Friday Roundup

“The two liberalisms were always in tacit, secret alliance. They have now more explicitly fused to proffer the shared creed of the left that recently embraced economic neoliberalism together with an impersonal statism, and the right that has openly espoused cultural liberalism in scorn of its own natural constituency…

…Thus, liberalism undoes itself and, in so doing, it erodes the polity it claims to save from extremes on both the left and the right. After all, the liberal focus on abstract, general standards (such as subjective rights, commercial contracts or formal, procedural justice) is parasitic upon a culture of universal principles and particular practices of virtue that this obsessive and rigid focus undermines, cutting off the branch on which it sits.”

“Those Catholics who deny their environmental responsibilities are failing to match both the Church’s belief in science and the Church’s belief that all science should be in service of the moral good.”

“After a necessarily brief sketch of the “Early Church,” Madigan sensibly de­fines his period as roughly 600–1500. This era teems with the ghosts of historical myths and the products of generations of anticlerical propaganda, which together constitute a multifaceted Black Legend. In the popular mind, medieval Chris­tianity conjures a series of grim events and circumstances, including the Inquisi­tion, heresy hunts, and vicious anti-Semitism. More generally, we might regret the suppression of the authentic zeal of the early church, crushed under the weight of papalism and priestcraft, bureaucracy, and oppressive hierarchy. There are even those who still apply the belittling term Dark Ages to the whole medieval millennium.  Madigan’s book provides a wonderful corrective to such myths.”

  • The intuitive and the rational—the video presentation is especially good.
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11 Responses to Friday Roundup

  1. RonH says:

    The Iain McGilchrist book sounds fascinating. Thanks to interlibrary loan, I should have me a copy in a couple of weeks. Thanks for the tip!


  2. Darrell says:


    Indeed–I may try and get around to reading too.


  3. Darrell says:

    Reading “it” too…


  4. RonH says:

    Oh, hey, I just noticed that the McGilchrist book is in the “suggestions for further reading” section in the back of the Eric Kaplan book I've mentioned a couple of times. That's serendipitous.


  5. RonH says:

    Did you listen to the longer McGilchrist talk (on soundcloud)? It's linked to from this page along with a Q&A session after the talk. I thought it was extremely interesting. You should definitely listen to the Q&A as well.

    If McGilchrist is correct, it may perhaps shed light on the question of why there are theists and atheists in the first place. It may well be a difference in neurological construction that causes people to trend one way or the other.


  6. Darrell says:


    I did not. Sounds interesting…


  7. Burk says:

    Hi, Darrell-

    Thanks for the McGilchrist link.. it is amazing how compelling this split brain jazz is in the popular mind. But it is a metaphor at best, for whatever the speaker is trying to say about *culture*, not about the mind or brain.

    Anyhow, the reason why rationality is so ascendent is that intuition has led us so astray. Who starts wars? The romantic and intuitive and utopian. Who reaches new understandings about the world? The rational scientist. The pre-enlightenment epoch is one where intuition was running the show, in his terms, and it was poor, violent, and unjust. It simply does not do a good job by itself, other than in the occasional artistic masterpiece. As he quotes from Einstein, though, the two parts are always working together. There is no motivation for rational endeavor without some intutive prompt.

    So I am not sure what the point is.. a nostalgic pining for ignorance, church and king- the old intuitive order of the patriarchy? We have a vast culture of the arts, and what is it producing? I agree that we need & deserve a more humane politics and government, but what will get us there- the religious right, or the areligious left? These political wings are precisely the mapping of McGilchrist's fanciful mapping of right and left in the brain. FOX is nothing but an outpouring of endless intuition, unmediated by the thought process of the left.


  8. Darrell says:

    Hi Burk,

    I doubt that was the point, but anyway, thanks for the input. As noted in the other link (Milbank), I think the Left and Right are simply the two sides of the same coin of modernity. I do think one of the points of the McGilchrist link (although I haven't had a chance to fully investigate what he is saying–maybe Ron could help here) is that all the binaries, the dichotomies of modernity, faith v. reason; religion v. science; left v. right; rationality v. intuition;–the either/or of modernity is a terribly inaccurate and hopelessly unhelpful way to view the world. We need to grow up and grow out of such an incredibly simplistic way of seeing everything. Nothing is as simple or as black-and-white as these supposed oppositions (and if that wasn't any of his points, then they should have been!)

    Experience and reason would suggest to me anyway that all these supposed “either/or”'s are really “both/and”'s. And, or course, this is why the postmodern view is helpful.


  9. RonH says:

    Hey, Burk…

    The library hasn't got the book in yet. But from what I've read and heard about it thus far, it's based on two decades of research. It may well be — dare I say it — science. In a true spirit of inquiry, I'm withholding judgment until I get a read myself. You're right, the split-brain stuff is very hip in the pop-sci world. And simplistic reason/emotion, rationality/intuition dualisms don't hold up to latest research. But that's not what McGilchrist appears to be endorsing.

    Who starts wars? The romantic and intuitive and utopian.

    Apparently not. It was either in his talk or the Q&A afterwards where McGilchrist mentioned that desire for control is a left-brain property.

    Have you read the book? If you have and want to post a rebuttal/response on your blog, give me a link and I'd enjoy getting your take on it after I've read the book.

    If you haven't read the book, then I'll strongly suspect you of just popping off.


  10. Burk says:

    And about the Millbank piece.. more than a little ironic how the blogger excoriates individualism and free expression! But he never conveys what he wants to have happen. I think if people knew, they would regard the cure as far worse than the disease.


  11. Darrell says:

    Hi Burk,

    “…how the blogger excoriates individualism and free expression…”

    Do you mean Milbank? He’s hardly a blogger (he’s the director of an entire department at the University of Nottingham), but where does this “excoriation”, of individualism and free expression take place in the essay? I just re-read it and must have missed it.


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