06 May 2014

Going Around the Sophists


Our cultural signs, symbols, and languages are dominated by bureaucratic and commercial ideologies. These ideologies push transcendental questions out of the public square, ruling them illegitimate b/c they do not serve a bureaucratic of commercial purpose.  In other words, "They don't get us anywhere." 

James Kalb tackles this problem and proposes a solution:
 
In a world that tries to immunize itself against concerns other than efficiency, equality, and preference satisfaction, Catholics need to circumvent the public discussion and restart it on a different footing. Saint Ambrose noted that God does not normally save his people through rational argumentation(“non in dialectica complacuit Deo salvum facere populum suum”). Man is nonetheless a creature of reason, at least in part, and if we don’t deal with that side of him we’ll have problems. The obvious way to start, since we live in a world in which well-paid sophists have supplanted traditional authorities, is to do what Socrates did in a similar setting: ask pointed questions that are hard to get rid of because they go to the heart of how people live. For example. . .
 
Read the whole thing. 
As an example of what Kalb is opposing, here's a bit from COSMOS host, Neil deGrasse Tyson: "[Tyson] proudly proclaims his irritation with 'asking deep questions' that lead to a 'pointless delay in your progress' in tackling 'this whole big world of unknowns out there.' When a scientist encounters someone inclined to think philosophically, his response should be to say, 'I'm moving on, I'm leaving you behind, and you can't even cross the street because you're distracted by deep questions you've asked of yourself. I don't have time for that.'"

Methinks someone made a C- in undergrad philosophy class. . .
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6 comments:

  1. ...and became more famous for an Internet meme than for the scientific work...

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    1. You mean, "and became more famous for BEING an Internet meme. . ." :-)

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  2. I used to like deGrasse, back when I didn't use the internet much and PBS was my main source of sciency news. Then I got on the internet, lost a lot of weight, etc... The foolish like to look at me like I am crazy for questioning certain aspects of evolutionary theory- meanwhile, I have applied evolutionary theory to myself with great success. This is what happens when you use 'big picture' ideas (my paleolithic ancestors adapted to certain kinds of food, environment, etc...). When you don't use big picture ideas in science, you get random correlations and scientists who will warn you about correlations not equalling causation who still turn around and suggest red meat causes cancer because of some epidemiological survey. Red meat was around in hunter gatherer days- vegetable oils and refined carbohydrates were not, so I am not going to believe them.

    Anyway, someone linked to a NOVA piece on epigenetics and there was deGrasse speaking SLOWLY. This was highly similar to going from ridiculously fast broadband down to a 52k modem. There are rednecks on youtube who can transmit information faster. The script didn't help much either. It sounds like NOVA is actually meant to put old liberals to sleep via the calming sounds of deGrasse's voice rather than to teach anyone anything.

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    1. DeGrasse may be a scientist, but his religion is Scienticism.

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  3. Father Philip, you write: "Methinks someone made a C- in undergrad philosophy class. . . " which leads me to wonder whether you have some evidence that the someone in question (Tyson) ever took any philosophy class undergraduate or otherwise.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

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    1. No, it's just typical for people to denigrate the academic subjects they didn't well in. E.g., I often denigrate math b/c it took me three tries to pass college algebra.

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