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Preface to What is Good?
https://www.booktalk.org/preface-to-what-is-good-t3360.html
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Author:  Chris OConnor [ Wed Sep 01, 2004 3:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Preface to What is Good?

This thread is for discussing the Preface to What is Good? The Search for the Best Way to Live. You can post within this framework or create your own threads.

Chris

"For Every Winner, There Are Dozens Of Losers. Odds Are You're One Of Them"


Author:  Chris OConnor [ Fri Sep 03, 2004 11:37 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Preface to What is Good?

Quote:
...one of the greatest pleasures of the good life: reading.

Perhaps Grayling will help us, either directly or indirectly, work up the perfect mission statement for our community.

Chris

"For Every Winner, There Are Dozens Of Losers. Odds Are You're One Of Them"


Author:  PeterDF [ Sat Sep 04, 2004 6:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Preface to What is Good?

Reading the Preface again it seems that the principle focus of his attack is religious fundamentalism rather than religion per se, although he does develop his arguments against theism further on in the book. I have an idea floating around in my mind somewhere that he likes Antonio Damasio's work (I can't remember whether I read this somewhere or whether he mentioned him in the talk he gave). It will be interesting to find out what he thinks of deism or pantheism. (If you've read my discussions on the "Looking For Spinoza" discussion you will know that I don't like Damassio's approach at all.)

If he agrees to participate in a chat it will be interesting to find out how he feels about Richard Dawkins' radical anti-religious crusade. (Grayling has a much less confrontational personality than Dawkins.)

I'm really looking forward to this discussion it should be great fun.


Author:  ginof [ Wed Sep 15, 2004 1:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Preface to What is Good?

Hey! I feel this guy has 'stolen' my religion! As a member of the American Ethical Union (www.aeu.org), I think the last paragraph on page x sums up exactly why I'm a humanist!

Much better than attacking the enlitenment! Kudo's to the group for picking books with such contrasting viewpoints one after the other.


Author:  Jeremy1952 [ Wed Sep 22, 2004 12:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Preface to What is Good?

Just received my copy a few minutes ago and concur with ginof; these two books certainly make a good combination.


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


Author:  Chris OConnor [ Mon Oct 18, 2004 12:07 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Preface to What is Good?

Peter

Quote:
Grayling has a much less confrontational personality than Dawkins.


I think almost everyone has a less confrontational personality than Dawkins. Perhaps this is why I like Dawkins so much. You've got to meet him in person and see his enthusiasm and passion for science and reason to fully appreciate his personality.

Chris


"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandella


Author:  Chris OConnor [ Mon Oct 18, 2004 12:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Preface to What is Good?

In the Preface Grayling sums up his thesis as follows:

Quote:
...mankind's quest for the good has been a struggle between humanism, on the one hand, and religious conceptions of the world, on the other hand. The latter have proved resistant in the face of efforts by the former to free not just the imagination but the very life of man from the authority of religious world views, whether in the classical epoch, the Renaissance, or the eighteenth century and since. The durability of religious views might be variously explained, but one main historical reason is that most people are naturally superstitious and insufficiently reflective, and that religious hierarchies have been successful in getting political power or at least influence, as demonstrated by Christianity through most of its history -- and as Islam likewise, and contemporary fundamentalism of various kinds of India, Israel and the United States.


and then he continues with the real thrust of his argument!

Quote:
As these remarks more than hint, the point I make is a partisan one. My claim is that most human progress has occurred in the face of religious reaction, and that most human suffering other than that caused by disease or other natural evils has been the result of religion-inspired conflict and religion-based oppression.

While Dawkins may be much more confrontational than Grayling, these two gentlemen share the same sentiment towards religion.

Chris


"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." - Nelson Mandella


Author:  scrumfish [ Sat Jan 08, 2005 3:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Preface to What is Good?

While reading the preface, I was struck by the following:
Quote:
But it has to be acknowledged that much recent philosophical writing is for specialist readers only, a fact that is in one way a great pity, but that in another is an inevitable result of the endeavour to gain increments of understanding of ourselves, our world and our thought by work of uncompromising analytical care -which has the inevitable tendency of multiplying fine distinctions,complicated theories,and an impenetrable (from the outside) jargon in which to discuss them.

Religion makes itself accessible to the average person. One does not have to spend years reading about theories in order to join a religion. Religions are willing to spoon feed people who want to join. It offers ready made answers that a person doesn't have to think about.

On the other hand, when one chooses to reject the canned answers to life's difficult questions that religions provide, the person must find those answers elsewhere. This usually involves a lot of work in the form of researching possibilities and self-reflection. There is no one right place to look for answers, unlike Christianity, which has an official manual.

In the philosophy classes I have taken, there has always been at least one person who doesn't want to do any thinking. That person always says, "Why should we discuss this? We're not going to agree anyway." The person has no desire to take a critical look at his own beliefs, and doesn't even understand why anyone would want to expend so much energy examining questions that can be so easily answered by accepting the answers taught by the Christian church.

Can humanism ever hope to become more popular than religion without a canned manual of life's questions and answers? It will never have one, because humanism is continually changing because of the self-examination of humanists. Another disadvantage that it has is that most humanists seem to have a live and let live philosophy. Everyone I know that is not a Christian would never try to change someone else's religion; they believe it is a personal choice that each person should make for themselves. Christians, on the other hand, have a mandate to convert other people. Maybe Dawkins has the right idea.


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