Archive for category Wisdom

Caputo’s Upcoming Letter to the Ephesians

Would anyone care to send me to this event? I’d much appreciate it!

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What do you believe?

What do you believe?

  1. Do you believe that the world’s climate is being radically altered in large measure because of human activity?
  2. Do you believe that climate change is a very significant issue?
  3. Do you believe that vaccinations for serious diseases such as measles and mumps do not cause autism?
  4. Do you believe that every child (barring extraordinary medical reasons for not doing so) should be vaccinated against chickenpox, diptheria, measles, mumps, polio, rubella, tetanus, etc.?
  5. Do you believe that there is no evidence that tax cuts for the wealthy result in job creation?
  6. Do you believe that the earth revolves around the sun?
  7. Do you believe that the theory of evolution in its most current articulation is our best explanation for the origin and diversity of species?
  8. Do you believe that the recent rapid expansion of the gap between the wealth possessed by the world’s 80 richest people, on the one hand, and the other 7+ billion people, on the other, is a sign of a sick and unjust economic/political system?

If you answered “no” to any of the questions above, you can help me with my efforts to use my time more efficiently and, thus, to be more productive. If you answered “no” to any of these questions, please note that I will no longer spend any time considering any of your views about these issues – or any others issues, for that matter. Your judgment is so suspect that it is extremely unlikely that any of your views will be credible or justifiable, and so I need not waste my time on them. Thank you for your assistance.

P.s., this arrangment is mutually beneficial. As your “no” answers demonstrate your unwillingness to listen to reason, weigh evidence, or think clearly, you do not need to waste any of your valuable time considering my views. They will be pearls before swine.

Please also note, lest you think you detect a degree of arrogance here, that by “my” views I do not mean anything idiosyncratic or particular to me, nor do I mean that I, myself, am responsible for discovering all the insights that make up my considred views. I simply mean that my views on these key matters are consistent with those that are held by the overwhelming majority of sane, intelligent, honest, and objective persons. The endorsement of such persons is to a significant degree a very good reason for holding the views I do. They are very good reasons for anyone to hold such views.

Of course I realize that a majority’s holding a view does not constitute proof of that view, not even if that majority consists purely of sane, intelligent, honest, and objective persons. But because the majority I have in mind (for the key issues I’ve enumerated here) is sane, intelligent, honest, and objective, they, themselves, have come to their views as a result of examining evidence, considering alternatives, weighing arguments, and then committing themselves to the best explanations for the issue at hand. This is a very good way for anyone to come to their views. The alternative would be to…I don’t know…believe that anything that comes into your head, simply because it came into your head, is GOOD, TRUE, and BEAUTIFUL. This, obviously (to any sane, intelligent, honest, and objective person), is utter nonsense for which there is no justification.

So, please answer the questions to see whether we can save each other some precious time. Thank you.

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A Defense of Reason | New Republic

There are people who prefer ardent thought to clear thought, and loyal thought to strict thought. There are people who mistrust thought altogether and prefer the unarguable authenticities of the heart—the individual heart and the collective heart. There are people who regard thought […] as an activity of an elite…. Yet the ideal of ‘clear and intelligent thought,’ stripped of its condescension and its indifference to the non-rational dimensions of human life, deserves to be defended. We need not be a nation of intellectuals, but we must not be a nation of idiots.

Read the rest of Leon Wieseltier’s reflections: Reason and the Republic of Opinion.

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Karl Barth’s Failure by Matthew Rose | Articles | First Things

 But we are living through the unraveling of the Christian metaphysic, which began with a rejection of classical theism, proceeded to abolish purpose from the material world, and is now eliminating the rational and moral nature of man. In order to recognize this metaphysical demolition for what it is—one can scarcely repair what one misunderstands—Christians are no more helped by Barth than by theological liberalism. Both collude with secular reason in denying our capacity to attain knowledge of the highest things. We will be immeasurably better served by recognizing, as John Paul II wrote in Fides et Ratio, that our “crisis of meaning” stems from failing to defend the ability of reason to know “the ultimate and overarching meaning of life.”

Read more from this thoughtful essay on Barth: Karl Barth’s Failure by Matthew Rose | Articles | First Things.

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BBC News: Why short men make better husbands

Yeah, baby!

But the conclusion of the paper, once one has weeded through, is striking and well documented. It is simply that short men make stable marriages. They do this in circumstances of difficulty and against the odds and consistently over ages and income groups, and they do it with the shorter women they often marry, but also with the taller women they sometimes land. Short men marry late but, once they do get married, tend to stay married longer and, by social science measures, at least – I assume this means they ask the short men’s wives (I hope so anyway) – they stay happily married, too.

via BBC News – A Point of View: Why short men make better husbands.

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More overheard conversation

Sometimes, it starts to seem simple.

What does?

Everything.  All of it.

Simple?

Yeah.  Sometimes I think I see the simple pattern of all the struggles that our common life together seems to bring.

Really?

Yes.  Let me explain.  I read the following sentences in a book:

 In what measure and by what means can individuals accept themselves as mortal without any imaginary instituted compensation; in what measure can thought hold together the demands of the identitary logic which are rooted in the Legein and the exigencies of what is (which is surely not identitary without becoming for that reason incoherent); in what measure, finally and especially, can society truly recognize in its institution its own self-creation, recognize itself as institution, auto-institute itself explicitly, and surmount the self-perpetuation of the instituted by showing itself capable of taking it up and transforming it according to its own exigencies and not according to the inertia of the instituted, to recognize itself as the source of its own alterity?  These are the questions, the question of revolution, which not only go beyond the frontier of the theorizable but situate themselves right away on another terrain…the terrain of the creativity of history.  [Cornelius Castoriades, cited by Dick Howard, The Marxian Legacy, 298-299.]

Say what, now?

Yeah, dense, isn’t it?  But what is the simple meaning?  To me, this  goes back to Aristotle, at least.  What is the good life?  It is the life that is best for us to lead.  How do we know it?  How do we learn it?  We learn it by watching others and forming habits.  But what if the habits we form by watching others whom society says are worth imitating, what if that leads us to vice, not virtue?  What if the whole society is corrupt?  Is there any hope?  Yes, because although moral virtue is very important, there is more to being a human than moral virtue.  There is what Aristotle calls intellectual virtue, which is being able to see what is—even past the habits and practices and institutions of our own society.  With those intellectual virtues, we always have access to the other, to the unexpressed, to the not-now visible possibilities.  Indeed, this goes further back, to Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” in which the prisoner somehow slips his bonds (but how?) and gets out of the darkness of illusion and can see what is in its truth.  But the prisoner does not—cannot—live in this “realm” because he is human.  He needs his institutions in order to live.  Those institutions make life possible AND impossible at the same time.  To say this in a formula:  I am in society, but not wholly of it.  I carry my alterity with me.  I need the bonds of identitary logic to live AND I am always more and other than how that logic “identifies” me, how it turns me into a (mere) identity.

Perhaps that goes even further back to the very edge of thought:  the many and the one, identity and difference, analysis and synthesis.

Indeed, it does.  The truth is in the middle and the margin, in the in-between and at the edges.

But is what you claimed, right?  Is what you just tried to say simple?

Yes.  It is just that simple.

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Do I contradict myself?

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.

Walt Whitman, Song of Myself

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