Friday, 9 March 2007

Larry Arnhart on Human Nature

Much of my research and teaching has been driven by this search for a comprehensive natural knowledge rooted in Darwinian science. At the core of my thinking is the idea of human nature. In today’s academic world, it is common for postmodernist relativists to assert that liberal education cannot be directed to the study of human nature, because the idea of human nature is an arbitrary social construction. But I believe that there really is a universal human nature that is constituted by at least 20 natural desires that manifest themselves throughout history in every human society, because these desires belong to the evolved nature of the human species. Human beings generally desire a complete life, parental care, sexual identity, sexual mating, familial bonding, friendship, social status, justice as reciprocity, political rule, war, health, beauty, property, speech, practical habituation, practical reasoning, practical arts, aesthetic pleasure, religious understanding, and intellectual understanding.

(Larry Arnhart, “Darwinian Liberal Education,” Academic Questions 19 [fall 2006]: 6-18, at 9 [endnote omitted])


Here is an image from a race in Belgium. Look at the long line of support vehicles on the road behind the riders.


One of my readers, JJS, sent a link to this story about Edward Van Halen, the Dutch-born guitarist for Van Halen. (Eddie’s brother Alex plays drums for the band.) As you can tell by the image, the years—he’s had 52 of them—have not been good to Eddie. It saddens me that he wasted his talent. Yes, he made a few good albums (with the inimitable and irreplaceable David Lee Roth), but he could have done much more with his prodigious musical talent. Why do those with so much going for them throw it away by letting themselves get addicted to mind-altering substances? Is there a human tendency to self-destruct? Perhaps the very traits that make a person creative make it hard for him or her to exercise self-control.


I think highly of Thomas Sowell, but he’s flat out wrong about the Scooter Libby case. Perjury and obstruction of justice are independent crimes. That is to say, they are not dependent on a showing that some other (“substantive”) crime was committed. Different crimes have different grounds. Some crimes, such as murder and assault, are against the person. Some, such as larceny and embezzlement, are against property. Some, such as robbery, are against both person and property. Some, such as burglary, are against security. Some, such as perjury and obstruction of justice, are against the administration of justice. It doesn’t matter that nobody violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act in the Libby case. Libby lied under oath to a grand jury. He obstructed justice. These are serious matters that go to the heart of our criminal-justice system. As such, they deserve severe punishment. Sowell implies that Libby didn’t really commit these crimes, but the jury, who heard all the evidence, disagreed. Some jury members said publicly that they liked Libby and didn’t want to convict him, but were compelled to do so by the law and the evidence. Remember Bill Clinton? He, too, perjured himself and obstructed justice. If you believe in the rule of law, as I do, it doesn’t matter whether these crimes are committed by someone on your side or by someone on the other side. Whether Libby should be pardoned is another matter altogether. I believe he should not be. He chose to break the law. He should pay for it.


Paul Krugman won’t like this.


Here is Peggy Noonan’s latest column. Here is Peg Kaplan’s latest post.


The governor of my home state, who is said to be intelligent but who is manifestly deficient in economic sense, is driving businesses away. See here. We in Texas are happy to take those businesses.

Best of the Web Today


The Neglected but Essential Second Amendment

Bad news for gun-haters, tyrants, thugs, and totalitarians. Good news for everyone else.

Addendum: Law professor Glenn Reynolds (a.k.a. InstaPundit) has the ruling covered.

Disaster Averted

I was out running a few minutes ago. As I began the descent of a hill, I noticed a toddler in the middle of the street about 50 yards away. No adult was around. A car was coming toward the toddler from the opposite direction. I was too far away to do anything, so I yelled at two men who were standing in a yard. When they looked at me, I pointed to the toddler. The men realized what was happening and began to move. By then I was near them and took over. I ran to the girl, walked her to the sidewalk, and began looking around for her parents. As I approached the nearest house, I asked the little girl, who couldn’t have been more than two years old, whether she lived there.  She said “Yes.” I knocked on the door. A few seconds passed. A woman appeared. I asked whether the girl was her daughter. She said yes. I told her the girl had been in the middle of the street. As I turned to leave, I heard her say to the girl in a brusque voice, “Get in here!” Then she thanked me. I shudder at the thought of what might have happened had I not come upon the girl when I did. Why are people so irresponsible?

Capitalism v. Socialism

Read this. It’ll be interesting to see which economic system Latin Americans choose, for ultimately it’s up to them and not thugs such as Hugo Chavez, who care only about accumulating and retaining power. Will they choose capitalism, which rewards hard work and creativity, or socialism, which rewards laziness? Will they choose capitalism, which emphasizes the individual, or socialism, which emphasizes the group? Will they choose capitalism, which exalts liberty, or socialism, which exalts equality? Will they choose capitalism, which produces prosperity and happiness, or socialism, which produces poverty and misery? Time will tell.

From Today’s New York Times

Re “Don’t Ask, Don’t Know, Don’t Help” (column, March 7):

Thomas L. Friedman gets it exactly right when he decries President Bush’s failure to call for widespread sacrifice in a time of war. The administration’s coming emergency financing request for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is a good place to change this.

Congress should tie approval of this request to an increase in the marginal tax rate for all Americans.

Scott A. Birnbaum
Boston, March 7, 2007

Note from KBJ: Progressives say that President Bush was hell-bent on invading Iraq and used any reason he could to justify it. Progressives are hell-bent on raising taxes and use any reason they can to justify it. There’s a war on? Raise taxes! We’re at peace? Raise taxes!

A Year Ago