Blog resurrection

After letting this blog lay dormant for literally years, I noticed yesterday that there’s still a link to it from my Twitter profile, so I figured that I might as well get some use out of it. Anyone who’s a friend or follower of mine on Facebook can attest that over those years I definitely haven’t been shy about sharing my views; Facebook, however, often isn’t the best venue to have actual discussions about matters of substance. So, I’ll still continue being my same old opinionated self there, but linking to longer thoughts here on the blog. (Yes, I know, Facebook has the “notes” feature, but it’s been neglected by their developers for years, and just isn’t up to where the better blogging tools on the Web–wordpress, typepad, etc.–are.) In the meantime, I’ll keep looking for ways to link my social media presences (Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Academia.edu, etc.) to maximize the capabilities of all of them in order to facilitate the best possible conversations about the thoughts that I post.

Eight reasons why one nasty chant isn’t all that’s wrong with with Dr. Laura’s rant

Dr. Laura Schlessinger, professional talk radio nag, went off on a racist rant during yesterday’s (Aug. 12) Tuesday’s (Aug. 10) episode of her nationally syndicated program.  A black caller had phoned in to the show seeking advice; her white husband’s friends and family members had a nasty habit of making racist remarks around her, and she felt hurt not only by the comments themselves but also by her husband’s reluctance to speak up against the comments or acknowledge that they were hurtful to her.  Continue reading

Bernstein’s Hegelian analysis of the Tea Party movement

In the most recent installment of the New York Times’ new philosophy forum, The Stone, J.M. Bernstein [New School for Social Research] offers a Hegelian analysis of the Tea Party movement.  His analysis has met with predictable derision from certain quarters within the community of professional philosophers and, of course, from the libertarians whose ideology he critiques — but more on that later.  Before we get around to Bernstein’s critics, let’s first take a look at what he’s actually written. Continue reading

NEWSFLASH: Wall Street Journal conflates right wing ideology with “basic economics”

Nobody should find this “report” by Daniel Klein surprising.  I find it curious that the surveyors were diligent enough to differentiate between right-wingers who self-identify as “(very) conservative” and those who self-identify as “libertarian,” but couldn’t be bothered to do the same for socialists on the left.  Once again we’re just lazily lumped in with those who self-identify as “progressive” or, even worse, “very liberal.”  That’s not the worst of the survey’s ideological slant, though.  Even worse than the categorizations of the respondents are the questions themselves.  First, Klein discusses restrictions on housing development: Continue reading

On Hypostatization

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about hypostatization (or reification), thanks to this post a few months back from Missives from Marx and a conversation I had recently with a few “New Atheists.”  All of the usual gross errors in thinking about religions were out in force: a lot of rhetoric about “religion” as such, indefensibly grandiose claims about the horrible things that “religion does,” many patently false claims about certain characteristics that “all religions” allegedly (but not really) have in common, etc.  My point was, as MfM so eloquently put it, “Stop hypostatizing!”  It’s just sloppy thinking to assert that religion-as-such is a force that blocks rational/scientific thought, that all religions require uncritical adherence to dogma (or even care much about beliefs at all!), that they’re all rooted authoritarian institutions or texts that proclaim a too-easy certainty about difficult moral, epistemological and metaphysical questions, that they’re all opposed to progress in scientific understanding or human flourishing (particularly with regard to those who are in some way–with regard to sex, gender, orientation, race, ethnicity, class, ability, etc.–on the short end of privilege), or that all religions manifest themselves in fundamentally the same way.  Nobody in religious studies takes any of those ideas seriously, because anybody who actually bothers to learn anything about religions understands that those ideas are laughably and demonstrably false.  (Not to toot the horn of MfM–one of my favorite blogs–too much, but if you’re unconvinced, look here and here and here.) Continue reading

Chris Hedges has no use for religion.

I began the following post a few weeks back, then intersession German started up.  I’m finally getting back to finishing my thoughts; Hedges’s comments are still timely.

Much of his critique is right on target, some of it is not, and his main point has been made better elsewhere.

First, the good.  Hedges comes out, guns blazing:

It is hard to muster much sympathy over the implosion of the Catholic Church, traditional Protestant denominations or Jewish synagogues. These institutions were passive as the Christian right, which peddles magical thinking and a Jesus-as-warrior philosophy, hijacked the language and iconography of traditional Christianity. They have busied themselves with the boutique activism of the culture wars. They have failed to unequivocally denounce unfettered capitalism, globalization and pre-emptive war. The obsession with personal piety and “How-is-it-with-me?” spirituality that permeates most congregations is narcissism. Continue reading

A Unique Response to Frank Jackson’s Knowledge Argument Against Physicalism

Courtesy of Utahraptor of Dinosaur Comics: