Another great post! It prompted another book recommendation -- something I read a couple of years ago: The Myths We Live By by Mary Midgley. The myths she discusses on are more science- than machine-focussed but the books makes many similar points.

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So now, we face the terrifying reality that our old customs and norms will no longer keep violence in check. The siren call of force grows louder. How then to counter that call with conviviality? It seems we must collapse our efforts to the close and personal, to our families and geographically immediate communities. I fear that a better world will not come until my great-grandchildren can usher it in, but I must strive for that future.

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May 21, 2022·edited May 21, 2022

This is really interesting and highly relevant to me. Ive spent a lot of time exploring the idea of objectivity, mainly due to my coursework for uni. ive had to read merleau ponty and his theory of emobodied subjectivity; which is that theres no objective world, rather just our subjective experience, which is a accumulation of sensory impressions.

Additionally, Jenny Odell points out in her book how social media really does not allign with the way we experience the world, mainly how we experience time and space. Ive written a bit more about it in my latest post in my newsletter, if it would be of any interest.

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Excellent article through and through. What struck me in particular was your characterization of bureaucracies as machines in which many of the parts are human beings. That never occurred to me, but in a blink it made sense on so many levels,from their maddening inability to consider context, to their algorithmic compassion, and the way even those who work in them can end up feeling dehumanized. If the machine holds for us a religious reverence, there could hardly be a better temple than the bureaucracy,.

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I echo Nick - a very stimulating post!

Several decades ago I noticed an odd divergence of world view among friends who shared interest and feeling in art and literature. It was taken to be 'reality' that the experience of beauty demonstrably had to be entirely subjective. (Why as friends we could share such 'subjective opinion' was to be a different matter.) The world in this view was demonstrably divided. The categorisation of subjectivity was held very strongly by two friends who, although they did not know one another - we were at two ends of the country by this stage - were highly educated in literature and language at high-level British Universities, Oxford and Edinburgh. I was not.

We were well out of university. They were teachers, I was the one who had taken 'science'. I was by then employed in pragamatic applied biological science in a project where 'unknowns' overwhelmingly out-classed 'knowns'. I also persisted doggedly in reading and writing poetry. One of my literate friends was more at home in the avant-garde of film and jazz, the other more enjoyed the classics. I veered among the interests.

I had to make up my mind. I could not accept the object / subject split, nor the implication that beauty was not part of the natural order. Beauty existed outside of my existence. To me it was more like the 'unknowns' of which we were occcasionally enabled sight and could sometimes share.

This anecdote about the object / subject split ways of knowing the world might have something to add to the discussion of substantitive moral goods, and the strange case of “Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms", particularly with relevance to the 'conformity' bit?

I guess I might head a bit more in the direction of Plotinus and perhaps Nicholas de Cusa and Richard of St Victor. Poets have been that way before.

I found Alasdair MacIntyre valuable, particularly his discussion of Utility in 'After Virtue' .

Thanks a lot.

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