Weekend reading

A few articles worthy of your attention: R. J. Stove, conservative writer and son of the late conservative atheist philosopher David Stove, writes movingly of his parents and of his conversion to Catholicism.

Some Aristotelian metaphysics: David Oderberg’s article “Essence and Properties,” from the latest issue of Erkenntnis.  

More metaphysics: A review of philosopher Crawford Elder’s important new book Familiar Objects and Their Shadows, a defense of commonsense realism.

In his recent book Aping Mankind: Neuromania, Darwinitis and the Misrepresentation of Humanity, atheist polymath philosopher Raymond Tallis takes out the “neurotrash” that passes these days for the scientific study of human nature.  One response to Tallis cited in the Chronicle article stands out for its sheer comedy value: 

Perhaps the harshest reaction comes from [Daniel] Dennett, an influential U.S. philosopher whose books square human life with science.  He sympathizes with Tallis's concerns.  But what every philosopher should know is that any philosopher—Plato, Hume, Kant, take your pick—"can be made to look like a flaming idiot if you oversimplify and caricature them," Dennett tells me.

"Tallis indulges in refutation by caricature," says Dennett, a professor of philosophy and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University.  "He's not taking his opponents seriously.  He's sneering instead of arguing.  He's ignoring the complexities of the arguments.  So he's not really doing philosophy.  He's doing propaganda." 

Why, one would almost think Dennett was talking about the author of Breaking the Spell -- who, as someone once showed, has nothing to offer in the way of criticism of the philosophical arguments for theism except oversimplification and caricature. 

This sort of hypocritical whining is nothing new from Dennett.  He may just be the most self-unaware human being on the planet.
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