July 3, 2019

"The earliest and most sophisticated 20th Century case for renewables came from a German who is widely considered the most influential philosopher of the 20th Century..."

"... Martin Heidegger. In his 1954 essay, 'The Question Concerning of Technology,' Heidegger condemned the view of nature as a mere resource for human consumption. The use of 'modern technology,' he wrote, 'puts to nature the unreasonable demand that it supply energy which can be extracted and stored as such… Air is now set upon to yield nitrogen, the earth to yield ore, ore to yield uranium…to yield atomic energy.' The solution, Heidegger argued, was to yoke human society and its economy to unreliable energy flows. He even condemned hydro-electric dams, for dominating the natural environment, and praised windmills because they 'do not unlock energy in order to store it.'... Heidegger, like much of the conservation movement, would have hated what the Energiewende has become: an excuse for the destruction of natural landscapes and local communities. Opposition to renewables comes from the country peoples that Heidegger idolized as more authentic and 'grounded' than urbane cosmopolitan elites who fetishize their solar roofs and Teslas as signs of virtue."

From "The Reason Renewables Can't Power Modern Civilization Is Because They Were Never Meant To" (Forbes).

135 comments:

Seeing Red said...

Finally a voice of reason.

Most of human existence was nasty, brutish and short.

I never understand why people want to go back to that.

James K said...

widely considered the most influential philosopher of the 20th Century...

Yeah, right. A Nazi who few people today have read. Or maybe "the most influential philosopher of the 20th Century" is like the tallest midget. But I'd guess that Ayn Rand has had more influence than Heidegger.

Rick.T. said...

Pro tip. Before entering into a discussion about green/renewable energy sources, always ask the other side to give a definition of peak and base loads. If they don't know it, hard pass.

Dad29 said...

One could argue that "the earliest case for renewables" came from Ben Franklin: "Waste not, want not."

Dad29 said...

If they don't know it, hard pass.

You assume they actually care about such things. Nope. but it would be fun to forcibly show them how to live off-the-grid in tents under the Interstate overpasses in downtown Milwaukee.

Phil said...

Most influential philosopher of the 20th century? Maybe in Europe, but in the US it'd be (in no particular order)
Rawls
Thomson
Arendt
MacIntyre
Parfit
Kuhn
Nozick
Nagel
Williams
and many others LOOOOONG before Heidegger gets mentioned. And that's just professional academic philosophers, not influential essayists/thinkers/novelists.

mikee said...

NOBODY, nobody on earth, nobody who ever lived here, opposes low cost renewable/sustainable energy.

What many oppose is the arbitrary imposition of higher costs for energy, and refusal to use lower cost energy of many forms. Solar and wind have nothing on hydro, and nukes beat them all for minimal environmental impact.

If you don't promote nukes and hydro, you aren't green, you're an idiot.

Seeing Red said...

Or Austin.

Fernandistein said...

"The Reason Renewables Can't Power Modern Civilization Is Because They Were Never Meant To"

Aww, teleology. How sweet.

Speaking of "renewables" -

"Over the last 50 years in developed countries, evidence has accumulated that only about 10% of school achievement can be attributed to schools and teachers while the remaining 90% is due to characteristics associated with students. Teachers account for from 1% to 7% of total variance at every level of education. For students, intelligence accounts for much of the 90% of variance associated with learning gains."

Lucien said...

If anyone really believed that we were in a global crisis of existential dimension they would want to undo regulations impeding nuclear power and build new fission plants as fast as possible.

Coincidentally, this could be done using capitalism, without global governance.

bagoh20 said...

It's just like in the early days of the industrial revolution. Nobody wants to consider the costs. They just want to talk about the benefits.

We are actually in a pretty good place right now. We have ample fossil fuels to last for centuries, but it'a also clear that we will not need them nearly as much in the future. We are well on our way to substantial use of renewables, and if can get it more market-based instead of subsidized it may actually get to be competitive some day, which will give us the best of both worlds. We will use renewables when we can and fossil when we need to, thus greatly extending their supply. Why is everyone so mad when things are going so great?

It's SUPER FRIDAY!!!!!!!!! 4 days off! Woohooooooo!

Henry said...

Heidegger, like much of the conservation movement, would have hated what the Energiewende has become: an excuse for the destruction of natural landscapes and local communities.

One of the best elaborations on this insight is by Paul Kingsnorth in his lamentation on the anti-carbon technocracy Confessions of a recovering environmentalist:

And so the deserts, perhaps the landscape always most resistant to permanent human conquest, are to be colonised by vast ‘solar arrays’, glass and steel and aluminium, the size of small countries. The mountains and moors, the wild uplands, are to be staked out like vampires in the sun, their chests pierced with rows of 500 foot wind turbines and associated access roads, masts, pylons and wires. The open oceans, already swimming in our plastic refuse and emptying of marine life, will be home to enormous offshore turbine ranges and hundreds of wave machines strung around the coastlines like Victorian necklaces. The rivers are to see their estuaries severed and silted by industrial barrages. The croplands and even the rainforests, the richest habitats on this terrestrial Earth, are already highly profitable sites for biofuel plantations designed to provide guilt free car fuel to the motion-hungry masses of Europe and America.

What this adds up to should be clear enough, yet many people who should know better choose not to see it. This is business-as-usual: the expansive, colonising, progressive human narrative, shorn only of the carbon. It is the latest phase of our careless, self-absorbed, ambition-addled destruction of the wild, the unpolluted and the non-human. It is the mass destruction of the world’s remaining wild places in order to feed the human economy. And without any sense of irony, people are calling this ‘environmentalism’.

Michael K said...

Yes, he was the most significant Nazi Philosopher.

If anyone really believed that we were in a global crisis of existential dimension they would want to undo regulations impeding nuclear power and build new fission plants as fast as possible.

One more reason we know this is a scam.

bagoh20 said...

I'm very suspicious of influential philosophy. Isn't that how we got everybody wearing tattoos?

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Lucien: “Coincidentally, this could be done using capitalism, without global governance.”

No coincidence. It’s by design. Global governance — control — is the desired outcome of all this.

If anyone completely debunked anthropomorphic climate change, the Lefties and Progs would invent something new within a week.

Darkisland said...

Blogger mikee said...

If you don't promote nukes and hydro, you aren't green, you're an idiot.

Actually, only nukes.

Hydro, although renewable, is very limited in capacity. Ever been to Hoover Dam? 700 or so feet high, backed up by a 100 mile lake and it has a total capacity of about 2000 megawatts. It can only use about 500 of those megawatts without draining the lake.

500MW is about 1 nuke plant.

And, realistically, how many locations are there for hydro?

Plus the environmental impact of hydro.

I am sort of OK with hydro but it is not, realistically, a great source of energy.

Any serious person, like you and me, will be pushing for nuclear.

relatively small (50-100MW) modules that can be factory built and assembled on site. Standardized design.

John Henry

YoungHegelian said...

@James K, Phil.

Most influential philosopher of the 20th century? Maybe in Europe, but in the US it'd be (in no particular order) Rawls, Thomson, Arendt, MacIntyre, Parfit,Kuhn, Nozick, Nagel, Williams

The Philosophers you listed are, with the exception of Arendt (who was a pupil of Heidegger) are all from the Analytic or Anglo-American "school" of of 20th C philosophy. What the author says about Heidegger's influence is true, especially as regards the "Continental" school of philosophy, which was mostly European but had quite a few departments in the rest of the world, including the US. Heidegger's influence on the French Post-modernists in turns leads to influence on the various "Critical Studies" folks who are in all sorts of departments, e.g. law, literature, sociology, gender studies, etc.

Darkisland said...

For those worried about nuclear powerplant safety, go watch The China Syndrome.

Yeah, it has that odious bint Jane Fonda but that is offset by Jack Lemmon and Wilford Brimly so there is that.

Best pro-nuke propaganda film ever.

Everything that could possibly go wrong with the plant, plus some other things that can only go wrong in a loon's imagination, go wrong with the plant.

And nothing happens.

John Henry

Howard said...

The problem with Nuke is players like Duke are closing and not replacing them because the regulator liability complex

SeanF said...

Fernandistein: Speaking of "renewables" -

"Over the last 50 years in developed countries, evidence has accumulated that only about 10% of school achievement can be attributed to schools and teachers while the remaining 90% is due to characteristics associated with students. Teachers account for from 1% to 7% of total variance at every level of education. For students, intelligence accounts for much of the 90% of variance associated with learning gains."


What's your point?

Nonapod said...

Heidegger condemned the view of nature as a mere resource for human consumption. The use of 'modern technology,' he wrote, 'puts to nature the unreasonable demand that it supply energy which can be extracted and stored as such

This is silly. "Nature" is not something that should be anthropomorphized. Yeah, we all say "Mother Nature", but nature is neither a person nor a diety that can have "unreasonable demands" put upon it.

As human beings, we need energy to survive and thrive. We can extract it from our environment in all sorts of different ways. But all of those methods of extraction have various negative consequences upon our environment. Most of us also generally appreciate the natural environment and generally want to preserve it. So the only questions is: What is/are the best method(s) that maximize our energy extraction and minimize the negative effects on the environment? This is an answerable question. And so far, the best answer is currently nuclear fission. In the future it may be nuclear fussion or even anti-matter.

YoungHegelian said...

@Michael K,

Yes, he was the most significant Nazi Philosopher.

Not really. He was influential in the broader philosophical world & he survived the war, but he wanted to be a much bigger mukety-muke than he ever got to be in the Nazi Party. The Nazis really never wanted much to do with him. He was just too weird & complicated for them. Even Alfred Rosenberg, the chief racial philosopher of the Third Reich was, according to Hitler, "...that guy nobody reads".

Although Heidegger was too much of a bigot to admit it, the guy he really wanted to be was Giovanni Gentile.

Fernandistein said...

What's your point?

That in developed countries about 90% of the variance in school achievement is due to student characteristics and only about 10% is due to schools and teachers.

'Cause "children are our most important natural resource"™.

What was your point?

Lucien said...

Forget China Syndrome — an old plant in Japan was hit by a 9.5 earthquake, and a tsunami, plus mismanagement, and there were no fatalities.

Dave said...

I'd argue that Robert Pirsig is the most influential American philosopher.

And here is one that is not arguable:

It was JD Rockefeller that saved the whales. Have the greens ever thanked him for that?

Thanks, Ann, for putting up another philosophy related post. We could really use some people committed to truth, but the professional philosophers are too cowardly.

mockturtle said...

There is no reason we cannot have both. My RV is gas-driven but all the 'house' components run on solar energy. It enables me to camp 'off the grid' which is important both in the desert and here in Alaska where it's 'daylight' almost around the clock.

Hydroelectric power is clean and, yes, it involves a change in the 'natural' flow of water but nature, itself, often changes this flow with no help from us. I do wish people could be reasonable about these issues instead of responding with the obligatory jerk of the knee.

Leland said...

The quote is like reading an Ayn Rand caricature of an early 20th Century philosopher. The rest of the article is good but no real surprise. The good thing for Germany is that they made a deal with Putin for natural gas, which will mean less land stripping for coal. I sure hope Putin doesn't alter the deal.

SeanF said...

Fernandistein: That in developed countries about 90% of the variance in school achievement is due to student characteristics and only about 10% is due to schools and teachers.

'Cause "children are our most important natural resource"™.


And...? Am I supposed to be surprised by those statistics? Am I supposed to think we're missing something? What do you expect us to do with this information?

What was your point?

Don't have one - yet - because I don't understand yours.

YoungHegelian said...

@Nonapod,

Yeah, we all say "Mother Nature", but nature is neither a person nor a diety that can have "unreasonable demands" put upon it.

The concern from a Heideggerian viewpoint is not what we do to Nature. The question is what damage "instrumental reason" does to human existence. "Technological Reason", the idea that Nature is there for us, is part of the great historical mistake that is Western philosophy (Onto-Theology). It is part of the West's (and Mankind's) "Forgetfulness of Being". Turning man towards a proper recollection of Being was the only way Heidegger thought that man could live in an "authentic" manner.

MadisonMan said...

If I recall correctly....

Heidegger was a boozy beggar who could think you under the table.

Clark said...

Heidegger substantially influenced Kantian philosophy, though that influence often goes unmentioned by the Kantians. He massively influenced all continental philosophy—including anything going under the names of existentialism, post-modernism, structuralism, post-structuralism, etc. He is the Grandfather of European philosophy the way Queen Victoria was the Grandmother of Europe. And his influence was great on anglo-american philosophy to the extent that it was reacting to what was going on in "continental" circles.

His connection to the Nazis did not actually run very deep. Certainly there was less connection than he at first thought. He realized in fairly short order that his life-long interest in the "question of being" was not one that overlapped with the interests of the Nazis.

Gahrie said...

Hydro, although renewable, is very limited in capacity. Ever been to Hoover Dam? 700 or so feet high, backed up by a 100 mile lake and it has a total capacity of about 2000 megawatts. It can only use about 500 of those megawatts without draining the lake.

Yes..but hydro also provides a source of water for drinking and irrigation. Here in California we haven't built a new dam in 40 years and the population has doubled.

Molly said...

(eaglebeak)

Martin Heidegger was vile.

Let's consider:

His mentor was Edmund Husserl, a serious philosopher--who was Jewish.

Among his most prominent students were Leo Strauss, Jacob Klein (the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, in my view), Hannah Arendt (with whom Heidegger had an affair), and Hans Jonas--all Jewish.

So when Hitler comes to power, what does Heidegger do? Join the Nazi Party (May 1933) and become a major academic spokesman for the Hitlerian "vision," all the way to the bitter, bitter end.

His philosophy is anti-rational, anti-Western, anti-Plato, anti-Christian, and obviously anti-Semitic. He is obsessed with Deutschentum.

He abandons his teacher, he abandons his students, for one of the most monstrous of men.

So yeah, I am super interested in his theories about everything.

YoungHegelian said...

@Clark,

Heidegger substantially influenced Kantian philosophy, though that influence often goes unmentioned by the Kantians.

Who are you referring to here? What "Kantians"?

His connection to the Nazis did not actually run very deep. Certainly there was less connection than he at first thought. He realized in fairly short order that his life-long interest in the "question of being" was not one that overlapped with the interests of the Nazis.

I think this is entirely too forgiving of H.'s relationship to the National Socialist movement & regime. There is, as discussed in the Wikipedia article that Mike K links to above, two schools of thought as to how much H.'s philosophy is tied in with the ideology of National Socialism. I lean strongly toward the "National Socialism as an integral part of Heideggerian thought" school and against the "it was a mistake that didn't affect his philosophy" school. I think the more you know about the various strains that ran through German thought & society at the time, including the ideology of National Socialism, you more you see the overlap between H's thought & National Socialism, including on the Question of Technology, a topic that has deep roots in 19th C. German Romanticism.

Kevin said...

"The earliest and most sophisticated 20th Century case for renewables came from a German who is widely considered the most influential philosopher of the 20th Century..."

Article about Germany? Cue the fancy-sounding, complex German word set in italics to make the elites feel superior for knowing it.

"Over the last decade, journalists have held up Germany’s renewables energy transition, the Energiewende, as an environmental model for the world."

There it is!

tim maguire said...

'puts to nature the unreasonable demand that it supply energy

Unreasonable according to whom? Does nature have better ideas what to do with it?

This guy’s a respected philosopher? Why?

YoungHegelian said...

@Molly,

Martin Heidegger was vile.

As opposed to all the classical Greek guys who couldn't stop finding wonderful things to say about the militaristic misery pit that was Sparta?

Marx? Rousseau? Personally, bastards all. Hell, was their anyone in his life that Peter Abelard didn't stab in the back along the way? It's a pity that Heloise's male relatives stopped clopping after depriving him only of his bollocks. Philosophers are often nasty people.

Jacob Klein (the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, in my view)

What a true daughter of Annapolis you are! The luv-fest for the old guard never crossed the Mississippi and made it to Santa Fe.

mockturtle said...

Philosophers are often nasty people.

Philosophers are nasty people. FIFY

Unknown said...

Rene Descarte was a drunken fart.

dreams said...

Windmills, a technology that has been obsolete for over 150 years. They kill a lot of birds too.

Narayanan said...

@Molly .(eaglebeak

Didn't Leo Strauss teach Cons and neoCons?

YoungHegelian said...

@Mockturtle,

Philosophers are nasty people. FIFY

On this matter, as on the question of your admiration for the scoundrel Calvin, we must disagree.

Francisco D said...

The problem with Nuke is players like Duke are closing and not replacing them because the regulator liability complex

Back in the day, I consulted to a competitor of Duke, mostly with their coal fired plants in NC. However, I did get involved in the nuclear side with other power companies. I visited a Nuclear plant in Mississippi that was said to be the only one in America that was making a profit.

That plant was ridiculously overbuilt because of regulations. Another problem is that different power companies built totally different types of plants (cf France) which made training and developing procedures incredibly expensive.

I have seen a slide show of Chernobyl taken by a colleague who was with the Union of Concerned Scientists. If you compare Chernobyl to American nuke plants, it is like comparing a kids go-kart to an Abrams tank.

mockturtle said...

Rene Descarte was a drunken fart.

And he was always putting 'des-carte' before the horse. [I know, old joke].

D 2 said...

If I was pithy and witty I might try to link where obsessive types who took (or take) to nazism and or environmentalism generally come down consistently and uniformly on the idea that there is simply too many of us ("colonizing") and it generally becomes a matter of you determining who should not exist. Because reasons. For some, it's a religious group. For others, it is peasants with mobility in a F-150.

If you have a conclusion already in mind, it generally doesn't matter how you dress it up.

One day with a former idealistic colleague from work, I professed to not understand why the go local sustainability crowd weren't huge Trump wall & tariff supporters. You know, the idea of reducing our NA energy footprint by ultimately curtailing NA population through strict immigration and increasing consumer costs via tariff on any goods that require transportation from elsewhere. Apparently (as explained to me) that doesn't take in the equity principle.

So apparently energy isn't the Ace of Spades, I said. Short conversation.

mockturtle said...

To all you more-knowledgable-than-I nuclear energy proponents: Explain to me how the waste will be stored and where? This used to be a significant problem.

YoungHegelian said...

@Narayanan,

Didn't Leo Strauss teach Cons and neoCons?

Some of his students or his "grand-students" found their way into those movements, but Strauss fits uncomfortably into the American political divides.

As an example, according to his loyal pupil, Harry Jaffa, Strauss voted for Adlai Stevenson in 1952.

Original Mike said...

"Explain to me how the waste will be stored and where? This used to be a significant problem."

Yucca Mountain. The problem is political, not technical.

Bob said...

From the Forbes article:

"[Germany] announced plans to bulldoze an ancient church and forest in order to get at the coal underneath it...."

Germany still has seven nuclear power plants running. Wouldn't it be better to use them than tear up the landscape to "get at the coal"?

Or even just buy some coal from, say....'Murica?

Narayanan said...

,,As an example, according to his loyal pupil, Harry Jaffa, Strauss voted for Adlai Stevenson in 1952.,,

I don't get the significance!

1952 - I was mere baby in India.

My point/question was simply ?erosion of Locke via Kant ( ian ) spawn.?

mockturtle said...

Here's an article about the site from today's Las Vegas Sun: Consent Bill Excludes Yucca Mountain

Lucien said...

Mockturtle:

Nuclear waste is very dense and takes up a negligible amount of space. It can’t pose a threat that is global in scale. Secondarily, fourth generation plants can use waste in ways that will significantly reduce the end product. Thirdly, what’s supposed to happen when billions of solar panels and tens of thousands of windmills wear out and need to be disposed of?



Clark said...

@YoungHegelian,

The question is the extent to which Heidegger's interpretation of Kant (e.g., as it shows up in Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics, in What is a Thing [Die Frage nach dem Ding], in the Essence of Human Freedom [Vom Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit]) influenced the interpretation of Kant more generally. My claim is that the influence is substantial but that the influencees very often do not acknowledge Heidegger's influence. I'm not the first person to think this. If I weren't swamped with work right now, I would put together a brief on the matter. But I am, so I won't.

As to Heidegger's relation to the Nazi's, I guess I am from the other school. It may be that the divide between the two schools has to do with whether one views Heidegger as primarily doing what he called metaphysics or general metaphysics or the question of being (as I do) versus viewing him as a philosopher who was trying to do moral or political philosophy (as perhaps you do?).

Narr said...

Nuke waste: my understanding is that the reprocessing is so good now that it's a more manageable problem than it was. That's what I gather from the hard-science guys I knew on campus, who to a man (not sure about the hard-science women) seemed to think the future is nuclear.

A lot of anti-nuke stuff simply ignores the fact that we actually have learned a lot in the
last 80 years about the atom; but hey, (resource-intensive!) renewables, based on very little study of actual site impact, just sounds so much Greener.

Destructive environmentalism: it's a farce AND a boondoggle!

What the hell . . . Herr Rektor Heidegger. My campus is home to a noted Husserl scholar (who has gone over to the Dark Side*) but who remains decent. He and his phellow phenomenologists think, and think, and think, and think, that Heidegger was too full of himself and who knows what, but can't just be kicked to the curb.

Narr
*Administration

Francisco D said...

To all you more-knowledgable-than-I nuclear energy proponents: Explain to me how the waste will be stored and where? This used to be a significant problem.

Utah. In concrete barrels. There is plenty of space.

We will have less and less nuclear waste over time as the technology to recover uranium from spent rods improves.

Narayanan said...

@ Francisco D ...
Did Russian have design different from Europe USA.

Vague memory from Petr Beckmann - Access to Energy, The Health Hazards of Not Going Nuclear.

Bruce Hayden said...

@Mockturtle - I read that to mean that if the DoE can get funding Yucca mountain can still progress.

The absurdity is that it is one of the best locations in the country for nuclear waste. It is seismically inactive, and has been appropriated vid as safe for 50k years, but maybe not 250k years. And it is in the middle of nowhere. With very little population around it. My understanding is that the NV issue was mostly with nuclear waste laden trains running through Las Vegas. But that could probably be solved by running new tracks around it, for probably far less than we have already invested in the facility. Probably the only reason that it got killed was that Harry Reid was Senate majority, then minority leader, and his power base was always Las Vegas.

The other thing that the French do is use breeder reactors, that burn spent fuel during their operation. My understanding though is that we have never built one commercially, despite them being well understood internationally.

YoungHegelian said...

@Clark,

It may be that the divide between the two schools has to do with whether one views Heidegger as primarily doing what he called metaphysics or general metaphysics or the question of being (as I do) versus viewing him as a philosopher who was trying to do moral or political philosophy (as perhaps you do?).

Neither. I consider both Heidegger & National Socialism to have emerged out of 19th C German thought & that both had overlapping concerns that came from that cultural milieu. For example, the question of technological "thinking" or the question of "authentic" human existence were shared as concerns by National Socialism & Heidegger, as they were by others, e.g even in the 19th C, the poet Hoderlin.

The ugly truth of 1920's-30's Germany was that the more educated you were, the more you defined yourself via "German-ness" and the more you defined yourself as German, the more likely you were to support National Socialism. Thus, a majority of University students & faculty at the time had Nazi sympathies.

Many Germans & many Europeans wish to see National Socialism as an aberration, a horrible, evil accident, that just happened to occur in the heart of Europe, in the most educated & literate European country of its day. No such luck. National Socialism, like the various strains of Marxist totalitarianism, are as European as good wine, topless sunbathing, & all of August on holiday.

Francisco D said...

Did Russian have design different from Europe USA.

Americans have all kinds of different idiosyncratic designs while the French have roughly two. I don't know about other countries.

The Russians copied an old French design (AFAIK) and did a very sloppy job. For example, their LED readouts made it extremely difficult to discern a "3" from an "8". They also strung wires like a handyman trying to get more outlets in his garage.

In contrast, American nuclear plants have wires encased in steel I-beams and concrete. It seemed like overkill to me, but you cannot imagine how overbuilt American nuclear plants are.

bagoh20 said...

""Explain to me how the waste will be stored and where?

We can send it via air to a few exclusive villas where a few religious bearded men live in Iran. They love getting air mail packages from us.

traditionalguy said...

There are no actual renewables that do anything except renew the wealth of rent seeking cronies of the socialist rulers. Their wealth is renewed and the electric rates are reset rob the rest of us. All is supposedly done to save the planet from a non existent hoax. But all they do is destroy the feisty bourgeoisie the must deal with before we buy more guns.

Barry Dauphin said...

How did Martin Heidegger get to be read by so many? Oh yeah, Technology! EFFF you, Martin Heidegger!

Narayanan said...

“Genuine utterances about the nothing must always remain unusual. It cannot be made common. It dissolves when it is placed in the cheap acid of mere logical acumen.” Heidegger.)

@Clark - into which school would you place the quote?

the divide between the two schools has to do with whether one views Heidegger as primarily doing what he called metaphysics or general metaphysics or the question of being (as I do) versus viewing him as a philosopher who was trying to do moral or political philosophy

Molly said...

(eaglebeak)

1. YoungHegelian: Leaving aside the Annapolis/Santa Fe tensions, saying Heidegger is vile is in no way equivalent to saying Marx and Rousseau are not vile. They were plenty vile, but we can't discuss every creepy philosopher at once. (Also: Of course Klein made more of an impact in Annapolis. He was IN Annapolis.)

2. Narayanan: Yes, Strauss taught Cons and NeoCons. And gave some pretty tedious lectures, too.

Phidippus said...

mockturtle: "And he was always putting 'des-carte' before the horse."

You can put Descartes before the horse, but you can't make the horse happy to see him.

Personally, I think that philosophers--regardless of whether they are personally nasty or not--are useless people. What philosophical question have they ever settled? And for what human benefit?

Compare and contrast with e.g. scientists and engineers. Vaccines, asepsis, anesthesia, electricity, air conditioning. A sense of how old is the earth, how big is the universe, how closely we are related to other living things. I could go on, but why belabor it?

No human activity is without its downsides, depending on the situation and the esthetics of the observer, and it is certainly true that most if not all technologies can be used for evil as well as good. But whatever limited understanding we have of nature, and how to control it for our benefit, none of it is the result of the futile argumentation of philosophers.

Narayanan said...

@Molly..(eaglebeak

In your view How much of USA Ivy academy antipathy to Ayn Rand is attributable to Continental philosophy training?

Fen said...

Heidegger is notorious for the obscurity of his prose and for his actions and inactions on behalf of the National Socialists during the 1930s, and he is unquestionably the leading twentieth-century philosopher for the postmodernists

I'm with Jordan Peterson on this - if you want to dig down to discover Patient Zero in plague that is destroying Western Civilization, it's the post-modernists.

If you've had an uneasy sense that everything seems to be going off the rails, and are confused at all the seemingly unrelated things that may be the cause, I highly recommend you watch the Jordan Peterson link re post-modernism (here it is again)

It's the equivalent of learning that fleas were responsible for the Black Death.

"The second pandemic, widely known as the “Black Death” or the Great Plague, originated in China in 1334 and spread along the great trade routes to Constantinople and then to Europe, where it claimed an estimated 60% of the European population (Benedictow, 2008). Entire towns were wiped out. Some contemporary historians report that on occasion, there were not enough survivors remaining to bury the dead (Gross, 1995). "

How many millions died because we could not recognize the cause?

mockturtle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

Forgot to add:

Heidegger should be studied the same way we study Hermann Goering, Heinrich Himmler and Mao Zedong. In a hazmat suit with a flamethrower at the ready.

Narayanan said...

Except from John Galt speech ...

In the history of philosophy—with some very rare exceptions—epistemological theories have . . . taught either that knowledge is impossible (skepticism) or that it is available without effort (mysticism). These two positions appear to be antagonists, but are, in fact, two variants on the same theme, two sides of the same fraudulent coin: the attempt to escape the responsibility of rational cognition and the absolutism of reality—the attempt to assert the primacy of consciousness over existence. . . .

The mystic is usually an exponent of the intrinsic (revealed) school of epistemology; the skeptic is usually an advocate of epistemological subjectivism.

mockturtle said...

Phidippus: Yes, I totally agree and was going to make a similar statement. The most overrated and over-taught individuals from history are philosophers. They didn't shape civilization. Other than the French Revolution, which was a disaster, most movements of any importance were accomplished by entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers. The American Revolution was based largely on economic considerations, not philosophic ones, as we have long been led to believe. Blame the leftist/elitist universities for the misplaced academic emphasis. Philosophers only think they are important. They are entirely dispensable.

Fen said...

Personally, I think that philosophers--regardless of whether they are personally nasty or not--are useless people. What philosophical question have they ever settled? And for what human benefit?

Respectfully disagree.

"No one ever died from reading Der Stürmer, but the culture it served caused 6 million Jews to drop dead" - George Will

Ideas have power. Let's not whitewash those who presented philosophies like Marxism that, when followed, led to the murder of over 120 million people in the 20th century.

YoungHegelian said...

@Phidippus,

But whatever limited understanding we have of nature, and how to control it for our benefit, none of it is the result of the futile argumentation of philosophers.

Your argument completely misses the fact that modern science arose in 1600's Europe, and did not exist before, anywhere or at anytime on the planet. What changed that allowed modern empirical science to come into being?

What changed was that a new way of seeing reality came into being, and it quickly spread through European culture. Different questions could now be asked, and their answers valued by others. A whole new horizon of knowledge had been opened up. And not just opened up, but what was over that horizon was now valued.

You don't have any use for philosophy because you look at philosophy & don't see science. You want answers. You don't see the value in framing what are the questions, how are we to value what we seek so that we know if we should seek it at all. You also embrace as complete empirical science which has a giant gaping hole in its knowledge, that being, the role of the knowing subject in forming that knowledge. That "hole" comes to the fore in some issues in quantum mechanics, but it's there lurking in the background all the time.

And, BTW, since Logic is part of philosophy, it's kinda hard to claim that nothing in philosophy ever got settled. Unless you're just not into things like the law of non-contradiction, which has been pretty much settled since at least Aristotle.

Narayanan said...

Kant Modernism precedes PostModernism.

Is Jordan Peterson Modernist?

Consciousness and Identity,”
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, 79


The crusading skepticism of the modern era; the mounting attack on absolutes, certainty, reason itself; the insistence that firm convictions are a disease and that compromise in any dispute is men’s only recourse—all this, in significant part, is an outgrowth of Descartes’ basic approach to philosophy. To reclaim the self-confidence of man’s mind, the first modern to refute is Kant (see [Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology][11]); the second is Descartes.

rhhardin said...

But on the issue of Heidegger's participation in ``Hitlerian thinking,'' I do not believe that any kind of historical research, archival data, or eyewitness accounts--even when they do not rest on pure misunderstandings-- can equal the certainty that comes to us in the famous Testament in ``Der Spiegel,'' from his silence concerning the Final Solution, the Holocaust, the Shoah. Indeed it is in the ``final solution,'' in the pure extermination of the death camps that--beyond all the major injustices that stamp the thirteen years of the Hitlerian regime--National Socialism revealed the diabolical criminality, the absolute evil, of what cannot be called ``thought.'' All the rest could, if necessary, still be attributed to the inevitable immorality of politics--haven't all states been responsible for wars? Consequently, all forms of compromise and servility, self-serving contacts and suspect friendship, unworthy statements and acts, and the pure opportunism of the citizens of totalitarian states could still, if necessary, be ascribed to a lamentable self-interest--cowardice or caution--and as human weaknesses appeal to some indulgence on our part. Doesn't Heidegger speak of ``human failing,'' for which, according to the same Testament, he apologized to Mrs. Husserl for not having ``once more'' paid his respects at the time of his teacher Husserl's illness and death? But doesn't this silence, in time of peace, on the gas chambers and death camps lie beyond the realm of feeble excuses and reveal a soul completely cut off from any sensitivity, in which can be perceived a kind of consent to the horror?

He was silent, but not completely. There is a statement in a fine book on Heidegger by Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe that Professor Miguel Abensour has pointed out to me. Martin Heidegger made it during one of the unpublished lectures from the cycle of four talks given in Bremen on technology in 1949, but it is quoted in the book by Wolfgang Schirmacher, ``Technik und Gelassenheit'': ``Agriculture is now a mechanized food industry. As for its essence, it is the same thing as the manufacture of corpses in the gas chambers and the death camps, the same thing as the blockades and the reduction of countries to famine, the same thing as the manufacture of hydrogen bombs.'' This stylistic turn of phrase, this analogy, this progression, are beyond commentary.

It is impossible to be stinting in our admiration for the intellectual vigor of ``Sein und Zeit,'' particularly in light of the immense output this extraordinary book of 1927 inspired. Its supreme steadfastness will mark it forever. Can we be assured, however, that there was never any echo of Evil in it? The diabolical is not limited to the wickedness popular wisdom ascribes to it and whose malice, based on guile, is familiar and predictable in an adult culture. The diabolical is endowed with intelligence and enters where it will. To reject it, it is first necessary to refute it. Intellectual effort is needed to recognize it. Who can boast of having done so? Say what you will, the diabolical gives food for thought.

Emmanuel Levinas 15 November 1987

mockturtle said...

Narayanan: Great quote from Ayn Rand. SO TRUE! And much of the mysticism takes the form of rationalization but not, notably, rationality. In other words, as Rand would say, more or less, all selfish desires must be wrapped in a philosophical ideal.

mockturtle said...

Your argument completely misses the fact that modern science arose in 1600's Europe

Really, YH? Define, if you will, 'modern science'.

Francisco D said...

The mystic is usually an exponent of the intrinsic (revealed) school of epistemology; the skeptic is usually an advocate of epistemological subjectivism.


As a Rand fan, I got annoyed when she continually referred to religion as "mysticism". It makes sense in a philosophical sense, but it really misses the mark about the purposes of religion.

Narayanan said...

the law of non-contradiction, which has been pretty much settled since at least Aristotle.

But unsettled by Immanuel Kant subjectivst advocacy!

*Mode* in Modern is stressing 'style of thinking' ==>> subjective

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

It seemed like overkill to me, but you cannot imagine how overbuilt American nuclear plants are.

All American products are, or were. There's an old joke about how an American engine is rated at such and such, but we can ignore the manual and get it to run at such and such squared. Somebody help me out here, that part of my memory got soaked in Stoli ;)

But I do remember back in the day, you could buy an American product and abuse it and it would still work just fine. Walmart and all the cheap Chinese products made me realize how much I had taken that for granted. A leather belt should last forever. Walmart's decompose in 6 months. You wind up buying the cheap* product 3 times.


*Churchill had an ironic conversation when visiting the Maginot Line. He was told by French officers that the French troops were "matchless". It turned out to be true, but not in the way it was meant.

Narayanan said...

Renaissance owes it's birth to rediscovering Greek and Aristoteles ... Europe via contact with Arabic / Islam scholars during Crusades.

Islam is quite Platonist and protoKantian ... Hence the stagnant culture.



Narayanan said...

E g The School of Athens (Italian: Scuola di Atene) is a fresco by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael

YoungHegelian said...

@mockturtle,

Define, if you will, 'modern science'.

Modern science is based on the application of mathematics to physical phenomena as the indicator of what constitutes the "true understanding" the phenomena. What is physically real can be measured, and those measurements give us not only the nature of the outside world, but also allow us to master it.

The only important kind of causality is efficient causality. Gone from modern science is the concern for the other three causes, material, formal, and most especially final causality (i.e. teleological explanations) that dominate Aristotelian science.

Modern science is concerned with phenomena given to the senses. It is not concerned with questions of essences, substances versus accidents, or gradations or hierarchies of causal powers. Phenomena are accepted as a given, and not in need of reference to underlying "occult forces" behind them.

Modern science places the role of the knowing subject in building knowledge in abeyance, as a subject for philosophy & not for science. It accepts the radical contingency of empirical sensation as a necessary evil involved in gaining knowledge of the physical world. The senses may be flawed as the basis for knowledge, but it's the best we have.

What I have described here is, as well as one can in a freakin' comment section, the basic assumptions that underlie the shift from Aristotelian to Galilean/Cartesian science around 1600.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Darkisland said
If you don't promote nukes and hydro, you aren't green, you're an idiot.
Actually, only nukes.

Yeah, but can you say Sayano-Shushenskaya?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfW5MqT7CSA

rhhardin said...

Jordan Peterson is not able to read postmodernism. He's going by academic versions around him.

Briefly, academic postmodernism hates the systems it analyzes; the originals actually like the systems they analyze. The insights from the former aren't worth much, the latter aree worth a great deal.

Narayanan said...

Platon invokes Heavens.
Aristoteles claims Earth. He is Scientist Philosopher.

rhhardin said...

Women aren't interested in the law of non-contradiction. The woman is what the philosopher is trying to avoid with his law of non-contradiction.

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

Well, YH, science was developed and applied in Asia well before Europe even had a whiff of it. Whether or not it qualified as 'modern', I couldn't say. And frankly, it doesn't concern me.

YoungHegelian said...

@mockturtle,

science was developed and applied in Asia

Would you like to reference a history of science that illustrates your point? 'Cause, I'm calling booyah on that, a change backed up by the fact that European colonialism starting in the 16th C was in many ways made possible by the technological advantage the Europeans had over the rest of the world, including Asia.

Narayanan said...

,,,It makes sense in a philosophical sense, but it really misses the mark about the purposes of religion.,,,

Etymology ==>>> re'ligere : bind oneself to things or principles.

Discovered by Man or revealed is the issue.

Howard Roark accepts when it's pointed out "you are a religious man" while discussing the project for Stoddard Temple!

Achilles said...

Dad29 said...
If they don't know it, hard pass.

You assume they actually care about such things. Nope. but it would be fun to forcibly show them how to live off-the-grid in tents under the Interstate overpasses in downtown Milwaukee.

Not Milwaukee.

Afghanistan.

mockturtle said...

YH, I could but it would be long and tedious and much like my references about the Waldenses, you won't accept any reference not taught by the RCC, which you hold in such high esteem.

Narayanan said...

@YoungHegelian ...
Should it be more like
Galileo/DesCartes-Newton science around 1600.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Mockturtle:

Of spent nuclear fuel, my understanding is that 90+% is Uranium; U238 and "unburned" U235. The uranium can be chemically extracted and returned to the fuel pipeline or other uses.

There is a small amount of Plutonium 239, useful for reactors or bombs. Most of the Plutonium is Pu240, too radioactive for bombs but suitable as fuel in some types of reactors.

There are small amounts of radioisotopes which have medical or industrial applications.

Maybe 4-5% of the total load is actual waste. There are proven methods which would reduce the bulk of spent reactor fuel by about 95%. Other countries do this. We do not; a decision made by Pres Carter.

I recommend "Atomic Accidents" by James Mahaffey, available from Audible. A very entertaining listen.

YoungHegelian said...

@mockturtle,

you won't accept any reference not taught by the RCC, which you hold in such high esteem.

I'm not aware of any books on the history of Asian science that would require an Imprimatur or Nihil Obstat.

And it was the Albigensians, not the Waldenses.

mockturtle said...

Well, let's just say that your definition of 'modern science' is ambiguous for all its verbiage. There are many sciences to which the application of mathematics may not necessarily be applied. Unless, of course, you don't consider medicine a science. Is paper-making [a Chinese invention] a science? Having worked in the field of pulp and paper research I can say with authority that it is both a science and an art. Did it only become 'modern' science when adopted by the Europeans? The science of weaponry can fill books by itself. In fact, I have one at home and it is a fascinating subject. One thing that makes it fascinating is the parallel development of various weapons and weapons systems between Asia and Europe long before there was an exchange of ideas.

wildswan said...

"Fernandistein: That in developed countries about 90% of the variance in school achievement is due to student characteristics and only about 10% is due to schools and teachers."

I'll see you in the next cafe.

Narayanan said...

@mockturtle said ...
The American Revolution was based largely on economic considerations, not philosophic ones, as we have long been led to believe.

I beg to differ .
Economic concerns required a political structure - rule of law - which is basically philosophy put into action by Roman Empire.

I got that from Isabel Paterson

The God of the Machine https://g.co/kgs/tQNSfs

Phidippus said...

Important predecessors to the flowering of the systematic study of nature can be found much earlier, e.g., Democritus, the Epicureans, etc. It was pretty interesting to discover how far Lucretius took Democritus' atomic theory of matter to explain natural phenomena. Unfortunately, for all the brilliance of De Rerum Natura (which I have read only in translation) it remains a mish-mosh of sound insight and inference, spurious argument-by-analogy, and shoulder-shrugging "it could be this, or it could be that". What never occurred to any of those people was to try to set up an experiment to check whether their ideas or their implications were true. That was the big advance that led to Renaissance science. "The test of all knowledge is experiment."

I would not argue that philosophical ideas have never influenced human affairs. Per Fen's comment, the Nazis found the ideas of several philosophers useful, but one is entitled to be skeptical about whether that was an inspiration or a post-facto rationale or effort at window-dressing. My (gentle) scorn is mainly directed towards philosophers of the contemporary academic variety.

In Aristotle's time, by my understanding, people did not have the clear distinctions we have today between "philosophy", "science", "mathematics", and "logic". If modern philosophers wish to claim logic as their own, that's fine with me, but some mathematicians might disagree. [Steps back carefully]

I freely admit that the scientific method has its limitations, and that they are not all simply technical in nature. There are interesting questions that it doesn't seem possible to settle empirically, at least at present. (For example, the answer to questions like "How shall we live?", or "What is beauty?".) It is surely possible that some things in nature, or perhaps all things on some level, will remain mysterious in some sense. Or, perhaps currently unforeseeable insights or syntheses may show the way to a deeper understanding, beyond what we think is possible today. Perhaps philosophy will contribute to advancing our understanding, who knows. I have my doubts, but I love to be proved wrong, that means I've learned something.

Phidippus said...

Very interesting discussion all round, by the way.

wildswan said...

"how to live off-the-grid in tents under the Interstate overpasses in downtown Milwaukee."

Those people have been moved. We'll never have tent cities in Milwaukee because no one can survive winter here without heat, i.e. off the grid, in a flimsy summer tent with a summer sleeping bag. And why would the homeless come here? It's cold, it's flat, the farmer's markets sell beets and cabbage, the forest begins just above the Illinois state line, there's no sports except cow-tipping, 55 degrees is seen as T-shirt weather and on and on. Chicago is much warmer but, of course, California is ideal.

mockturtle said...

I beg to differ .
Economic concerns required a political structure - rule of law - which is basically philosophy put into action by Roman Empire.


And I beg to differ. You, too, are putting 'de-carte' before the horse. Practical engineering and economics come first and then the political structure. Otherwise, you end up with Venezuela.

Clark said...

@Narayanan (4:08) quoted: “Genuine utterances about the nothing must always remain unusual. It cannot be made common. It dissolves when it is placed in the cheap acid of mere logical acumen.” Heidegger.

No question that your quote has to do with Heidegger's attempts to get his reader/listener to focus in on the question of being (as opposed to questions about entities understood as things that are occurent or "present at hand" with properties etc.). When Heidegger talks about "the nothing" it is in a context where one way or another he has prepared the reader/listener to understand him to be wrestling with the question of being. Being is not an entity. It is not a thing. It is nothing. Etc. Because we assume (since Plato and Aristotle, or so) that to be is to have the kind of being that a thing has, trying to focus in on being itself, which is not a thing, is like looking into nothing. These passages can always be taken out of context and made to look foolish. Your quote does that (not to blame you), and at the same time your quote is commenting on the fact that any talk about being will be difficult in this way.

The quote is about being. It has to do with issues that must be presupposed by any moral or political philosophy.

Roughcoat said...

mockturtle:

You said "the science of weaponry can fill books by itself. In fact, I have one at home and it is a fascinating subject."

What's the tile/author? I'm interested. Over the past several years my research / writing / publishing interests have become focused on the complex relationship between tactics and technology. Presently I'm writing a book and working on papers on this subject as it pertains to Bronze Age/Iron Age chariot technology and modern armored fighting vehicle technology.

In another month I'll be in Iraq studying the how the tactics/technology relationship plays out in the real world. Greatly looking to the trip, even though it will be hotter than hell.

Molly said...

(eaglebeak)

Narayanan: Not sure how much philosophical training of any type goes on in U.S. Ivies or U.S. academia more generally. I am not a big fan of either the Continental School or the British School, so am definitely the wrong person to ask.

Also, stayed away from the Ivies in favor of St. John's College in Annapolis, as YoungHegelian pointed out. St. John's, under Klein's influence, was basically Platonist, so a rather different kettle of fish.

Leo Strauss showed up at St. John's only in the last year or two of his life, after basically getting run out of Chicago, so he had little influence in Annapolis.

As to Ayn Rand--why do you ask?

Roughcoat said...

Chicago is much warmer but, of course, California is ideal.

Um, no ... not much. During the now-legendary Polar Vortex of last winter temperatures in my southwest suburb of Chicago were colder than the surface of Mars. Yeah, I know it gets colder the farther north you go, but still . . . Any-hoo, we don't have tent cities and large populations of street people camping out on the sidewalks or even under viaducts for the same reasons you cite.

n.n said...

Renewable drivers, unreliable converters. That said, so-called "renewables" are niche solutions, not suitable for general use, and not viable for mission critical applications.

gadfly said...

Germany has substantial shale gas deposits and moderate shale oil awaiting fracking wells but for German Greens.

Despite sizeable shale gas reserves, Germany currently has ambitious plans to increase the use of renewable energy under its Energiewende (energy transition policy).7 According to the policy, Germany plans to meet “at least 80%” of its power needs via renewable sources by 2050.8 This specifically addresses the role of shale gas in this transition, concluding that, due to a combination of low popularity, environmental concerns, and economics associated with shale gas development, "the most promising alternative" for German energy transition is a combination of renewables and efficiency.9

Indeed, Germany is home to a sizable and well-organized movement that opposes hydraulic fracturing.


Environmentalists think they have all the answers. If they must (under all circumstances) dislike fracking, perhaps it is time to turn German engineers toward developing Thorium Molten Salt Reactors.

William said...

As I remember, Heidi mistreated Hannah Arendt during their affair. Not so bad as Sartre treated DeBeauvoir, but shabbily enough. Considering the way Sartre looked, he got some hot looking women. I think he used Simone to bird dog for him, but that makes his achievement even more phenomenal. Bertrand Russell is another philosopher who punched above his weight in the nookie department. Of course, he won a Nobel Prize and some of his books are even readable, but, like Sartre, he was no stud muffin. If I had enough to live my life as a 20th century philosopher, I think I'd choose to be Russell.

Clark said...

@Fen (4:42)

"He [Heidegger] is unquestionably the leading twentieth-century philosopher for the postmodernists."

I agree with that (though not with much else at that link), but that does not mean that the postmodernists are getting Heidegger right.

I agree with Jordan Peterson on his view of the postmodernists. And Heidegger was either directly or indirectly their teacher. But the poison that Jordan Peterson is talking about is not to be found in Heidegger as far as I have been able to discern.

Take three basic ideas we may attribute to the bad postmodernists: there is no truth, there is no subject, there is no objectivity. These are all distortions of Heideggerian ideas. Heidegger said difficult things about truth, reality, subject and object; and I think it would be fair to call what he was doing a kind of postmodernism, but it is not the postmodernism that Jordan Peterson is warning us about.

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Blogger Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Yeah, but can you say Sayano-Shushenskaya?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfW5MqT7CSA


I saw the video and still can't say it! Interesting, though.

Almost twice as many people died in that dam rupture as died in Chernobyl.

Don't know what the numbers would be but I would be surprised if the number of deaths from dam failures over the past 150-200 years was not hundreds or even a thousand times the deaths at Chernobyl.

Johnstown PA alone, in the flood of 1877 had 2,200 deaths or almost 50 49 times the Chernobyl death toll.

And that is just one dam burst.

John Henry

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Blogger Gahrie said...

Yes..but hydro also provides a source of water for drinking and irrigation. Here in California we haven't built a new dam in 40 years and the population has doubled.

Yes, I did not mean to imply that dams are not very useful for drinking and irrigation, flood control, water storage, navigation, recreation and other uses.

And if you are going to build a dam, you might as well generate power from it if you can.

My point was that, for all the money, effort and environmental impact that goes into dams, dam little power is produced.

Power has to be a side benefit of a dam, not the primary justification.

There are some exceptions like small hydro, less that 100KW.

But even that is very application specific. You need a good flow of water and a good drop to get any appreciable amount of power. That is, you might be able to power a house, you would be unlikely to be able to power a city.

John Henry

mockturtle said...

Roughcoat: It's an older book and I cannot recall either the exact title of the book or its author but when I get back home from Alaska I'll find it and post the information. But a good supplement to it [a necessary one, for me] which I recently acquired is Weapon: A Visual History of Arms and Armor It really helps for me to see what the weapon really looked like in order to understand its development and use and this is a very large and beautiful compendium of colored illustration and photographs. You may already have it. If not, you probably should.

mockturtle said...

It's 90 degrees here in Alaska today. :-)

gerry said...

Good Lord, don't EVER pay attention to a German philosoher. Sheesh.

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Blogger Fen said...

It seemed like overkill to me, but you cannot imagine how overbuilt American nuclear plants are.

One of the reasons for the overkill is the way we regulate utility revenues. A commission, typically state, decides what is the appropriate return on invenstment or profit for a utility to make. They then set the electric prices to provide that return to the utility.

So if the rate is 5%, the utility can spend $100mm and get a $5mm profit. But if the utility can convince the commission to let them spend $150mm ("We really, really, need those wired encased in i beams and cement!") then are allowed to raise the rates and they make $7.5mm profit.

The commission is supposed to prevent unnecessary expenditure but often doesn't do a very good job.

This is way oversimplified but the point is the utility not only has no reason to try to control costs, they have incentive to spend as much as the commission will let them get away with as "necessary"

The unreasonable fear of nuclear explosion like Hiroshima on the part of an ignorant public also feeds into overregulation.

All American products are, or were. There's an old joke about how an American engine is rated at such and such, but we can ignore the manual and get it to run at such and such squared. Somebody help me out here, that part of my memory got soaked in Stoli ;)

Back in the early 80s I was developing a backup power plant for a pharma plant. This eventually morphed into the famous Alcon cogeneration plant.

One of the engineering firms I was talking to was big on Caterpillar diesels. The reason they liked Caterpillar was because they weighed about 1.5 times a comparable diesel from Cummins or someone else. His theory was that he bought engines by weight, the heavier the better. More weight means more rigidity, less vibration and longer and more trouble free life.

Cats are great engines and run pretty much forever.

A colleague of mine, at another plant, built a cogeneration system based on Cummins diesels. Instead of 1-2 big engines, he had, IIRC 6-8 smaller engines for the same total capacity. His theory was they were disposable. He would run the bejabbers out of them for 2 years (normal maintenance but nothing extraordinary) then swap them out for rebuilt engines.

He felt the total costs, lower purchase price and less extensive maintenance, were lower than the longer term, more dependable Cats.

In the end, we wound up going with a company that put in a 1 MW Fairbanks-Morse and a 1MW MAN diesel tied to a Hitachi chiller and charged us nothing. Sweet deal.

If you work with manufacturing machinery, as I do, a lot of the older machinery, pre-1980 or so, is made from a few large castings. Very solid and rigid. It will never break unless dropped or something. But, it takes a long time to make the casting then you have to let it sit for a year or so before you can machine it.

Modern machinery is made from structural shapes that are welded together and covered in sheet metal. It works well, lasts a long time and costs a lot less. Still not as pretty, to me, as the older cast iron machines.

John Henry

Roughcoat said...

mockturtle:

Many thanks. And, yes, I do have "Weapon: A Visual History."

mockturtle said...

One of the engineering firms I was talking to was big on Caterpillar diesels. The reason they liked Caterpillar was because they weighed about 1.5 times a comparable diesel from Cummins or someone else. His theory was that he bought engines by weight, the heavier the better. More weight means more rigidity, less vibration and longer and more trouble free life.

My late husband and I had a motorhome with a Caterpillar diesel engine. She ran great but cost a fortune to repair [belts, mostly].

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

So Mockturtle,

How many hours a day of usable sunlight do you get? On average, you get the same as everyone else, 12 hours. but at a high latitude the angle of solar is such that the effective sunlight is considerably less.

Here in PR, 18 degrees north of the equator, we only get 6 hours per day (average) of usable solar. I expect it is much less in Alaska.

Do you use batteries for backup/load leveling or can you use the electric utility?

Why not use a generator with heat recovery? You have to burn propane or oil for heat I would imagine. Why not run it through a generator first?

That's a serious question. I have experience with both solar and cogen and it just seems like cogen would be much more effective, especially in someplace like Alaska.

(Not that I'm nosy or anything)

John Henry

YoungHegelian said...

@Clark,

Take three basic ideas we may attribute to the bad postmodernists: there is no truth, there is no subject, there is no objectivity. These are all distortions of Heideggerian ideas.

I agree with your general thrust that there doesn't seem to be a point A to B to C line between Heidegger & the PoMos. Another aspect PoMo thought (especially the Critical Theory guys) that really seems to me to be not just non, but positively anti-Heideggerian is their rage against the radical contingency of human existence. For Heidegger the "thrownness" of Dasein is to be lived in, faced as the nature of human existence. While human suffering can be ameliorated, it can not be eliminated, nor should it be.

For the PoMos, as for the Marxist Left, the radical contingency of human existence can & should be eliminated. Contingency is for the Left the root of human evil. That the political control necessary to eliminate contingency from human existence might create evils far greater than contingency itself is a topic the Left feels is best avoided.

mockturtle said...

In Alaska in the summer the sun never seems to set. It never gets dark while I'm awake. All I can tell you is that, even on a cloudy day, there is enough light to power my RV refrigerator [which is all electric], lights, water pump and fans. Which is decidedly better than in southern AZ in winter, even though the sun is shining.

No, I very seldom park in an RV park where there are electrical hookups. Only once since May, in fact. I use propane for cooking and for heat, yes. I use very, very little propane. I seldom run the generator, especially if I'm in a campground as it is quite annoying to listen to. When my dog was still with me, he hated the sound so much I never, ever ran it except as a maintenance measure. Once in a while if I'm camped in a pull-out, like I was last night or today, I'll run it in the morning to make coffee, as perked coffee never tastes quite as good as drip. But I do perk my coffee on the stove at least half the time. And I cook every day. Ten gallons of propane will last me two or three months. My lights are all LED so they use next to no power and I charge my electronics every day with my batteries via 12 volt outlets.

mockturtle said...

My 'house' batteries are 2-6V AGMs and I have 200W of solar panels on the roof with a Blue Sky solar energy controller.

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Mockturtle.

Ah, now I see what you are doing and it sounds like a pretty sweet setup. If you can get your electric usage down that low, solar will work well.

I had been under the impression you were in a regular house.

BTW: For coffee, use a Mr Coffee, boil water on your propane stove then pour it, slowly, directly into over the coffee in the filter. I think there are filter holders that you can use that sit right over the cup but it has been a long time since I've seen them.

Amazon to the rescue https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/61xLxlMnxhL._AC_UL480_FMwebp_QL65_.jpg

I think that link takes you through the portal.

John Henry

Narr said...

The late Joseph Needham's work "Science and Civilization in China" is I think the ur-statement of the view that the Chinese were more advanced in science than the West for much of history. There's an illustrated--but hastily assembled-- quickie capsule version called "The Genius of China."

I won't bother trying to list all the things they were doing before anyone else, or better than anyone else, and there's plenty of controversy over some of Needham's claims and ideas, but the subject is vast and anyone who dismisses Chinese classical science and technology is foolish.

Narr
Modern is as modern does




Fritz said...

I live 2 miles from a 2 gigawatt nuke. Good neighbor, and good fishing.

mockturtle said...

I had been under the impression you were in a regular house.

No, I mentioned my RV solar in a prior post. Sorry for the confusion. My house is not solar powered although many in AZ have it for part of their energy usage. The trouble is that the power company wants a cut.

mockturtle said...

John Henry, the trouble with those drip devices is that they only make a cup or two. I make a whole thermos full that I drink throughout the day. I'm from Seattle, so...;-)

Michael McNeil said...

So the only questions is: What is/are the best method(s) that maximize our energy extraction and minimize the negative effects on the environment? This is an answerable question. And so far, the best answer is currently nuclear fission. In the future it may be nuclear fussion or even anti-matter.

Anti-matter? No. Anti-matter will not be a net source of energy — for the same reason that hydrogen (except perhaps via fusion) will never be a source of energy: because there are no hydrogen, or anti-matter, mines.

Hydrogen — and anti-matter — could serve as a storage medium for energy (a very dangerous medium, in the case of anti-matter); but both hydrogen and anti-matter would have to be made, manufactured using a considerable amount (a huge amount, considering anti-matter) of energy to do so. Once made, one can later get some of that energy back out again.

Michael McNeil said...

China's ancient facility generating technological inventions isn't at all the same thing as being open philosophically to results that theoretical developments can facilitate. Historically, there's been no Chinese Archimedes in antiquity or Newton in early modern times.

Here's how Einstein characterized the onset of modern science — that is, natural philosophy (quoting…):

Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it. Propositions arrived at by purely logical means are completely empty as regards reality. Because Galileo saw this, and particularly because he drummed it into the scientific world, he is the father of modern physics — indeed, of modern science altogether. […] [E]xperience is the alpha and the omega of all our knowledge of reality.

[/unQuote]
____
(Albert Einstein, Essays on Science, “On the Method of Theoretical Physics,” 1933, p. 14)

Fen said...

Cats are great engines and run pretty much forever.

I read that first, out of context. "well...yah...but what about the litter boxes?"

...it takes a long time to make the casting then you have to let it sit for a year or so before you can machine it.

Why is that?

John henry said...

Fen,

Because casting puts a lot of internal stresses in the metal. These gradually relieve over time but as they do the casting changes in a ize and shape.

The changes are smalland if the casting will be used as is not enough to matter.

If the casting is going to be precision machined, it is enough to screw up the precision.

John Henry

Narr said...

Michael McNeil@after I went to bed--

Not being flippant, but I wasn't trying to enter the lists as to what is real science, or real modern science.

I won't argue with Einstein, but I wonder how apposite your quote is: he seems to be criticizing "purely logical thinking" divorced from empirical experience, but that doesn't describe what I understand as the Chinese way. And he wrote in 1933 before the rediscovery of the ancient Chinese accomplishments, which prompted a lot of discussion.

Narr
YMMV

Joe said...

"Thirdly, what’s supposed to happen when billions of solar panels and tens of thousands of windmills wear out and need to be disposed of?" (Lucien)

This continually surprises me. People seem unaware that solar cells wear out. IIRC, their efficiency drops 50% in 15 years. Also wondering how many have driven past broken wind farms.