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My name is Bob Land. I am a full-time freelance editor and proofreader, and occasional indexer. This blog is my website.

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Something about This Rang My Bell

Quote from the work desk. Longtime followers of this blog -- hell, my life -- know that the matter of religion has disturbed/fascinated me since before the bar mitzvah that I was committed to for all the wrong reasons. How many functioning atheists of Jewish descent see the Abbey of Gethsemani as the ideal retreat?

Hang in there with this. It starts off a little rocky, but there's a payoff:

No theory is truly falsifiable or rationally justified, because there is no ultimate commonly agreed standard of rationality or set of premises to adjudicate on whether a theory has been falsified. This would let theology off the hook, had Bartley not gone on to formulate his own nonjustificational approach, dubbed “pancritical rationalism.” The pancritical rationalist refuses to commit to any position and holds everything open to criticism—not just any theory that he adopts, but also the criteria for rationality and the premises from which he starts.

I believe that Bartley goes rather too far. Yes, our beliefs, including our most cherished theological beliefs, should be open to criticism, but that ought not to preclude our being committed to them—otherwise, intellectual and moral paralysis set in. Commitment ought not to constitute a retreat so much as a launching pad for further inquiry. As Michael Polanyi puts it in Personal Knowledge, “The principal purpose of this book is to achieve a frame of mind in which I may hold firmly to what I believe to be true, even though I know that it may conceivably be false.”

So, there you go. Maybe "agnostic" is a better term. I've read books about Polanyi, not that I could understand a word of them. Sounds like this quote is from a preface anyway. I probably couldn't get past the roman numerals.


moi said...

Interesting stuff. Reminds me of a recent Red Eye episode in which Penn Jillette said something very similar regarding antheism/agnosticism. I'm sure you can You Tube it.

czar said...

I think Penn Jillette is great, but isn't Red Eye some Fox News show? Could you line me up with the necessary postviewing soul cleansing agent? Or maybe a pre-viewing industrial-strength blast of Dilaudid?

czar said...

Well, I took one for the team and watched the clip. He didn't say much about atheism and agnosticism, although he does in the following clip -- and yeah, it pretty much mirrors some of what I think.


I have no idea is who is interviewing Jillette in the link above, but it's a nice, reasonable interview. It's amazing how Fox can make even eight minutes about a cultural topic almost unwatchable. Where do they find the people to host their shows and sit on their panels? Do all of them have to start in mid-shout? Their level of smugness is also mind-boggling. Roger Ailes must have some type of special air pumped into the studios.

Well, in all fairness, I guess the same could be said about Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann. God, where are Huntley and Brinkley when you need them? And, yes, where too is Bill Buckley?

(I remember when I was getting ready to go to college, having grown up in NYC and getting ready to move to Atlanta . . . watching The McNeil-Lehrer Report and thinking what a southern accent Jim Lehrer had. I don't even hear it now.)

People talk about how the conservative women in the public eye are so attractive. I'd trust the right a whole lot more if they had at least a few women who looked like Bella Abzug. Because the overall takeaway is, we won't watch women with ideas (fingers twitching to go for the scare quotes) unless we can fantasize about them as well. And that, to me, is some insidious form of misogyny. Coulter, Palin, Bachmann, O'Donnell, this Cupp woman . . . Blech. If they looked like Maggie Thatcher, you never would have heard of any of them. Not in the present environment.

moi said...

Actually, Red Eye really rocks. The panel is one conservative, one libertarian, one liberal, and then guests every week. It can take on a real anarchical air. It comes on at like 3am, so we tape it.

Aunty Belle said...

I feel much better now--wuz terrified youse an atheist--an irrational POV.

But, Agnostic? Thas' approachin' reason. It says "I doan have a dawg in this fight; I can be content whichever dawg ends up wif' the bone.

Thar's a few battleaxe conservative wimmen--but not on Fox. (Was Maggie that unattractive?) I'se tired of Fox wimmen wearin' cocktail wear though. Can we have a NEWS / commentatoress who ain't showin' her decolletage? Does EVER'thang have to be sexualized? even news??

czar said...

Ah, Aunty. I've been waiting for you on this post.

To me, atheism is, well, I'll save it for your Back Porch.

Maggie wasn't that unattractive, per se, but stern and serious -- two admirable qualities in a statesperson or a commentator. And not that someone can't be beautiful and brilliant. The priorities just need to be straight in certain venues. And when pulchritude -- to bring up an old haiku word -- is the primary factor, we have a problem. And when that problem manifests itself repeatedly to the point that it's noticeable . . .

Having said that, if all our world leaders and/or their spouses looked like Queen Rania of Jordan, you'd not hear me complaining. My Y-chromosome is at least functioning that well.

Aunty Belle said...

Tsk tsk, wondered iffin' youse baitin' a poor ole lady.

Fortunately, ya' has some time--as I'se pressed now (two articles to git churned out afore I leave an' one speech to give 3 days afore departure) Sigh...may have to jes' put an appetizer on the backporck til' I git home.

Queen Noor wuzn't bad either--
I will give the Fox ladies this: beauties they may be, but they's all got JDs or Ph.D's in economics or somethin'.

czar said...

Aunty: On the Fox ladies and their educations? Ted Kaczynski had a PhD in math from the same place that Ann Coulter received her JD, and I daresay that Ms. Coulter has already done far more to tear apart American society than ol' Ted will ever do. For some people, the road to hell is paved with terminal degrees.

Aunty Belle said...

Nobody ever said Teddy K wuzn't bright.

czar said...

Aunty, you are admirably resistant to trollishness. I respect that.