The Hermeneutic Circle

The hermeneutic circle,” he was saying. “That’s what Dilthey called it. You don’t know what to do with the details unless you have a grip on the structure, and at the same time, you don’t know what to do with the structure unless you know the details. It’s true in life and in literature. The hermeneutic circle. It’s a vicious circle.”

David Denby quoting Columbia professor in the essay Does Homer Have Legs?

Provocations – a list.

Unpopular ideas about social norms.

Some people have missed this disclaimer in the past, so I’m going to say again that I’m not endorsing these ideas, merely collecting them, and I disagree with many of them.

Incest that doesn’t involve children, coercion, or procreation should be socially accepted.

Society drastically overvalues prestige, to our collective detriment.

We should end the tradition of gift-giving, because it’s so inefficient. Gift-givers are much worse at choosing something the recipient will enjoy than the recipient would’ve been.

People in senior positions should continuously have their cognition tested, to monitor possible decline of fluid intelligence, alertness and judgment.

Addiction is mostly rational.

via Marginal Revolution (iirc)

Parable of the Mass Transit Commuter

A man gets on the bus. A hobo gets on the bus a stop or so later. The hobo smells unpleasant and is babbling loudly.
The man says to himself, “Please God, don’t let him sit next to me.”
The hobo walks by a couple available seats.
Again, the man says to himself, “Please God, don’t let him sit next to me… Please God, don’t let him sit next to me.”
The hobo stops and settles down in the seat next to him.
“Do you know why I sat next to you?” The hobo asks the man.
The man shakes his head.
“God told me to sit next to you.”

Origin unknown.