Links to Consider, 12/20
Rob Henderson summarizes a podcast on anger; Jordan Peterson and Louise Perry; N.S. Lyons on Carl Schmitt; Lorenzo Warby on language
Rob Henderson listened to a podcast by Dr. Aaron Sell.
The primary trigger for anger is the recognition that another person doesn’t value you as highly as you think they should.
Anger evolved as a way to get someone else to treat you as important. That is Sell’s theory. Not sure I buy it. Does anger achieve that objective?
As I note in this essay about dominance disputes, one way to understand the difference between a substantive dispute and a status conflict is whether an apology would repair the relationship. A verbal apology might be enough to subdue a status dispute, but wouldn’t be enough to make amends for a substantive transgression. A simple apology for insulting someone might smooth things over, but a simple apology for burning their house down probably wouldn’t.
Henderson interprets Sell as saying,
Hatred is associated with the belief that your life will get better if the hated person is no longer around, and will get worse if they remain. Love is, “the existence of this person improves my life.” Hatred involves looking at others and determining that their existence somehow makes your life worse.
…Anger seeks better treatment from the other person, hatred seeks the elimination of the other person.
Jordan Peterson talks with Louise Perry, who says,
one of the features of late 20th early 21st century culture is that the normal life progression that women are supposed to pass through from Maiden to mother to matriarch has been um interrupted and we now have a very widespread problem of women desperate to remain in Maiden mode permanently
On the topic of consent, Peterson says,
marriage is consent that's what marriage means marriage is full informed consent and it's the only form of full informed consent
This is in the context of a very interesting discussion of alcohol and sex.
Because, in Schmitt’s view, it isn’t humanly possible to write law that can completely predict and account for in advance every possible situation, a legal framework must necessarily provide for the means to handle exceptional circumstances – that is, situations beyond what is written in law. In such circumstances a “state of exception” exists, whether formally declared or not, in which the law as written can no longer apply. Much as Schmitt experienced while in Munich, states of exception and dictatorships often go hand-in-hand: the dictator emerges to resolve the state of exception by personifying the law when the law cannot mechanistically provide pre-made decisions. This is the case whether the dictator is put forward by the constitutional state or by the raw will of the people. But the dictator isn’t necessarily sovereign; the one with ultimate sovereignty is not he who handles exceptions, but he who decides what counts as an exception.
Consider the COVID exception.
who decided on this exception? The president? The technocratic national or international “public health” bureaucracy? A handful of specialized “experts” and their billionaire backers from around the world? For most people the answer remains rather hazy.
Lyons claims that
Schmitt has steadily become a patron saint of left-authoritarianism worldwide. Across the world, the permanent emergency, centralization of power, technocratic “depoliticization,” and systematic distinction and isolation of state enemies all continue to gather pace as the preferred tactics of the post-modern, techno-statist regime.
I find it interesting that many in the center are nostalgic for a return to politics as a way of reducing conflict. They remember a politics of negotiation, of compromise, of flexible shifting of coalitions as issues change. Today, Schmitt’s view that politics at its essence is “friend-enemy” seems more apt, unfortunately. Lyons’ essay is an outstanding summary of Schmitt’s ideas and their Nazi context.
Language is both a product of social dynamics and a mechanism which greatly expands our social capacities. Language is also a conscious mechanism. Whenever we struggle to put something into words, we are straddling the divide between our cognition (mostly not conscious) and consciously communicating.
I struggle with these topics. I currently am struggling with Michael Tomasello’s The Evolution of Agency. Tomasello makes a cameo appearance in Lorenzo’s essay. In his book, Tomasello argues that evolution endowed humans with an additional layer of brain capacity that enables us to have shared agency. A human will point to something in order to bring it to the attention of another human, so that they can coordinate in response. A chimpanzee will never understand or engage in pointing.
One might think of language as an elaborate form of pointing. Language has both a use case and an abuse case. You can point deceptively in order to divert someone’s attention.
Substacks referenced above:
During COVID I would say that governments, school boards, and HR departments were the main instituters of policy. However, there was a veto type power that these all has, as in having either a Dem governor or a Dem school board were enough to get Dem policies in you school. Only universal Republican control got something different than the CDC.
Which brings up something important. The CDC technically didn't have the authority to impose anything (mostly), but it had the MORAL AUTHORITY amongst the actual decision makers such that all of those above entities governors, school boards, HR departments, etc all fell in line unless they were hard right.
Language probably sells us short here. There likely is a kind of social anger as described above. There is also a kind of anger that's about gathering the will to attack. I get angry at a hammer I drop on my foot and I want to throw it across the yard. It isn't about respect. Should emotions be defined by their subjective experience, their causes, or their visible effects? We use a small set of words to cover a lot of varied ground.