George H. Smith

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Everything posted by George H. Smith

  1. Two new items.... John Locke: Some Qualifications in Locke’s Theory of Property Smith explains how Locke dealt with some problems in the traditional Christian theory of private property. My Essay #191 has been posted. ______________ My latest podcast interview with the folks at L.Org, “The Legacy of Roy A. Childs, Jr. Ghs
  2. John Locke: Some Problems in Locke’s Theory of Private Property Smith discusses some of Robert Nozick’s criticisms of Locke’s theory of property, and the relationship between a natural-law justification of private property and social conventions. My Essay #190 has been posted. Ghs
  3. According to the narrator, the Middle Ages have commonly been called the Dark Ages. Well, this may be true of people who know nothing about history, but even early medieval historians, including Enlightenment historians who had a low opinion of the Middle Ages, did not commit this error. The label "Dark Ages" was applied to Europe from roughly the sixth century to the tenth century, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and when Europe was ravaged by Viking and Magyar invasions-- a time when commerce was at a low ebb, towns disintegrated as centers of industry and trade, and intellectual endeavors stagnated. All this began to change, however, in the eleventh century (roughly)--after which Europe experienced a significant revival of commerce, art, science, and learning (such as the "reception of Roman Law and the rise of universities and towns). Hence the common expression, long popular among historians, "the Renaissance of the Twelfth Century." (In my judgment, the term 'Renaissance' is more appropriately applied to this period than to the later and better-known Italian Renaissance.) But this period was also a time of ferocious wars, religious persecution, brutality, sickness, famine, and poverty, so we should not over-romanticize it. In short, I have no serious problem with the substantive content of the video. Rather, I have a problem with its implicit claim to present a revisionist perspective on the Middle Ages, which is accomplished by illicitly equating the supposed myth of the Dark Ages with the Middle Ages as a whole. The true Dark Ages were in fact very dark, intellectually and culturally speaking, but this was not true of the later Middle Ages. In truth, aside from confusing the Dark Ages with the Middle Ages (as those labels have been used for centuries), the video presents an overview of the standard historical account, one that has also been around for centuries. Ghs
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  5. John Locke: Hermeneutics and Labor Smith explains Locke’s ideas about how we should interpret a philosophic text, and the relationship between labor and private property. My Essay #189 has been posted. Ghs
  6. Correct. My podcasts (all of which are readings of earlier essays) are posted every Wednesday. I was simply doing my routine posting of the latest podcast link. Ghs
  7. The podcast of my Essay #65 has been posted. This podcast discusses some important differences between the Lockean and Hobbesian conceptions of freedom. Ghs
  8. Wolf Devoon wrote: The Bible was far more supportive of persecution than of religious freedom; it was the standard source used to rebut the arguments, based on reason alone, for liberty of conscience. In fact, it was not until the Bible was largely discarded as an authoritative source for political doctrines that the theoretical case for freedom was able to score decisive victories. See my comments here and here. As for your comment about Locke, can you justify "anything" without appealing to the Bible? I may have forgotten something, but I don't recall that you ever quoted the Bible in your posts. And if you can justify moral arguments without grounding them in Scripture, then Locke could manage to do the same thing. He was a pretty smart guy. Ghs
  9. Wolf DeVoon wrote: What Locke asserted and why probably is unimportant to people with no interest in the history of ideas, even if those ideas influenced millions of people, either directly or indirectly. As for the line you quoted from one of my essays, I again don't get the point. Did you pick it at random or did you have a reason? In any case, for those who don't take the time to look up the passage from which the quoted line was taken, here it is: To say that seventeenth-century philosophers felt no need to provide a rigorous justification of rights (as we might find in a modern book on rights) is to say that they felt no need to provide a rigorous justification of objective moral principles that may be enforced by law, since this premise was accepted by all sides in the contemporary debates. But this is not to say that they didn't provide some measure of justification for their particular theory of rights. We see this is the serious disagreements over freedom of religion, or "liberty of conscience." This conflict demanded that the pro-freedom philosophers justify their particular theory of rights, so this is where we typically find the most detailed arguments. Ghs
  10. There are a number of inaccuracies in the Wiki account of Locke. For one thing, Locke did not equate natural law with biblical revelation. For another, he did not derive "the fundamental concepts of his political theory from biblical texts." Why did you post this crap? What is your point? Ghs
  11. So? Ghs Locke asserts the proposition, has no proof. As your constitutional law professor used to say repeatedly, an assertion is not an argument. Ghs Mr. Smith, if you believe that Locke proved or established by reasoned inference that you have a property interest in yourself, please say so and give us a hint what it might be. With thanks. Yes, I think Locke presented a reasonable case to support his contention that each person has moral dominion over himself or herself (which is what Locke meant by "property is one's person). Self-proprietorship was a common and recurring theme during the 17th and 18th centuries, and many philosophers argued in its favor. But I'm not going to explain any details here. I'm far too busy with my weekly deadlines. But I have touched on this subject in some of my essays. See, for example, my summary of two major types of justification for rights (the religious and the secular) here: I may give more details about Lockean self-proprietorship later in my current series, but I'm not sure at this point. I rarely know exactly what an essay will include until I actually write the piece. Ghs
  12. So? Ghs Locke asserts the proposition, has no proof. As your constitutional law professor used to say repeatedly, an assertion is not an argument. Ghs
  13. John Locke: The Justification of Private Property In his first essay in a new series on John Locke, Smith explains some essential features of Locke’s case for private property. My Essay #188 has been posted. Ghs
  14. I don't care for Maddow's style nearly as much as you do. For one thing I find her singsong speaking voice very annoying. When she hits the upper register it seems like I am listening to nails on a blackboard. For another thing, she often dons a phony smile, as if she is competing in a beauty pageant. Very odd for a left-feminist. Ghs
  15. Freethought and Freedom: John Locke on Property Smith discusses Locke’s view of the original commons, before the institution of private property. My Essay #187 has been posted. Ghs
  16. Freethought and Freedom: Private Property and Natural Law Smith continues his discussion of how the theory of private property changed over the centuries. My Essay #186 has been posted. Ghs
  17. Freethought and Freedom: The Secularization of Private Property Smith contrasts the modern secular approach to private property with the traditional Christian theory. My Essay #185 has been posted. Ghs
  18. The podcast of my Essay #60 has been posted. Ghs
  19. This video is a little off-topic but not by much. It is a talk on the rights of children that I gave in 1981. It's a little technical and a little long (1 hour), so it may not appeal to everyone, but I tried to deal with some of the difficult philosophical issues surrounding the topic of children's rights. The fellow who introduces me is the economist and historian Jeffrey Rogers Hummel. Ghs
  20. Yes, there is a heaven in the DC universe: To own a copy of Superman #1 in mint condition. 8-) Ghs
  21. Larry Niven's essay, "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex" (1969), discusses some of the problems if Superman were to have sex with a human female. Most of you are probably familiar with this piece already, but in case you've been living on another planet, here it is.... Ghs
  22. If I were Superman in this situation, I would use my brains and X-ray vision to surveil the centre of the ISIS 'caliphate' in Syria (Raqqah). I would take a month of intake of all the open-source intelligence on the hierarchy and location of the leaders and secondary leaders and the location of their weapons stocks and their tanks, communication structures and raw-materials and other war materiel. I would memorize each face, each history, each location. Next, I would use my heat-vision to knock out the ISIS materiel. I would render their guns, mortars, explosives, radios, cell-phones inert masses of metal sludge. I would use my super-strength and my super-speed to wrap each trained suicide bomber with a net enclosing him. Next, I would appear in the sky over Raqqah and advise the civilians that ISIS's power to intimidate and coerce and kill was stilled, and that they could collect the netted actors. Next, I would raise whirlwinds that would take up the top echelon of other jihadi criminals and leaders and administrators into the sky, and then bring them down to Tadmor prison and other incarceration spots. I would fuse their financial system and computer servers into electronic sludge. I would fuse sand into glass and raise a barrier to any fleeing criminal actor. I would remove Jabat al Nusra to incarceration centres. Then, I would ground the Syrian Air Force and stall all the motorized vehicles and helicopters that daily rain death on civilians. I would open the secret dungeons where civilians were/are tortured to death. I would collect the varied internal documents by which Assad's regime conducted a lawless war, and I would deposit them in the Hague. I would defuse all bombs, including the mustard shells in play. I would render disabled the machinery and materiel just brought into Syria this week by Russia. I would, in every effort, bring a ceasefire. I would heat-vision destroy all the legal instruments of the special Terrorist Court, and then bring to Syria those political actors who were forced to flee torture and death. I would remove President Assad to the Fortress of Solitude for later questioning. I would remove to the Fortress the essential corps of family/thug supporters of the dictatorship in power positions. I would render unto the civilians what they hoped for -- an end to the fighting and a possibility of returning home and rebuilding. Then I would get back to Metropolis and give Lois a good shagging. The sort of plan you outlined has occurred to me as well, though not in as much detail. But there remains the problem that physical force (including the destruction of resources) will never change a culture, especially a culture that is deeply religious. Even if Superman killed every member of ISIS, a similar group would arise and we would find ourselves in the same boat. In view of this Whack-a-Mole problem, I have concluded that the best Superman scenario would be for Superman, after sufficient study in the theory and history of Islam (let us assume he is able to learn the needed languages), to present himself as a prophet from Allah, while corroborating his claim by using whatever "supernatural" powers he needed to appear authentic. This way, when Superman spoke, Muslims would listen, convinced that he is their messiah. Of course, Superman could never reveal himself in any other situation or his cover would be blown. Plus, I don't know whether some kind of future messiah with miraculous powers (similar to the second coming of Jesus) is consistent with Islamic theology, but I think Superman could figure something out. This plan, unlike the use of force (unless force was necessary to strike down a few skeptics and heretics to keep things real) would at least stand a chance of changing the minds of people. One problem, however, might arise if Superman proved highly successful in his role as the Muslim Messiah, namely he might convert many, many current non-Muslims to Islam. 8-) The Superman qua Muslim prophet could also deal with the loss of his powers after a year. Shortly before becoming a normal person again, Superman could stage a major event in which he ascends to heaven, having announced that his mission is complete. And he could leave a new Holy Book behind that bans the use of violence, etc. Ghs
  23. George, You left out medical books like ones for first-aid. I have very fond childhood memories of those. Michael My mother was a nurse so we had a lot of old medical books around. But I never found those appealing, for various reasons. My favorite source overall was probably the underwear models in the Sears Catalogues. Although there was no nudity in those, occasionally one would find a topless model where the only thing revealed was her bare back. To this day I find that sort of photo very sexy. I suppose that's because of the sensory imprinting in my youth. During puberty even mildly sexual images can leave a lasting impression, and I'm convinced that those youthful perceptions play a significant role in determining at least some of one's particular sexual preferences and reactions later in life. Of course, after puberty strikes boys may experience 24/7 erections, so sexual excitement can cover a lot of ground. If it is true, as it says in those ads for boner pills, that an erection lasting more than four hours requires medical attention, I would have spent much of my boyhood in the hospital. Most boys have probably experienced the embarrassment of having to give a report in front of a class while sporting an erection that won't quit. The first time that happened to me (in the 5th grade, I think) it took me a while to figure out why my report was eliciting so many giggles from the girls. 8-) Ghs
  24. Freethought and Freedom: Early Christianity and the Modern Libertarian Movement Does the modern libertarian movement have any significant similarities to the early Christian movement? Smith explores this intriguing possibility. My Essay #184 has been posted. Ghs