Brooks on Gore III

Lots to choose from today: Sam Brownback’s evolution confusion or George Will’s “Case for Conservatism” (which is, as one would suspect, the case against his cartoonish liberal with the subsequently unjustified claim that this makes the case for his view–which it doesn’t). But David Brooks’ column the other day still offers some final ignorant tidbits. So far, the reader may remember, Brooks has accused Gore of favoring some kind of vulcan-like existence because he wants people to argue with facts and logic.

The final paragraphs of Brooks piece descend into nonsense. He writes:

> This, in turn, grows out of a bizarre view of human nature. Gore seems to have come up with a theory that the upper, logical mind sits on top of, and should master, the primitive and more emotional mind below. He thinks this can be done through a technical process that minimizes information flow to the lower brain and maximizes information flow to the higher brain.

Now the mind is identical to the brain? Doesn’t that make Brooks a determinist?

>The reality, of course, is that there is no neat distinction between the “higher” and “lower” parts of the brain. There are no neat distinctions between the “rational” mind and the “visceral” body. The mind is a much more complex network of feedback loops than accounted for in Gore’s simplistic pseudoscience.

>Without emotions like fear, the “logical” mind can’t reach conclusions. On the other hand, many of the most vicious, genocidal acts are committed by people who are emotionally numb, not passionately out of control.

Now we’ve veered far from the discussion of civil discourse, into simplistic (ironically it seems) pseudo-science about the nature of reasoning and consciousness and their relation to brain processes.

>Some great philosopher should write a book about people — and there are many of them — who flee from discussions of substance and try to turn them into discussions of process. Utterly at a loss when asked to talk about virtue and justice, they try to shift attention to technology and methods of communication. They imagine that by altering machines they can alter the fundamentals of behavior, or at least avoid the dark thickets of human nature.

>If a philosopher did write such a book, it would help us understand Al Gore, and it would, as he would say, in fact, evoke a meaningful response.

I don’t think any philosopher would write a book of that sort, as it rests on a confusion between argument and explanation. Brooks can’t bring himself to consider Al Gore’s argument, so he distorts it, and then asks what would explain such a distorted view. Ironically, even Gore’s distorted view is superior, on Brooks’ own grounds, to Brooks’ brain state analysis of human nature.

Perhaps Gore can include Brooks unreasoning response as an appendix in a subsequent edition of his book about the assault on rational discourse.

8 thoughts on “Brooks on Gore III”

  1. I would have liked to hear about Brownback’s confusion.

    Gore is boring (identity and predication).

  2. I’ve just finished the new Gore book, after abandoning it for a couple of days. The New York TImes review was far too favorable.

  3. Read it. His conception of the issues is even more mistaken than Brownback’s.

    He’s also very snide, which is very unbecoming. But then again, on a materialist metaphysic, my value judgment there is nothing but my own whimsical preference and so, rightly, could not be used against him.

  4. To add,

    I’m not sure what the Digby writer thinks he’s referring to as Brownback’s punning on ‘materialism’ — or Brownback’s “ghostwriter” perhaps. Though I’m not sure why I should believe a ghostwriter wrote the piece (unless that comment too was a snide dig to the effect that BB must be a fool cause even his ghostwriter cannot make him sound intelligent).

    Maybe the Digby writer was himself trying to be clever in suggesting the pun, and not really claiming BB intended it. I don’t know. I clicked back to read BB again as soon as I came to that part of the Digby (or whoever) piece, so I’ll go back and finish it now.

    I can’t go with BB anywhere after this statement:
    “The heart of the issue is that we cannot drive a wedge between faith and reason.”

    But I’m glad to at least heard that (even in light of this supposedly neutral logic-chopping ratiocination that seems to keep coming up in the discussion here about Gore), even if he’s (BB) subsequently misguided.

    Anyway I don’t get the ‘punning’ comment, but I’m gonna go back and finish the article.

  5. Okay, no.
    Read it again.

    Where this guy gets the notion that anyone is using “materialism” in any but the metaphysical sense is mistaken in a way that’s — now I’ll border on snide — embarassingly mistaken.

    Sorry, I know this is not a comment forum for the Digby piece.

    Nonetheless, I wonder how such a fundamental mistake of BB’s point is even possible. That’s scary.

  6. i think tristero’s point was one, that those who find there way onto an opinion page in major newspaper to defend ID have such a meager grasp of the actual issues, both philosophical and scientific, surrounding ID and evolution, that they have turned the entire idea into a laughingstock, and two, that since those representing the view cite such flimsy evidence (in his view), it really is a laughingstock. maybe i’m just being too generous.

  7. p.s. if you want to keep this thread goin, maybe just e-mail me, since it’s not really germane to the post…

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