torsdag, augusti 22, 2013

The limits of secular discourse

It is not, Smith tells us, that secular reason can’t do the job (of identifying ultimate meanings and values) we need religion to do; it’s worse; secular reason can’t do its own self-assigned job — of describing the world in ways that allow us to move forward in our projects — without importing, but not acknowledging, the very perspectives it pushes away in disdain. 
While secular discourse, in the form of statistical analyses, controlled experiments and rational decision-trees, can yield banks of data that can then be subdivided and refined in more ways than we can count, it cannot tell us what that data means or what to do with it. No matter how much information you pile up and how sophisticated are the analytical operations you perform, you will never get one millimeter closer to the moment when you can move from the piled-up information to some lesson or imperative it points to; for it doesn’t point anywhere; it just sits there, inert and empty.

tisdag, augusti 20, 2013

Om ateismens metafysik

All of which is to say (to return to where I began) that it is absurd to think that one can profess atheism in any meaningful way without thereby assenting to an entire philosophy of being, however inchoate one’s sense of it may be. The philosophical naturalist’s view of reality is not one that merely fails to find some particular object within the world that the theist imagines can be descried there; it is a very particular representation of the nature of things, entailing a vast range of purely metaphysical commitments.

Principally, it requires that one believe that the physical order, which both experience and reason say is an ensemble of ontological contingencies, can exist entirely of itself, without any absolute source of actuality. It requires also that one resign oneself to an ultimate irrationalism: For the one reality that naturalism can never logically encompass is the very existence of nature (nature being, by definition, that which already exists); it is a philosophy, therefore, surrounded, permeated, and exceeded by a truth that is always already super naturam, and yet a philosophy that one cannot seriously entertain except by scrupulously refusing to recognize this.

It is the embrace of an infinite paradox: the universe understood as an “absolute contingency.” It may not amount to a metaphysics in the fullest sense, since strictly speaking it possesses no rational content—it is, after all, a belief that all things rest upon something like an original moment of magic—but it is certainly far more than the mere absence of faith.

David Bentley Hart - “God, Gods, and Fairies”

onsdag, augusti 14, 2013

Om skillnaden mellan "religiösa" och "sekulära" akademiska perspektiv

"Another rationale for intentionally integrating both knowledge about religion and religious knowledge into the discipline of sociology follows from the observation that at least some schools of thought in our discipline unapologetically begin with particular intellectual and moral locations, commitments, presuppositions, and interests; some even argue that these particular positions privilege their sociological understandings. Examples include feminist theory, Marxism, queer theory, some forms of critical theory, and projects of “real utopias.” One might ask why or how such value-committed scholarly approaches that start with particularistic intellectual and moral presuppositions are legitimate in sociology, while religious perspectives on human person and social life are a priori excluded. The uneven privileging of certain intellectual and moral positions deserves ongoing questioning and consideration. At the very least, examining such issues seriously will force sociologists to be more selfaware and self-reflexive."
Christian Smith et al., “Roundtable on the Sociology of Religion: Twenty-Three Theses on the Status of Religion in American Sociology—A Mellon Working-Group Reflection,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion (August 10, 2013), doi:10.1093/jaarel/lft052.

fredag, augusti 09, 2013

Liberalismens dilemma

[In Charles Taylor’s Sources of the Self] he contends that the ethical-political pronouncements of our modern liberal selves involve quite high, universal standards of justice and benevolence, but that our disengaged understanding of human agency leaves us with no moral sources adequate to sustain the robust enactment of those standards. In short, “high standards need strong sources”.

Stephen K. White, “Weak Ontology: Genealogy and Critical Issues,” Hedgehog Review 7, no. 2 (2005): 24.