Yuval Noah Harari debunks everything but himself

Yuval Noah Harari

 

 

Yuval Noah Harari is an Israeli historian who has afflicted us with his know-it-all debunking, in three books: Sapiens, Homo Deus, and 21 Lessons for the 21st century.

I got fed up with Harari after reading Sapiens and my impatience with his doctrines has been clarified by a reading of 21 Lessons for the 21st century.

Basically Harari insists we do not have free will. More importantly, he asserts that all human stories – myths, religions, creeds – are wrong answers. He uses the words “wrong answers” in the same sense as someone who dials the wrong number, or answers “42” to the question, “what is the meaning of life?”.  Instead of political correctness, it is philosophical correctness.

Harari is a gay vegetarian who practices meditation for two hours a day. He is a Buddhist. In that sense, his views are the expression of  what I think is orthodox Buddhism.

The core of his argument is contained in the chapter ‘Meaning’ in 21 Lessons, at page 285.

“While a good story must give me a role and must extend beyond my horizons, it need not be true. A story can be pure fiction, yet provide me with an identity and make me feel that my life has meaning. To the nest of our scientific understanding, none of the thousands of stories different cultures religions, and tribes have invented throughout history is true. They are all just human inventions. If you ask for the true meaning of life and get a story in reply, you know this is the wrong answer. The exact details don’t really matter. Any story is wrong, simply for being a story. The universe just doesn’t work that way.”

Any Christian, Jew or Muslim will tell you, if they have thought about truth and story deeply enough, that the Story they live by is the criterion of truth, that meaning in the world is given by the story, not the story given the meaning by forces extraneous to it. They have different stories and hence constitute different religions, because they link back to different ideas of what story the adherents shall be guided by.

Each religion contains disparate elements, and thus allows for different stories to be told. Try reconciling the Gospel of John with those of Mathew, Mark and Luke, if you need evidence for differing elements in the sacred texts of a major world religion. Religions spring up as new stories are told: think of Islam, Mormonism, Communism, Christianity, and so forth, without end.

Truth is not therefore a proposition, such as 2+2=4, or e=mc², though both are truthful equations.

Harari also disputes the liberal version of storytelling, that it is I who gives meaning to the world. The world has no need of meaning, he says, following the Buddha.

We do not govern our brain, our feelings, or our reactions to our feelings, he says. With that I agree, but he nowhere seems able to get beyond a truly presumptuous arrogance that, because our “truths” are embedded in stories, there is no truth, no meaning, nor need to create a meaning. This may be orthodox Buddhism. I do not know enough about Buddhism to be sure.

If I have no control over my desires, or my urges, I see no way in which to educate myself, my feelings, or my behaviours. Nor can we expect anyone else to effectively influence my behaviours. This idea is immediately refuted by the experience of every child growing up under the influence of parents and educators.

Harari constantly emphasizes our inability to tell the difference between fiction and reality, as if “reality” were itself not a fiction we have invented. I have bad news for Harari: it is all fiction. We change by having new metaphors, and guiding ourselves by them. Reality does not exist outside of our fictions. Our sufferings take place inside our maps of meaning. Some people just have different maps of meaning, but no one, not even Harari, is without his fictions. He thinks his Buddhism has brought him to the place of no fictions. Suffering without a fiction to explain its meaning: that is his remedy for dependence on stories.

Just as you cannot pick up the gross national product with a set of tongs, because they belong to two different orders of being, so you cannot pick up meaning without having the metaphorical instrument by which to apprehend it, which is a story. That is all we have had so far, and even if the stories are illusory in some sense, they are also our proven ways of getting as far as we have, from wandering the Serengeti devouring dead food to running the planet.

He concludes his book with:

“So if you want to know the truth about the universe, about the meaning of life, and about your own identity, the best place to start is by observing suffering and exploring what it is. The answer isn’t a story”.

That is as unprovable an assertion as that God manifested himself in Jesus, and it is, inevitably, just another story that Harari is peddling. Truth is found in fictions, it is such stuff as we are made of. I doubt we can do better than to try to live in better fictions and, as I have already related, our fictions are often the criteria by which we are obliged to judge the fictions, the world and its inhabitants.  We need fictions by which to live as birds need feathers to fly. Some of those fictions we hold to be true, and others we hold to be self evident, even as they are the results of previous iterations of our governing  fictions. If this seems circular, it is, in part, but there is a crack in everything, and that is how the light gets in. As that is yet another story, I rest my case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Betrayal of Britain

 

The betrayal of the British people continues apace.  Below, some comments from “Brother Anthony” on Breitbart.  Bravo, Sir!

 

This Parliament is the most wretched collection of self-serving traitors, liars, unconvicted criminals, free loaders, sexual deviants and morally destitute posers assembled in the Palace of Westminster since 1653 and it is immaterial which way or how they vote, abstain, waffle, equivocate, delay and butt-cover.

For four days they stood and pontificated, wallowing righteously in a sea of vacuous platitudes and imagined threats whilst dragging this issue deeper into a slough of despond than even Bunyan could have imagined. Most of them cannot even deliver a coherent speech without the use of copious notes and even then their verbal incontinence is painful to the eye and ear of those of the morbidly fascinated who, like me, steeled themselves to watch the ‘debate’ via ‘Parliament live’.

History will record this collection of political dwarves as unfit for any purpose other than their own enrichment and the survival of they and their comrades in the Globalist International; they are totally without virtue and ridden with vice – my dog has more integrity and sense of patriotism than they; he would not refuse to address the grievances of his pack nor their will as expressed through a Referendum and would not sell them to the Euro-Globalists for thirty pieces of Euros (or tins of dog food) and a seat at High Table in a canine Brussels or Socialist International.

Barely any of this two legged “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” parliamentary rabble could lie straight on the Rack never mind present as anything resembling pillars of rectitude. Betrayal is their watchword and the adulation of their acolytes and paymasters their bread of life. However, bear in mind that if May & Co sign us up to the UN Immigration Pact, as is looking more and more likely, then the Brexit debacle however it turns out will be of no long-term importance as Muslim psychopaths from all over the world together with sub-Saharan primitives will soon flood in to finish us off once and for all.

In the final analysis it is now glaringly obvious that we the people are of no consequence to those we have elected to govern us, simply irritants to be ignored after each election day, and thus they that govern are no longer of consequence to us either so let us be done with the lot of them and start again no matter how difficult and painful that will be, and it will be because there is no solution left to us via the ballot box and the final resolution will have to be found in the fog and turmoil of violent insurrection.

 

Rebel Yell

Truth said in public is always un-PC

Ross Douthat is predictably being pilloried for saying the obvious about George Herbert Walk Bush and the WASP upper class:

 

I think you can usefully combine these takes, and describe Bush nostalgia as a longing for something America used to have and doesn’t really any more — a ruling class that was widely (not universally, but more widely than today) deemed legitimate, and that inspired various kinds of trust (intergenerational, institutional) conspicuously absent in our society today.

Put simply, Americans miss Bush because we miss the WASPs — because we feel, at some level, that their more meritocratic and diverse and secular successors rule us neither as wisely nor as well….

So if some of the elder Bush’s mourners wish we still had a WASP establishment, their desire probably reflects a belated realization that certain of the old establishment’s vices were inherent to any elite, that meritocracy creates its own forms of exclusion — and that the WASPs had virtues that their successors have failed to inherit or revive.

And somehow the combination of pious obligation joined to cosmopolitanism gave the old establishment a distinctive competence and effectiveness in statesmanship — one that from the late-19th century through the middle of the 1960s was arguably unmatched among the various imperial elites with whom our establishment contended, and that certainly hasn’t been matched by our feckless leaders in the years since George H.W. Bush went down to political defeat.

So as an American in the old dispensation, you didn’t have to like the establishment — and certainly its members were often eminently hateable — to prefer their leadership to many of the possible alternatives. And as an American today, you don’t have to miss everything about the WASPs, or particularly like their remaining heirs, to feel nostalgic for their competence.

 

There is a wonderful moment in a movie that deals with the WASP Establishment and its intelligence agencies in the 1950s. Matt Damon plays a senior US spook on a visit to pre-communist Cuba, talking to an Italian mobster. The mobster asks what “you people” – the WASPs -get out of the deal.

 

The over-rated sex (part1)

New rules for new days: avoid women in business at all cost. What cannot go on, will not go on. If women can destroy a career with one joke that goes amiss, women will be avoided, first and not hired second.

The same thing happens in sport. Now that people believe sex is a social construction rather than a biological fact, transgendered men are entering competition as women and beating real women. The women contestants who object are taken to pieces for having the wrong attitudes.

The enormous over-valuation of women as such, not individual women, but women by the mere fact of their sex, is one of the most prominent features of our age. It is leading to under-performance of young males, dropping out of education, and deliberate suppression of the employment opportunities for men as such, for the sake of their sex.

If you do not like over-valuation of women, try contempt and under-valuation of men.

Two perspectives on the women thing, one from Janice Fiamengo, the other from Heather McDonald. I cannot saya enough for these women.

 

And this from Heather McDonald on the me-too thing or as she calls it “delusional victimology”.

These new rules are making women weak, not strong.

We know that “diversity” is just a cover for an anti-male, anti-white and anti-Christian ideology.

Quebec history books skewed. Who cares?

National-socialist history is easy to write. Everything that our tribe does or did is glorious and justified. Everyone else’s tribe is not important. Their contributions are not contributions, and their existence among us in a vexing provocation. Take Quebec history books for example.

 

A recent report commissioned by historians from the English language school board said:

MONTREAL — Quebec high school history textbooks are “fundamentally flawed” and should be removed from all schools across Quebec, an expert committee formed by the province’s largest English school board has concluded.

Students in the Grade 9 and 10 Canadian and Quebec history classes are being taught a “skewed, one-sided view of the past that distorts the historical record,” according to the committee report, a copy of which was obtained by The Canadian Press.

The report is the result of work by three historians commissioned by the English Montreal School Board last June to review the controversial history program, which has been criticized by Quebec‘s Indigenous, anglophone and other cultural communities.

The program, compulsory in all high schools across the province since September 2017, “focuses narrowly on the experience of and events pertaining to the ethnic/linguistic/cultural group of French Quebecois from contact until present day,” the report says.

Of course it does. Who else matters?

In the newspaper report, it is significant that the authors dare not even mention the contributions of the two most important non-French groups to the growth of Quebec: the English and the Scotch. Streets named McGill, McTavish, Simpson, Sherbrooke, Argyle, Aberdeen, Carleton and so forth, bespeak an English and Scottish presence that changed Montreal from a collection of fur warehouses by the waterfront into Canada’s metropolis for most of the 20th century.

“The texts largely ignore the contributions of Irish, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Haitian and other immigrants while offering “no indication these groups helped to transform the city of Montreal,” it continues.
Black history is virtually ignored, the report says, “and women are relegated to a few sidebars or disconnected paragraphs in both textbooks.”
The report concludes the textbooks “are fundamentally flawed and must be withdrawn from all high schools.”

Today it was reported

Education Minister Jean-François Roberge has no intention of removing controversial history textbooks from Quebec’s schools.

Despite critics saying the books are “fundamentally flawed” and portray a distorted view of history, especially when it comes to minorities, Roberge said other experts believe the books are just fine.

It’s all a matter of opinion, the minister said, downplaying the issue.
“The current history books were written and approved by a lot of history experts, so I don’t think I will take back the books,” Roberge told reporters Friday at the National Assembly.

Case closed. That was easy!

____________________

Two post scripts:

“D’après l’étude exhaustive effectué par le Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) de l’Université de Montréal, les immigrants fondateurs du Canada français comptent 8 527 personnes, dont 7 656 (90 %) sont originaires de France. Les autres viennent de Belgique, d’Allemagne, de Suisse, d’Italie et même d’Irlande.
Durant la période de 1730 à 1750, on note une diversification des immigrants. On compte des colons du sud de la France, 500 huguenots, quelque 1 000 fugitifs de la Nouvelle-Angleterre et 300 esclaves noirs.”

I do not think that the thousand or so from New England were “fugitifs”; they were prisoners captured by Indians on raids and rescued from slavery by French Canadians. See Francis Parkman for more details on this.

In any case, the French population of Canada is derived from a very small settler group, until more recent immigration after World War 2 began in earnest.

 

Those Needle-Hooks of Experience

In Evelyn Waugh’s great novel Brideshead Revisited, he recounts a Christmas event at Brideshead where Rex Mottram presents Julia with a tortoise with her initials embossed in diamonds on the creature’s shell—wherein “this slightly obscene object…became a memorable part of the evening, one of those needle-hooks of experience which catch the attention when larger matters are at stake.”

Except Rex’s present denoted a much larger, but less obvious, threat in the story.

Such, I believe, are the events surrounding the Asia Bibi affair. Here, we have a woman, a Pakistani Christian, who has already spent eight years in jail awaiting death for blasphemy. Now she has been relieved of that immediate sentence. However, the “religion of peace” is in full fury, with mobs of thousands demanding her death and not only hers, the judges and other officials in government. In Britain, Muslims parade in the streets with “Hang Asia” placards, inciting murder, knowing they are immune from prosecution, protected by the dhimmi “police force”.

Her request for asylum in Britain has been turned down by the British government. The Guardian reports…

The Foreign Office has been accused of allowing government asylum policy to be dictated to by a Pakistan mob after it was confirmed it urged the Home Office not to grant Asia Bibi political asylum in the UK out of fear for the safety of UK consular staff.
Asia Bibi, a Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy, is seeking asylum after threats to her life in Pakistan. The former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson was among many MPs calling for her and her family to be granted sanctuary in Britain.

James Delingpole of Breitbart remarks…

Unfortunately, the British government appears to have wussed out. Theresa May and her advisors, it has been reported, do not want to give refuge to this exhausted, sick, middle aged Christian woman because – allegedly – it would “cause security concerns and unrest among certain sections of the community and would also be a security threat to British embassies abroad which might be targeted by Islamist terrorists.”

As you know, “unrest among certain sections of the community” is Newspeak for violent threats from Islamic thugs in Britain, following the lead of their tribe in Pakistan.

If ever there has been a more craven act of base cowardice on the part of the British government, I would like to be informed as to what it might be.

If ever anyone on this benighted planet deserved asylum, it is Asia Bibi. Here we see an act of bravery, unmatched by any of our tawdry leaders, unheard of in our decadent society today. This woman has refused to recant her faith in Jesus, and has walked the walk, after eight years in solitary confinement, only to be refused sanctuary by an allegedly free and Christian nation in the West. Britain admits thousands of Muslim jihadists and hate mongers ever year, assuring them of their “human rights” while they milk the British taxpayer. And not one act of mercy can be shown to a suffering woman and her family, now almost certain to be murdered by Islamic savages, by a government that brags about compassion and tolerance.

And where are the feminists? Where are the incessantly jabbering wimmin? Surely they could quit their yoga and basket weaving for a day to call for Asia Bibi’s rescue? No, they are too busy whining about intersectional transitioning.

This act of the British government is a defining moment in the surrender of British freedoms, and, more importantly, common decency, to the ravenous Islamic mob seeking revenge, whether in England or Pakistan. The pusillanimous civil servants in the Foreign Office, the Wormtongues of that insipid crone in Downing Street, have, yet again, left an indelible stain on whatever remains of the British State. In terms of appeasement, it is far worse than the meanderings of Neville Chamberlain. He was a man of modest ability who knew the horrors of war and sought to avoid them, however misguided he may have been. Moreover, he reflected majority British opinion at the time.

The case of Theresa May is quite different. No war is imminent, no threats are being made to the British nation. All that is required is to show some backbone and common decency in the face of unspeakable savagery.

And she cannot do it. This dhimmified toady of Islam will forever be remembered for this—an act of cowardice so avoidable and so despicable as to be worthy of being regarded as a turning point in the history of her party. She, however, is just another pustule on the scrofulous corpse of what used to be the British Conservative Party.

A pox on the lot of them!

Rebel Yell

Why nationalism is necessary for being liberal

George Friedman of Stratfor lays out the arguments for nationalism. Liberalism begins with the right of national self-determination. Unless you have a nation in which you have can exercise civil liberties, you do not have civil liberties, you only have empires. Nationalism is not the opposition to liberalism, it is the expression of liberalism. If you do not believe in nationalism, you do not believe in liberalism.

I observe that Friedman is now saying what Bannon is saying. Nations are fighting for their existence and relevance against worldly technocratic elites. If you take away the consent of the governed, you take away liberalism. Nationalism is liberalism.

The contrary view leads to pan-national empires, which are an older way of organizing societies without the consent of the governed. This doctrine used to be peddled by Joe Clark, the former Canadian conservative leader, in the following form:  Canada was a “community of communities”, and not a nation. Such societies could only be governed by panels of technocratic experts.

 

Support David Warren

David Warren, former journalist, and now inspired  blogger, has pissed off more people than me, way more. He is also a brilliant writer and thinker and a staunch Romanist and self-avowed reactionary. I once read a paean of his to Pharaonic rule, where he lauded the fact that there had been absolutely no progress or change in Egypt for three thousand years. Here at Barrelstrength, we hold to views that are more moderate, meliorist, and, dare I say, progressive.  The influences of Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, and David Hume fight it out for supremacy here. Barrelstrengthians are ever so slightly better adapted to modernity, and we have, in the main, accepted the legitimacy of the House of Hanover (Windsor) to the British throne, instead of those feckless Stuarts. We have held jobs and not lost them to personal piques and quarrels, nor have we gone over to Rome in despair at the state of the Anglican Church, because once you go to Rome, expecting to at last be received into true religion, you end up in a worse place.

I once heard a Liberal consultant swear he had cancelled his subscription to the Ottawa Citizen three times because of editorials Warren had written when he was there. What more recommendation of Warren can I offer?

Warren and and the cheerful loons of Barrelstrength each would be derided as fascist racist sexist classist reactionaries.  However we have jobs and pensions while Warren does not. Hence my appeal to go on his site and send him some money.

He needs it, and we don’t.

His is a great talent, and his voluntary poverty should be alleviated periodically.

 

David Warren