Archive for July, 2014

July 20, 2014

So maybe I am not an atheist

by Neil Rickert

No, I have not suddenly become religious.  I am just reacting to a recent post by PZ Myers:

When asked, I have usually said that I am not religious.  I don’t take offense when people say that I am atheist, but it is never a term that I have asserted for my own position.

PZ says:

Yet so many people just make that statement, and then argue that there are no antecedents and no consequences of atheism — a revolutionary idea for which people have been executed, which is in opposition to the premises used to establish many of the powerful institutions in our culture, which directly contradicts what many people consider the basis of all morality in society, is treated as casually and cavalierly as the statement, “I don’t much care for Justin Bieber’s music”.

Sorry, PZ, but “I don’t much care for Justin Bieber’s music” is pretty close to how I look at the God question.  I suppose that makes me closer to being an agnostic or an ignostic or an apatheist.  But those terms seem too technical, so I’ll stay with “not religious.”

I was a serious theist, mostly during my teenage years.  But I never rebelled.  Rather, I just walked away.  It did take serious thought for me to recognize that religion is entirely man-made.  And that was why I could easily walk away.  But I never did conclude that there is no god.  As best I can tell, there is no evidence either way.

read more »

July 17, 2014

More on my disagreement with analytic philosophy

by Neil Rickert

In a post earlier today at his new site, Massimo Pigliucci compares analytic philosophy with continental philosophy:

I found it an interesting post, and I suggest you read it.  Most of the philosophy that I have read has been in the analytic tradition, so I did learn something about continental philosophy.

The starting point

By way of distinguishing between the two traditions, Pigliucci describes analytic philosophy this way:

Analytic philosophy refers to a style of doing philosophy characteristic of the contemporary British empiricists, like G.E. Moore and Bertrand Russell, with an emphasis on argument, logical analysis, and language, and it is what one finds practiced in many (though by no means all) philosophy departments in the United States and the UK. Michael Dummett [2] famously said that the “characteristic tenet [of analytic philosophy] is that the philosophy of language is the foundation for all the rest of philosophy … [that] the goal of philosophy is the analysis of the structure of thought [and that] the only proper method for analysing thought consists in the analysis of language.”

And, right there, you see where I disagree.  The analytic tradition starts with language, and wants to make that the foundation for all philosophy.  I want to start far earlier.

read more »

July 11, 2014

Why I am a heretic

by Neil Rickert

I’ve been thinking about posting on this topic for several weeks.  But it has been hard to get started.  Writer’s block, I guess.

And then, earlier today, I posted a comment elsewhere which looks as if it might be a good fit for the topic.

For context, there was a brief discussion of the usefulness of ontology.  And then walto posted a new thread to give his position on the questions:

My comment was a response to that post.

Here’s what I wrote (I’ve skipped the first two sentences):

read more »

July 2, 2014

The Hobby Lobby case — a bad decision

by Neil Rickert

By now you will have heard of the Supreme court ruling on the Hobby Lobby case.  I believe this was a terrible decision from the right wing ideologues on the court.

Fred Clark (Slacktivist) has a good account of the history leading up to this case:

It started with a bad court decision on Peyote, back in 1990.  At the time, I thought that decision (written by Scalia) was a bad decision.  Congress then enacted RFRA, in an attempt to undo the Peyote decision and some subsequent mistakes.  And now Scalia and others are using RRFA to allow Hobby Lobby to force the owners religious views on employees.

I lost a lot of respect for this ideological court back in 2000, when they wrongly interfered in the Bush vs. Gore election.  And now I have lost any remaining respect.