Monday, May 23, 2005


I see the American Psychiatric Association allows as how it would like to see some revisions to matrimonial law – in the burlesque direction.
I think we can say that the authority of psychiatry and clinical psychology amongst both elites and the general public derives from their scientific characteristics. Their mastery of empirical knowledge may encompass the dynamics of thought and emotion and (in some measure) behavior. The trouble is, to adjudge someone well or ill, one must have a conception of norms, and norms do not derive ultimately from empirical knowledge. Those norms may come from philosophy, or theology, or law, or common sense, or some combination thereof, which renders clinicians crucially dependant upon disciplines in which they are most certainly not adepts. Note also the utility of particular public policies concern sociological phenomena not within the psychiatrist's portfolio of empirical knowledge and also questions of justice about which they are not expert either. Resolutions such as this tell us something about the moral intuitions of the mental health establishment, and not much else. (I believe Thomas Szasz has said as much in the past).

This business is also an example of a professional association being conscripted into our domestic kulterkampf at some expense to its standing and institutional mission. If memory serves, the American Bar Association some years back considered a resolution favoring abortion on demand, as if such a public policy (implemented as it has been by gross intellectual scandal) could possibly enhance professional standards among lawyers. A directorate of the American Library Association gave serious consideration to a resolution calling for a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq (or some such), as if librarians in their capacity as librarians should or could have an opinion on the war or American foreign policy.

Is it aught but vanity?


I see the Council of the American Library Association has now adopted a resolution to make it known to the world that it favors the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq:
"By strongly tying the war to libraries--it also called for the government to shift its budgetary priorities from the occupation of Iraq to improved support for domestic programs, including libraries, and was even titled "Resolution on the Connection between the Iraq War and Libraries"--the new resolution overcame last year's objections that the conflict was not an apporpriate matter for ALA to concern itself with..." (American Libraries, August 2005, p. 73)
If librarians can be said to have an authentic skill, one that sets them apart from other trades and requires disciplined instruction, it would be in the realms of cataloguing and indexing. If that report from their trade magazine is aught but an excercise in or transmission of artifice, it would appear that their talents for intellectual taxonomy have be greatly overestimated, in their own minds if in no others.

To re-iterate: the mundane business of working in a library, much less the dubious 'professional' education received by librarians, is not likely to grant one abnormal insight into the utility of the Iraq War, or into the utility of divers forms of public expenditure, or into the proper balance 'twixt the public and private sectors. Even in the wonderland that is the Association's central government, one may wager there was someone piggy enough to point this out, and the majority were either too stupid to grasp the point or so determined to make an exhibit of their 'views' that they did not care, and 'professionalism' be damned.