philosophy

The Parable of the Invisible Gardener

Antony Flew is famous for a few things. Among them is an allegory he included in an essay originally published in 1955, called “Theology and Falsification”. As the title implies, Flew attacks religious belief from a position that would have been familiar to someone like Bertrand Russell or A. J. Ayer, and is today is recognizable as a stock materialist criticism. Let’s have a look at the parable, and Flew’s reasoning from it, to see exactly why he’s wrong.

Cosmos: Sagan vs Tyson

I have been thinking about this on-and-off, recently. What is the difference between the Sagan Cosmos, and the Tyson Cosmos? There are lots of fairly uncharitable things to say about both of these men, but if we were forced to provide an actual explanation, I think three things could be said: Era / Audience. The original Cosmos was released in 1980. Not since the early eighties, have I felt the same sense of optimism and yearning for the promise of the future.

Neo and Aristotle

All the pop philosophers will tell you that The Matrix is an allegory of Platonic Dualism. They are all wrong. Platonic dualism asserts that the soul and the body are distinct, and that the body is wholly dependent upon a transcendent form imposed upon it, when the soul (an instance of that transcendent form) enters it. But if we take the “real world” Neo was initially ignorant of to be the allegory for the body, and the “matrix world” into which Neo was born (and in which he was initially living out a kind of dream) to be the allegory of the soul, then it is not proper Platonism.

Social Theory of American Politics

America has always had a high and a low culture, similar to that of the English or the French. But the relationship between the two is expressed very differently than the English or the French, particularly in the political sphere. Throughout it’s history, American high and low culture have both more-or-less agreed with each other on the core principles governing the society, derived mainly from western Protestantism, English common law tradition, and Catholic intellectualism filtered through the late Enlightenment.

Renewing the Church Means Renewing the Faith

Have a look at this video, and then read my response. Brian completely misses the point on this one. The problem with church affiliation is not whether or not the mass is Tridentine, or whether or not there are tambourines and guitars. The problem with the church is that it has abandoned its actual “value add” (to put it in Brian’s metaphor). The “uniqueness” of the church is not in its Gothic architecture, or the specific language the liturgy is read in, or the massive late-medieval organs, or the Catholic habits, or even the lengthy intellectual tradition from St.

Two Visions of Justice

In 1974, Robert Nozick wrote a lengthy response to John Rawls' A Theory of Justice, called “Anarchy, State, and Utopia”. One of Nozick’s core critiques of Rawls, centers around a characterization of the kind of Justice that Rawls was advocating. Nozick called it, the justice of “patterned distributions”. Famously, Nozick argued against a fixed “patterned distribution” of wealth, using the metaphor of famous basketball player Wilt Chamberlain. The entire allegory is too much for this post but to summarize briefly, he pointed out through this metaphor that, given a regime of voluntary individual exchanges which, are ostensibly morally acceptable even on Rawls conception of patterned justice, the only way to maintain a fixed pattern of distribution, would be through the application of force, which itself could be construed as unjust, on Rawls' own theory.