Happy Conscientious Objector’s Day.
In his last essay, “Thesis on the Philosophy of History”, Walter Benjamin composes several juxtapositions: the desire for the future verses the redemption of the past, the oppressing class verses the class of the oppressed, and nature verses labor to name only a few. Of the many the most interesting and important binary he constructs is between two modes of time. Read the rest of this entry »
So, if your anything like me you were already beginning to feel a bit of media fatigue by the time you heard about the Jason Russell incident in San Deigo the other night.
Moreover, if your anything like me, you may have felt pretty bummed out for the guy.
(You may also have made some jokes at his expense at a dinner party you were at last night and had to admit to everyone there that it was a bit too soon as the conversation stopped, and disapproving eyes shifted in your direction. I’m not saying I did that, but you may have.)
In fact, lets start a bit further back.
Suppose you were a white, Christian, college student in Southern California in the early 21st century. Suppose you were raised in a pretty affluent atmosphere, in an incredibly affluent part of this rotating spaceship we call planet earth. Suppose you found yourself at USC.
All right, now suppose that you took a trip to Uganda and had your world torn asunder by the suffering you saw there. Would you have had the courage, patience and vision to co-create and sustain a non-profit like IC?
I can’t speak for Russell, since I don’t know him, nor can I speak for all of you, but I can speak for myself.
When I went to Northern Uganda in January 2006 it was just starting to be hot within Evangelical circles to go to Africa and post pictures of yourself with African children on your Myspace account. Thus, for this and for some other more virtuous reasons I jumped on the bandwagon. Having done so I wasn’t at all prepared for what my trip would bring me. Read the rest of this entry »
The somewhat young, not entirely mild mannered, and yet wildly attractive lads over at Homebrewed Christianity were gracious enough to invite me to participate in their blog-tour for Philip Clayton’s new book The Predicament of Belief. This is my post for the blog tour and if you’d like to hear the conversation that insued at Clayton’s house afterwards look no further than right here.
If your unfamiliar with Clayton’s work his introduction to emergent evolution and spirituality found here is worth a watch, or you can just read the review of his and Knapp’s book below. It is my hope that it inspires you to read the book in its entirety.
Paul Ricoeur famously said that his Christianity was a, “contingency transformed into destiny through continued choice.” The fact that he was born into a social location that bequeathed to him his Christianity was a contingent event of history. He could have just as easily been born in India and thus have been a Hindu. However, he made a choice, a decision to live into and live out of his tradition and in doing so it became a part of him and he a part of it. For Ricoeur we lack a criterion by which we can definitively ascertain whether our contingent religious choices are correct or not. This doesn’t mean that there is no investigation into the plausibility of them, but rather that any investigation will necessarily start from and in important ways remain within the throwness of our particular, contingent existence. Ultimately, for Ricoeur, the religious decision comes down to a wager, even if an informed one. I agree with Ricoeur, but I am always curious as to how informed this wager can be.
If you’ve ever found yourself curious in a similar fashion then Philip Clayton and Steven Knapp’s wonderful, accessible, and insightful book The Predicament of Belief: Science, Philosophy and Faith is a great place to start. Read the rest of this entry »
In On Stories Richard Kearney suggests, echoing Benedict Anderson’s notion of imagined communities, that nations always seek to solidify their identity. There are many reasons – juridical, social, economic, etc. – for nations to do so, one being the legitimating of violence. In the contemporary Western world it is the nation that exercises the sole right to violence, and this right is based on the legitimacy of the nation as an internally solidified community of “the People”.
However, Kearney points out that national identities are constantly threatened by internal fractures: whether these are the conflicts between class, race, or religion when internal national unity is examined closely it reveals itself as little more than a vapor. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the loudest complaints against the Ocuppy Wallstreet movement is that it does not have a unified and coherent list of demands. While clarity of vision is something that every political movement should strive for, it seems to me that the Occupy Wallstreet movement is right where it should be for now: it is constructing what the philosopher Enrique Dussel calls an analogical hegemon. Below I explicate what this term means, why it fits this particular moment in the Occupy Wall Street movement, why Occupy Wall Street should continue down the road it is on and what we can hope for from/in it. Read the rest of this entry »
“Populism is always sustained by the frustrated exasperation of ordinary people, by the cry ‘I don’t know what is going on, but I’ve just had enough of it! It cannot go on! It must stop!’ Such impatient outbursts betray a refusal to understand or engage with the complexity of the situation, and give rise to the conviction that there must be somebody responsible for the mess—which is why some agent lurking behind the scenes is invariably required. Therein, in this refusal to know, lies the properly fetishistic dimension of populism.” Read the rest of this entry »
Below is a very short essay considering Hegel’s re-working of the doctrine of original sin. If you are unfamiliar with Hegel the first paragraph may be a bit confusing, but the rest of it should be intelligible. While I don’t entirely agree with Hegel’s reworking, I think that it, at the least, offers some important insights into human subjectivity. Enjoy!
Self-consciousness is the moment of the tautology “I am I.” It distinguishes itself from itself and moves beyond this distinction back to itself. It is a relation with itself consisting of an existential anxiety regarding its self-certainty. Read the rest of this entry »
In this short essay I outline the position of rhetorical hermeneutics – Steven Mailoux’s theoretical stance – and juxtapose it with the position of apocalyptic dialectics. It is a brief sketch of a position that I think holds some promise. Apocalyptic Dialectics organizes itself through Hegel, Heidegger, Gadamer, Badiou and the Apocalyptic tradition within Christian theology.
In the following short essay I want to briefly outline the contours of rhetorical hermeneutics, and then move on to argue why, while being incredibly useful, insofar as it is unreservedly committed to a pragmatic position it is in danger of missing a larger truth; namely, the possibility of a dialectical unfolding of truth within history. Read the rest of this entry »
It has been argued that epistemological realism is the best, if not the only, way to make sense of the success of science. Larry Laudan is skeptical and seeks to question, “whether the realist’s assertions about the interrelations between truth, reference and success are sound.” (22) To do this Laudan sets up an overarching and flexible umbrella that he terms convergent epistemological realism (CER for short). CER is based on five claims that Laudan believes most realist hold, implicitly or explicitly, in some form: Read the rest of this entry »
Thomas Kuhn suggests that the problem that Darwin presented to the modern mind was not evolution as such. The idea that man had evolved from preceding forms of more and more primitive life had been present for some time in various modes. In all of these forms, however, there was always a goal, a telos, to the process. Whether an idea in the mind of God or a plan inherent in nature the process of evolution was being directed to a specific end. (171) The novelty of Darwin’s position was that evolution took place through the process of natural selection. That is, Darwin removed teleology from the equation. (172) One could say that Darwin moved evolution into pure immanence. Read the rest of this entry »
Thomas Kuhn writes that: “In so far as (scientists) only recourse to (the) world (of their research) is through what they see and do, we may want to say that after a revolution scientists are responding to a different world.” (SSR, 111) The question becomes: in what way does Kuhn mean this statement, as purely factual or merely metaphorical? To begin with one must take note of a statement he makes later in the same section, “… the scientist after a revolution is still looking at the same world.” (129) So, it is safe to say that Kuhn is a realist of some sort. Read the rest of this entry »
Scientific revolutions are those moments in the history of science in which one paradigm is replaced by another. In order to clarify further, Kuhn compares scientific revolutions to political revolutions. In political revolutions there is a growing sense of dissatisfaction with the governing institutions that eventually reaches a threshold: similarly, in scientific revolutions the paradigm—it’s methodology, tools, theories and ontology—has ceased to facilitate exploration in an arena in which it had previously led the way and thus dissatisfaction grows. (92) Another, and what Kuhn refers to as a more profound parallel is that of incommensurability. Read the rest of this entry »
Kuhn is intent on showing that normal science takes place only within paradigms. Paradigms provide the procedures, applications (standard tests and instruments), laws and theories that allow normal science to carry out investigation. (60) In short, they provide scientists with a picture of the way the world is and what kind of phenomenon can be expected. Yet, this picture shows itself to be problematic at times when phenomenon arise that the paradigm has not prepared investigators for. (57) Read the rest of this entry »
For Thomas Kuhn normal science consists of moping up exercises. (SSR, 24) What Kuhn means by this can only be explicated further when one understands what he means by paradigms.
While many understand the history of science to be a continuous chain of discoveries and enlightenment, in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Thomas Kuhn suggests another picture. For him science is characterized by both continuity and discontinuity. The continuity of science is found in temporally located research traditions, i.e. paradigms, while the discontinuity is found in the transitions that take place from one paradigm to another. Read the rest of this entry »