If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

04 April 2006

Bedside PhD in Philosophy, one world view at a time

I just read an interview with a guy named Sam Harris. Referred to as a 'contemporary Lucretius', he has authored a book called: The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason.

I have said in more than one cocktail party conversation that it's my feeling that organized religion is the root of many of the world's problems. Not SPIRITUALITY or the belief in a higher being, but organized religion. Terrorism, intolerance - so much of the horror that I see in the world has direct ties to organized religions.

I will leave final judgement until I have actually READ the book, but the topics outlined in the interview do seem to be fodder to continue to inform my views on this point - which, in the right audience, can result in fascinating social discourse.

The interview itself makes reference to a number of figures, presumably the intelligentsia in philosophy / faith and spirituality -- many of whom I am mortified not to recognize. One of my major regrets is that I never pursued a degree in philosophy; I so would have enjoyed the debate of it all. Perhaps it's my wishful inner world religions student that has me reading weighty 'history and future of the world' kind of stuff here in the quiet of the farmhouse because it's only in the quiet that I can really get my mind around it. Then again, perhaps its only from a distance that I can see society clearly. (As if Italy is not itself a society?!?!)

It is worthy of ironic laughter that I'm reimmersing myself in the study of philosophies suitable for engaging social discourse at the moment when my current environmental language skills are suitable to hold aforementioned discourse with four year olds. But I'm sure they'll be able to teach me all about Pokemon in return.

But I will not be daunted. Sam Harris, you have earned yourself a date with my bedside reading table.

Regardless of your political or religious persuasion, the money quote, which prompted me to laugh out loud at its pointed obviousness:

"When people make outlandish claims, without evidence, we stop listening to them--except on matters of faith. I am arguing that we can no longer afford to give faith a pass in this way. Bad beliefs should be criticized wherever they appear in our discourse--in physics, in medicine, and on matters of ethics and spirituality as well. The President of the United States has claimed, on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. Now, if he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim more ludicrous or more offensive."

You make an interesting point, Sam Harris. Amazon.com one-click ordering, here I come. Anyone wanting to offer an alternate view, there's still space on the bedside table. Viaggiatore's one-room-farmhouse philosophy PhD is now in session.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read The End of Faith (part of a work reading group). I think there are good points brought up throughout the book in regard to the intolerance taught in the strict dogma of the mainstream world religions - Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

He also writes some laugh out loud moments similar to the one you reference that if President Bush started refering to Zeus or Apollo in every speech he gave he would be removed from office.

I don't want to spoil the end for you, but I was personally disappointed. Let me know when you have finished and we can trade opinions.

Daisy Boy

3:31 PM  

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