A BOOK REVIEW THAT MAY BE OF INTEREST TO TEACHERS
1. The mentality of a person who lives inside a closed system of thought, can be summed up in a single formula, "He can prove everything he believes and he believes everything he can prove". The closed system sharpens the faculties of the mind, like an over-efficient grindstone to a brittle edge, it produces a scholastic Talmudic, hair-splitting, brand of cleverness, which affords no protection against committing the crudest imbecilities. People with this mentality are found, particularly often, among the Intelligentsia. I like to call them the Clever Imbeciles an expression, which I do not consider offensive as I was one of them. Koestler. See ‘Bricks to Babel’.
2. The Author (removed for privacy. His details of fame and Universities where he taught)
3. The Author writes "Nietzsche’s works are a glorious exhibition of the soul of a man, who might, if anybody can, be called creative".
"The object is to attain that enormous energy of greatness, which can model man of the future, by means of discipline, and also, by means of the annihilation of millions. And, which can yet avoid going to ruin at the sight of the suffering created, thereby, the like of which has never been seen before, a vast new aristocracy based upon the most severe self discipline, in which the will of philosophical men of power and artist-tyrants will be stamped upon for thousands of years".
4. Author writes, "I must reiterate that Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche, are thinkers of the highest order".
"It is mere illusion and pretty sentiment to expect much (even anything at all) from mankind, if it forgets how to make war. Yet no means are known which call so much into action as a Great War. That rough energy born of the camp, that deep impersonality born of hatred that conscience born of murder, and cold-bloodiness, that fervour born of effort in the annihilation of the enemy, that proud indifference to loss to one’s own existence to that of one’s fellows. That earthquake like souls shaking, which a people need when it is (mankind) losing its vitality".
5. Let us take a brief look at Rousseau (1712-1778) another of The Author’s "Thinkers of the very highest order"!
Rousseau was a key figure in the making of what is called Romanticism, which of course has nothing to do with love. Rousseau’s teaching in modern parlance was "If it feels good, do it". In fact, Rousseau was so romantic that he abandoned the five children he had by his mistress to the foundling hospital, the condition of which in those days is best left to the imagination. Historians consider his intellectual influence to have been mostly pernicious in its effect.
Kant (1724-1804) and Hegel (1770-1831) make up The Author’s quartet. But, why not Galileo and Darwin? ‘They Turned the World Around’ (on this blog). But, Kant and Hegel left it much as they found it. Galileo and Darwin are not to the Author’s taste! Perhaps they offend his religious susceptibility, which is so strangely impervious to the advocates of genocide and licentiousness.
But, Belief can cause Blindness
Much of The Author’s book is a mixture of theological dogmatism and verbose obscurity. One seldom knows quite where he stands, but when he does, it is clearly on the wrong spot.
For example The Author pontificates "Reason cannot establish values and its belief that it can is the stupidest and most pernicious illusion".
If reason cannot establish values, what is the substitute? Values established by unreason will not bear examination.
The Sleep of Reason Brings Forth Monsters
The reader despairs when The Author states "The faith in God and the belief in miracles, are closer to the truth than any scientific explanation.
Which God? There are and have been so many! Which miracles? The Virgin Births or reincarnation as an insect! And, what truth, Genesis or Evolution? Discretely he does not say.
9. The Author’s book contains so many curiosities that many pages would be needed to list them. But, the one I found most amazing is on page…
"The sanctity of human nature. That must not be mastered". The sanctity of human nature is displayed for all to see, on every gory page of our history and in tomorrow’s newspapers. Those who try to master it are usually murdered for their efforts.
10. Despite all the questions in his book The Author’s attack on the self-degrading worship of the primitive, uncouth, and the problems of illiteracy. These are hideous stains on Western Democracies, and in my opinion, these attacks are fully justified.
But there is money in muck, much money, and the communication revolution spreads muck widely, thickly, quickly, and profitably. We may all drown in it, but leaky life rafts like the Author’s will not save the young or us.
11. The Author denigrates Science, which he does confuse with Technology, and is ambivalent towards the Enlightenment. Has it not occurred to him, that no Enlightenment means no Science and consequently no medicine or surgery for millions that is worth a damn. No Enlightenment means a secret universe, a closed mind and an early death.
12. I note that the Author’s book received laudatory reviews, in reputable newspapers and periodicals. Perhaps the Educators need Educating. A dose of Karl Popper, Jacob Bronowski, and Carl Sagan might help them.
13. Bronowski summarised his scientific humanism in his monumental television series ‘The Ascent of Man’. Speaking in Auschwitz he said, "When people believe that they have absolute knowledge, with no test in reality, this is how they behave. This is what men do, when they aspire to the knowledge of the gods. Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known, we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgement in science stands on the edge of error and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know, although we are fallible. We have to curve ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people".
The theology of The Author or the Philosophy of Bronowski?
The educators must choose.
They don’t mix!
Religious Affairs Correspondent,
1 Pennington Street, London. Bl 9XN,
17th April 1989
1 Pennington Street, London. Bl 9XN,
17th April 1989
Before a friend sent me your article ‘Inquest on the Enlightenment’ from The Times of March 5th, I had a sneaking sympathy for religionists. Not such bad chaps really, they mean well. Now all sympathy has gone. You have demonstrated once again that sincere and articulate believers, will stop at little, in order to confuse and to convert others.
To achieve these objectives you use innuendo, half-truth, and falsehood. You serve up this poisonous cocktail, in an attractive opaque glass that conceals the ingredients, even from yourself, I suspect, for I am sure you are an honorable man.
Let us analyze your cocktail.
"No one would defend to the death the Nazis right to drive six million Jews with campaigns of words, as much as with gangs of thugs into the gas chambers". You intend, it appears, to encourage the idea that freedom of expression, if we do not watch out, it may lead to mass murder. Ergo, freedom of expression must be limited.
You do not mean the peddling of pornography to children and the like, but I think that you have more in mind; the censorship of books that criticize religion or offend believers. The libraries are full of them "Want to have a bonfire Mr.…………….Want to burn at the stake the distinguished philosophers, scholars, and scientists, who consider Jesus a myth. Christianity wicked, and Islam, cruel and bloodthirsty"?
No, I am sure, you do not. But gentle Christians not so long ago exulted in the delights of torture, and the smell of frying human flesh in God’s name, which made it all right. The Inquisition was a fact, a hideous Pre-Enlightenment, Christian fact. Read all about it again tonight and sweet dreams. Saving souls and fighting for gods can be a bloody business, and is not for the faint-hearted or squeamish. It was, and is, an honorable occupation for Catholics, Protestants, Shiites, Sunnites, Hindus, Sikhs, and … All those religions entitled to our deepest respect. See your Times, any day, for reports of Soldiers are marching as to war, with the cross or crescent going on before. God is on our side and heaven is waiting for us. Do I detect a causal connection between gods, religions, and wars; an unholy trinity, so to speak? Theologians may not, but any half-wit can.
(I would include secular gods and religions, but that is another matter).
Human Rights is virtually a dogma of the …….. Church, only half a dogma and a very recent one. You forgot to mention the other half, the half which says, that condoms are an invention of the devil, let the mother die and save the baby, stay with your spouse forever, even if your marriage is a disaster. For the rich of course, special arrangements are available.
Your, Charter of Human Rights is not worth the paper it is written on. Why not tell the whole truth Mr………….
Science is riddled with dogma. Who says so? A Bishop that you admire? I would wager that the said Bishop could not tell a quark from a quasar or a chromosome from a canary, and yet he pretends to know how scientists think! But I do know how the Bishop thinks. It goes something like this,
"My religion is riddled with dogma and science is a danger to religion. If I can prove that science is a no better guide to truth, than is religion, then science becomes less of a danger. If I can convince the Non-Scientists, most people that science is a con trick, they will fall for the faith".
Faith whose divisive and destructive power, recorded on almost every page of history. The Bishop does not see this, otherwise he would be in a different business.
But, science is not about dogma, I know it, you know it, and the Bishop knows it. Science is about doubt. Science has neither sacred truths, nor holy books that pretend to give answers to everything. Science is skepticism, and that is why you denigrate science and is why the Bishop hates it.
To infer that science is riddled with dogma is Mr.………being economical with the truth. But, let us dig a little deeper into your article, ‘Inquest on the Enlightenment’. Press the button on your time machine and travel back to lovely Pre-Enlightenment English Villages and look around. What you want to see is happy yokels, quaffing ale and planting turnips, whilst their pretty wives and daughters dance round the Maypole. The Church bells, a ringing merrily in the background.
What you will actually see, is men working from dawn to dusk for a pittance. Their wives worn out at thirty from drudgery and childbearing, and their unwanted illiterate daughters shivering in hovels, so dank, dark, and cold that you could not put a pig in them to day. You would see Churches everywhere, but no schools, holy books no one reading them, for few could read or write, but they all believed in God. Their souls were safe, they knew their place and a Parson was always their to tell them about Heaven, and about Hell for the wicked. The nature of wickedness, being determined from time to time, by the sovereign and senior churchmen : in a secret session.
By the way, did you see the new Children’s Hospital? It was hidden behind the workhouse and the debtor’s prison. The leper with the rattle would have shown you the way for a penny.
No your article does not impress me.
Would you and your co-religionists have us marching backwards, with flying flags and beating drums to the good old days; when bigots lighted faggots to burn the men who dared to bring knowledge and enlightenment to the human mind? Maybe you would Mr.………., just to rescue religion from those devils, Galileo and Darwin. To revert to your philosophy of "Prior Truth", which is as full of holes as a fishing net.
What "Prior Truth"?
The damnation of unbaptized infants? A Geocentric Universe upon pain of death? Prior Lie may be more to the point. But, if you mean the "Prior Truth" of altruism, then to infer that this is a religious or Christian discovery, is indeed, to turn truth upside down; even dogs and dolphins display it, let alone atheistic sages advocating it many centuries before Christianity.
The Inquest on the Enlightenment, it cannot yet be said, "That there is a corpse". Do I smell a half-truth of wishful thinking? Forbid that you should fall ill or have an accident or require a hip replacement, a pacemaker or a heart by-pass, or the like. If you do, remember the fantastic surgery you will receive is only one post enlightenment, scientific miracle of far more benefit to humanity than any that the Christians are supposed to believe in. No Enlightenment, means no Science and consequently, no medicine for millions that is worth a damn. No Enlightenment, means a secret universe, a closed mind, and an early death. Think again, before you knock the "Enlightenment", and think hard Mr.……………….
The Daily Telegraph,
135, Fleet Street,
11th April 1980
Never have I read so much claptrap about Evolution, Gods, and Wars that has appeared in your columns recently. The following is nearer to the truth.
The physical world is not illusory – animals, stones, and stars, would be as they are and would continue to exist, without humans to perceive and describe them. Animals eat each other to survive, and the stones, and the stars are just a load of decaying or burning rubbish. About 15 billion years ago, for no conceivable reason an explosion took place, making the stones and the stars. By chance, a relatively short time back, living matter began on our insignificant planet and possibly elsewhere, given time, your number always comes up. Humans are animals, possessing an electrical system of sufficient complexity to make self-knowledge possible, future computers may have this facility.
Primitive ‘monkey-men’ attributed important happenings in their world (lightning, floods, death etc.) to Gods and ‘smarter monkey’ men, manipulated ‘sillier monkey-men’, by telling them all kinds of scary stories.
Well told stories too, because the storytellers were hooked on these stories!
We are the descendants of these monkey-men and Marxism, all Religion’s, are just dressed-up versions of the stories told by our Ancestors, in order to keep the tribe together and thus, eat lunch tomorrow.
Un-brainwashed monkey-men now know metaphysical statements to be mostly nonsense, unrelated to the real world of stones and stars. Brainwashed monkey-men leaders are as scared as hell of the un-brainwashed monkey men and would like to fix them.
The interesting question is, "What happens next and when"?
Watch from the sidelines, if you can arrange to, it will be safer. Monkey-men are dangerous!
Who Are Our The Latest ‘Monkey Men and Women’?
Lots of fun, in trying to spot them