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ScottP

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About ScottP

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    California
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    VanDamme Academy
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    Historian

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  1. Throughout this DIM narrative, my primary focus has been on the major foreign policy statements or “doctrines” of the presidents, which in my judgment are representative of their mode of foreign policy thinking and essential to their coordinate impact on the history of American foreign relations. This study — if it can be called a “study,” since it is not nearly as penetrating as the research for a book on the subject would be — is limited further in its significance by the fact that it is entirely “longitudinal,” if I may introduce yet another neologism into the thesis. In other words, it is
  2. I have received a series of really amazing responses to my most recent post about the possibility of a D-M mode from David Hayes and “Steve D,” which are contained in the comments to the previous post on Carter and Obama. I highly recommend reading what David and Steve have to say. I really appreciate their contribution. Link to Original
  3. In my last post about Carter and Obama, I made the following statement about Leonard Peikoff which, in retrospect, I don’t think is fair: This is the kind of stuff that I think Leonard Peikoff, as the nearest person I can think of to a genius, just cannot look at. I think, literally, he does not know how bad it is, because he can’t bring himself to look. I think a lot of the older Objectivists are like this. They look around and say: oh well, I’ve only got a few years left, myself. I don’t need to worry about. It’s someone else’s problem. I’ll just work on the stuff I like. I do see this
  4. Has there ever been a president less well equipped to deal with reality than Jimmy Carter, and thus a president more damaging in his role as president of the United States relative to the full context in which he occupied that office? I have my doubts. Many pro-freedom Americans would say that Obama is the worst president in American history, and that may be true in absolute terms. But when I judge a president historically, I judge him in relation to the reasonable alternatives available at the time and relative to the social and geo-political context in which he acted. Thus when I look at Ob
  5. There is a fundamental affinity between M and I. I think this is why many Objectivists feel a certain kinship with presidents like Truman–apart from the well-documented fact that many admirers of Ayn Rand unbeknownst to themselves practice an M mode (rationalism). There is a certain grandeur to M2, which strives for monistic integration. The D mode, on the other hand, is so profoundly anti-Aristotelian in essence that anyone with an I mode and a keen modoscope must instantly feel revulsion, even a sense of hatred welling up inside, when encountering a D thinker. Hatred is the emotion reserved
  6. There were two major mis-integrating theses at the heart of America’s mis-conduct during the Cold War. The first was an M2 thesis: America must be the grand champion of “world peace,” everywhere supporting “self-determination.” The second was an M1 thesis: America must protect world peace, yes, but this means containing in a practical way, i.e. by the use of force, the this-worldly evil of communism. At no point in the history of the Cold War did any American president advocate an I policy of rational self-defense. Since America was congenitally incapable of a completely altruistic foreign
  7. “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” Let the nations of the world know that America’s pure idealism is back. Let the world know that America is committed once again to a war of abstractions, for abstractions, and on abstractions: “a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.” With his inaugural address of 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced the return of M2 — a
  8. So how do you apply an otherworldly foreign policy in this world? How do you take the great ideal of “world peace” and bring it down to earth? Easy: worldly supernaturalism, or what Leonard Peikoff calls “M1.” Once you have a mis-integrating umbrella concept that purports to apply everywhere at all times, and you try to apply it, its true contextual applicability becomes your great challenge. You inevitably find yourself trying to act in reality according to concepts that weren’t derived from reality, and you eventually come to a conceptual juncture: either dismiss reality, and become a cynic
  9. So we begin our DIM history of foreign policy with the Truman Doctrine. Not the latest statement of foreign policy to be sure, but close enough to the present to still be highly relevant. And a clear exemplar of a DIM mode. Of course, the question is: which one? “The United States has received from the Greek Government an urgent appeal for financial and economic assistance,” which assistance is imperative for the survival of Greece as a free nation, Truman says, beginning his famous appeal. A fact is thereby submitted for consideration in American foreign policy thinking. What does one d
  10. In his book, The DIM Hypothesis, philosopher-historian Leonard Peikoff states that America has essentially embodied two modes in its cultural history. America started as an “I” (Integrated) culture, as embodied by the Aristotelian-Newtonian outlook of the Founding Fathers. Then, over some period not explicitly defined by Peikoff, in a development he did not deem it necessary to elaborate upon, it gradually shifted from its “I” mode into the “D” (Dis-integrated) mode unleashed by Immanual Kant upon the world, and embodied in the thinking of American philosophers John Dewey and William James,
  11. Everyone knows Detroit has long been the “sick man” of American cities. What you don’t want to do with the story of Detroit’s bankruptcy, however, is dismiss it, just because you don’t live there. A couple years ago financial analyst Meredith Whitney made waves in a 60 minutes interview where she predicted hundreds of municipal bond defaults. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hI-rIGyLri4) Whitney fell into a classic trap, which I myself have fallen into, of failing to appreciate just how corrupt government has become, and just how sophisticated the financial system is at accounting fraud, e
  12. American freedom is dying. The defenders of freedom are losing. It is hard not to take a dim view of the world. However, that is exactly what we must do; but not a “dim” view—a DIM view. In The DIM Hypothesis philosopher-historian Leonard Peikoff has provided an inestimably valuable guide to cultural history as a guide to life in America today, including a daunting prediction about the near term prospects for America. “Religious totalitarianism in America—that is my prediction,” writes Peikoff. Twenty years ago almost no one could have taken such a thesis seriously. America had overcome th
  13. Philosopher Dr. Diana Hsieh recently interviewed me about “History is Dead, Long Live History” on her live internet radio show, Philosophy in Action. You can listen to or download the podcast any time. You’ll find the podcast on the episode’s archive page, as well as below. About the Interview: Why is knowledge of history important? How have historians failed to teach it? What’s the proper approach? How can adults educate themselves about history? Listen or Download: Duration: 1:01:14 Download: Standard MP3 File (21.0 MB) Topics: Diana’s experience with “A First History for Adults” What
  14. I wanted to let you all know that tonight I’ll be discussing the topic (and title of my forthcoming book) “History is dead. Long live history!” on the podcast radio show “Philosophy in Action.” Immediately, many of you will no doubt be turned off the idea of listening to the show, since the show’s host Diana Hsieh is notorious for having stirred up various controversies in Objectivism. In my experience, “hell hath no fury” like an Objectivist hating an “objectivist” or “libertarian” or a “fan” of Ayn Rand. For the record, I am myself a big “O” Objectivist. I define Objectivism as “the phi
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