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Archive for January, 2010

So, in this article: 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/feb/21/religion.highereducation

the Guardian notes how there has been a resurgence of determined anti-Darwinists in the schools in England, who are intentionally putting down answers on their biology tests which challenge Darwinian orthodoxy, knowing that they might lose scholarships and fail to enter college if they do so.  They are viewing it as an exercise of religious courage, and a deliberate challenge to what they see as a ‘tyranny of science.’  The only problem is, of course, that their views have long since been logically demolished by centuries of scientific advance:  these people will fly in airplanes, but essentially disbelieve a lot of the science which keeps them in the air!  One cannot disbelieve parts of science:  one cannot disbelieve some parts of biology, in other words, without having to disbelieve some of the laws of chemistry, and some of the laws of physics, since they are all interconnected.  And in order to disbelieve some of geology (say, the moving of the tectonic plates), one once again has to disbelieve so much physical evidence, and so many laws of physics, chemistry, and biology, that one might as well assert the existence of Willy Wonka. (more…)

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So, given the recent Mass. defeat for democrats, one is again reminded how Fox, Rush, and the rest of the right wing media serves as a mouthpiece for large corporations, who actively promote those slogans which will most appeal to the basest fears and paranoia of ‘heartland folk’, thus ensuring that the corporate .01% now enjoy the backing of over 50% of the populace, even though republican policies have in the last decade been the principal cause of

a) declining living standards in the US

b) a greater gap between rich and poor

c)  greater violence and paranoia in the US

d)  horrific work hours, gestapo-like supervision, high job stress, and high job insecurity for the great majority,

and

e)  general increased misery for the vast majority of the populace 

This is because 51% percent of the populace (or more) continues to swallow the following arguments (I’m sure you can come up with more)….

1.  All government intervention is socialism. (more…)

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So one of the goals of The Platonist is to help spread the notion that even though God may be officially dead, we are all in fact human, and therefore, certain aesthetic princples are nearly universal, even though they are anchored only in our common human experience, rather than in any absolute idea, as Plato, and more particularly, the Platonists, whose philosophy underpinned Christianity and Kabbalist Judaism and Islam suggested.

You can read about this on the ‘our journey’ page, and my post on why aesthetics matter. 

But one of my students reminded me the other day, that the last time we as a society subscribed to these moral absolutes, they were used to bolster most of the things that we now consider to be antithetical to democracy and freedom:  i.e., patriarchy, racism (white supremacy), nationalism, etc.  In other words, moral absolutes can very subtly be used to shore up the position that one group (in this case wealthy educated europeans) were superior to everyone else in the world – not only b/c they had superior technology, but, invidiously, because they were morally superior–e.g., their christianity, their ‘kindness’ their ‘nobility’ made them better, and thus more suited to rule, and this is why they had risen to a position of global dominance.  Again, a very nice story – and one that sounds a lot like medieval science creating a cosmos which was perfectly suited to the worldview of medieval catholicism. (more…)

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I’ve written in my posts “why study history” and “why study the liberal arts” that the reason why the liberal arts are in university (and indeed have always been the core of the university curriculum up to the 1960s), is because they are, in fact, sciences.  That is, they use reason and logic to continually aim at furthering our knowledge in all those fields which have to do with human society, mentality, culture, and art.  These subjects have historically been the foundation of philosophy.  Historically, science evolved from philosophy – without philosophy, there can be no science.  Those who know the history of science know this well–unfortunately, this is not taught enough–yet.

In any event, the arts are key to understanding everything about human society, and how people interact with each other, and culture, including politics, economics, psychology, and a lot of other obviously ‘useful’ subjects.  But many will balk at studying things like “English” (or art history), because they seem to be merely studying cultural artefacts.  How useful can it be, in the case of English, to know all about a bunch of poems and stories? (more…)

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So viewing friends of freinds’ profiles on facebook, I am reminded of the fact that there are quite a few Americans who consider themselves to be ‘libertarian.’  Many of the strongest proponents of this idea are people who have gone through a business school, and gotten a degree in any of the majors such as marketing, economics, advertising, finance, accounting, etc., that these schools offer.  In the netherlands, these are clearly understood to be vocational degrees, and so one finds no business schools at the universities.  In the US, business schools have gotten themselves attached to universities, and so business degrees have a corresponding prestige which perhaps they should not.  This is because, the average person in business school is not shown the whole range of possible approaches to their subject, (and, crucially, almost no history of their subject), but rather only those approaches which will make them a productive servant of a company.  A company’s main purpose is to sell as much product as possible, with the understanding that this will make as much profit as possible.  Thus, all vocational learning at business school is almost exclusively focused on this one end.  I should know, as my dad taught in one of the better business schools in the country for over 30 years, and I basically grew up there. (more…)

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