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Bloggingheads 12-21-2011 02:12 AM

The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 

Hume's Bastard 12-21-2011 05:15 AM

Some NK Background
 
I felt after two diavlog segments on North Korea and KJI's demise, the bh family needed some background. I'm actually feeling quite chipper about the odious monster's demise. In no small measure he was one reason I had to serve in Korea, and I can't help but believe I helped in some insignificant way to cause him the stress that stopped his heart beating. I've been blogging this issue deep in the bowls of the Korea expat blogosphere, and commenting on Korean and a Japanese blog, too. I'm exhausted. But, I'm seeing this event as a cue, finally to end any interest or professional association with North Korea after all these years. I'm declaring my own small victory.

I urge everyone not to let the ideological spectrum, whether Korean or domestic American, to frame their perspective. Yes, these are all my site's URLs, but there are plenty of other sites buried in there. I've read, watched, and listened to so mch more, but a lot of material is perfunctory, or worse, crap. Particularly, I recommend "The Marmot's Hole" (but be forewarned about the "spirited" comments section) and "One Free Korea".

http://josephjsteinberg.wordpress.co...portedly-died/

http://josephjsteinberg.wordpress.co...r-north-korea/

http://josephjsteinberg.wordpress.co...g-to-consider/

http://josephjsteinberg.wordpress.co...eaders-demise/

http://josephjsteinberg.wordpress.co...n-condolences/

http://josephjsteinberg.wordpress.co...s-in-the-room/

http://josephjsteinberg.wordpress.co...l-dead-update/

http://josephjsteinberg.wordpress.co...an-generation/

Now, forgive me, I was up late for a family memorial service, so I need to sleep.

Hume's Bastard 12-21-2011 05:27 AM

Hitch and Hell
 
If there is a hell, I think it begins with the sound of an American conservative's voice, like Soltis'. There is nothing more insipid than a college freshman discussion of God's existence. True, Hitchens' and fellow atheists' views were already crippled when Hume wrote Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. But, Hitchens did us a favor by dispatching Mother Theresa or the Catholic hierarchy. The meta issue is just tedious. "Does religion do harm?" is a live question. Americans can understand this: what is the cash value of believing in God?

And, I keep hearing and reading, that "Hitchens was a great stylist, but..." No but's. The main drank and smoked himself to a self-professed goal. He wasn't a clock-puncher.

I think Hitch is in hell now. He failed to sway his peers to do better.

chamblee54 12-21-2011 10:28 AM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
World leaders are dying. The economy continues to founder. Iraq may be going over the edge.
The good news is, Ms. Solstis put her hair back down.
chamblee54

Ocean 12-21-2011 10:52 AM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
And who would want to spend eternity in a place where you can only get in by ass-kissing the boss and not by one's own lifetime merit?

http://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/36/36_22_26.gif

ohreally 12-21-2011 11:01 AM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
American journos, who by and large can't write their way out of a paper bag, were deadly envious of Hitch's nonnegligible literary skills. That said, Hitchens lived in a world of words, not a world of ideas. Logical thinking was not his thing. Abstract concepts were beyond his grasp. And he didn't age well. When your shtick is dining with Wolfowitz and vomiting on Mother Teresa, you ought to know your game is up.

The thought of the humorless, witless Katha Pollitt taking on Hitch's sexism is, well, amusing. When Hitchens wrote that women are not funny, I bet he had an image of Katha and her earnestly dull Nation sisters floating in his scotch-addled head.

Ocean 12-21-2011 11:09 AM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Hoping for Kristen's prompt return to TWiB, both because she's a nice person, and because of the obvious reason she would no longer need to restrain her comments.

chamblee54 12-21-2011 11:42 AM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Mr. Hitchens got lost on the way to his eternal destination. He would not ask for directions.
chamblee54

bkjazfan 12-21-2011 02:46 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Hitchens was a throwback. He did all his writing per an interview I saw with him at a bar using a pencil and pad of paper. No sitting at a comfortable study, taping into a computer, in a roomy home, located in a scenic area.

basman 12-21-2011 03:22 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ohreally (Post 235142)
American journos, who by and large can't write their way out of a paper bag, were deadly envious of Hitch's nonnegligible literary skills. That said, Hitchens lived in a world of words, not a world of ideas. Logical thinking was not his thing. Abstract concepts were beyond his grasp. And he didn't age well. When your shtick is dining with Wolfowitz and vomiting on Mother Teresa, you ought to know your game is up.

The thought of the humorless, witless Katha Pollitt taking on Hitch's sexism is, well, amusing. When Hitchens wrote that women are not funny, I bet he had an image of Katha and her earnestly dull Nation sisters floating in his scotch-addled head.

ohreally, whoever you are, here the handle fits if it's followed by a question mark and then an exclamation point.

Tell me when the anti self satisfied anti imperious medication kicks in.

Everything you say here smacks of your need for these pills.

"American journos" "by and large" write just fine. Give me a few examples of "by and large" reputable ones who don't.

How do you know who was envious of what relating to Hitchens? Evidence please?

"Non negligible" literary skills: what kind of piss ant condescension is this?

Hitchens lived in a world of words not a world of ideas? Whatever are you talking about? Are you saying his rhetoric supplanted analysis? Are you saying he didn't make logical arguments? Are you saying he did not understand well the vast array or subjects he treated? Where do you come to utter such inanity? To make an admittedly credentialist point: can so many public intellectuals be wrong in attributing to him excellence in the very thing you deny him, the formidable breadth and depth of his public reasoning? Again, give me some examples where his conceptual inadequacy shines through, where his "logical thinking" --"not his thing," quite the heights of eloquent expression here, right up there with "jounos" and "shtick"--falls so self evidently apart, where his reach toward abstract concepts exceeds his grasp, prithee?

Reports poured in about Hitchens's ironic humour about his condition, about his unflinching and principled acceptance of it, about how he kept working right till the end, how he valued and lived by the disciplined ethic and principles that serious writing imposes necessarily. You say he didn't age well. Why: because he rightly railed against Mother Theresa who allowed her fanatical Catholicism to stand against remedies that would have helped alleviate the condition of immiserated women, because he spat on the inverted cultural veneration that honoured her, because he had lunch with someone you apparently disagree with and don't like?

Hitchens's game was up the moment he died, not before.

I don't know who Pollitt is so I'll keep an open mind about her. But just by reason of your dismissal of her, I'm going to give her the intellectual benefit of the doubt.

The high horse you think you’re on is but vaporous self regard and self satisfaction, imho.

Itzik Basman

Sulla the Dictator 12-21-2011 03:41 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by basman (Post 235168)
Why: because he rightly railed against Mother Theresa who allowed her fanatical Catholicism to stand against remedies that would have helped alleviate the condition of immiserated women, because he spat on the inverted cultural veneration that honoured her, because he had lunch with someone you apparently disagree with and don't like?

Sorry, but considering how miserable life would be if it were dedicated to tending to the dying in the third world, it is a little undignified to question why the woman does it. There has rarely been a person as selfless as that woman.

miceelf 12-21-2011 05:37 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 235170)
Sorry, but considering how miserable life would be if it were dedicated to tending to the dying in the third world, it is a little undignified to question why the woman does it. There has rarely been a person as selfless as that woman.

well, by your lights she failed at the only human purpose, which is reproduction.

But this is an odd statement coming from you. usually it's the hippy left that thinks in terms of motives rather than outcomes. Did she actually help seems a legitimate question. Had she stayed home and self-flagellated while praying for the dying, she would also have had a miserable life and been "selfless". Would she have done more, less or the same amount of good for the poor?

Simon Willard 12-21-2011 08:03 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by chamblee54 (Post 235139)
The good news is, Ms. Solstis put her hair back down.

I dunno, I thought she had a nice bun.

rcocean 12-21-2011 08:05 PM

Hitch might not be doing so well
 
"course I'm not Rev. Donut but I do read the Good Book and Mathew 7 says:

1 Judge not, that you be not judged.
2 For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what Measure you measure, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why behold you the speck that is in your brother's eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye?
4 Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull the speck out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye?
5 You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the speck out of your brother's eye.

Ouch. Given that Hitch was one unforgiving asshole and always cheer-leading for the death of innocent civilians who happened to live in places he didn't like, Sadaam's Iraq, Nazi Germany, etc, it doesn't look good. I also remember something about not blaspheming against the Holy Spirit and only those who do God's will going to heaven.

Of course, I may have missed that special "Support the Iraq war & go to Heaven" clause.

Simon Willard 12-21-2011 08:08 PM

Re: Hitch might not be doing so well
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rcocean (Post 235212)
1 Judge not, that you be not judged.

Ouch. Given that Hitch was one unforgiving asshole and always cheer-leading for the death of innocent civilians who happened to live in places he didn't like, Sadaam's Iraq, Nazi Germany, etc, it doesn't look good.

Ouch. I think you are judging.

Wm. Blaxton 12-21-2011 08:09 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Hitchens on heaven:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f40TRJl5vvI

"When I was in prep school, I used to wonder what heaven would be like if it really did consist of everlasting praise. Sounded like hell to me. But I couldn't picture it. Nobody can, of course. But I've seen the closest approximate to it, which is North Korea. ...

But at least you can fucking die and leave North Korea. ... Now I say freely, non serviam. I don't want that, and I don't respect anyone who does. ... What a good thing it is that there is no evidence at all for such an obscene proposition."

ohreally 12-21-2011 08:40 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wm. Blaxton (Post 235215)
But at least you can fucking die and leave North Korea. "

Not so sure. Hitchens died, but so did Kim Jong Il. Hitch and the Dear Leader can finally get to know each other.

rcocean 12-21-2011 08:59 PM

I love Kristen's definition of "Right-wing"
 
Lets see:

-Andrew Sullivan (Voted for Obama)
-Chris Buckley (Voted for Obama)
-Bill Bennett - former Democrat and self-described "neo-con" who called Pete Wilson "racist"
-Ross Donut of the New York Times
- Allah Pundit -self described libertarian & social liberal.

Amazing. What, weren't David Frum or Charles Johnson available? They're really "right wing".

Sulla the Dictator 12-21-2011 09:14 PM

Re: I live Kristen's definition of "Right-wing"
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rcocean (Post 235219)
Lets see:

-Andrew Sullivan (Voted for Obama)
-Chris Buckley (Voted for Obama)
-Bill Bennett - former Democrat and self-described "neo-con" who called Pete Wilson "racist"
-Ross Donut of the New York Times
- Allah Pundit -self described libertarian & social liberal.

Amazing. What, weren't David Frum or Charles Johnson available? They're really "right wing".


We should get Mark Zandi's view on it. :)

Andrew Sullivan never ceases to disgust me. Citing him should taint anyone with RINO sympathies.

Sulla the Dictator 12-21-2011 09:24 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by miceelf (Post 235183)
well, by your lights she failed at the only human purpose, which is reproduction.

She certainly failed her only biological purpose. But kudos to her anyway for making up for it with such kindness. If the religion is unwilling to be the Church Militant, it had better become demonstrative in a manner similar to her.

Quote:

But this is an odd statement coming from you. usually it's the hippy left that thinks in terms of motives rather than outcomes. Did she actually help seems a legitimate question.
Certainly. She exists as a shining example of a muscular church, willing to stand with principle. Her life seems to be so miserable as to border on martyrdom as far as I'm concerned.

Quote:

Had she stayed home and self-flagellated while praying for the dying, she would also have had a miserable life and been "selfless". Would she have done more, less or the same amount of good for the poor?
Eh? Do you believe she didn't comfort the sick and dying, even? Tsk tsk.

miceelf 12-21-2011 09:46 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Sulla the Dictator (Post 235224)
Eh? Do you believe she didn't comfort the sick and dying, even? Tsk tsk.

She comforted the sick and dying. The argument goes that she also produced more sick and dying through her efforts. I have no idea how to make the calculus on that. How many sick and dying comforted make up for what number of sick or dying produced?

I have to admit I kind of have a negative ethics in general, as in, first do no harm, so I tend to weight harms more heavily than benefits. This also makes me less open to the notion of redemption than many on my side of the aisle- no matter how much good a murderer does, it doesn't "make up" for lives taken. The negative ethics approach also avoids the worst implications of utilitarianism, which I tend to favor.

sugarkang 12-21-2011 09:55 PM

Re: I live Kristen's definition of "Right-wing"
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rcocean (Post 235219)
Lets see:

-Andrew Sullivan (Voted for Obama)
-Chris Buckley (Voted for Obama)
-Bill Bennett - former Democrat and self-described "neo-con" who called Pete Wilson "racist"
-Ross Donut of the New York Times
- Allah Pundit -self described libertarian & social liberal.

Amazing. What, weren't David Frum or Charles Johnson available? They're really "right wing".

Those are perfect examples of right wingers. After all, Obama is a moderate Republican. Now you know.

rcocean 12-21-2011 10:19 PM

Where's Trooper York?
 
We need someone smart on this thread.

rcocean 12-21-2011 11:02 PM

People who aren't right-wing - per Kristen
 
Anyone who:

- voted for McCain; or
- is against Abortion; or
-is socially conservative; or
-likes Rush Limbaugh; or
-belongs to the Republican party; or
-doesn't live in NYC or DC; or
--didn't love Hitchens.

These kind of people are just c-r-a-z-y or maybe leftists.

I guess.

chamblee54 12-21-2011 11:45 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Simon Willard (Post 235211)
I dunno, I thought she had a nice bun.

This is one disadvantage of the talking head format. For all we know, she might weigh 300 pounds below the waist.
chamblee54

Florian 12-22-2011 06:07 AM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by basman (Post 235168)
Hitchens lived in a world of words not a world of ideas? Whatever are you talking about? Are you saying his rhetoric supplanted analysis? Are you saying he didn't make logical arguments? Are you saying he did not understand well the vast array or subjects he treated? Where do you come to utter such inanity?

Ohreally is known for his hyperbole, but there is certainly some truth to what he said. Hitchens was, I agree, a superior journalist, a superb rhetorician and literary stylist, but...... The last years of his life, filled with tedious proclamations of atheism and even more tedious proclamations of the imperial mission of the United States to bring democracy to Iraq and the Middle East, do not exactly distinguish him as a man of ideas. His arguments against religion were neither profound nor original (his ranting about "Islamofascism" was original but rather crazy); his enthusiasm for the neo-cons and state-building in the Middle East was no more interesting than the radicalism of his youth, when the foreign policy of United States was the root of all evil.

Admittedly he always defended his "ideas" with panache.

stephanie 12-22-2011 10:32 AM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ocean (Post 235143)
Hoping for Kristen's prompt return to TWiB

Agreed. I always enjoy the Bill and Kristen pairing.

basman 12-22-2011 03:08 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 235260)
Ohreally is known for his hyperbole, but there is certainly some truth to what he said. Hitchens was, I agree, a superior journalist, a superb rhetorician and literary stylist, but...... The last years of his life, filled with tedious proclamations of atheism and even more tedious proclamations of the imperial mission of the United States to bring democracy to Iraq and the Middle East, do not exactly distinguish him as a man of ideas. His arguments against religion were neither profound nor original (his ranting about "Islamofascism" was original but rather crazy); his enthusiasm for the neo-cons and state-building in the Middle East was no more interesting than the radicalism of his youth, when the foreign policy of United States was the root of all evil.

Admittedly he always defended his "ideas" with panache.

Well, this response has the virtue of being in the form of an argument with examples.

I'll tender first the distinction between being an academic philosopher (or a non academic one) and being a man of ideas. Obviously, the former is not a necessary condition of the latter.

Secondly, I'll tender the more semantic distinctions between being a man of ideas and a disintguished man of ideas, and between being a man of ideas one agrees with and a man of ideas one disagrees with, the predicate remaining the same nonetheless.

I think Hitchens was knowingly engaged in a kind of culture war against religion and entered the popular fray. If one reads current academic philosophy journals or academic philospophical writings on the existence of God, one, unless an academic philosopher, will quickly become bogged down in the incredibly arcane and the incredibly hair splitting of the incessant logical analysis of propositions. None of the new atheists, to my understanding, claimed originality for their arguments. Rather those I have read, including Hitchens, framed the exisiting arguments, pro and con, in their own way to inveigh and argue against a predominant cultural sensibility sustained by magical thinking and superstititon and replete with example after example of terrible consequences. Here tedium lies in the impatience of the bored, whose boredom I'd respect as much as I'd expect them to respect my interest.

On Hitchens's view of American foreigh policy, he was certainly unmainstream but he was part of a respectable line of argument on these matters and it was good, at least to my ears and eyes, not always agreeing, to hear and read his bracing, counter-conventional, unpietal, unrepentant talk and writing, putting the case he did as well as he did and then listening to and reading good arguments against.

Finally, what Hitchens was, to the end of his days, was a writer as public intellectual. If you travel down his many prose paved roads, it's hard not to be impressed by the breadth and depth of his erudition, his making and refuting of an argument, his compelling sensibility and, as acknowledged, his superb prose.

So I maintain he was to the end a man of ideas.

Here is the estimable George Packer, with no school girl crush on Hitchens, and in fundamental disagreement with him on on the U.S. mid east project, on Hitchens's last decade:

...September 11, 2001, put Hitchens in touch with the molten anti-clericalism that was one of his elemental passions. It burned so hot that he turned it without a second thought at a secular, totalitarian Iraqi dictator. 9/11 gave Hitchens a sense of purpose like nothing since that early intimation, the Rushdie fatwa. It propelled him straight through the last, most productive, most visible decade of his life...

from:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2011/12/christopher-hitchens-and-iraq.html#ixzz1hIN2HVl0

What more can be wanted of a guy?

He can be deeply disagreed with, strongly faulted for his evident warts, but, for sure, and at a minimum, he cannot be easily and callowly dismissed.

Itzik Basman

ohreally 12-22-2011 07:43 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 235260)
Ohreally is known for his hyperbole.

Hyperbolic, moi?

It's too easy to mock Hitchens for his pathological Islamophobia. But take his other passion besides Black Label: atheism. His attack on religion was not just ignorant, illiterate, and wrong -- though it was all of that -- it was juvenile. (And I say this as a nonbeliever.) Juvenile as in worthy of a D+ were it the intellectual output of a college freshman (+ for effort). Hitchens's religious ontology was simple: "I dislike God therefore it does not exist." The Ontological Argument is a fine target at which to aim your fire but if all you've got is that old Kant line that existence is not a predicate you expose yourself to ridicule. Though, to be fair, Dawkins's cosmological argument outdoes Hitch's in lameness. Theologians may be wrong -- very wrong -- but they are not stupid. Anselm and Aquinas were the finest analytic philosophers who ever lived (and yes they WERE analytic philosophers). Hitch assumed they were idiots. To dismiss smart people, especially geniuses, as idiots is a passable definition of idiocy. I don't buy any of the ontological arguments but I like them. They are intellectual gems: my favorite is Goedel's. I suspect -- hell I know -- Hitch had never heard of it and, if he had, it would have passed him by.

Hitchens wanted to be seen as a contrarian. But his ruthless social climbing turned him into little more than a groupie. He was a better writer than George Orwell but I suspect he wanted to be Oscar Wilde or Andre Malraux, a Frenchman he envied and hence, being Hitch, despised. In the end he was neither.

Florian 12-23-2011 05:09 AM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ohreally (Post 235285)
Hitchens wanted to be seen as a contrarian. But his ruthless social climbing turned him into little more than a groupie. He was a better writer than George Orwell but I suspect he wanted to be Oscar Wilde or Andre Malraux, a Frenchman he envied and hence, being Hitch, despised. In the end he was neither.

Yes, I think contrariness sums it up. Shooting off "bons mots" like Oscar.

The comparison with Malraux is interesting too. The political trajectories of both have certain similarities. Mais tandis que Malraux a fini dans son "musée imaginaire," Hitchens a fini dans l'imaginaire tout court.

Mike 12-23-2011 04:59 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ohreally (Post 235285)
Hyperbolic, moi?

It's too easy to mock Hitchens for his pathological Islamophobia. But take his other passion besides Black Label: atheism. His attack on religion was not just ignorant, illiterate, and wrong -- though it was all of that -- it was juvenile. (And I say this as a nonbeliever.) Juvenile as in worthy of a D+ were it the intellectual output of a college freshman (+ for effort). Hitchens's religious ontology was simple: "I dislike God therefore it does not exist." The Ontological Argument is a fine target at which to aim your fire but if all you've got is that old Kant line that existence is not a predicate you expose yourself to ridicule. Though, to be fair, Dawkins's cosmological argument outdoes Hitch's in lameness. Theologians may be wrong -- very wrong -- but they are not stupid. Anselm and Aquinas were the finest analytic philosophers who ever lived (and yes they WERE analytic philosophers). Hitch assumed they were idiots. To dismiss smart people, especially geniuses, as idiots is a passable definition of idiocy. I don't buy any of the ontological arguments but I like them. They are intellectual gems: my favorite is Goedel's. I suspect -- hell I know -- Hitch had never heard of it and, if he had, it would have passed him by.

Hitchens wanted to be seen as a contrarian. But his ruthless social climbing turned him into little more than a groupie. He was a better writer than George Orwell but I suspect he wanted to be Oscar Wilde or Andre Malraux, a Frenchman he envied and hence, being Hitch, despised. In the end he was neither.

The Gödel argument is very good, but I can give Hitchens a pass on not knowing that one. You need a fairly sophisticated understanding of higher order logic to formalize it, for one. Anselm and Aquinas are also quite difficult philosophers in my view who are not given much credit, but a popular writer is not expected to have great insight in technical matters. Of course, this also allows that his views not stand a very rigorous investigation.

That tends to be my dislike of high-profile atheists. Their views are packaged well for mass consumption, but a very basic introduction into philosophy problematizes their ideas beyond repair.

ohreally 12-23-2011 06:21 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mike (Post 235316)
That tends to be my dislike of high-profile atheist.

I have not the slightest issue with someone saying, "I don't believe in God, Christian or otherwise." End of statement. But when the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris want to demonstrate the inexistence of God by mocking the irrationality of older thinkers then they must be held to the same exacting standards Anselm and the rest set themselves to. After all, to shut up is always an option.

Reminds me of vos Savant dismissing Wiles's proof of Fermat because it relied on... hyperbolic geometry, thereby proving that the world's smartest person is in fact a freaking idiot.

ohreally 12-23-2011 06:28 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 235305)
Mais tandis que Malraux a fini dans son "musée imaginaire," Hitchens a fini dans l'imaginaire tout court.

Florian is in top form!

basman 12-23-2011 07:12 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ohreally (Post 235320)
I have not the slightest issue with someone saying, "I don't believe in God, Christian or otherwise." End of statement. But when the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris want to demonstrate the inexistence of God by mocking the irrationality of older thinkers then they must be held to the same exacting standards Anselm and the rest set themselves to. After all, to shut up is always an option.

Reminds me of vos Savant dismissing Wiles's proof of Fermat because it relied on... hyperbolic geometry, thereby proving that the world's smartest person is in fact a freaking idiot.

What a pile of obscurantist horsehit and sheer mystification in hiding behind the impenetrability of ancient philosophers.

Repeat one of their convincing, high order arguments for the existence of God, and I, with no formal training in philosophy save for a couple of undergraduate courses, will be happy to disassemble it for you.

As if any of these old dudes, regardless of the high order of their logic, has anything meaningful to say to us today on the existence of God.

You need to distinguish between the beauty of self contained systems of elegant argument and their inutility when they have nothing to tell us about the world.

Itzik Basman

Mike 12-23-2011 09:21 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by basman (Post 235324)
What a pile of obscurantist horsehit and sheer mystification in hiding behind the impenetrability of ancient philosophers.

Repeat one of their convincing, high order arguments for the existence of God, and I, with no formal training in philosophy save for a couple of undergraduate courses, will be happy to disassemble it for you.

As if any of these old dudes, regardless of the high order of their logic, has anything meaningful to say to us today on the existence of God.

You need to distinguish between the beauty of self contained systems of elegant argument and their inutility when they have nothing to tell us about the world.

Itzik Basman

The impenetrability of ancient philosophers is not quite to the point (and Aquinas and Anselm are not technically ancient, they are Medieval). Most of the problem comes from translating the medieval style of speechand argument into modern parlance. The problem is not just found in philosophy by the way. Try reading the work of Newton or Euler. The style of mathematical writing is far different from today and quite opaque. There is no strong commitment to symbolism, and the use of infinitesimals by Newton is often tough to follow. That has nothing to do with content, though.

It's not hard to disassemble any argument for God's existence because you can simply declare the axioms to be false. I do not think the interesting part lies in the fact that specific arguments can be problematized, but that deductively valid proofs can be formed demonstrating the existence of God (actually Gödel's proof shows God to exist necessarily, which is even stronger) from fairly weak premises. This is very weird, ordinarily existence proofs are only available in mathematical sciences. At any rate, they are an intellectual achievement.

Another thing, I do not think you understand what is meant by higher-order logic. It means, roughly, that you can apply predicates to predicates. The statement "It is good that one treat's people fairly" is a decent example of a second-order sentence, since you are applying the predicate "is good" to the other predicate "treating people fairly." Higher-order logic is not as straightforward as the first-order case, where predicates only apply to objects, hence the difficulty of the Gödel proof.

Mike 12-23-2011 09:50 PM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ohreally (Post 235320)
I have not the slightest issue with someone saying, "I don't believe in God, Christian or otherwise." End of statement. But when the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris want to demonstrate the inexistence of God by mocking the irrationality of older thinkers then they must be held to the same exacting standards Anselm and the rest set themselves to. After all, to shut up is always an option.

Reminds me of vos Savant dismissing Wiles's proof of Fermat because it relied on... hyperbolic geometry, thereby proving that the world's smartest person is in fact a freaking idiot.

The vos Savant case always made me cringe and laugh at the same time.

basman 12-24-2011 01:50 AM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Mike (Post 235336)
The impenetrability... Gödel proof.

Mike I appreciate your clarifications and explanations but don’t you help make my point—that Hitchens was a man of ideas, capable of abstract thought and that academic philosophy need have nothing to do with either?

When I was an undergraduate my down-the-hall neighbor was a guy doing his PHD in philosophy at UBC and we became, and still are, friends. Once I was in his apartment for a drink with him and his very smart wife and she said, teasing him in fun, (I of course paraphrase) “The world around philosophers could be burning but they will huddle together in their in their own detached world and do their philosophy oblivious to the fire.” My friend nodded resignedly as though accepting some truth in what his wife said.

So it may be a high intellectual achievement that Godel could form a deductively valid proof that God necessarily exists from fairly weak premises, which, if I understand this, doesn’t seem much more interesting than being the converse of “simply accepting the axioms to be false”-- simply accepting the axioms to be true. So okay. And there are all kinds of abstruse complexities running thorough and around ontological arguments for the existence of God, both in their formulations and in the critiques of them. They are a source of delight and exhilarating mental exercise for those so inclined. But, finally, the ontological argument will convince no one serious and reflective, as has been said, who does not start with theistic presuppositions.

So, nothing follows from Hitchens messing up Godel’s proof, if that’s what in fact he did, which goes to whether he was a man of ideas or capable of abstract thought, the denial of which status and capability has been here asserted.


Itzik Basman

Mike 12-24-2011 02:20 AM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by basman (Post 235355)
Mike I appreciate your clarifications and explanations but don’t you help make my point—that Hitchens was a man of ideas, capable of abstract thought and that academic philosophy need have nothing to do with either?

When I was an undergraduate my down-the-hall neighbor was a guy doing his PHD in philosophy at UBC and we became, and still are, friends. Once I was in his apartment for a drink with him and his very smart wife and she said, teasing him in fun, (I of course paraphrase) “The world around philosophers could be burning but they will huddle together in their in their own detached world and do their philosophy oblivious to the fire.” My friend nodded resignedly as though accepting some truth in what his wife said.

So it may be a high intellectual achievement that Godel could form a deductively valid proof that God necessarily exists from fairly weak premises, which, if I understand this, doesn’t seem much more interesting than being the converse of “simply accepting the axioms to be false”-- simply accepting the axioms to be true. So okay. And there are all kinds of abstruse complexities running thorough and around ontological arguments for the existence of God, both in their formulations and in the critiques of them. They are a source of delight and exhilarating mental exercise for those so inclined. But, finally, the ontological argument will convince no one serious and reflective, as has been said, who does not start with theistic presuppositions.

So, nothing follows from Hitchens messing up Godel’s proof, if that’s what in fact he did, which goes to whether he was a man of ideas or capable of abstract thought, the denial of which status and capability has been here asserted.


Itzik Basman

I was sort of making your point, in that I was trying to moderate ohreally's post blaming Hitchens for misrepresenting philosophers like Aquinas and Anselm, along with not knowing Gödel's ontological proof. I simply pointed out that understanding those philosophers, and Gödel, is no small feat, and we need not expect it of Hitchens.

I also do not doubt that Hitchens was a man of ideas, and he was certainly capable of abstract thought (unfortunately a fairly uncommon thing). Simply confronting the existence of God takes some intellectual strength. The only thing I would add is that being a man of ideas does not say much. I still think that the quality of the thought he produced was not spectacular, although the tools of measurement I use in making that claim are strict (I think of men like Wittgenstein or Spinoza when I think of great thinkers, really tough acts to follow). That is why I have some regret over the influence he had. Although, to try to encapsulate his life and its effects with that sort of statement is a bit cold.

As for the part about philosophy, I gave up on the idea that it had serious practical consequences before I entered college and am perfectly content with the mental exercise involved. I would also add that it gives a sort of spiritual exercise as well, since it helps you constantly test and improve the concepts with which you frame the world. As for ontological arguments in particular, they are perhaps the least persuasive of the bunch, largely due to the weirdness factor. Interestingly, persuasiveness often seems inversely related to the quality of philosophy, in my book. Perhaps that is a more general explanation why I find them interesting.

Also, I don't think Hitchens had any knowledge of Gödel's proof, ohreally also said as much, I mentioned it because ohreally said it was one of his favorites and I happened to agree with him. It was a sort of geek impulse. Gödel's argument is basically the cutting edge model, to put it crudely, how can you resist?

basman 12-24-2011 03:11 AM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Mike:

Ok and fair enough.

I agree with a lot of what you just said.

I'd quarrel with you some that being a man of ideas is not saying much, as I understand that status. Clearly, comparing Hitchens to the thinkers you name is either like comparing an apple to a banana or like comparing my cooking to that of some world class chef, the latter qualifying the former but not rendering it, necessarily, mediocre. I liken him to someone like Richard Posner, a highly impressive public intellectual, not well known like Hitchens and not a self promoter, but someone, like Hitchens, doing significant public work in his realm, and who must, like Hitchens, I'd argue, be considered outstanding compared to his confreres doing comparable and wide ranging work.

Itzik Basman

ohreally 12-24-2011 11:38 AM

Re: The Week in Blog: Lightning Is Delicious (Bill Scher & Kristen Soltis)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by basman (Post 235360)
I liken him to someone like Richard Posner, a highly impressive public intellectual, not well known like Hitchens and not a self promoter, but someone, like Hitchens, doing significant public work in his realm, and who must, like Hitchens, I'd argue, be considered outstanding compared to his confreres doing comparable and wide ranging work.

Oh yes, Posner the torture apologist. Hitchens would be so proud of the company...

"If the stakes are high enough, torture is permissible. No one who doubts that this is the case should be in a position of responsibility." Richard Posner.


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