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Wilkins on Jesus and philosophy

May 9, 2010 1 comment

A nice quote from Wilkins: “Everybody does philosophy to an extent. The problem is that most of the time they do it badly or incompletely.” I certainly agree after grading papers 🙂

For context, you need to read his series of posts on whether Jesus was a philosopher (here and here). For what it’s worth, I agree with Wilkins. Jesus was not a philosopher.

Update (5/11): And now he asks was Darwin a philosopher?

Origins: Anti-Evolutionist History

April 25, 2010 Comments off

We’re entering the final week of lectures for Origins, Evolution and Creation and I had originally intended putting together a lecture that took an in-depth look at the Darwin/Hitler meme that creationists so seem to love. However, time got the better of me and instead I’m delivering a slightly modified version of a talk I’ve given on Expelled. Maybe next year.

Wednesday’s lecture will tie a bunch of things together. I’ll try and post that on Tuesday evening.

Pigliucci on the “new” atheism

April 15, 2010 24 comments

Pigliucci realizes something that some of us have been thinking for quite a while now:

[T]his to me represents the latest example of an escalation (downwards in quality) in the tone and substance of the discourse on atheism, and I blame this broadly on the rhetoric of the new atheism (the only “new” aspect of which is precisely the in-your-face approach to “reason”). With few exceptions (mostly, Dennett), what we have seen in recent years is much foaming at the mouth, accompanied by a cavalier attitude toward the substance, rationality and coherence of one’s arguments. And now we have seen a new low consisting of childish insults to a fellow atheist and writer who is clearly fighting the same battle as the rest of us.

I am often told by my non-activist friends (pretty much all of whom are agnostics or atheists themselves) that the problem with the new atheism is that it looks a lot like the mirror image of the sort of fundamentalist rage that we all so justly abhor. I always shrugged at this accusation as being overblown and missing the point, after all we — unlike them — are on the side of reason and true human compassion. Now I’m not so sure.

Indeed.

Pigliucci on the future of Philosophy of Science

April 14, 2010 Comments off

Massimo Pigliucci has a thoughtful post up on the future of the philosophy of science in which he sees a future

along three major lines of inquiry: as an independent discipline that studies scientific reasoning and practice; as a discipline contiguous to theoretical science; and as a crucial simultaneous watchdog and defender of science in the public arena.

In the last line of inquiry, he very much mirrors my thoughts about some of the things that history of science can bring to the table.

Existentialism

April 2, 2010 Comments off

I hadn’t realized that Robert Solomon had died a few years back. I’ve always enjoyed his writings on Nietzsche & existentialism and his piece from Waking Life always resonates with me. We were discussing Dostoevsky today in class and I had reason to show it.

Update: YouTube embed didn’t work for some reason. Follow the link.

The Role of Historians

March 13, 2010 2 comments

In the past, I have written pieces presenting my thoughts on the role of historians in the creation/evolution issue (see here and this pdf). Now, Jon Weiner has a piece in The Nation detailing historians such as Robert Proctor, Louis Kyriakoudes, Gregg Michel, Lacy Ford, Michael Schaller and Kenneth Ludmerer and their respective roles in legal cases about tobacco and cancer. (The first two have testified for plaintiffs against Big Tobacco, the rest have accepted money from the likes of Phillip Morris).

As Weiner notes,

Brandt, Kyriakoudes and Proctor are proud of their work and let everyone know about it, while those on the other side never mention their work for Big Tobacco on their faculty websites or online CVs. Lacy Ford doesn’t, and neither does Michael Schaller at the University of Arizona or Kenneth Ludmerer at Washington University.

Ummm.

Texas History Standards axe Jefferson for Aquinas and Calvin.

March 12, 2010 11 comments

From the Texas Freedom Network via Ed Brayton:

9:45 – Here’s the amendment [Cynthia] Dunbar changed: “explain the impact of Enlightenment ideas from John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Jefferson on political revolutions from 1750 to the present.” Here’s Dunbar’s replacement standard, which passed: “explain the impact of the writings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and Sir William Blackstone.” Not only does Dunbar’s amendment completely change the thrust of the standard. It also appalling drops one of the most influential political philosophers in American history — Thomas Jefferson.

It’s impossible to make this crap up. Replacing Jefferson with Aquinas and Calvin? Deleting explicit mention of the Enlightenment? And of political revolutions?

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