22 June 2018

Owing to the false witness of a family member (which caused a relapse in overall condition: went from no pain pills and energy to pain and weakness as a result of stress) only did 20 mn: 150 steps, two flights stairs (up and down), walking (fresh rainy but clearing dawn). Had felt very tired and ill night before, fortunately this seems to have cleared up.

Apart from reaction to abusive false witness, this may have been caused by Wednesday’s chemotherapy. Feel much better today, but had no pain pill yesterday morning (and none yesterday until after incident) whilst I needed one first thing today. But post-workout I am in no pain.

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A fairly definite result of chemo is blurred vision which plagues me today. I use high powered (300 mag) glasses and a magnifying glass, and magnification tools on the computer, thanking an Enlightenment God for all this support. I have until about last week been blessed with sharp eyes for a man my age. People look at my collected Shakespeare and say they cannot read it but I had as you may recall no problems in my Grand High Shakespeare ReRead.

Being fairly certain that last Wednesday’s chemo is at fault, I welcome this introduction to, this preparation for, old age when as Chief Dan George said, I shall have to thank the Great Spirit for a loss of vision which is a gain in sight. I mean this: Poussin’s final triumphant quartet (the four seasons as Bible stories) uses a failing vision and a shaky hand to show us Adam and Maiden, the land of milk and honey, the kindness of Boaz in the alien corn, and the Flood of Noah’s time. He retains his craft but unavoidable imprecision finally removes the coldness of his grand manner.

I welcome painless and nausea-free side effects, they may mean that the drips are working to reduce the cancer even more than I saw on the screen last week. But I don’t think that they will get rid of every cancerous cell, and cells divide by mitosis which is if I recall unicellular. You don’t need Adam and Eve, just Cancer Bob. Damn. But, science may find a cure or ameliorate my suffering yet even more than it does already; a simple emetic administered in my chemo session, unavailable ten years ago, eliminates all nausea. Thank God for doctors.


Canceled planned seven rereads of the Analytic of Principles in the Critique, since Strawson describes this chapter as intrinsically very confused, and rather than being about the core issues it is a philosophy of physics, for the most part being Kant’s attempt to provide Newtonian mechanics with a solid foundation. This makes this mostly historical in interest meriting one or two read-throughs.

Back to coasting down the easier last sections. There are I think some levels in understanding Kant.

An intelligent layperson who didn’t major in philosophy should know that Kant said we “Kant” understand objects beyond the limitations of our physical sense perception bodily equipment, but they are out there.

An intelligent layperson who DID major in philosophy should know that Kant said we “Kant” understand objects beyond the limitations of our physical sense perception bodily equipment, but they are out there. He should know that Kant thought he’d proved this in a detailed analysis of “ordinary language” using the logic of ordinary words. For example, Kant showed how any Concept (Begriff) had a source in sense data by finding the intermediate terms “intuition” and “understanding” (*Verstehen*) between them.

A PhD in philosophy and a nonspecialist in Kant should be prepared to present Kant’s results in the Prolegomena (and know that that word is spelt with two “o”s and not three), and relate them to her specialty. For example, it’s likely that Wittgenstein never read Kant, for the gloomy Austrian was anxious that his own thought might be polluted by reading in his field (a disgusting anxiety forgivable only because of W’s own achievements).

Wittgenstein’s own Tractatus ontology echoes Kant for it is if memory serves about the logical structure of the world, and the LSOTW is not obvious to us. It is instead inferred like things in themselves based on strictly logical analysis. The key is that if the world, according to Wittgenstein, had no logical form, the meaningfulness of any sentence would depend on the truth of another in infinite regress. But more in this if I get around to a Grand High Re-read of the Tractatus. Won’t be next. That shall be Marx!

A PhD in philosophy and a specialist in Kant should be locked up. Ha ha. Seriously, we know what she will need: a PhD and access to private papers such as what Guyer/Wood enjoyed: their text of the Critique as part of the Cambridge complete works tells us what Kant scrawled in the margins of his first edition.

All told, despite its flaws as a difficult one for one literal translation, this expensive edition of the Critique is worth every penny. Other editions are free because they are old and have gone off copyright: they can be downloaded for free. If you are motivated to spend money on a copy of the Critique this is the one to get.

But any person can benefit from an in-depth understanding of Kant. The problem is the smugness and vanity of the people with uni degrees but no love of learning: when they read a complex text, as I shall keep on saying, they go, “I have a Master’s degree”

“I have a Master’s degree” – Ask Mister Science, Duck’s Breath Mystery Theater

“…and I don’t understand this. Obviously this is someone else’s fault, such as Kant’s.”

The most valuable lesson in my view at this time? The idea of the transcendental or of levels: if in p===>q where ===> means “implies transcendentally” the falsehood of q never implies that of p. This is found, famously, or perhaps infamously, in Marxist logic when the failure of the Five Year Plan cannot imply the falsity of Marxism BECAUSE the ordeal of a counter-revolution would be too hard to bear.

If p transcendentally implies q, then the truth of p is a precondition for speaking meaningfully for or against q. For better or worse, Marxists believe that discourse in a capitalist society is thoroughly corrupted by economic relations (as in the case of Murdoch style journalism) to the extent that it would be futile to ask, whether p implies q in any way.

[And if you think that’s a lie or a joke, read what happened to real people in the Paris Commune: what’s at stake in the Marxist premise. My Dad said that the rich had a servant problem for years after the Commune: all the servants were slaughtered during the retaking of Paris without trial simply because they were a joke.]

Now you may note that that’s my own version of understanding “transcendentally implies”. The problem here is that as great historians of philosophy (such as Bertie Russell, whose ancient history of Western philosophy refuses to leave bookshelves and continues to sell because nobody else has been able to write a better one) know that to teach or write about philosophy is to do philosophy despite the hopes of careerists and hacks for a sinecure in philosophy.

Kant didn’t know his own mind in contrast to Wittgenstein who especially but not only in his early career felt convinced he was right, so we find Kant (especially in the Analytic of Principles, according to PF Strawson) using terms of art differently in different places.

We have to stop worrying about which terms are “right” (Kant himself being uncertain) and go “Structuralist”, showing (for example) how many stages (terms of art) go between “sensation” and “concept”. This is why structural diagrams often work better than words in teaching or self-teaching the Sage of Konigsberg/Kaliningrad.


I was rooting about my wallet for spare cash and I found my forty year old social security card. Printed on the old IBM mainframe 1403 printer with 64 characters all upper case precast in steel on a whirligig chain. Never encased in plastic, fuzzy, but still perfectly readable.

“‘A thing of beauty is a joy forever! My man John KEATS said that! We going to Sizzler!” – White Men Can’t Jump

If you’re a US citizen, don’t take a Gap year until you’re 55 and unemployable anyway, work from 21 to 54 at a real job with Social Security withheld. If they try to take it away, get rowdy and take to the streets. This is the ONLY retirement plan you need.

In Hong Kong, don’t whine about the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF): it’s a good deal. For the investment firms but also for you. Employers match your contribution and similar to US Social Security you cannot touch this government fund. Whereas in both societies by law you can “touch” (spend) any other pension. I cashed in my TIAA/Cref to support the kids in unemployment in 1993: bad mistake since this thing accrues in a very nice fashion. Not a dime left as far as I know, not a single engraved portrait of the sainted FDR.

Whereas my MPF just came thundering over the hills to my rescue, like the Eighth Bloody Hussars in some dusty colonial battle, providing me with a safety net I don’t need to access. It’s more like what Bush wanted in the form of Social Security reform with the difference that you cannot access, whereas I’m somehow certain that in the USA, Republican “reform” would include the “right” (the “raaaghht”) for LOSERS to cash in at any time to buy a new pickup, enriching the fund and the auto dealer but leaving said LOSER pushing a broom in the Kenny Rodgers parking lot at the age of 85: cradle to grave minimum wage as my old pard Cowboy Dave down in Texas used to say.

To get a real job, major in what pleases you such as theater but also go to tech school or take computer science electives. Get intense like Eddie Snowden. But don’t work for the NSA. Work for a museum or a company that makes chocolate or something, I dunno. Learn Linux, PHP, anything outside Microsoft or IBM technologies (Visual C Sharp, Visual Basic, Rexx, big OSen).


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