Two talks

Alain de Botton on Snobbery, Meritocracy, Success

Is a lazy, untalented person any more to blame for his laziness and lack of talent than a bald person is for his hairlessness?

But I have to ask: How far are we to take the supposed sympathetic view with its emphasis on initial conditions and external destiny? Are individuals left with any freedom at all to affect their own fates?

Relatedly, there’s the question of social necessity. Guilt, hierarchy, ambition, misery, ridicule. Without them can we have an ordered society?

Jonathan Haidt on Order/Disorder and the Liberal/Conservative Moral Code

Second law of thermodynamics: the universe tends toward disorder. The great conservative insight is that order is really difficult to achieve, and very easy to lose.

From the talk:

Liberals speak for the weak and oppressed; they want justice, even at the risk of chaos. Conservatives speak for institutions and traditions; they want order, even at the cost of those at the bottom.

This is an excellent talk. I feel like I’ve been trying to get at this for a long time.


One thought on “Two talks

  1. John says:

    I agree with this observation about liberals vs conservatives, but I view the latter type as having a sort of false fear. In particular, it’s not my belief that order is very difficult to achieve; nature’s tendency towards chaos is not unequivocal or compact. Clearly there’s plenty of order in the universe, not all of which is man-made, and indeed mathematical true that randomness must expose some order (for example, szemeredi’s regularity lemma).
    Personally I characterize natural selection in its various forms – the action of change against preservation of the more orderly – as a counterforce to chaos that is perhaps superior, or destined to overcome. Which would explain why I consider myself a liberal.

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