Thursday, March 16, 2017

Please read...

This is a very timely and important statement. Please read it, especially if you are involved in higher education or politics in any capacity.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Kierkegaard on our attempts to vindicate God...

"There is a certain kind of religiousness... that has the conception of God as a jealous despot of limited understanding who is consumed with a vehement desire to have the world informed by a particular person's odd gestures that God was loved by a particular person. As if God desired any distinction, or as if this were an appropriate distinction for God, since everyone can perceive that even for a princess it is no distinction to be loved by a common laborer! A religiousness like that is itself sickly and ailing, and therefore it also makes God sickly... the poor God who, in his awkward position of being invisible and yet so eager to have public attention drawn to him, is sitting and waiting for someone to do it for him."

- from Concluding Unscientific Postscript

Monday, October 20, 2014

A brief comment on the value of music, etc.

This is from an article in the Globe and Mail, and the writer gets it spot on. Music, books, etc. have value, and every time we steal - yes, steal - a product, we are effectively saying we don't value it, while at the same time valuing it. That is, we're being hypocritical lying thieves. (I'm speaking to myself here as much as anyone!) Here's the takeaway:

"You're thinking, 'Nobody asked writers to write. Don't they know a nice degree in commerce will serve them better in the long run? Nobody asked Iggy to roll around on stage in broken glass. He could have had a nice job as an actuary, although he would have had to keep his pants on.'

But in truth, we do ask: Every time we go to a library or shop, we want it to be full of new books, and when we search various channels (legal and illegal) for new music and movies, we expect to find them. Someone has to produce this content – this art – and sadly, the shoemakers' elves are all busy stitching elsewhere. And after it's been produced, someone has to buy it. Or not buy it, as is more likely the case.

It comes down to a question of value: Do we value artists' effort? The boring years spent in the studio or rehearsal hall, the torched drafts – Mr. Flanagan burned five early versions of his novel before he got it right... I'm glad Iggy Pop and Mr. Flanagan have brought the issue of artists' earnings out into the open, because it's too often avoided as embarrassing or demeaning or irrelevant to the process. In fact, it's crucial.

As author and cartoonist Tim Kreider wrote in a recent essay about not getting paid for his work, 'money is also how our culture defines value, and being told that what you do is of no ($0.00) value to the society you live in is, frankly, demoralizing'."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Kierkegaard on God's omnipotence...

"Only omnipotence can withdraw itself at the same time it gives itself away, and this relationship is the very independence of the receiver. God's omnipotence is therefore his goodness. For goodness is to give away completely, but in such a way that by omnipotently taking oneself back one makes the recipient independent.

All finite power makes [a being] dependent; only omnipotence can make [a being] independent, can form from nothing something that has its continuity in itself through the continuous withdrawing of omnipotence. Omnipotence is not ensconced in a relationship to another, for there is no other to which it is comparable--no, it can give without giving up the least of its power, that is, it can make [a being] independent. It is incomprehensible that omnipotence is able not only to create the most impressive of all things--the whole visible world--but is able to create the most frail of all things--a being independent of that very omnipotence.

Omnipotence, which can handle the world so toughly and with such a heavy hand, can also make itself so light that what it has brought into existence receives independence. Only a wretched and worldly conception of the dialectic of power holds that it is greater and greater in proportion to its ability to compel and to make dependent. No, Socrates had a sounder understanding; he knew that the art of power lies precisely in making another free. But in the relationship between individuals this can never be done, even though it needs to be emphasized again and again that this is the highest; only omnipotence can truly succeed in this.

Therefore if a human being had the slightest independent existence over against God (with regard to materia), then God could not make him free. Creation out of nothing is once again the Omnipotent One's expression for being able to make [a being] independent. He to whom I owe absolutely everything, although he still absolutely controls everything, has in fact made me independent. If in creating man God himself lost a little of his power, then precisely what he could not do would be to make a human being independent."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Disturbing new study...

Something to be aware of, and perhaps some of you might want to get involved with trying to fix this:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Great quote from Marilynne Robinson...

Taken from:

"Well, what is a Christian, after all? Can we say that most of us are defined by the belief that Jesus Christ made the most gracious gift of his life and death for our redemption? Then what does he deserve from us? He said we are to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek. Granted, these are difficult teachings. But does our most gracious Lord deserve to have his name associated with concealed weapons and stand-your-ground laws, things that fly in the face of his teaching and example? Does he say anywhere that we exist primarily to drive an economy and flourish in it? He says precisely the opposite. Surely we all know this. I suspect that the association of Christianity with positions that would not survive a glance at the Gospels or the Epistles is opportunistic, and that if the actual Christians raised these questions those whose real commitments are to money and hostility and potential violence would drop the pretense and walk away."

Convicting and profound words, in my opinion.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Bit More Clarity on Hegel (Courtesy of Stephen Houlgate)...

(quotes taken from Houlgate's Book, 'An Introduction to Hegel')

Hegel thinks that thought and reality are going to grow together in ever increasing clarity. Houlgate notes that some might think this to be presumptuous: "How can thought be certain that it is able to bridge the gap between itself and being and disclose the true nature of what there is?" (p. 45)  But, he continues, for Hegel this is a bad question, because it assumes that there is a gap between thought and being in the first place, and not, instead, that the gap is between thought and itself — in other words, the problem is not that thought and being are separate, but rather that thought has not, in its incomplete stages, understood the unity between itself and being.

But does this not amount to the same thing said in a different way? Not necessarily. In the first instance, what is and what we think about that reality are disconnected from each other by a structural deficiency that is ultimately unbridgeable by either reality or thought. In the second (Hegelian) instance, reality and thought are primordially and ontologically connected — indeed, united — but there is a disconnect within thought itself which does not allow thought to recognize this unity, since it has been too quick to assume that the categories by which thought functions (i.e., our logical principles) must be the absolutely correct way of understanding the world, which leads to the resulting blindness that is incorrectly perceived as a disconnect between thought and that world.

But, likewise, this means that if Hegel is going to be consistent, he will not — and indeed Houlgate thinks he does not — make any absolute claim about the fundamental unity of thought and reality at the start of his logic either. For to do so would be to start with an unnecessary presupposition that cannot be justified. Thus, because "we can presuppose no conceivable distinction between thought and being at the beginning of the Logic, the categories set out in the Logic must be ontological. At the same time they cannot provide a description of any Absolute, reality or being that is presupposed as the distinct, given object of philosophical enquiry." (p. 45)

What, then, do we make of Hegel's statements that the end of the system is the beginning, and vice versa? Are we simply to take Hegel at his word that the discovery of 'Absolute Being' is something that he did not conceive of prior to reaching the end of his system, and that it is merely coincidental that the fact of Absolute Being as the end of the system means that such unity and conceptual truth is also the beginning of the system? It seems too convenient... at least that's my impression.