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Category Archives: Philosophy

Ahistorical pomposity and gnostic sneering: why academics write deep crap about “neoliberalism”

Humanities and social science academics write a remarkable amount of nonsense about “neoliberalism”, typically understanding neither the reasons for the general shift in public policy nor the motivations and ideas behind it. A nice example of such nonsense is provided in a post by philosopher Robin James: neoliberals think everything in the universe works like a […]

Equalising consumption => lowering vulnerability

A comment on a previous post expresses a common set of views among conservatives: Darwin has the final word on sillyness. If same sex marriage was a useful thing in society, then the vast range of human societies would show us a successful society with same sex marriage as normal. This confuses natural selection with social selection, […]

Modernity struggles: how priests and clerics are unreliable moral guides

Priests and clerics tend to be unreliable moral guides, because their interests are served by complexity and differentiation. Which is not to deny that, for example, Christianity has been a major factor in the distinctive achievement of Western civilisation. The ambivalent civilisation The late Kenneth Minogue argued that (via) the Enlightenment saw a shift among Western intellectuals from belief that […]

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 […]