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Ch. 12 - Reason Embattled 
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Post Ch. 12 - Reason Embattled
Jacoby suggests this soliloquy from Shakespeare's King Lear "is the essence of the secularist and humanist faith... [which] must be offered ... as a robust creed worthy of the world's first secular government"

Poor naked wretches, whereso'er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp;
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,
And show the heavens more just.


I don't understand either the speech or the connection to secularism. Anyone?


If you make yourself really small, you can externalize virtually everything. Daniel Dennett, 1984




Sun Aug 07, 2005 2:41 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 12 - Reason Embattled
Looks to me like it would be equally applicable to the basic Christian ethos. And it's practically a paraphrase of the inscription on the Statue of Liberty -- except that Shakespeare beat Eiffel to the punch.




Sun Aug 07, 2005 3:16 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 12 - Reason Embattled
I think it is because this excerpt stresses caring for other humans and understanding that we are all the same and should care for those less fortunate than ourselves...and less about appeasing a god.

At least that is what it says to me.

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Mon Aug 08, 2005 12:16 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 12 - Reason Embattled
Well, it's humanist in that it emphasizes the notion of imagining one's self in another person's position, which is a psychological basis for humanist belief.




Mon Aug 08, 2005 1:16 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 12 - Reason Embattled
I think we'll have to find a better creed than that! Few Americans will respond to phrases like "Take physic, pomp" or "shake the superflux to them". I have no clue what they mean... ::54




Mon Aug 08, 2005 5:57 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 12 - Reason Embattled
I often wish people would be more ready to offer literal interpretations of poetic language (more than one if they see ambiguity) - so that I could be a little more sure that I am not missing something that they are seeing. I suppose their reluctance is in part due to a reluctance to patronize the reader by pointing out something obvious - but I also wonder whether they are not at some level afraid to come out into the open in case they have misinterpreted or missed something. So, with apologies if this is too simpleminded to be worth saying:


Take physic, pomp

physic is medicine. Pomp, I take it, is a reference to himself. i.e. I gloss it as

Take the medicine, you proud, pompous old man!

The medicine being, of course, the act of exposing himself to the elements in order that he may better understand the misery of the poor who have no protection.

That thou mayst shake the superflux to them,

superflux means abundance, so "shake the superflux to them" means treat them to the benefits of your wealth with generosity.

What is the connection to secularism? I suppose Jacoby sees this as a powerful poetic statement of the principle on which a non-theistic philosophy should be based - that the rich and powerful should take time to recognize the suffering of those less fortunate and be moved to help and protect them.





Tue Aug 09, 2005 8:17 am
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Post Re: Ch. 12 - Reason Embattled
Which would make it liberal as much as secularist. I wonder if that was Jacoby's intention in pointing it out.




Tue Aug 09, 2005 12:32 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 12 - Reason Embattled
Possibly. It seems especially odd to call it secularist when the last line is: And show the heavens more just.

Which may just be an Elizabethan way of saying And show the world (or Providence) more just, but could also be a reference to the idea of a king as appointed by God, and hence his representative.




Tue Aug 09, 2005 2:38 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 12 - Reason Embattled
It could probably be interpreted a number of ways. It might, for instance, be taken to mean, "And show the heavens that we're more just than they." I don't think that would be a very orthodox reading, though.




Tue Aug 09, 2005 2:57 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 12 - Reason Embattled
ken, thanks, that is a very informative post. I guess we also have to remember that Shakepear wrote a few hundred years ago and the language has changed.




Thu Sep 15, 2005 12:15 am
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Post Re: Ch. 12 - Reason Embattled
OK, am I the only one scared out of my mind by this chapter? Scalia saying that god is visible in the work of our founding fathers, but not in our more recent politicians? Q: Hey, Anthony: Tell me, what year do your devinely inspired eyes tell you that the lord stopped caring about the good 'ol U. S. of A?

That congress can't tell the difference between cloning humans and extracting cells? That the enlighenment, the age of reason, is downplayed because we are apparently too poorly educated to actually reason well?




Thu Sep 15, 2005 12:21 am
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Post Re: Ch. 12 - Reason Embattled
Drs Gould and Dawkins agreed that it was not wise for real scientists to debate cretinists in public because the fact of the debate, rather than the content, was used by the cretinists to make themselves look "mainstream". Neither was shy about taking on any and all comers, including each other, in print.

I don't see anything wrong with staying generally on topic but I don't see any need to be obseesive about it either. And I didn't see this thread as an "argument", it looked like a civil and appropriate discussion to me. All four premises... that atheism will eventually predominate, that it never will, that it would lead to more divisiveness, that it would lead to less... are plausible scenarios both important and interesting.


If you make yourself really small, you can externalize virtually everything. Daniel Dennett, 1984




Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:21 am
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Post Re: Ch. 12 - Reason Embattled
Yes. But too much of this discussion has degenerated into nothing about the book...look at the preface thread. There are other forums for this. I want the book discussions I lead to be quality discourse on the book...so when the authors come to chat, people know what they wrote!

Mr. P.

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Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:27 am
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Post Re: Ch. 12 - Reason Embattled
There is a duplicate chapter 12 thread with two posts. I copy them here:

Megaerra:

Re: Scalia's speech
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jacoby opens the last chapter of _Freethinkers_ with a discussion of Antonin Scalia's speech "God's Justice and Ours", delivered to the University Of Chicago Divinity School in January 2002 . Justice Scalia's speech starts about 1/10 of the way down the page. I've included the speech at the bottom of my message.

Seems to me that Jacoby misrepresents Scalia's message by quoting him out of context.

For example, from his statement that the Constitution is "not living but dead -- or, as I prefer to put it, enduring. It means today not what current society (much less the Court) thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted." She claims that this leads to the conclusion that, for example, "courts should be free to hand down death sentences for grand theft auto, the modern equivalent of horse theft." But that isn't Scalia's point. His point is that the judge's job is to interpret the law *as it was written*. It's the *legislator's* job to adapt the law to fit modern sensibilities. So if, for example, the death penalty is to be restricted or terminated, it should be the legislature that enacts new laws on the subject, not the judiciary who reinterprets existing laws.

Another interesting statement from Scalia's speech: "Thus, my difficulty with Roe v. Wade is a legal rather than a moral one. I do not believe



Thu Sep 22, 2005 12:59 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 12 - Reason Embattled
LanDroid:

This part of Scalia's speech seems dangerous.

Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It seems to me that the reaction of people of faith to this tendency of democracy to obscure the divine authority behind government should be not resignation to it but resolution to combat it as effectively as possible, and a principal way of combating it, in my view, is constant public reminder that



Thu Sep 22, 2005 1:01 pm
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