or simply the philosopher doesnt even bother ( Derrida case ) then we have the same sort of situation we have in science with hypotheses which have not been tested in any way .That is , there is no reason to take such hypotheses seriously .

    In philosophy the same situation arises and this is roughly how I know that some view of Derrida’s, for example ,( this applies quite generally ) is rubbish : it has either not been defended or cannot be defended because the claims in question are incoherent / impossible to state clearly.

    As * philosophy* it is therefore rubbish.

    Same sort of considerations , roughly, apply to how i know you talk nonsense when it comes to phil topics .

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Ok Pres Zuma – we have another candidate ambassador to Uganda!

    “Traditionally, there were no people who engaged in same sex-relationships. There was nothing like that and if you do it, you must know that you are rotten. I don’t care how you feel about it. If you do it, you must know that it is wrong and you are rotten. Same sex is not acceptable,” he said.

    http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/2012/01/23/gays-are-rotten-says-zulu-king

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Maggs

    “It’s mind boggling to learn that someone actually has to be trained to talk so much kak.”

    Maggs, this is quite a compelling argument. I say you have poor ol’ Zdenek cornered!

  • Chris (Not the right wing guy)

    Sometimes I wish I had another job, but the comments to this thread makes me so glad I’m practising law and I’m not a philospher!

  • sirjay jonson

    Zdenek Vajdak
    January 21, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    “Usual comical mumbo jumbo from Pierre De Vos…”

    And here I was thinking the exact same thing about many of the commentators, but most certainly not the Prof. Not sure that in his public life he has even a m-litre of humor.

    Perhaps humor is the only way we can deal with the craziness which is pre-modern South Africa.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    PDV

    “Yes I am a lawyer and not a philosopher, but your problem with me is not about that fact but rather with the fact that I have not dabbled in the “right” kind of philosophy.”

    Sigh . Not at all , that was your move trying to deflect my criticism of some of the things you were saying about ethics and ideology, if memory serves.

    I criticised your position by making a philosophical argument showing that your view is untenable and instead of replying to me by showing that my argument doesnt work or simply engaging with my criticism the way philosophers do, you resorted to evasive maneuvers, saying that you cannot talk to people like me in a meaningful way because I am an analytic philosopher and I dont get continental philosophy ( which is rubbish ) etc.

    The issue then is intellectual honesty . You are a kind of bullshitter and an imposter and I think you should not get away with it.

  • sirjay jonson

    Hey Fass: notice that Zdenek Vajdak speaks just like you, only he seriously believes his s***.

  • sirjay jonson

    Re: Mbeki:

    facta non verba

    and with respect to truth:

    fallaces sunt rerum species

    my apologies.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Chris (Not the right wing guy)
    January 23, 2012 at 19:47 pm

    Hey Right Wing Guy,

    That brand of “philosophy” represents a job???

    Eish, now I’ve heard everything!

  • sirjay jonson

    Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com
    January 23, 2012 at 19:20 pm

    Its been denied today by his spokesman that he ever made this comment, a translation confusion is stated, instead, that he was referring to the general lack in modern sexual (im)morality in general, whereas ‘traditionally’ great Zulu warriors were required to go forth and kill innocents before sexual congress was allowed. Not sure which translation is worse… no sex without killing first, or modern sexual freedom being an issue.

  • Lisbeth

    “That brand of “philosophy” represents a job???”

    Hey Maggs,

    How do you get a philosopher off your stoep?

    Just pay for the pizza already …

  • sirjay jonson

    Pierre De Vos
    January 23, 2012 at 17:29 pm

    Actually Prof, you can know. There is sufficient evidence that Gadfly in his shelling and rocketing of Misrata (sp) was decidedly proof that he meant what he said and acted accordingly. For Allah’s sake (blessed is his name etc) Gadfly launched a war against his people. How clueless is someone who doesn’t realize that?

    Why oh why does SA love the dictators and hate those who worked so hard internationally for SA’s new freedom. Weird actually. Personally I think it all has to do with turf power, money and money laundering, criminal brotherhood, coordinated thievery. And fuck the populaces. Such a conclusion seems inescapable to a comprehensive, investigative, thinking mind.

    The false knowledge Mbeki speaks about is really spin, which he, his ANC and SA excel at, and that because the majority of the population is illiterate and mostly not interested. The biggest issue with the majority is the price of Black Label in the shebeens which at this time is R15 a bottle on the weekends.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Lisbeth
    January 23, 2012 at 20:31 pm

    Aw Lisbeth,

    That’s nasty. :evil:

    Anyway I tried looking up philosopher jokes but could not find any.

    My bad – I looked in “Intelligent Adult Humor & Funny Jokes”.

    Anyway, I stumbled upon a certain way to make a philosopher disappear for ever – just trick him into saying “I think not”!

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    Michael Osborne :

    “But, …. Mbeki’s suggestion that there exists some kind of “African” knowledge does slide into a vulgar POMO. But Mbeki and his allies shrink from the radical, and ultimately nihilistic implications of POMO carried to its [il]logical extremes, realising, perhaps unconsciously, that the effect would be to negate the possibility of the critique of ‘western’ discourse they are so anxious to mount.”

    Sorry, I should pay more attention to your comments because you see what is at issue . I think what is needed is a critique of this entire Kantian constructivist paradigm and an articulation and defence of a new one which can be embraced by young South Africans.

    Something like that has started to happen in philosophy with the return of naturalism ( going back to Quine’s 2 Dogmas ) which promises to reconnect us with enlightenment values but in a new way. One example of such work is Rawls and there are other new developments all of which build on repudiation of the pomo dogma.

  • Chris (Not the right wing guy)

    Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com
    January 23, 2012 at 20:25 pm

    Just read on, and you will realise, to think out all that @#&* must be a full time job!

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Chris (Not the right wing guy)
    January 23, 2012 at 21:26 pm

    Hey Right Wing Guy,

    “@#&*”

    I think you meant KAK!

    You’re scared of Prof MO, aren’t you?

    p.s. Please consider this before you mock ZV again.

    Unfortunately, by the very nature of logical codationalism I cannot offer a proof that P along the elegant lines of BonJour’s coherentist proof. Indeed, I cannot offer a PROOF that P at all, and for two reasons; first, because PROOF (as opposed to proof) embodies a linear foundationalist conception of justification that cannot survive the “up, up and away” argument, and second because BonJour’s own account of justification falls prey to the “drunken students” argument. Nor can I offer a proof that P, as I seem (like Fodor) to have mislaid my theory of the a priori.

    Yet a case can be made — in modest, fallibly naturalistic terms — for P. And if the criteria embodied in codationalism are in fact truth-conducive (and if they are not, then every other theory of justification is likewise a failure since codational criteria are used by coherentists and foundationalists without proper appreciation of their interconnections), then this will amount not to a PROOF nor yet a proof that P, but simply a proof that P, based on the explanatory integration of P with the rest of my beliefs that are explanatorily integrated with each other.

    The explanatory integration at work in this proof is rather like that found in a crossword puzzle. . . .

  • Truth Sayer

    Pierre

    Why complain about the comments you receive here ? Just shut the damn comment section down. It gives your blog no credibility at all. People who want to seriously engage with you will not do so via this blog. You should know by now that comment facilities mostly attract the lunatic fringe. There is no serious analysis of your writing.

    All you get are the blog squatters like Maggs and Fassbinder who contribute only silliness. Maggs posts links to articles that are days old and way off topic. Asw if he alone has access to other news sites ! Gwebe Imbecile seems to think it his duty to post complete articles we have all read elsewhere. Maggs should fuck off back to his old home of The Sunday Times. All he does here is create an endless loop of comments about comments.

    It has reached the point where nobody will take you seriously if you continue to take the morons that post here seriously. And judging by your outburst of hysteria, you do seem to value their dumb thoughts and random crap. And then you get the Luthuli House spies that hang out here defending the indefensible because their masters tell them to do it.

    Holy crap man ! Your blog is becoming a fucking joke. Take some action.

  • ozoneblue

    Pierre De Vos says:
    January 23, 2012 at 17:29 pm

    “is there someone who floats above the world, above ideology above everything and can tell us that one meaning and one interpretation of a set of facts; one selection of relevant facts above another selection etc; is “the truth”.”

    Yes there is – its is called human civilization and it exists in your collective mind as the superego.

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 23, 2012 at 20:15 pm

    LOL. How can anybody who claims Derrida possibly be a bullshitter?

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    100 years of the african national congress by Neville Alexander

    …on the occasion of the centenary celebration of the founding of the ANC, I, together with many others, I am sure, expected some attempt at a serious stocktaking and historical analysis of both the achievements and the current, indeed continuing, dilemmas faced by the ruling party. This was, it seems to me, the best possible moment for an excursion into the philosophy of history, for the leadership of the party to use the platform to explain in the simplest possible terms to its followers and to all the people of South Africa why some of the roadblocks in the way of attaining the long awaited transformation of the country appear to be irremovable. Although such an attempt may still be forthcoming, I doubt very much whether the policy conference to be held in June will get beyond the sound and fury that has come to characterise recent gatherings of that kind. …

    Historical analogies are always dangerous. However, beyond all the songs of praise and the justified criticism of the philistine ostentation of the Mangaung event that have filled the media for a few days, it is essential that we draw back the attention of the citizens of this country to some of the fundamentals that remain to be addressed, if we are to find a way forward. There are alternatives and all of us should use all available forums to explore and discuss these. We certainly do not need the ANC, or any other political formation for that matter, to preside over such a national dialogue. The ANC was without doubt the dominant current in the struggle for national liberation, a struggle that continues with increasing vigour as an aspect of the general struggle for social justice against the disastrous class inequality and dehumanising poverty that continue to characterise post-apartheid capitalism. The continued attempts on the part of some ideologues of the Alliance to capitalise on the status of “sole authentic representative of the people” of South Africa, which was –disastrously – conferred on the ANC by some states and international agencies in the 1980s are not only an insult to all who have sacrificed and struggled for the ideal of a democratic Azania, free of oppression and exploitation but feed the anti-democratic tendencies within the ruling party that have surfaced in recent months.

    100 years of history is a more than adequate basis for learning the lessons of those who have preceded the ANC in their attempts to build a better life for all within the confines of the “free” market system. Otherwise, we will, as we are already doing, simply repeat the same errors.

    http://www.sahistory.org.za/archive/100-years-african-national-congress-neville-alexander

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ TruthSayer

    “All you get are the blog squatters like Maggs and Fassbinder who contribute only silliness. ”

    It is richly ironic that one who bills himself a “truthsayer” should perpetuate the kind of FALSE KNOWLEDGE about which Mr Mbeki warned.

    I demand an apology and a withdrawal of you allegation of “silliness,” failing which I will condemn you as a RACIST or a stooge of the Pharmaceuticals.

    Thanks.

  • ozoneblue

    I always say trying to debate with a postmodernist disciple is like trying to win an argument with your wife.

    “It’s entirely possible that I’m simply missing something, or that I just lack the intellectual capacity to understand the profundities that have been unearthed in the past 20 years or so by Paris intellectuals and their followers. I’m perfectly open-minded about it, and have been for years, when similar charges have been made — but without any answer to my questions. Again, they are simple and should be easy to answer, if there is an answer: if I’m missing something, then show me what it is, in terms I can understand. Of course, if it’s all beyond my comprehension, which is possible, then I’m just a lost cause, and will be compelled to keep to things I do seem to be able to understand, and keep to association with the kinds of people who also seem to be interested in them and seem to understand them (which I’m perfectly happy to do, having no interest, now or ever, in the sectors of the intellectual culture that engage in these things, but apparently little else).

    Since no one has succeeded in showing me what I’m missing, we’re left with the second option: I’m just incapable of understanding. I’m certainly willing to grant that it may be true, though I’m afraid I’ll have to remain suspicious, for what seem good reasons. There are lots of things I don’t understand — say, the latest debates over whether neutrinos have mass or the way that Fermat’s last theorem was (apparently) proven recently. But from 50 years in this game, I have learned two things: (1) I can ask friends who work in these areas to explain it to me at a level that I can understand, and they can do so, without particular difficulty; (2) if I’m interested, I can proceed to learn more so that I will come to understand it. Now Derrida, Lacan, Lyotard, Kristeva, etc. — even Foucault, whom I knew and liked, and who was somewhat different from the rest — write things that I also don’t understand, but (1) and (2) don’t hold: no one who says they do understand can explain it to me and I haven’t a clue as to how to proceed to overcome my failures. That leaves one of two possibilities: (a) some new advance in intellectual life has been made, perhaps some sudden genetic mutation, which has created a form of “theory” that is beyond quantum theory, topology, etc., in depth and profundity; or (b) … I won’t spell it out.”

    Noam Chomsky

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder
    January 23, 2012 at 23:22 pm

    LOL Dworky.

    It must be said that Truth Sayer is either my dedicated fan or a shit fly considering his having followed me from several years ago.

    Since I have no fans, I guess he must be a shit fly.

    p.s. Anyway – read that bit by Alexander as “spot the similarities” with Mbeki.

    What’s with these intellectuals spreading NON-FALSE KNOWLEDGE by relying only on the wisdom White Okes?

    At the very least Alexander could have quoted Mbeki and vice versa – neither mustered the courage to quote Comrade President Zuma.

    Eish!

  • Brett Nortje

    Maggs, I’m not really interested in anything Alexander has to say, except whether the comrade activists had champagne through his lips?

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Brett Nortje
    January 24, 2012 at 0:14 am

    Haibo G,

    Our comrades struggled so that they could drink champagne for the masses – leave them be.

    I’m trying to understand why it is that there is no one from the continent (or the African diaspora) in general or South Africa in particular whose thinking resonates with our intellectuals.

    It cannot be that over the past 100 years, not one intellectual has emerged whose thinking is worthy of reflecting on for an occasion as important as the celebration of the centenary of the ANC or the Knowledge Management Conference.

  • Chris (Not the right wing guy)

    Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com
    January 23, 2012 at 21:46 pm

    Because I’m not a philosopher, I don’t tell other people what to think. So everyone can decide for themselves what @#&* means.

    Hint: @#&* has four (4) digets.

  • ozoneblue

    “The ANC was without doubt the dominant current in the struggle for national liberation, a struggle that continues with increasing vigour as an aspect of the general struggle for social justice against the disastrous class inequality and dehumanising poverty that continue to characterise post-apartheid capitalism.”

    Viva Cde Alexander Viva!

    As that struggle intensify we can expect the RACIST antagonists of all colors and creeds who are opposed true justice and equality to unite in strategies to tear this country apart by stirring hatred and racial conflict.

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    Chris (Not the right wing guy)
    January 24, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Hey Right Wing Guy,

    “I don’t tell other people what to think”.

    You’re making snide remarks at Mbeki again, aren’t you?

  • Gwebecimele
  • Brett Nortje

    ozoneblue says:
    January 24, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Weet jy hoe stoepit jy klink?

  • khosi

    @Pierre de Vos,

    How ‘tragic’ is this:- http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Mbeki-slams-Ugandas-anti-gay-bill-20120123

    @Vuyo,

    This blog post is classic example of a new idiom I would like to debut : “words words words all over the page, yet not a piece of content to read!”

  • Brett Nortje

    Yes, Khosi, its nice of the Emperor to take that principled stance.

    But here’s a tip: Why does he not come out about the looting in ‘Limpopo’ or the collapse of schooling and health services in the Eastern Cape where the cancer could have been cut out without killing the patients ON HIS WATCH?

    When is he going to take the nation into his confidence regarding the gaolbird?

  • Gwebecimele

    Hey OB here is the human race initiative.

    Interesting profile of young black minds recruited to speak on behalf of DA, a Malema really stands no chance despite being a “good politician”. Whites set the citeria and blacks must comply.

    http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/outcry-over-da-youth-s-risque-poster-1.1218783

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Gwebe

    “Interesting profile of young black minds recruited to speak on behalf of DA”

    Gwebe is right.

    This obscene pornographic provocation proves that the DA Youth League is MUCH MORE irresponsible than Mr Malema’s ANCYL!

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Zdenek

    “what is needed is a critique of this entire Kantian constructivist paradigm and an articulation and defence of a new one which can be embraced by young South Africans.”

    I suggest we recruit Maggs, Gwebe, Brett, and other bright minds, to teach a summer school at UJ, to which both the ANC and DA Youth Leagues should be invited. We must rigorously instil your model of post-Kantian anti-constructivism in the minds of our Youth!

    Thanks.

  • Brett Nortje

    Go take your talking kak pills, Gwebecimele!

  • Brett Nortje

    Dude, reconcile yourself to the fact that the ANC is losing its intelligentsia because of its avarice and racism, just as the NP lost its intelligentsia during the 80s because of the brutality of the security forces…

    Very retro!

  • Gwebecimele

    @ Brett

    Dworky is right about this ponorgraphic ad it only lacks the usual “Baas boy” and a “Madam” combination?

  • Gwebecimele

    Brett is jealous that he is not the poster boy and that this nationalisation of black women did not happen during his varsity days.

    HERE IS ANOTHER MAZIBUKO WHO IS READY TO COMMUNICATE WITH THE COMMUNITIES OF DIEPSLOOT, ALEX etc.

    “Meanwhile, Refiloe Nt’sekhe has been named the DA’s provincial spokeswoman in Gauteng.

    Nt’sekhe matriculated from Pretoria High School for Girls in 1994 and graduated from the University of Cape Town with a BA in political philosophy. She also has a marketing diploma. She is a ward councillor in the Ekurhuleni Metro and the party’s spokeswoman on health and social development. Political Bureau “

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Gwebe

    “Nt’sekhe matriculated from Pretoria High School for Girls in 1994 and graduated from the University of Cape Town with a BA in political philosophy.”

    Gwebe is right. We do not need pretentious graduates of whitish disciplines in our politics. Anyway, our people respond much better to humble graduates of the junior woodworking academy!

  • Michael Osborne

    Pierre, you are right to chide Zdenek for his strange obeisance to the philosophical academy. (After all, David Hume was a relative outsider to the academy of his day.) But it does not help much to label Zdenek a prisoner of the analytic school, or suggest that he would have been more sympathetic to your view if he had been schooled at the Sorbonne. That may be so. But then you would no doubt have been less scornful of the analytic school had you graduated from Oxford. In any event, Quine, whom Z cites, is very far from being a prisoner of analysis.

  • zdenek vajdak

    MO

    “Pierre, you are right to chide Zdenek for his strange obeisance to the philosophical academy.”(After all, David Hume was a relative outsider to the academy of his day.)

    But , Michael , Hume had a training as a philosopher and his talent was recognized by his contemporaries even though he was not an academic ( influenced Kant and others etc ) .

    So, of course, I would not raise my voice here if Pierre displayed understanding of the stuff he is talking about and if he offered some justification of the spoutings of his ( and stopped giving phil a bad name ) but he doesnt on the whole and so Hume is not a good comparison.

    Also, please note that philosophy like other inquirries / proffesions has its own worth presering standards just as law , medicine or physics do. If this was a law blog or medical blog and the person running it offered advice and opinions without having first of all any qualification in meadicine, say, and secondly continued to provide advice which was mumbo jumbo, we should surely protest if these goings on were discovered.

    As far as what Pierre says about analytic philosophy goes, he clearly has no clue and his views are some 30 years out of date : analytic philosophy is the most cross- disciplinary discipline in the humanities and we now work with cognitive scientists ( phil of mind ) , evolutionaty biology ( ethics ), neuroscience ( ethics , moral psychology ) , maths ( game theory and so on . So to talk about isoloation is ridiculous and ignorant.

    And then there is the reference to Oxford which indicates another misconception : Pierre is confusing ‘ordinary language philosophy’ which flourished in Oxford for few years after 2nd WW ,and which is dead now for some 30 years, with analytic philosophy which is a broad church ; it is not associated with any school of thought or an institution ( taught in all universities of English speaking countries ) . Its defined by style and not substantive doctrines.

  • Michael Osborne

    @ ZV

    Yes, of course, the sharp distinction between the analytic and continental schools has long been blunted, and Americans like Quine, and Rorty (who, as I recall, began his career in the analytic tradition), have, in recovering pragmatism, done a lot of bridge-building. I continue to think that we should not place too much trust in those who happen to teach what the academy labels as “philosophy.” But I do agree that some legal academics (especially some, but not all, CLS people), have borrowed too hastily from Europeans theorists they have not properly assimilated.

  • ozoneblue

    Gwebecimele says:
    January 24, 2012 at 11:29 am

    “The picture of the young white man and black woman staring into one another’s eyes”

    So what is it supposed to say on a subconscious level. The DA wants to fuck Blacks?

  • ozoneblue

    zdenek vajdak says:
    January 24, 2012 at 14:20 pm

    “evolutionaty biology ( ethics )”

    Ethics. Yep, I have noted it is the flavor of the month. And if you ask me it is pretty dangerous. As if the notion that man can learn something from chimps when it comes to morality and ethics is not a couple of degrees worse than some of the most bizarre nihilistic pomo shite you can ever imagine.

    Female Chimps Practice Heavily Infanticide and Cannibalism

    http://news.softpedia.com/news/Female-Chimps-Practice-Heavily-Infanticide-and-Cannibalism-54687.shtml

  • Gwebecimele
  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    OB

    “the notion that man can learn something from chimps when it comes to morality and ethics [is rubbish]”

    OB is right. I too reject all forms of biological reductionism.

    Fact is, all Africans were made in the image of God. Our morality is derived not from murky atavisms buried in our primate genes, but from the Divine wisdom manifest in Holy Scripture and eternally inscribed on our hearts.

    Thanks a lot.

  • ozoneblue

    Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder says:
    January 24, 2012 at 17:03 pm

    “Fact is, all Africans were made in the image of God. Our morality is derived not from murky atavisms buried in our primate genes, but from the Divine wisdom manifest in Holy Scripture and eternally inscribed on our hearts.”

    Exactly. Our humanity is not to be rediscovered by starting to eat our own faeces but by looking inwards towards the ubuntu that lies dormant like a smouldering fire in us all.

  • Zdenek Vajdak

    I better say something about evolution and morality because I see you are just clueless guys.

    The idea is not to derive moral norms a la Spencer from evolution or from watching animal behaviour . The idea, rather, is to start with an empirical and reasonable hypothesis that morality is an adaptation just like vision or language say.

    That, in other words, it is a capacity humans posses that has evolved just like say language. So morality is seen as a natural phenomenon to be explained scientifically and this is where cognitive science ( how we think when we make moral judgements ) and evolutionary biology etc get purchase.

    This is on the side of the problem which deals with the question where morality comes from and what it is .

    But we can also ask whether metaethical theories such as non – cognitivism ( Hume , Nietzsche held views like this ) or cognitivist accounts (Plato , Aristotle , Kant ) are true by studying what happens in our brains when we make moral judgements .

    Neuro science and other sciences in other words are entering the picture which has traditionally been occupied by philosophers speculating about morality from their easy chairs and promises to resolve these perennial questions re whether cognitivism or non cognitivism ( whether Hume or Kant are right ) is right .

    Science and phil in this sense are involved in the same project of helping us understand some of these questions about ethics

    See here for an overview of what I am talking about :

    plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-biology/

  • Maggs Naidu – maggsnaidu@hotmail.com

    ozoneblue
    January 24, 2012 at 16:33 pm

    Hey Ozone Guy,

    “Female Chimps Practice Heavily Infanticide and Cannibalism”

    Then how come your mother did not eat you?

    Maybe you just taste like yucky!

  • Brett Nortje

    Gwebecimele says:
    January 24, 2012 at 12:30 pm
    Brett is jealous that he is not the poster boy and that this nationalisation of black women did not happen during his varsity days.

    Actually, I find this ad amusing. Shows how basic, unsophisticated, what passes for DA thought is. Next ad campaign probably features lavatory humour.

    But I am pleased you drag the discourse back to my varsity days. Interracial relationships for their own sake are so 80s… Some of my friends set a kind of litmus-test to show how colour-blind I was, how far I had come. I had to give a black girl they nominated shots, see? The fact that she was a decent girl, a dominee’s daughter, who would not give any of them the time of day seemed obvious only to me. SO I ran them off telling them their objectifying and dehumanising of a nice girl was disgusting.

    Do I sense that kind of patriarchal possessive streak and a hint of racism in you, Gwebecimele? Disappointing, dude!

  • Brett Nortje

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 24, 2012 at 18:47 pm
    “I better say something about evolution and morality because I see you are just clueless guys.”

    To think I was trying to think pleasant Zdenek thoughts, sitting here holding thumbs Zdenek Pavlik does well in the Sun City Million Dollar?

    Now this Zdenek says we’re clueless….

  • ozoneblue

    Zdenek Vajdak says:
    January 24, 2012 at 18:47 pm

    “The idea, rather, is to start with an empirical and reasonable hypothesis that morality is an adaptation just like vision or language say.”

    Exactly. A very good reason why the New Atheist are not only attacking religion but also the essence of what it means to be human.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/dec/30/thenewatheism

    “I am as atheistic as it gets. But I will not be signing up to this shrill hectoring of the religious. The new atheists have given atheism a bad name. History’s greatest atheists, or the “old atheists” as we are now forced to call them, were humanistic and progressive, critical of religion because it expressed man’s sense of higher moral purpose in a deeply flawed fashion. The new atheists are screechy and intolerant; they see religion merely as an expression of mass ignorance and delusion. Their aim seems to be, not only to bring God crashing back down to earth, but also to downgrade mankind itself.”

  • Gwebecimele

    Brett

    I believe the ANCYL will put Malema’s statements to a poster and have a white domestic worker/garden boy and a Black Madam. This is in line with the DA explanation that their poster represent the future.

    Why your friends did not pick up another friend possibly a blonde to play along with a black stallion?

    DA as white party probably could not wait for the Immorality Act to disappear so that they can play with blacks. That is the only “BLACKS ONLY SPOT” they wanted to visit.

  • Mikhail Dworkin Fassbinder

    @ Gwebe

    “DA as white party probably could not wait for the Immorality Act to disappear so that they can play with blacks”

    Gwebe, you may be right. But then explain why it was that, when the whitish Madam got the chance to hand pick a personal harem (financed, of course, by the Cape Flats poor who pay billions in provincial taxes), she chose only white men. Hey?

  • Paul Kearney

    Eish Gwebs, didn’t realise you were such a racist. Very sad.

  • ozoneblue

    Paul Kearney says:
    January 25, 2012 at 6:03 am

    Truth is the DA racist mindset and propaganda is completely different when it is a black man + white women and it is not some add about rape or advocacy for ABC.

  • Gwebecimele

    @ Paul

    “Eish Gwebs, didn’t realise you were such a racist. Very sad”

    I have no belief that my race is superior to others. I stay in a white suburb, my kids go to white schools, work for a white owned firm etc.

  • Hamermen

    Who will forget when Mbeki told us to trust him on the issue of the then Police Comissioner? That was him saying his information is the truth.

    Mbeki’s speech, although pitched on international level, at national level and in particular in South Africa it is a big NO for the Information Bill.

  • Gwebecimele

    “The allusion, of course, was to a world that had given up on Africa. Zenawi spoke about the “lost decades” of the late twentieth century, and blamed the continent-wide economic slump of those years not just on internal failed leaderships, but on the misdirected interventionist measures of the West. “We were given medicines,” he said—referencing no doubt the structural adjustment programmes of organisations like the IMF—“that were worse than the disease.” by Daily Maverick.

  • Gwebecimele
  • Gwebecimele
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