We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I mumbled briefly about Positivism last week, alluding to its potential as a fuel for hubris. No philosophy is the "cause" of human evil and destructiveness, but Human Nature is. Pure rationalism (if there is any such thing) is a frightening way to run the world, or to run anything.
This weekend, in timely fashion, I stumbled on a review of Grayling's latest screed against irrationalism by the esteemable John Gray. One quote from the thoughtful review:
Reading Grayling, it is hard to resist the impression that he believes Western civilization would be much improved if it did not include the Judeo-Christian inheritance. Absurd as it is, there is nothing new in such a claim. It is one of the most venerable clichés of Enlightenment thinking, and Ideas that Matter is a compendium of such dated prejudices. When Grayling condemns religion on the grounds that “a theory that explains everything, and can be falsified by nothing, is empty,” he takes for granted that religions are primitive theories, now rendered obsolete by science.
'Positivism' seems to be kin to Kierkegaard's phrase 'leap of faith'. And grandma's saying that smiling makes you as happy as being happy makes you smile.
All three ideas have in common that feeling 'right' is not the active force that passive you has to wait around hoping for a visit from, but that you are the active force and feeling right is what is waiting around for you.
I hope that spirituality is rooted in logical faith rather than needing a fully scientific explanation. At the same time, spiritual beliefs should have a reasonable amount of logic or they cross over to superstition. It is a spiritual act of faith to believe that the Eucharistic Host is the body of Christ. It is superstition to believe that missing church will cause God to take your job away.
Grayling may be commenting on a sad tendency for religion to veer from spiritual to superstitious, sometimes with the active encouragement of religious leaders.
A quote I use to prove the original meaning of ad hominem is an appeal to the interests of the opponent, not an attack on him; but the content is interesting here:
Some time since I had a pleasant discussion with a university professor who held that faith and knowledge are in inverse ratio. As the area of knowledge enlarges, he claimed that of faith diminishes correspondingly. Once people accepted by faith what has since become known, and science has thus made faith superfluous in all such things. The professor admitted, however, it was not likely that knowledge would ever entirely banish faith; there would still remain some unexplored regions where faith could find room, and so preachers could still find a field for their activities. I came back at this professor with an argumentum ad hominem, "Is it true," said I, "that the more knowledge your wife has of you, the less faith she has in you? And is it true that the more you know of her, the less faith you have in her? In your home are faith and knowledge in inverse ratio? If so, I pity you both." It is not true that knowledge excludes faith. The more you know of your family physician, the more faith you have in him. The more soldiers know of their general, the greater their faith in him; else the army is in a bad way. The more we know of our friends the more faith we have in them. The greater a man's knowledge of nature, the greater his faith in nature. Intelligent faith is not weaker than ignorant faith.