Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Daily Quiz

March 25

1. For Rosenberg, does history have a meaning, purpose, or point? 

2. Rosenberg says, “Those who learn the lessons of history are in danger of ____________." 

3. Rosenberg maintains that most inventing (e.g., discoveries by Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison) is simply  ___________. 

4. What minimal optimism is supported by our resistance to plague? Does R call this "progress"? [But what would Rorty or Pinker say?]

5. Is R impressed by human cultural evolution (memetics etc.) as a successor to natural selection as the primary engine of evolution?

6. What classic historical text do many social scientists and policy wonks recommend reading, to shed light on the future, OR what contemporary cognitive psychologist(s) contradict its alleged lessons?

7. Does R think anyone can predict or control the human future?

8. Good Book? [Surely on the day when I've extolled the virtues of history and tried to debunk the claim that history's bunk, we can come up with a passage or two from "Histories"?!*]

1. A: no (pp. 242-243). 2. A: following them (p. 246. 3.  A: trial and error (p. 252). 4. [local adaptation suggests some of our descendants will survive almost any challenge; not really-258]. 5. No, it's just fashion-264.  6. Thucydides Pelop. War-267; Kahneman & Tversky-268. 7. no-271.  8. [93.14-better red than dead?]

*Now soliciting your thematic and textual suggestions for the next rendition of A&P. I'm leaning to the history (past-present-future) of godlessness, and the new tome from Peter Watson, Age of Atheists.

-R doesn't mention this, but Aristotle famously counseled against attempts to impose greater precision and rigor on a discipline than its subject matter allows. Asimovian "psychohistory" might be an example of this. DQ: How much predictive power" does the study of history need to yield, in order to make history worth studying?

-"Human history is a thoroughly Darwinian process," but Darwin said that process yields "endless forms, beautiful and wonderful"... and that "the vigorous, healthy, and happy survive and multiply." Darwin's expositor Dennett says we are the product of 10,000 years of conscious planning by our parents and theirs. This does not strike me as eliminative of human purpose, consciousness, forethought, intentionality, etc. But R says planning and intentional creation are illusions. You agree?

"Calculatus eliminatus" -Dr. Seuss. 

If everything's an unconscious and unmindful adaptation, doesn't that sound indeed like Pangloss? (251)

"We don't know enough about how thinking works..." (252) - do we really know even enough to say our "thoughts about things" are irrelevant or non-adaptive?

Does the arc of the moral universe bend toward justice? (257) What would Steven Pinker say? 
"No one can predict or control the human future" (271) - he makes this sound like a bad thing. It's good, isn't it?

With his repeated references to Mother Nature forever "looking for new variations" etc., is he not falling back on storytelling as the perennial human vehicle carrying our quest for meaning?

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