Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Jonah Goldberg and I have occasionally, though only very briefly, batted around the idea that the modern age is in want of a metaphysic.

"I can’t speak for Jonah, but the thought that is in my own mind when I say this is that both naked materialism and the metaphysics appended to the traditional religions are unappealing to great numbers of moderns.

"Materialism fails to convince because it implies that mind is an illusion. To this, an ordinary person will reply: 'To what is this illusion presenting itself?' Materialism has no answer. Nor does it have anything to tell us about free will, morality, or any of the other conundrums discussed at the end of Pinker’s How the Mind Works.

"To adhere to religious metaphysics, on the other hand, you actually have to belong to one of the established religions, all of which require belief in things (resurrection, transubstantiation, reincarnation, Chosen People) that seem, to many minds accustomed to the evidentiary standards demanded by modern science and law, incredible.

"There are of course lots of people who are perfectly satisfied by materialist atheism, and many more who find they can leap the credulity hurdles required by traditional religions. To many hundreds of millions of moderns, though (I am not speaking of only the U.S.A.: the rest of the world does, after all, exist), there is no satisfactory conceptual grounding for their beliefs, desires, and intentions. We really ought to be able to come up with something." - John Derbyshire

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