(review) Seven Types of Atheism, by John Gray

#11
(Apr 14, 2018 05:17 AM)Syne Wrote: Okay MR, you just go right on believing that. Want a lollipop, tiger?

Every thread you touch turns to shit. Even one about spirituality. You're pathetic.
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#12
Uh, actually this is a thread about atheism (hint: read the title) or secular humanism.

You naively latched onto the word "spirituality", which was only used as a pejorative in the OP, and you repeatedly and completely failed to ever refute its "transcendence without content".
You continuing to conflate the transcendentalism of Muir, Emerson, and Whitman with actual transcendence is just a cute boyish stubbornness, reflected in the fact that you can't manage to define/contrast the two nor show how the spirituality of any of those three wasn't derived from their transcendental philosophy. Hell, any reader would be hard-pressed to even determine if you know what transcendentalism is, much less transcendence. And that you can postulate a spirituality without any demonstrable understanding of transcendence is just plain funny.

So which will it be? More vacuous repetition, hateful insults, or dead silence?
God forbid you manage to engage with any actual arguments.
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#13
(Apr 14, 2018 06:02 AM)Syne Wrote: Uh, actually this is a thread about atheism (hint: read the title) or secular humanism.

You naively latched onto the word "spirituality", which was only used as a pejorative in the OP, and you repeatedly and completely failed to ever refute its "transcendence without content".
You continuing to conflate the transcendentalism of Muir, Emerson, and Whitman with actual transcendence is just a cute boyish stubbornness, reflected in the fact that you can't manage to define/contrast the two nor show how the spirituality of any of those three wasn't derived from their transcendental philosophy. Hell, any reader would be hard-pressed to even determine if you know what transcendentalism is, much less transcendence. And that you can postulate a spirituality without any demonstrable understanding of transcendence is just plain funny.

So which will it be? More vacuous repetition, hateful insults, or dead silence?
God forbid you manage to engage with any actual arguments.


Yep...who would've thought. More petty shitty bitching about nothing. Take this whole thread down to your petty self-serving level. Nothing to discuss here folks! Move along now..
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#14
So hateful insults it is. I guess you really had nothing to say after all.

Talk about "transcendence without content".
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#15
(Apr 14, 2018 07:40 AM)Syne Wrote: So hateful insults it is. I guess you really had nothing to say after all.

Talk about "transcendence without content".

You have no concept of what a transcendent experience is. You made that clear when SS and I had to school your dumb ass all about it. All you do is your pathetic whining and bitching about things that don't matter essentially derailing the OP. Are you happy now? Mission accomplished.
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#16
He’s not saying anything that hasn’t been said before.  Take Michel Onfray for instance, he said, that in this devastated landscape of Western world at bay, the tactics of some secular figures seem contaminated by the enemy’s ideology: many militants in the secular cause look astonishingly like clergy.  Worse: like caricatures of clergy.  

***Secular thought is not de-Christianized thought, but immanent Christian thought.  Couched in rational language, it nevertheless preserves the quintessence of the Judeo-Christian ethic.  God leaves heaven to come down to earth.  He does not die, no one kills him, no one spurns him, and he is simply adapted to the terrain of pure immanence.  Jesus remains the hero of both visions of the world: he is merely asked to discard his halo and avoid excessively ostentatious gestures.

I am not spiritual.  How can I be?  I don’t have a spirit.  I haven’t transcended anything.  I am an animal.  A living creature.  What am I going to transcend?  There is nothing to transcend.  You fall, and if your head was in the clouds, you hit the ground with such force that you never forget the fall.  You get up and you brush off the only thing worth worshiping…the dust.

I had faith in God; that was my first mistake.  I took that faith and put in humans; that was my second mistake.  

I mean talk about decadence," he declared, "how decadent can a society get? Look at it this way. This country's probably the psychiatric, psychoanalytical capital of the world. Old Freud himself could never have dreamed up a more devoted bunch of disciples than the population of the United States - isn't that right? Our whole damn culture is geared to it; it's the new religion; it's everybody's intellectual and spiritual sugar-tit. And for all that, look what happens when a man really does blow his top. Call the Troopers, get him out of sight quick, hustle him off and lock him up before he wakes the neighbors. Christ's sake, when it comes to any kind of showdown we're still in the Middle Ages. It's as if everybody'd made this tacit agreement to live in a state of total self-deception. The hell with reality! Let's have a whole bunch of cute little winding roads and cute little houses painted white and pink and baby blue; let's all be good consumers and have a lot of Togetherness and bring our children up in a bath of sentimentality -- and if old reality ever does pop out and say Boo we'll all get busy and pretend it never happened.—Richard Yates

***Hence a relativist definition of secularism: while the epistemology remain Judeo-Christian, secularism acts as if religion no longer impregnates and imbues consciences, bodies, and souls.  We speak, think, live, act, imagine, eat, suffer, sleep, and conceive as Judeo-Christians, constructed by two thousand years of formatting biblical monotheism. At which point secularism fights to allow everyone to think what he wishes and believe in his own god, provided he does not make it a matter for the community. But publicly, the secularized religion of Christ leads the dance.

This being the case, the secular have no problem asserting the equality of Jew, Christian, and Muslim but also of Buddhist, Shintoist, animist, polytheist, and atheist in the contemporary Western state.  Everything can easily be made to seem equal to everything else, once experienced in the depths of intimacy of the individual conscience, since everything outside, at the level of public life, institutions, forms, powers—in other words the essential—remains Judeo-Christian!

***For by decreeing the equality of all religions and of those who reject them, as today’s regnant brand of secularism recommends, we condone relativism: equality of magical thinking and rational thought, of fable, myth, and reasoned argument, of thaumaturgic discourse and scientific thinking, of the Torah and Descartes’s Discourse on Method, the New Testament and the Critique of Pure Reason, the Koran and the Genealogy of Morality.  We declare Moses the equal of Descartes, Jesus of Kant, and Muhammad of Nietzsche.

***I persist in preferring philosophers to rabbis, priests, imams, ayatollahs, and mullahs.  Rather than trust their theological hocus-pocus, I prefer to draw on alternatives to dominate philosophical historiography: the laughers, materialists, radicals, cynics, hedonists, atheists, sensualists, voluptuaries. They know that there is only one world, and that promotion of an afterlife deprives us of the enjoyment and benefits of the one there is. A genuinely deadly sin.
—Atheist Manifesto by Michel Onfray

What do the godless whisper? "It’s scary, isn’t it? Yes, yes, it is."

What else is there to say?
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#17
(Apr 13, 2018 06:55 PM)C C Wrote: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/a...rial-world

EXCERPT: There has been a rash of books in recent years by thinkers for whom the human race is getting nicer and nicer.

I don't see any evidence that people are getting nicer and nicer. Some of the nastier practices of the past have been declared morally out-of-bounds by our self-appointed moral-guardians of the media and academic elites, but people seem just as nasty and hostile on the individual psychological level as they have always been. New forms of socially-sanctioned nastiness always seem to appear to replace the older discredited ones.

Quote:[...] rational humanists who believe in progress

I guess that I would align myself with "rational humanism", even if my definition of 'humanism' differs a bit from what one reads in textbooks.

But... I think that "progress" is something of a myth. I don't believe that history is a unidirectional line, nor do I believe that the future is necessarily going to be better than the past. (The whole "reactionary" vs "progressive" dichotomy is based on that myth.)

I'm not a determinist, so I don't see history as a single unwavering line pointing into a better and better future that we should all be trying to realize as quickly as possible. (Perhaps with some paradisical Kingdom of (No)God at the end of time.)

I see the future more like an infinitely branching tree, each branch of which represents a possible way that events might unfold in the future. Some of those branches might lead to very desireable outcomes (for somebody at least, since we can't all agree on what we want), others to the possibility of terrible things.

Quote:The philosopher John Gray’s role has been to act as a Jeremiah among these Pollyannas, insisting that we are every bit as nasty as we ever were. If there is anything he detests, it is schemes of visionary transformation.

Good for him, I couldn't agree more. There's nothing that I have less confidence in than a crowd of post-adolescent "futurists" pushing for "massively disruptive Change". Where's it's just being assumed that "Change" is a good thing and the more "Change" the better.

I see the present as the product of the labors of countless people who lived in the past, many of whom tried to leave the world a little better than they found it. The present isn't something to be dismissed and swept away in disgust, it's a hard-won accomplishment. Changing it for the better isn't going to be a simple or an easy thing. Whatever improvements we manage to work will probably be small and incremental. That's how history has 'progressed' in the centuries before us and it's how things will probably unfold in the future too.

Quote:He is a card-carrying misanthrope for whom human life has no unique importance, and for whom history has been little more than the sound of hacking and gouging. [...]

Hopefully that's just some reviewer's caricature. Coming from the Guardian, I wouldn't be surprised, since that British paper was in earlier decades Marxist and it's probably still thoroughly committed to the kinds of "progressive" historical theories that Gray apparently rejects. (I've never read anything by Gray and only know about him from the reviews CC occasionally posts.)

Quote:Gray also believes that humanists are in bad faith. Most of them are atheists, but all they have done is substitute humanity for God. [...]

Many of them still seem to imagine a coming Kingdom, however far off in the future, attained once enough "progress" has been accumulated.

Quote:Unlike the rational humanists, Gray takes a dim view of reason.

That might be where Gray and I part ways. But I would agree that reason (or even capital-R Reason) isn't going to deliver us Salvation (from what?). It isn't going to deliver us into some angelic-like state. So, if that's supposed to be the goal, I can maybe agree with Gray.

Quote:Gray belongs to that group of contemporary thinkers, of whom George Steiner is the doyen, who disdain the secular but can’t quite drag themselves to the church or synagogue. They turn, instead, to a kind of transcendence without content, of which there is no finer example than what one might call Hollywood spirituality. [...]

In my opinion, the "progressives" are guilty of precisely that error.

Quote:*Seven Types of Atheism* is an impressively erudite work, ranging from the Gnostics to Joseph Conrad, St Augustine to Bertrand Russell. In the end, it settles for a brand of atheism that finds enough mystery in the material world itself without needing to supplement it with a higher one.

That's how I conceive of things. As for me, I interpret "material world" very broadly, to include things like logical relationships, numbers, unactualized modal possibilities, the regularities (symmetries?) that we call 'laws of nature' and many things that don't resemble the hard little 17th century style billiard-ball lumps of matter in motion. I think that the physical universe is a lot more complex and interesting than that.

But the thing is that we don't even begin to understand it at this point. It just fades off into mystery in all directions, and very rapidly too. Reality is a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

Of course I don't look to that mystery as something that's going to transform my own life, offer me salvation, or supply mankind with a coming Kingdom of God (without the annoying presence of God). Just as I don't expect the growth of scientific knowledge to deliver us into paradise.
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#18
(Apr 14, 2018 04:23 PM)Magical Realist Wrote:
(Apr 14, 2018 07:40 AM)Syne Wrote: So hateful insults it is. I guess you really had nothing to say after all.

Talk about "transcendence without content".

You have no concept of what a transcendent experience is. You made that clear when SS and I had to school your dumb ass all about it. All you do is your pathetic whining and bitching about things that don't matter essentially derailing the OP. Are you happy now? Mission accomplished.
Just keep telling yourself that, little buddy.
Everyone here sees right through you trying to talk about transcendence when you can't even define/contrast that from the transcendentalism of Muir, Emerson, and Whitman.
(Apr 14, 2018 06:02 PM)Yazata Wrote: There's nothing that I have less confidence in than a crowd of post-adolescent "futurists" pushing for "massively disruptive Change". Where's it's just being assumed that "Change" is a good thing and the more "Change" the better.
Absolutely.
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#19
Quote:There's nothing that I have less confidence in than a crowd of post-adolescent "futurists" pushing for "massively disruptive Change". Where's it's just being assumed that "Change" is a good thing and the more "Change" the better.

I've never heard of this movement of young activists fighting for change for change's sake. Perhaps you direct me to their very non-specific website.

I did check out "Change.org". But that is about starting web-based petitions and drives for a number of specific causes---animal rights, vet rights, women's rights, mass shootings, racial justice, etc. It is about changing something, and not change itself.
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#20
(Apr 14, 2018 10:17 PM)Magical Realist Wrote:
Quote:There's nothing that I have less confidence in than a crowd of post-adolescent "futurists" pushing for "massively disruptive Change". Where's it's just being assumed that "Change" is a good thing and the more "Change" the better.

I've never heard of this movement of young activists fighting for change for change's sake. Perhaps you direct me to their very non-specific website.

I did check out "Change.org". But that is about starting web-based petitions and drives for a number of specific causes---animal rights, vet rights, women's rights, mass shootings, racial justice, etc. It is about changing something, and not change itself.


I omitted the example names provided for those "Pollyannas" in that excerpt: Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Matt Ridley and Sam Harris. (Strangely enough, I guess they still are technically "post-adolescent", though.)

Try to "Reader's Digest" condense an extraction as much as possible, and often that means leaving it up to the reader to discover in the article the specific details about a generalized reference, person, background, etc.

~
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