Re: the cult of personality

Well, in case you didn't notice, this all started with a discussion of a
reader's right or need to know, in minute detail, what an author did in the privacy
of his/her own bedroom and with whom. My response was that I thought such a
question was more appropriate for a sexually oriented discussion list, of which
there are thousands. Academically oriented lists such as this are fairly rare, and
I thought, and still think, that kind of stuff ought to be elsewhere. Hence this is
not, and never has been, a discussion of the customary "biographical information"
such as university affiliation, previously published works, and the like. Go back,
you'll see.
I have no idea of what you mean by "knowledge being safe." In any case, what I
was talking about was the Nazi belief that there was "Jewish Science" as opposed to
"Aryan science," and the Stalinist belief that you had to be a member of the right
social class in order for your scientific and artistic work to have merit. I
maintain that there is no difference in principle, when one substitutes "straight"
for "Aryan" and "homosexual" for "Jewish." Basically, I think people are most
inclined to do this when they lack the background, the training, and the intellect
to judge a theoretical or artistic work on its own merits. Hegel makes this point
quite well in an essay entitled (as translated by Kauffman) "Who thinks
Last but not least, your claim that scientific knowledge is no different from
superstition, bias and prejudice: next time you or a loved one gets sick, will you
go to an MD, or a faith healer? If you or someone in your family gets a serious
infection, will you take antibiotics or will you perform a ritual dance to drive
out the evil spirits? Your answer to that question will tell whether you really
mean what you say or not. My hunch is that you don't, and that you will opt for the
antibiotics. But then again, I never cease to be amazed by what I read off of this

"Patrick M. Krueger" wrote:

> On Tue, 3 Jul 2001, Patrick Crosby wrote:
> > The short answer to your question is that in the case of the majority of
> > books, technical papers, and essays I read, I know absolutely nothing the
> > author personally, yet I read them with profit.
> i never said one couldn't read a book and get something out of it if they
> knew nothing of the thinker's life, i merely said that some biographical
> information can sometimes shed insight into a thinker's ideas.
> > The long answer is that I am not saying that, as a general principle, it
> > is not helpful to use details of an author's personal life as a basis for
> > assessing the quality or merit of his work: I am saying that it is dangerous
> > to do so--- dangerous to the advancement of science, to academic freedom, and
> > an impediment to ones own intellectual advancement.
> nobody ever said that knowledge was safe.
> > The simple reason for this
> > is that in doing such, one ventures outside the realm of science, theory, and
> > intellectual discourse and into the realm of superstition, bias, and
> > prejudice.
> but science, theory, and intellectual discourse are not distinct from
> supersition, bias, or prejudice.
> > If what you suggest were ever to become accepted as a general principle,
> > book publishers would have the right to know everything about the personal
> > life of a book's author, just as students would have a right to know
> > everything about the personal lives of their professors.
> i never said there was a "right" to know everything about a thinker's
> life. i only said that knowing about it can inform one's interpretation of
> it.
> pmk

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