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Friday, April 20, 2012

Andrew Sullivan Lets His Inner Oakeshott Shine Through

Here:

"And when this kind of practice of something becomes effortless, when it becomes second nature, instinctual, it becomes part of you and you of it. You simply cannot describe the great skill of a craftsman, or a cook, or a priest, or an artist except by observing how he or she has become what she creates and does. Julia Childs' cook-book can never replicate an actual Julia Childs meal. It can merely abstract from it, copy it. But the itness is hers and hers alone. At that point, where the idea and the practice and the person simply become one, human activity takes flight. It becomes integral."

11 comments:

  1. Ditto for chess. You can't just feed a bunch of instruction to a mindless computer and expect it to somehow play chess like an expert.

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    1. What do you know, Silas? Computers can do well at things that are abstract and algorithmic in character. Who would have imagined that?

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    2. I know for sure I could feed a bunch of instructions to a mindless computer and "teach" it to perfectly imitate Silas online!

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  2. Has anyone devised an artificial intelligence that is any good at Chess960? (That's a genuine question.)

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  3. Reminds me of something written by Eric Hoffer:

    "The passionate state of mind is often indicative of a lack of skill, talent or power...a workingman sure of his skill goes leisurely about his job, and accomplishes much though he works as if at play. On the other hand, the workingman who is without confidence attacks his work as if he were saving the world, and he must do so if he is to get anything done."

    What's funny is that the raw material of Sullivan's writing skills is no different than that of Child's cooking skills, he's just awash in idolatry over talents and skills he does not possess. This need to mystify the process of hard work and development has always fascinated me.

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    1. "What's funny is that the raw material of Sullivan's writing skills is no different than that of Child's cooking skills..."

      So what?

      "he's just awash in idolatry over talents and skills he does not possess."

      And you are simply making things up. What evidence do you have of "idolatry" in his post?

      "This need to mystify the process of hard work and development..."

      Again: just making this up. There is no "mystification" in Sullivan's post at all.

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    2. I like how you split that sentence in two as if one part meant anything without the other. You made two half-arguments that don't add up to a whole (but were convenient for your point).

      And Julia Child's 'itness'? Skills you can't describe but by observing? That's mysticism and idolatry of one's talents and skills, as if they're born of something otherworldly, if I've ever seen it. And no, I'm not referring to his whole post because you clearly weren't referring to his whole post in bringing out his "inner Oakeshott".

      Maybe you should follow your own advice to get the civil discourse you desire?

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    3. "I like how you split that sentence in two as if one part meant anything without the other."

      I had a comment on each part. Anyone reading along can obviously put them back together.

      "Skills you can't describe but by observing? That's mysticism and idolatry of one's talents and skills, as if they're born of something otherworldly..."

      Nonsense. Observation is the primary component of human learning, and almost the only one of animal juveniles learning. Why you would think that is "otherwordly" is beyond me.

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    4. "Maybe you should follow your own advice to get the civil discourse you desire?"

      Sorry, Eric, with your first comment you came in with an attitude, basically one saying "Your whole post was stupid."

      When someone arrives at my house and throws up in my living room, I don't feel much of a need to be civil!

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    5. "Sorry, Eric, with your first comment you came in with an attitude, basically one saying "Your whole post was stupid.""

      So an opinion you don't agree with is an "attitude"? And please point to where I said something about anything you wrote in my first comment. The post was about Sullivan, my response was about Sullivan. You're the one that came out swinging about something that didn't involve you directly (and barely indirectly).

      "When someone arrives at my house and throws up in my living room, I don't feel much of a need to be civil!"

      So when you throw up in your living room do does being uncivil to your guests make things better?

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    6. OK, Eric, I am willing to beleive that I misheard the tone of your initial comments, for which I apologize. Let us start again:

      How do you think your trumpet playing would be affected if you had never:
      1) Heard music;
      2) Watched musicians play; or
      3) Taken a lesson;

      but instead had only read about music in a book? Is there anything "mystifying" about the fact you would be much, much worse?

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