Ludwig Wittgenstein in his youth. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As Wittgenstein put it in the “The Blue Book”:
Our craving for generality has [as one] source … our preoccupation with the method of science. I mean the method of reducing the explanation of natural phenomena to the smallest possible number of primitive natural laws; and, in mathematics, of unifying the treatment of different topics by using a generalization. Philosophers constantly see the method of science before their eyes, and are irresistibly tempted to ask and answer in the way science does. This tendency is the real source of metaphysics, and leads the philosopher into complete darkness. I want to say here that it can never be our job to reduce anything to anything, or to explain anything. Philosophy really is “purely descriptive.
Part one of the debate here.
Part two is here.
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A reader asked me about how to obtain Bob’s book on the bible. The answer my friend is here:
Download a free copy here.
One comment on the book:
“READING THE BIBLE: Intention, Text, Interpretation was exactly the text I wanted to bridge the ever-widening gap between the ancient stories and contemporary students. I used the book in a second-year university course which studied the influence of the King James Bible on two 20th-century fiction writers: Howard O’Hagan (Western Canada) and Flannery O’Connor (Southern U.S.). Robert Lane has a unique gift for both interpreting key passages/motifs, and putting them into 21st-century perspective. Virtually every student in the class at some point remarked that this book made it possible to finally understand where much of our modern literature comes from. Lane’s style—a combination of meticulous scholarship and humourous personal anecdote—makes it accessible to all students and does much to correct the woeful ignorance in our society about this critical topic. I highly recommend this text for any university course, including graduate level, which is concerned with the literary, cultural, and mythological aspects of the Bible.
Reviewed by Richard Arnold, Ph.D., Professor of English, Vancouver Island University”
Or, Amazon has some copies if you don’t like free!
Suppose you’re traveling to work and you see a stop sign. What do you do?
That depends on how you exegete the stop sign.
- A postmodernist deconstructs the sign (knocks it over with his car), ending forever the tyranny of the north-south traffic over the east-west traffic.
- Similarly, a Marxist sees a stop sign as an instrument of class conflict. He concludes that the bourgeoisie use the north-south road and obstruct the progress of the workers on the east-west road.
- A serious and educated Catholic believes that he cannot understand the stop sign apart from its interpretive community and their tradition. Observing that the interpretive community doesn’t take it too seriously, he doesn’t feel obligated to take it too seriously either.
- An average Catholic (or Orthodox or Coptic or Anglican or Methodist or Presbyterian or whatever) doesn’t bother to read the sign but he’ll stop if the car in front of him does.
- A fundamentalist, taking the text very literally, stops at the stop sign and waits for it to tell him to go.
- A preacher might look up “STOP” in his lexicons of English and discover that it can mean: 1) something which prevents motion, such as a plug for a drain, or a block of wood that prevents a door from closing; 2) a location where a train or bus lets off passengers. The main point of his sermon the following Sunday on this text is: when you see a stop sign, it is a place where traffic is naturally clogged, so it is a good place to let off passengers from your car.
- An orthodox Jew does one of two things:1) Take another route to work that doesn’t have a stop sign so that he doesn’t run the risk of disobeying the Law.
2) Stop at the stop sign, say “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, king of the universe, who hast given us thy commandment to stop,” wait 3 seconds according to his watch, and then proceed.
- A Pharisee does the same thing as an orthodox Jew, except that he waits 10 seconds instead of 3. He also replaces his brake lights with 1000 watt searchlights and connects his horn so that it is activated whenever he touches the brake pedal.
- A scholar from Jesus seminar concludes that the passage “STOP” undoubtedly was never uttered by Jesus himself, but belongs entirely to stage III of the gospel tradition, when the church was first confronted by traffic in its parking lot.
- A NT scholar notices that there is no stop sign on Mark street but there is one on Matthew and Luke streets, and concludes that the ones on Luke and Matthew streets are both copied from a sign on a completely hypothetical street called “Q”. There is an excellent 300 page discussion of speculations on the origin of these stop signs and the differences between the stop signs on Matthew and Luke street in the scholar’s commentary on the passage. There is an unfortunately omission in the commentary, however; the author apparently forgot to explain what the text means.
Though we can’t prove the existence of one (or many) god(s), we can provide evidence for the power of religion. For good or for evil, faith factors into our everyday lives in one way or another. We’ve evolved to believe. But it is also clear that extremist beliefs can have terrible consequences.
I won’t go through a list of the evils that religion can support or contribute to, for all you need to look at for a history of evil is most any “holy scripture” describing “holy” wars and destruction (the one I am most familiar with is “The Book of Judges” in the Hebrew Bible). Or, your daily newspaper or twitter feed.
Here are several articles: (Yes, there will be a quiz! )