Monday, November 12, 2007

un bref parcours

Three posts of note:

1. Nathan's post on Remembrance Day includes the following:

It's very fashionable to be pacifistic these days if one isn't being hurt oneself - witness the Dalai Lama – but one should remember that the power of the free and the freedom to speak freely is protected by either a fortuitous distance from aggressors, or by military might. There is a kind of insidious, creeping pacifism today that allows that while WWII may have been a just war, few others qualify. This intellectual and moral short-cut to laziness must be guarded against, always.

2. Charles has written an excellent-- dare I say Zen-flavored?-- meditation titled "Dori's Fable" that riffs off one of Aesop's fables about a dog. Charles's version of the fable involves his family dog Dori (cute picture included). The Liminal One writes:

Watching [Dori's actions], I thought about [Aesop's] "The Dog and the Shadow." In that fable, we are warned about losing what we actually have by grasping at things that don't really exist. In Dori's case, though, he had a real dilemma — both pieces of bread were equally real. And there is another key difference between the fable and Dori's story: the driving emotion for Dori could not really be called greed. Both pieces were already his, and he didn't necessarily want to have both of them at once. What drove Dori mad, though, was the fear that is hardwired into him — the fear that he would lose what he had if he took the time to enjoy it. To put it in other terms — terms Dori would never understand, of course — he was too worried about the future to appreciate the present.

I prefer this fable to Aesop's. To me, "The Dog and the Shadow" is a bit too obvious and shallow. But Dori's fable really made me stop and think. At the time, I couldn't help laughing at him for being such a silly creature, but when I thought about it later I realized that I was often just as silly, if not sillier. How many times have I been so worried about what might or might not happen in the future that I have been unable to appreciate the things that are happening right now?

3. Malcolm writes a post titled "What Science Isn't," which responds to the charge that scientists exhibit the equivalent of religious piety:

In particular I object to the notions that scientist "worship" science with anything akin to religious piety; the most that can be said is that scientists believe that the scientific method — which is in essence nothing more than productively organized curiosity — has shown itself to be an extraordinarily effective means of learning about the world around us. It needs to be said again, apparently, that there is no scientific result or model that could not be overthrown tomorrow by a collision with the facts; every scientist knows this, and any who denies it denies the essence of science itself. But what possible fact could throw theism of the sort Dr. Vallicella professes off its rails? None, it seems, and so to suggest that a scientist's well-justified confidence in science as a way of learning truths about the world is indistinguishable from religious faith is entirely unwarranted.

And that's your recommended reading for today.



Malcolm Pollack said...

Thanks as always. Nice response, also, to that atheists-only-want-to-dodge-"eternal consequences" baloney.

Nathan B. said...

Thanks, Kevin!