Luc Ferry Thinks About Thought

May 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

Walking through a downtown TC bookstore a couple weeks ago, I spotted a book by Luc Ferry, a popular French philosopher. His international bestseller, A Brief History of Thought.  is a bold title, appropriate for a book which gives a perspective on the effectiveness of 5 key philosophical eras in human history, beginning with the Greeks.  Mr. Ferry has the ability to summarize complicated worldviews in a way that is accessible and interesting, though compacting a philosophical overview for a mass audience is a tough venue to accurately capture philosophies that have transformed the world.

Lest there be any confusion about what weight philosophy carries in certain circles, Mr. Ferry opens his book with boldness: “The quest for salvation without God is at the heart of every great philosophical system…Philosophy also claims to save us – if not from death itself, then from the anxiety it causes, and to do so by the exercise of our own resources an our innate faculty of reason.”

Philosophy starts with the natural sciences – physics, mathematics, biology – then searches for causes and limits. Once philosophers reach the limits of science, they presses on with logic and reason. The conclusions must be anchored in reality, not dependent on wishful thinking about what one hopes to be true or the untestable truths that the Other (God) offers.

From this starting point, Mr. Ferry begins a tour of five pivotal movements in the history of philosophy. Read the rest of this entry →

Top 10 Questions from the Reason Rally Session

April 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

Thanks again, Levi Meeuwenberg and Scott Blair, for weighing in on questions of reason, knowledge, faith, and the search for truth, Also, thanks everyone who attended (in person and online), as well as to Aromas and the Good Work Collective for sponsoring us.  Thanks to all of your involvement; it was a splendid start to etcetera! You can watch the video here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/22148006  

We received a lot of great questions during the audience Q and A.  Levi and Scott did not have time to answer all of them, so here are Tonight’s Top 10 Questions for further discussion.  Please feel free to weigh in on them yourself – we can keep the discussion going until next month!   (I’ll add  a few of the questions at at a time to the Facebook page, which is probably more interactive).  ________________________________________________________________________________________________

1) In reference to finding truth: are we always on a journey, or do we reach a destination?  And how do we know which is which?

2)How do you define “faith?”  And do you see see this faith as something that is opposed to or exists in addition to reason?

3) Is there truth to be found beyond the scope of science?  If so, how?

4) Many worldview, including atheism, see community as important. How does your worldview account for this universal longing for community and connection?

5) Scott, Levi, and Anthony talked about ways people seek knowledge and arrive at conclusions about the the world and our existence. All noted the importance of being able to honestly process evidence that is contrary to their worldview. What is your worldview, and what would it take to convince you that you were wrong?

6) Do we absolutely know that scientific rules always are and always will be consistent and predictable?

7) If we are always skeptical, does this imply we can never know any truth, or are there some we can embrace?

8. Does the ability of science to explore and explain the natural world necessarily suggest there is nothing else to be known or studied by methods other than science?

9) Should the fact that we are emotionally attached to, or desire something, automatically mean we should discontinue the search or discount the evidence?  In other words, must objectivity be divorced from desire?

10) If evolution has developed a brain that accept things as true in order to aid in survival, by what method do we discern between things that we think are true vs. things that actually are true?

April 26: The Role of Reason in the Pursuit of Truth

March 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

On Saturday, March 24, thousands of people gathered in Washington, DC for the Reason Rally.  According to their website, the intent was to “emphasize the connection between atheism (and its championing of evidence and reason) and science.” One video proclaimed the commitment to  ”the scientific method as the route to understanding.”  This event was intended to encourage atheist and freethinkers to boldly proclaim their commitment to science, empiricism, and reason as the only way to understand facts about the world. 

There were critics, of course. According to their website, one can be Read the rest of this entry →