Thursday, November 26, 2020

"a glittering cargo cult"
      "If [at 72] I were to take a religious turn, it would be toward Christianity.  But strait is the gate and narrow is the way.  In order to pass through, I’d have to shrink myself to the size of the child I was before I knew better than to believe.  How would I do that, and what would be left of me?"

     Emily Fox Gordon, "An atheist’s lament," The American scholar 90, no. 1 (Winter 2021):  85 (78-85).

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Evolving towards and evolving out

"this predicament was spiritually unstable, offering on one side motives not to go back to the earlier established faiths, and on the other (among other things), a sense of malaise, emptiness, a need for meaning.

     "Again, this doesn't mean that everyone will go on being pulled both ways.  Many, perhaps most, will end up opting for some solution, including the extreme ones of authoritarian orthodoxy and materialist atheism.  But the situation as a whole remains unstable, in the sense that there is no long term movement towards a [permanent] resolution of whatever kind.  Successive generations keep re-opening the issues in new ways; children desert the solutions of their parents:  one generation reacts to the Gibbonian high culture of the eighteenth century by turning evangelical; not very long after their descendants have become unbelievers, and so on.  Both those who hope that unbelief will encounter its own limitations and aridity, and will peter out in a general return to orthodoxy; and those who think that all this represents an historic march towards reason and science, seem doomed to disappointment.  Over time, there seems no stable resolution."

     Charles Taylor, A secular age (Cambridge, MA:  The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 2007), 302-303.  Not surprisingly, I'm disinclined to think that the two poles can be equally attractive over the truly long haul in fact.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

"the 'sciences' structured by the spill-over"

 "Whereas the withdrawl from cosmic meanings is a move which is properly motivated by the nature of the reality which natural science studies, the spill-over occurs where the prestige of the stance begins to dictate what we can take as reality.  We can note too that the 'sciences' structured by the spill-over are understood by their practitioners to be motivated by fully epistemic considerations, whereas in fact (if I am right) a big part of the motivation resides in the prestige and admiration surrounding the stance itself, with the sense of freedom, power, control, invulnerability, dignity, which it radiates.  In other words, what operate here are ethical considerations (those to do with the ends of life, or what is a higher form of life).  This is masked by a certain ideological consciousness."

     Charles Taylor, A secular age (Cambridge, MA:  The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), 286.  And, channeling Aquinas:  "A powerful homogenizing a priori is at work here (perhaps a little too reminiscent of Kant), perverse in its effect.  I say 'perverse', because we ought to hold that method and stance be adapted to the nature of the reality concerned, whereas here, albeit unwittingly, reality is being arraigned before the bar of Method; what doesn't shape up is condemned to a shadow-zone of the unreal."