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Philosophy

Walker Percy’s Two Classes of Maniacs

Walker Percy’s Two Classes of Maniacs

As the Mental Health Issue is coming together, it is becoming quite apparent that one of our chief navigators in the strange land of the human mind will be the one and only Walker Percy. This passage comes from his wildly original and heartwarming novel, The Second Coming. It is a portion of a letter written by the novel’s leading man, Will Barrett, a successful and well-respected retiree who has recently taken a fall into the “mentally unstable” category…by the grace of God. For Percy, his salvation can come only by way of the absurd–by truly examining the absurd existence he finds himself inhabiting. You will notice here that…

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More Thoughts on Hodor: Felix Culpa and the Identity of God in Game of Thrones

More Thoughts on Hodor: Felix Culpa and the Identity of God in Game of Thrones

Will McDavid wrote the definitive summary, critical review and reflection on last Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones, “The Door.” If you haven’t read it go directly there now. Do not pass go. Do not collect 200 hundred dollars. The short reflection that follows on the revelation of Hodor’s raison d’ etre is indebted to and dependent on Will’s insights. He did most of the heavy lifting already.

In his Poetics Aristotle observes that we will forgive a good story told badly, but never a bad story wrapped up in even the best of prose. For Aristotle plot is everything. The story…

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PZ’s Podcast: Cook’d Books

EPISODE 216

070409_r16088a_p646-320The text is from a leading Presidential candidate, but it applies to two of them — two persons who are ideologically apart but have one main thing in common.

That main thing is: They are exposing the Cook’d Book of life, which is designed — “Signed, Sealed and Delivered” (S. Wonder) — to sign, seal and deliver YOU over to utter captivity and soullessness.

The New Testament is not a world-affirming document. On the contrary, it pits the human being against the world. Or rather, it posits the world as being against us. Our task, an impossible one without Help — “Help!” – The Beatles, 1965 — is to dodge the world. Kerouac wrote that we are born into this world in order to be saved from it.

The Cook’d Book of the world is not only true of political parties. It is true of institutions generally, job environments generally, schools and universities generally (which is why youth is eternally looking for the ‘Mr. Chips’-type altruist — one in a million), you name it.

I’m glad that Bernie and the other one are cutting to the nerve. Je repete: this is not about ideology, it’s about control. And this world’s control is not — I repeat, not — designed to enable and deliver. It is designed to suppress and captivate. LUV U!

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: The Monster of “We”

Everybody Else’s Biggest Problem: The Monster of “We”

Welcome to the first installment of Act Three of author Ted Scofield’s series on everybody else’s biggest problem but your own. If you missed one or more of the previous installments, the entire series can be found here. 

In Act One of this series we discovered that as a society we cannot agree on a collectively applicable definition of greed. In Act Two we examined a half dozen answers to the question Why. Starting today we’ll take a deeper dive into the philosophy and theology of greed, with a look at how America’s long-celebrated individualism has evolved.

In his 2005 book Greed, Dr. Julian Edney…

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Resurrection & The Grace Of Doing Nothing

Resurrection & The Grace Of Doing Nothing

Towards the end of his first missive to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul offers a mini tour-de-force in defense of the veracity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. For Paul this conviction is central not just to the future hope of the people of God but also to orient the pilgrim life of the faithful in this present broken age. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” ( 1 Cor. 15:56-57). Then the argument concludes with something that,…

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An Artful Hell: Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa

An Artful Hell: Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa

Hope for forgiveness and the Kingdom of Heaven beyond our human moral bankruptcy has been replaced by progressive Utopian visions where well-adjusted inhabitants are provided for in an earthly paradise. But the knowledge of who we really are and the true state of our predicament surfaces regularly in our cultural history, if we are paying attention. The visual arts especially will occasionally provide a map of the darkness we travel through. It hardly matters where or when we look, but the dark side of 19th century Romanticism is a good place to start, since a current runs from there through…

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Welcome to [Long Philosophical Conversations and Nauseating, Horrible Deaths in] Jurassic Park!

Welcome to [Long Philosophical Conversations and Nauseating, Horrible Deaths in] Jurassic Park!

I’m currently reliving my childhood love of dinosaurs via (a) my son, who asks thrice daily when we can go to our local natural history museum, and (b) Universal Studios’ marketing. I last read Jurassic Park when the movie was released and The Lost World when it first hit the nice mall’s Waldenbooks. I had fond memories of both, so I revisited both books via Audible late last year. I was shocked, amazed, and disgusted throughout both books.

Blah blah blah, the movies aren’t as good as the books, you might say mockingly. The difference, though, is not in missing characters but rather the whole tone…

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PZ’s Podcast: How Do (Men) Get to Heaven?

PZ’s Podcast: How Do (Men) Get to Heaven?

EPISODE 214: How Do (Men) Get to Heaven?

There is this observable difference in the way most men and most women process romantic love affairs. Men tend — with exceptions — to live in the past and in past memories of love, especially as they grow older. Women tend — with exceptions — to desire to live in the present, with openness to the future, in the experience of romantic love.

The song that opens this cast, “How Do I Get To Heaven”, performed by Dave Mason, is a touching instance of the male processing. The lyric lurches, with no warning, from…

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Numbers: The Perfectly Reasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics

Numbers: The Perfectly Reasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics

In honor of Pi Day…

The first time I experienced the deep connection between math and physical reality was in performing a high school chemistry experiment to discover whether the antacid Rolaids really did consume 47 times its weight in excess acid. The experiment involved very precise weighing and an acid-base titration. I grew up in a small rural town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, but there was a small NASA facility on the coast about twenty miles away, and since many parents worked there—including my father—my school often borrowed state-of-the-art equipment. Our little chem lab had a high speed centrifuge, a sensitive…

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Even Though I Ought To…I Kant!

There was an interesting article in the Gray Matter column of this past Sunday’s Times. The article, written by philosophy student Paul Henne and social science researcher Vlad Chituc, take a look back at one of central ideas of Immanuel Kant, the 18th century German philosopher who is also considered to be the central figure of “modern philosophy.” He is known for his moral philosophy, and specifically his understanding of the “categorical imperative,” that moral laws–if they exist at all–must exist universally and necessarily. Kant also believed that a prescriptive law, by definition, implies that it can be followed/achieved.

In their article, “The Data…

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Roger Scruton’s First Step

Quoted in The Wall Street Journal yesterday, this is from philosopher Roger Scruton’s 2014 book, The Soul of the World

tumblr_inline_nr6ph882JH1sthg2o_500There is a widespread habit of declaring emergent realities to be “nothing but” the things in which we perceive them. The human person is “nothing but” the human animal; law is “nothing but” relations of social power; sexual love is “nothing but” the urge to procreation; . . . the Mona Lisa is “nothing but” a spread of pigments on a canvas; the Ninth Symphony is “nothing but” a sequence of pitched sounds of varying timbre. And so on. Getting rid of this habit is, to my mind, the true goal of philosophy. And if we get rid of it when dealing with the small things—symphonies, pictures, people—we might get rid of it when dealing with the large things too: notably, when dealing with the world as a whole. And then we might conclude that it is just as absurd to say that the world is nothing but the order of nature, as physics describes it, as to say that the Mona Lisa is nothing but a smear of pigments. Drawing that conclusion is the first step in the search for God.

But Which God?: Revisiting the Law And Gospel Debate

But Which God?: Revisiting the Law And Gospel Debate

A few months ago, I wrote a brief piece entitled “When John Locke Turned Gospel into Law”, one that I considered to be true to the classic Mockingbird message: the unmistakably clear articulation of grace. Trying to connect that message with the philosopher John Locke’s vision of Christianity, I challenged his version of “the covenant of faith” as a false articulation of grace [a kind of afterthought]. Yet to my surprise, the post met with some pushback, and the comments, I must admit, did make a point: Does not Christianity shore up a positive vision of life, and thus an ethic?…

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