Friday Roundup

Good question…

“Like so many people wedded to a nineteenth-century view of science, which promised scientific explanations for social and cultural phenomena, Dawkins overlooks the nineteenth-century reaction that said: Wait a minute; science is not the only way to pursue knowledge. There is moral knowledge too, which is the province of practical reason; there is emotional knowledge, which is the province of art, literature, and music. And just possibly there is transcendental knowledge, which is the province of religion. Why privilege science, just because it sets out to explain the world?  Why not give weight to the disciplines that interpret the world, and so help us to be at home in it?”

The latest “superstition” is a most accurate description…

“Of all the fads and foibles in the long history of human credulity, scientism in all its varied guises — from fanciful cosmology to evolutionary epistemology and ethics — seems among the more dangerous, both because it pretends to be something very different from what it really is and because it has been accorded widespread and uncritical adherence. Continued insistence on the universal competence of science will serve only to undermine the credibility of science as a whole. The ultimate outcome will be an increase of radical skepticism that questions the ability of science to address even the questions legitimately within its sphere of competence. One longs for a new Enlightenment to puncture the pretensions of this latest superstition.”
– (I should note that this is from 2012 as I am trying to keep ‘Friday Roundup’ to the more recent, but I just couldn’t pass this up when I came across it.)

Wise words…one wonders what kind of President he might have been…

Another reason it is dubious to tie happiness to a lack of religion or religious influence…

Some more from the atheist who believes in God…

God forbid anyone be happy

Hmmm, I wonder why the “Origins of Species” or, Nietzsche’s writings weren’t taken on these trips

How can we know a truth from an untruth in postmodernity—in the sense Caputo has been speaking?

“Nietzsche’s genius was to recognize the implications of Christian realism: that the God who dies on the cross as a victim of violence spells the end of the ancient world of sacrifice, and therefore the end of the worldview Nietzsche favored, one which privileges power over meekness. Nietzsche wanted to reassert the dominance of the powerful in order to undermine the preference for victims so clearly displayed by the biblical God. He feared that under the influence of Christianity we would not be able to return to the ancient sacrificial system that spawned and was reinforced by Dionysian violence. Why? Because we now cannot keep silent about the very thing Thucydides could not say: that the Melians were murdered. To refuse to say so is not realistic. It’s a lie.”
“Guiseppe Fornari, in his excellent study of Nietzsche’s philosophyA God Torn to Pieces: The Nietzsche Case, says, “Nietzsche consciously sought to bring about a new super-humanity that would be capable of sacrifice while it knew that sacrifice was murder.” (xiii) The courage advocated by Nietzsche is the courage to continue to use violence in the name of God or country, even though we know the truth: that if we do so we are murderers. That takes courage, indeed, but not the kind we admire. It’s the courage it takes to hide from a truth that has already been revealed by the cross of Christ, the very thing that Nietzsche rejects. It is the kind of courage that ultimately led to totalitarian regimes and Nazi death camps. I suppose Critchley has a right to call that “cheerful realism,” but I wouldn’t. I’d call it madness.”

Okay, if even atheists are saying: “Even atheist participants judged immoral acts as more representative of atheists than of other groups.”-then you have a problem.  Not necessarily a problem of fact, but certainly one of perception.

didn’t watch “Lost” when it was popular, but I did finally watch it on Netflix last year and one of the writers admits to something I had noticed and appreciated about the show:
DL: “When you talk about something like faith and science on a meta level, it doesn’t matter what the show said. When the show ends there are still all these questions that are going to exist. Is there always a scientific explanation for everything in the natural world? Is there a God? The show isn’t going to be able to answer that. But we were pretty clear and explicit in our storytelling as the show went on that we were committed to what would be defined as supernatural explanations for things versus natural explanations.”
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1 Response to Friday Roundup

  1. Burk says:


    Re: Critchley- Hope is not the problem. Illusions and unrealism.. i.e. untruth.. are the problem, whatever form they take. Con men peddle hope every day. Hope can come from lies as well as from truth. But the latter is more durable and productive. That is the whole issue with atheism and with Caputo. Does truth need to be stretched to encompass the Christian narrative? So much the worse for truth. How ironic that the Bible is “passionate” about what it says being true, since so much of it is not true at all.

    It is typical that he puts so much weight on passion over truth.. the Melian massacre is clearly enough stated by Thucidydes, but Critchley sees it as lacking in … feeling- in subjective truth. But to do justice to that concept we would need a universe full of paper, for every conscious suffering, and its desiderata, years of pain, etc.. We have language in order to communicate in schematic form, and that is what Thucidydes does so effectively. It is just another symptom of an affective theory of truth, as opposed to an objective theory of truth. Not that one is wrong and the other right, but they are talking about different things, and should be treated explicitly differently.

    Oh, and no one but Christians are against genocide… right.


    I share Scruton's dispair over the humanities.. is has been a rocky road, with questionable results. But this is not a problem brought on by science, it is very much one of the humanities themselves. If they want to take scientific research as their template, that is their problem.

    The alternate models have their problems as well, though. Prime among them is theology, where one assumes all essentials, and then chews over the cud in endless commentary. That is the model that failed utterly after dominating the upper tiers of education for centuries before the 20th, occasioning the need for universities to come up with something else … a continuing process, for sure. Something that resembles learning more than indoctrinating, perhaps.

    “The problem is that there is no agreed-upon “modern view of what we are,” in no small part because we are unsure of the relation between “we” and “I,” being unsure of the place of the self-conscious individual in the science of the species.”

    Well, there is at least an educated consensus of what we are not, which is souls, magic, bits of god, etc. We are amazingly complex evolved beings. What to make of that.. well, it is what the humanities should be about- the subjectivity he speaks of- and there is plenty to chew on. Note that his definition of soul is quite consonant with all this.

    On the other hand, he does seem to go a bit overboard.. “Science sees us as objects rather than as subjects, and its descriptions of our responses are not descriptions of what we feel.”. Well, increasingly we can get into people's heads to see how they feel. Or just ask them about how they feel, explicitly. While melody exists as a subjective interaction between music and perceiver, that doesn't mean that its perception and appreciation is impossible in principle to understand from a third person perspective- that may be quite possible with time. So while I agree that humanities exist on their own ground and merits, it doesn't help to set up conceptual or parochial barriers. Understanding melodies by brain scanning still isn't going to make the study of Bach by many other modalities, especially performance, obsolete.. all can get along just fine.

    “And just possibly there is transcendental knowledge, which is the province of religion.” Well, this has turned out to be bunk, as far as anyone can tell with any rigor. It is important to not ossify our categories of learning, just as it is important not to discard valid areas prematurely. Iin this case, were we to treat religion as a species of humanistic art, instead of a pseudoscience of “transcendent reality”, we would be making progress. But on the whole, a very good article.. thanks!


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