5/25/12

Thorstein Veblen is happily to be found on the Web.



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Thorstein Veblen is happily to be found on the Web. Thorstein Veblen was the most acerbic and salient economist of our history. That's an opinion. Once fashionable, Thorstein Veblen has stood the test of time and emerged a true prophet of consumer culture and its huge internal contradictions.

Here's a selection of sites that provide access to the thought this most stringent analyst of American (Western) culture and economics. Veblen's thought, like Nietzsche's, remains relevant to the present and future. It calls out for attention.

The Web is the future of words, of texts, of discourse. This page is a sample of the sorts of guideposts I find useful.

In general I have been subjective in my selection of Thorstein Veblem gems, delving deep into search results. I try not to feature sites that require downloads, or registration. I ignore sites that are too busy and seem hard to use.

I have not closed selections to critics of Thorstein Veblen. Please leave a comment if you wish to suggest a link or flag a non-working link.

I have placed the initial few sentences of each work linked to below to give a flavor of Thorstein Veblen's style and focus.


The institution of a leisure class is found in its best development at the higher stages of the barbarian culture; as, for instance, in feudal Europe or feudal Japan. In such communities the distinction between classes is very rigorously observed; and the feature of most striking economic significance in these class differences is the distinction maintained between the employments proper to the several classes. The upper classes are by custom exempt or excluded from industrial occupations, and are reserved for certain employments to which a degree of honour attaches.


In his exposition of the term "capital" Professor Böhm-Bawerk briefly touches on the wages-fund doctrine, so far as to reject summarily the proposition that the means of subsistence of productive laborers is drawn from the capital of the community, although, from the point of view of the employer, these "real wages" are to be regarded as drawn from his private capital. With the distinction which the discussion establishes between social capital and private capital, this position is, of course, in itself perfectly consistent.


M.G. de Lapouge recently said, "Anthropology is destined to revolutionise the political and the social sciences as radically as bacteriology has revolutionised the science of medicine." In so far as he speaks of economics, the eminent anthropologist is not alone in his conviction that the science stands in need of rehabilitation.


In the accepted economic theories the ground of ownership is commonly conceived to be the productive labor of the owner. This is taken, without reflection or question, to be the legitimate basis of property; he who has produced a useful thing should 
possess and enjoy it.


It is one of the commonplaces of the received economic theory that work is irksome. Many a discussion proceeds on this axiom that, so far as regards economic matters, men desire above all things to get the goods produced by labor and to avoid the labor 
by which the goods are produced.


It seems altogether probable that in the primitive groups of mankind, when the race first took to a systematic use of tools and so emerged upon the properly human plane of life, there was but the very slightest beginning of a system of status, with little of invidious distinction between classes and little of a corresponding division of employments.



In an earlier paper the view has been expressed that the economics handed down by the great writers of a past generation is substantially a taxonomic science. A view of much the same purport, so far as concerns the point here immediately in question, is presented in an admirably lucid and cogent way by Professor Clark in a recent number of this journal.


ADAM SMITH'S animistic bent asserts itself more plainly and more effectually in the general trend and aim of his discussion than in the details of theory ... Both in the Theory of the Moral Sentiments and in the Wealth of Nations there are many passages that testify to his abiding conviction that there is a wholesome trend in the natural course of things, and the characteristically optimistic tone in which he speaks for natural liberty is but an expression of this conviction. An extreme resort to this animistic ground occurs in his plea for freedom of investment.


IN what has already been said, it has appeared that the changes which have supervened in the preconceptions of the earlier economists constitute a somewhat orderly succession. The feature of chief interest in this development has been a gradual change in the received grounds of finality to which the successive generations of economists have brought their theoretical output, on which they have been content to rest their conclusions, and beyond which they have not been moved to push their analysis of events or their scrutiny of phenomena.


The system of doctrines worked out by Marx is characterized by a certain boldness of conception and a great logical consistency. Taken in detail, the constituent elements of the system are neither novel nor iconoclastic, nor does Marx at any point claim 
to have discovered previously hidden facts or to have invented recondite formulations of facts already known; but the system as a whole has an air of originality and initiative such as is rarely met with among the sciences that deal with any phase of 
human culture.


Marx worked out his system of theory in the main during the third quarter of the nineteenth century. He came to the work from the standpoint given him by his early training in German thought, such as the most advanced and aggressive German thinking was through the middle period of the century, and he added to this German standpoint the further premises given him by an exceptionally close contact with and alert observation of the English situation.


The Nature of Capital and Income is of that class of books that have kept the guild of theoretical economists content to do nothing toward "the increase and diffusion of knowledge" during the past quarter of a century. Of this class Mr Fisher's work is of the best -- thoughtful, painstaking, sagacious, exhaustive, lucid, and tenaciously logical. What it lacks is the breath of life; and this lack it shares with the many theoretical productions of the Austrian diversion as well as of the economists of more strictly classical antecedents.


There is less novelty, either in the course of the argument or in the results achieved, in the Rate of Interest than in Mr Fisher's earlier volume on the Nature of Capital and Income. Substantially the whole of it lies within the accustomed lines of that marginal-utility school of economics for which its author has so often and so convincingly spoken.


The limitations of the marginal-utility economics are sharp and characteristic. It is from first to last a doctrine of value,and in point of form and method it is a theory of valuation.


It is something more than a dozen years since the following observations on American academic life were first assembled in written form. In the meantime changes of one kind and another have occurred, although not such as to alter the course of policy 
which has guided American universities.


As is true of any other point of view that may be characteristic of any other period of history, so also the modern point of view is a matter of habit. It is common to the modern civilised peoples only in so far as these peoples have come through substantially the same historical experience and have thereby acquired substantially the same habits of thought and have fallen into somewhat the same prevalent frame of mind.


It is now something like a year since this book was written.And much of its argument is in the nature of forecast which has in great part been overtaken by the recipitate run of events during these past months.


Thorstein Veblen is to economics what Jonathan Swift is to English literature: a master of the art of satire. Is is essential to effective satire that its message be ambiguous: the reader should never be sure whether the author is absolutely serious or just pulling his or her leg


Thorstein Veblen ... was arguably the most original and penetrating economist and social critic that the United States has produced" (Rick Tilman, Thorstein Veblen and His Critics, 1891-1963; Princeton: Princeton UP., 1992, p. ix.). He was one of the first academics to examine the complex relationship between consumption and wealth in society.


Thorstein Veblen was odd man out in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century American economics. His position on the fringe started early.


As unconventional in his personal life as in his academic career, Thorstein Veblen always seemed to stand outside of his social and intellectual environment. In 1906, after fourteen years at the University of Chicago, some of which he had spent as a research fellow and instructor, he had risen only to the rank of assistant professor.



It is the author's contention that F. Scott Fitgerald's novel The Great Gatsby which was set in the 1920's was "not original with Fitzgerald, but reflects the influence, both directly and indirectly, of the earlier adversary of conspicous consumption and pecuniary emulation, Thorstein Veblen."


Veblen cannot be indiscriminately lumped with the common run of American academicians. Compared to the academic fossils of his time he was indeed one of the few outstanding original thinkers in America.


Thorstein Bunde Veblen (July 30, 1857 - August 3, 1929) was an American economist and sociologist. Educated at Carleton College, Johns Hopkins University and Yale University, his most famous work, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) is a biting satire directed at the leisure class. He coined the widely used phrases "conspicuous consumption" and "pecuniary emulation".


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Jesus Out-criticized Hitchens and Dawkins


Jesus 
attacked religion 
more effectively than 
Hitchens or Dawkins
Jesus skewered priestly power
and said Abba is here 
on this side of the veil
and that this can be proved out
in simple
human experience
Millions do so every day
Abba is universal
Jesus unveiled values that
when willed can build
the realm of Abba on this planet
Ignored discounted and misunderstood
Jesus is the critic
whose values propel history


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William Shakespeare sonnets that may be found and conveniently read online

If You Think Unions Are Declining Wait for the Rest of Society


The decline of union power is merely part of a move 
that will soon engulf our entire society 
The entire fabric of education is due 
for what can only be seen as a sea change
one that will shake universities to the root 
and most likely send them the way of newspapers
Webward

 Imagine the computer as a Model T
 We are about ten years past the introduction of the model T
We are moving toward the end of the automobile era now
Its first herald other than a few seers in the 1960s
 was the emergence of the Web 

By the year 2000 the Web was showing 
every sign of growing into the next iteration of our working society.

The current gadget stage will eventually lead to changes 
that transform houses and schools 
and the current structure 
and salary scale of commuter businesses.

Everything now is in the process 
of adjusting to the obsolescence 
of the world that oil-sprawl-growth has created
 It is a world no longer affordable
It is a world in dire need of replacement..

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The short form is an alluring phrase that has, as yet, no real meaning



The short form is an alluring phrase that has, as yet, no real meaning except what one regards as short. Some say 2000 words, others three and there is, of course, Twitter's 140 characters limit.

Still, the Web is driving a move toward short form writing. Here is a selection of approaches to the short form that struck me as well-presented. At this point, such writing can be whatever you say.

Why Short Form Copy is Where the Money's at: "What are some well-paying, short-form copywriting projects you may wish to look into? Here are a few suggestions:"

Well worth a look if you have an interest in such writing.

Short Forms of Poetry - There are some easy-to-write short forms. Some of those follow....: "

Many will know of haiku but there are other options. Including what you make up yourself.

Writing Tall Tales in Short Form: "Flash fiction stories, also known as Immediate Fiction, can be difficult to write. Knowing a little bit about topics of persuasive writing can help you get your point across in succinct style."

A good introduction to what it is with examples.

Mastering Short Forms of Writing: "A trend toward shorter forms of writing benefits writers, publishers, website designers, and audiences. The short form exists in almost every genre, from drama to fiction, from poetry to prose. Shorter forms of writing are not only easily squeezed in among longer features, but they cater to the increasingly short attention span of information and entertainment consumers."



This gets to the point. Are we evolving in the direction of absorbing the information we need in forms that require massive abbreviation from what we're used to?

The final entry is from the Twitter meister himself. There is more on the page. It's worth a look.

140 Characters: "The amazing thing about this particular protocol is that it's being defined daily. By you. Twitter was inspired by the concepts of immediacy, transparency, and approachability, and created by the guiding principles of simplicity, constraint, and craftsmanship."

Constraint is the take away word here. Enough said.

Short Form Writing From Twitter to poems to stories to copy writing, this survey shows that the short form is not yet written in stone.

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Jesus was the champion of human rights


Jesus was the champion of human rights 
Equality the first shall be the last 
Do unto others sacrifice hold fast 
Love universally keep heaven in your sights


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Biblical hermeneutics is an impossible subject - 8 salient sites


Biblical hermeneutics is an impossible subject because it is dominated by fundamentalists on one side and a balkanized plethora of modernist and post-modern interpreters on the other.

Moreover, when we come to sites on biblical hermeneutics, we are lost in pdf files, curricula links and pages designed to sell this or that book. As you will see below, the best link I found was buried in the back of the Google results, meaning that what may be good for SEO is not very good for actually helping folk to find what's useful.

Fancy term

Hermeneutics is a fancy term for interpretation of texts. Biblical hermeneutics has been locked in the very culture war that we all know and love. The Chicago Statement noted below is an example of the comprehensive fundamentalist attack on anything that smacks at a denial of the divine inerrancy of the text of the Bible.

Into this wall bump many modernist and post-modern efforts to mess with the canon, if I may cadge a cavil from my bedside-mentor Harold Bloom. I throw my hands up. I would last one minute or less in a catechism conducted by fundamentalists.

But this exercise forces me to own up to my own hermaneutic, even though it will never be honored or taught. So as not to bore, my hermeneutic says that the Pentateuch is mainly about blaming YHWH for everything, that the high prophets and Job taken together veer directly into the mind of Jesus and that Jesus himself is done in in the New Testament by the good efforts of persons so unaware of what he was about that they turned him into the very thing he did not want to be turned into.

As Rem says, I've said too much.

Here, in any case, with a few descriptive emendations, are my candidates for the 8 Best Biblical Hermaneutics sites.

Web Directory: Biblical Interpretation (Hermeneutics) A useful and substantial collection of links on the subject of Biblical interpretation and hermeneutics buried in the back of Google results. I give it a first position.

Feminist Hermeneutics and The Bible: "However, if the exegete can expose contemporary abuse and prejudice in the use of the texts, revealing that the consequences of the Fall have perpetuated the oppression of women even by means of the Word itself, then she may serve the cause of Feminism within the bounds of faithfulness to scripture."

biblical literature :: Types of biblical hermeneutics -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia

Biblical Hermeneutics: "Biblical Hermeneutics in Relation to Conventions of Language Use in Africa"

Interpretation of the Bible - Theopedia

Biblical Hermeneutics -- Milton S. Terry Exhaustive, detailed, interesting.

Hermeneutics - Bible study interpretation Shows the difficulties of arriving at an agreed interpretation.

Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics Fundamentalist
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Spiritual journey websites are many but they are a mixed bag.




Spiritual journey websites are many but they are a mixed bag. Many are simply promotions for books or organizations. They do not have immediate relevant content on spiritual journeys.

Admittedly any personal effort to pick and choose is subjective. But I found the following, in over ten pages of Google results, to be at least of interest. They loaded fast and while I was there did not assault me with surprise ads and other no no's.

These are in no particular order They are all meant to be read online. I merely found them in a quagmire of results.

Start your spiritual journey

A Strange-But-True Spiritual Journey

TheTrueLight.Net - My Spiritual Journey

Spiritual Awakening Blog

Days of Deepening Friendship - An Online Spiritual Journey

J. Pittman McGehee: The Spiritual Journey from Biography To Autobiography - changing one's mind...

Spiritual Journey | Spiritual Enlightenment | Chopra Center

Spiritual Journey: "Ex-Pentecostal Recounts Spiritual Journey"
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Christian Thinkers Ponder Nietzsche





Visit Religion Online

From:

A Christian Scholar's Dialogue with Muslims by Hans Kung

Second. in the process of secularization, modern Christianity has had negative as well as positive experiences which Islam in its unavoidable modernization quite possibly might also have lying before it. That is particularly true in regard to dealing with the modern critique of religion, as, for example, by Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche and Freud.

From:

A Political Vision for the Organic Model by Robert W. Hoffert

Both politics and personality would be reinvested with a wholeness they have lost in countless ways: in Marx's economic determinism, in Nietzsche's nihilism, and in Dahl's socioeconomic statistics.

From:

A Whiteheadian Chaosmos: Process Philosophy from a Deleuzean Perspective by Tim Clark

As it was with Nietzsche, so it is with the pagan Deleuze.

From:

A Worried America by Gunnar Myrdal

We could, and did, indulge in the pessimism of a Schopenhauer or in the aggressive egocentricity of a Nietzsche,

From:

An Interview with David Tracy by Lois Malcolm


I agree with Nietzsche: our souls are too small.

From:

Anselm Kiefer: Art as Atonement by Ronald Goetz

Because Nietzsche's thought was appropriated by Hitler and Nazism (however legitimately or illegitimately the Nazis understood that self-contradictory philosopher -- and the jury is forever out on that question), Nietzsche came under a cloud in Germany immediately after World War II.

But such an eclipse could not be expected to last, and at present Germany is experiencing a Nietzschian revival, Kiefer is plainly indebted, as were his early 20-century German expressionist predecessors, to elements within the Nietzschian mind-set.

From:

Has Europe Become Theologically Barren? by John B. Cobb, Jr.


When we read the neo-Kantians against the background of Nietzsche's critique, they seem somewhat superficial. As knowledge of other religious traditions became more important, the easy affirmation of Christian superiority was harder to maintain. I think here, especially, of Ernst Troeltsch, and his giving up of the claim to the absoluteness of Christianity.

From:

Whitehead and Nietzsche: Overcoming the Evil of Time by Strachan Donnelley

Whitehead and Nietzsche, indefatigable process philosophers, march to decidedly different philosophic drums. Yet at a striking junction, they cross paths.

Both find human life and the temporal world of becoming plagued by an ultimate evil that is deeply involved with the nature of time -- in particular, with the essential passage of time and the temporal dimension of the past. Time threatens to devour human significance and the humanly good life.

From:

Whitehead and the Dualism of Mind and Nature by Philip Michael Rose

His [Nietzsche's] naturalistic approach removes the veil of completeness and order which reason brings to the world and reveals instead a world which is essentially incomplete -- an open-ended, chaotic world of pure contingency.

Friedrich Nietzsche Philosophy -- Attitudes Toward Sourced attitudes toward Nietzsche and his philosophy from Religion Online.
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