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What is Good? by Dr. A.C. Grayling

Author Website
Author Biography

Format:
Live Chat
Date:     July 23, 2005 11:00 a.m. eastern, 4:00 p.m. UK
Guest:   Dr. A.C. Grayling



Anthony Grayling MA, DPhil (Oxon) FRSA is Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, and a Supernumary Fellow of St Anne's College. He has written numerous books on philosophy, one of which, entitled "What is Good?," was our reading selection for September & August of 2004.

Dr. Grayling was kind enough to spend about an hour and a half with us on Saturday the 23rd of July, 2005. The chat room was filled with a total of 15 BookTalk members plus Anthony. A good time was had by all! Enjoy the chat transcript below and explore the links above.

Transcript of live chat session

connected: ezChat version 0.54

Chris OConnor:: Hey guys

Chris OConnor:: Good morning

Chris OConnor:: Is it morning where you are? 11am here in Florida

ecstian:: Hi Chris

ecstian:: same time zone here

Chris OConnor:: Hey Eric

Chris OConnor:: Doing my first cup of coffee to wake up still

Chris OConnor:: After all my emails I'm curious how many will attend this chat

Chris OConnor:: Did you read this book?

PeterDF joined

PeterDF:: hi Folks

Chris OConnor:: Peter!

Chris OConnor:: Peter - I was just reading your post in the Questions for Grayling thread

Chris OConnor:: Peter - good question. If you didn't show I was going to ask the question myself.

PeterDF:: Yes I've just read it again to give me a few ideas what to say

PeterDF:: lol That's fine

Chris OConnor:: By the way, Susan Jacoby accepted our invitation to a live chat. We had no scheduled chats for months and now we've got about 6 on the horizon.

PeterDF:: Great sruff

PeterDF:: srroy stuff

PeterDF:: sory sory

Chris OConnor:: Peter - here is my question. Are all beliefs created equal? Are all deserving of respect? I'm thinking of the wording.

PeterDF:: sorry, it looks like its going to be one of those days

Chris OConnor:: What I'd like to know is how Grayling approaches people with poor thinking skills.

Chris OConnor:: haha you're stuttering

PeterDF:: When I saw Grayling this year there was a theist in the audience and he handled him well - he was quite dismissive

PeterDF:: Dawkins would have been more confrontational

ecstian:: what more specifically do you mean by "poor thinking skills"?

Chris OConnor:: My opinion has always been that I respect peoples right to believe whatever they want, but it is the right to believe that is respected and not the person or poor thinking skills that led to that belief

Chris OConnor:: I've met Dawkins and he enjoys the challenge of confronting theists

Chris OConnor:: Eric - I don't mean that someone has to agree with me, but...

PeterDF:: One of the times I saw Dawkins he was so forceful - I thought he'd alienated the audience

Chris OConnor:: Eric - What I mean is that they should be able to explain how they came to their current belief without resorting to leaps of faith. Faith is the thing I have a problem with.

PeterDF:: Grayling kept them with him

Chris OConnor:: Peter - yes, exactly. I stood in the hallway with Dawkins as he attacked someone that got off the podium - he didn't like what she said

Chris OConnor:: Peter - I stand to learn a lot from people like Grayling

Chris OConnor:: I'm more like Dawkins and I don't like this part of my personality. I'm really working to become less confrontational

PeterDF:: Chris - I can believe that!!!

PeterDF:: I meant I believe what Dawkins did

ecstian:: It seems to me that nearly every comment I have ever heard regarding Dawkins is in the same vein - I don't think I have ever heard that he is kind, gentle, respectful, etc... I can't judge personally though, because I have never met him, heard him speak, or read more than a few pages of his writings

Chris OConnor:: Let me grab a cup of coffee. Brb. I sure hope we have some more people enter. Grayling said he would be here around this time. He will be early. He sure is a nice guy.

Chris OConnor:: brb - my cat might type on the keyboard while I am gone - 30 seconds

PeterDF:: I think Grayling said something like "he thought that people should keep religion to themselves because it frightens the horses

ecstian:: frightens the horses.... hmmm

PeterDF:: Eric - if you saw him give a lecture you would not guess that he was like that - he is a very precise person...

#Kostya joined

Chris OConnor:: Hey Kostya :) Welcome!

#Kostya:: Hi everybody!

#Kostya:: Hi Chris

ecstian:: hey Kostya!!

PeterDF:: Hi Kostya how r u

ecstian:: Peter, who? Dawkins?

PeterDF:: Yes... Dawkins

#Kostya:: Hi Peter and Eric. I am okay. Thank you. How are you?

Chris OConnor:: I'm sitting here with my girlfriend and was just saying that I'm already pleased with who we have in this room.

PeterDF:: It is only when he thinks someone's argument is wrong that he attacks

PeterDF:: but when he does so he remains just as precise - that's why he's so devastating

ecstian:: Peter, perhaps he is precise, but despite precision, I regularly hear people commenting on his personal confrontations with people who differ in opinion or method

ecstian:: ok

Jeremy1952 joined

PeterDF:: As I said before I think Grayling can be more effective

#Kostya:: Chris, yes, but hopefully more people will join in a few minutes...

PeterDF:: Hi Jeremy

#Kostya:: Hi Jeremy

Jeremy1952:: hey peter, Kostya, all

Jeremy1952:: I browsed back through Graylings book last night

PeterDF:: brb

Jeremy1952:: The ideas fit very well with Jacoby

ecstian:: I unfortunately was never able to obtain a copy of his book

Chris OConnor:: Hey Jeremy - welcome

Jeremy1952:: hi Chris

Chris OConnor:: Eric - I didn't complete the whole book, but that's cool

Jeremy1952:: Something going on here?

Chris OConnor:: I'm really happy to see you all here. I'm sure you could tell I was a bit worried from my email.

ecstian:: what kind of something, Jeremy?

Jeremy1952:: I don't know, unusual to see people here at this time

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - yes, we're having our 1st annual nude chat session

Jeremy1952:: Lol

Jeremy1952:: I've been chatting nude quite a bit lately, because I'm too cheap to pay for air conditioning

ecstian:: Chris is hooking up the cams as we type

Jeremy1952:: Lol

#Kostya:: Jeremy, the nude chatting is the latest of Internet fads

acgrayling joined

Chris OConnor:: Dr. Grayling! Welcome

Jeremy1952:: Hi Dr Grayling. Is it Dr.? I have a copy of "what is good" close at hand and don't' see where it says

Niall001 joined

#Kostya:: Good evening Dr. Grayling

Chris OConnor:: Welcome Niall

Niall001:: Hi all!

Jeremy1952:: g'day Niall

Chris OConnor:: Please welcome our guest today - Dr. Anthony Grayling! Dr. Grayling is Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, and a Supernumary Fellow of St Anne's College.

acgrayling:: Hi Chris - please call me Anthony, Jeremy & everyone.

PeterDF:: Hello Prof Grayling - thanks for your help with my book

Jeremy1952:: thanks Anthony

Chris OConnor:: He is a bit early, which is a good thing.

Jeremy1952:: Ok I've decided, right now, to stop making negative generalizations about Philosophy

ecstian:: Welcome Anthony - thanks for taking the time to be with us

Chris OConnor:: Ok, Anthony it is

Chris OConnor:: Yes, thank you very much for taking time out of your busy life for us.

Niall001:: Thanks for coming Anthony

Chris OConnor:: Anthony, what exactly is a Supernumary anyway? ...And is it painful?

PeterDF:: Jeremy needs some assurances about the worth of philosophy

Jeremy1952:: Lol, well, I think its the only answer to addressing moral issues. Just people who are still arguing Xeno's arrow annoy me

PeterDF:: lol - see what you mean Jeremy

Chris OConnor:: Anthony - we're all able to read formal interviews all over the Internet and media, but this is something rather special. We sure appreciate the opportunity to spend some time in a casual discussion with you. Please feel free to chat openly and answer questions as if we're sitting having a cup of coffee.

Meme Wars joined

Jeremy1952:: Before reading "what is good" I had a kind of vague notion that Religion's claim to morality is not legitimate, based more on opposition to Gould than to a positive alternative

acgrayling:: It's a great pleasure to be among you. 'Supernumary' means 'additional to number', and in Oxford denotes those who have been elected to a fellowship of a college for honorary purposes. I used to teach there, and when I left to join London University my Oxford College kindly made me a supernumerary. - OK am catching up on the messages coming through

Jeremy1952:: "What is Good?" didn't change my core thinking, but expanded it and shifted the emphasis

Chris OConnor:: Anthony - ahh, thank you

Dissident Heart joined

Chris OConnor:: We will try to keep things flowing smoothly. Answer the questions in whatever order you see fit, and if I ask any silly questions feel free to skip over them.

Jeremy1952:: Welcome Dissident! VERY glad you're here

Chris OConnor:: Welcome Dissident

Dissident Heart:: hello all

ecstian:: Hi DH

Niall001:: Hi Dissident

PeterDF:: I have terrible problems with the idea put forward by religious people about their alleged exclusive claim to morality. I've just written some letters to the local paper about this claim made by a local vicar

Meme Wars:: Jared Diamond hinted that as civilization increased beyond village size, religion was invented as an incentive for enforcement of rules. In Villages, everyone knows each other and keeps score. Enforcement was easy, but as the size of the community grew, this way of maintaining morality failed.

PeterDF:: hi dissident

Jeremy1952:: I don't think that's the same level of question

tarav joined

PeterDF:: Meme - what book was that in?

Chris OConnor:: We must be careful to keep side chat off the screen so Anthony can keep up easily.

Jeremy1952:: The "morality" of religion can be wrong in a village too

Chris OConnor:: Welcome Tara

PeterDF:: hi Tara - nice to "see" you

tarav:: thanks, Chris

tarav:: hello, all

Jeremy1952:: Anthony, I gave "Dissident" a special welcome because theists are a minority here, and he is an intelligent and insightful believer

StephanKrieg joined

Meme Wars:: Guns, Germs, & Steel.

Jeremy1952:: Kick me if I say something out of line Dissident

Chris OConnor:: Stephen - welcome!

PeterDF:: Thanks meme - I haven't read that one

Dissident Heart:: Religion is obviously more than rules of morality; it is a shared way to celebrate, mourn, glorify, and dance sacredly.

Katala Au joined

StephanKrieg:: Hello Chris, I am happy to be here.

PeterDF:: hi Stephan

acgrayling:: I'm a tyro at the chat-room game so bear with me - any advice on how to make the screen bigger so that I can see all of each message? I'm on a Mac iBook using Internet Explorer

Dissident Heart:: Is Dr. Grayling taking questions?

Chris OConnor:: Anthony - are you getting all this? Moving too fast?

Jeremy1952:: I can't dance... does that leave me out of the religion thing?

StephanKrieg:: I agree with Heart but would add that religions do seem to be macroMemes

tarav:: We are so happy to have you here, A.C. Grayling!

Niall001:: PeterDF, if an honest, all knowing being whose very thoughts mold reality tells you that x is right, then isn't it a better basis for regulating behaviour than tradition?

Chris OConnor:: Anyone know about Mac iBooks? Anthony has a small screen. He needs it full screen

acgrayling:: Hi tarav - am pleased to be here

Jeremy1952:: Prof Grayling has asked earlier that we call him Anthony, tarav, Dissident

PeterDF:: Niall - I agree completely - if he's there!!!

Dissident Heart:: ty Jeremy

Chris OConnor:: Anthony needs help with getting his screen full-screen. Too much chat right now...can anyone help him.

tarav:: thank you, Jeremy

Niall001:: maybe we should pause the conversations for a moment.?

StephanKrieg:: is there a icon in the upper right hand corner?

Jeremy1952:: I think the book addresses that, Niall. Because the answers come through people anyway. Fallible people.

Chris OConnor:: Anthony - I know that in Windows you simply click the upper right corner (not the "X") square

Meme Wars:: For Villagers, morality may be the wrong word. Favors are remembered, and those who mostly took but returned little favor were ostracized. And infidelity was also watch carefully. But as we started to become farmers and community size grew, it was easy to break rules and be a taker without being caught. Religion was invented to instill within these people that something out there is watching and keeping score.

Jeremy1952:: and no, I don't get that just because it's really really powerful it's necessarily "right"

Chris OConnor:: Everyone - please pause the discussion until Anthony has this screen issue resolved

Dissident Heart:: Jeremy, dancing well is not the issue; not dancing at all, as Nietzsche tells us, would make life unbearable...something like existence without music.

lawrenceindestin joined

Chris OConnor:: Please pause everyone!

acgrayling:: StephanKreig, there is a click-on saying 'Using Chat' in the top right hand corner - usually there is a click and drag icon to enlarge screens, but this chat screen doesn't have one.

Chris OConnor:: Anyone that knows Macs please help Anthony expand his screen

StephanKrieg:: yes, Memewars, it is a socialization mechanism, a means to get a group of people that are not necessarily related by blood to "get along".

Dissident Heart:: <-- Mac illiterate

acgrayling:: Chris it's not a huge problem - let's get on with the dancing: Jeremy is making some robust points on that score

Jeremy1952:: I'm sorry meme but it sounds like a "just so" story, as Gould would put it

Chris OConnor:: Anthony - Ok, sounds good. :) Sorry for the inconvenience of a small screen!

Jeremy1952:: Lol thank you Anthony

StephanKrieg:: Anthony, hummm, I am not familiar with Macs. Have you tried to turn off the browser and start from scratch?

Niall001:: Jeremy/Peter, I'd certainly grant that, but I find that it isn't particularly difficult to see why (when one member of a religion speaks to another) they come to the conclusion that their moral system is superior.

Chris OConnor:: Anthony - you might want to try what Stephan suggests - or just work with a smaller screen.

Jeremy1952:: Nooo we don't' want him to do that, some other book group might snag him while he's gone

lawrenceindestin:: Doctor, May I ask you to give your thesis statement for this book?

acgrayling:: I'd better not turn off anything while we're transatlantically connected! I'll stick with this format.

StephanKrieg:: ok ;-)

Chris OConnor:: Please call him Anthony

Chris OConnor:: Lets start this chat then...

Chris OConnor:: We'll be recording a chat transcript. Only edits will be spelling errors.

StephanKrieg:: good idea.

Chris OConnor:: Welcome to BookTalk Anthony

Jeremy1952:: You mean my incredible wit has not been recorded so far? BUMMER

Niall001:: Anthony, welcome, have you ever tried anything like this before?

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - yes, it actually has been. But I will probably edit out all this talk about screen size. Unless you all want me to keep it.

PeterDF:: Anthony we have been discussing the claims of religion to have a higher level of morality - what do you think drives that belief

Meme Wars:: Screen the screen talk!

JohnChas joined

acgrayling:: In brief, my argument in the book is that the history of the West has in large part been a tussle - sometimes between theoreticians, sometimes an actually violent one - between two major outlooks: the humanistic outlook which says that the good for humankind is to be found in facts about human nature and the human condition, and a transcendental or religious outlook which says that the source of value lies outside the human realm - and places an obligation on the human realm to conform to it, if its denizens (us) are to achieve final satisfaction or happiness.

Chris OConnor:: Welcome JohnChas

Jeremy1952:: Seriously chris I would consider a chat transcript a sort of source document, better left intact, spelling errors and all

PeterDF:: hi JohnChas

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - good point

acgrayling:: Niall1001 no this is a first

JohnChas:: Hello, Prof. Grayling & chatters.

lawrenceindestin:: Thank you. So how did you resolve who gets to say who sez?

Niall001:: Spelling mistakes would be as far as I'd take it Chris. It might be entertaining for those studying Anthony's work to read little details like that.

Jeremy1952:: Yes... Lawrence... that's a key question; because frequently it has come down to force. Usually even, I would say

PeterDF:: Having got you into this Anthony I hope you enjoy it - and find it useful

Jeremy1952:: One thing I would say is that the naturalistic world view has room for religious people to have their own view, but the converse is not generally true

Dissident Heart:: Anthony does that reduce Humanism to a type of Anthropocentric ideology...something that misses the larger ecological interconnectivity?

Chris OConnor:: The transcendental camp has failed to prove that the good comes from outside the human condition. Occam's Razor tells us to go with the simpler explanation every time. I assume, until shown otherwise, that morality comes from within

Dissident Heart:: <-- thinks Morality comes from many places: inside and out.

Chris OConnor:: Niall - true

Meme Wars:: Thank you Anthony for that synopsis! How do you convince humans to follow morality outside of what is good for humans, without offering something good for the individual, such as self centered concern for eternal life?

Niall001:: Chris, who says that the transcendental camp have failed? They have only failed by your truth criterion, a criterion not shared by (I'd imagine) most people on the planet.

Jeremy1952:: Why would one want to? I know the question wasn't directed to me... but why would "outside of good for humans" be a positive?

acgrayling:: On the question of which has the 'higher' morality, humanism or religion: as you would expect, I think humanism, because it is premised on the understanding we succeed in getting about our common humanity, whereas transcendentally-grounded moralities very often cut directly across what it is like to be human, with human interests and needs, imposing demands that have their true sources in very ancient fears and needs rather than in an acceptance of down-to-earth facts about ourselves.

Jeremy1952:: Not only in our truth criterion, Niall. We observe war and torture as outcomes of the transcendental viewpoint

Chris OConnor:: Niall - that would be an entire side discussion between us - which would be quite fun on the forums

StephanKrieg:: It seems to me that moral "codes" are derived from both internal and external (to the individual) sources. I am assuming that the individual human is the "atom" here.

PeterDF:: Thanks Anthony - that's exactly the point I made in my letters to the editor.

Niall001:: Sorry Chris, I have a habit of side tracking discussions

Dissident Heart:: <-- recognizes that some Religion rests upon transcendental fears and ancient lunacies...and that some Religion is deeply rooted in the here and now, and the there and then.

StephanKrieg:: I agree with Jeremy

Jeremy1952:: ty

Meme Wars:: Humans respond to religion out of fear. They do not like acting against their best interest, but if they believe these meme-complexes, they feel mortally threatened by eternal damnation to their personhood.

acgrayling:: Dissident heart: no, I think a really rich secular ethics is very alert to both the intrinsic and the instrumental value of the world itself, as something more than just the theatre of human existence: since we are capable of recognizing our duties of care for things we are capable of harming, that immediately imposes a requirement to take due care - and more.

Jeremy1952:: In a world with atomic, chemical, and biological weapons, it seems survival-essential to find a way to get along

JohnChas:: Anthony--Why do you think certain peculiar ideas have become so embedded in major religious systems (not eating pork, not having sex, cutting skin off genitals, drinking terrible sugary wines on certain holidays)? Is it tribalism?

StephanKrieg:: The main problem I see with any transcendental viewpoint, be it theistic of atheistic, is that is become non-falsifiable and even anti-falsification.

Dissident Heart:: Anthony...and thank God for those secular ethics able to do just that!

Meme Wars:: So they give up the humanly good to protect themselves from a revengeful God. They give up morality to protect their believed in souls.

StephanKrieg:: John, my take on that is that those strictures are the equivalent of "habits"

Jeremy1952:: The answer of many theists is, "well if everyone would only be Baha'i; or Baptist, or whatever...". But we can empirically observe that such is not happening

lawrenceindestin:: Does the issue of "best or better" really have to be answered for us to live in peace. It seems the issue is the still unresolved issues John Locke wrote of in his essay "A letter on Toleration", of keeping organized religion from getting access to and use of the power of the state.

Niall001:: Anthony, this is the last time I'll put forward a question of this type, why is being based on an understanding we succeed in getting about our common humanity, a good thing? Is it simply because it is economical, handy, efficient? Is it more than a personal preference?

StephanKrieg:: I concur with Jeremy

Chris OConnor:: Lawrence - excellent question

StephanKrieg:: What is our metric of "better"? How can the Good be Known unambiguously?

Jeremy1952:: Well StephanKrieg, there's a really good book I know that addresses that very topic...

StephanKrieg:: Lets see what Anthony suggests...

Chris OConnor:: The ultimate concern should be the separation of church and state, but Anthony's book is about "What is Good" and not just what gets us by without chaos, war and oppression.

Dissident Heart:: I'm not certain how any Ethic can identify an "intrinsic" value of anything...without imposing an ideology and faith or mythic construct...issues of "duty" and "obligation" are tied to notions of identity and allegiances....and these are developed in the messy, non-objective, deeply imaginative world of politics and communal concerns.

tarav:: John- Diamond discusses some of the food taboos and seems to say that they may have originated in a food poisoning incident.

Dissident Heart:: <-- wonders if Chris is conscious of utilizing Tillich's "ultimate concern" notion......

Niall001:: That is possible tarav, but is there any evidence that this is the case?

Jeremy1952:: I'm going to grab a soda, anyone want one? I have Vodka too

Niall001:: Don't mention vodka.

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - I'll take a Bacardi & Diet with lime

JohnChas:: tarav, I suspect that explanation is another desperate attempt to provide empirical confirmation for supernatural beliefs.

tarav:: Niall- I'd have to look back at the book...I don't remember...

Niall001:: Twas a rough night.

acgrayling:: Niall1001 - at the centre of our moral life are our relationships - from the most intimate to the general - and all of them work best when sustained by insight into what it is for all of us (not just 'me' for any individual) to be human. Each person has a highly parochial viewpoint on the world, and a limited experience; this is the 'finitary predicament' that only sympathy and knowledge has to overcome - so the more we know about the human condition the better we live. This I think is why the arts, history and philosophy are so important to us, because they so powerfully supplement our direct experience of life, if only we will be attentive to them and reflect on their lessons.

StephanKrieg:: Does it not seem to be the case that so long as there is competition for finite resources, coupled with a diversity of abilities, that there will not be a single fixed "Good"? At best we have a Nash equilibrium!

Jeremy1952:: No rum in my house sorry

Niall001:: thanks Anthony

Dissident Heart:: <-- wonders if the "finitary predicament" is an offspring to the notion of "original sin"....

Niall001:: Is the primary unit of humanity binary then in your world view?

StephanKrieg:: Arts, history and philosophy make up the external sources of moral codes

Jeremy1952:: I'm trying to cut and paste Anthony's last answer, I guess I'll have to grab it from the transcript.

StephanKrieg:: Moral*

Meme Wars:: Relative morality: What is good for the mosquito is not good for man. What is good for man many not be good for the mosquito.

Jeremy1952:: As a proponent of secular ethics the question of art comes up frequently and that's by far the best explanation I've heard

StephanKrieg:: No, Memewars, that is not "relativity", it is "contextuality".

Chris OConnor:: Stephan - Nash equilibrium?

Meme Wars:: What is good for me may not be good for you. If I have an infinity point of view, there is no such thing as good or evil, but as I began to select certain points of references, then I can define what is good.

StephanKrieg:: Anthony, I would like to read your notion on the origin of the "Original Sin" idea.

PeterDF:: Tara I agree that there could be a evolutionary-psychology kind of solution to that problem. It derives from the fact that an adult human has a very high level of biological investment and anything that would protect that investment would be favoured by natural selection

Jeremy1952:: BTW Anthony's explanation of art being important because it supplements our direct experience of life is not inconsistent with ethological explanations of the evolution of art and music

StephanKrieg:: Chris, its a math thing

JohnChas:: Meme: Last year in the eastern US we had the 17-year cicadas. Apparently it's good for them to gnaw on subterranean crud for 17 years... but not for any other species.

lawrenceindestin:: When I was young, the dictionary definition of morality was doing or not doing what the god of your belief system told you to do. Now the dictionary definition says morality is doing what the majority think is right. In a democracy that behavior is lawful, not moral. Since "good" is an adjective must there not be multiple nouns for it to modify?

tarav:: Peter- me too

Jeremy1952:: Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive. Both of those definitions are wrong

Jeremy1952:: I think the new one is worse than the old one

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - Amen

StephanKrieg:: Jeremy - ditto

Dissident Heart:: Nietzsche, following in Schopenhaur's shoes, as well as Goethe's...recognized the inescapable value of art and music in shaping a meaningful, lovable, enjoyable existence...once the delusions of religion and ecclesiastic control and eliminated.

JohnChas:: Lawrence: I find some contemporary majorities very unattractive--on "moral" grounds. Something personal tells me they're "bad" no matter how you define "good."

StephanKrieg:: Does that not make the creation of arts a "socializing" mechanism? a means to interrelated the many into one?

Niall001:: Yes, well what is perceived as moral will always depend on what the majority believe. So it seems like an appropriate definition for a dictionary.

Jeremy1952:: Perfectly true, meme wars. I think a negotiated system can agree on certain basics; we've been working here on the assumption that "good for humanity" is an assumption we can all agree on

StephanKrieg:: Think of how "hymns" create a suggestive state in the congregation...

Meme Wars:: JohnChas: There is an evolutionary advantage to reproduction every 17 years. Parasites can't wait that long to prey upon their biological reproductive processes.

lawrenceindestin:: I'm not defining good. I'm interested in Anthony getting closer to his subject. We may have proven to him our naiveté on his subject.

PeterDF:: JohnChas - I think I remember reading about the 17 year cicadas in one of Richard Dawkins books - it was a wonderful story of how nature works

Chris OConnor:: Let us direct questions to Anthony...

JohnChas:: Peter & Meme: Yes, I'm amazed that an insect can count up to 17.

Dissident Heart:: <-- one of those Religious folk who love the beauty of chants, hymns, choirs, and gospel rhythms.

StephanKrieg:: Peter, Meme, the 17 year thing has more to do with predator prey cycles; the prime numbers have the fewest common cycles with any other

StephanKrieg:: lets get back to Anthony's subject.

Chris OConnor:: <-- one of those agnostic atheists that loves the beauty of chants, hymns, choirs, and gospel rhythms

StephanKrieg:: afk 5 min

tarav:: Dawkins discusses the cicadas in The Blind Watchmaker--FYI

Jeremy1952:: Never happen, Chris; I've always talked in class

tarav:: it's convergent evolution

Dissident Heart:: <-- wonders if the love of one who believes is different from the love of one who doesn't

PeterDF:: Stephankrieg - exactly that was his point

Jeremy1952:: Fascinating question Dissident

Meme Wars:: Art: It is the male bird decorating his nesting area with adornments to attract the female. But he doesn't remember why he does this; he does it because he loves art! But his genes get spread more than the non-art lover/creator!

acgrayling:: Dissident Heart - your remarks about intrinsic value and the finitary predicament are interestingly related: given that we must begin from where we are, that is, as embodied individuals in a particular point in history, and given that leaping out of our bodies and our time has to be done by imagination (including the imagination of scholarship, as in the study of history), we are doubly bound to accept that the starting point for ethics is us & our world. That says nothing yet about whom we are and what we are like; it invites us to contemplate ways of inventing ourselves according to a really worthwhile conception of what we can be at best. Of course, among the givens are facts about our harmful propensities too, as a species and as individuals; but that is part of the point - the constraint that making the good means overcoming the bad.

MadArchitect joined

Chris OConnor:: I'd be interested in hearing Anthony's perspective on these recent London & Egypt terrorist attacks. But I'm not sure how to fit this topic into the current stream of discussion, so perhaps I'll just keep it to myself.

Niall001:: Welcome Mad

Dissident Heart:: madlypresent

Chris OConnor:: Mad - welcome! You're late. Please go stand in the corner.

tarav:: I believe we are filled to capacity!

MadArchitect:: sorry, having a little trouble on my end, but I'll participate as best I can

acgrayling:: On love: it is a very different thing to know that one of any two lovers must lose the other, which is to say: hat love has a term, than to believe that we will meet all our ex-partners in an after-life I'd hope that would make one love better and more intensely.

Niall001:: Not to go off track too much, but I'm actually ignorant of the Egypt attacks. Could someone give a one-sentence summary?

lawrenceindestin:: If you replace Plagius' fairytale of Original Sin in the garden of Eden with Karl Barth's concept of inherent selfishness is it not easier to reach Anthony's point.

Chris OConnor:: Niall - multiple bombs have killed up to 100 or more. They are still uncovering bodies.

JohnChas:: Anthony (may I?) -- Supposing we all agree that the London (and today's Egypt) bombings and those in Madrid, NYC, DC and elsewhere are "Bad", can we give any reason for that conclusion beyond the "golden rule"? Not that I think we need to...

Jeremy1952:: 'k I figured out how to cut and paste from this venue, so I have Anthony's answer to Niall saved... just in case the transcript gets messed up, it's waaay too good to lose

Chris OConnor:: Anthony - so true about love

JohnChas:: Niall: The Egypt bombings were in two Red Sea resorts at the southern end of Sinai. Probably lots of foreigners there.

lawrenceindestin:: Nietzsche believed that all acts of love were for selfish reasons. It is my opinion the definition of love is incomplete. The only definition for the motivation to act in love that cannot be selfish is when you are motivated out of deep appreciation for and gratitude of the object loved.

Niall001:: thanks, that is terrible.

Dissident Heart:: Anthony, there is a long tradition across religious traditions that points to disciplined self examination, tutored meditation, prayer as ways to access a knowledge of self that transcends individual ego and connects to a much larger, or deeper, fuller, richer identification with everything: e.g., Child of God connecting to God of Creation; the Atman connecting to Brahma; the Anatman dissolving into Sunyata....what was my point?...uggh

Chris OConnor:: Dissident - lol I hate when that happens

Meme Wars:: Love is an evolutionary trick to invest in something outside of the individual for the propagation of "selfish" genes.

MadArchitect:: well, if I may, I'd say that the definition of selfish becomes problematic in cases of love -- what often happens is that the boundaries of selfhood become blurred, so that acting in self-interest is often acting in the interests of another

Chris OConnor:: Meme - Bingo!

Jeremy1952:: On love and selflessness: our intelligence has obviously gone way beyond it's evolved purpose. I see no reason why that could not have happened, be happening with altruism as well.

StephanKrieg:: Meme - ditto!

Jeremy1952:: Human altruism began as tit-for-tat morality, like that exercised by bats; but it surely seems to have become something more

MadArchitect:: anthropological study tends to suggest that the boundaries of selfhood are learned anyway

JohnChas:: Meme-- Love is just "spin" for sex. We're just terrain vehicles for our gonads. Bah, humbug! (From a father of 2.)

Dissident Heart:: And the genes are selfish for what reason?

Chris OConnor:: Every human emotion, reaction and activity has its origins in natural selection

MadArchitect:: genes aren't selfish -- it's merely convenient to talk of them as selfish on average (recently having read Dawkins)

Jeremy1952:: It's inherent in the nature of genes, Dissident

Niall001:: Yes Dissident, but I guess the question is, do those techniques of self examination etc. work best within a religious or secular context? Are they aided by a religious context or do they work in spite of it?

Dissident Heart:: Jeremy...so...we know what is inherent in genes?

Meme Wars:: Good one JohnChas!

PeterDF:: Anthony I seem to remember you saying that you are in a different philosophical camp to Colin Maginn, I think you said he belonged to a group called the mysterians (or was that captain Scarlett) anyway I understood that you thought him to be a relativist - could you expand on this for us

Jeremy1952:: Yes

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - excellent point. I'd love to hear what Anthony has to say about that. Evolution is known to be thrifty. Nothing evolves beyond the point of necessity.

Katala Au:: Jeremy - maybe because excess altruism or selfishness has a more direct impact on our survival than does excess intelligence? (per se)

MadArchitect:: frankly, I'm critical of Dawkins for having popularized anthropomorphic terminology that tends more often to confuse the issue than clarify it

StephanKrieg:: I disagree with Jeremy on intelligence. I would claim that our intelligence was transcended genetic evolution, but in the overall scheme of evolution it is an aspect of it.

Jeremy1952:: Functionally genes are very simple. The execution is complicated.

Niall001:: Peter, Cap Scarlet fought the mysterons. He was an anti-mysterian.

Jeremy1952:: Wrong, Chris. Things evolve beyond the point of necessity all the time

StephanKrieg:: Intelligence is necessary as it leads to increasing efficient use of finite resources.

Dissident Heart:: <-- thinks we project onto Genes in much the same way we project onto gods.

MadArchitect:: I also disagree with the claim that evolution is so thrifty, and that's one of the arguments evolutionary purists have against the proponents of intelligent design -- there are numerous redundancies in organisms due to evolution

StephanKrieg:: Dissident - ditto

Jeremy1952:: Actually Stephan I think you just said the same thing in different words

StephanKrieg:: Perhaps... ;-)

Jeremy1952:: Yup. Evolution does not make things go away unless they are harmful

JohnChas:: Dissident: Do gods "cross over" and exchange sequences? ;^}

PeterDF:: Niall - oops

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - maybe necessity isn't the right word. Things evolve only to the point where they no longer are improving survival rates.

StephanKrieg:: What we must understand about Evolution is that it is not pre-specified nor pre-specifiable.

acgrayling:: I see some cynical aspersions on love, which is always suggest that it is time for a few distinctions: there are many loves for friends, parents, children, erotic partners, mankind (or some of them), dogs and horses, landscapes, books, the minds of the great dead - - it would be a barren world that did not have all these kinds of affectional bonds between people. It is not love that is the trick played by the gonads, but attraction and infatuation; love is what survives the latter, because it deepens the former.

Jeremy1952:: Hyper stimulation is the classic example... to a bird, "big" egg is better than "small". There is no evolutionary need for a limit, so a bird can be tricked into trying to hatch a soccer ball 100 times larger than any egg could every be

acgrayling:: excuse the typos: I do know some grammar.

Dissident Heart:: <-- is cautious when discussing Nietzsche's notions of Self...something he identified as polycentric, shifting, fluid, mobile, tempestuous, and operating within to minerals, vegetal, animal, political, and cosmic levels.

Jeremy1952:: And you know how to spell "grammar"; unusual in chat venue

Chris OConnor:: Anthony - I'll run this through a spell-checker so don't worry

lawrenceindestin:: Thank you Anthony, Does that make all love Good?

Meme Wars:: To know is to love, or to hate.

MadArchitect:: for example, love of money...

PeterDF:: Laurence very good question

Niall001:: Lol! Don't worry Anthony. Thankfully (for me) they aren't grammar Nazis around here.

JohnChas:: Anthony--Points taken. There is no love greater than the love for books (married to a librarian). I even like my kids most of the time. Never could love the Bible God, though--the Book says to fear him.

Jeremy1952:: Sorry chris not empirically true. A lot of evolution is simply random.

Dissident Heart:: Nietzsche, following Plato, and Augustine, and perhaps St. John...made it clear that there is no knowledge without love, and that to know anything, you must love it.

StephanKrieg:: Love seem to be, in this context, more of a notion of "mutual understanding". Having the same or similar needs and wants...

Jeremy1952:: Perhaps it would be more accurate to look at emotion, the class of behaviour into which love falls

Chris OConnor:: I thing Meme nailed it with his explanation for the origin of love. Love is of survival benefit as it prompts organisms to pair-bond for long enough to procreate and rear offspring - and probably longer

Niall001:: Dissident, can we then know evil? Must we love evil in order to know it?

Meme Wars:: We develop history with each other and empathy. There appears to be a biological advantage to species that develop affection for those with shared history against the wasting of our resources to those we do not know, these evil foreigners!

Dissident Heart:: Niall...excellent question!

Jeremy1952:: True Chris... and easily understood in light of the fact that all emotion is the method our genotype uses to manipulate our phenotype

StephanKrieg:: We must remember that evolution, love, society, etc. all require a pre-existing multiplicity and diversities of entities; entities that interact for what ever reason.

Dissident Heart:: Nietzsche tells us "all love is beyond good and evil"...and Isaiah 45:7 says "I, Yahweh, create the light and the dark, the good and the evil; there is no other".

acgrayling:: Re Colin McGinn: Yes I disagree profoundly with his view that we are so built that we can never discover the nature of consciousness. The idea that we are ineluctably bound to ignorance in certain arenas of enquiry seems to me a defeatist view, and in McGinn's case is premised on a strong epistemological realism which says that knowledge is always and only discovery whereas it is quite often a mixture of discovery and interpretation (of how we describe to ourselves what we encounter).

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - the mutations are random, but those that survive are not random at all

StephanKrieg:: Evil could be considered as anything that acts against the maximization of Life and its evolution.

Niall001:: Interesting

Jeremy1952:: You put yourself in the corner, Chris, of explaining the survival advantage of understanding General Relativity.

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - well said!

lawrenceindestin:: Chris, that is the vogue of the secular intelligencia. It is nothing more than an opinion or theory.

Dissident Heart:: <-- thinks knowledge is interpretation, discovery, and creativity.

Jeremy1952:: In the process of getting smart enough to figure out who would be a good mate, our brains got much more intelligent than they needed to be; evolution overshot the mark, but there was not enough selection pressure to pare it back

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - do I? Isn't our curiosity of survival benefit? Aren't those humans that have a high degree of curiosity and desire to know the unknown more apt to explore, learn, and grow?

StephanKrieg:: Anthony, the reason why we can agree with McGinn is that modeling consciousness leads to the paradox of trying to fix a map of a territory within a territory that is constantly changing. There is no static fixed point.

Jeremy1952:: Not enough to be visible to natural selection, no

Niall001:: Conversation reminds me of when in Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker series, they meet the man who runs the universe.

PeterDF:: Anthony - Ahh good we agree - I did see Colin McGinn on Jonathan Miller's programme about non belief and McGinn's relativism didn't come across - thanks for the clarification

Dissident Heart:: Explore, learn and grow...to what end, for what purpose?

StephanKrieg:: What if our consciousness is "Existence experiencing itself"?

Jeremy1952:: And yes they are more likely... but sufficient intelligence to understand that level of abstraction? No. It does not get you more babies.

MadArchitect:: DH, evolutionarily speaking, for no purpose

lawrenceindestin:: Right on Dissident Heart

Chris OConnor:: Purpose? ...the same as "love." Organisms with the "curiosity gene" explore geographically, thus increasing their chances of surviving localized catastrophes.

Meme Wars:: Evil is mass extinction. Humanity is acting out Major extinction event #6!

MadArchitect:: that they produce sound evolutionary strategies is merely a matter of accidental consequence

Dissident Heart:: Increasing population to what end, for what purpose?

Niall001:: no purpose. It is simply what happens.

StephanKrieg:: To explore all possible modes of "life"

Chris OConnor:: Dissident - no "purpose." Evolution has no purpose in mind.

Chris OConnor:: Niall - exactly.

Dissident Heart:: "Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee oh Lord" Augustine

Jeremy1952:: Expressed succinctly in the deep philosophical phrase, "Shit Happens"

StephanKrieg:: No "pre-established" purpose. Life defines its purpose as it evolves. Its needs and conditions for survival change.

Dissident Heart:: <-- thinks the projection of "No Purpose" is as much an act of Faith as the projection of any Purpose.

MadArchitect:: it's interesting to me, the way sentient attributes are attributed to the evolutionary process, and how they affect our understanding of the process

StephanKrieg:: Dissident Heart - I concur

Jeremy1952:: I would say , Stephan, that sentient life goes beyond that

MadArchitect:: <-- thinks all knowledge is a profession of faith

JohnChas:: DH--Relax, it's okay to be finite!

StephanKrieg:: Yes, Jeremy, but boil it down to the essence....

Dissident Heart:: <-- thinks projections of Finitude are projections nonetheless.

Chris OConnor:: Those members of a population that are curious enough to wander across the mountain and explore the other side may live to pass along this "curiosity gene" after a localized flood kills all of the members of the population/village from which they came.

lawrenceindestin:: Back to "good." Anthony, is not the use of the word good totally relative to the person's paradigm?

StephanKrieg:: Faith is belief that can not be falsified empirically

Chris OConnor:: But back to Anthony....

Niall001:: Mad, I'd imagine that is because (due to the way we evolved) we just find it easier to think about things in that way. (see Wason Selection Task)

MadArchitect:: all this talk of evolution seems to have lost Mr. Grayling's interest, though. I think we might benefit from streamlining this discussion and bringing it back to a more pertinent topic

JohnChas:: DH--Some people don't observe a purpose and see no value in proposing one.

Chris OConnor:: Agreed Mad

StephanKrieg:: agree

MadArchitect:: unfortunately, I don't know what the original topic was...

acgrayling:: The idea of purpose is a seductive one. It is one of the impulses to religion. Because so many of our social explanations revolve upon understanding the purpose of others' actions and utterances, we try to put non-human nature into the teleological mode too. In part it works: it is appropriate to ask e.g. what the heart is for, what the kidneys do, etc., but then people commit the fallacy of composition and ask what the world is for. But this is the realm of ethics: to choose and infuse purpose for and into our lives and communities.

StephanKrieg:: What is Good?

Meme Wars:: What is Good?

Jeremy1952:: On the other hand, it's quite possible that Anthony is an adult and capable of expressing his own interest or lack thereof

Chris OConnor:: Good = that which pleases the defining party

Dissident Heart:: JohnChas...that's interesting...no purpose in life planning, relationship building, forming allegiances, identifying with causes, creative projects...no purpose.

PeterDF:: Anthony we were discussing the correct means (as most of us are atheists) of the right way to confront theists - we discussed Richard Dawkins very robust approach - which I said might alienate people without necessarily helping "our" cause

Meme Wars:: How about the concept of existentialism, and the recognition and concern about all of us having the capacity to suffer?

StephanKrieg:: It seems that Anthony agrees with the idea that we tend to project our own paradigms and methods to make sense of the world onto every facet...

JohnChas:: To me, Good and Evil are adjectives describing human behavior.

StephanKrieg:: Anthropomorphication

Meme Wars:: We did not choose to exist, but here we are! How can we make our existence as comfortable as possible for all of us?

MadArchitect:: this is likely to elicit a groan from others, but in passing, are you familiar with Vico's "New Science", Mr. Grayling (Anthony?) ?

Jeremy1952:: Choose, or I like to envision purpose as something we create

Chris OConnor:: Anthony - exactly! We hear, "What is the meaning of life?" - as if there MUST be a meaning to life. So what is the meaning of a rock? Rocks don't have a "meaning," but do indeed have an origin, history, weight, hardness on Moh's scale, chemical composition... But "meaning?" Who says there has to be a meaning to life?

Jeremy1952:: Much in the sense of creating art; it is not "not real" simply because we create it.

acgrayling:: Re "good" and its relativity to something. If it is true that human beings in all places and times share very basic needs and interests in common, and if it is true that their relationship with the world around them can be either of benefit or disbenefit to them and it, then the question of what is good for people and their world is a fully answerable one. If it is relative, it is relative to the everything that we & our world are: which is a kind of absolute after all.

Dissident Heart:: <-- thinks seeking, finding, building Purpose in existence is hardly a fallacy...even if it isn't entirely objective, and subject to our human fallibility and imagination.

Chris OConnor:: We all find ourselves existing. Now we all must decide our own meaning or purpose.

tarav:: Grayling discusses how the Christian story of Satan was based on a pagan myth. Grayling tells of, "the fall of Satan, once an archangel high in the ranks of heaven, but whose pride - he desired autonomy, independence, self-determination - was the cause of his being cast from heaven,

tarav:: if this is evil, then I am evil too!

MadArchitect:: depends entirely on how you understand the symbols involved in the story

Katala Au:: yeah...not surprising that independent thinking would equate to pride...

MadArchitect:: if God is merely a personality of authority, and heaven is merely a territory of the good, then there's much reason to sympathize with the fall of Satan

Chris OConnor:: Tara - perhaps those humans that created the Christian myth of Satan were trying to control the masses with fear and rewards. Please pass the opium.

Jeremy1952:: We already knew you were evil, tarav

tarav:: lol--thanks, Jeremy!

MadArchitect:: but myths are rarely so simple, and I think an ontological interpretation makes Satan's place a great deal less tenable

Jeremy1952:: It's ok, I'm just projecting

lawrenceindestin:: Anthony, have you come to a conclusion there is an absolute good not dependent on human benefits?

Meme Wars:: Yes, Chris, but hopefully we don't define our meaning and purpose at the expense of others! This is perhaps the source of evil, not considering others suffering relevant in our considerations!

Chris OConnor:: Lawrence - another good question

Dissident Heart:: If God is seen as the inescapable order of existence, then Satan's "pride" is recognized as chaotic destruction: an inability to play nice with others.

Jeremy1952:: Sheesh, Lawrence, I think he's made the converse crystal clear

acgrayling:: Tarav and Milton would agree " me too!" The first sin (in Eden) was "disobedience;" the first disobedience was "getting knowledge;" humanity was cast out for having thrown off its infantile tutelage and the prison of ignorance: and the rest is history - and though it has been a pretty bumpy history, and despite everything, it is hard to think that the world has got worse since the days when there was no clean running water, dentistry, literacy &

MadArchitect:: Why should I feel convinced that "others" exist as fully as I do?

Chris OConnor:: Mad - because otherwise you cannot even go about your own existence effectively. Existence is an axiom.

Jeremy1952:: By the way for anyone who didn't look it up, "New Science" was a 1725 proposition

StephanKrieg:: Yes! The Original sin was the acquisition of the ability to Symbolically Represent oneself and the world!

tarav:: absolutely, Anthony

Dissident Heart:: <-- encourages folks to examine the PBS series "Genesis" and discover how many different religious scholars, rabbis, priests, etc. interpret and make sense of the Garden.

MadArchitect:: I can't build the same moral structure, but I don't see why I shouldn't be able to function fairly well as an individual on the assumption that everyone else is equivalent to an automaton, or a kitten

StephanKrieg:: Agree!

Dissident Heart:: Existence is not an axiom, its a prejudice.

MadArchitect:: I'd say that there are millions of people who behave in exactly that manner on a daily basis

Jeremy1952:: You could, in theory. It wouldn't work if everyone were that way. That's why there are sociopaths, and why there always will be

JohnChas:: Anthony--Agreed, despite the world's rough spots, that Garden would be awfully crowded with 7 billion people in it.

Meme Wars:: MadArchitect: Ancient ones, such as Ghenges Khan, would agree with you! There is only one realty--you! But so much misery and bloodshed happened with that thinking. We get to the point that we stop and say, I won't kill you if you won't kill me!

Jeremy1952:: Because that's essentially what you are describing Mad

MadArchitect:: I don't think there's any reason to assume that it's necessary to assume the full validity of another person to arrive at a conciliatory ethics -- all you have to assume is that the other person is capable of harming you if you behave wrongly

Dissident Heart:: <-- interested in Anthony's understanding of Harvard cognitive scientist Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences and his hypothesis of an "Existentialist Intelligence".

Chris OConnor:: Meme - I love how you make certain principles so easy to understand

Jeremy1952:: That would be a reason for not getting caught, Mad. Then it becomes a calculation

StephanKrieg:: I must bow out. Thank you Anthony and Chris. Good Day.

StephanKrieg left

tarav:: I hate to be the first to leave, but I am hosting a shower in half an hour! Anthony, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. You may remember me as the woman you were kind enough to send a copy of your book to. Thank you, again, for such a wonderful book!

Jeremy1952:: Not a moral imperative

Niall001:: ''How can you tell there's anything out there? said the man politely, the door's closed."

Katala Au:: bye Tara :)

Chris OConnor:: Mad - ahh that might work. Are you suggesting we all take that approach?

Jeremy1952:: bye Tara.

Chris OConnor:: Bye Tara

Niall001:: bye Tara

acgrayling:: Lawrence 'the good' is not exclusively a matter of human satisfactions and achievements, because there is the non-human world to be taken into account too. My point about the relative/absolute distinction is that if something is relative to humanity and its world, then since that is everything for humanity, it is all that can be understood by absolute. The temptation is to strive for something beyond in order for IT to be the 'REAL absolute,' but this beyond is an invention of those beautiful human things, imagination and desire: which one should celebrate, not fall prey to.

MadArchitect:: As for Meme's Genghis Khan analogy, the difference isn't that the Khan's had a different view of their relative ontological weight, merely that they felt capable of exploiting power

Meme Wars:: Thank you Chris!

MadArchitect:: no, Chris, I'm suggesting an ethical problem

acgrayling:: Tara - thank you and goodbye -keep safe & well!

PeterDF:: Does it help to question existence? Descartes had it right we know we exist because we think. Beyond that we can't really know anything we just HAVE to accept that reality exists for mere practical reasons

tarav:: Anthony- you too!

lawrenceindestin:: How beautifully stated Anthony.

tarav:: bye, everyone!

Jeremy1952:: Mad, that's exactly why I think the substrate of ethics is the innate desire to cooperate

MadArchitect:: the argument that I've heard from some atheists is that their morality stands on a foundation of assuming the equality of people as people -- but I see no intrinsically rational reason to make that assumption

Jeremy1952:: Because it is never totally rational

tarav left

Dissident Heart:: <-- sees that a respiratory, skeletal, visual, nervous, pulmonary system exist in all humans...and Chomsky points to a common Linguistic system...why not a moral system?

Chris OConnor:: Anthony - you've been with us an hour so I want to thank you for this wonderful opportunity. If you'd like to chat longer feel free as we're all enjoying this tremendously. But if you have other obligation don't be shy - we will understand.

Jeremy1952:: Exactly how I see it Dissident.

MadArchitect:: and it seems to me that the appeal to "innate" drives only dissolves the notion of ethics and morality into another biological determinism

Niall001:: So, secular ethics aren't rational, they're just a little less irrational than religious ethics?

Chris OConnor:: Anthony - but please tell us of any upcoming books

Jeremy1952:: Morality is innate, just as language is innate

Jeremy1952:: And just like language, we get the details from our culture

JohnChas:: I've read and can recommend Anthony's "Meditations for the Humanist."

lawrenceindestin:: Yes Anthony, it must be getting close to tea time. You have been kind and I'll be kind and buy your book. Thank you

Chris OConnor:: Anthony - what is this Dictionary of Ideas you are creating? What sort of ideas?

MadArchitect:: Niall, I wouldn't say that they're any less irrational, at least not intrinsically. They're both equally arational

Jeremy1952:: Not a claim I'd agree with, Niall.

Dissident Heart:: Actually, Chomsky's anarcho-syndicalism rests entirely upon a faith and hope that humans innately desire freedom and liberty and the ability to creatively produce without the bonds of tyranny and oppression.

MadArchitect:: and Anthony (still feel odd calling you that) I hope you will stick around -- I'd hoped to engage a little more with you

Jeremy1952:: Mad was quoting hypothetical "atheists", who are certainly entitled to thei4r POV

Jeremy1952:: Probably more heretical ideas that will turn our children away from The One True God

JohnChas:: Niall--Seems to me secular ethicists endeavor to be rational, but reason is a goal, not a possession.

Niall001:: I agree with Mad on the arational basis of all moral systems.

MadArchitect:: well, I could quote an actual atheist, but I'd rather not implicate him, nor would I want to misrepresent him

Chris OConnor:: John - well said

MadArchitect:: reason is a method, John, not a goal

Jeremy1952:: Perhaps, Mad. I have to ruminate on that one

Niall001:: John, that from my point of view, is a bad thing about secular ethics.

MadArchitect:: although Max Horkheimer would disagree, I think -- almost done with his "Eclipse of Reason"

Niall001:: well not bad, but negative. It is trying to do the impossible.

JohnChas:: Mad--Agree. Maybe I meant "rational ethics" is the goal.

Dissident Heart:: <-- took a fabulous class in Seminary titled "Heresy"; co-taught by a Jewish Professor and a Lesbian Rabbi; we explored the history of the struggle between Orthodoxy and Heresy in Jewish and Christian life.

MadArchitect:: I'd say that a rational ethics is the goal of religion, as well. They're just more explicit about the arational basis for their reasoning

acgrayling:: Jeremy: it must certainly be right that as essentially social beings, our social instincts are hard-wired into us, and are there because of the immense survival benefits they bring. But it's important, I think, to resist being no more than reductive here. As intelligent apes we have a great line in feedback and awareness. These social feelings are capable of being educated, extended, refined, reflected upon, developed, applied in new ways, AND denied, perverted, forgotten, deadened, lost, which we know from being forced to confront the evil that people do. I suppose that the very idea of humanistic education is to foster the cultural and ethical growth of people in the direction of all the many possibilities our social feelings & skills offer, and away from evil.

Chris OConnor:: Anthony also has a new book entitled "The Heart of Things" I see on his website

JohnChas:: Niall: Hey, that's why folks are still chatting about all this!

Dissident Heart:: "The heart has reasons the head knows nothing about" Pascal

Niall001:: ha!

Chris OConnor:: Dissident - nice quote - wasn't familiar with it at all. But it makes perfect sense.

Meme Wars:: My Morality: I feel pain. I see no reason to believe others do not feel pain any less tense than I do (except genetic freaks). Therefore, I will be sensitive to the pain I create in others and modify my behavior, and hope others will do so in kinds.

Jeremy1952:: Thanks, Anthony; I agree 100%. The alternative would be an expression of the naturalistic fallacy

Dissident Heart:: Hans Kung's "Does God Exist?" is a journey between Descartes' "Cogito Ergo Sum" and Pascal's "Credo Ergo Sum"...a via media between the head and heart.

lawrenceindestin:: The Arabs have a saying "what the eyes can not see the heart can not want." That's why their women are in black abays.

Jeremy1952:: The education, extension... denied, perverted... are the cultural extensions, which I think are homologous to language.

MadArchitect:: getting back to the topic of the nature of good, I wonder what Mr. Grayling would say of Collingwood's thesis that Greek philosophy, with it's Platonic notion of good, arose out of religion. The implication seems to me that, in order to understand the major operative philosophical notion of Good in western civilization, you must understand its origins in religious feeling

Dissident Heart:: <-- points to Mad that that was Nietzsche's thesis too.

Chris OConnor:: Anthony - have you heard of the "Brights" movement? It is an attempt to get the world to accept a new term for people that adhere to a naturalistic worldview. If so, do you accept or endorse this term? Richard Dawkins has endorsed the term, while others have rejected it.

Niall001:: The thing is, as I see it, that the problem is that people believe in natural. The environment (social, physical etc.) determines what phenotype emerges and though the phenotype is what is selected, the genotype is all that is passed on.

Jeremy1952:: But why do you CARE, Meme?

Jeremy1952:: That's the part that I think is innate

PeterDF:: Anthony - if you are thinking of staying a little longer We recently discussed Antonio Damasio's book 'Looking for Spinoza' - I had the feeling that you liked what he said - what do you think of his ideas?

JohnChas:: Chris: I've heard the term, and it sounds silly to me. There's gotta be a better positive term for secularists.

acgrayling:: Chris - this has been tremendously interesting - wish I could stay - there could be happier term than 'Brights' but the principle of what they are doing is great & I'm with them all the way. Thanks for having me in the chat room - warm good wishes to all - Anthony

Chris OConnor:: John - I agree.

Niall001:: Thanks Anthony, that was enjoyable.

Niall001:: Look forward to reading more of your work.

Jeremy1952:: A Christian who tries to beat homosexuality out of a child and a secular humanist who defends her both recognize the importance of the other person.

Chris OConnor:: Anthony - thank you very much for your time!

Jeremy1952:: Thanks so much Anthony

Meme Wars:: I agree, that characteristic in my may indeed be innate. How do we get more of those genes in future generations and discourage the opposite?

Katala Au:: thanks for joining us Anthony :)

Chris OConnor:: Anthony - would you like a transcript of this emailed to you?

Jeremy1952:: Both for the book and the chat

MadArchitect:: good day, and thanks for joining

PeterDF:: Bye Anthony I hope you enjoyed it- Peter

acgrayling left

lawrenceindestin:: Thanks to all for letting me join with you.

Chris OConnor:: Excellent chat folks!

Chris OConnor:: Thank you all for coming

Dissident Heart:: Nietzsche's thesis was that all of our values of good, evil, truth, falsity, morality, ethics, politics, aesthetics find their roots in a particular mix of Monotheistic faiths...and once that God is dead, all these notions are uprooted and subjected to profound nihilistic disarray.

MadArchitect:: sorry I couldn't make it earlier

Jeremy1952:: The Christian really thinks she's saving the child from eternal torment, much worse than current beating; the secularist thinks its wrong to beat people

Jeremy1952:: But the underlying motivation is the same

lawrenceindestin left

Meme Wars:: Thank you Anthony for the great discussion!

Chris OConnor:: I'll post a transcript as soon as I run this through a spell checker

JohnChas:: I enjoyed the chat. I'm glad not everybody here thinks the same.

Dissident Heart:: adios and adieu Anthony

Jeremy1952:: Shoot sociopaths, Meme

Chris OConnor:: John - yes, true.

Chris OConnor:: Before people drop off...

Chris OConnor:: Let me add a few things.

JohnChas:: See yez on the booktalk site!

PeterDF:: Hope you all thought he was a worthwhile guest

Niall001:: Actually Jeremy, I think that might be a tad simplistic.

Jeremy1952:: Lol you think?

Chris OConnor:: Peter - thank you VERY much for all you did to help make this happen.

Jeremy1952:: There is that little diagnostic issue

Dissident Heart:: thanks peter!

Niall001:: There are many many motivations.

Chris OConnor:: Peter - I will be contacting Jane Goodall very soon...so thank you for getting me her contact information

Niall001:: I find it hard to imagine that you could coldly beat the living daylights out of a child without anger and hate in your heart.

Meme Wars:: No, contain social paths in controlled setting where they cannot hurt others. If we find genetic connections to social paths, then discourage reproduction of these individuals.

PeterDF:: That's ok glad to be of help - hope you enjoyed the chat

Jeremy1952:: Oh you were referring to my earlier analogy, I thought you were referring to shooting sociopaths

Niall001:: ha!

MadArchitect:: Okay, so post-chat discussion -- would you say that there's a key issue raised by Grayling in this chat that is worth further discussion?

Chris OConnor:: We have a few upcoming author chats. Does everyone check the Home page? There is a section in the upper right corner where we list Upcoming Author Chats

Dissident Heart:: <-- finds that beating the cold daylights out of children is most often the result of repeating an earlier trauma suffered at the hands of someone else.

Chris OConnor:: Massimo Pigliucci, Susan Jacoby, Victor Davis Hanson, and others

Niall001:: True Dissident.

Jeremy1952:: I think we should connect this chat to the one with Jane Goodall. A terrific place to examine extending "good = human" to other sentients

Katala Au:: oh Massimo is going to come back...excellent...

JohnChas:: Chris--Sounds like a good roster!

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - nice segue

Dissident Heart:: <-- interested in exploring the Anthropocentric limitations of Grayling's humanistic ethics.

Chris OConnor:: Massimo's articles have been generating much discussion on the forums

Chris OConnor:: He will make an excellent guest

PeterDF:: I'll keep up with what's going on. I just hope I get the time to get involved

Jeremy1952:: Well, I fully expected to be with Goodall and thinking, Now there was something I wanted to talk about...", So I figured I'd state it while on my mind

Chris OConnor:: And I also plan to invite Howard Bloom back for a chat.

Dissident Heart:: <-- has to leave now....great pleasure to be here

Dissident Heart:: adios and adieu all

Jeremy1952:: bye Dissident

JohnChas:: I'll have to tell Ms. Goodall I'm not embarrassed to be related to other apes.

Dissident Heart:: adios and adieu

Jeremy1952:: I, on the other hand, AM an ape

Niall001:: Massimo is very entertaining and Howard is sure to generate much typing.

Chris OConnor:: There are two people that I want as guests very bad - Jane Goodall and Shelly Williams. Both are primatologists.

Niall001:: bye dissident

Chris OConnor:: Bye Dissident! ;) Thanks for coming.

Katala Au:: okay time to go back to sleep :) night all

Chris OConnor:: Niall - haha

Jeremy1952:: I'll probably skip the bloom chat, out of respect for Chris

Dissident Heart left

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - oh be there

Chris OConnor:: lol

JohnChas:: Night? Where is it night?

Meme Wars:: Katala Au: Where are you located?

Jeremy1952:: It's always night somewhere

Katala Au left

Chris OConnor:: Australia

Niall001:: You don't get on with Bloom Jeremy?

JohnChas:: The world IS round! Shazam!

PeterDF:: I think Goodall has a limited ability with technology - it might have to be that we just send questions

Jeremy1952:: I think he's a verbose asshole

Meme Wars:: Thank you!

Jeremy1952:: And have resisted saying so in public

Chris OConnor:: Anyone want to create a follow-up thread in the "What is Good?" forum where we can discuss some of these topics in more depth?

JohnChas:: Chris--Sure, I'll chime in after I've read the book.

Chris OConnor:: Peter - ahh we could offer to do an e-interview. But I will really need some help developing the questions.

Niall001:: ha! I'm not a fan of his views (well some of them). I don't know the man.

Chris OConnor:: John - excellent

Jeremy1952:: Perfect example of Shermer's thesis about intelligent people believing weird things

Chris OConnor:: The Lucifer Principle is one of the best books I've ever read.

Jeremy1952:: I didn't' mean it personally

PeterDF:: Glad to help Chris - just let me know what you have in mind

Jeremy1952:: Based solely on book content

Chris OConnor:: Peter - I sure will.

Jeremy1952:: Maybe we could convince Goodall to work with an assistant

Niall001:: anyway, I'm out of credit here. So I'm gonna go. Bye all.

Jeremy1952:: TV personalities frequently do that

PeterDF:: bye Niall

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - I understand. You don't agree with his group selection ideas.

Jeremy1952:: Good to see you Niall thanks

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - someone to do her typing perhaps

Meme Wars:: I recently purchased The Lucifer Principle. Haven't had a chance to read it yet.

Niall001 left

Jeremy1952:: Is what I meant, yes Chris

MadArchitect:: I think an e-interview is more likely to generate some interesting answers from an author -- these chats tend to be rather chaotic, with more conversation going on between regular contributors than from the authors we're supposed to be engaging

Chris OConnor:: Meme - You'll love it and I'd be curious to hear your feedback

JohnChas:: Mad--Agree.

Jeremy1952:: ecstian, back to an early comment of yours:

Meme Wars:: Agree MadArchitect.

Chris OConnor:: Yes, they can be chaotic but these chats are what differentiate us from all the other sites out there.

Chris OConnor:: we can all read formal interviews

JohnChas:: Well, gotta go finish "Unintelligent Design" by Mark Perakh. Sure wish Prometheus would hire more proofreaders.

Jeremy1952:: My dad was a bookseller, and giving people books was instilled into me as a moral imperative

Chris OConnor:: Where else can you sit down with these authors and interact on a personal level?

Chris OConnor:: John - good to see ya

Jeremy1952:: If any regular can't afford a book, I'd be happy to buy it for him or her

JohnChas:: Bye folks--see y'awl again soon.

Meme Wars:: Perhaps we could see live such an interview with selected questions read by Chris, with Chris having intelligent feedback for a half hour, where we cannot chat, then opening it up to the floor the next half hour or hour.

Jeremy1952:: bye John

PeterDF:: bye John - thanks for the input

MadArchitect:: you can't, and I agree that there's a certain thrill to the proximity of a chat. but I feel that the authors get pushed out a little

JohnChas left

Chris OConnor:: Meme - I've wanted to do something like that, but we have a problem.

Jeremy1952:: I feel like I made an ass of myself in front of Richard Dawkins. Sigh.

MadArchitect:: or maybe something combined -- start with a small e-interview, and then the chat can elaborate there from. At least then we'll have a narrow range for discussion.

Chris OConnor:: Meme - if we had chat software that allowed those type of moderation features we could have a more formal format

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - how so?

Jeremy1952:: I went on about Gould until he told me politely to shut up

MadArchitect:: anyway, I don't mean to criticize. I just feel that Grayling didn't get much of a chance to really address as many questions as he might have liked

MadArchitect:: or as we might have liked

Chris OConnor:: This chat room doesn't allow me to "silence" or "gag" the audience, as other software allows. We would be constantly interrupted by new people straggling in talking during the interview

MadArchitect:: is there a way to set up the ezboard chat so that some people can watch without contributing?

Jeremy1952:: I've found that in real life, professors love students who are involved

Meme Wars:: Did you not have a chat software recently installed? I see it is gone.

#Kostya left

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - I have read the transcript many times and I didn't see such a statement

Chris OConnor:: Mad - no, no way possible

Jeremy1952:: Maybe I'm just over sensitive because I revere the man

Chris OConnor:: we had different chat software for about a year, but it costs $75 per year and I get very few donations. There are too many other expenses to running this community that I don't want to incur any unnecessary costs

Jeremy1952:: Well, there were other problems with the other chat software too, as I recall

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - I think he is a bit straight-forward and to be honest I felt a bit odd too

Meme Wars:: I actually got to meet him last November and had my book "The Ancestor's Tales" signed by him. Took some pictures too!

MadArchitect:: can you do that with AIM? Maybe we could have the author in an AIM chat and everyone else in the board chat

Jeremy1952:: Wow Meme! I've turned bright green

Jeremy1952:: Tale, by the way

Meme Wars:: There's a picture of me next to Lalla Ward, his wife. Richard was busy, so I took advantage!

Jeremy1952:: You Bastard

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - I never fully felt that Dawkins enjoyed the chat, but it is probably just his personality. He was quite pleasant in real life when I met him at the Atheist Alliance International Convention in Tampa

Jeremy1952:: Oh, it was entirely my fault. I WAS going on

Chris OConnor:: Dawkins is an interesting fellow

Meme Wars:: He he he he!

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - about what? About Gould's NOMA?

Jeremy1952:: No, I remember Dawkins making a comment in reference to their joint letter, about Gould being a much better writer.

Jeremy1952:: And then I wasted valuable chat time trying to find the quote, for what?

ecstian:: Jeremy - thank you for the offer - i usually get the books from the library, but Grayling's book is not available through it

Meme Wars:: It's just his personality. He was a bit stiff when I and my fellow local humanist tried to strike up conversation at the end when it was getting quiet.

Jeremy1952:: Presumably in retrospect, IF he actually said it, he was being polite in a British way that went over my head

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - probably so

Meme Wars:: Impromptu is not his style, unless you say your child is an atheist or Christian. Then watch out!

Jeremy1952:: Well my offer stands... if you want to read it I'll send you a coy

Jeremy1952:: copy

Chris OConnor:: Meme - exactly! Stiff is the best way to describe him. I had dinner with him and a dozen others after the conference.

PeterDF:: Meme - you are right - he is very uptight with people he doesn't know

ecstian:: well I don't want to put the cost on you

Chris OConnor:: we were in a dinner cruise out of Tampa

Jeremy1952:: I think my child's a Jew, but he won't talk to me about it

PeterDF:: I think there are a lot of people who would like to get to know him better - me included!

Jeremy1952:: We all like to feel we are contributing to the world, books is the way my dad taught me, and it gives me great personal satisfaction

ecstian:: how many people are reading the freethinker book?

Chris OConnor:: Dawkins was pleasant, but rather quiet and stiff. I can understand this as we all have different personalities. I still enjoyed the cruise tremendously and thought he was quite a gentleman. I guess the English are very polite and reserved.

Jeremy1952:: I'm about 3/4 through it

Chris OConnor:: Eric - I am too

ecstian:: i am at a place where i can begin a new book - just trying to decide which one

Meme Wars:: Well, I need to move on with my day. See ya all later! Jeremy, perhaps he has exhausted his point on this, that children should not be labeled until the age of ascension!

Jeremy1952:: bye Meme.

MadArchitect:: adios, memechacos

PeterDF:: We English aren't all so reserved - but I agree that Dawkins is

Jeremy1952:: I'm finding Ancestor's Tale the most difficult to read of his popular books

Chris OConnor:: My intention with Freethinkers is to send out email invites to every Humanist, Atheist, Skeptic and Freethinker group on this planet. Just to ask the leaders of these groups to distribute a flyer about the book discussion and upcoming chat session with Susan Jacoby. We could use some fresh blood.

Chris OConnor:: Bye Meme

Meme Wars:: I've already ready Susan Jacoby's book. Perhaps I could participate a little, though admittedly, it has been a year!

Jeremy1952:: Parts of it are flowing and entertaining, but other parts are "one damn fact after another"

PeterDF:: bye meme

ecstian:: I actually had Ancestor's Tale in my hands yesterday - but put it back on the shelf

Chris OConnor:: Meme - please do

Jeremy1952:: I've picked it up and put it down a number of times

Chris OConnor:: Yes, plenty of facts

Meme Wars:: Thanks for the heads up Jeremy. I haven't started that book yet.

Chris OConnor:: Dates and events and laws and cases

Jeremy1952:: I will finish it eventually

Chris OConnor:: But tis the history of secular humanism

Chris OConnor:: Ok folks, I will be leaving now. Shall I include all this chat after Anthony left in the transcript?

Jeremy1952:: I was talking about Ancestors Tale, Chris.

Meme Wars:: Chris!

Jeremy1952:: Freethinkers I'm finding a great read

Meme Wars:: before you leave!

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - ahh. I own a copy, but is sitting collecting dust right now.

Chris OConnor:: Meme - yes?

ecstian:: so how do you like freethinkers, chris and Jeremy - and anybody else reading it

PeterDF:: I finished it months ago and all those technical names are still spinning in my head - I did enjoy it though. I saw Dawkins give a lecture on the book in Oxford a few months ago

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - Oh, how true! Ancestors Tale is more like a tomb.

Jeremy1952:: Well I made a post called "I Love This Book", ecstian, if that gives you a clue

Jeremy1952:: I think the word is "tome", Chris

ecstian:: yeah - I read that post

Meme Wars:: Will you email me in HTML format an advertisement of BookTalk that I may include in my Sound Views newsletter for local humanist and our we site?

ecstian:: but i figured you were at the beginning of the book when you posted it

Jeremy1952:: Tombs are where dead Christians go

Jeremy1952:: No about half way through

ecstian:: now that you are 2/3rds through you still enjoy it as much?

Chris OConnor:: Eric - I am still on the first chapter. Lately I have spent my time setting up these 6 author chats. Now that they're all arranged I'll focus more on the current selection.

Jeremy1952:: Yes

Chris OConnor:: Jacoby is a bit nervous about a live chat. Says she is not very computer literate.

Jeremy1952:: Parts of it make me angry... but that's the subject matter.

Meme Wars:: Chris?

ecstian:: it seems to me that not many of these authors are ;P

Chris OConnor:: Meme - I sure will

Meme Wars:: Did you read the above?

Chris OConnor:: Meme - and thanks for offering to do that

Meme Wars:: Thank you!

PeterDF:: I have so many books to read at the moment I can't keep up with the selections - I'm reading Darwin at the moment

Jeremy1952:: She's also about half convinced me that women's sufferage was a mistake

Jeremy1952:: What book, Peter?

MadArchitect:: I still say we should read Darwin as one of our classics discussions

Chris OConnor:: Meme - that is exactly what I am hoping to have done. I'd love for humanist groups to place it in their next newsletters.

ecstian:: well maybe I will give it a try

Chris OConnor:: Anyone want to help me write a short article about BookTalk and this current book selection?

Meme Wars:: OK. By all! Serious this time!

Jeremy1952:: Sure chris, count me in

Chris OConnor:: I'd love some help from one of you guys - we all know I'm not a writer

Meme Wars:: Nice chatting!

Chris OConnor:: Jeremy - thank you.

Chris OConnor:: Meme - take care

ecstian:: later meme

Jeremy1952:: O

MadArchitect:: I might be able to help with the part about Book Talk, but I wouldn't be of much help with Freethinkers

Meme Wars left

PeterDF:: It's actually a biography - I've read the origin (of course) the Descent of Man, (which I really enjoyed) and hiss autobiography. Expression of the emotions is next

Jeremy1952:: I've read "Origin of Species" two and a half times, but somehow I can't seem to get through his other books

Chris OConnor:: Mad - that would be great. Maybe we start a thread in the BookTalk Development forum and create a brief article that can be sent out to every group

ecstian:: what are some good intro books on evolution?

Jeremy1952:: I dropped Expression about half way through. Voyage of the Beagle I got to the second chapter I think. Maybe I'll give Descent of Man a shot

Jeremy1952:: How much detail do you want, ecstian?

Jeremy1952:: The best really short book is "River out of Eden

Chris OConnor:: I liked Voyage of the Beagle. I wanted to become a Naturalist after the first chapter!

PeterDF:: I found out that he had anticipated one of the ideas in my book. So I thought I'd better read all of his (main) stuff to find out if he said anything else that might help

Jeremy1952:: Lol, sounds wise Peter

Chris OConnor:: Please join the thread in the BookTalk Development forum you guys

Chris OConnor:: I will create it after leaving here.

MadArchitect:: Out of interest, is PeterDF someone I should know or recognize?

Jeremy1952:: "The Blind Watchmaker" has more depth, but it's a tad dated: 1987 I think

ecstian:: detail is good, as long as it is understandable

MadArchitect:: that didn't sound nearly as diplomatic as I meant it to be

Chris OConnor:: I'll include all this chat in the transcript too. Visitors to BookTalk will get a glimpse into what we discuss and who we all are

Jeremy1952:: Extended Phenotype would be my recommendation then ecstian

Chris OConnor:: Thanks for everything folks. This was a great chat session.

Jeremy1952:: bye Chris

Chris OConnor:: I'm out.

PeterDF:: No no-one's ever heard of me!!!

MadArchitect:: I think the problem with reading more recent primers on evolution is that they'll almost invariably have some slant due to the political. probably best to start with Darwin himself and branch out from there

ecstian: who is the author, Jeremy?

Jeremy1952: I disagree MadArchitect

Jeremy1952: Darwin is simply too old to start with

MadArchitect: Peter, then we belong to the same club. It's an odd one, where most of the members are unaware of their fellows

Jeremy1952: Many mistakes and things that were not known.

Jeremy1952: All Richard Dawkins, ecstian. Can you tell who my favorite author is?

MadArchitect: reading mistakes is fine, so long as you're dedicated enough to read the corrections as well

MadArchitect: Dawkins is a perfect example of an author who has politicized evolutionary theory

Jeremy1952: I am a big fan of everyone reading Darwin, but not as a primer.

Jeremy1952: I don't think he's politicized it at all

PeterDF: There is a new little book out by Mark Ridley (How to read Darwin) it is easy to follow and it will help put Darwin's work into context - much of it is only of historical interest now.


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