Book Review: When Harlie Was One

When HARLIE Was One, 2nd Edition David Gerrold 2014 Preface I was only recently made aware of this book. In my teens, I devoured Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Jerry Pournelle, and many other popular sci-fi authors of the era between 1960 and 1980. But I had, for whatever reason, never heard of David Gerrold. Once alerted to it, the premise of the novel was too much for me to pass up.

Philosophy and Hindsight

Eleven years ago, I didn’t understand the Haldane position, because I was ignorant. Eleven years ago, I thought I understood the Hitchens position, because he made me feel good when he spoke. Working my way through a masters in philosophy eleven years later, I can say that I (mostly) understand them both. And frankly, in the light of that wisdom (such as it is), Hitchens is embarrassing. Take, for example, the first question Haldane presented to Hitchens: “what grounds the secular belief in human dignity?

Why Do You Have a Right to Self Defense?

I doubt there’s anyone in the anglo-sphere this week, who isn’t aware of the case of Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Probably, a good chunk of Europe was paying attention to that trial, as well. Why? Because of the fundamental question that the trial symbolized, at its core. The principle at the center of that case was the right of self-defense. As a matter of law, that meant demonstrating in the trial that the material facts of the event conformed to Wisconsin’s own statutory definition of an action that constitutes self-defense.

Living Dangerously

"…Christians must dare to challenge this fearful, risk-averse society, with its stifling multiplication of ‘health and safety’ regulations and its fear of life. In the sixteenth century, missionaries from Catholic orders - Dominican, Franciscan, Jesuit, Carmelite, and many others - travelled in great numbers to Asia to preach the gospel. Half of them never arrived. They died of shipwreck and disease; they were captured by pirates, suffered martyrdom, and yet they dared to continue without any health or travel insurance.

Religion and Rational Belief

This paper is an analysis of the following argument that denies the possibility of rationality in religious faith: Rational belief is belief that is proportioned to the evidence. Religious faith is belief that is unsupported by the evidence. C) Therefore, religious faith is never rational. To assess this argument properly, a number of key assumptions need to be examined and critiqued. First, premise 1 implies without explanation a nature of belief that allows for proportionality.

Two Routes to the Same Good

Plato and Aristotle were very different thinkers. They came at the same fundamental philosophical problems from radically different directions. Rafael nicely characterized this in his famous “School of Athens” painting – Plato, ever the tutor, sternly pointing to the sky; Aristotle, the indignant pupil, gesturing reflexively toward the earth. But this image is somewhat deceiving. To anyone unfamiliar with the territory, you might walk away from the work thinking that Plato and Aristotle differed fundamentally, rather than merely instrumentally.

Pride Is Nothing to Celebrate

“…It was Pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels…” - St. Augustine The layers of inversion involved in “pride” month are breathtaking when you really look into the matter. Thomas Aquinas says of the sin of Pride, that it is “inordinate self-love [which] is the cause of every sin… the root of pride is found to consist in man not being, in some way, subject to God and His rule.

Marxism as False Religion

The ‘marxist professor’ (Glenn Bracey, Villanova) highlighted by the video linked in this article is not wrong in the most broad outline, about Marx’s theory of alienation, as a critique of commodity markets. He just so mangled and misapplied the concept that it’s almost unrecognisable. The theory of alienation is about the separation of human activity from fundamental human nature. It’s a metaphysical theory about where value derives from in the products of human labor.

Yes, Virginia. There Is Meaning.

In a recent exchange between Douglas Murray and N. T. Wright on the Unbelievable? Podcast, Douglas poses the following conundrum: Is it the case that we are meaning-seeking beings, or, that we are meaning-seeking beings and there is meaning to seek? This, it seems to me, is the basic choice every man faces implicitly as a fundamental part of his maturation, and every philosopher faces explicitly as a fundamental part of his matriculation.

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.

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.

Book Review: The Last Superstition

This book is no ordinary work of apologetic exceptionalism, or fatalistic religious outrage. Dr. Feser attempts to go much, much further than to simply “debunk” the New Atheists. In fact, he only spends a minority of the pages of this book on the “New Atheists” themselves, because they turn out to be only the worst exemplars of a much bigger problem, according to Dr. Feser. In short, this book is a blanket indictment of the entirety of modern materialist naturalism and a significant portion of the science upon which it is based.

Kant vs Anselm vs Cary

I have been listening to this lecture series to supplement the readings in my philosophy of religion course. In the first Kant lecture, Cary says that Kant argues against Anselm on the ground that being isn’t a property. It goes a little something like this: Anselm says, that which actually exists, rather than which we can merely imagine, is superior in perfection because existence is superior to all other possible properties we could imagine.

Stefan Molyneux and the Definition of Love

I am hesitant to do back-to-back critiques of Stefan Molyneux, because I don’t want the blog to become the “Contra Molyneux” journal. However, in his Christmas podcast, Stefan made a number of titillating and curious assertions, that I just couldn’t resist. He did not offer a thorough defense of any of them in the podcast, but we can excuse this on the ground that at least some of these are defended elsewhere, and were only presuppositions necessary for the present discussion.

Book Review: Against the Gods

A Concise Guide To Stefan Molyneux’s Atheism I am entering the final year of a BA Philosophy at the University of London, this year. To kick things off, I thought I’d do a book review for the blog. The focus this year is the philosophy of religion, and it’s been a while since I’ve done a book review for an “internet” philosopher. So, I’ve decided to dig my claws into Stefan Molyneux’s “Against The Gods?

The Pope of Platitudes

Today, I had a little extra time, so I was going to write a response to the Op-Ed piece that Pope Francis recently published in the New York Times . Seeing as how he’s such a prominent figure in the culture today, I thought it might spice up the feed to delve into current events and do an analysis. However, after reading through this twaddle twice, I have to say I found it utterly vapid and unworthy of anything like a serious critique.

Cyprian Echoed in Boethius

Yesterday, I stumbled across a treatise of St. Cyprian to his congregation that might sound remarkably familiar, if you’ve been following the podcast at all. The letter is written from exile, during the Decian persecution (ad 250). A few years later (ad 258), Cyprian would be executed by Valerian for disloyalty to the emperor - albeit, exhibited by his refusal to participate in Roman religious rites. All of this echoes the life of Boethius in distant ways, but also with Socrates, who was executed in part for introducing false gods into the city.

Religions, True and False

The following are things that are presently being informally labelled “religions” by various commentators: Environmentalism (Michael Shellenberger, “Apocalypse Never” ) Feminism (Janice Fiamengo, “Daughters of Feminism” ) Woke Ideology (James Lindsey, “New Discourses” ) Anti-Racism (John McWhorter, “Talking Back, Talking Black” ) There are probably others, but these are the ones I am aware of. Each of these has component features analogous to features of established religions, it is true. Here is an incomplete list that comes to mind:

You Reap What You Sow

In a recent debate online someone complained to me, after I had pointed to one problem with idea of the Sovereign in Leviathan, that Thomas Hobbes would not have cared about such things as the “fact-value dichotomy”. He went on to assert that the analytics were simply misinterpreting the Enlightenment. I think he is mistaken. It is true that Hobbes would not have ‘cared’ about the fact-value dichotomy. Indeed, he would have barely been able to make any sense of the idea if you were to pose it to him.

The Choice of Pilate

The story of Christ’s betrayal and crucifixion involves the Roman empire. The fifth presiding governor over the territory of Judea incorporating the Hebrew tribes, was Pontius Pilate. Pilate is often quoted in undergraduate philosophy for asking Christ, “what is truth?”. He’s also often cited in pastoral homilies for his choice to “wash his hands” of the guilt of Christ’s crucifixion. For most, this is thought to be the central moment of choice in the Pilate story.

Panpsychism Is a Red Herring

As I’ve progressed in my study of physics and metaphysics over the last 5 years, I’ve gradually come to realize that we’re all whistling through a kind of graveyard. I don’t know when it began or who started it, exactly, but on thing is for sure: we really don’t like thinking about it. What am I talking about? Well, the journey for me, really began (ironically) with the philosophy of science.

The Meaning of Christmas

If you live in the west for any serious length of time, you become familiar with the story: Mary has an audience with an angel, who tells her she is to become a mother. God visits her, and pronounces her the mother of the Son Of God. She and her oddly accepting husband Joseph head off into the desert to be counted in Bethlehem, where the boy is born in a manger, and proclaimed the savior of the world.

Is There a God?

This post is my first foray into the question of whether or not there is a God. Before I can begin to attempt an answer, I need to explore a deeper question. Namely, what is the nature of this question? What exactly are we asking, when we ask this question? I want to suggest that this question is best understood as a fundamental choice, and that the choice is not simply one of satisfying an ontological preference, but one of universal significance.

Two Dystopias: Despair and Redemption

Last night, I re-viewed George Lucas’ “THX-1138” (for the 20th time), and paired it with Phillip Noyce’s 2014 film treatment of “The Giver”. Both films portray differing versions of what I like to call the “escape trope” in science fiction dystopias: the main character’s whole motivation is to leave his society. In the first, THX is rejected by the dead society within which he is trapped in an unremarkable role, as soon as he is discovered to be non-compliant.

Terror, Responsibility, and the Example of God

We are what we choose to do Whether you believe there actually is a God or not, it is still instructive to explore the conception of God provided by the religious. In particular, the difference in character between the Christian God and the Muslim God, is very interesting. The Muslim (and perhaps Jewish) conception of God’s omnipotence is one of active and continuous expression. God is all powerful — and thus the greatest of great — because he exercises his power everywhere, at all times.

Plato and Nietzsche - The End and the Beginning

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ ~Isaiah 46:10 In The Republic, Socrates repeatedly insists that truth will be the highest value of his utopian society. To accomplish this, he argues that the myths of Homer and Hesiod should be hewn down to only those stories that are in accordance with what we know to be true, by proper philosophic study and dialectic argumentation.

Book Review: Twelve Rules for Life

Jordan Peterson’s “12 Rules For Life” is an admixture of continental philosophy, eastern mysticism, Jungian psychology, Christian theology, clinical psychotherapy insights, personal biography, and folk wisdom. At 368 pages, it’s just large enough to keep a thoughtful layman engaged without the more intimidating academic burden of his first book, “Maps of Meaning”. Dr. Peterson is obviously well read and quite thoughtful. In addition to some of his own occasional profundities, the book is absolutely littered with references to Shakespeare, Milton, Goethe, Dostoevsky, Orwell, Solzhenitsyn, and many others.