Monday, April 29, 2024

Plato and Aristotle on youth and politics

As faculty, including even philosophy professors, aid and abet student bad behavior on campus, it is worth considering what the most serious thinkers of the Western tradition would have thought about the political opinions and activities of the young.  What follows are some relevant passages from Plato and Aristotle in particular.  For purposes of the present article, I put to one side the specific subject matter of the recent protests, because it is not relevant to the present point.  What is relevant is that the manner in which the protesters’ opinions are formed and expressed is contrary to reason.  That would remain true whatever they were protesting.  Part of this is because mobs are always irrational.  But they are bound to be even more irrational when they are composed of young people.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Daniel Dennett (1942-2024)

Prominent philosopher of mind, apostle of Darwinism, and New Atheist writer Daniel Dennett has died.  I have been very critical of Dennett over the years, but he had two great strengths.  First, he wrote with crystal clarity, no matter how difficult the subject matter.  Second, as even we critics of materialism can happily concede, he could be very insightful on the distinctive nature of psychological modes of description and explanation (even if he went wrong when addressing how these relate metaphysically to physical modes of description and explanation).  It is also only fair to acknowledge that of the four original New Atheist tomes (the others penned by Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens) his Breaking the Spell, despite its faults, was the one that was actually intellectually interesting.  RIP

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Two problems with Dignitas Infinita

This week the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) published the Declaration Dignitas Infinita, on the topic of human dignity.  I am as weary as anyone of the circumstance that it has now become common for new documents issued by the Vatican to be met with fault-finding.  But if the faults really are there, then we oughtn’t to blame the messenger.  And this latest document exhibits two serious problems: one with its basic premise, and the other with some of the conclusions it draws from it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Western civilization's immunodeficiency disease

Liberalism is to the social order what AIDS is to the body.  By relegating the truths of natural law and divine revelation to the private sphere, it destroys the immune system of the body politic, opening the way to that body’s being ravaged by moral decay and ideological fanaticism.  I develop this theme in a new essay over at Postliberal Order.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Ed Piskor (1982-2024)

This week, cartoonist Ed Piskor committed suicide in the wake of the relentless online pillorying and overnight destruction of his career that followed upon allegations of sexual misconduct, of which he insisted he was innocent. Piskor’s work was not really to my taste, but I often enjoyed the Cartoonist Kayfabe YouTube channel he co-hosted. I was always impressed by the manifest love, respect, and appreciation he showed for the great comic book artists of the past. These are attractive and admirable attitudes to take toward those from whom one has learned.

The illusion of AI

My essay “The Illusion of Artificial Intelligence” appears in the latest issue of the Word on Fire Institute’s journal Evangelization & Culture.