PZ Myers smears Steven Pinker

Via a post by Jerry Coyne, I learned of an egregious smear by PZ Myers of Steven Pinker. PZ posted the following on his Facebook page:

He is referring to the following remarks by Pinker.  Watch this clip — the entire clip —  and ask yourself, as I did: How could any honest and rational person view this and then paint Pinker as “a lying right-wing shitweasel”?

What the hell has happened to PZ over the years?  Wasn’t he rational at one point?

89 Replies to “PZ Myers smears Steven Pinker”

  1. petrushka
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    says:

    Everything in the news is exaggerated. Decades ago the local paper (food section) did a story on gingerbread houses, which at the time, were not common. They came to the house, took pictures, and printed an interview that was pure fiction. Not negative, just fabricated. I’ve had a few similar experiences when I was a witness to something.

    So I assume that other stories have problems.

    I went to a college that invited controversial speakers as a policy. I have no sympathy for colleges that allow speakers to be blocked.

  2. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    petrushka: But I’m glad I’m not attending college now. I would not survive a week. I have nothing but contempt for the safe space movement. I really don’t care about the details. A university that limits political speech is rubbish.

    That’s not at all how this works.

    Safe spaces are places of socialization where LBGT people, Black and Latinx people, transgendered people etc. can interact without anxiety, fear, intimidation — whether real or imagined. For some people, that’s crucial to their support mechanisms.

    That has nothing to do with what kinds of political discourse are permitted or forbidden.

  3. petrushka
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    says:

    That’s fine, but a classroom does not qualify, nor does an auditorium.

  4. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    says:

    petrushka: I went to a college that invited controversial speakers as a policy. I have no sympathy for colleges that allow speakers to be blocked.

    The actual data on this are interesting. FIRE has compiled the number of disinvitation attempts, the majority of which are unsuccessful. In 2017, out of the approximately 4,700 colleges and universities in the States, there were 29 attempts to disinvite a controversial speaker.

    There is a closer analysis of FIRE’s data set here (part 1) and here (part 2).

    It seems that the left is much more likely to attempt a disinvitation, but disinvitations from the right of the speaker are slightly more successful than disinvitations from the left. However, the left is much more likely to disrupt a talk if the disinvitation is not successful.

    (Note: left and right are defined relative to the speaker and his or her position on his or her issues, e.g. Alan Dershowitz would be ‘left’ if talking about civil liberties in the US but ‘right’ if talking about Israel.)

  5. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    says:

    petrushka: That’s fine, but a classroom does not qualify, nor does an auditorium.

    Are classrooms being used as safe spaces? More precisely, are there incidents of a class being disrupted because it was not a safe space? I mean, what’s the claim here?

  6. Entropy Entropy
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    says:

    Kantian Naturalist: That’s not at all how this works.

    That’s exactly the way I’ve seen it working. The intention might be different, as you nicely point out, I’m all for that kind of safe space, but the reality is that it becomes mistaken for aggressive political correctness, where any perceived violation is yelled at.

    Kantian Naturalist: Safe spaces are places of socialization where LBGT people, Black and Latinx people, transgendered people etc. can interact without anxiety, fear, intimidation — whether real or imagined. For some people, that’s crucial to their support mechanisms.

    I think that the problem here is protecting people from imagined discrimination. That’s an impossible goal, and can only result in the exaggerations that get people yelled at for asking whether we could talk about differences among human groups.

    Kantian Naturalist: That has nothing to do with what kinds of political discourse are permitted or forbidden.

    Unfortunately, it ends up having everything to do with what kinds of political discourse are permitted or forbidden. It permeates even the most innocent jargon in a course, like calling some flowers male or female, or some flower structures male or female, for fear of offending. These should not be an issue, and people should stop pretending that everything is about them, about insulting them, about discriminating them. It’s like when creationists label Darwin as racist because he used a language that wasn’t politically incorrect in his cultural context, like the word “race” in the title of “The Origin.”

    Anyway. I don’t think this discussion will go well.

  7. petrushka
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    says:

    I’m confused about the concept of intimidation. I’ve been a misfit all my life. I mostly just keep my mouth shut. There really isn’t any hope that I will find a safe space. I share with Dershowitz, not his intellect, but his ability to find the wrong side of any issue. Some people are gay, some trans; I have a compulsion to be contrary in any discussion.

  8. newton
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    says:

    phoodoo: Probably about as much as the guy who spends half his time online looking for them Sal.

    Point,game,set and match.

  9. William J. Murray
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    says:

    KN said:

    Safe spaces are places of socialization where LBGT people, Black and Latinx people, transgendered people etc. can interact without anxiety, fear, intimidation — whether real or imagined. For some people, that’s crucial to their support mechanisms.

    Isolating people where they don’t have to face the diversity of ideas and views in society is not, IMO, “socialization”, but rather the opposite. It’s not like groups of people cannot gather on their own as they see fit, according to race, sexual preferences, etc., on campus or off. Of course they can.

    What safe spaces are designed to do is to give those groups power over spaces and others that do not fit their preferred status, where they can eject those not of their race, sexual preference profile and have all materials and people removed on the basis of their emotional and psychological whims.

    Essentially, so-called “safe spaces” endorse and legitimize the idea that it is okay and even healthy to shut out and shut down other races, sexual preferences, and political ideas based on your emotional reaction to them.

    Where KN sees a “support system”, I see a system of enablers working to agree to, validate and empower a class of people that think it is completely okay to forcibly exclude others on the basis of race, sexual preference or ideas. A true support system, IMO, would be one that works with those students not to “safe space” their inability to successfully socialize with those who are different from them, but rather to solve those emotional and socialization problems. Providing safe spaces where imagined intimidation (as KN said) is treated as if it is real is just feeding a self-destructive fantasy.

    “Get out of our safe space, we don’t want to hear what you have to say” is a blueprint for creating unbridgeable divides between people and breaking down the social construct. IMO, of course.

  10. TristanM
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    says:

    Does anyone still take PZM seriously nowadays? Didn’t Thunderf00t take him and FTB down a couple notches many years ago?

  11. Robert Byers
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    says:

    There is no such thing as poltical correctness. Thats a word invented to fight left wing conclusions that the establishment imposes on the people with the use of pwer.
    It’s just old time thought/speech control.
    The remedy is for the people to demand they have not consented to be governed by These left wing conclusions. Regardless of establishments and media and Hollywood.
    This includes the right to truth, and so freedom of thought and speech.
    These universities are just thge upper classe kids seeking to govern because they believe the ubniversity people will govern the masses from the positions they attain by going to these universities.
    The universities are to persuade those leaders and then the masses.

    Pinker didn’t do a good articulate job.
    He is from Canada and importantly he is jewish.
    he had a youtube where he argued jews were smarter then non jews. lIkewise he had a youtube where he argued Men were smarter then women.
    THEN he had trouble and then associated with other people who had trouble.
    He hides this in this youtube. He is afraid.
    The universities teach that all ethnic/sex gropups are intellectual equal and will equally have the jobs and wealth in the nation.
    He says, , this is not the future.
    So he sees the universities demanding obediance to wrong conclusions.
    so he says, HMMM, to allow free speech WELL if you censor you will provoke the racist and sexist elements. Instead of proving them wrong by cold facts

    Actually instead of the black crime/Irish Catholic crime facts he just needed to show how men always did the evil crime in the stats. not women.
    so why not draw conclusions on mens character or deny drawing conclusions.
    likewise its a poor thing and these ethnic groups are in the poor elements.

    Anyways this all shows a prediction from the right wing.
    The left wing dictators, like the French revolution, are now turing on everyone and making a mockery of any claim to free thought and speech and freedom and self government.
    Where is it going?
    into tyranny as usual and then resistance to tyranny and a overthrow of the left wing. jUst as in international affairs(commis soviets0 and economics (Reagon) the final mop up of the wicked and stupid left wing in America.
    Pinker is hurting his own side because of pet projects.
    Why does he matter more then others anyways/ for the reason the universities do!
    They say they matter more on governing the nation.
    They don’t1 They are ruining there claim to superior intellectual experstise. all of them.
    As predicted.
    What is Alt-Right!!?? I don’t want to know. just stupid profiling of historic forces in history.
    What is a safe zone? Outside the zone i guess they accuse one is not safe?
    Got a hunch it means they are not controlling the countryside.
    like an invading army.
    Its all conclusion contentions. the bad guys always seek dictatorship because they will lose otherwise.
    they are right.
    I predict the soon demise of the left wing.

  12. TomMueller
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    says:

    Oh, wow keiths

    You and I are on the same page here! P Z Myers is WRONG WRONG WRONG and has no justification for such libel!

    I suspect that Myers’ gorge rose at the 3:15 to 3:24 mark. Myers must have fixated and listened no more.

    Too bad – because from 3:24 to 4:00 and from 6:29 to 7:55; Pinkers’ statements could just as easily have been made by Left-Wing Ideologues.

    Pinker did make some incorrect generalizations with dangerous implications which I happen to disagree with.

    For example, 4:17 to 4:38 could be misconstrued when considering race & IQ… to paraphrase Stephen Jay Gould; racial equality when considering IQ is a contingent fact and not a necessary fact. Properly controlled experiments, in fact have been done AND have indeed proven there is no basis for claiming race differences or overlapping curves when considering correlations of skin melanin deposition and IQ. So Pinker’s generalization is incorrect when claiming that facts and data cannot/do not bear on such moral/societal issues. Facts and data have in fact, disproven racist suggestions.

    But to give Pinker his due – let’s get real here: he was giving an 8-minute sound-bite and never addressed that particular question.

    Pinker’s take on Islam’s so-called enlightened history is… well… Pollyanna IMHO, but that particular quibble argues for Pinker’s side and against Myers’ objections.

    Myer’s reaction has in fact, inadvertently butressed Pinker’s thesis by demonstrating exactly the failures of arc-reflex Campus-Leftard nonthinking typical of campuses, which Pinker was attempting to describe.

    Myers just proved Pinker’s point!

  13. Neil Rickert
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    says:

    walto: Just saw this review of the Pinker book.

    LOL.

    I have never been a Pinker fan. And, for sure, that reviewer is not a fan.

  14. Rumraket Rumraket
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    says:

    I just can’t find any good reasons for disliking Steven Pinker. I have yet to find anything he says I disagree with. I will concede I haven’t scoured the world for his every utterance or written word, but I have seen quite a lot of interviews, talks and lectures he has given and found nothing objectionable. Some people really are going out of their way to dismiss him.

  15. walto walto
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    says:

    Rumraket:
    I just can’t find any good reasons for disliking Steven Pinker. I have yet to find anything he says I disagree with. I will concede I haven’t scoured the world for his every utterance or written word, but I have seen quite a lot of interviews, talks and lectures he has given and found nothing objectionable. Some people really are going out of their way to dismiss him.

    I haven’t read him myself, but if the review I just linked to is correct about his love for unfettered capitalism, that’s certainly one thing I disagree with. Also, I’m not a scientist (or an economist, for that matter); I’m not even particularly well-versed in any science, but I have read enough philosophy of science to be skeptical of positivistic positions, and he is often accused of taking such positions. But, again, I’m just going by what others say: I haven’t read him.

  16. Neil Rickert
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    says:

    Rumraket: I have yet to find anything he says I disagree with.

    Yes, that’s the problem already. There’s no depth to him.

  17. Rumraket Rumraket
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    says:

    walto: I haven’t read him myself, but if the review I just linked to is correct about his love for unfettered capitalism

    It isn’t. Go see his interview with Joe Rogan, he clarifies his views on many such points. Stop taking anyone’s word for it (seriously, it’s the age of the internet, and people have agendas and they lie or fail to get points all the time) and simply either read something he’s actually written himself, or watch some of his many interviews and public lectures.

    I really am astonished about how much people will either flat out fucking lie about him, or being charitable, somehow through no deliberation still fail to comprehend some of the simple points he make.

  18. walto walto
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    says:

    Rumraket: It isn’t. Go see his interview with Joe Rogan, he clarifies his views on many such points. Stop taking anyone’s word for it (seriously, it’s the age of the internet, and people have agendas and they lie or fail to get points all the time) and simply either read something he’s actually written himself, or watch some of his many interviews and public lectures.

    I really am astonished about how much people will either flat out fucking lie about him, or being charitable, somehow through no deliberation still fail to comprehend some of the simple points he make.

    Relax. As I said, since I haven’t read him, I’ve not taken any position on him. He’s not actually on my front burner to read, but that’s not an attack–it just reflects the fact that there’s a lot of things to read and life is short.

  19. Alan Fox Alan Fox
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    Rumraket:…read something he’s actually written himself…

    Seems a fair point.

  20. walto walto
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    Alan Fox: Seems a fair point.

    Well, it would be a fair point if I hadn’t actually written this:

    I haven’t read him myself, but if the review I just linked to is correct….

  21. GlenDavidson
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    says:

    walto:
    Just saw this review of the Pinker book.

    https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2018/02/unenlightened-thinking-steven-pinker-s-embarrassing-new-book-feeble-sermon

    Yes, it seems that Pinker runs a strong confirmation bias in favor of rather nebulous concepts like “Enlightenment.” The forces for progress are simply good, and anything that opposes progress is bad, and clearly if a “force for progress” turns out to be bad, clearly it wasn’t a “force for progress.”

    I think the demonization of Nietzsche sort of says it all. Why isn’t Nietzsche a part of progress? Pinker the psychologist, of all people, ought to have some knowledge of Nietzsche’s role in the development of psychology, and from what I can see, he was really a better psychologist than Freud (not that Freud didn’t owe a lot more to Nietzsche than he’d admit). That he pushes against some of the received biases of most progressives, like the notion of equality, appears to consist in the use of reason against sentiment and emotion. Pinker doesn’t like the fact that Nietzsche might puncture some of his cherished sentiments.

    Well Nietzsche’s complex, the problem is that Pinker seems not to have any idea of this fact. Nietzsche’s just responsible for fascism and WWII, the enemy of Pinker and progress.

    I haven’t really read Pinker either, except for excerpts like Pinker’s dreck on Nietzsche, but that’s also why I’m not at all likely to do so. Nietzsche may well be criticized–and pop versions of him that fascists presumably utilized no doubt were used for purposes we’d condemn–but not like Pinker does in the excerpt. Pinker has a simplistic view of “progress,” and while it might sell to the choir, it’s not of much value in the progress of understanding.

    Yes I can say this without reading more than reviews and a few excerpts. That’s what reviews and excerpts are for, and if they reveal a starry-eyed optimist with strong confirmation biases, there’s no point in slogging through hours of that sort of nonsense.

    Glen Davidson

  22. GlenDavidson
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    says:

    Nature‘s review:

    The limitations of Steven Pinker’s optimism

    An economist’s perspective.

    I do hope that Pinker might prove to be something of an antidote against anti-enlightenment forces trying to shut down speech on campus, for instance, but I wonder how much it can really do when the book seems more of manual for a pep rally for the true believers.

    Glen Davidson

  23. Rumraket Rumraket
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    says:

    GlenDavidson: Yes I can say this without reading more than reviews and a few excerpts. That’s what reviews and excerpts are for, and if they reveal a starry-eyed optimist with strong confirmation biases

    Actually in order to determine IF they reveal a starry-eyed optimist with strong conformation bias, you’d have to read more than reviews and excerpts. How many qutoes are taken out of a context, or are purported to constitute the entirety of the man’s views on the topic? You can’t know if you don’t check.

  24. Rumraket Rumraket
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    says:

    walto: Relax.

    Please don’t comment on my mental state, you don’t have a clue.

    As I said, since I haven’t read him, I’ve not taken any position on him. He’s not actually on my front burner to read, but that’s not an attack–it just reflects the fact that there’s a lot of things to read and life is short.

    I agree and that’s all one really needs to say. If we can’t be bothered, we don’t.

  25. Rumraket Rumraket
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    says:

    GlenDavidson: when the book seems more of manual for a pep rally for the true believers.

    Pep rally for the true believers of what?

    In my view the book is really just, in part, an elucidation of the fact that progress has been made on many measures of human wellbeing. At no point is it argued or asserted that bad things haven’t happened or won’t continue to happen.

  26. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    says:

    A review that criticizes Pinker for how un-historical and simplistic his conception of “The Enlightenment” is can be found here.

    I find it absolutely shocking that Pinker can quote Russell as authoritative on Nietzsche when Russell’s deliberate attack on Nietzsche was debunked by serious Nietzsche scholars sixty years ago.

    If someone wants to defend Pinker by saying that the historical nuances of what the Enlightenment really was don’t matter to any defense of “Enlightenment values” here and now — well, OK, that would be a view, I guess. But then what’s the point of calling those Enlightenment values instead of just “ideas that allow moderate First World liberals to congratulate themselves for being so tolerant”?

  27. walto walto
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    says:

    Rumraket: walto: Relax.

    Please don’t comment on my mental state, you don’t have a clue.

    No problem, but I thought it was clear that what I meant by “Relax” was that I’d prefer it if you didn’t criticize me for stuff I didn’t actually write.

  28. keiths keiths
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    says:

    Neil:

    Yes, that’s the problem already. There’s no depth to him.

    Neil criticizes Pinker for his lack of depth, backing up his criticism with… nothing.

  29. GlenDavidson
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    says:

    I managed to get into most of the mentions of Nietzsche in Pinker’s book at Amazon (can’t do it again), and I have to say that he’s one of the most ignorant fucks on the on planet when it comes to Nietzsche. Which would be fine, if he could shut up about what he doesn’t know, but no, he’s got a pig-ignorant view that he expounds on like some dumbass creationist who thinks he knows science.

    I’m not going to say Nietzsche’s great, as I’m not sure what to make of him. What he is, however, is someone who refuses consistency, and really does that fairly well. Pinker thinks Nietzsche’s some consistent purveyor of Romantic aristocratic militarism, which is bullshit. It appears, it disappears, it’s relatively minor overall, and I don’t particularly like those parts (to be fair, I see the psychological aspect that Nietzsche’s not afraid to raise–not that I’m saying that’s his only point, either). I can see how fascists liked to quotemine him, yet one has to quotemine him (like Pinker definitely does) to pretend that he’s some ranting pro-war jingoist. Hasn’t a fool like Pinker ever bothered to even glance through Thus Spoke Zarathustra, or is he mostly still entranced with Bertrand Russell’s crass nonsense about Nietzsche?

    I’ve learned enough about Heidegger’s philosophy not to like it much at all. Husserl’s all too partial, especially in ignoring psychology, but at least he’s getting somewhere, while his student Heidegger’s getting nowhere, except to the naivete of Aristotle (sure, he was smart, but his age didn’t have the background to question naive realism) and a kind of reworking of neo-Platonism.

    What Heidegger knew, though, that the appalling Pinker does not, is that Nietzsche’s firmly in the Western tradition, while Heidegger’s proclaiming a new philosophy (it’s not true, it’s just a kind of syncretism of sucky old thought, but it’s worth a look before discarding it for its being pretty useless). So it’s absolutely ridiculous for Pinker to be trying to hang Nietzsche for his influence on Heidegger, as he does, when in fact Heidegger’s very pointedly moving away from Nietzsche. Indeed, that’s why Pinker can hardly kick Nietzsche out of the Enlightenment, whatever his Romantic leanings. Nietzsche was a radical skeptic (not that he’d accept that label), a Kantian (no matter how much he attacks Kant) who can’t tolerate Kant’s unwillingness to question his own assumptions (like God, at least as a part of practical reason). Pinker appeals to the iconic Kant, but can’t appreciate the Nietzsche who insisted on pushing Kantian thought further (and not in the Hegelian way).

    Nietzsche, when all is said and done, is far more extolling the virtue of the Romantic artist and creator than he’s even bothering to worry about war and anyone wanting to fight a war (which, btw, was another thing Heidegger got right about him). Who is he praising? The creator. The one who squanders himself. And, for better or worse, he does a far better job of understanding and criticizing religion and its issues than anything I’ve seen from Pinker.

    I first thought that Pinker just wrote a boring book on the obvious improvements brought about by science and whatever Enlightenment’s role in that, but he’s done much worse. He’s written about what he doesn’t understand, and blamed one of the most anti-postmodernist thinkers, Nietzsche, for a lot of stupid rot that misuses Nietzsche about as much as Pinker does.

    Maybe other parts of Pinker’s book are more boring and less malignantly ignorant, but his misrepresentations of a Nietzsche that he doesn’t understand are some of the most anti-Enlightenment pieces of ignorant tripe that have been written. It’s amazing how many mindless reviewers think that such a travesty deserves anything but contempt, but there it is, they’re not generally very knowledgeable.

    Glen Davidson

  30. Rumraket Rumraket
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    says:

    keiths:
    Neil:

    Neil criticizes Pinker for his lack of depth, backing up his criticism with… nothing.

    One poster says Pinker says nothing objectionable due to his lack of depth, another is going out of his way to say Pinker is saying intensely objectionable things.

    Well, at least they’re two different people so can’t be individually accused of inconsistency. 🙂

  31. Rumraket Rumraket
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    says:

    GlenDavidson: I can see how fascists liked to quotemine him, yet one has to quotemine him (like Pinker definitely does) to pretend that he’s some ranting pro-war jingoist. Hasn’t a fool like Pinker ever bothered to even glance through Thus Spoke Zarathustra, or is he mostly still entranced with Bertrand Russell’s crass nonsense about Nietzsche?

    Isn’t there a difference between saying “pro-war fascists took inspiration from some of Nietzsche’s ideas” (by quotemining him), and “Nietzsche himself actually was a pro-war fascist”?

    Is Pinker really doing the latter?

  32. GlenDavidson
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    says:

    Rumraket: Isn’t there a difference between saying “pro-war fascists took inspiration from some of Nietzsche’s ideas” (by quotemining him), and “Nietzsche himself actually was a pro-war fascist”?

    Is Pinker really doing the latter?

    He writes:

    The connections between Nietzsche’s ideas and the megadeath movements of the 20th century are obvious enough: a glorification of violence and power, an eagerness to raze the institutions of liberal democracy, a contempt for most of humanity, and a stone-hearted indifference to human life.

    You’d think this sea of blood would be enough to discredit Nietzsche’s ideas among intellectuals and artists. p. 445

    No, the connections are not obvious enough. I don’t recall any substantive call for razing democratic institutions in any Nietzsche I’ve read, although he’s clearly not pushing democracy. Pinker quotemines Ecce Homo up the page speaking of “extermination” and calls them genocidal ravings. Here’s something a bit more typical and less out-of-context from Ecce Homo:

    This would still leave open the possibility that not humanity is degenerating but only that parasitical type of man–that of the priest–which has used morality to raise itself mendaciously to the position of determining human values–finding in Christian morality the means to come to power.–Indeed, this is my insight: the teachers, the leaders of humanity, theologians all of them, were also, all of them, decadents: hence the revaluation of all values into hostility to life, hence morality

    Ecce Homo “Why I am a Destiny” 7 Walter Kaufmann, trans.

    This is near the end of Ecce Homo, so summarizing to a degree.

    A contempt for most of humanity? Mostly he’s not much concerned with most of humanity, and while one could argue with Nietzsche above, well, it’s the kind of psychological criticism that people find useful. Pinker just quotemines and calls it genocidal.

    But Pinker’s rather irrational on Nietzsche. On the next page (446) he calls Nietzsche’s ideas “repellent and incoherent,” which makes little enough sense. To be sure, I suppose it’s possible to be repellent and incoherent, but the latter certainly undermines the former. If true, which I’d say it’s not.

    After making rather unfounded charges against Nietzsche of “genocidal ravings” on p. 445, Pinker actually pulls back on p. 447:

    Though Nietzsche’s romantic heroism glorifies the singular Uebermensch rather than any collectivity, it’s a short step to interpret his “single stronger species of man” as a tribe, race, or nation. With this substitutions, Nietzschean ideas were taken up by Nazism, fascism, and other forms of Romantic Nationalism…

    He’d already tarred Nietzsche for “genocidal ravings” over excerpts that he quotemined to look that way, then later he has to pull back and say that Nietzsche wasn’t writing about genocide after all, but claims they could be if you substitute tribe or nation for the individual. If it’s a “short step” for Pinker and others who are only too happy to misuse Nietzsche, it’s hardly legitimate, particularly when you consider that Nietzsche’s a psychologist, dealing with a psyche that is wholly improper to extend to tribes and nations.

    Pinker may as well be Richard Weikart, claiming that Nazism is the fault of Darwin because social darwinism was used by the Nazis. Pinker really is quite unhinged with respect to Nietzsche, and he really doesn’t get how postmodernism (especially in America) is largely a break from Nietzsche (esp. via Heidegger), and not a continuation of Nietzsche. Yes, Nietzsche’s invoked by postmodernists, but generally by cherry picking, at least in my experience.

    With Pinker labeling Nietzsche quotemines “genocidal ravings,” yes, Pinker’s as good as calling Nietzsche a pro-war fascist. He backs down from those sorts of charges later, but hardly reconciles the actual Nietzsche with his own caricature of Nietzsche as being linked to both Nazism and of Communism. Pinker sometimes gets it partly right, but that’s after he’s already made wholly unjustifiable charges against Nietzsche.

    Glen Davidson

  33. petrushka
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    says:

    Anyone who challenges the establishment will be accused of being evil, nazi, racist, or something.

  34. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    says:

    GlenDavidson,

    Thank you for all of that! I might want to emphasize more of Nietzsche’s background in the empirical sciences of his time and place, but that’s partly a question of which texts to emphasize — Daybreak and The Gay Science or Thus Spoke Zarathustra?

    One very minor point, though: there was very little philosophical uptake of Nietzsche before Heidegger. The idea that Nietzsche is this pivotal turning point in the history of Western philosophy is very much Heidegger’s innovation. Before Heidegger, Nietzsche was mostly regarded as interesting and eccentric cultural critic. There was some uptake on Nietzsche by neo-Kantians like Hans Vaihinger (“The Philosophy of As-If,” a comparison of Kant and Nietzsche), Ernst Block in “Spirit of Utopia,” some stuff by George Bataille, and a few Americans like H. L. Mencken. But it was Heidegger who put Nietzsche on the map of the history of Western philosophy in a big way, and it’s thanks to him that later Nietzscheans like Foucault and Deleuze gave us a much better reading of him. I’m not even sure Walter Kauffmann would have written about Nietzsche as much as he did if it weren’t for the need to respond to Heidegger, but that’s pure speculation on my part.

  35. GlenDavidson
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    Kantian Naturalist,

    I guess that helps to explain Russell’s poorly informed views on Nietzsche.

    It is interesting that Heidegger’s that important in bringing Nietzsche’s thought into the view of philosophers, since Heidegger’s shifting away from the Kantian view.

    Anyway, thanks for adding that information. It’s good to know.

    Glen Davidson

  36. Rumraket Rumraket
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    says:

    @GlenDavidson

    Thank you for that, I find that much more persuasive that your previous engagement. I can only agree, Pinker massively misrepresents Nietzsche.

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