Questions For Dr. Grayling
I have been thinking of some questions that I would like to ask Dr. Grayling. Some of these questions have been prompted by the recent BBC series of programmes, by Jonathan Miller on the history of disbelief that I commented on in "The Roundtable".
I thought - as most Booktalkers won't have seen the programmes - I should describe the questions and the context for readers who haven't been able to see the series.
In one of the programmes Jonathan Miller talked to Daniel Dennett about how they approach theists. Dennett said that he wouldn't tell an ugly person that they were ugly, or an obese person that they were fat, because to do so would be impolite, even if it were true. So Dennett said that he has always been cautious about offending theists. He went on to say that he'd had a friendly disagreement about this with Richard Dawkins who, of course, is very robust about attacking theism. But Dennett also said that he is reconsidering his position about this. Miller's position was that he did confront theists in the same way that he would attack a communist extremist or a Stalinist, and he said that he has been called "very rude" for taking this stance, he also said that his wife sometimes objected when he did argue about religion. Should we respect the feelings of theists even when their position is irrational? I have an inkling about which way Dr. Grayling will answer this one - let's see!
In the series Miller had wonderfully clear discussion with the British philosopher Colin McGinn about the philosophical arguments for the existence in God, and how each of them is rationally flawed. When I saw Grayling give his talk, I remember him saying that he disagreed with McGinn on some important aspects of philosophy - I had thought that he meant McGinn was a relativist. (A thoroughgoing relativist would argue that those that believe in God are as right as those that don't because everyone's opinion is as good as everyone else's). But the discussion with Miller suggested McGinn was a logical positivist (who thinks that it is possible to know things are true about the universe). I would be interested in Graylings views about the destructiveness of postmodernism and relativism when it comes to the search for truth.
I have an idea floating around in my mind that Grayling likes the work of Antonio Damasio. I would like to know whether he has a leaning toward pantheism or deism as Damasio seems to have.
Anyone have any comments on these questions? What questions can you think of? Edited by: PeterDF at: 11/28/04 9:07 am