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Category Archives: Philosophy

Constrained by God: an epistemic event horizon

Reading about inadvertent patterns created by Islam brings to mind how adaptability is an advantage in a civilisation. While it is true that religious belief can be something of a moveable feast, it is nevertheless true that religious doctrine–particularly text-based religious doctrine within monotheism–can be a powerful and continuing constraint. This is particularly obvious in Islam. In the […]

Enlightenment foreclosed?

Uttering the cliche that “what Islam needs is a Reformation” merely shows that the speaker understands neither Islam nor the Reformation. The Protestant Reformation was the rejection of traditional accretions in favour of the authority of scripture; an attempt to return to “original” Christianity. Islam has experienced waves of such reformism throughout its history, also […]

Social bully politics

I have previously articulated what I call the paradox of politics (or the paradox of rulership)–we need the state to protect us from social predators but the state itself is the most dangerous social predator. The paradox can never be solved, merely managed more or less well. The guardian delusion The delusion that one can solve […]

Norm failure

I have previously posted elsewhere about how similar the failures in indigenous policy and development (particularly foreign aid) policy have been. Remarkably similar, indeed. They also show some distinct similarities to the more unfortunate effects of welfare provision. (By ‘welfare provision’ I do not mean the aged pension or health or education services; I am talking […]

Saints and Scroungers

One of my favourite modern films is “Stigmata”. In it, a Catholic priest and debunker of miracles for the Holy See (Gabriel Byrne) stumbles across the case of an American hairdresser (Patricia Arquette) who appears to be exhibiting the signs of Stigmata despite living an unashamedly dissolute party-animal life and being a complete non-believer. What […]

War and peace

We think of the World Wars of the C20th as being unprecedented in their death tolls. That is not true in either total deaths or, still less, death rates. While the 1939-45 War did have the largest death toll of any war in history, the 1914-19 War does not come second. When one considers the huge […]

The Lonely Assassins: UK Labour Party Conference 2012

New Labour bought into the right wing media’s portrayal of its union backers as “evil”, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey has claimed. He said the party treated the unions as a “nutty relative” who had to be “kept at arm’s length”. But its current leadership were moving towards a better understanding of what the unions […]

Something obscurantist this way comes

I recently had the unexpected experience of reading a book that appalled me; this is not a reaction I can remember having to a book before. The book has a title I agree with: Ideas Have Consequences. Regarded as a classic text of  postwar American conservatism, the book is a long jeremiad at the corruption […]

None so blind

In the course of exploring the history and dynamics of bigotry, of moral exclusion, and the history of money (particularly the similarities between the goldzone Great Depression and the Eurozone Great Recesssion), it has become clear to me how very poor conservatives tend to be at learning from history. Which is not, of course, how conservatives typically see themselves. […]

Guest Post – Dave Bath’s Review of ‘Left Turn’

[SL recently discussed Christos Tsolkias' piece in her recent post on left-wing politics. At the end she said: Tsiolkas’s essay impressed me so much that I decided to review the book from which it comes, Left Turn, which is edited by two prominent lefties, Antony Loewenstein and Jeff Sparrow. But then I thought better of […]