Live Blogging the Reading Club (2)

7:19 PM – Mr. Carpenter begins in earnest… chapter 3, Fragmentation and Obsession. Essentially when Weaver gets to this point he’s making fun of his own profession. He rails against specialization… whereas the well-rounded individual has a sense of the forms, the specialist reinterprets nature by what he is specialized in. Essentially, the specialist in Weaver’s field (the intellect philosopher) believes that nature can be interpreted in of itself without reference to other things. Thus specialization is okay, because everyone has access to self-interpreting nature.

7:24 PM – He’s essentially debunking what his own faculty is doing at University of Chicago; all his colleagues believe that nature is self-interpreting, and he’s going after it whole hog. Weaver’s metaphysical dream assumes the forms of Plato but also some of the Aristotelian relation between particulars and forms. There are three different ways that we can look at reality 

  • Universalia ante rem (universals exist in reality outside the physical realm, Platonic thinking). 
  • Universalia in re (universals exist in creation within the physical realm, Aristotelian thinking).
  • Universalia post rem (mind poses order upon reality, which is otherwise chaos, empiricist thinking)

7:33 PM – The last of these is the impetus behind the Q Document theory; that the facts in themselves are self-interpreting as you examine the text. You can look and see the similarities in the Synoptics and conclude that there must be a common document shared between them. All this did was fuel dissertations for decades; the transcendant truth behind the text was completely ignored or at least undermined for what is a creation of an empiricist’s mind. In history we call this historicism… telling the purpose of history and the truth behind it by just observing facts. 

7:40 PM – Weaver goes to town on empiricism, connecting how technology fuels “presentism,” the idea that whatever is latest is best. This is rampant in our culture. 

7:44 PM – Weaver makes an interesting connection. He shows how the philosophical doctor led society in the medieval age, whereas in the burgeoning age of the Enlightenment the gentleman came to prominence. Whereas the philosophical doctor had a metaphysical dream fueling his musings, the gentleman only had a shadow of these things. The gentleman is moving from the life of the mind to technology; he’s already asking the question “maybe what works is best is superior to what is.” He is still guided by principle, though. 

7:50 PM – Compare this to the specialist, who says that what we see show us what is right. The philosophical doctor points back to realities that show us what is right. This drives the specialist to deny reality and drive them to tend towards instability, whereas the philosophical doctors were entrenched in proper reality. 

7:55 PM – The specialist believes in perspectivalism… there is no real reality, but instead just perspectives that are equal. A good quote from Weaver that relates to this: 

… the specialist stands ever at the borderline of psychois. It has been remarked that when one passes among the patients of a psychopathic ward, he encounters among the several sufferers every aspect of normal personality in morbid exaggeration, so that it would be possible theoretically to put together a supermind by borrowing something from each. And as one passes through modern centers of enterprise and of higher learning, he is met with similar autonomies of development. Each would be admired for his little achievement of power and of virtuosity; each is resentful of subordination because, fo him, a speciality has become a world. 

8:00 PM – Finishing up for the night… the multitude of specialists creates a society whereby denial of reality becomes the norm, and people are lulled to destructive slumber. This is what chapter 4 concerns itself with. Mr. Carpenter calls for all to come, since chapter 4 concerns itself with the decline of the arts as specialization flourished… specifically he wants to discuss the degradation of music. Which he suspects all will want to give their take on that one…

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