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Harvard and the Making of the Unabomber (2000) (theatlantic.com)
264 points by HoppedUpMenace on Sept 1, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 180 comments



> The "Bad" Parts of Technology Cannot Be Separated from the "Good" Parts. [1]

I thought this was one of the most prophetic statement from his Technology Manifesto. Written in 1995, still true today. Take any technology, and you'll see it has been used for doing "good" things as well as "evil" things, and it's impossible for anyone to separate the two and enforce usage of only the "good" parts. Example: Drones. Used in many countries now to send recon to remote areas for rescue missions [2], drop food or medicinal supplies in conflict zones. Same drones also used by the same countries to remotely kill "suspected terrorists" and by ISIS Jihadis (in Iraq) to drop bombs on Iraqi soldiers [3].

You cannot invent drones and tell people it should only be used for good things, not bad things. Same with Facebook. Used to organize events, connect with family, find missing people, start revolutions and protests. Same Facebook also used to spread fake news, lure unsuspecting victims for robbery and even murder, recruit Jihadis.

Every time a new technology is invented, human find a way to use it in a bad, destructive way.

Too bad blogging and Podcasting or youtube weren't around when Ted Kaczynski's wrote his technology manifesto, cos maybe then he may have resorted to online medium to spread his message, instead of killing people to get attention for his manifesto.

[1] Source: The Unabomber Trial: The Manifesto => http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/unabo...

[2] Source: Drones Help Rescue Missing Hikers => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1VPZ5jt5Xw

[3] Source: Footage of ISIS drone dropping grenade bombs on Iraqi soldiers => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Uw0KWhYAoY


> You cannot invent drones and tell people it should only be used for good things, not bad things.

Sure you can. This is the purpose of laws and law enforcement. Try to fly a drone with a knife to stab people and people will destroy it and arrest you.

Internationally we have a lack of laws and a lack of enforcement, therefore we had only limited success at preventing nuclear proliferation or chemical/bio weapons uses but the will is there and successes do exist.

Both Antarctica and outer space are military-weapons-free (they do have a valid excuse for that handgun on the ISS)


Laws don't separate good from evil. They serve to legitimize (think of the root of that word) the exercise of certain behavior. But there can be good laws and evil laws. If you have trouble understanding this point, look at another country besides the US when thinking about it.


Heh, "Look at the laws in the US when thinking about it" would be more appropriate.


> If you have trouble understanding this point, look at another country besides the US when thinking about it.

More than a little patronising, and also: really??


It wasn't a dig at the US, rather the opposite. Looking at say North Korea, or Nazi Germany, or any place where slavery was legal...might make it easier to see laws that were divorced from what is good/bad.


Many people have trouble thinking about the category of evil laws. It's not what they learned in junior high school! It's helpful to inspire thinking about categories that asymptotically approach the categories that are difficult to conceptualize directly.


> Sure you can. This is the purpose of laws and law enforcement. Try to fly a drone with a knife to stab people and people will destroy it and arrest you.

There are lots of drones in the Middle East killing people with much more dangerous weapons than knives.

> Both Antarctica and outer space are military-weapons-free

This is a fairly academic point given the US is capable of nuking anywhere on earth that anyone could possibly want to nuke. There aren't weapons in space because the purposes of putting weapons in space are achieved by other means.


I thought about importing drones into Sao Paulo to do 'in-window' sushi delivery (it's popular here for 25-35 y/o's).

Then i put on my black hat thought about it some more. Asking the question "what could i do with this if i were an asshole?"

I was speaking with a guy Yakuza ties when the idea came to me, so we both quickly thought of how drug dealers could use it for their deliveries and stuff. Then, the next logical conclusion: their drug wars, so assasinations. Another bad consequence: Carrefour getting a hold of it, thereby normalizing it through ubiquity, sliding it right in on claims of 'convenience,'

Before you know it, spooks, whose surveillance state currently requires one to be within physical range of a chipboard, can now do a whole lot more (like puts on tin-foil hat aerosol delivery inside my 20th floor 'weatherized' studio apartment, "just leave the window open so wal-mart's drones can get in and bring you your socks and sushi!").

Everyone mentions big brother, but i find the silicon valley commentary on "big mother" equal parts hilarious and frightening.

So, drones, not a good idea here, since we live under a silent and (mostly) non-violent dictatorship on the federal level, with buy-in from the elected municipal and state executive governments.

Needless to say I scrapped the idea. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. Ya dig?(=


The ISS never had a gun; it stayed in the Soyuz.

Supposedly, the gun has not been included in recent missions.

https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/aerospace/space-flight/h...


For the intent of drama, it can be considered accessible from the ISS :-)

Thanks for the link, that's good to know, no more weapons in space!


> Try to fly a drone with a knife to stab people and people will destroy it and arrest you

Unless it's the people doing the destroying and arresting who are flying the knife drone. In that case, they'll be celebrated as patriotic heroes and you as a terrorist deserving of death.


Nothing is stopping you from doing it. You're talking about the consequences of doing it after the fact.


Laws are like coupons: you can redeem them, but no coupon redeems itself without a redeemer.


You seem to imply that the government and laws cannot be evil and enforce evil policies.


Indeed. Not in a sane, functioning democracy guided by en educated electorate.


Normally I appreciate irony but this is too on-the-nose.


There was a gun on the Almaz [0] space station.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almaz


>they do have a valid excuse for that handgun on the ISS

The kind of cosmonauts that can fight a bear hand to hand don't physically fit in the Soyuz capsule.

It's a shame it would be a NFA headache to make but it would be really cool to have a replica of one of these guns for hunting. Integrate it with an over/under 12ga, full power rifle on one side, full power handgun on the other and you've got a load for basically anything you could run across. The block of steel you've have to start with would be $$$ though.


> Take any technology, and you'll see it has been used for doing "good" things as well as "evil" things,

Isn't this true of every human endeavor? It's not really that remarkable that any given action has positive outcomes X, negative outcomes Y -- this in itself is not a reason to do something nor a deterrent. Seems like you can argue for or against anything on this basis.

Hard to see it as anything other than a bunch of tautological nonsense over which real people died.


Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer's The Dialectic of Enlightenment (written in 1947 - when Nazism, Stalinism, Fat Boy & Little Man, and the advent of popular culture were still in short-term memory) devotes a good amount of analysis to how - in spite of society's tendency to espouse 'progress eliminates regression' - society is not monotonically increasing.

> "The self, entirely encompassed by civilization, is dissolved in an element composed of the very inhumanity which civilization has sought from the first to escape.”


I've read some Adorno and his work appears to me as meaningless chewing around. After all, he was inspired by Marx and Hegel. E.g:

> What philosophy once called life, has turned into the sphere of the private and then merely of consumption, which is dragged along as an addendum of the material production-process, without autonomy and without its own substance.

To quote Hume:

> If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.


It takes a lot of hubris (all too common in the software engineering community) to suggest that Marx and Hegel, two of the most influential philosophers of all time, produced nothing of meaning.


Let's narrow things down. What did Hegel produce of meaning? Can you answer that question concretely without the gaseous word bending that is typical of Hegelians?


It depends on what constitutes 'meaning'.

If meaning has a minimal requirement of historical impact it cannot be denied that Hegel produced a tremendous amount of meaning in the world, as entire traditions of thought have developed out of his notion of dialectic. Hell, the whole idea of Communism presumably would not have developed were it not for Marx's reading of Hegel, and it's nigh impossible to deny that idea has had no 'meaning' given its historical impacts.

If you instead conceive of meaning as some intelligible object or unit which must occur within Hegel's text--irrelevant of the interpretations and eventual historical impact of said text, well you could more readily argue that Hegel's work is 'meaningless' theorizing--this is essentially the empiricist/positive demand Hume echoes that a theory must give us something pragmatic and directly connected to the world--e.g. it must say that for such and such an x, do y to get z.

However this is a very naive approach to 'meaning' the positivist approach to language (Russell, Frege(to an extent), Quine) has more or less fallen out of favor as linguists and philosophers of language have recognized that the vast majority of 'meaning' stems from context and other incredibly variable data which is almost impossible to account for with any general or predictive theory or quantificational analysis.


You'll find that many people on the Internet cleave dogmatically to a vulgar positivism that is never clearly enunciated because they think it's so darned obvious.


Meaningful/useful/valuable to humankind. Marxism is unscientific and led some societies close to barbarism.

225 words and you couldn't answer me.

Let's practice: Donald Knuth created the KMP algorithm.

Help me understand the omnipotence of Hegel. Your turn.


tl;dr:

Fine. Donald produced the KMP algorithm, an abstract method people can use with computers or other domains to do things with abstract representations (e.g. 'text'). (to develop programs that modify data)

Hegel produced the theory of dialectic, an abstract method of analysis people can use with cultural and historical concepts to do things with abstract representations(e.g. the notion of a 'state', 'culture', 'people'). (To develop arguments that modify concepts(aka brain data))

That's the best way I can put it in a fashion I think you'll find more agreeable. If you disagree, so be it, but I'd urge you to actually read Hegel or study the history of philosophy before making a statement that in physics would be something like the equivalent of saying Einstein's work was worthless. That could of course be the case, but I imagine you can see why many people would need a great deal of convincing argument to begin to side with you.

-------- more thoughts (not that you seem to have much willingness to engage with them, but, just in case you're bored and would like to stir up your ire, since this will likely sound like a whole lot of cruft and baloney and "gaseous word bending" to you):

And what is meaningful/useful/valuable to mankind? You began by saying meaningful, which is not by default, useful, especially to all of mankind--who is this invisible judge deciding what constitutes the definition of useful for all humanity? Oh. It's you, isn't it--or is it?

Love is a very meaningful experience for the parties involved. But love itself is pretty useless to humanity from a strictly utilitarian standpoint. One of its frequent side effects, babies, is useful, but that's not always the case, and plenty of babies are conceived without 'love' having any say in the matter. Plus, not all babies wind up bringing good to the state and thus good to a greater number--some are just drains on the commonwealth. Though of course a positivist would probably want to reduce the concept 'love' to something amenable to scientific description, such as a chemical state of the brain--but unless you're a total robot I think you'd see that we lose quite a lot in such a reductive picture of the concept.

Useful to humanity...would that be anything that enables us to propagate further? To allow our species, which has disrupted ecosystems and done greater environmental damage than all other forms of life, to continue? To make technology, which, though incredibly beneficial, also incredibly negative (the Unabomber's point) more efficient? is that usefulness?

This is precisely what I was talking about earlier re: incommensurability. I can't answer you because you've already determined you want to remain rooted in your utilitarian/positivist/scientific framework of thought and have no willingness to step outside of it. Yes, from that worldview, you have to admit Hegel is useless--all theories have sets of exclusion--things they consider valueless. Such a positivist train of thought considers a great deal of the work in the humanities valueless. If you want to say Hegel is valueless you'll have to work out a very hokey caveat to ensure all of the humanities and arts aren't also captured in that class of valueless things.

> "Help me understand Hegel. Your turn."

If you actually wanted to understand you wouldn't be so abrasive and terse about this. You'd be doing more work trying to understand my perspective, and not demanding that I conform to whatever bizarre expectation you have. You're asking for an explanation in very bad faith. You really only want fodder to confirm your own bias. You want to be able to say "see, all these people who value Hegel are fools"--but what's the point in that? What does that accomplish? you haven't broadened your horizons at all--you're only stroking your ego--there's better ways to go about that, like, idk, maybe follow Knuth and devise some algorithms?

Human beings can change their minds and consider things from different perspectives. That's one of our gifts. Why do so many insist on resisting it?

I read a dogmatic adherence to the scientific in your post--"Marxism is unscientific" (read the hidden value judgement: therefore marxism is BAD)--that's equatable to the sort of blind religious adherence that the faithful used to have when religions were the dominant paradigm.

Why are you trying to start a conversation if you're already dictating the parameters? The way you've responded to me indicates you expect me to give you the 'right' answer "225 words and you couldn't answer me", e.g. I have to say Hegel contributed such in a particular way for it to be "right"--that's not a conversation, that's you looking to reaffirm your prevailing worldview and dogmatic, cough and thus incredibly unscientific, way of thinking. You want to talk but only so long as the conversation adheres to the terms and conditions you've set out in your head. Basically you want to play schoolmaster and pat me on the head when I confirm 6 times 11 is indeed 66--but culture and conversation is not mathematics. It's messy. Just because something isn't scientific doesn't make it valueless.

That's not how a conversation or fruitful argument is supposed to work. We are supposed to play with each other's perspectives together and devise an answer. A good argument is a collaboration, not a conflict. The ancient greeks understood this. The Americans and modern keyboardists swiftly forgot. Your approach implies there's some correct answer you already have in mind--or something of the sort, like, Hegel's theory directly increased food production in country xyz.

Rather than working with me to determine if the theory is in fact valuable, you're just being difficult and obstinate. I'm happy to entertain your positivist perspective, but since you've yet to elaborate precisely why you need such convincing that one of the philosophers generally regarded as important and great in the tradition of western philosophy, by experts studied in the field is important I can't really work with you.

I don't understand why people forget knowledge of tradition is important in the humanities too. We seem to think it's okay to be near uneducated in philosophical thought, methodology, and history, to never have fully read or studied source materials, and to still question the legitimacy of Hegel's work, but we think it a total point of idiocy to have no knowledge of physics and attempt to levy a serious question as to the legitimacy of Einstein's output.

People are choosy as to where they direct their skepticism--as it has alway been, we retain our 'sacred objects' be they religions, rulers, or science.

Do you really want to dive into dogmatic positivism that far?

By all means go ahead, but you won't be very pleasant to get along with, at least in my opinion.


Hegel saw the prussian absolutist state as the epitome of perfection. How could he be so wrong?

My problem with philosophy is that all this thinking is most often turned to its proper use - the justification of some power structure


I think that the idea about philosophy most often being used for the justification for some power structure has its origins in philosophy itself, namely in Nietzsche and Foucault. So I wouldn't call it a problem with philosophy but a philosophical position.


Hegel did directly support the Prussian state and in general like his "reincarnation" Marx, supported totalitarianism. He saw the strong state as some sort of representation of God in the contemporary world.


Not quite sure about Marx, there is the younger one and the older one, and they don't quite agree on a lot of things. But who really knows. Maybe this differentiation is all made up by the reform communists who want to save the framework of Marxist thought.


The philosopher King came from Plato, that was much earlier.


And Kant believed an enlightened despot was the proper model of rule.

All philosophy that puts forward a theoretical position, and thus is positive in content, will inevitably support some 'model for the world' some 'picture' or some 'state' which results in a particular power structure (since so much is bound up in the 'will to power') retaining dominance.

That's why only the philosophers who have primarily dissembled and worked in negative terms avoid this (Wittgenstein, Foucault, Nietzsche). For example, Foucault does not offer us some structuralist theory of history--he rather applies a structuralist method to historical contents to point out where "the apparently necessary is actually contingent" (the inverse of the Kantian project to discover the necessary among the contingent https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/foucault/ [sec. 3]). Just as Nietzsche's whole program was to point out the sinister nature of values, just as Wittgenstein's was to point of the sinister nature of theories or world-pictures. But even Nietzsche was not free from this. Some of his more positive statements and commitments (e.g. the will to power) have been used for nefarious purposes-- thus the nazis latched on to his ideas as justification for their political programs. But what Nietzsche was doing most frequently in practice and what the nazis eventually did with a subset of his ideas are two very different things.

Of course, one could derive some theoretical picture, and thus some vision of the world in which a particular structure (and thus power dynamic) holds by analyzing these thinkers too--e.g. Wittgenstein never offers a direct theory of language, but that has not stopped several people from developing theoretical models of language based on his work and what his 'therapeutic' (negative/disassembling) method revealed.

Whether or not philosophy is used to justify a power structure comes down to the theorist and how she employs theory--the same with science, which can also be utilized and deployed for political aims (e.g. see the ambiguity of data interpretation being used to produce arguments in favor of political action to stop climate change and in favor of nonintervention). It is not a problem inherent in philosophy itself, but it is a latent possible application or deployment of philosophical thought and method.


I understand that the subject of Philosophy by itself should be neutral (as it is dealing with abstract categories). However it inhibits me greatly from delving deeper into it (beyond some very shallow grasp) when considering that its main use is to talk to power (either by bowing to it or by opposing it).

Even the philosophy of language is used to justify the rule of our species over the animal kingdom. The word of Marx taken as gospel was used to oppress and murder a lot of people, the use of Nietzsche taken as gospel was used to justify the murder of Jews and others, the practical application of the whole subject is soaked in blood up to a point where I am asking myself: has any good ever come out of it?


It still happens sometimes, that I don't regret diving into the comments section of an article. This thread was such a gem.

Thank you.


There is a big difference between Knuth's algorithms and Hegel's dialectic method: The later is an un-scientific farce that led to nothing but irrationalism and authoritarian thought. It has no value whatsoever.

But what could we expect from this "super-logic" that claims absolute knowledge, when the author himself was a puppet and supporter of the Prussian state (to the point he claimed it to be the perfect model), a mysticist and religious pamphlet.

This is a man who wrote in the time after Newton, Lippershey, Pascal and many more, yet had no adherence to science.

> I'd urge you to actually read Hegel or study the history of philosophy before making a statement that in physics would be something like the equivalent of saying Einstein's work was worthless. That could of course be the case, but I imagine you can see why many people would need a great deal of convincing argument to begin to side with you.

That's apples and oranges. Einstein's work is clear, falsifiable and he doesn't rely on sophistry. Hegel's work is basically a set of claims about nearly everything he doesn't know a thing about. Notice we don't have anything like "Einsteinism" in physics, but you have a whole collection: Hegelianism, Marxism, Leninism.

Let's quote some of Hegel's nonsense:

> Matter possesses gravity in virtue of its tendency towards a central point. It is essentially composite; consisting of parts that exclude each other. It seeks its Unity; and therefore exhibits itself as self-destructive, as verging towards its opposite ... Spirit, on the contrary, may be defined as that which has its centre in itself. It has not a unity outside itself, but has already found it; it exists in and with itself. Matter has its essence out of itself; Spirit is self-contained existence.

> Spirit is knowledge; but in order that knowledge should exist; it is necessary that the content of that which it knows should have attained to this ideal form, and should in this way have been negated. What Spirit is must in that way have become its own, it must have described this circle; then these forms, differences, determinations finite qualities, must have existed in order that it should make them its own. This represents both the way and the goal—that Spirit should have attained to its own notion or conception, to that which it implicitly is, and in this way only, the way which has been indicated in its abstract moments, does it attain it. Revealed religion is manifested religion, because in it God has become wholly manifest. Here all is proportionate to the notion; there is no longer anything secret in God.

> I read a dogmatic adherence to the scientific in your post--"Marxism is unscientific" (read the hidden value judgement: therefore marxism is BAD)--that's equatable to the sort of blind religious adherence that the faithful used to have when religions were the dominant paradigm.

Marxism is bad. Like Hegel, Marx wrote without any substance, and his work has been refuted long ago. Its legacy is undeniably bad. Nobody sane discusses Marxism itself, other than it's historical place. To me, Marx and Hegel are prophets and enemies of reason.

The reason I bother to engage in this discussion is that Hegel was worshipped too long where I come from (the socialist block). I developed a distaste for that nonsense.


>Marxism is bad. Like Hegel, Marx wrote without any substance, and his work has been refuted long ago. Its legacy is undeniably bad. Nobody sane discusses Marxism itself, other than it's historical place. To me, Marx and Hegel are prophets and enemies of reason.

I have to say I disagree with this; Marx wrote with very much substance, though he was a flowery writer, and he employed a certain method which he and Engels admitted was rather obscure and unfamiliar to the thinkers of their new time - but there's plenty of content there, such that many have been inspired by his work to take it in new theoretical directions.

The "refutations" of Marx come from everywhere, even from Marxists, their validity however is still up for question. For every refutation there is usually a Marxian counter-refutation lurking in the background. If you don't believe me, just look at the modern argument between the anarchists and Marxists and the economical argument that still rages to this day between the understandings of Marx's value theory and tendency of the rate of profit to fall, like Kilman's TSSI, Okishio, Samuelson, Morishima, Cockshott etc.


I thank you for the honest response, @dgut--I apologize too if my last post was a bit snippy--I'm just far too used to many beginning these conversations in entirely bad faith, as I mentioned, with no intention of reevaluating their own perspectives.

You're right that Hegel's work, especially considered in relation to developments in science and the amount of knowledge we have today, does seem almost more like an absurdist tract than a piece of interesting philosophy--you picked out excellent quote to illustrate this--'spirit' is a word that's more or less meaningless in the modern epoch.

However, it's important to consider the prevalent episteme or intellectual/epistemic milieu Hegel was working with--you cite Pascal, who did indeed make incredible strides in mathematics--but he also believed he'd had a direct experience of God, and went so far as to record a reminder of his religious experience and literally sew it into his coat--to us Hegel's terminology is dusty and makes little sense, and, you're correct, from a scientific point seems like a hell of a lot of substanceless hot air--but at the time he was utilizing a language many would have still comprehended--point is, it affected persons and how they perceive the world.

This is why philological study is incredibly important, and it's a shame so many, at least in the US are unfamiliar with the field--language is a living, evolving system, and our notions of what words mean, how to use them, and what concepts they capture is fundamentally, if not radically different than it was for our ancestors in the 1700-1800s. Philological readings help inform us of the historical importance of theories that otherwise fall out of our understanding as history progresses. For instance, the ancient greeks also had several notions of 'spirit' which are handled differently today--some retain the word in translation, others, realizing the word is more or less dead translate it instead as something like 'mind' or an equivalent psychological term--but this brings translation fundamentally into question, for the concept the greeks indicated by the term 'psyche' and the concept indicated by our term 'mind', with all the strides we've made in psychology, are radically different--our term brings a whole wealth of psychological propositions and concepts with it that the greeks did not have--so it keeps ancient works alive for modern readers, but we do have to wonder whether its not somewhat intellectually dishonest or leads some down paths of uncritical acceptance or faulty pictures of ancient thought--it's a fascinating problem.

As Wittgenstein said "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world". (He remains, by the way, the greatest philosopher, at least in my view)

I think you want a sort of scientific defense for Hegel's value--I can't offer that because there isn't one that I can conceive of. If you haven't read the work of Karl Popper I highly recommend it--he sketched out precisely why theories such as Hegelianism and Marxism cannot be considered scientific. Additionally I think you ought to check out the work of Thomas Kuhn, which shows that science isn't as rock-solid or immune to the accidents of historical change as you might think. Perhaps if you're feeling really radical and want to challenge your views about science check out Feyerabend's Against Method and Datson and Gallison's Objectivity (D+G's book was instrumental in changing my own views on science, they show, by examining scientific history and the gradual changes that the concept of 'objectivity' has undergone through the years that science, like culture, and like all human pursuit really, is messy).

As to the problem of Hegel's support of the Prussian state--you could levy this critique against many practicing scientists, thinkers, and human beings in general. We all have values and systems of belief. We all find it difficult to separate those values and beliefs form our work, even when we try our damnedest to do so. The unconscious is an unruly little beast. You really think researchers funded by big Pharma are scientifically pure and aren't lead to pursue particular results because of external factors such as the fact that is big Pharma continues to thrive, so do they? Make no mistake, all intellectual pursuits are tainted by politics and value judgements. There is no such thing as Thomas Nagel's 'view from nowhere'--you cannot escape your subjectivity. If you could you'd have no reason to pursue anything. Even the purest scientist must be stimulated by an interest or passion to investigate the world, which will necessarily factor into his perceptions. That's why the perfect scientist is in fact an unfeeling instrument--but of course the instrument is far less flexible than the human being--and the human being still needs to interpret the data--and even if we can devise machines that interpret, we can only devise them such that they follow the model of human interpretation, and thus, are still flawed.

This is why Nietzsche pinpointed valuation/value judgement as the root of nearly all of man's problems. Of course the ubermensch who can launch a radical "revaluation of all values" and disabuse us of our constant need to create and abide by valuations has yet to come--and more than likely never will. Nietzsche himself, gouger of values that he was, had plenty of them.

Nietzsche is fascinating case of someone who held science on a veritable pedestal but whose work is far from scientific, yet incredibly meaningful and effective.

So again, all I can offer to you is a historical defense of Hegel's work. This probably seems dissatisfying, as in theory then anyone could have pulled off the same--and the work loses any value beyond one of historical interest, e.g. it's no longer applicable--but that is a perennial problem--the old wrinkle as to whether the person behind discoveries or theories really matters, i.e. the idea that, had Einstein not reached his conclusions about physics, would someone else eventually have (or for an actual historical example, how Newton and Leibniz developed concepts and notations for calculus near simultaneously--Leibniz actually is another fine example, like Pascal, of a polymath who contributed enormously to mathematics and logic but had weird metaphysical notions that no longer resonate with modern audiences).


The problem with Hegel is that his work not only doesn't resonate with modern audiences (as you would say), but it didn't back then either. He was incredibly wrong even for his time. Even Pascal's Wager is approachable today because it deals with probability.

Reading Pascal leaves you with the impression that indeed, this was an intelligent man. Reading Hegel does the opposite, and he was born a whole 100 years later.

Pascal's writings are so comprehensible and consistent, it's a joy to read and we can easily put things into the context of his time.

Pascal did question the Church and Christianity, and his commentary was sanctioned for a period. So did Kant a century later, and although there is disagreement as to whether Kant was an atheist, he didn't write of God in the superstitial terms Hegel later used. It's possible Hegel was commissioned to discredit Kant after he (K) had discredited all proofs of God's existence. Schopenhauer saw Hegel as an agent of the Prussian state, which Hegel regarded as the ultimate model and a representation of God in the contemporary world.

Hegel's discredit of Newton whose undeniably significant work took place more than a century before his birth, appears to me as childish screaming for the "throne of the wisest" or plain stupidity.

Gauss, a true man of reason, had to say this about Hegel:

> "Noah got drunk only one time, to become then, according to the Scriptures, a judicious man, while the insanities of Hegel in the Doctoral Dissertation, where he criticizes Newton and questions the utility of a search for new planets are still wisdom if one compares them with his later remarks."

Unlike Pascal, who I must admit I am a big fan of, every attempt of Hegel to engage in maths was laughable. Although he mastered sophistry, his maths were not just wrong, he displayed complete ignorance on the subject.

The current discussions in philosophy surrounding Hegel is almost always centered on what Hegel did intend to say and what he didn't. On on one side, we have those who want to paint a better picture of the man, on the other those who see it as it is. It reminds of the discussions surrounding the Quran today.

Hegel is no more than a scholar who blindly followed the discredited Greek idea of explaining the world from pure thought with many unfortunate consequences because he excelled at sophistry, a quality some find attractive enough that it justifies putting their own reason to sleep.

Unfortunately, Hegel's absolutism is a sad legacy that still pollutes the minds of some wise philosophers who could otherwise have engaged in a more meaningful use of their minds.

This is what Schopenhauer had to say about Hegel:

> "Hegel, installed from above, by the powers that be, as the certified Great Philosopher, was a flat-headed, insipid, nauseating, illiterate charlatan, who reached the pinnacle of audacity in scribbling together and dishing up the craziest mystifying nonsense. This nonsense has been noisily proclaimed as immortal wisdom by mercenary followers and readily accepted as such by all fools, who thus joined into as perfect a chorus of admiration as had ever been heard before. The extensive field of spiritual influence with which Hegel was furnished by those in power has enabled him to achieve the intellectual corruption of a whole generation."

Hegel deserves to be discredited and distanced from philosophy or it will further damage it. If Hegel is to serve as something, it's as the ultimate example of a scholar too powerful to destroy whose influence is negative. Maybe Chomsky in regard to his linguistic work could be the contemporary equivalent of a scholar who puts to a halt an entire field, although he isn't half as bad.


You're making a silly assumption here in my opinion if I understand your correctly, namely that because X's contribution to field Y was 'bad' all subsequent attempts at engaging with it are bad, therefore X's work must be expunged from the tradition and no longer engaged with.

Hm, so sure, we'll say Hegel was a horrible, illiterate, idiotic sophist. In that case you still have to admit his work was valuable to the field in that it provides a good example as to what constitutes sophistry. So, even if you want to interpret Hegel's work as worthless, intellectual dung-water you could argue that it's valuable in helping shape the philosophical field in a negative sense in that it provides an instance out of which a normative rule can be developed--namely Hegel's work is what philosophy shouldn't be.

I've given you two, admittedly very basic, since we're limited to comments, arguments for why you might consider Hegel's work meaningful/useful: a. It's historical (accidental) impact. b. It's being an example of how not to proceed (for a scientific analogue: an experiment that was unsuccessful).

Neither of these positions need to explicitly agree with Hegel's theories to see them as valuable. in either case you can say that Hegel's contribution was 'meaningful' while upholding the idea that he was 'wrong' (in fact the second relies on this).

Okay fine. We'll discredit and distance Hegel because he was 'wrong'. Does that mean we also discredit and distance every lick of philosophical work that in some fashion engaged with his productions?

By today's standards and developing knowledge in the field of linguistics the logical positivists of the 20th century were also 'wrong'. Should they too be eliminated from the philosophical tradition? Are they too unimportant? I'd like you to go and convince an analytical philosopher that work of Frege, Russel, and Whitehead should be eliminated from the philosophical discourse because it was 'wrong'. Or to use your own example, Chomsky was arguably wrong in putting syntax on such a pedestal--but his work was still fundamental in directing the progress of the field of linguistics. Without Chomsky's contribution there's a whole wealth of linguistic inquiry that may have not been undertaken. Concerning yourself with whether or not a historical and terminated event was 'wrong' outside of moral domains is really senseless--I don't see the point. Once again I stress that the humanities are not mathematics. There's not an evident 'right' answer to the things we define. It's idiotic to say that a given political system is 'right' and another is 'wrong' as you're only expressing your own value judgments. It is the same with metaphysics, history, literature, art...etc. etc.

You know, you continue to disparage Hegel but you've yet to produce any analysis as to why he's such a so-called sophist. In your previous post you quoted some of his material but provided no argument; you assumed that it is interpretable as nonsense de facto. That is not the sign of an intellectual, honest, or reasoned approach to the content. Schopenhauer was an incredibly intelligent philosopher but that remark on Hegel is not a valid critique, it is only a contentless value-judgement, dismissal, and ascription--to put that forth as an argument for Hegel's being a sophist is an appeal to intellectual authority, which is an argumentative fallacy.

Here let me engage in a similar exercise with Pascal's wager since to you that sounds >"approachable today because it deals with probability"

Well, Voltaire said this of Pascal's little wager: [That it was] "indecent and childish" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager)(See: Criticism, Nature as Proof of the Existence of God).

Therefore we ought to just discredit and distance Pascal's wager from the philosophical/religious tradition.

Does this sound like solid reasoning/argumentation to you? No? That's because it isn't. And in fact Voltaire's little quotation was based on a misunderstanding of Pascal's wager. Dumb move if I'm trying to effectively and actually discredit Pascal right? Reconsider your position on Hegel and your little employment of Schopenhauer and Gauss.

I'm going to be nasty now because your unwillingness to have an actual conversation instead of spiting your preconceptions at me has annoyed me.

I understand that reading actual critical thought and analysis beyond name and dung tossing is hard work and that we're all lazy, but really, it may do you some good.

For someone who is constantly touting the value of reason you're not very good in exercising it in this case. I can tell you're passionately against Hegel, which appears to be clouding your judgement and has you reaching for ad hominem and value-laden terms like sophistry, stupidity, and childish which are all void of significant analytical content; it's fine to deploy these words, but only after you've done and provided the analytical work necessary to back up your use of them--otherwise it just makes you look childish. You seem to have such a great aversion to Hegelian thought that it "puts your reason to sleep" and prevents you from analyzing the work from a value-neutral position--to the extent it's possible to step back and approach something without looking to reconfirm what you already believe.

Once more you don't seem willing to reconsider your perspective. Notice how you're not asking any questions. Just making statements. I would prompt you for further explanation, but at this point you've made so many reductive claims, value judgements, appeals to intellectual authority, and laudations of maths and science that I highly doubt you have anything interesting to say.

Your language is still stewing with an underlying vitriol, and you'll never be able to coherently reason about Hegel's place in the philosophical tradition, nor convince anyone he really doesn't belong, until you've purged your passion from your arguments.

It's funny, I don't even like what little I've read of Hegel's work; I find it to be a bit flat and over-reliant on baroquism to give the impression of significance, which makes his concepts difficult to untangle. But I'll admit I haven't read Hegel's work in full--that's why you don't see me putting forth value-judgements or arguments about his content. I gave you two approaches to answering why the work is 'meaningful' that don't require a comprehension of the work itself, but only account for its potential pragmatic (example of sophistry) or historical (recognition in the tradition of philosophy) significance.

You began asking why the work was 'meaningful' or 'useful'--but really you just want to argue against Hegelian thought, why, who the hell knows. It seems like you have some personal vendetta. Many of the world religions do not mesh well with the operations of reason. Yet nearly all of them, if not all of them, are incredibly useful. You're a militant rationalist, and like all militant rationalists, deaf to more nuanced calls to reason and suspension of your belief, susceptible to dogmatism when particular words are thrown about, and, also symptomatic, you find value-laden, scathing terminology from recognized intellectuals more effective or significant than any well-formed argument or honest and open engagement with the work.


In my view, neither Voltaire nor Hegel are comparable to Pascal, or Gauss for that matter. The later are men of reason and belong to a different league altogether. The comparison is indeed silly.

I have done the attempt to read some Hegel, but couldn't keep doing the unhealthy brain gymnastics necessary to read such crap. What (to quote you) "intellectual, honest, or reasoned approach to the content" can be given to what Feynman would have called "meaningless chewing around"? We don't put a lot of effort in discrediting the Old Testament, do we?

Your and your fields' inability to move forward isn't surprising though, after all, it's philosophy.

I'll put this discussion to a rest.


> Marxism is unscientific and led some societies close to barbarism.

Does Marxism claim to be scientific? If so, is that a deserved critique of it? Ice cream is also unscientific, as is capitalism. Marxism uses the dielectical method, not the scientific one.


Bill Lawvere, an extraordinarily original thinker and pioneer of category theory and logic has thought Hegel worth studying and has produced very nice mathematics out of the Science of Logic [1].

Honestly if you've made up your mind that there's nothing worth reading in Hegel or Marx you're like a frog at the bottom of a well.

[1] https://github.com/mattearnshaw/lawvere/blob/master/pdfs/199...


I find it odd that you're the one making the absurd, unpopular claim, yet the onus of proof and concrete example is on others.


Besides the moribund old "Soviet Intelligentsia", nobody takes Hegel seriously today for good reasons.

Those at the philosophy department still doing the mental gymnastics required to engage in Hegelianism are evidence of the sad state of philosophy.


I wouldn't say it's hubris as much as it's ignorance, dogmatic positivism, and scientism that tends to show itself here and there; I'd say it's more common among those who have made it their life course to be in science or engineering - and I don't mean this disparagingly, as I study EE myself.

It's not only ignorance of Marx and Hegel either, Slavoj Zizek regards Marx not as a philosopher but as a sociologist and economist, however GP's words stretch further than Hegel but into Schelling, Kant and all the way back to Aristotle - to say nothing of the "metaphysical" Indian philosophy too. The idea that only Marx and Hegel are guilty of the resistance against dogmatic empiricism in the light of considering being, time, morality and epistemology is a mistake they have made themselves.


Couldn't agree more. One only needs to poll some of the opinions of vehement analytics to discover that very intelligent people too, are victims of dogmatism. I think most progress past this once they study a bit deeper, age, and generally engage with disparate perspectives--Rorty's willingness to engage with multiple discourses of philosophical tradition is something I think we all ought to try and emulate.

There is a bit of an incommensurability problem too. I find that most resistance to understanding thinkers/alternative discourses stems from a lack of foundational vocabulary/knowledge of the tradition they work within, and, seeing as it takes a good deal of work to acquire this knowledge, most instead default to interpreting the work under the terms and limitations of an interpretive framework (e.g. positivism, structuralism, etc.) they already understand rather than approach the new one.

There's a certain degree of bracketing--almost in the phenomenological sense--that must occur if we really want to give a text an honest chance to affect us--Nietzsche had a few illuminating aphorisms on this point, I think most of them appear in The Gay Science and Human, All Too Human for those interested.

It's a lack of a sort of meta-theoretical awareness required for resolving incommensurate theories and gauging and weighing them against each other. It's easy enough to select a theory, join in covenant with it, and retain your stance. It's much harder to bring said theory into critical questioning and reevaluation on encountering other approaches (after all the opportunities are boundless--one could levy this very critique against this post).


Its good to know the post-modernism generator is still up.


There was a slight malfunction during this past election when the wheels of history fell back into an ironism that even postmodern concept and word Frankensteins could not defeat or de-manifest, but otherwise I am chugging along well.


Is "dogmatic empiricism" another term for "natural philosophy"? Where does one end and the other begin?


Nuking this comment as I don't feel it contributes to the discussion at hand.


>The vast majority of the academic work produced by people who employ this "philosophy of science" is in-falsifiable and never cited.

Number of citations do not indicate or validate the worthiness of a piece of work. Do you not realise the irony of saying that the works questioning the philosophy of science are unfalsifiable? You seem to hold that the idea of falsifiablity is sacred and that any questioning of it should be thrown away because it's unfalsifiable. It's tautological.


> ...the absolute garbage that critical theory has been pumping out for the past, I don't know, 30 to 40 years.

I've found that the only people who spout nonsense like this haven't actually studied any critical theory.


hegel: The dialectic, which he 'enhanced' and marx the material dialectic. Is the dialectic valuable in abstract and is it even reasonably accurate as a model for thought and human decision making?


I would have expected something less dogmatic from Hume, himself a philosopher. The irony is that the Dialectic of Enlightenment is exactly about this kind of attitude spawned with the enlightenment and its relation to the old Greek mythos. Sometimes I think that empiricism fell out of favour for a reason; the wide dismissal of the Continental branch is astonishing and rather ignorant - but who could blame Hume, for German idealism came about after him.


Pertaining Adorno, Marx, etc...: does it not contain abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number?

The worker chooses argmax_[specialization]: E[Utility(Life | specialization, society)]

The executive decides argmax_[production decision]: E[Utility(Enterprise | production decision, society)]

The "sphere's turn" means that capital's arms race creates precise solutions that don't necessarily remain backwards compatibility with the previously-solved problems humans would still have to face.

If in an idealized model the capitalist bias is towards a hierarchical graph/network of production (the rich don't work for the poor at a loss), then the expendability of the constantly-repopulating labor pool increases, due to technological updates in productivity but also mainly disparate rates of growth of wealth between the worker and the owner. Even if one laborer family has a bigger nest-egg for their child than their neighbor.

The expendability of the labor pool drives the fortune of private enterprise's owners and the ordinary person's decreasing autonomy reflects the inflation of the cost of social autonomy itself. What is consumed is then the responsibility of the people who own the deed to the organizations where the development of the consumable occurs.

All the decisions that end up in a bias towards increased consumption are decisions that weighed by numbers, dollars, item counts and quantitative optimization. (Though I suppose, quite tongue-in-cheek, it could be argued that it is not axiomatically sound to assume a person need to participate in capitalist society, given that there is a long history of our species before the past 300 , or, (gratuitously,) 10000, years.)


I think it would be hard to find an argument anywhere that social or cultural progress was monotonic. It almost feels like sawtooth progression is a natural law of some kind…


As I re-read the article and comments, I have an overwhelming feeling of "so what? what's the alternative?" People and societies are imperfect, film at 11, no sense isolating yourself or mailing bombs about it. In other news we try our best.


Completely agree. The wheel has been used for good & evil. So has fire, plumbing, guns, music, everything.


I grew up in a fairly out of the way area in a red state, but we had this cool elective in high school called simply enough "Technology". We had AutoCAD, computers, little bridge building things, etc.

One of the few lessons that really stuck with me was when the teacher was discussing technology one day and one of the students grappled with this very philosophical point. Basically the posed it as something like "we should just ban technology X because people do bad things with it". This was 1998 (dating myself) so it isn't like computers were the force they are now in everyone's mind.

What unfolded is this basic discussion: people are the ones doing the bad things. Technology is just a force or thought multiplier. He explained it so well. It sort of clicked into my brain then and that discussion still sits pretty firm in my mind.

I don't think all technology can find inherently bad uses, but most of it can. Computers are at the heart of every military technology now other than explosives. Physics are at the heart of nuclear weapons. etc. etc.

I think Ted would have still did what he did. He was a narcissist at heart. He felt his view on it was somehow that much more special than the same view we arrived at in 1998 in my high school class in many ways.

That said, ill just leave this here and say I think this guy saw further into the future than most people ever have, but I see sentiments like this all over HN these days:

50. The conservatives are fools: They whine about the decay of traditional values, yet they enthusiastically support technological progress and economic growth. Apparently it never occurs to them that you can't make rapid, drastic changes in the technology and the economy of a society without causing rapid changes in all other aspects of the society as well, and that such rapid changes inevitably break down traditional values.

51. The breakdown of traditional values to some extent implies the breakdown of the bonds that hold together traditional small-scale social groups. The disintegration of small-scale social groups is also promoted by the fact that modern conditions often require or tempt individuals to move to new locations, separating themselves from their communities. Beyond that, a technological society HAS TO weaken family ties and local communities if it is to function efficiently. In modern society an individual's loyalty must be first to the system and only secondarily to a small-scale community, because if the internal loyalties of small-scale communities were stronger than loyalty to the system, such communities would pursue their own advantage at the expense of the system.


> people are the ones doing the bad things. Technology is just a force or thought multiplier. He explained it so well. It sort of clicked into my brain

Except, this isn't empirically true. It's the same argument made by the NRA ("guns don't kill people, people kill people"). To be clear, I'm not weighing in on the gun debate here, only pointing out that if people have easy access to guns, you will have more deaths by guns.

There's something comforting about the view that "it's really just people doing these things," because it suggests we aren't responsible for our inventions and their consequences. It sidesteps the actual unfathomable complexity, which at high level is this: people are living an environment which can be changed with new technology, which will in turn cause them to behave differently in unpredictable ways.

Make no mistake: the technology causes the change.


I don't think we can unwind it so simply. The basic consequences of technology are not new. The scale and asymmetry are. It shifts power around and changes who can make decisions about what happens. Of course we are responsible for our inventions.

Oppenheimer and co. lived with the most dramatic weight of such decisions. No one solely blames the president who went ahead with dropping the bombs. It took thousands of people making a conscious effort to build and deploy the technology. In a sense we all own that to this day. But at it's heart it is and always will be driven by the choices of people. As long as we agree that our will as human beings exceeds that of technology, then it is people doing the changing, whether thru build of tech or use thereof.


The point is easier to see with things like the printing press, the personal computer, cell phones, or even facebook...

> As long as we agree that our will as human beings exceeds that of technology, then it is people doing the changing, whether thru build of tech or use thereof.

The collective will of human beings is helpless in the face of such technologies. To act as if we have control over the changes they produce deeply misunderstands the situation.


Guns and nuclear bombs are still "just" force multipliers, but they are multipliers of predominantly or even overwhelmingly negative forces.

The problem isn't that trivial conclusion in isolation, it's what happens in a multi-actor game, where the other players have significantly higher badness than yourself. Despicable as the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was, had Hitler or Stalin gotten the bomb first, there's a substantial risk of a much, much worse outcome. Stalin did get the bomb, but MAD ensured that he never used it. That is also a force multiplier.

Same dilemma for guns: could you remove all guns from everyone at once (except cops and perhaps carefully trained, background-checked, mentally sound, and clean-criminal-record holding citizens, and without going door-to-door Iraqi-counter-insurgency-style), it would probably be quite simple to get a clear majority for doing it. But you can't, and so removing the guns means removing them from people for whom they represent the least of a negatively multiplied force. Hence the slogan, if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.


> [Guns and nuclear bombs] are multipliers of predominantly or even overwhelmingly negative forces.

Whether this statement is true is not clear. The time since multiple countries have had nuclear weapons has been one of the most peaceful times in human history. You can't just look at all the times guns and bombs are used, you have to also include all the times they have been there and not used.


Yeah, that's the distinction I'm trying to make. Using a gun/bomb is overwhelmingly negative, having one is significantly more ambiguous.


I think you missed the point of the parent. The idea of an atom bomb did not enter Truman's mind out of the blue sky. People create technology, and that in turn influences decisions. The types of technology we surround ourselves will in turn shape us, and the further decisions we make. It's more intertwined than a simple "force multiplier", it's also a force director in a way.


...if people have easy access to guns, you will have more deaths by guns

... because guns are a "force or thought multiplier".

I read that about 40,000 people are killed/injured by guns per year, with 44% of households owning one. Meanwhile 1.3 million people die in road crashes - let alone injuries. If we simply judge "empirically" what happens by sheer ratios of ownership, the NRA's arguments make even more sense. That isn't to say I agree with their jingoism, but let's not oversimplify the issue.


> Meanwhile 1.3 million people die in road crashes

You're comparing a global number to...something else.

In the US (~33,000 deaths annually by firearm, including suicide, ~32,000 traffic fatalities).

What was your point again?


You'd rather the suicides use more primitive implements? If you are done with things a gun is pretty painless and nearly certain. Everything else should have warning labels.


As the guidelines request,

> Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

This is particularly important on sensitive topics, such as this one. The goal of HN is not combative arguments, but rather constructive, substantive discussion.


Get a life. Oh, excuse me, was my sarcasm too transparent?


Could you please carefully read the guidelines and stop commenting like this? This is not up to the standards of discourse of this site.


If we establish these ground-rules:

1. [proof of concept] the inventor is responsible for the invention's (initial) appearance, but not for any other person's epiphanies regarding possible use-cases {in HN speak: execution(opportunity) >= execution(invention) >> imagination(invention) > imagination(execution(opportunity)) }

2. [proof that one can rely upon proof of concept] the user is responsible for the opportunity in which the invention is used

3. [proof of concept evolves into paradigm] society becomes aware of opportunities in which established inventions have typically been used or hypothetical (realistic?) situations in which their use would be significant

..it may become easier to discriminate the components of responsibility.

[does responsibility obey the distribute property? Does it obey association? (Could it ever be abelian???), etc...]

Furthermore... I can understand people making choices affect the choices that others can make as a lemma - but I don't particularly believe the TOOLS that people decide upon ARE EXACTLY those 'choice-deltas' - without a huge deviation from ordinary definition of technology ( which I think is not without rationale).


I probably shouldn't have mentioned responsibility -- it wasn't the main point I was trying to make. My point is something like "people living in a world with X" are different from "people living in a world without X" in profound ways, and it's not under anyone's control.

I'm not really interested in how we distribute blame -- only in pointing out that you can't release new technology, shrug your shoulders, and say, "Well, if it's misused, not on us." A far more accurate metaphor would be to consider us like animals in captivity.


OK. I admit that the preexisting presence of an object influences the decision to use it or not far more than most would probably care to admit. But I think one of the problems is when people start to sum history to explain something new's causality. It's like saying you should trust a prior probability to predict an event's occurrence more than the posterior probability after it happens - a new piece of evidence is categorically different than a historical tendency.. if that makes sense?


I think that Kaczynski's concerns over technology are different from those raised by your teacher. The issue isn't so much that technology can be put to bad uses, but that it changes how people engage with the world.

Analogical example: people might lie over the internet, but whether the internet has made relationships shallower is a different issue.


The world isn't static though. Evolution and environmental changes over time will cause people to change how they engage with the changing world.

This has happened long before human technology.


So? His issue was with technologically induced behavioral change, not evolutionarily or environmentally induced behavioral change.


Scale and velocity can create entirely different qualities. Change has always been with us, just not quite like this.


You should send a mail to that teacher and tell them how this lesson stuck with you, if you haven't :-)


My undergraduate engineering education was at a fairly religious school, and the last semester of the program involved a course called "technology and society". The material was largely from the typical secular sources, including Ted Kaczynski's manifesto.

The particular perspective shared by the engineering department, and which I find helpful in thinking about this, comes from the Dutch religious philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd. He broke down human experience and society into a hierarchy of maybe 15 so-called "spheres", each less abstract than the one nested below, and each influencing the one above. In this conceptualization the physical realities of the universe affect, for example, what we can invent. But we make choices in making inventions, and those choices affect how our inventions are used, and those uses affect society and culture.

This thought structure doesn't perfectly capture the interactions of law and society on how objects are used, but it does seem good job of explaining the role of a technologist in shaping society. Sure, we can't prevent people from using our inventions for ill. But we can build them in ways that promote positive uses.


Kaczynski specifically writes about exploring written and communicative mediums in his works, including the Internet. He concludes that approach is fruitless, below is the quote.

Anyone who has a little money can have something printed, or can distribute it on the Internet or in some such way, but what he has to say will be swamped by the vast volume of material put out by the media, hence it will have no practical effect. To make an impression on society with words is therefore almost impossible for most individuals and small groups. Take us (FC) for example. If we had never done anything violent and had submitted the present writings to a publisher, they probably would not have been accepted. If they had been been accepted and published, they probably would not have attracted many readers, because it’s more fun to watch the entertainment put out by the media than to read a sober essay. Even if these writings had had many readers, most of these readers would soon have forgotten what they had read as their minds were flooded by the mass of material to which the media expose them. In order to get our message before the public with some chance of making a lasting impression, we’ve had to kill people.


> The "Bad" Parts of Technology Cannot Be Separated from the "Good" Parts.

However, there might be some value to price discrimination. Consumer tech reaches new heights of capabilities and new lows of cost. That's great of ISIS but bad for States that fight ISIS.

It seems like we either have to make consumer tech less accessible or military technology better, but we already have fearsome military technology but we've promised not to use it (bio-, nuclear, and chemical weapons).

Asymmetric warfare, huh?


It runs the other way, too. Technology that is seen as for "bad" purposes can be used for "good". Like if some IT technology was developed for a perceived bad, like military uses or for pure profit, it may also be used for perceived good.

Or more subtly, technology developed for perceived "useless" ends can be used for good. Eg tech advances made for gaming that help push forwards the state of the art.


You can use a T Bone from a steak and use it as a shiv.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9FDbgCzkVFE


How is this prophetic rather than a long-tread subject?

Super obvious example are the well-publicized doubts of many scientists involved in inventing nuclear weapons.


>> The "Bad" Parts of Technology Cannot Be Separated from the "Good" Parts.

This is the concept of Yin and Yang. Interestingly enough, this concept is what inspired Leibniz to invent binary arithmetic, which so much of the world's technology runs on.


His story is tragic. Tragic in that he was seemingly so smart even he couldn't handle it. Tragic in that people lost their lives. Tragic in the fact that we lost a mind like his and the advancements he could've brought to mathematics potentially. Sad in that he was so impacted by MK ultra. It's a truly terrible, yet captivating story.

His neo-Luddism has always been of interest to me also, as one of my classes read his essays in college. They just seem so uneven, like they are trying to grasp at a logical idea but fall short. Yeah, interesting and really sad.


The article paraphrases Ellul criticizing the modern world, "mankind no longer saw technology as merely a tool but now pursued its advancement as an end in itself. Society served technology, not vice versa. Individuals were valued only insofar as they served this end." That was a major influence on Kaczynski.

When you say it's tragic that he didn't end up contributing to mathematics, you're judging his life by the values he revolted against.

I believe that advancing technology (and knowledge in general) is among the highest callings a person can have, so I agree with you. But he wouldn't.


He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata!

What is the most important thing in the world? It is the people, it is the people, it is the people!

The advancement of technology and furthering of knowledge is a noble endeavor, but only in pursuit of a higher goal. Advanced technology not used, or great knowledge never applied, is of no value. It is only with a higher intention for the use of these things that they have any value at all. That higher purpose could be a number of things - The betterment of mankind, of all forms of life, of society. But something greater than the self and certainly greater than no purpose at all.

Of course, it's not possible to specifically link advancements in technology and knowledge with specific goals before the advancements are made.

What I'm curious about is: Do you view what I've said above as agreeing with your belief, or closer to the view of Jaques Ellul?


If you think that overall, knowledge improve people's lives, then you can take either position and act the same way. If you think that knowledge overall hurts people, then you have to decide (and you should probably go with the people.)


Hell is other people.


You are basically painting the simplistic picture the article argues against.

"We need to see Kaczynski as exceptional—madman or genius—because the alternative is so much more frightening."


Do you happen to have a good source on this experiment being part of MK Ultra? As far as I can tell this article doesn't mention MK Ultra at all, and I can't seem to find much else that explicitly says this experiment was part of MK Ultra.


His works are incredibly well-written and precise. They are only unconvincing to us because we have incompatible preferences.


Although not covered in the article, it is also tragic that at a mere nine months old he had to be placed in isolation in a hospital, and was unresponsive when he returned. Who knows what kind effect that had on his long term development?


[flagged]


Why did you go out of your way to read his inspiration but not bother to read his actual writings

And then come to the conclusion that this was sufficient to judge his writings, and his existence


I think I explained why I thought he wasn't worth reading. If you think he is then you should explain that.

As I said, I read a biographical piece in the NYTimes that mentioned his favorite book. Conrad is a great writer and that had me intrigued. But then after reading it, it didn't raise my opinion of him.

As for his existence, the guy sent bombs in the mail to innocent people. Fuck him.


>I think I explained why I thought he wasn't worth reading

Well no, you said why he wasn't worth reading, and then made claims about him and his work ("There was nothing to the man...")

My question is why you went out of your way to ignore the available first-hand sources, and preferred second-hand, and indirect, sources to judge his writing.

Why would you read the book he likes, but not what he actually wrote, before making claims about the value of his writing? And more importantly, why would you go out of your way to handle it this way? It seems to me you had interest in the ideas he might have (due to the bibliography) but went on a roundabout way to view them for no particular reason.

See, I'd understand if you, say, already knew the book, and considered it trash, and thus decided he probably doesn't know what he's talking about; but you apparently chose to put in the work to read the book over reading his actual writings, when the latter was probably more available and accessible. You specifically chose the indirect route over the direct one, and came to a very direct conclusion, and this decision confounds me.


I did. That's true. I said that someone who murders to call attention to his writing is not worth reading. Moreover, that there is nothing to the man. When Hinkley shot Reagan to impress Jodie Foster, I don't think she was impressed.

Now as to your question, I didn't judge his writing; I judged him. Terrorists who murder for acclaim aren't necessarily the most insightful writers cuz like if they were, they wouldn't need to murder.

It's apparent that you somehow think there is value or merit to his writing and by extension, him. Then that would be your task, to show that. I don't need to prove the negative. You need to show this great idea that Mr. Kaczynski proffered.

Cuz like I'm not seeing it.

BTW, if by the book you meant Conrad's The Secret Agent, no I didn't know the book. Conrad is a great writer but this isn't his best which to me would be Heart of Darkness. It's still worth a read, irrespective of Kaczynski.


While I did enjoy his manifesto, I'm not particularly interested in convincing you to read it; I'm just wondering why, when your curiosity was piqued, you chose to avoid the available first-hand source, which you've answered though I don't find your reasons very compelling

But to address that:

>Terrorists who murder for acclaim aren't necessarily the most insightful writers cuz like if they were, they wouldn't need to murder.

Its hardly the case that insightful writing will naturally spread; you yourself provide an example of why it might: you know his murders had little to do with his actual arguments (if you believe his claims), but use it as a reason to not even consider the argument. More generally, a solid argument can easily be publicly ignored for reasons unrelated to it, including style, origin, author's personal traits or behavior, media lambasting, politics, etc. We hardly live in a world where reason alone is sufficient.

That he resorted to terrorism was likely an unreasonable escalation to popularize his writing is irrelevant in all ways I can figure to whether or not he his ideas were insightful, or better yet, interesting. And given the history behind the document (which apparently grabbed your interest too), it seems unreasonable to me to expect nothing of value from it. It might be wrong, but its clearly going to be interesting.

And pretending the bombings never happened, would you have read it?


"Why were the media and the public so ready to dismiss Kaczynski as crazy?"

I've always marveled at people's insistence on not believing that others can cultivate and act on bad/evil impulses without necessarily being insane. That insistence also pushes a simplistic view of mental illness: suffering from any of the numerous conditions that fall under it doesn't automatically equate to loss of awareness of self/propriety, societal mores, etc. And even in acute cases involving reduced consciousness/self-awareness, it doesn't mean that it occurs 24-7 or crucially, during the planning and execution of a crime.

I was also struck by the noted increase in certain types of “single-issue” terrorism:

"Last year the director of the FBI, Louis Freeh, told Congress, “The most recognizable single issue terrorists at the present time are those involved in the violent animal rights, anti-abortion, and environmental protection movements. … the potential for destruction has increased as terrorists have turned toward large improvised explosive devices to inflict maximum damage.”


Labeling an adversary as "insane" or "crazy" is a convenient and commonly used way to shut down any discussion or inquiry into the grievances of that person, lest they reveal an underlying problem which we don't want to address.


"Crazy" is unaddressable. It's a solution that answers any questions that might arise, including questions we might ask of ourselves.

The interesting split is to see when something is called "ideologically" driven versus something merely painted as the act of a "crazed" person.


The interesting split is to see when something is called "ideologically" driven versus something merely painted as the act of a "crazed" person.

Indeed. It's interesting to see how people's framing of a topic sometimes communicates more than an answer to direct questioning could. This calls to mind another split where wealth is the cushion: When the poor are deemed crazy but the rich merely eccentric for perpetuating similar, negatively perceived actions.


The article reminded me of the two cultures lecture by CP Snow, from 1959. Where Snow argued Western intellectual culture was sharply divided between the humanities and the sciences, and great harm was being done by each trying to poison and undermine the other to claim greater cultural cachet.

I wonder if this played some role in Kaczynski's strange tragedy. As the article describes, he seemed to have adopted parts of each approach -the moral nihilism and dualism of the sciences, coupled with the anti-technology and anti-empiricism of the humanities. Almost as if he absorbed only those things each camp said to damage the other as true. Of course he ultimately did end up murdering scientists and engineers, so it's clear which side his sympathies fell toward in the end.


As an immigrant (from a non-Western society) who also spent youth steeped in Western literature, arts, and music, every development after WWI just seems so sad.

There's the moral self-loathing (veering towards self-flagellation) of the 'social justice' class, the academic anti-truth of the relativists and the post-modernists, the equally poisonous know-nothingism of parts of the right.

Western civilization still lives in the long shadow cast by Europe tearing itself apart not just once, but twice in the span of a generation.


This is such a wonderful comment. It reminded me of the link between the World Wars and subsequent philosophical developments in the West (which culminated with postmodernism), a topic that I've always found fascinating. It's easy to underestimate just how profoundly WWI and WWII shook Western civilization and changed the course of history, and that they weren't just another group of conflicts notable solely for their sheer scale.


Give me an example of no-nothingism on the right.


Well, I do think that honest people can disagree in good faith over complicated topics, like how to run the economy, or how much of a problem global warming is, or what to do about illegal immigration.

So how about some simple, unambiguous fact that should submit to easy verification?

As of late last year, about 42% of Republicans polled disagreed with the assertion that Obama was born in the US, while only 27% of Republicans agreed [1]. Plus the fact that our current sitting president was instrumental in formulating and then popularizing this lie.

I submit this to you as a good example of 'know-nothingism' -- if there's some piece of information that challenges your world view, then you will do your damned best to know nothing about it.

[1] https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/poll-persiste...


Ouch. That is an excellent example.


Just a little history of the term FYI because it seems to be thrown around a lot here without knowing the background.

"Know-nothingism" derives from the Know Nothing party of the late 19th century that was known for its anti-immigration views. The Know Nothings originally held secret meetings and would tell people "I know nothing" when asked about it. So it was not originally a derisive term.

Then starting in the 20th century, nativist political sentiments (and this includes the "America First" mentality espoused by our current president) was called "know-nothingism" by liberal commentators.

So now it has morphed into a term of derision, however it still maintains its attachment to nativism, although anti-intellectualism is obviously a big part of the stereotype.

This is all to say that yes, know-nothingism is sort of a shorthand for Trumpism as far as I can see it, so it's kind of a truism to say that know-nothingism is prevalent on the right. As far as whether it's poisonous, or equally as poisonous as the cultural relativism of the left, I will demur.


"People in this country have had enough of experts" -- Michael Gove, in 2016, then Secretary of Justice in the Conservative Party government of the UK


I believe this was said while he was campaigning for Brexit. And it worked. There's a fascinating article in the FT today where people who voted leave are asked what they think of the current status. It is astonishing how uninformed the vast majority were and are. One person, for example, thought that we'd be out of Europe a week after the vote. Another - 6 months. Nobody understands why there should be a transition, negotiation, or the reasoning for the poorly named 'divorce bill'. Unfortunately, people listened to Michael Gove instead of the experts. They didn't even pay a cursory glance to expert opinion and now we're in a situation where even the people who 'won' the vote are unhappy. All of this could have been avoided by listening to the experts instead of an ex-journalist.


Your comment implies people who voted the other way were more informed, which I really doubt. This happens every election. Someone does a survey and finds out the majority of voters know nothing about the candidates or issues. The majority of people don't even know who their representatives are. Democracy is terrible.


That wasn't what I was trying to imply at all. My point was - maybe we should listen to the experts instead of self-serving politicians.


But which 'experts'? If the public doesnt already know, anyone well spoken can be propped up as an 'expert' for either side. With the lack of critical media, the public are left to decide with woefully incomplete information, and an untrue sense of 'what the experts think'. I honestly dont see how to solve it as everyone will just look back to 'older trusted experts' even more entrenched in the power for power system.

Edit: runon and typo


Besides Trump?


Very interesting article.

But I think it's a mistake to believe the ideas he was exposed to as an undergraduate lead to him becoming the unabomber.

In his manifesto he works through a lot of these ideas and shows us the world view he's developed around them, but the impetus for it all -- it seems clear to me -- comes from his inability to come to terms with living in a society.

It causes him great pain and distress and he's been unable to find a way to make it stop. He's finally decided that society needs to go, and violently. And he's come up with a meticulously constructed world view to support this... (1) that this is somehow OK and (2) that it's possible.

While it looks like he clearly used ideas from his Harvard days to create his world view, the motivation existed independent of them. I think he was simply using the materials at hand and would have used other ideas had he not been exposed to the the "Gen Ed" ones... a world view different in details but supporting the same conclusion.

It does seem reasonable to wonder whether severe psychological experiments might have pushed a mind on the edge over a precipice, though.


>It does seem reasonable to wonder whether severe psychological experiments might have pushed a mind on the edge over a precipice, though

His family members and acquaintances considered him to be an undiagnosed autist, so I would expect the psyops conducted against him would be especially damaging.


Rather than dismissing him in such a crude manner, why don't you take the time to read and comprehend what he has written - and, assuming you find any - try to point out the flaws in his reasoning.

Kaczynski was a genius, among other things, and his views deserve better than armchair dismissal and handwaving.


It was very odd for me, having never read the manifesto before to see Kaczynski arrive at the word 'oversocialization.' I've used the same word to describe what we've become with social media and massively interconnected communication. There's a very natural part of the human psyche that becomes lost when one has to second guess one's unconscious preferences continually to be aware of whether one might be seen as racist, sexist, ableist, or ageist. It might be necessary for everyone to live together successfully but there's something very sad about it also.


Why would anyone try to understand the ramblings of a twisted person who murdered 3 and maimed many more?


You judge the material not the source.


There is lots of writing out there, more than you could ever read. You would never have heard of Kaczynski if not for his murders, so if you read his writing it is only because of his murders. Should you?


That's deep


> Kaczynski was a genius, among other things, and his views deserve better than armchair dismissal and handwaving.

Kaczynski is a murderer and a danger to society. That alone disqualifies his views merit.


If a murderer believes the sky is blue, does that mean it is actually lime green?

If Hitler believed washing your hands before surgery improved patient outcome, would that also be wrong?

It's not as though the speaker alters reality by speaking.


The binary perspective you espouse in this post is exactly like the problematic dualism shared by Kaczinski.


it seems clear to me -- comes from his inability to come to terms with living in a society.

This.

If he were free today would he reddit or 4chan or something else?

Just a smart killing nut who took the effort that is now not required because of social sites


Wittgenstein gave away his fortune. He left academia and taught kids math. Never equate trinket lusts and synthetics peddlers with sciences. Kaczynski was specifically a young victim of wholly inferior bad men playing with superior men who should be named, denigrated and brutally punished if still breathing. Tit-for-tat for children of bad men is counseled by Harvard game theorists like Thomas Schelling. These are misadventures and not always good jobs at good wages.


This comment hints at either interesting thoughts or craziness, but is about four times too short for me to tell which.


I am in a double-bind. On the one hand, I agree with some of his ideas about society's unspoken capacity for alienation.

On the other hand, were his actions + manifesto not the pinnacle of cultural junk food? Practically designed for mass-consumption, and hence complicit in consumption's deleterious effect upon humanity itself - - because of how he knew it would receive attention? He deliberately chose to express himself in a way so as to attract the attention of the various distant story-tellers (essayists and journalists and news anchors, etc..) he knew would be drawn to his story like moths to flames. How is it more prophetic than O.J. Simpson's highway chase in The White Bronco, even if academia's chorus say "This is a message that actually is addressed to us!", and even if O.J.'s event was spontaneous, but the Unabomber's was premeditated..?

To be honest, mine isn't a totally original idea. I got it from watching a tiny video yesterday about Adorno, on pop music -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xd7Fhaji8ow


His ideas stand on their own and should not be polluted by armchair psychoanalysis or worse, immediate dismissal by people who are too lazy [or too stupid] to read and comprehend what Kaczynski has written.

It should be obvious to any educated technologist that reads even a few pages of Kaczynski's output that Kaczynski is a genius. His writings are not the ramblings of a schizophrenic but should be analyzed and discussed without the popular preconceptions that can only serve to cloud one's critical thinking.


It seems you think we disagree? We are both in agreement. (and, yes, the article asserts that attacks against Kaczynski's credibility arose from hypocritical or idiotic critics having to simultaneously merit his ideas and defend orthodoxy, leading to well-poisoning attacks). I think attempts to discount him as schizophrenic are bullshit, that the paranoia he experienced was clearly rational because it was obvious that he would put himself into the crosshairs of law enforcement/a huge adversary, and that to evaporate his responsibility because of hearsay diagnoses would be like a priest condemning an atheist as an evil witch to be burned at the stake for the reason that there would be no reason for anyone who understood the consequences of religion to willingly put themselves into such a compromised position.. if that makes sense.

But, to him, his actions must have been his magnum opus, his number 1 feat, not the manifesto. If he had believed his manifesto primarily would have made his intended impact on society, then why would he have needed to architect his campaign before its release? I can believe he prized his behavior over his manifesto AND also believe that the manifesto has more gravity than, and will outlast in public memory, his deeds. I admit the possibility that he realized he needed notoriety or a skin-in-the-game (I'm not a Taleb fanboy I swear) reputation so as to be worth being noticed..

but it all gets fed back into the spectacle at large, which is what he detested. His plot to weaken technological society's tight grasp on the direction of humanity's potential .. had the effect of fortifying all of the same levers of control: a state of emergency leads to boosting ordinary controls to desperate, extraordinary levels, like an immune response.

And from my armchair it's easy to say this, but an autoimmune response (where social technological controls would eat away at the survival of those controls themselves) wouldn't have backfired for his plan.. But present-day technology/'the techne' hardly finds itself in situations where it mistakenly combats its own self-maintenance, so it might not really be a possibility.. (yet?)


this section:

  its research committee approved my request to view the 
  records of this experiment, the so-called data set, which 
  referred to subjects by code names only. But because 
  kaczynski’s alias was by then known to some journalists, I 
  was not permitted to view his records.
is straight-up B.S.. the only (putative) purpose of withholding records is to protect confidentiality. but in this case, the journalist was researching with Kaczynski's consent. they might have been playing games with the author (alston chase) and omitted this detail so that he didn't come back with the signed slip of paper, but any of the subject's data should absolutely be available to the subject.

I say "putative" because the _real_ purpose seems apparent... to hide from an investigation.


I don't mean to preach, but that is a damn good article, don't just read the comments, read it.

So many nuggets, particularly around the maturation process that is mentioned in college where one goes from having a "dualistic" perspective to learning that the world's environment is relative, what happens to to people who reject that view, etc.


Some people put too much faith in reason.

When I read his manifesto it felt to me like it was logically airtight. If you agree with his premises, I think it's difficult to reject his conclusions using reason.

But of course we have much more than reason to rely on when making decisions, and it's easy to reject his conclusions if you use your whole mind, some might say your heart.

I think it's tragic that people, both individually and at the social level, are so good at reasoning ourselves into situations that we just can't live with.


    G. K. Chesterton wrote, “Imagination does not breed insanity. Exactly what
    does breed insanity is reason. Poets do not go mad … mathematicians go mad.”


http://www.npr.org/programs/fresh-air/2017/08/22/545168709/f... Here is a podcast with FBI agent who played a pivotal role in solving this case.


The profiling is interesting but in this case, the FBI was irrelevant to 'solving the case', Kaczynski's brother and sister-in-law saw the manifesto in the NYT and turned him in.


The FBI made the call to publish the manifesto, hoping for this exact outcome.


I stand half corrected, they did encourage publishing along with DoJ and it was the papers which ultimately made the call.


I strongly recommend technologists read the work of Fredy Perlman. It is essential that the builders start thinking about social consequences of their creations.

http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/fredy-perlman-against...


Another article made the rounds on Reddit a while back and it motivated me to write to Ted (the Unibomber). I explained that I was a software engineer and found some algorithms intrinsically interesting (Sieve of Eratosthenes, etc.). It's too bad I never heard back from him.


"Speaking as a former college professor, I can say that most curricula have absolutely no effect on most students."


A really interesting read and imho it's quite relevant to our current times. This is the current political climate in a nutshell:

> Dualists in a relativistic environment tend to see themselves as surrounded; they become increasingly lonely and alienated. This attitude “requires an equally absolutistic rejection of any ‘establishment’” and “can call forth in its defense hate, projection, and denial of all distinctions but one,” Perry wrote. “The tendency … is toward paranoia.”

Reading parts of the manifesto, rambling on about "leftists/collectivists/socialists", also reminded me about rather recent "alt-right" arguments. I guess we humans just prefer our realities to be neatly dualistic or else we might be wasting too much energy actually "thinking" about stuff, what a hassle that would be!


Do you have a links to alt right writings and thought leaders that push forward this view?

I hear endlessly about this alt right ideology from the left but I can't seem to find a single person other than a few clearly fringe white nationalists who use this label.

I try to follow both left and right, anarchist and libertarian groups, on Twitter and elsewhere quite closely and I've been struggling to connect the breathless warnings of the rise of these groups with any actual data/numbers or any prominent leaders to measure the tangible growth and efficacy of their messaging.

In terms of rejection of establishment this can equally be found on the fringes of the left as well. Not to mention 'paranoia' and 'feelings of being surrounded' when I frequently read about the rise of 'Nazis' and fascism which again seems to be limited to a fringe at most, unless one takes seriously the extremely broad group of people who are now given these labels.

If anything this election has merely amplified political tribalism fuelled by fantasical images of armies of caricatures of their opponents. The reality seems much more boring and less scary. Especially when one tangibly measures how ineffective any of Trumps more extreme policies have been at becoming reality.

Even though Trump won he was still fringe and ridiculed within his own party endlessly, which they were quick to forget out of political expediency. The fact these same people chose him over Hillary in some key rust belt states also doesn't lead me to believe his more extreme views are as popular and widespread as we're lead to believe. If anything it seems like his primary offering was emotional gratification about 'winning' over the other tribe.

Therefore I'm extremely wary to buy into these narratives generalizing the 'other' tribes views.


It doesn't seem to you like the right is increasingly reliant on shadowy conspiracies to explain events? I haven't heard the phrase "false flag operation" come up except from my infowars friends. A Republican chairman from my state said the violence in Charlottesville was caused by "evil Soros money," which seems to imply a conspiracy to me. Doesn't the whole "fake news" thing strike you as an attempt on the part of the right to brand the entire media a conspiracy, if not journalism itself?


Soros is merely the rights version of how the Koch brothers are behind everything to the left. Sorry I'm struggling to take this as anything new or special with the right in the Fox news/CNN world of US politics.

But as I said we're in a new era of extreme political tribalism.

What disappointments me is that so many smart people on the left think they are engaging in 'resistance' when they are largely just fueling further tribalism by going deeper down their sides rabbit hole - instead of engaging in rational discourse, focusing on party output instead of tribal wins, and rejecting FUD. I hold the right to a lower standard as I believe most of them are doing it for emotional gratification of trolling the left rather than pursuing some righteous politicial objective, but that still largely creates the same results.


> What disappointments me is that so many smart people on the left think they are engaging in 'resistance' when they are largely just fueling further tribalism by going deeper down their sides rabbit hole - instead of engaging in rational discourse, focusing on party output instead of tribal wins, and rejecting FUD.

Couldn't agree more, I still can't believe "we" actually had to discuss if it's okay to sucker-punch people out of the blue just because of their political beliefs. That was some serious hypocrite BS.


That's a fair point about the Koch brothers. I can't disagree with what you're saying here.


I can. I've never seen people claim that the Koch brothers pay actors to run over counter-protestors


I would have sworn I had heard something about a "stolen election"? Supposedly this was done by publishing someone's emails? Apparently there were lots of "bots" on social media? Also there may have been a power company in Vermont that got hacked? Did the rightists come up with all that bullshit?

Actually, I don't think "the right" came up with the term "fake news" either...


> Do you have a links to alt right writings and thought leaders that push forward this view?

You mean like White Supremacy groups or neo-Nazi groups along the lines of Vanguard America? Have you ever read Mein Kampf? Doesn't seem like it because then you wouldn't ask such a weird question akin to "Is the sky actually blue?".

You should hang around more "social media", especially YouTube and reddit has certain "circles" where you can meet quite a collection of individuals arguing from the Illuminati being reptile people to the more traditional stuff like "Jewish bankers controlling everything and forcing communism on everybody to eradicate the white race".

If you need a place to start, try the comments on this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qs0kv_58ZA

Yes these kind of nutter fringe views have always been around, but in recent years they've found a new, real scary, popularity.

> I hear endlessly about this alt right ideology from the left but I can't seem to find a single person other than a few clearly fringe white nationalists who use this label.

Alt-right is not an "ideology" it's a general term for a whole slew of right-wing fringe groups which strive on being so far "anti-establishment" that even the traditional right is embarrassed by them. Many of them could probably simply be described as internet-trolls who took their trolling to the political level, pepe wasn't a coincidence.

Just like "the left" is not an ideology, but rather a whole collection of different ideologies who share a side of the spectrum.

But not everybody on the left is a communist and not everybody on the right is an ethnonationalist, a fact that gets just ignored with a dualist world view.

> In terms of rejection of establishment this can equally be found on the fringes of the left as well. Not to mention 'paranoia' and 'feelings of being surrounded' when I frequently read about the rise of 'Nazis' and fascism which again seems to be limited to a fringe at most, unless one takes seriously the extremely broad group of people who are now given these labels.

This can be found anywhere where dualist views rule the day, I merely used the alt-right as an example because it's relevant and quite fitting to our current time, especially considering how familiar some points of Kaczynski's "manifesto" sound in that regard.

> Therefore I'm extremely wary to buy into these narratives generalizing the 'other' tribes views.

I knew in advance my comment would ruffle a few feathers because discussing these kinds of issues is pretty much impossible these days, at least without being accused of being a communist/neo-Nazi by the more extreme ends of the fringes. That's the issue I'm alluding to here, not that "one side" is worse than "the other", I don't do that because I realize fully that there's always way more than just two sides to anything.

Imho simplifying political ideologies into this dualist "left vs right" view is one of the main reasons why there's been so much social conflict these past years. People don't want any nuance anymore, they want their dualist world-view reinforced where their side is the "good one" and any opposing side is automatically considered the "bad one".

I get it, it's an appealing view on the issue, making all this complicated stuff so simple. You've got problems and then you find a scapegoat and you get peace of mind, I think pretty much everybody is guilty of this, just to different degrees.


Seconded in general. One of my "things" I endlessly bore friends and family over is how absurd and harmful the overwhelmingly prevalent left vs right world view is. People need to escape this line of thought, when you do its pretty easy to see that most people agree on, say 90% or so, issues. Everyone is just too busy trying to "win" for their side to even understand why they are fighting. Too bad this duality directly works in the interests of those in power, seems pretty hard to change.


I usually try to plug the political compass [0] and hope people are curious enough to check it out and learn something new, I know I did. The site might not look like it but there's regular new content, like a chart for the upcoming German General Election, it's a great educational resource.

[0] https://www.politicalcompass.org/

Edit: Just noticed they now even have an intro video on YouTube going through the basics in under 5 minutes, good stuff: https://youtu.be/5u3UCz0TM5Q


ive read a little about this before so i havent bothered to read the article. but as i understand it, ted was cross-examined by someone at harvard as a part of the mk ultra program. and as i understand it, this cross examination was not aided with any kind of drug -- it was a simple verbal exchange. i think a lot of people assume that ted was already crazy, and that is unfortunate because that point of view overlooks the fascinating observation that a persons mind can be broken with nothing but words. i really do find it fascinating. if you pay attention, you will notice that there are many clues floating around. high intelligence has an anecdotal connection with being sensitive or prickly. the flight or fight response is activated when presented with ideas that counter yours, politically. and, there are other events that cause similar symptoms to ted, like a bad breakup. overall, everything points to this vague concept of "identity crisis." i think we have all experienced that feeling at least once. but what is an identity crisis really? it seems to be triggered when our core concepts and ideas about who we are contradict each other. and when its triggered, it can have very serious consequences. so does this mean that someone is justified in keeping their core ideas and principles private? does it mean those things shouldnt be discussed? it is interesting to note that ted could have gone through the examination without any ill effect by simply refusing to disclose things too close to his "core." and there is another interesting concept: the idea of purposefully restructuring ones framework of the mind in order to prevent an identity crisis and similar things. for example, instead of trying to create a logical reason for doing certain things, either during rumination or during cross examination, one could simply say that "i did it because i felt like it." or "because i wanted to." this avoids a cross examiner from pointing out two actions one has taken whose proclaimed motivations contradict each other. "because i felt like it" cannot be contradicted. i think that there are probably a lot of things one might do like this to "harden" ones mind.

i think that intelligent people are often more vulnerable to cross examination because they ruminate more often and deeply than other people, and during their ruminations they give structure and motivation to their actions and ideas. once that structure is proven wrong or that multiple parts contradict each other, an intelligent person is unable to ignore it. this causes the brains machinery to grind and in some way stop working correctly. that is what really fascinates me, that an identity crisis is not a conscious thing but the literal gears of the mind grinding against each other. an identity crisis is a manifestation of something low level going wrong in the brain, in my opinion. i wonder if there are drugs or therapies that might stop the gears from grinding.


[flagged]


Could you please resist the temptation of ideological drive-bys? That's not what this site is for.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I am sure I am biased but I think it is a statement of fact.


Not sure what the point of all this is. Thousands of very smart, accomplished men and women have gone through GenEd at Harvard without murdering multiple people.

Personally I think Kaczynski was influenced more by his inability to get a date in his entire life.


Not sure what the point of all this is. Thousands of very smart, accomplished men and women have gone through date-less lives without murdering multiple people.


Newton, Nietzsche, Beethoven, Tesla, etc


>Personally I think Kaczynski was influenced more by his inability to get a date in his entire life.

You should read his manifesto, the dude had some funky ideas about society and there's no excuse for murdering innocent poeple, but he does defend what he believes in very vigorously. He wasn't a man without an ideological backing.


Lots of murderers leave behind manifestos. For some reason, Kaczynski's has always been well-regarded by the media. This is a testament to its sheer political banality, rather than any "funkiness". The guy was sayin' what all the newsmen were merely thinking. "Cool!"

Now, Elliot Rodgers had a funky manifesto.


That's pretty much "Say what you want about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos." Lots of mentally ill people defend what they believe in very vigorously.


Not what I'm saying, I'm saying it is well thought out and has reasoned arguments. Not just that he believes in it a lot.


Really? You're one of few people who think that. The 'manifesto' hits the crazy right off the bat and sticks to it for 35k words.

"One of the most widespread manifestations of the craziness of our world is leftism [...] When we speak of leftists in this article we have in mind mainly socialists, collectivists, “politically correct” types, feminists, gay and disability activists, animal rights activists and the like [...] Thus, what we mean by “leftism” will emerge more clearly in the course of our discussion of leftist psychology. (Also, see paragraphs 227-230.)

[...] By “feelings of inferiority” we mean not only inferiority feelings in the strict sense but a whole spectrum of related traits; low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, depressive tendencies, defeatism, guilt, self- hatred, etc. We argue that modern leftists tend to have some such feelings (possibly more or less repressed) and that these feelings are decisive in determining the direction of modern leftism."

You can get stuff of this quality by the shovelful from your typical bad subreddit, although usually not by one person all at once.


> We argue that modern leftists tend to have some such feelings (possibly more or less repressed) and that these feelings are decisive in determining the direction of modern leftism.

So he made a (controversial) argument about leftists which actually fits in with his broader point that humans these days are not able to self actualize and therefore suffer from repressed feelings. IMO the statement he made is significantly less crazy than Freud's "scientific" theory of penis envy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penis_envy#Freud.27s_theory), which was treated as an actual theory by the scientific community for _decades_.

It's a bit polemic about leftists in that regard, but do you think the overall point is invalid? If so, maybe argue why instead of just calling him crazy.


I think you are conflating 'has some sort of internal logic' with 'sane'. Of course you can dig around the thing and find some idea that appeals or convince yourself of its structural soundness. But many of the premises are still nuts and the quality and style of writing poor, to put it rather charitably. He starts by pinning the source of world 'craziness' on 'leftists', a broad category that appears to include 'animal activists' and people who find words like 'chick' and 'negro' derogatory and with a helpful forward reference to some 250 odd numbered paragraphs ahead. The whole thing is, again, 35k words. Consider, for comparison, the following famous pieces of political writing:

The Communist Manifesto

Thomas Paine's Common Sense

Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal

Each of these is shorter than 35k words. In fact, they're shorter than 35k words taken together.


> But many of the premises are still nuts and the quality and style of writing poor, to put it rather charitably.

See, this is the part of the dialog where if you simply point out which premises are "nuts" and then argue simply and objectively about them, then actual conversation happens (or is finished!).

Trying to shut down the whole thing down with the vague term "crazy" (something so obviously self-evident to be in need of no justification) is really a disservice to everyone.

I am not sure what point you are making with those other works. The Art of Computer Programming is three (3!) volumes. Is Don Knuth a nut? Euclid's Elements is also huge. Nuts?


I am also one of the 'few' who thinks his manifesto is reasonable, maybe one reason is because even though I understand his critique may sound as hateful it is grounded on his perception of the underlying social issues that may hinder critical thought from groups of people that claim to be the ones protesting for the right causes.


When someone goes crazy they don't lose the ability to use sophisticated language. I feel like people are reading the words and respecting the sophistication yet ignoring the meaning. What is he actually saying? Nothing that makes sense, hence the crazy part.


> Nothing that makes sense, hence the crazy part.

Have you actually read the manifesto and tried to understand it instead of just dismissing it as "crazy"? The only way to distinguish nonsense from sense is to...try to make sense of it.

IMO the only crazy part of the manifesto is the explanation and defense of his violence. But given that that violence almost certainly _did_ lead to a wider proliferation of his manifesto and ideas, it's even hard to argue that that was not an entirely rational (if inhuman) strategy.


The date thing is quite a novel interpretation. Also only 22 people went through long psychological experiment he did and afaik they were all older.

It might be surprising, but women in fact don't have civilising effect on brutes nor cure mental disease nor change peoples with philosophies (which he possibly did not had). Plenty of violent people with girlfriend in history.


It's likely more in reference to "incels" and the manifesto of Elliot Rogers


I read the manifesto, but don't really see the reference? Elliot Rogers seemed to have trouble interpreting world around him, he was not ok up there. Unabimber is according to article different case.


The point is that he was expirimented on with procedures that could be called torture.




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