Sunday, February 6, 2011

Reading update

- Now reading Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

- Still picking up Schmitt when I have a chance.

- Still browsing Dewey, and also Mill's On Liberty to help triangulate this pragmatist classical liberalism.

- I've been watching Jan Helfeld videos to get a sense of him.

- I also recently found, at a winery we went to yesterday, a history of the Norton grape (a Virginia native). Someday this would be interesting to pick up and read.

- Oddly sick of economics proper. Reading a little bit on Hoover in the early depression for a comment I'm dragging my feet on. My weariness of economics will pass, I imagine (I hope!).



  2. Mill wasn't a "pragmatist." Pragmatists always resented the notion that they were merely American utilitarians.

  3. Is that why William James wrote that "my fancy likes to picture as our leader were he [Mill] alive today".

    I never said he was a pragmatist, Xenophon. I said I was triangulating a pragmatic classical liberalism. It seemed reasonable to pick up Mill.

    The youtube video was interesting. The historiagraphy was interesting - in the few history classes I took, and in some sociology classes we covered a lot of bar culture, Virginia backcountry brawling culture (as a comparison to upper class dueling), prostitution, and a few other things. It was framed as part and parcel of New Left "social history". Now, this guy references newer work on these topics (the sort of topics he works on), but it's interesting that he contrasts that with New Left and social history work. You have to remember, Xenophon, that academics have to position themselves strategically. By positioning himself as some sort of purification of New Left historiography he's clearing territory for himself. The discussion was great, but I wouldn't necessarily take his word for his positioning of himself in the discipline.

    The discussion of Adams was interesting. Certainly the man was a prude - you don't even have to go to his views on lower classes - he was a buzz-kill for Franklin and members of the upper class to! But the account of the Boston Massacre was interesting... Adams defended them to show the nation what order looks like? That's a little far-fetched, I think.

  4. James was wildly inconsistent on many subjects.

    Actually, Adams was a rather reluctant revolutionary.

    Anyway, you can make up your mind what he thought about the massacre:

  5. James was - which integrated nicely about what he said about belief.

    Adams was that. Many were. Franklin was an enormous foot-dragger. It's not especially surprising either, for reasons that Jefferson himself immortalized.

  6. And let's clarify - James wasn't just wildly inconsistent on many subjects - he was often wildly inconsistent on the same subject, as I understand it.

  7. Franklin on St. Monday:

    "I was now on a fair footing with them, and soon acquir'd considerable influence. I propos'd some reasonable alterations in their chappel laws, and carried them against all opposition. From my example, a great part of them left their muddling breakfast of beer, and bread, and cheese, finding they could with me be suppli'd from a neighboring house with a large porringer of hot water-gruel, sprinkled with pepper, crumbl'd with bread, and a bit of butter in it, for the price of a pint of beer, viz., three half-pence. This was a more comfortable as well as cheaper breakfast, and kept their heads clearer. Those who continued sotting with beer all day, were often, by not paying, out of credit at the alehouse, and us'd to make interest with me to get beer; their light, as they phrased it, being out. I watch'd the pay-table on Saturday night, and collected what I stood engag'd for them, having to pay sometimes near thirty shillings a week on their account. This, and my being esteem'd a pretty good riggite, that is, a jocular verbal satirist, supported my consequence in the society. My constant attendance (I never making a St. Monday) recommended me to the master; and my uncommon quickness at composing occasioned my being put upon all work of dispatch, which was generally better paid. So I went on now very agreeably."

    More discussion of St. Monday here:


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