07/6/21

Looking at Manvir Singh’s Article (2021) “Magic, Explanations, and Evil” (Part 4 of 5)

0014 For example, a number of ladies in the community, noting that berries are in season, set out to collect several baskets.  They perform the rituals of gathering to ensure success.  Then they set out, chattering, as always.  During the harvest, one mother is bit by a spider that no one can identify.  After hastily returning, they bring the spider’s remains to the shaman.

The shaman is concerned.  He makes a paste to put over the bite.  The next morning, the woman is dead and the berries, left overnight in the baskets, are mysteriously rotted.

0015 Later, questions arise.

07/5/21

Looking at Manvir Singh’s Article (2021) “Magic, Explanations, and Evil” (Part 3 of 5)

0010 Singh identifies two principle components to harmful magic, witchiness (PC1) and the evil eye (PC2).

What happens next?

0011 Singh proposes a model to account for the observation.  The model consists of three schemes of cultural selection.

The first selection (F) is for intuitive techniques of harmful magic.

The second selection (G) is for plausible explanations of misfortune.

The third selection (H) is for myths that demonize a subgroup (in this case, sorcerers and witches).

0012 Singh misses the scaffolding beneath the glass that he stands on.  His exposition is on malevolent magic.  He does not seem to realize that malevolent magic recapitulates the open, generative magic of group living, including…

…intuitive techniques for beneficial magic (F’)…

…plausible explanations of fortune (G’)…

…myths that celebrate the group (H’).

0013 Here is a table.

07/2/21

Looking at Manvir Singh’s Article (2021) “Magic, Explanations, and Evil” (Part 2 of 5)

0005 Anthropology stands astride the narrower, more technical, disciplines of Sociology and Psychology.

Manvir Singh constructs a modern paradigm for a topic dear to Anthropology, but not to the narrower disciplines.

What is the nature of magic?

0006 Singh publishes the results of a Mystical Harm Survey, applied to 60 societies on the Probability Sample File of the electronic Human Relations Area Files.  He uses principal component analysis to reduce forty-nine raw variables to two principal dimensions with the greatest variation.

Principal components?  Greatest variation?

0007 Principal components are the dimensions with the greatest variation in a scatterplot.

Typically, principal component analysis shows variables that are relevant to the topic at hand.

For example, when considering mystical harm, one would expect significant variation between a common person and, say, a warlock, along some parameter that might be called, “warlockness”.

0008 Singh finds two parameters distinguishing common folk, sorcerers and witches.  Witches are high in PC1 and low in PC2.  Sorcerers are low in PC1 and high in PC2.

PC1 is witchiness.  Witches fly, meet in secret in the forest on a full moon, suddenly appear and disappear, and so on.  To me, witchiness is the embodiment of malicious magic.  Witches not only perform magic, they live it.

PC2 is the evil eye.  Sorcerers do not embody the magic that they perform.  Instead, the magic resides in their gaze.  The evil eye is a harmful mystical operation that signifies a whole range of magical works.  The evil eye is the worst.

0009 Singh does not dwell on the seemingly philosophical distinction between embodiment and gaze.  Neither do the anthropologists who are pleased with the scatterplot of PC1 and PC2 in Figure 1 (of the article).  Anthropology looks like science.

07/1/21

Looking at Manvir Singh’s Article (2021) “Magic, Explanations, and Evil” (Part 1 of 5)

0001 This blog compliments Comments on Manvir Singh’s Essay (2021) “Magic, Evil and Explanations”, available at smashwords and other websites selling electronic works.

0002 Singh’s article appears in Current Anthropology.

Manvir Singh is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse, France.

To me, his work contrasts with Sasha Newell, who, in 2018, publishes a theoretical piece titled, “The Affectiveness of Symbols”, also in Current Anthropology.

Singh aims for science.  Newell focuses on interpretation.

0003 Will the discipline of Anthropology turn towards an empirio-schematic approach or towards an approach where the word, “science”, is no longer relevant?

Mark Horowitz, William Yaworsky and Kenneth Kickham publish a survey, under the title, “Anthropology’s Science Wars: Insights from an New Survey”, in 2019, in Current Anthropology.

0004 These three papers tell us much about the divided discipline of contemporary Anthropology.

06/16/21

Looking at Kirk Kanzelberger’s Essay (2020) “Reality and the Meaning of Evil” (Part 18 of 18)

0069 Kirk Kanzelberger joins Thomas Aquinas with a basic acknowledgment: Evil is a privation of a good.

He then considers natural and moral evil.

In moral evil, he locates a semiotic disorder, in addition to a privation.

He considers the nature of the sign, as formulated by Charles Peirce.

0070 He publishes his argument in a journal worthy of the reader’s support.

Reality: A Journal for Philosophical Discourse

0071 My comments are not so different.  They thread through both Peirce and Poinsot.  They pass through the two loops brought to light by John Deely.

Yet, the are different, in that they offer diagrams based on Peirce’s categories.

0072 Typically, Razie Mah’s comments are published in the smashwords website and carried by a variety of e-book vendors.

Start with A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form.

Add A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction.

That is all that is needed to introduce oneself to the interscope of social construction.

Figure 09

0073 The three-level interscope appears in the chapter on meaning in the masterwork, How To Define the Word “Religion”.

The three-level interscope plays a role in A Primer on the Individual In Community.

The three-level interscope serves as a model of langue, in Comments on Robert Berwick and Noam Chomsky’s Book (2016) Why Only Us: Language and Evolution.

0074 All these works are available at the smashwords website.

So concludes this look at Kanzelberger’s foray into both Aquinas and Peirce, concerning reality and the nature of privation.

Look to Reality.

God bless.

06/15/21

Looking at Kirk Kanzelberger’s Essay (2020) “Reality and the Meaning of Evil” (Part 17 of 18)

0066 Kanzelberger writes, “Moral evil is a dark image.  It weaves a web that bewitches its author, then ensnares others.”

But, the author and the ensnared do not necessarily stand on the same level.

0067 Natural evil makes no sense.  Natural evil is privation of the subject.

Moral evil makes sense.  Moral evil is privation in phantasms.  We selectively use word-symbols deprived of their fullness.  We seek agreement1a, not wisdom1c.

Metaphysical evil defies moral sense, by willfully projecting its own relations between what is and what ought to be2c, into spoken words2a, which cannot image or indicate on their own.

0068 Imagine a nest, full of duly-appointed avian-philic crooked lawyers, passing a law decreeing the latest innovation of their premier legal theorist.  All cats are to be banished from the sovereign realm, because they are symbols of human maliciousness and cruelty.

Here is a brood worthy of Kanzelberger’s philosophical consideration.

06/14/21

Looking at Kirk Kanzelberger’s Essay (2020) “Reality and the Meaning of Evil” (Part 16 of 18)

0063 What is the catch?

Alternate legal theories2c cannot endure in the absence of the original truth of justice1c.  There are two types of immoral actors.  The practitioners of concupiscence2b, like crooked lawyers, struggle with self-justification1c.  The self-justified2c, like opportunistic legal theorists, strain to defy right reason and divine law1c.  They offer better alternatives2c.  They3coffer them2c in droves.  A multitude of alternatives2c swarm with betterness.

Kanzelberger writes, “Purposeful evil is not a matter of ignoring the moral context of courses of action, but a semiotic disorder involving… a fictive construction… that functions as… an imagined future.”

0064 You mean, like that approaching cloud of legal locusts?

Imagine a world where the rule of reason2c and the divine laws1c are partially, then totally, eclipsed by a swarm of organizational objectives2c, each declaring its own righteousness1c, each supported by its own theoretical imperatives1c and each relying on the power of the state to enforce its dictates.

Imagine a world where certain words1a are made flesh2a, and this winged flesh2a fills the air with what is happening3a, so that all things and events2a actualize theory-distorted subjectivities1a.  

Imagine a world where our phantasms2b are not grounded in truth, but in the projection of meaning2b into once truth-filled speech-alone words2a.

0065 Surely, we have eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good an evil.

Like locusts.

There will be hell to pay.

06/11/21

Looking at Kirk Kanzelberger’s Essay (2020) “Reality and the Meaning of Evil” (Part 15 of 18)

0060 In sections four and five, Kanzelberger pulls more threads through the loops of Poinsot’s scholasticism and Peirce’s postmodernism.  He does so well, that I continue in parallel, like a harmony to his melody.

0061 I turn to privation of judgment2c.

Consider an example.

0061 Crooked lawyers love the sin of omission.  They love to omit the evidence that would cause them to lose the case.  This love is justified by the doctrine of total satisfaction for the client.  The crooked lawyer does not serve justice.  The crooked lawyer serves only his client, even when his client is guilty as charged.

In the domain of morals, the doctrine of total client satisfaction stands in opposition to an oath to serve justice.  Lawyers take an oath to serve justice.  This doctrine deprives the oath of its merit.  Evil is a privation of good.

Legal theory contextualizes a lawyer’s cupidity, even as the lawyer’s exploits defy the attainment of justice.

0061 Is there a hierarchy here?

Crime is what happened3a.  A trial is what is happening3a.  Victory in court is what it means to me3b.  Someone really depraved constructs the legal process that permits it all3c.

There is a hierarchical difference between a corrupt lawyer3b, who objectifies what is happening3a in the pursuit of total victory for his client1a, and a legal theorist3c, who formulates the consensus of what is legally permissible1c.  Legal theorists3c fashion suprasubjective entities, concocting law-determining judgments2c that alter, tweak, nudge, correct and re-configure the intersubjectivity2b within which a moral agent3b signifies.  Legal theorists3c alter the machinery of justice2c.  Evil ex academia1c.

The well-educated cutting-edge legal theorist3c offers norms2c that may oppose the rule of reason and the divine law1c, just as parody opposes tragedy.  The projection of alternate meaning into words1c, such as “client interests”, “service”, “mandates” and so on, mocks the hard-won projection of true meaning1c, where the client’s interests do not outweigh justice and true justice ultimately furthers the interests of us all, including the client.

0062 Here is a picture.

06/10/21

Looking at Kirk Kanzelberger’s Essay (2020) “Reality and the Meaning of Evil” (Part 14 of 18)

0056 Kanzelberger lays out the moral theodrama.

The mystery of iniquity starts to unfold when I come up with ‘something’ objective1b, without attention to the rules of reason and the divine law1c.  At first, the objective1b sets aside the suprasubjective1c, by not admitting to the intersubjective1b.  

I decide what makes sense3c.

0057 Isn’t this the nature of concupiscence?  Why should I worry about right reason or Yahweh’s law?  I’m going to hang out with Cupid.  Cupid likes me.  Cupid agrees with me.

After a phantasm2b of deliciously-worded2a desire2b becomes habitual, self-justification3b strains towards the intersubjective1b.  For self-deception1b to become openly regarded, it must first become intersubjective.

So, I, a self-deceiver3b, search out a team that will judge2c my privation2b as virtuous and true.  Let my intersubjective2bhabit find an accommodating suprasubjectivity1c.  Yes, I may join the club.  I may join the secret society that does not pay attention to some aspect of the rule of reason or the divine law1c, then justifies the consequences2a.

In fact, our common intersubjective privation2b reflects a self-congratulating fullness of suprasubjective being2c.  Our good is obvious to anyone who is “educated”.  We all love one another and despise the uneducated morons, don’t we?

0058 We blather2a in production of our subjective agreement1a.

Are we really free to choose1b?

Or, am I forgetting something1c?

0059 There are privations in things and events2a, including speech-alone talk2a.

There are privations in phantasms2b, losing the balance between judgment2c and speech2a.

Here is a diagram for social construction.

Figure 7

What am I missing?

06/9/21

Looking at Kirk Kanzelberger’s Essay (2020) “Reality and the Meaning of Evil” (Part 13 of 18)

0053 I can get away with anything if I can find the right words.  Call me a smooth talker.

Every one of us is infected with this potential.  We are sinners before we are conceived.  Let us not strain under the illusion that we can sort out the voluntary from the involuntary, knowledge from ignorance, or freedom from slavery.  Speech-alone talk produces a privation rarely seen in the natural world.  My spoken words can tell me whatever I want to hear.

0054 That is just the beginning.

My own self-justification3b seals my commitment2c to free-nihilation3c

I3c decide what makes sense3c, not the One Who Gives, Without Us Knowing Why3c.

Then, I expect3a someone else to agree1a with my blather2a.

0055 The sacrament of baptism contests this mystery of iniquity.  Grace flows into human nature.  A spiritual battle is already engaged before my arrival.