The Search for Meaning: Reflections on a National Tragedy

For those who lived through it, endured it, and ultimately absorbed it, September 11, 2001 persists in memory in an intensely personal way.  Each of us owns that day and its aftermath, even when we manage to remember that so many others own it too.  Some of us, far too many, lost lovers, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, cousins, colleagues, and friends.  These people and their families have suffered unnatural losses by grotesque means, never to be made whole again.  Others, spared this terrible, immediate grief, were nevertheless called to witness something die, and then something terribly sad and terribly wounded grow in its place inside our friends who lost someone.  And there are those of us, living in the city at the time, who suffered the violation of our surroundings.  To have shredded, singed office papers falling like morbid confetti in front of our homes; to continually encounter dumfounded, fearful, and farway eyes; to take ghostly quiet subway rides; to breath the choked air; to smell that burning smell, miles away, in midtown or in Brooklyn, a burning that even to the uninitiated was unmistakably more than electrical wiring, rubber, wood, and fuel, a smell that hung in the air for weeks and haunts us still.  These are all elements of the pictures of that September past that we each stitch together in our own peculiar ways.



Blackburn reads Parfit


Blackburn, too, is unimpressed (here is another underwhelmed reviewer).  I haven’t read this particular iteration of Parfit’s view yet, but from what I have previously, I give him credit for his ‘quietism’.  If your are going to be a normative realist (in the philosophical sense of that term), then own up to the fact that you will never say anything intelligible about normativity (that couldn’t be wholly repeated by an irrealist).

When Good Arguments Go Bad: The Credentialed Society – By Michael Walsh – The Corner – National Review Online

The Credentialed Society – By Michael Walsh – The Corner – National Review Online.

I am quite in sympathy with the argumentative point of this piece; higher education, such as it presently is, is overvalued by both suppliers (in terms of what they charge for it and what they promise by it) and by consumers (in terms of what they believe it will secure for them). The good life, understood both materially and spiritually, can certainly be achieved without contributing to the bloated nature of the education sector while burdening oneself financially in the process. I also concur with the corollary that an effective, productive political agent needn’t be fêted by an Ivy-trained political class.

The problem with Walsh’s snark is with the ridiculously inane exhibit he would have us contemplate in support of those theses. Sara Palin stands as a powerful counterargument to these theses, theses that it is important for us as a country that we believe. It is unfortunate that the wise claim that there are a multiplicity of routes to the good should be obscured by the use of such a singularly bad example.

I find my self thinking of Anton Ego, who expressed the core idea much more graciously and humbly.