Dinesh

Dinesh

Posted on 01/17/2016


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The Age of Atheists
Author
Peter Watson


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Richard Rorty quoted by Peter Watson *

Richard Rorty quoted by Peter Watson *
In his book "The Age of Atheists"

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Dinesh
Dinesh
Richard Rorty.........., agreed with Nagel that the aim of life is full awareness, but was convinced that it can be achieved only via our relations with other people. "The candidate for the most praiseworthy human capacity," he said prefiguring Sam Harris and Matt Ridley, "is the ability to trust and cooperate with others." We must abandon the search for something stable outside of us and that we think provides us with an independent criterion for judging. On the contrary, there are no unconditional, transcultural moral obligations, rooted in an unchanging, ahistorical human nature. Being Darwinian, he said, means accepting a world where the aim is to devise tools that help us have less pain and more pleasure. By this account, the benefits of space travel and modern astronomy "outweigh the advantages of Christian fundamentalism" ~ Page 512

Truth is not the goal of inquiry, whatever the churches or secular scholarship tells us. "The purpose of inquiry is to achieve agreement among human beings about what to do. All areas of culture are parts of the same endeavor to make life better." The Enlightenment was mistaken when in replaced the idea of supernatural guidance with the idea of a "quasi divine" faculty called "Reason". Reason involves choice and choice is invariably a compromise between competing goods, not between absolute right and absolute wrong; and the same applies to moral struggle. Likewise, the struggle for existence -- there is no invisible tribunal of reason, just as there is no God. In this way we must hope that the human race will gradually come together as a community -- this will be an evolutionary achievement, with consequences. We like to take about our responsibility to truth or reason, but this must now be replaced by our responsibility to our fellow human beings.

Rorty believed that there has been, or is or ought to be, a paradigm shift from metaphysics to what he called "weak thought." Whereas the metaphysical tradition has been dominated by the idea that there is something non-human that human beings should to try to live up to, something grand and all-encompassing that provides the largest possible framework for discourse, "weak thought" acknowledges its limitation and "just want to make finite little changes," piecemeal reformations rather than intellectual revolutions. Instead of claiming that their ideas stem from something profound, advocates, of "weak thought" "put forward their ideas as suggestions that might be of use for certain particular purposes."

Truth is not the goal of enquiry, whatever the churches or secular scholarship tell us. "The purpose of inquiry is to achieve agreement among human beings about what to do. All areas of culture are parts of the same endeavor to make life better." The Enlightenment was mistaken when it replaced the idea of supernatural guidance with the idea of a "quasi-divine" faculty called "reason" reason involves choice and choice is invariably a compromise between competing goods, not between absolute right and absolute wrong, and the same applies to moral struggle. Likewise, the struggle for existence -- there is no invisible tribunal of reason, just as there is no God. In this way we must hope that the human race will gradually come together as a community -- this will be an evolutionary achievement, with consequences. We like to talk about our responsibility to truth or reason, but this must now be replaced by our responsibility to our fellow human beings.

Rorty believed that there has been, or is or ought to be, a paradigm shift from metaphysics to what is called "weak thought." Whereas the metaphysical tradition has been dominated by the idea that there is something non-human that human beings should try to live up to, something grand and all-encompassing that provides the largest possible framework for discourse, "weak thought" acknowledges its limitations and "just want to make finite little changes," piecemeal reformulations rather than intellectual revolutions. Instead of claiming that their ideas stem from something profound, advocates of "weak thought" put forward their idea as suggestions that might be of use for certain particular purposes."

....... Believers need to justify their beliefs arises only when their habits of actions interfere with the fulfillment of other's needs. This means that religion is inevitably privatized. If a private relationship with God is not accompanied by claims of knowledge of divine will, there may be no conflict between religion and utilitarian ethics. But there is a duty not to believe with evidence: "A belief accepted without evidence is a stolen pleasure" ~ Page 513

Science gives us the ability to predict and control, religion holds up before us a larger hope, something to live for (Rorty's words). "To ask which of the two accounts of the universe is true may be as pointless as asking: Is the carpenter's or the particles physicist's account of tables the true one? Neither needs to be answered if they can keep out of each other's way." Moreover, people have a right to faith, just as they have a right to fall in love, to marry in haste and to persist in love despite endless sorrow and disappointment. ~ Page 514

....... At one point in our history, he says, to be religious and to be imaginative were the same thing. But things are different now, because of human beings success (however slow at times) in making their lives and their world less wretched. It is non-religious forms of inspiration that have brought us to this point. ~ Page 515

....... Progress, as Rorty defines it, is in fact nothing more than an idea absurd to one generation that becomes common sense to the next. In any case, we shall never be "purified" or perfected because we can never do more than tinker with ourselves. Which in turn sabotages the idea of redemption and redemptive truth, the need to fit everything into a single context, the true realm beyond appearances. For there is no one true realm -- as Harold Bloom said, the point of reading a great many books is to realize that there is an infinity of viewpoints, all more or less equally valid. ~ Page 515

Rorty observed that the question "Is is true?" was being replaced by "What's new?" and that worked for him because "A life not lived close to these limits is not worth living." The aim of life is the enlargement of the self; by our joint effort more and more ways of being human are becoming available. "Intellectual and moral progress is not a matter of getting closer to an antecedent goal, but of surpassing the past. Increased knowledge is not an increased access to the Real, but an increased ability to do things, to make possible richer and fuller lives.... We shall never fine descriptions so perfect that imaginative re-description will become pointless.... Men should walk as prophecies of the next age, rather than in the fear of God or in the light reason." ~ Page 516
21 months ago.