April 22, 2008
Minutes Worked 60
Words/paragraphs Written 300 words
Type of Writing composition
Reflections on this writing Where has the semester gone!?!
Project Information and Complexity
Goals for next time get some momentum going, another 300–500 words tomorrow

Well, the last time I made an update to my writing journal, my goal was “to work on something else”. I guess I made that goal, even if it took me 5 months to do it.


January 13, 2008
Minutes Worked 60
Words/paragraphs Written unclear, though the LLP draft has a new bench mark (8000 words)
Type of Writing compiling notes
Reflections on this writing I’ve been promising myself this goal “in the next writing session” for months now
Project LLP
Goals for next time to work on something else

January 5, 2008
Minutes Worked 60
Words/paragraphs Written 681 words, though a few where cut and pasted
Type of Writing composition
Reflections on this writing well, 681 is better than 7
Project LLP
Goals for next time 1000 words, I know its silly to aim for at this point, but I think that I can do it.

technologocal neutrality

December 31, 2007

Why did do I find Seyyed Hossein Nasr to be alien?

In many ways, he isn’t. I was struck in particular by a comment by one of his commentators that he seems to endorse:

[A]ny plausible solution for the persisting problems caused by modern science and technology can be achieved not by better engineering or further progress but by reconsidering the entire perspective of the modern worldview regarding nature, human life, and its meaning

Now this is something like what I sincerely believed, when I was 19. It was really an important part of my deciding to go into philosophy. There were a few premises tied in my own committments. One which Nasr and his sympathetic commentators don’t share with the younger me was a committment to the moral neutrality of technology. It just seemed obvious that technology was neither inherently bad or good, it just was. Evaluating particular technologies as bad or good, and by extension the general direction of technological progress as either progressive or regressive, required reference to some other source of values. So, engineers can build tools for handicap accessibility or they can build weapons of great destructive power, but it would require the skills and insights of philosophers to figure out which ones are bad and which one are good.

Yeah, that’s part of what I’m a little embarassed about now. The easy distinction between roles really isn’t obvious, unless someone decides to take Plato’s advice and appoint philosopher kings. I would recommend against that option.

It’s also not so obvious how to divide technological progress from ordinary historical development. One could start with a distinction between the meanderings of history versus the apparently goal directed progress of technology. But this route begs the question, it begins by identifying what counts as progress, when if we knew that there wouldn’t really be a question worth asking here.

Nasr and his compatriots begin with a tradition (or traditions) of established knowledge, which incorporate significant spiritual knowledge. Anything which lessens that contact with what they consider the eternal source of Being, is bad. Western secular civilization has steadily moved away from even acknowledging the possibility of such knowledge. Thus, the general trend of technological development has been degenerative.

I can’t help but feel it truly alien, unnerving, to see the era which encompasses my own life-time as one of accelerating decline. In fact, I don’t see it that way. I welcome the destablizing influence of reading the philosophy of those who, but ultimately, it just feels alien.

Not that that’s a good way to evaluate philosophical writing, but it does help keep the interest yup while you’re working out the hard parts.

December 30, 2007
Minutes Worked 75
Words/paragraphs Written 1537
Type of Writing various things, mostly typing notes
Reflections on this writing I hope todays output maked sense, because it felt like mindless typing, but I finally got near the word count I need.
Project LLP, of course
Goals for next time ever forward!!!

those 7 words,

December 21, 2007

by which I mean the 7 I wrote yesterday. To whit:

Why read the Library of Living Philosophers?

Not a real inspiring question, but the answer (ideas and personalities) will be useful to me. See the Library of Living Philosoophers is a series of heavy (though not necessarily dense) volumes, each dedicated to an important living philosopher (hence the name).

The most obvious reasons to read these volumes are that they provide a summary of the philosopher’s important ideas. Even if you can’t get too far into a philosopher’s arguments by looking at one of these books, you cant get a good idea of the important places to start. For readers who are already familiar with at least part of a philosopher’s work, the LLP promises to provide access to the philosopher as a complete thinker, even as an intellectual personality.

On a more difficult level, reading multiple volumes gives some important insights into how different ideas work in different contexts.

Finally, the distinction actually gets at an important, and neglected, difference in how philosophy is done. On the one hand we have philosophy as a problem oriented enterprise devoted to discovering and testing ideas. On the otherhand, there’s been a position, going back to Plato at least, that argues philosophy is not about building theories or expanding knowledge, its about forming philosophers. Plato called it preparation for death. Since not everyone receives a proper education and not everyone is capable of getting the same things out of an education when it it provided, this notion seems distasteful to modern democratic sensibilities.

Both tendencies are represented in the LLP, so watching them compete provides a reason to read the LLP. Indeed, taken as a whole, the LLP provides a ‘how-to’ volume for contemporary philosophy.

In particular, I’m finding the volume on Seyyed Hossein Nasr most fascinating. In addition to propunding an esoteric position, he’s also an observant shiite muslim and anti-modernist. From my perspective, he’s a truly alien thinker, and thus worth a serious read.


December 20, 2007
Minutes Worked 45
Words/paragraphs Written 7 words
Type of Writing composition
Reflections on this writing yes, they were only 7 words, and not 7 very good words, but they were mine.
Project LLP, what else
Goals for next time lay the back bone for the LLP project, get some structure to all these random things I’ve been writing

In other news, my goal of dominating the category “Most Boring Blog Not Selling an Herbal Supplement ” seems within my grasp.

My Triumphant Return to Bloggin’

December 16, 2007

OK, not so much triumphant, but at least I’m going to be writing again and, after this small indulgence, I won’t be writing about how I’m going to be writing. In any case, my comittment to writing has been renewed, not by any particular but by slowly excavating the ice and snow that’s been accumulating around my brain and preventing any forward progress.

The literal accumulation of ice and snow around my physical body doesn’t hurt any, now I don’t have any place to go, except the man cave. My son hates it when I call the basement that, but we’ve got the computer and the weight bench set up down here and no one else tends to come down here.

The one catch is that the man cave is unheated so I can only write until I loose feeling in my fingers, then my spelling goes to hell.

December 16, 2007
Minutes Worked 30
Words/paragraphs Written 235 (net)
Type of Writing revision
Reflections on this writing I’ll probably be working with paper drafts soon
Project LLP
Goals for next time

December 12, 2007
Minutes Worked 25
Words/paragraphs Written 757
Type of Writing straight composition
Reflections on this writing felt good, I had a grasp of where everything was on the page.
Project LLP
Goals for next time A printable draft, but first … my triumphant return to blogging!