Rudy as World-Spirit

by John Holbo on March 22, 2007

Matthew Yglesias pens a partial defense of Giuliani’s statement that “freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.” Matt: “The cause of political liberty is not, in fact, served by living in an underpoliced city. Generally speaking, while freedom does require that authority not overstep its proper bounds, it also very much requires that properly constituted authorities be reasonably strong and effective.” But this isn’t what Giuliani said. A point Isaiah Berlin makes very well in “Two Concepts of Liberty”: it is one thing to give up liberty for some greater good – possibly even an increase in freedom along some other axis. (Giving up the freedom to murder in order to secure freedom from murder seems like a good deal.) It is quite another thing to call the sacrifice of liberty ‘liberty’.

This paradox has been often exposed. It is one thing to say that I know what is good for X, while he himself does not; and even to ignore his wishes for its – and his – sake; and a very different one to say that he has eo ipso chosen it, not indeed consciously, not as he seems in everyday life, but in his role as a rational self which his empirical self may not know – the ‘real’ self which discerns the good, and cannot help choosing it once it is revealed. This monstrous impersonation, which consists in equating what X would choose if he were something he is not, or at least not yet, with what X actually seeks and chooses, is at the heart of all political theories of self-realization. It is one thing to say that I may be coerced for my own good, which I am too blind to see: this may, on occasion, be for my benefit; indeed it may enlarge the scope of my liberty. It is another to say that if it is my good, then I am not being coerced, for I have willed it, whether I know this or not, and am free (or ‘truly’ free) even while my poor earthly body and foolish mind bitterly reject it, and struggle with the greatest desperation against those who seek, however benevolently, to impose it.

As Matt says: “He’s still, I think, a pretty creepy authoritarian but the idea he’s expressing has a reasonably distinguished lineage and isn’t just some madness he dreamed up on his couch one afternoon.” Yes, it’s some madness that Hegel dreamed up on his couch one afternoon.

In other news, I’m in the market for a new scanner. It has to work well with mac and have the best OCR capability I can buy for under $200. Googling around, it seems that the most of the stand-alone software packages (OmniPage) are not getting rave reviews from consumers, and are rather expensive. If I have to choose between paying $400 for semi-functionality and just using whatever semi-functionality is bundled with a cheap scanner, I guess I’d go with the latter. I have Adobe Acrobat, which has some ok – not great, I think – OCR capability. What do you think?

{ 84 comments }

1

John Emerson 03.22.07 at 2:02 am

Hegel, Giuliani, and Yglesias are Nazis, and you might as well stick with Adobe Acrobat. Don’t be afraid to ask if you have questions. That’s the way you learn.

2

John Holbo 03.22.07 at 2:05 am

Yglesias is NOT a Nazi. Bite your tongue, John Emerson.

3

John Emerson 03.22.07 at 2:18 am

I can’t help you if you don’t want to be helped.

4

jholbo 03.22.07 at 2:24 am

Well, if whatever you’ve got would help me, then obviously I must want it. (How not?)

And you can call Hegel a Nazi, if you want. But Matthew Yglesias is just a philosopher at heart, so far as I can tell.

5

KCinDC 03.22.07 at 2:40 am

Yglesias isn’t a Nazi, just a Nazi sympathizer. Ask Jonah Goldberg.

6

Russell Arben Fox 03.22.07 at 2:52 am

“Yes, it’s some madness that Hegel dreamed up on his couch one afternoon.”

Hegel? Rousseau got there first, John; “forced to free” and all that. And why is it madness, exactly?

7

Chris M. 03.22.07 at 3:08 am

Yes, it’s one thing to call the sacrifice of liberty ‘liberty'; but it seems quite another (and not absurd) thing to call the sacrifice of liberty ‘freedom’ (where the latter is understood along the lines of, say, autonomy). And, like, Prof. Fox, I have no idea why this is “madness.”

8

John Holbo 03.22.07 at 4:13 am

Fair enough, Russell, fair enough. It’s just that Rudy sounds more like Hegel than Rouseau to me. (Mostly I’m being snarky, in other words.)

9

Belle Waring 03.22.07 at 5:59 am

noooo, not snarky, of all things. not my husband John Q. Snarkington Holbo. current score:
Guiliani: Nazi
Hegel: 64% Nazi
Yglesias: Not Nazi
John Emerson: Don’t Fuck With John Emerson, People.
RA Fox: Communitarian With Latent Pro-Hegelian Leanings? I’m going to go 9% Nazi. sort of like sprinkles, or world historical hundreds and thousands on top.

10

Star-Spangled hair shirt 03.22.07 at 6:10 am

As usual, the liberal elite manages to be too clever by half and, in so doing, take our democracy for granted and even subvert it. Hegel, Rouseau, whatever.

What’s so eeeeevil/conservative about the idea of a “law-abiding citizen”? That’s all Giuliani is saying, people, plain as day. In a democracy there’s the lawful authority and the law-abiding citizen. And he’d better support the lawful authority, cause, there are people out there who bow to authorities we don’t recognize (unlawful!), five times a day even, and who would go the whole hog and not just take “a great deal of discretion” away from you.

Who is the biggest threat to your freedom? “Rudy as Word-Spirit” or Al-Qaeda?

11

wissen 03.22.07 at 7:18 am

Rousseau? I think it’s already there in Locke’s distinction between license and liberty. In other words your down-the-line liberals can be as illiberal as your bogey man, the (Popperized) Hegel.

12

Chris Bertram 03.22.07 at 7:30 am

Well I’m with Russell. You get the same thought in Kant (MEJ – Ladd pp 35-6):

bq. if a certain use of freedom is itself a hindrance to freedom according to universal laws … then the use of coercion to counteract it, inasmuch as it is the prevention of a hindrance to freedom, is consistent with freedom according to universal laws; in other words this use of coercion is just.

The Bertrand Russell gloss on Hegel in HoWP is nice though (quoting from memory): “Hegel defines freedom as something like the right to obey the police.”

13

aaron_m 03.22.07 at 7:53 am

How about if he said:

we each have a moral duty to to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.

securing justice is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.

political duty is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.

Then this is basically what most of the Kantian wing in the social contract tradition says.

Calling the duty a liberty is just a way to sell it and maybe to try and snatch some of the appeal of the idea that when we consent to some deal we have a moral obligation to live up to our end of it. This selling of political duty by trying to give it the appearance of being related to choice causes endless confusion, but I think you would have a hard time characterising Rawls’ use of the original position as Nazi like.

14

aaron_m 03.22.07 at 8:55 am

…or maybe it should read ‘securing justice is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do not do. Oh and pay your taxes as well’

15

aaron_m 03.22.07 at 9:01 am

hmmm, I am beginning to get the feeling that maybe my reading of Guiliani is far too generous. I know nothing about this potential leader of the ‘free’ world. Is he a Nazi?

Just curious

16

derek 03.22.07 at 9:18 am

Yglesias is changing what Giuliani said in order to have something he can defend. Giuliani did not say “let’s have more police”, he said “let’s have more submission to the police”.

(incidentally, why not just say “let’s have less stealing”? And a pony? The answer to that is that Giuliani’s aim is to equate civil disobedience to crime, so that wearing a Get Out of Iraq t-shirt excites as much disgust in Joe Public as mugging and rape)

As I have said about Conservative laws in my own country designed to give fewer police more powers in the interests of cutting taxes without ceding control: I would rather pay more tax to support ten cops who can’t kick down my door than pay less tax to support two cops who can.

17

Belle Waring 03.22.07 at 9:25 am

dude, Guiliani is an authoritarian asshole of the first order. he’s never met a homeless man he didn’t want to throw into the paddy wagon, a random black pedestrian he didn’t want to have frisked for weapons, or a police brutality case in which the cops just might have been a teeny bit at fault. he is a brittle, authoritarian, tin-pot tyrant, is what I’m saying here. (unlike Russel Arben Fox who, despite my scorecard above, isn’t even a little bit Nazi.)

18

novakant 03.22.07 at 9:26 am

well, it’s been a long while since I was a Hegel follower, and I was mainly preoccupied with the Phenomenology and the Aesthetics, but I do remember that Hegel’s concept of freedom was a tad more complex and I think this commenter at MY gets it about right, as far as the political aspects go

19

aaron_m 03.22.07 at 9:49 am

“The answer to that is that Giuliani’s aim is to equate civil disobedience to crime, so that wearing a Get Out of Iraq t-shirt excites as much disgust in Joe Public as mugging and rape”

Ooh No :(

So he is a Nazi in the ‘using your brain is treason against the fatherland’ way.

20

John Emerson 03.22.07 at 10:29 am

Is there a problem with calling people Nazis? I guess I didn’t get the memo. (When I think of it, people do have these knee-jerk negative reactions to Nazis, so it’s hard for them to get a fair hearing. Yglesias’s ideas should really be considered on their merits, rather than ad hominem based on Nazi or Zionist affiliations that he may or may not have.)

What Giuliani said might be less objectionable if someone else said it, as part of longer discourse articulating what it meant. But for Giuliani it’s his whole philosophy of government. He plucked that one sentence from somewhere or another to make it his motto. (And it’s imprecise and completely wrong to call Italian-Americans Nazis. Scalia and Alito aren’t Nazis either, regardless of whether they do or do not model themselves on Mussolini.)

I mostly agree with Russell Arben “9%” Fox. There’s a lot of cheap libertarianism and anarchism about — if the rule of law is all you’ve ever known, you take its enabling effects for granted and only see its restrictive effects.

In frontier areas where there’s no overriding governmental authority (the Old West, isolated mountain districts in the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Atlas Mountains, etc.) everyone has to be armed at all times, and usually they’re impressed into the band of the nearest warlord, so that they can protect themselves from all the other warlords. I recommend Black-Michaud’s “Cohesive Force”, a study of vendetta and feud as organizing principles in stateless societies.

21

soru 03.22.07 at 10:40 am

‘knee-jerk negative reactions to Nazis,’

Similar but opposite to the knee-jerk reaction to the word ‘freedom’.

Harry Turtledove’s alternative history version of WWII fought between the North and South had the US Nazi-analog party called the Freedom Party, which nicely combines both points.

(that was the good idea in the 6-book trilogy, you don’t have to read it now)

22

aaron_m 03.22.07 at 10:41 am

John,

Do you have any good suggestions for a ‘state of the art’ summary of the empirical evidence we have on the collective goods justification of the state?

I have lots of references following Ostrom on why the idea holds for the management of common pool resources in large scale collectives. But I want to have more references for other collective goods commonly used by political theorists to argue that we need the state. I am not thinking of game theory evidence but empirical study/testing.

23

John Emerson 03.22.07 at 10:51 am

Probably the OCR question should be asked again in a non-Nazi context.

Aaron M, not really. It’s fairly commonsensical. My own opinion is based on historical and anthropological studies of state-formation and stateless societies. Ernest Gellner has written a number of good things.

24

wissen 03.22.07 at 11:04 am

John and Chris, Before anyone talks about Hegel I always advise them to look at J. Stewart (ed.), The Hegel Myths and Legends (Northwestern, 1996). In this case I’d recommend Part 2: ‘The Myth of Hegel as Totalitarian Theorist or Prussian Apologist’.

25

ejh 03.22.07 at 11:55 am

Doesn’t Hobbes maintain (in Leviathan) that we have contracted to obey the existing power – even if in fact we actually haven’t?

26

abb1 03.22.07 at 12:20 pm

Freedom is the appreciation of necessity.

But the necessity in question is not, of course, determined by any “lawful authority”. The guy clearly is a fascist.

27

aaron_m 03.22.07 at 12:20 pm

ejh,

No, Hobbes uses the image of a social contract to escape the state of nature so as to say to his audience, ‘it is in your rational self-interest to obey the dictates of the exiting state authorities even if you have not consented and some other imaginable political order than the one you have would be better for you.’ The risk of political instability is not worth trying to change the system on a rational self-interested calculation unless the state happens to threaten your survival.

28

Uncle Kvetch 03.22.07 at 12:21 pm

I know nothing about this potential leader of the ‘free’ world. Is he a Nazi?

No…I think Yglesias’ “creepy authoritarian” is closer to the mark. This is a pretty good summation.

Similar but opposite to the knee-jerk reaction to the word ‘freedom’.

Well soru, if the word hadn’t been twisted into “something Americans invoke when they’re about to open up a can of whoop-ass on a bunch of brown people,” there would be far fewer of us with a knee-jerk reaction to it.

29

Steve LaBonne 03.22.07 at 12:36 pm

Given his surprising showing in polls, Rudy may be the most dangerous politician in America right now. As President he might very well make Bush look like a stable, peace-loving libertarian. Here’s hoping he self-destructs in the course of the primary campaign.

30

John Emerson 03.22.07 at 12:39 pm

Oh, wait. Around here I’m not “John”. Forget I said anything.

31

aaron_m 03.22.07 at 12:55 pm

Well I was asking you John not John, but if John has some ideas I would be happy to hear them.

32

soru 03.22.07 at 1:19 pm

@Uncle Kvetch

huh? I think you got me backwards. Maybe you missed the word ‘opposite’?

I am all in favour of the de-Freedomization of america, although, like anything, you could take it too far.

33

josh 03.22.07 at 1:31 pm

Although Giuliani’s statement is pretty much the position that Berlin attacks in ‘Two Concepts’ (and thank you, John H., for making me feel, however briefly, that my dissertation has some contemporary relevance), it’s subtly different from what I take Locke (and, on some readings, Rousseau) to have said. This was that freedom involves ceding, not to the discretion of the political authority, but to the law-making power of the political authority. Freedom is obedience to a law that one has oneself accepted. But this law needs to be equitable, for the public good, and applied equally to all, including the rulers themselves. Giuliani isn’t talking about being ruled by laws, but by the discretion of the rulers, which may go beyond the law.
(Now, Locke and Rousseau do give considerable power to the executive responsible for enforcing the law; but both in their different ways also insist on limits to this power as conditions for freedom. Maybe I’m being ungenerous [though I doubt it], but I don’t see any of that in Giuliani).
Also, can we cool it with the Nazi-speak? One can find similar positions in Jacobinism and some variants of Communism (which was an immediate target of Berlin’s attack), after all.

34

Richard 03.22.07 at 1:35 pm

Practical matters first:
Readiris is by far the best OCR I’ve found for less than $600 or so:

http://www.irislink.com

It’s controllable, pretty reliable, and handles character sets for many languages (including Cyrillic). Using it plus your mac’s in-built speech capabilities (assuming you’re running OS 10.4) you can turn .pdfs into machine-readable documents that you can listen to while you drive. Not that I advocate that sort of thing on several levels.

Unless you need a big flatbed scanner, the all-in-one scan/print/fax/copy machines are now so cheap that I suspect they may kill standalone scanners in 12 months or less. Canon make one for less than $200 that will take multi-page document feeds. Lexmark makes similar units that are quite a bit cheaper; I can’t remember now why I didn’t buy one. Bestbuy has them, you may eb able to find cheaper elsewhere.

Giuliani, in a friend’s memorable turn of phrase, is a “jack-legged little fascist.” As far as I can tell, he also seems to be fairly smart. I concur that he’s the biggest threat in the political game right now.

35

Belle Waring 03.22.07 at 1:36 pm

I would like to note that Giuliani actually banned dancing in NYC bars. dancing. and then sent cops around to stop people from dancing in bars, and fined bar owners who let people dance in their bars.

36

aaron_m 03.22.07 at 1:46 pm

No dancing or nude protests…damn, what is he offering on the plus side?

37

eweininger 03.22.07 at 2:00 pm

I would like to note that Giuliani actually banned dancing in NYC bars. dancing. and then sent cops around to stop people from dancing in bars, and fined bar owners who let people dance in their bars.

Yeah, I vaguely recall an evening when, all of us in a drunken haze in some bar on 1st Ave, my wife and a friend of mine began dancing to whatever was the jukebox. The proprieters but a very quick stop to it, lest the gyration-police slap a big fine on them. So I guess I owe the guy.

38

John Emerson 03.22.07 at 2:03 pm

33: OK. Matt is a Jacobin, Nazi, or Communist. It was uncivil and unscholarly of me not to mention all three.

39

CJColucci 03.22.07 at 2:31 pm

“Who is the biggest threat to your freedom? “Rudy as Word-Spirit” or Al-Qaeda?”

Fair question. The answer is Rudy. Al Qaeda is a threat to my LIFE, and might have actually taken it had I not left late for work some five-plus years ago, but, not my liberty. (Statistically speaking, it is not much of a threat to my life, either.) Al Qaeda can kill me, but is in no position to coerce me. Rudy has been in a position to coerce me, and may be again, and has already demonstrated in public life an unhealthy zest for coercion.

40

John Emerson 03.22.07 at 2:46 pm

As far as I can tell, radical Islam is a minor threat. Nuclear proliferation is the biggest problem by far, bu it’s still strictly potential, but we were able to deal with Chinese nukes even when Mao was being crazy, and N. Korea is a much more clear and present danger. And contrary to what people say, the mullahs aren’t madmen.

No one I know of has said that the Bush administration has been attentive to the key issue, nuclear proliferation. Quite the opposite, for example in Korea and in the old USSR.

Spreading the fear is a key part of the propaganda campaign for a more aggressive, basically imperialist foreign and military policy. The Bush / AIPAC / PNAC / Fox campaign is so egregious that it almost makes you believe that threat is totally fake. It isn’t, but there’s no real danger that the US will underestimate it.

41

Stuart 03.22.07 at 2:52 pm

RE: Scanners – personally I would suggest you get a cheap scanner (even the cheapest ones tend to be massively redundant in terms of resolution for any reasonable task) that is TWAIN compliant (should be basically anything you can buy). Then search for a decent OCR solution separately, cant really help you here as its not something I have ever needed, and it depends on how important certain elements are to you. Tesseract OCR from Google (via HP) seems like it might be a good starting point, and if thats not good enough maybe look at reviews of commerical OCR software.

42

ejh 03.22.07 at 3:03 pm

No, Hobbes uses the image of a social contract to escape the state of nature so as to say to his audience, ‘it is in your rational self-interest to obey the dictates of the exiting state authorities even if you have not consented and some other imaginable political order than the one you have would be better for you.’ The risk of political instability is not worth trying to change the system on a rational self-interested calculation unless the state happens to threaten your survival.

Aaron – if I recall it’s a bit more than that, but as my copy of Leviathan is God knows where I shall have to defer to you (or, perhaps, find it in my rational self-interest to defer to you) until a later date….

43

Chris Bertram 03.22.07 at 3:05 pm

wissen – I know perfectly well that Russell’s gloss is an inaccurate account of Hegel, but it is still a brilliant one liner.

I would like to note that Giuliani actually banned dancing in NYC bars. dancing. and then sent cops around to stop people from dancing in bars, and fined bar owners who let people dance in their bars.

That would make him more Cromwellian. Rousseau wanted the theatre ban in Geneva maintained, but you’d never get away with that in New York.

44

fardels bear 03.22.07 at 3:25 pm

Folks need a copy of the Leviathan? Here you go:

http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/3207

45

engels 03.22.07 at 3:44 pm

I would like to note that Giuliani actually banned dancing in NYC bars. dancing. and then sent cops around to stop people from dancing in bars, and fined bar owners who let people dance in their bars.

Big deal. Londoners have already been fighting the Nazis of Westminster Council for years.

Under British law, dancing is only allowed in pubs which have public entertainment licences. [...]

“Dancing could be described as the rhythmic moving of the legs, arms and body usually changing positions within the floor space available and whether or not accompanied by musical support,” Westminster Council’s community protection department director Bob Currie told The Publican.

[Brewery] spokesman Derek Andrews said there was little pubs could do to stop people having a good time.

“We have spent ages trying to stop people dancing. We have signs up everywhere, managers instruct customers, we turn the music down, rearrange the furniture and so on,” Andrews said.

“On a personal note, I would like to say that to the best of my knowledge spontaneous dancing is not in the top 10 list of great social ills of our time.”

46

Star-Spangled hair shirt 03.22.07 at 3:58 pm

America is built on a status quo (called the “Constitution”) which ensures citizesn to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The constitution of America (and the said lines) imply a capitalistic system of private ownership and free trade where individuals are only beholden to themselves, not their neighbors, their state, or a god.

Thus there is a Status quo in America, indeed ths basic status quo is what makes america, america. America is not a hodge podge of diversity or tolerance, but rather a country with ABSOLUTE rules of indvidualism and morality.

The counter cultue of 60s was not a broadening of American culture, but rather a negation. The hippies were a directly off shoot of SOCIALISM, something that is not America as dictated by the founding fathers in the Constitution.

Your also limited in your discretion to commit violence and violate private property. That’s the mission of lawful authority.

And, of course, you’re limited in your discretion to force your wife (daughters, sister) to wear a veil and, basically, dress up like Batman in public.

You can only find what Giuliani says controversial if you want to negate what makes America American.

47

mattsteinglass 03.22.07 at 4:05 pm

“Rudy as World-Spirit” — you know, if you referenced the Tompkins Sq. Park riot, you could almost get to “world-spirit on horseback”.

48

soru 03.22.07 at 4:38 pm

If s-s-h-s isn’t a parody, I’d like to see them diagram that argument, with bubbles saying things like ‘liberty’, ‘life, ‘constitution’, ‘absolute morality’ and ‘hippy’, and lines connecting them labelled ‘guarantees’, ‘discretion’ and ‘dictates’.

49

Star-Spangled hair shirt 03.22.07 at 4:52 pm

A parody. Yeah.

50

Star-Spangled hair shirt 03.22.07 at 5:03 pm

Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

“Muslim women who veil in Western societies violate all these (our) norms. They are being immodest and invasive. They will succeed only in creating hostility. To every woman who decides to walk out the door looking like Batman and then complains of being ridiculed, I say, you are inviting it. Bear it or shed it.”

51

mattsteinglass 03.22.07 at 5:14 pm

You know, I like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but when I see her quoted by people like this, I think of the description of the role of the insidious Rabbi Bengelsdorf in Roth’s “The Plot Against America”: “Koshering Lindbergh for the goyim.”

52

Stuart 03.22.07 at 5:56 pm

I imagine the no dancing law in Westminister is a health and safety issue – people dancing in pubs that don’t have any floor space set aside for it is likely to lead to accidents (and maybe on to fights, given the wrong sort of clientele), and especially in London with space at a premium you can imagine Pubs generally wont set aside enough room, even if they something like a dance floor. You could probably lump it in conceptually with rules governing the maximum number of people allowed in a nightclub at any time, which is usually related to the amount of floor space they have available.

53

paul 03.22.07 at 6:02 pm

You have to remember the context in which Giuliani made this statement. His police were known locally for behavior such as concealing their badge numbers as they beat people up on the streets, detaining everyone in a public park in the middle of the day, and arresting people who made rude gestures at surveillance cameras. (That’s in addition to the better-known stuff about strip searches of arrestees assaulting artists who lampooned the mayor, and killing black men for reaching for a wallet or refusing to buy drugs.) After he cordoned off the park around City Hall to prevent protests and photo-ops by opposing politicians, the area became known as “Checkpoint Rudy.”

So although the notion that freedom in practice requires some kind of restrictions might be defensible, Guiliani is not the person to make a poster boy for this argument. Unless your idea of “lawful authority” is more like Judge Dredd than like Learned Hand.

54

ejh 03.22.07 at 6:03 pm

I have to say I’ve spent a reasonable amount of my life in Westminster pubs and I’ve never seen anybody dancing in one.

Nothing to do with the law, just not the sort of place one would choose to dance in.

55

PSP 03.22.07 at 7:20 pm

Over the front doors of at least two Courthouses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:

“Obedience to Law is Liberty”

56

engels 03.22.07 at 10:15 pm

Stuart thinks his loss of freedom is just a “health and safety issue”. Ejh tries to rationalise it by pretending it was his own free choice. Hegel would be proud of you guys! :)

57

Stuart 03.22.07 at 10:21 pm

Do you lose freedom when someone restricts you from doing something you would never do in the first place?

58

Slocum 03.22.07 at 10:50 pm

With respect to a scanner and OCR, I’d suggest using your digital camera — it’s much faster and you already have one. That’s how Google is doing it’s book scanning project. Clamp a tripod to a shelf above your desk, get a couple of desk lamps, to shine at an angle from the side and you’re ready to scan away (you can scan as fast as you can flip pages and press the shutter button).

You do have to be a bit careful about getting the pages straight if you want the OCR to work well. For that, I use ABBYY Fine Reader, which is very good, but pricey. I found an older 6.0 version for cheap. The latest version has a feature to straighten digital camera images, which works well (I tried the demo), but not well enough for me to cough up the extra cash (or, rather, I’m good enough at getting straight shots that I really can live without it).

And then when you scan, you can use the ‘text behind the page image’ form of Acrobat output. The cool thing about that is that you read (and print) the page images rather than the OCR’ed text, so it doesn’t matter if the OCR (or formatting) isn’t perfect. You still get full text searching capabilities.

I find that some text-only docs with no figures or graphics cover to full-text PDFs fine, but for others, use ‘text behind the page’.

59

engels 03.22.07 at 11:02 pm

Stuart – Good question, but I’d be inclined to say “yes”. It might depend on what exactly you mean by “something you would never do”. If it was something that you would never be able to do, ie. because it would be physically impossible for you to do it; if (to borrow an example from Monty Python) it was made illegal for men to give birth, this would not be a loss of men’s freedom. If on the other hand, it was something which you could conceivably do, but which you would never do, because it would be completely uncharacteristic of you to do it; if, for example, you never watch Channel 5 and are never likely to, and I prevent you from watching it by jamming the signal near your home, then I think that in this case you would have lost some of your freedom.

60

Sam C 03.22.07 at 11:10 pm

Stuart at 57: ‘Do you lose freedom when someone restricts you from doing something you would never do in the first place?’

Yes. Your freedom is the range of things you really could do, if you chose to. The sign saying ‘no swimming’ (if enforced), my inability to swim, both unfreedom. Similarly, not being able to afford to go to the one nearby gym with a swimming pool is unfreedom. The difficult bit is deciding which freedoms and unfreedoms are worth protecting, paying for, or fighting for (not being allowed to dance is a limit on your freedom, even if you were never going to dance anyway, but is it an important limit?).

The possibly-parodic Star-Spangled Hair Shirt thinks that the only freedoms worth the effort are freedoms to buy, sell, and not be robbed. I doubt this. But this dispute is not going to be settled either by a definition of the word ‘freedom’ or by an appeal to the US Constitution. It might be solved by thinking about what kinds of freedom are valuable to east-African plains apes like us.

Aside to John Emerson: Gellner’s work on e.g. systems of trial by collective oath could be productively balanced by Evans-Pritchard on the Nuer’s anarchic management of conflict. The anthropological facts are one of the many reasons why Hobbes is dead wrong.

61

novakant 03.22.07 at 11:24 pm

so you’re idea of freedom is dancing in a pub, great – do you like dancing on the tube, too? what about dancing in restaurants?

all these places are not designed to be danced in and it wouldn’t take Westminster council to make you aware of this fact, just normal people who would regard you as a bloody nuisance; if you want to go dancing there are tons of places in Westminster to do so, and if you really want to have a go at it, go to Shoreditch or Vauxhall or Camden and you can dance until the cows come home

but maybe you should stay home and read a little Hegel, because his idea of freedom is infinitely more interesting and illuminating than your cartoon version of it

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engels 03.22.07 at 11:30 pm

Novakant – I know it’s a caricature: the “:)” sign was supposed to make it clear that I wasn’t being serious. And there’s no disrespect intended. I like Hegel.

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Sam C 03.22.07 at 11:58 pm

Novakant – sorry, not clear whether 61 was directed at Engels or at me. If me, then I’ve already given my answer: the interesting question isn’t about the definition of ‘freedom’ (it’s an essentially contested concept). The interesting question is about which freedoms (broad notion, call it something else if you like) are important and worth defending. On Hegel: the more I read of him, the less sure I am either that I understand a word, or that it’s worth the trouble. But that may just be my problem.

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John Emerson 03.23.07 at 12:15 am

Sam C: I don’t think that Evans-P’s work is very generalizable. It worked sort of OK in a very particular circumstance.

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Sam C 03.23.07 at 1:00 am

John E: Wouldn’t ‘sort of OK in very particular circumstance’ apply to any functioning way of organising our affairs? Absolutist states worked for a while, too. And the Nuer are not an isolated case: see e.g. Barclay, People Without Government (or even my book… am I allowed to advertise my book?… see here)

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mattsteinglass 03.23.07 at 1:24 am

The sign saying ‘no swimming’ (if enforced)

It’s unfreedom even if never enforced. Authoritarian regimes rarely have to enforce their laws against “undermining national unity” etc.; the point is the chilling effect.

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abb1 03.23.07 at 7:54 am

Your freedom is the range of things you really could do, if you chose to.

This is assuming that you do have a range of options, that the ‘free-will’ thing really does exist.

But it is entirely possible, of course, that you don’t have any range of options in the first place, that what you do is the only possibility allowed by the laws of nature. The future already exists all the way to infinity and the present is only a slice of it.

Not that it should prevent us from enjoying the illusion.

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Sam C 03.23.07 at 9:30 am

abb1 in 67: ‘This is assuming that you do have a range of options, that the ‘free-will’ thing really does exist.’

No, it isn’t: that’s why the ‘if you chose to’ clause is in there. The account of freedom I’ve given is wholly compatible with determinism; indeed it’s pretty much straight out of Hume. Your range of options is the set of actions which are not closed to you by constraint, lack of resource, etc., not those which are available to you through mysterious causality-violating free will.

mattsteinglass at 66: ‘It’s unfreedom even if never enforced.’

Fair point, but I meant ‘enforced’ to cover chains in the head as well as the police.

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novakant 03.23.07 at 10:49 am

ok, sorry engels, it just felt like an old flame of mine got a bit of a bad rap in this thread :)

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Richard 03.23.07 at 12:05 pm

With respect to a scanner and OCR, I’d suggest using your digital camera—it’s much faster and you already have one.

This is quite true, IF: you’re very disciplined about getting the pages straight and flat, and you have a good, even, bright lamp setup (and you put a bit of black paper underneath the page you’re currently photographing. Ideally you want some good, small, heavy weights to hold the pages in place and a special booth for doing the shooting.

I’ve wasted a few hours on this, and wound up spending a couple of hundred dollars on a scanner.

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abb1 03.23.07 at 1:05 pm

Well, Sam, you’re still assuming that there is a set of options, but what if, due to all the known and unknown constraints, there’s only one single option. For example, while reading these words right now, you feel that you could’ve chosen to do something else instead, but I don’t see any evidence to that. You can’t prove that there is a single possible alternative to the universe as it exists at this moment.

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Tim McG 03.23.07 at 4:11 pm

When you’re scanning for ocr purposes (or taking digital photos per slocum’s good advice), if the pages are thin, you’ll do well to slip a sheet of black paper behind the page you’re scanning to reduce noise from the back of the page.

Getting in such a tizz about one line of Giuliani’s is rather silly, but thankfully some people here (Belle at 17: Bravissima!) are pointing out the big picture. Yes, he’s said one thing that could be interpreted in a somewhat interesting light. BFD. Little Al Capone liked his milk and cookies, too.

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Tim McG 03.23.07 at 4:21 pm

When you’re scanning for ocr purposes (or taking digital photos per slocum’s good advice), if the pages are thin, you’ll do well to slip a sheet of black paper behind the page you’re scanning to reduce noise from the back of the page.

Getting in such a tizz about one line of Giuliani’s is rather silly, but thankfully some people here (Belle at 17: Bravissima!) are pointing out the big picture. Yes, he’s said one thing that could be interpreted in a somewhat interesting light. BFD. Little Al Capone liked his milk and cookies, too.

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Tim McG 03.23.07 at 4:25 pm

Getting in such a tizz about one line of Giuliani’s is rather silly, but thankfully some people here (Belle at 17: Bravissima!) are pointing out the big picture. Yes, he’s said one thing that could be interpreted in a somewhat interesting light. BFD. Little Al Capone liked his milk and cookies, too.

Dang, Richard beat me to posting my advice about OCRing.

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Sam C 03.24.07 at 1:59 pm

abb1 at 71: ‘Well, Sam, you’re still assuming that there is a set of options, but what if, due to all the known and unknown constraints, there’s only one single option. For example, while reading these words right now, you feel that you could’ve chosen to do something else instead, but I don’t see any evidence to that. You can’t prove that there is a single possible alternative to the universe as it exists at this moment.’

I’m not assuming that, and I don’t understand how you could read what I wrote and suppose that I am. To repeat: the ‘set of options’ I refer to is not the range of things which really might happen, depending on which way some utterly mysterious act of free will turns out. It’s the range of hypothetical actions which are not closed to someone by constraint, coercion, lack of capacity, lack of resources, etc. Freedom is not a matter of being uncaused, it’s a matter of being caused in the right way.

This is a standard compatibilist account of free will, and intended only as background to the on-topic point I was making, that the political argument is not going to be settled by arguing over the definition of ‘freedom’. The political question is, Which freedoms are important?

You’re quite right that I ‘can’t prove that there is a single possible alternative to the universe as it exists at this moment’, but this doesn’t concern me at all, since I don’t want to prove any such thing: I’m a compatibilist. I think the ‘possible alternative’ claim is almost certainly false.

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abb1 03.24.07 at 4:15 pm

I read what wikipedia has to say about compatibilism. Best I can understand, you differentiate between ‘external’ constraints and the ‘internal’ (psychological) ones. Combined they only leave one single possibility, but you would prefer to minimize the external kind. Correct?

I don’t find it convincing. The distinction seems arbitrary, the approach is idealistic. In fact, all the constraints are of the same nature. You can’t fly because of gravity and you can’t watch Channel 5 because of the way electrical currents flow inside your brain. Both constraints are due to the physical laws of nature, they are not different in any significant respect. It seems that it’s only useful to differentiate this way if you want to maintain the illusion.

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Sam C 03.24.07 at 5:25 pm

The distinction is between the proximate cause of one’s action being one’s will and the proximate cause being something else. This isn’t arbitrary, just because it’s generally very important to creatures like us to be able to exert control, i.e. to be able to act on one’s will. I don’t understand what you mean by ‘idealistic’, nor do I know what ‘illusion’ I’m supposed to be maintaining. Again, compatibilism is background to the political point that we need to know not what ‘freedom’ really means (there is no such real meaning) but to decide which freedoms are important.

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abb1 03.24.07 at 6:40 pm

I understand that this is OT and has little to do with politics, except, perhaps, that a good dose of determinism could help balance the messianic complex most American politicians and many ordinary Americans suffer from.

Now, maybe ‘idealism’ is not the right word, it’s probably ‘dualism’ or something. This approach contrasts material phenomena against this “will” you mentioned. Sorta like ‘the ghost in the machine’ idea, even if the ghost here is a deterministic fella.

It seems that if you want to accept determinism and remain materialistic, it should be logical to assume that all there’s there is just a machine without any ghost inside whatsoever. But hey, what do I know?

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roy belmont 03.24.07 at 7:07 pm

“You can’t prove that there is a single possible alternative to the universe as it exists at this moment.”
This universe. One of an infinite number. Also this one and most of the others probably cycle in a temporal sense, so that at some point in the future they contract backward through time, toward what some myopic astro-physicists are still calling the “big bang”; then, with minor and major adjustments and tweaks, coursing right back out through these and adjacent, parallel, and alternate iterations of “universe”. Rinse, repeat.
Free will in an ordered universe is an impossibility, like bringing something new into an hermetically sealed chamber without breaking the seal; as is conscious participation in a predetermined, totally mechanical reality – and yet, here we are.
Possibly the conflict is built in to, or arises as a result of, the inaccurate terminology we use to ask these questions about where we are. Possibly the main error is in our framing.
Giuliani’s riding similar misapprehensions, of human purpose and fixed essence, toward an end that has more to do with the personal survival of his fellow neo-fascists and their bovine resource-aggregate, than the preservation of anything high and noble in the human continuum.

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engels 03.25.07 at 4:00 am

It seems that if you want to accept determinism and remain materialistic, it should be logical to assume that all there’s there is just a machine without any ghost inside whatsoever.

But that’s exactly what compatibilists like Sam do assume. Everything may be pre-determined; there is no “ghostly” causality-violating free will. Such a position is not “dualistic” and it does not “contrast” human will with “material phenomena”. Willed action, on this view, is a special kind of physical phenomenon. These are worthwhile issues but they are off-topic here. If you do want to learn something about them, you might start here:

http://www.rep.routledge.com/article/V014

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abb1 03.25.07 at 8:38 am

Going back on-topic:
These are worthwhile issues but they are off-topic here.

What do you care, there’s not been a single on-topic comment here for 2 days. Are you a law&order kinda guy yourself? How does it feel to be one, I’m curious?

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engels 03.25.07 at 2:41 pm

What do you care, there’s not been a single on-topic comment here for 2 days. Are you a law&order kinda guy yourself? How does it feel to be one, I’m curious?

Ok, abb1, you’re just trolling. If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have bothered responding.

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Faber 03.25.07 at 4:54 pm

Re: the ceding of decision power to some common authority — Baruch Spinoza also spoke of this, noting that the best such common authority is a republic.

Re: scanners. In terms of hardware capabilities, almost anything you get will be over-engineered for the job. I’ve had very good luck with the Canon LiDE, which, since it uses LED rather than fluorescent illumination, requires no warmup time, and also derives all its power from the USB connection, obviating the need for yet another “wall wart.” It’s compact, TWAIN-compliant, reasonably speedy, and a good performer.

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abb1 03.25.07 at 8:55 pm

Hey, engels, I was just trying to make a joke.

Still, I don’t understand, again, why chemical and electromagnetic processes in my brain should constitute a different category of constraints than, say, handcuffs.

If everything indeed is already predetermined, then the notion of a set of hypothetical options that would’ve been available to me had I been a different person (or rather a set of different persons) seems totally frivolous.

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