894 Matching Annotations
  1. Jan 2024
    1. a historian who was also interested in getting the actual words of people who witnessed history into the hands of readers

      This was Alfred Bushnell Hart of Harvard. He lived from the middle of the 19th to the middle of the 20th centuries.

    1. One of the knocks against the Great Books is that they are the records of the winners. These are books that people in power, with lots of resources, chose to propagate and preserve. And since they tend to represent the only remaining record of certain eras, reading the Great Books gives a distorted view of human history, thought, and behavior.This is in contrast to our own time, when we have access to a much wider range of thought, representing many different points of view.

      This is a good point. Our view of the past generally, not just of the literature of the past, IS skewed in this way. I'm not so sure I agree with the assumption Naomi makes about the present being much improved, however. Especially nowadays, it seems a bit hard to argue that dissenting worldviews are as welcome as we'd like to imagine.

    1. I wasthus in a good position for finding out by practice the modeof putting a thought which gives it easiest admittance intominds not prepared for it by habit; while I became practi-cally conversant with the difficulties of moving bodies of men,the necessities of compromise, the art of sacrificing thenon-essential to preserve the essential. I learnt how to ob-tain the best I could, when I could not obtain everything

      Art of compromise


  2. Dec 2023
    1. This preparationof abstracts, subject to my father's censorship, was of greatservice to me, by compelling precision

      Abstracts as notes

    2. I rejoicein the decline of the old brutal and tyrannical system ofteaching, which, however, did succeed in enforcing habitsof application; but the new, as it seems to me, is trainingup a race of men who will be incapable of doing anythingwhich is disagreeable to them.

      Too easy

    3. the forbearance which flowsfrom a conscientious sense of the importance to mankind ofthe equal freedom of all opinions, is the only tolerancewhich is commendable, or, to the highest moral order ofminds, possible.


    4. The liberality of the age, or in other words theweakening of the obstinate prejudice which makes menunable to see what is before their eyes because it is con-trary to their expectations,

      Definition of Liberality


  3. Nov 2023
    1. synoptic tables.

      synoptic reading!

    2. I, however, derived from this dis-cipline the great advantage, of learning more thoroughlyand retaining more lastingly the things which I was setto teach

      Teaching is the best way to learn.

    3. he required me afterwards to restate to him in myown words.


    4. I madenotes on slips of paper while reading, and from these inthe morning walks, I told the gtor^ to him



    1. In 1939, at a time of extreme danger for Britain, this episode exposed risks to the nation’s security as its central bank governor used his independence to transfer $6 million to its enemy - the Nazi regime. Throughout the controversy, Norman held the line. He claimed that the BIS was a completely nonpolitical institution that had never even been required to tell the government about its role in the German looting of Czechoslovak gold in the first place.

      Ordered a copy of The Meddlers from ILL.

    1. Even if life were intolerably bleak and empty – it isn’t, but even if it were – how could you, how could anyone, twist a need for solace into a belief in scriptural truth claims about the universe, simply because they make you feel good? Intelligent people don’t believe something because it comforts them. They believe it because, and only because, they have seen evidence that supports it.

      Dawkins has a point here. People should not believe something because it comforts them, even if the alternative is existential dread.

    1. Strabo wrote that, before its fall, Carthage had 700,000 inhabitants and led an alliance of 300 cities (both almost certainly only small exaggerations) while Polybius called it the “wealthiest city in the world.”

      Carthage and the harbor at Tunis are so close to Italy and Sicily. And really could control the western Mediterranean. When you look at the map, it's a bit amazing.

    1. Solitary study occupied four of the six days of the standard academic week at Wilhelmstein. In particular, Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays were set aside for meetings with tutors and the completion of projects assigned by tutors. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, students gathered in the library of the fortress, where they divided their time between group classes and self-directed study.

      Self-directed study and occasional discussions with "tutors" seems like a model that could be applied to lifelong learning.

  4. Oct 2023
    1. Another friend and a contemporary of Darwin, The Swiss botanist Alphonse de Candolle, also wrote positively about Darwin’s note-taking method. In his book “La Phytographie: Or, The Art Of Describing Plants Considered From Different Points Of View”, de Candolle discussed the benefits of using slips of paper to record observations, a practice that he and his father had used in their own work. He noted that Darwin had independently developed the same method, and that he was “more impressed with it than ever”.Here is an excerpt from de Candolle’s book (translated from the French):“Mr. Darwin, whom I had the pleasure of seeing, used for his notes exactly the same method of loose slips that my father and I have followed, and which I have described in detail in my Phytographie. Eighty years of our experience have demonstrated to me its value. I am more impressed with it than ever, since Darwin devised it on his own. This method gives the work more accuracy, supplements memory, and saves years.”

      Another example of similar methods.

    1. some historians contended to me that the scholarly world is functioning just fine, but did grant that there may be problems in so-called popular history — that is, history not done by professional historians, and for wider audiences. I’m not convinced by this distinction, quite frankly. The worst cases of all are when trust-conveying labels like “peer-reviewed publication” provide cover for major errors or worse.

      I agree. Popular historians are often trained as old-school journalists and are quite clear about the rules and careful to apply them correctly.

    2. Designs against Charleston: The Trial Record of the Denmark Vesey Slave Conspiracy of 1822

      However, 542 libraries have this, so I could have it via ILL in a matter of days.

    1. “metascience”. I hope that history will see a similar movement.

      I agree. But let's NOT call it metahistory.

    2. in history it should perhaps be a requirement to upload to some public repository the photographs or transcriptions of any cited archival sources that are not otherwise freely accessible online.

      This is a great suggestion! It would hugely expand the availability of primary sources to the reading public, which probably would result in secondary authors being more careful (not to mention honest).

    3. What I simply cannot fathom, now that I’ve read her sources thanks to Jelf’s transcriptions, is how Bulstrode arrived at her narrative at all.

      But the story you have just told about it suggests that her made-up (for the sake of wokeness?) narrative is going to be challenged. This sounds kind-of promising.

    4. In the 1960s you could find an agricultural historian saying of another that he was “of course entitled to express his views, however bizarre.”

      The decades-long debate over the "Market Transition" is a perfect example of people arguing over interpretations, often of the same data. But the combatants were also finding their own data. There's so much of it out there to be found that getting it wrong or making it up is a relatively minor problem, in my opinion.

    5. the sheer pervasiveness of errors also allows unintentionally biased narratives to get repeated and become embedded as certainty, and even perhaps gives cover to people who purposefully make stuff up.

      This is probably true, but again I don't think the main issue is erroneous facts creeping in accidentally or being made up by propagandists. There are so many legitimate primary accounts of the past that it's easy for even well-meaning people to differ on causality and on what was important in the past. To answer the question I asked earlier, I think it would be entirely legitimate and in fact I would expect a different historian who looked at the mountain of data that went into Peppermint Kings to find different stories and interpretations supported by it.

    6. History, like any other field, very often relies on trust.

      Yeah, that's what my students said when I asked them. They try to get a sense of whether or not they can trust the person making the historical claim. They also sometimes double-check extremely unusual claims, especially of these seem central to an argument that seeks to overturn conventional understanding.

    7. The myth of the food canning innovation prize is a truly ancient one, which I traced back to a mis-translation of a vaguely-worded French source all the way back in 1869.

      I agree that this is unfortunate. I'm glad he has set the record straight. Still not sure, however, whether my understanding of the past will be significantly altered by this new datum. Maybe part of my point is that if a single data-point is that dispositive, maybe there's something wrong with the history you're reading.

    8. Take the oft-repeated idea that more troops were sent to quash the Luddites in 1812 than to fight Napoleon in the Peninsular War in 1808. Utter nonsense, as I set out in 2017, though it has been cited again and again and again as fact ever since Eric Hobsbawm first misled everyone back in 1964. Before me, only a handful of niche military history experts seem to have noticed and were largely ignored. Despite being busted, it continues to spread. Terry Deary (of Horrible Histories fame), to give just one of many recent examples, repeated the myth in a 2020 book. Historical myths are especially zombie-like. Even when disproven, they just. won’t. die.

      Assumption here seems to be that this piece of erroneous information has been taken to mean or show or prove the same thing every time it has been deployed, which I doubt. I think the significance of an error might be judged by what it is used for and how central it is to supporting an argument or interpretation. Often these odd facts of history, whether true or erroneous or completely fabricated, are decorative rather than central.

    9. Historical myths, often based on mere misunderstanding, but occasionally on bias or fraud, spread like wildfire. People just love to share unusual and interesting facts

      This is true, but it doesn't mean what he thinks it means. Which is sort-of the point, I guess.

    10. I’ve become increasingly worried that science’s replication crises might pale in comparison to what happens all the time in history, which is not just a replication crisis but a reproducibility crisis. Replication is when you can repeat an experiment with new data or new materials and get the same result. Reproducibility is when you use exactly the same evidence as another person and still get the same result — so it has a much, much lower bar for success, which is what makes the lack of it in history all the more worrying.

      The assumption here seems to be that two historians looking at the same pile of data should come to the same conclusions. I think this misunderstands what history is about.

    11. Many of them had made mistakes in the experiments, through negligence, unintended bias, or simple error. A few, quite simply, had been faked. Whole swathes of research and media coverage, including some globally best-selling books, turned out to be based on foundations of sand.

      And basically, no one cared.

  5. Sep 2023
    1. terms as askilled use of words for the sake of communicating knowledge.

      Interesting distinction.

    2. frequently you can expect the author,especially a good one, to help you to state the plan of his book.

      Reading like a grad student, your goal is to find this type of statement and then verify its accuracy.


      Structure of the book.

    4. say what the whole book is about as briefly as possible.

      This, once again, has a bit more to do with the reader's goal than they want to admit.

    5. every book with­out exception that is worth reading at all has a unity and an organization of parts.

      I don't think I agree.

    6. "normative," constitutes a very special category of practical books.

      But it can be difficult for readers (or even authors) to keep straight when their descriptions of topics such as economics are positive or normative.

    7. what to do about it if we wish to get some­where. This can be summarized in the distinction between knowing that and knowing how.

      Again, goals are central but are outside their scope.

    8. distinction between knowledge and action

      Why is this so important to them?

    9. There is so much social science in some contemporary novels, and so much fiction in much of sociology, that it is hard to keep them apart.

      This is funny, but again I'd argue that it highlights the reader's goals again.

    10. he is thinking about his own thoughts.


    11. Presumably he knows more about the subject than you do; if not, you probably should not be bothering with his book.

      This is the truest statement of this idea so far. The author is presumed to be an expert. That doesn't make them your "better".

    12. reading, if it is active, is thinking, and thinking tends to express itself in words, spoken or written.

      Luhmann equated thinking with writing.

    13. Good books are over your head;

      Again the hierarchy.

    14. idea of the book's truth, in whole or part, and of its significance, if only in your own scheme of things.

      Truth and significance seem at the heart of this recurring issue of subjectivity and authority they keep dancing around.

    15. your goal in reading

      They keep saying this, but I'm not sure they're serious. It seems like the only distinction they make is, are you sufficiently serious? If the answer is yes they assume they know what you should do next. I'm not so sure.

    16. Great speed in reading is a dubious achievement;

      I think the excessive reaction to the speed-reading movement of the 20th century weakens this whole section.

    17. It is not necessary to gain more than a general idea of the kind of facts that Jefferson is citing,

      Actually, it is important because it allows the reader to better judge the parts we are supposed to read slowly and thoroughly understand.

    18. In tackling a difficult book for the first time, read it through without ever stopping to look up or ponder the things you do not understand right away. Pay attention to what you can understand

      I'm not loving this advice. I think it depends entirely on one's goals, which I think they are consistently overlooking.

    19. difference between aided and unaided discovery comes into play here.

      Can the education system be described as a process of increasingly focusing students on the importance of the "aided" rather than the "unaided"?

    20. syntopical reader is able to construct an analysis of the subject that may not be in any of the books.

      This is the magical emergent moment in the zettelkasten.

    21. if your goal in reading is simply information

      There should be a "level 2.5" that corresponds to mining a book for data.

    22. Inspectional reading is the art of skimming systemati­cally

      This is probably a step I should teach, and suggest students do it before beginning to read at the "higher" levels.

    23. call instruction "aided discovery

      I'm reminded of Hayden White's description of narrative, which I imagine as seeming to fill in for "discovery", but this is inaccurate because the narrative arc is determined, which discovery by observation is not.

    24. abecedarian

      16th-century Germans who rejected the idea of knowledge?

    25. we can learn only from our "betters.

      There it is. Reading for understanding rather than facts presupposes this teacher-student relationship? Then, primary sources are for information only, unless I can suppose the author is my "better"? This approach would seem to be challenged by cultural relativism.

    26. But suppose he is reading a history that seeks not merely to give him some more facts but also to throw a new and perhaps more revealing light on all the facts he knows

      I think this distinction is a bit arbitrary and artificial.

    27. Reading is a complex activity

      But I'd remind him to mention that people have different interests and goals in their reading, so the output of active reading will vary.

    28. The thing that is written and read, like the ball, is the passive object common to the two activities that begin and terminate the process.

      It's a good analogy, as far as it goes. But complicated by the earlier distinction between knowledge and understanding.

    29. Annals of America

      These are the light blue books on the shelf behind me when I'm on video.

  6. Aug 2023
    1. scholars’ efforts to share knowledge broadly don’t align with the ways we get and keep jobs at most academic institutions.

      That depends on the knowledge they are trying to share. Scholars probably should spend some time thinking about whether their work has a social value and if it does, how they can craft writing that allows them to speak to both audiences. I think it is probably pretty difficult to "circle back" and translate work for a public audience, once you have finished.

    2. a culture that glorifies arcane unintelligibility while disdaining impact and audience.

      Yeah, okay. But I think this has been overstated. While there are certainly some academics whose goal is to hide the emptiness of their actual thoughts in meaningful-sounding jargon, I think there are also people in nearly every discipline who want to both make sense and expand the discussion of important issues.

    3. influence common sense rather than cater to it

      Yes, I think this is a key motivation for my writing and teaching. The master narrative needs to be challenged not only in the academy but in the streets.

    4. common sense

      regular old fashioned common sense or Gramsci's Common Sense?

    5. He cites Judith Butler (who cites Adorno)

      genealogy of idea

    6. space to use more descriptive or storytelling language, but it is a good way to get complex ideas out into the [academic] world.

      Often there is also a bias against narrative and in favor of theory, which probably betrays some assumptions about how truth claims are formulated.

    7. space to use more descriptive or storytelling language, but it is a good way to get complex ideas out into the [academic] world.

      Often there is also a bias against narrative and in favor of theory, which probably betrays some assumptions about how truth claims are formulated.

    8. citing previous conversations in the literature and connecting our ideas to theirs using specialized language

      I think the citation is a key, even to understanding in what sense the jargon is being used. I do agree, though, that abbreviated language is possible in an article written for a peer group using shared language.

  7. Jul 2023
    1. Understanding Hamilton requires subjecting something such as Chernow’s book—hagiography in the contemporary warts-and-all vein—to criticism based on political, economic, legal, and military scholarship (Terry Bouton, Woody Holton, E. J. Ferguson, Wythe Holt, and Richard Kohn come to mind) as well as a close reading of Hamilton himself. I don’t mean his Federalist essays or “The Farmer Refuted,” which intellectual-history mavens will naturally be drawn to. Such writing bears not at all on the bold, improvisatory action that gave Hamilton his real importance. That action sent him at times into outright criminality, far from anyone’s conceptions of political morality, a fact glossed over and explained away by Chernow and therefore omitted by Miranda. Two episodes especially bring that context alive. During the Newburgh Crisis of 1783, the young Hamilton joined his finance mentor Robert Morris—a man central to Hamilton’s formation yet barely mentioned by Chernow, so not depicted by Miranda—in threatening the Congress of the Confederation with a military coup. A decade later, during the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, the mature Hamilton ordered door-kicking mass arrests without warrant and detention without charge, and tried to manufacture false evidence against his political enemies. The first episode was formative, the other climactic. Understanding the purposes they served requires intimate knowledge of Hamilton’s “Report on a Military Peace Establishment” and “First Report on the Public Credit,” as well as his interoffice cabinet memos, among other writings that many historians will concede are important yet will never find as appealing as the essays. The writing that made Hamilton Hamilton has nothing to do with the Greco-Whiggish reflections on politics that he could, of course, sling around in the style of the day, though never with the best of them.

      Good paragraph. Mentions scholars, events, and deep-dive Hamilton writing. Also highlights difference between rhetoric and reality.

    2. Our public history, in particular, remains steeped in barely-examined notions that identify the founders’ motivations—if not solely, then most significantly—with ideas.

      Something to keep in mind.

  8. Nov 2022
    1. silence has consequences, too. One of the most unsettling is the displacement of history by mythmaking. Maybe the directors of The Woman King can be forgiven for their inaccuracies—it is a movie, after all, and films have always been governed by the John Ford rule “print the legend.” But the mythmaking is spreading from “just the movies” to more formal and institutional forms of public memory. If old heroes “must fall,” their disappearance opens voids for new heroes to be inserted in their place

      Maybe the point is, we need to get over this Marvel Comics worldview, filled with heroes and villains.

    2. Younger scholars feel oppressed and exploited by universities pressing them to do more labor for worse pay with less security than their elders; older scholars feel that overeager juniors are poised to pounce on the least infraction as an occasion to end an elder’s career and seize a job opening for themselves. Add racial difference as an accelerant

      Frum isn't wrong, but this is a much bigger issue. Is this the only way the sweet story is relevant?

    3. stepping aside might preclude stepping into a controversy about African subjects in the way James Sweet did with his AHA essay.

      There may be a point here about taking the oxygen in the room. Do we really want to lean into the zero-sum world view that embraces, though? Is there no place for allies?

    4. Scholarly study of Africa in the United States began a century ago with work by Black writers and scholars such as W. E. B. Du Bois and Carter G. Woodson. These writers and scholars were denied research and travel funds, and sometimes even refused access to academic libraries. When private foundations began to fund African research, in the 1920s and ’30s, they instead directed their resources to rising white scholars at elite universities. These credentialed scholars became the leaders of the field in the 1950s and ’60s, when the Cold War made Africa an urgent interest. Those established patterns have come under fiercer and fiercer fire.


    5. The iconoclasm was not confined to the United States, but occurred across the developed world.

      Now we're off the rails. This is no longer an essay about the responsible uses of history.

    6. “It is the continuing struggle for justice that matters”

      Some historians were spokesmen for the dominant narrative. Some more recently have become critics of it. This is studied in historiography. Satia is right that justice matters. But it may not be the only thing that matters.

    7. Subjugating history to politics has inherent risks, he told me, noting that “the approaches of the hard right are not dissimilar to the way the profession is lurching or creeping today.” The people who hold power inside the academy may feel insulated from the rest of society, but they are subject to the much greater power that can be wielded outside the academy.

      But he hasn't made clear how they are or are not the same. The point may be that the academy is ultimately answerable to the outside world. This may be the best argument for academic freedom that attempts to allow scholars to swim against those currents.

    8. When has history-writing been nonpolitical?

      Bam! Right on.

    9. There is a move among some of my colleagues to expand the definition of scholarship, to change the way we assess scholarship,” he told me. “I worry there will be a move to de-emphasize the single-author manuscript: the book. Instead, anything that uses the historian’s craft or skills could count as scholarship. The most radical version might even include tweets, or at least blogs or essays online. How do you determine, then, what is political and what is scholarly?

      There's a lot to unpack here. The interface between professional and popular history is one issue. The assessment of value, which could also be called gatekeeping, is another. The validity and usefulness of different media for communicating different types of ideas is another big issue. THIS is what Sweet's article should probably have been about.

    10. I received almost 250 emails which were almost the inverse image of what was going on on Twitter,” he said. “Those were long, considered, thoughtful emails, not just 280-character responses.

      Also a good point. Twitter sucks. It's like pop history. Maybe it's not where we should be focusing our attention? Maybe the people who want to react there are chasing emotion rather than thoughtful engagement?

    11. he was on the receiving end of what felt like a determined and willful misunderstanding

      This seems legit. It was still a ham-handed essay.

    12. I think people looked at and imposed the politics they wanted on the piece. I talked about poor uses of history on the right and the left. But my colleagues saw only the critique of the left. And they’re not used to seeing those.

      Good on Frum for actually going to see Sweet.

    13. assumes the continent and its peoples can and should be studied for the benefit of the western student and scholar, that knowledge is a commodity to be extracted from the continent to benefit the western student and scholar.

      This seems a very zero-sum approach, where the "extraction" of knowledge diminishes the continent. Or diminishes black scholars, who he believes should have first dibs?

    14. Sweet’s insistence on detailing Dahomey’s true record was where the debate got hot. Disputes over how history should be written cease to be abstract and remote when they touch the powerfully emotive issues of empire, race, and slavery.

      Sweet seems unaware (and Frum compounds this) that there's a difference between the careful historical research he did and The Woman King. I get the frustration, but really?

    15. Sweet’s essay opened by remarking on the relative decline of doctoral dissertations on pre-1800 topics.

      This was his mistake. Because none of the problems he raised had anything to do with professional historians.

    16. Should we study the more distant past to explore its strangeness—and thereby jolt ourselves out of easy assumptions that the world we know is the only possible one? Or should we study the more recent past to understand how our world came into being—and thereby learn some lessons for shaping the future?

      Actually, the article really wasn't about and didn't SAY much about professional history. It was about the misuse of historical ideas in out public discourse by interested parties. Sweet should have said so explicitly.

    1. History is not a heuristic tool for the articulation of an ideal imagined future. Rather, it is a way to study the messy, uneven process of change over time.

      This seems a reasonable conclusion.

    2. This is not history; it is dilettantism.

      Agreed. The US Supreme Court are among the worst political hacks. It is our belief that they are enlightened jurists that is the real problem here.

    3. If history is only those stories from the past that confirm current political positions, all manner of political hacks can claim historical expertise.

      It really seems like it would have been helpful to use these observations to open a much more explicit discussion about the popular uses of the past.

    4. bad history yields bad politics.

      I'm reminded of Carl Becker's thoughts in "Everyman his own historian", also an AHA presidential writing.

    5. Historically accurate rendering of Asante or Dahomean greed and enslavement apparently contradict modern-day political imperatives.

      This is a problem, I agree. But this is a movie, not a History.

    6. African American shrine

      Is Auschwitz a "Jewish Shrine"?

    7. Sitting on the table in front of one of the elders was a dog-eared copy of The 1619 Project.

      This part of the story does seem to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the interest of these African Americans in their past.

    8. At each of these junctures, history was a zero-sum game of heroes and villains viewed through the prism of contemporary racial identity.

      You seem to be blaming the critics of traditional American History for the conservative backlash.

    9. a synthesis of a tradition of Black nationalist historiography dating to the 19th century with Ta-Nehisi Coates’s recent call for reparations. The project spoke to the political moment, but I never thought of it primarily as a work of history. Ironically, it was professional historians’ engagement with the work that seemed to lend it historical legitimacy.

      So you were in denial that the historical arguments in the project were reactions to mainstream American History's choice to deal with slavery in a way some people argued was dismissive? It was illegitimate for people to engage in historiographical disagreement on the issue?

    10. read the past through the prism of contemporary social justice issues—race, gender, sexuality, nationalism, capitalism

      If we DO read the past only through these concerns, we may learn something about ourselves, but we probably won't learn as much about the past. So are we concerned ONLY with ourselves right now?

    11. historical analyses are contained within an increasingly constrained temporality.

      Two different things: studying the recent past and constraining analyses to concerns and issues of the present.

  9. Aug 2022
    1. The sheet box

      This article is interesting as a potential motivator for Luhmann, as Scott suggests it was. I'm not particularly impressed with the suggestions, which although probably innovative at their time, don't seem to get past the collector's fallacy and toward the focus on producing output -- which seems much more well-developed in Luhmann's system.

    2. he can also store all Lessing-relatednewspaper essay

      OR, he could avoid the collector's fallacy, paraphrase the relevant ideas from the essays, number them and index them based on these ideas, and discard the newspapers.

    3. 547.724.1.004.1

      Really?? This seems to have gone off the rails, into a discussion of the classification of knowledge, NOT the organization of a slip-box in a way that relates the notes to each other.

    4. 700 (which usually is just written as 7 to preventmisunderstanding

      Personally, I have little respect for external organization systems (Dewey, Library of Congress, Scott's disciplines). I WOULD however, use periods between sub-classifications and not run together three levels of "depth" into a single three-digit number. Not only does this seem to arbitrary and precious, it also prevents you from exceeding nine types in each sub-classification.

    5. one location where the sheet belongs

      OR - don't do this and use indexes

    6. well-thought out unity of thoughts

      Not an issue. We are deconstructing the author's work and taking what is useful to us. Not faithfully representing their train of thought.

    7. mix-ups within the sheet sequence of a particular keyword

      This is what I would worry about. If we're connecting new notes we add to a pre-existing note in the box, then WHICH of these duplicate notes we connect to is important. Each of them could end up having different up- and down-stream connections, which I don't think is helpful.

    8. This seems to be the biggestcomplaint about the entire system of the sheet box and its merit.

      The keyword not chosen...

      Entries on multiple index cards, referring to same note. In a digital system, active links.

    9. buying those writing pads

      This seems to be the equivalent of a commercial for those "moleskin" notebooks you can carry around to capture brainstorms and then transfer them to your note system. Not a bad idea.

    10. lose


    11. for long notes, but for the far more frequent short notes

      This is what I would focus on: preventing myself from writing essays, as I seem prone to doing, and insuring that I stick to one idea per note.

    12. most suitable forma

      This seems to be putting form ahead of function. I prefer 3x5 cards because they're available, cheap, and encourage me to be succinct, but 4x6 wouldn't bother me.

    13. Verzettelung

      Sheetifying! LOL

    14. note book process has been replacedwith a file card system because competition forces them to save time and energy.

      In America, what often happened was that, as merchant operations grew, the customer service, credit/payment, and inventory control functions separated, so a single account book was no longer optimal.

    15. as the researcher's mind also matures

      This "conversation with my earlier self" is one of the big attractions of an additive system, vs. one that overwrites when notes are "improved".

    16. merchants created indexe

      I like the connection with mercantile account books. The issues are similar: dealing with chronologically new info that relates to a particular account. I've seen many old books that have pages for regular customers that track their purchases over long periods.


    1. the enemy of their enemy is their friend

      He's describing this in a very negative light. Another view of it might be that people can ally with others they may not totally agree with (or even like) to work toward a particular goal or project. I think he's setting an unrealistic expectation. Is this a symptom of the misunderstanding of democracy and consensus?

    2. provide the followers with bread and circuses. There is a mundane version of this axiom that fits with sociological findings: make everyday life possible.

      But maybe not too easy? So people stay focused on trying to survive day to day, and that prevents them from devoting energy to dissent?

    3. too much power

      How do we measure "too much"? Is it like painkillers, which become addictive when people don't have "enough" pain for them to fight?

    4. some individuals, but not groups, have unusual gifts for activities like art, athletics, music, or scientific research. Beyond the distinction between collective and distributive power, Russell's definition of power has another advantage. It does not try to reduce the various types of power to any basic type that is said to have "ultimate primacy.

      Just as some people may have special talents that do not make them "superior" to others, there is not a single spectrum on which we measure power.

    5. A has power over B to the extent that he can get B to do something that B would not otherwise do

      Does this conflate power with the ability to convince someone to do something by reason or persuasion?

    6. power is the ability to produce intended effects

      So there's a sense of agency and consciousness/deliberateness in this definition.

    7. Power" is about being able to realize wishes, to produce the effects you want to produce.

      Note that he doesn't explicitly say "against the will of others".

  10. Local file Local file
    1. some want to attributepower to the structures within which agents act.

      Are structures more powerful than individuals?

    2. the modern individual is the "effect" of power;

      Is this influence or determinism?

    3. power, as it shapes desires and beliefs ill the absence ofobservable conflict, may be at its most effective when leastobservable, thereby posing a considerable challenge toempirical social scienc

      Hidden power is the most "powerful"

    4. In Scott's account,the victims of domination are in a state of constant rebellionand dissemble in order to survive. His book gives a compellingaccount of the tactics and strategies of ingenious, ever-watch-ful slaves, peasants, and untouchables

      Weapons of the Weak and The Art of Not Being Governed

    5. power can also con-sist in the securing of consent to dominant power relationsthrough the shaping of desires and beliefs

      This includes the whole advertising and manufacturing consent model, too.

    6. non-decision-making remained deliberate and had to consist insuppressing observable, albeit covert, grievance

      Keeping questions off the table seems like an exercise of power.

    7. This conception of power was,plainly, the narrow individualist, intentional, and active view.Dahl and his colleagues concluded that U.S. cities and,indeed, U.S. politics nationally were "pluralistic" because dif-ferent actors prevailed over different key issues,and thus thatthe elite model was thereby refuted

      This is the "America is a democracy" line.

    8. liberalaversion to dependency relations

      Is there a "liberal aversion to dependency relations"? Again, he seems to be ignoring cooperation as something outside power.

    9. asymmetrical relations inwhich power is power over another or others

      He says asymmetrical power is a restrictive sense of the term; is this accurate? Is there symmetrical power? Isn't that cooperation?

    10. power can be empow-ering, even transformative, increasing others' resources,capa-bilities, and effectiveness. Examples are nurturing relation-ships such as apprenticeship, teaching, parenting, and thera-py.

      Are these actually power relationships?

    11. can my power consist in nothaving to act because others favor or advance my interests


    12. structure/agency" prob-lem

      The structure/agency problem seems like a fate/free will sort of question.

    13. vehicle fallacy," which occurswhen we equate power with the means or resources ofpower.

      Vehicle Fallacy: I don't think this is as clearcut: it's like a measure of potential energy.

    14. exercise fallacy": this occurs when we equatepower with its exercise,as when we define power as winning,

      Exercise Fallacy: Power seems to be more powerful when we see it being used. This is not always the case.


  11. Jul 2022
    1. Does this version contain within it the idea of growth or evolution over time? Evergreen note in Matuschak's version does

      I don't think the way I imagine these notes is the same as Andy. If a Point Note in my box evolved, I think that would be by having additional notes appended to it. The original point note is a record of my thinking at a particular moment. That's why I like the metaphor of a conversation in the slipbox. The new statements in a conversation don't overwrite the previous, they modify them.

    1. Dan Allosso

      I'll be adding this to the Open Textbook Library when it's officially published in early August, 2022. In the couple of weeks prior to its launch, I've made it available for my friends in the note-making community and in my Obsidian Book Club to read and comment. Thanks!

    1. Tree Classification Systems

      Scott P. Scheper


  12. May 2022
    1. s. Many dissenting 'philosophes'felt themselves to be in the grip of a tyranny from which America provided the onlyescape. In all their correspondence there is a dominant theme-emigration. Thenames of the land lots on the Priestley lands on the Susquehanna give an idea of thevaried localities from which the English emugres came-Bristol, Birmingham, Man-chester, Norwich, et

      How many hundreds went to America?

    2. English 'philosophes' began to see that the Revolution had succumbed to mobviolence, though it is doubtful whether they suspected that the mob was beingsteered. Young Watt still makes a defence for the revolutionaries, but it is clear thathis stomach is beginning to turn:I am filled with involuntary horror at the scenes which pass before me and wish theycould have been avoided, but at the same time I allow the absolute necessity of them.16 Insome instances the vengeance of the people has been savage & inhuman. They havedragged the dead naked body of the Princess de Lamballe through the streets &treated it with all sorts of indignities. Her head stuck upon a Pike was carried throughParis and shown to the King & Queen, who are in hourly expectation of the samefate

      Reign of Terror

    3. Burke attacked them fiercely in the Commons, his rhetoric beingemployed to great effect but with no true moderation. 'There were in this country',he said, 'men who scrupled not to enter into an alliance with a set in France of theworst traitors and regicides that had ever been heard of-the club of Jacobins'. 1 Heattacked by name Thomas Cooper, James Watt and Thomas Walker. ImmediatelyJames Watt senior wrote to ask his son to be more moderate lest the antipathy hearoused might allow Boulton and Watt's enemies, the Hornblowers, to get a billthrough Parliament weakening Watt's patent for the steam engine.

      Watt senior was more worried about losing his patent?

    4. Oppression, for these young men, attaining their majorities just as the Revolutionbegan, was a series of incidents which they had observed with their own eyes-not adistant and distanced scene. In their criticism of the French aristocracy androyalty they had been nodded encouragement by their fathers and their fathers'friends who greeted the Revolution with rapture, and held banquets to commemoratethe fall of the Bastille. As the young men came mainly from Dissenting homes so theyresented religious domination, as they were middle class they abhorred the idlenessof the aristocrac

      Young idealists, but they're not wrong...

    5. Birmingham, MatthewBoulton armed his employees against the Priestley rioter

      Arming against Church and King rioters led to the Two Acts?


    1. on a fine summer's evening towards theend ofJuly I 789, Harry Priestley burst into her parents' house at Barr shouting'Hurrah! Liberty, Reason, brotherly love for ever! ... France is free, the Bastilleis taken. '74 Two years later that young man's father, Dr Joseph Priestley, wasstill insisting that the combined effects of the American and the FrenchRevolutions had shifted the world 'from darkness to light, from superstition tosound knowledge, and from a most debasing servitude to a state of the mostexalted freedom

      Priestley seems not to have lost faith in 1791. How did 1794 effect his beliefs?

    2. The cultural climate that had allowedinformal and socially dilute bodies like the Lunar Society to flourish haddisintegrated and would not be reconstituted for a generation and more. Theemigration to America of Dr Priestley, together with many hundreds of less-well-known 'friends of liberty' acknowledged as much.A period of twenty-two years of nearly continuous continental and maritimewarfare after I792 would also gravely weaken the free trade in knowledgewhich the philosophes had taken for grante

      International collaboration among philsophes was over.

    3. James appears toconcede as much on I December in a reference to the fate of the Brissotins: 'myfriends in France, the friends of rational liberty have most of them passed thefatal guillotine and the reigning party were always objects of my hatred aswell as Mr Cooper's

      English alarm at French excesses?

    4. contradictions and dilemmas of the late Enlightenment. Isknowledge value-free? How should it be transmitted? Ought it be madeavailable to all, irrespective of social station?

      Wasn't this question largely answered when Watt accepted a 25-year patent?

    5. . These cursed French have murdered Philosophy & continue totorment all of Europe.

      Watt laments that the Revolution obstructed scientific progress.

    6. s theformation of a discrete 'family' of philosophes in the West Mclose links with their counterp

      To what extent did philosophes avoid nationalism in mid-1790s?


  13. Apr 2022
    1. raft of a branching diagram concerning politics, found in the Zwinger manuscripts alongside a set of “annotationsin the first books of Aristotle’s Politics

      This is pretty cool!

    2. steady sellers despite their considerable size andexpense and despite being accessible only to the Latin-literate.

      Found their market

    3. Bacon called for general-izations from particulars to manage the excess data accumulated through ex-perience

      Does this become a problem when the generalizations become detached from the data that supports them?

    4. Ephraim Chambers’

      Apparently NOT related to William and Robert Chambers of Edinburgh https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephraim_Chambers

    5. t was not the newly recovered ancient texts (Lucretius or Sextus Empiricus) that accounted for the ever- increasing size of collections of quo-tations in florilegia, but rather increased attention to long- familiar ancient au-thors central to humanist education (like Ovid, Horace, and Cicero) and a large number of recent works generated by reflection on the classics (e.g., Petrarch or the emblems of Alciati and Camerarius). A new attitude toward seeking out and stockpiling information was the crucial cause of the information explosion, more significant than any particular new discovery.

      And maybe a hope/belief that all these pieces of info would add up to a new synthesis?

    6. ffered ready- made in print the kinds of notes readers wished to have available even if they had not taken them themselves

      This may be the key to the development of that middle category of "information" I questioned earlier.

    7. to produce knowledge principally from the study of an-cient texts

      Is there a relationship that could be explored, between these "humanists" and the new "empirics" who were depending more on observation and later, experiment?

    8. interdependence of ideas with the social and material contexts of their formation

      And probably also the media in which they are recorded and disrtributed.

    9. four crucial operations: storing, sorting, selecting, and summarizing,


    10. Compilers were therefore conveyors of information rather than of their own opinions or positions

      Do we play this role for ourselves sometimes in note-making, or should we try to move right to the next phase?

    11. distinct from data (which requires further processing before it can be meaningful) and from knowledge (which implies an individual knower).

      Given the limits implied by this definition, how wide and how interesting is this "information" relative to what's on either side of it?

    1. both Edward Royle and SusanBudd have found that members of the British secularist movement camemainly from the urban working and lower middle classes

      Social Class

    2. prison for blasphemy,1111luding Richard Carlile, Charles Southwell, George Holyoake, and G.W.I rnitc


    3. atheists' racial views wereshaped in large part by their status as a marginalized group in Britain andthe United States.


    4. Another variety of unbelief came in the form of ethical societies.I h1• London South Place Chapel had roots as a Unitarian church in late, 11-1litccnth-centuryAmerica. It crossed the Atlantic to London in 1822.l •11dcrMoncure Conway, a Virginian who had relocated to London in 1863

      [[Moncure Conway]]

    5. Americanfreethinkers took up the former Unitarian pastor Francis EllingwoodAbbot's "Nine Demands of Liberalism,

      Connection between American freethinkers and Unitarianism

    6. Utilitarianismwould be further developed by the British liberal philosopher John StuartMill in the nineteenth century. For much of his life, Mill was a colonialadministrator with the East India Company, and he was elected as a LiberalMP from 1865 to 1868. Mill's philosophy emphasized individual rights anddemocratic freedoms, including advocacy of women's suffrage.

      [[John Stuart Mill]]

    7. tilitarianism, anon-Christian system of morals. This philosophy, devised in the late eight-eenth century by Jeremy Bentham


    8. Like Southwell and so many other atheists, Holyoakealso spent time behind bars for his views. He would later establish his ownnewspapers, the longest-running of which was the Reasoner, published from1846 to 1861.Through this paper, Holyoake became one of the most promi-nent irreligious leaders in the country as he built bridges.with middle-classintellectuals and liberal theists. He coined the term "secularism" in the 1850sas a replacement for "atheism." In Holyoake's view, a secularist outlook dif-fered from an atheist one in the sense that it was not wholly destructive butsought to establish a framework for ethics that was independent of religion.In other words, Holyoake saw atheism as a purely negative creed, whereassecularism was a positive one.

      Did Holyoake object to atheism, or to the atheists he knew?

    9. Charles Southwell createdI hl• newspaper the Oracle of Reason along with William Chilton


    10. Owen's skepticism of11•ligionwent hand-in-hand with his reformist politics.

      Owen returned to England in 1829

    11. Robert Owen, who, like Paine, was influential onhotb sides of the Atlantic.54 Owen gained national prominence in the firstlt,llf of the nineteenth century for his utopian experiments in Britain andmerica based on his radical view of human nature as being determined,tlmost entirely by circumstances

      Change the circumstances, especially for children, and you change the outcome.

    12. Paine argued that all revelationsclaiming to be from the deity were invalid and that one could discern God'sworks through a study of nature.

      [[Paine]] was a deist

    13. link between secularization and eugenics was not straightforward


    14. Adrian Desmond and JamesMoore, two of the most important Darwin scholars, who argue convinc-ingly in a recent book that Darwin's evolutionary research was animatedby a hatred of polygenesis and the ways in which it could be used to justifyslavery or imperial conquest

      Darwin as an anti-imperialist?

    15. in Britain at least, "religious monogenism and anti-slavery agitationwent hand-in-hand."

      At a particular time and place. Not by definition.

    16. Nineteenth-century atheists and freethinkers were profoundly rooted inthe thought of the Enlightenment and therefore also inherited many ofthese contradictions.

      Fair enough

    17. opened theway to a secular or scientific racism by considering human beings part of theanimal kingdom rather than viewing them in biblical terms as children of Godendowed with spiritual capacities denied to other creatures.

      These are the only two choices?

    18. racism had to bel'mancipated from Christian universalism

      Only if you believe that the Christian universalists were serious...

    19. "hereditary heathenism," in Rebecca Goetz's terminology, whichsaw Africans as essentially and permanently godless heathens who couldnever truly become Christian

      Is this something we should take seriously, if (as I believe) it was just something hypocrites said to justify their actions?

    20. some historians haveseen in medieval anti-Semitism the genesis of modern racism

      anti-Semitism dug a channel for racism?

    21. On the one hand, they imag-ined themselves at the pinnacle of the racial and civilization hierarchy. Buton the other, the vast majority of their countrymen were Christians whoseemed to reject the West's greatest gifts, namely reason and science,

      He seems to be suggesting that the ONLY thing that bothered western secularists was the fact that their neighbors were religious.

    22. Might these cultures actually offer their own virtues that were superiorin some ways to Christianity?

      And not only superior to Christianity, but to social hierarchy, free markets, etc.?

    23. ineteenth-century freethinkers, onthe other hand, banded together in various organizations ana. sought toconvey their irreligious message to all segments of society, particularly thelower classes

      To what extent is this connected with the desire to mobilize people for social reform and a feeling that the church, generally, is on the side of the status quo?

    24. Racialscience, with its emphasis on racial classifications based on physical andmental features - such as measurements of the skull

      Eugenics, Social Darwinism, Scientific Racism leads to ideas of the "White Man's Burden" and colonialism.

    25. Christianityheld that all humans were created in the image of God and descended fromAdam and Eve

      This is so obviously an idea celebrated in its breach by Christians throughout their history!

    26. itremains disputed whether secularization helped open the way for racism orwhether it provided new ways to challenge racism.

      Does [[Secularism]] promote or retard racism?


    1. humanity’s early days on the Africansavanna

      I've been listening recently to a recent book by David Reich called Who We Are and How We Got Here. In it Reich challenges the idea that Africa was the only place that the ancestors of modern humans developed and suggests we put a little too much emphasis on that "African Savanna" evolutionary determinist narrative.


    1. ,650 years ago in east-central China's Yellow River Valley, a community known as the Yangshao bur-ied a child wrapped in a silk shroud

      OTOH, how hardscrabble is your existence if you have silk?

    2. he insect cannot feed itself

      This is not entirely unheard-of in moths and other metamorphic insects.

  14. Feb 2022
    1. d,tlirultir, ,w, r l{'h1d1

      "Sabbath Cause" was another item I made note of in MN3.

    2. <\I H l lTl.1:.

      "Our Title" was a bit I wrote about. This is a test annotation to see if Hypo will work with this file.


    1. It is impossible to think without writing; at least it is impossible in any sophisticated or networked (anschlußfähig) fashion

      "networked" or "connectable"

      This is the main idea. While I agree with Chris, I don't really think mnemonics is a good solution today for me or my students. So maybe I'll begin with a qualification about the past, but then say "Today, for us, thinking = writing".

    1. make it possible to retrieve more ina later query via the pivotal keyword index than what was intended when the notes were initially taken

      So keywords (tags) are key.

    2. relations between the nodes (i.e. notes)

      But a key would seem to be limiting the number of links to "meaningful" ones, so that by the time you get to three or four degrees of separation, your graph hasn't become so big as to be meaningless. The question I keep coming back to, it seems, is defining "meaning".

    3. a keyword index

      It probably makes sense for part of the "review practice" to be a regular consideration of the tags and keywords I'm employing. These will also help identify clusters in the vault.

    4. Often Luhmann noted the references directly as he created the card but also regularly updated alreadyexisting cards by adding references whenever the integration of new cards in other parts of the collectionmade it necessary

      Could it be argued that it was his PRACTICE rather than the structure of the system that really produced the results? (like Chris's Itzhak Perlman anecdote)

    5. relevant to the special argument

      Argument again. Would a vault organizing and linking DATA be linked differently? Based on tags describing more generally what the specific datum said? Is this useful, relative to the capability to do rapid full-text search?

    6. outline of an article or the table of contents of a book

      Ahrens seems to suggest this is what we might do with "Project Notes".

    7. nearly every second note (second collection) on average.

      Much fewer than I would have guessed.

    8. a nearly infinite number of cards between what hadinitially been two consecutive cards created at the same time on a related subjec

      I totally get how this could be super fascinating for a historian interested in the evolution of Luhmann's thinking. Not sure if I'm particularly interested in that for my own purposes -- although I suppose the default date-tagging of notes in Obsidian will take care of that automatically and it'll be available if that interests me later.

    9. 1/1 Card with notes referring to a certain topic1/1a Card containing notes referring to a particular idea from card 1/11/1b Continuation of notes

      So there's "continuation" and also elaboration at a more detailed level. This tends to get flattened in my vault, I think, where there's less indication that a particular note is drilling down into more minute elements of a topic from a previous note. The only indication is that "PN Link". Maybe that's enough.

    10. embedding a topic in various contexts gives rise todifferent lines of information by means of opening up different realms of comparison

      This is like the Ted Nelson-esque idea of documents existing as single instances with super-robust linking and transclusion.

    11. difficultyof assigning an issue to one and only one single (top-level) subject, which is a matter of ambiguity or soto say conceptual indecisiveness. Luhmann solved this problem by seizing it as an opportunity: instead ofsubscribing to the idea of a systematic classification system, he opted for organizing entries based on theprinciple that they must have only some relation to the previous entry

      This seems to be a current issue, which could influence the amount of tagging and linking we do (possibly in a downward direction).