April 13th, 2012
Original story by Julian Friedland.
The intellectual culture of scientism clouds alternative ways of knowing that can actually yield greater certainty than science.
For roughly 98 percent of the last 2,500 years of Western intellectual history, philosophy was considered the mother of all knowledge. It generated most of the fields of research still with us today. This is why we continue to call our highest degrees Ph.D.’s, namely, philosophy doctorates. At the same time, we live an age in which many seem no longer sure what philosophy is or is good for anymore. Most seem to see it as a highly abstracted discipline with little if any bearing on objective reality — something more akin to art, literature or religion. All have plenty to say about reality. But the overarching assumption is that none of it actually qualifies as knowledge until proven scientifically.
Yet philosophy differs in a fundamental way from art, literature or religion, as its etymological meaning is “the love of wisdom,” which implies a significant degree of objective knowledge. And this knowledge must be attained on its own terms. Or else it would be but another branch of science.
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February 3rd, 2012
I was speaking with a good friend of mine earlier today and she told me about why her recent ex-boyfriend broke up with her (let’s call her Jane and him Richard). Jane is in her last year as an undergraduate in theatre. Richard couldn’t come to terms with an appreciation for theatre and the arts. According to him these things are only useful if used for explicit ministerial purposes. This led to Richard breaking up with Jane. This is such a sad state of affairs. What makes this a curious situation is that I’m fairly confident this ideology is rampant in men. I often hear that if a man is in theatre, the ballet, or the arts he must be gay or feminine. I’m going to argue on the contrary. It seems that being masculine or manly has become equivocated with being macho or a rough and tough man who likes football and hockey. There’s nothing wrong with football and hockey, surely real men can like these too, but there’s more to being a masculine man than just that. Men who have an appreciation for theatre, ballet, opera, gymnastics, poetry, and the arts are men who encompass so much more about life.
Let’s primarily consider just a few of these examples. Ballet is such a beautiful feat. This is one of the most beautiful expressions of the beauty and ability of the human body. Imagine an adagio, slow graceful movements to slow music, while the woman is performing several movements and entrechats and she comes to rest in battement tendu (sliding her straightened out leg beside her). While she comes to her last position imagine the man gracefully approaching her for their final coda. He forms his body to hers for a perfect coupling. The grace, discipline, strength, and the form of dance is a spectacular demonstration of the body. It’s a presentation of how the beauty of the body can be expressed–the intimacy of the coupling of body to body.
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October 23rd, 2011
If God does not exist then man lives in Bertrand Russell’s world of scaffolding despair. Man is merely the product of pointless cause and effects with no prevision of the ends being achieved. All the labors of the age, devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vase death of the solar system. Man’s achievements are destined to be buried in the debris of the universe. Only within the scaffolding of these [teleological] truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.
If there is no God to provide meaning, value, and purpose, the only consistent option for humanity is suicide. Any becoming of life-affirming or life-denying acts are illusory. Absolutely nothing can be a positive or negative act for the individual since there is nothing to determine a differentiation. One is forced to face Nietzsche’s abyss and face the reality that no rope can scale the depth of nothingness. One is only left with despair, guilt, and angst. If one can determine that despair, guilt, and angst are not preferred then his only option is to eliminate such emotions and thoughts (if the implication, by any means, can be determined to be better). If there is no God, the only remedy for absurdism is to participate in Nietzsche’s abyss of nothingness: suicide.
(As a note, I want to emphasize that I am not advocating suicide. I completely disagree with the starting premise that there is no God. I believe the logic is sound but since there is a God, there is objective purpose, value, and meaning to life. If you are struggling with the thought of suicide please tell someone.)
 Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1917), 47-48.
 Here is where Sartre, Camus, and others disagree. Because of absurdity, man’s only option is to choose suicide. Death is the only means by which it can be overcome. In a Christian context, God recognizes that death is the only way to overcome man’s absurdity. The means by which God provides teleology is by means of death. God becomes incarnate and overcomes absurdity by means of his own death, which may be imputed to humanity. Here we find a paradox. In order for there to be a genuine sense of teleology and becoming there must be death. There must be death to bring about life, a life of becoming, relationships, and of teleological existence.