Originally Posted by stephanie
I haven't read Sowell for 15 years and wasn't nearly as impressed with him as badhat (in part for reasons similar to those behind some of the arguments I've had with you, so perhaps you'd like him better). Anyway, here's
a good essay that I don't totally agree with on Conflict of Visions .
Thanks for that. A much more fleshed-out theoretical framework than I would have expected. I think he's definitely on to something, but I also find it considerably lacking. It just doesn't seem to offer very much. One side is more individualistic and traditional, the other is more communal, and rational. Yet these barely seem more than limited observation about limited ideological tendencies. And the narrative they paint could almost as often be applied in the reverse. Liberals are often quite independent minded, and uninterested in government intrusion, while conservatives are often quite community oriented, and as such very interested in goverment intrusion. As I said, there are some truths he gets at, by I find his framwork muddled.
Reading his book might shed more light, but I question his authority. I don't get the sense, even as Caplan claims he describes his theory as empirical, that it is based in much empiricism. I wonder whether he has been much of a part of the larger academic discussion on this topic. Although Pinker's mention of him intrigues me. Beyond that, his personal style as a thinker, merely judging from what I have read of his columns, seems utterly hackish and partisan, indulging in tired generalizations and simplistic narratives.
I wonder too how much any of this is merely post-hoc cultural and political description, and whether it even means anything to try and find deeper, more universal psychological tendencies. I certainly don't want to be in the business of trying to reduce complex and nuanced ideological beliefs into simplistic, two dimensional caricatures. However, this is a trap we all can fall into without realizing it, and to rely too heavily on a rational vision of ideology - to the exclusion of psychological tendencies - can lead us into turning into caricatures of ourselves.