Philosophy

“Strange Fascination, Fascinating Me”: John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)

“Strange Fascination, Fascinating Me”: John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)

The third installment for Blake & Ian’s four-part series is Ian’s second selection, the 1982 classic creature flick The Thing, directed by John Carpenter andstarring Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley & T. K. Carter.

Ian:

John Carpenter’s The Thing is a masterpiece of cosmic/body horror which viscerally manifests the alien abjection of sin. Through masterful use of freezing, tension-fraught atmosphere and brilliant (i.e. horrifyingly gory) special effects, Carpenter meditates on embodiment, identity, and paranoia with breathtaking results. The story, set in hostile Antarctica, follows a shape-shifting alien which can replicate the physiology and even the memories of everything (and everyone) it assimilates. Its arrival triggers an…

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These Are a Few of My Favorite Atheists: Thomas Nagel

These Are a Few of My Favorite Atheists: Thomas Nagel

More Dr. Michael Nicholson goodness on his favorite atheists series! Check out last week’s pre-Camus for an introduction to the series.

Thomas Nagel (1937 – )

Thomas Nagel had me at, “I confess to an ungrounded assumption of my own, in not finding it possible to regard the design alternative as a real option. I lack the sensus divinitatis that enables—indeed compels—so many people to see in the world the expression of divine purpose as naturally as they see in a smiling face the expression of human feeling” (Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False,…

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“Is This Real Life or Is This Just Fantasy”: Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932)

“Is This Real Life or Is This Just Fantasy”: Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932)

Ian Olson (who brought Mbird a wonderful reflection on Law and Grace in the new Godzilla) and I decided to put together a 4-part series in celebration of October and Halloween–Mbird-style, of course! We both chose two of our favorite horror films and wrote an article for each one and then allowed the other to present a brief addendum/rebuttal about the film and the article written. This week we open with a classic vampire film from 1932 from the Danish filmmaker, Carl Theodor Dreyer, entitled Vampyr.

Ian:

How awake must I be to grasp the real world? To see it for what…

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Josef Pieper Mistrusts Everything That Is Effortless

Taken from the German philosopher’s Leisure: The Basis of Culture, ht BS:

“The inmost significance of the exaggerated value which is set upon hard work appears to be this: man seems to mistrust everything that is effortless; he can only enjoy, with a good conscience, what he has acquired with toil and trouble; he refused to have anything as a gift.”

Cue this past Sunday’s sermon on the Parable of the Worker’s in the Vineyard (Matt. 20:1-16):


These Are a Few of My Favorite Atheists: Albert Camus

These Are a Few of My Favorite Atheists: Albert Camus

Michael W. Nicholson, author of the Tides of God blog and theology Ph.D., contributes this worthy series on his favorite atheists. We start off with Albert Camus:

“Negative space” is a concept in the visual arts, particularly in drawing, painting, and photography. A common example is the well-known Rubin vase, which can alternately be seen as a vase or two profiles of a man in silhouette. This is useful, but a bit misleading, because in fine art negative space is not about ambiguity or optical illusion. Negative space in a picture is where other things are not present; it is the…

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I’m Wasting My Young Years: Simone Weil Tackles FOMO

I’m Wasting My Young Years: Simone Weil Tackles FOMO

To many students like myself, mid-July feels like this: “I can’t believe school starts in only a month—I haven’t done enough summery things yet.” There’s a nagging sense of regret even in the present that maybe we could do more to optimize our time. Maybe it’s FOMO, the fear of missing out, or, perhaps, the fear of wasting time. Summer is a long-anticipated golden calf in my head, carved deep with endless vacations and immediate suntans and condensating glasses of Kool-Aid. Not a moment of this empyrean season should go to waste.

And so waste becomes the object of frenzied anxiety….

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Myths of Progress and Hopeful Defeatism

Myths of Progress and Hopeful Defeatism

For those interested in human folly and hard truths, look no further than John Gray, a political philosopher whose work On Progress and Other Modern Myths (The Silence of the Animals) debunks many of our species’ self-flattering stories about where we came from and where we’re going. An agnostic himself, Gray realizes the decline of Christianity won’t issue in quite the same unproblematic post-religious paradise that some of his contemporaries might think:

For humanists, denying that humanity can live without myths can only be a type of pessimism. They take for granted that if human beings came to be more like the rational…

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A Reading from St. Paul’s Letter to American Christians

A Reading from St. Paul’s Letter to American Christians

Excerpted from Martin Luther King Jr.’s book, Strength to Love:

“I would like to share with you an imaginary letter from the pen of the Apostle Paul. The postmark reveals that it comes from the port city of Troas. On opening the letter I discovered that it was written in Greek rather than in English. After working assiduously with the translation for several weeks, I think I have now deciphered its true meaning. If the content of this epistle sounds strangely Kingian instead of Paulinian, attribute it to my lack of complete objectivity rather than Paul’s lack of clarity. Here is…

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PZ’s Podcast: Wooden Ships

PZ’s Podcast: Wooden Ships

EPISODE 169: Wooden Ships

What is a person’s duty toward the world? Do we “owe” the world our efforts and our action? If not exactly, then how are we supposed to relate to the world? “How shall we then live?”

This cast talks about Meister Eckhart, who for my money was never wrong about anything. I just never find myself disagreeing with anything he ever said. Or maybe just one thing.

Eckhart preached a sermon in which he said, “What is reaped in contemplation is sown in action.” Gosh, that sounds good.

Yet it’s the only statement he ever made that I can’t get…

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Ruts, Expectation, and the Word from Beyond: Thoughts on Christian Time

Ruts, Expectation, and the Word from Beyond: Thoughts on Christian Time

We all know the feeling of being in a rut: repetition temporarily dominates variation, and we’re going in circles, with routine and mundanity showing no signs of breaking. Most recently, Rust Cohle on True Detective comes to mind. His quote that “time is a flat circle” emphasizes repetitiveness, lack of progress, everything repeating and repeating – “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow / Creeps in this petty pace”, as Shakespeare’s Macbeth puts it. What lent the air of futility to Macbeth’s time? He had a goal, a telos, or end, earlier: to become king. Once his ambition is fulfilled, there is no more movement toward…

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Doubtful Motives and Religious Allurement

Doubtful Motives and Religious Allurement

In general, attention is a tending of the ego toward an intentional object, toward a unity which “appears” continually in the change of the modes of its givenness and which belongs to the essential structure of a specific act of the ego… it is a tending-toward in realization. The realization which is brought into being with the turning-toward, the starting point of the realization of the act, is the beginning of a continuing realizing directedness of the ego toward the object…

The original tendency of the process, along with what has accrued to it from what has been realized hitherto, is…

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“All This an Illusion”: A Reflection on Determinism and Free Choice

“All This an Illusion”: A Reflection on Determinism and Free Choice

This humdinger comes from Jim McNeely:

I recently listened to episode 93 of the Partially Examined Life podcast (you can listen to it or read about it here). It is a fascinating listen; these are not rabid militant “New Atheism” people, just fun and thoughtful agnostic/atheists who love philosophy. I have found that it is where I go to get the current conversation “on the street” about important philosophical issues. In this particular episode they grapple with a problem that we have been looking at from a theological perspective for millennia — free will vs. predestination (in some ways similar to…

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