Thursday, 18 September 2008

RR on Radio 3 last night - listen again to me debating Anthony Grayling: Man is NOT the measure of all things...

Listen again here to my debate with Anthony Grayling last night on Radio 3, on 'humanism'. (It's about 34 minutes into the programme - you can just move the bar at the bottom straight along to it.)
 
I think the conversation was useful, and certainly fun. In retrospect, however, it seems to me that we were speaking somewhat at cross-purposes in our debate, and don't actually disagree quite as much as we thought we did. For, for Grayling, apparently, humanism is only the sum of all non-supernaturalistic religion. Take for instance the list of philosophers with which Grayling begins: this has little or no unity! This is hardly a tradition. As an alleged ideology, as an 'ism', it cannot possibly be compared with (say) Hinduism or Buddhism; for it is thin gruel indeed. As I said, on the programme: if all that humanism is is the absence of superstition, then I have no beef with it. But that hardly seems to me to match closely with the actual use of the term 'humanism', to connote some coherent, substantial and positive belief-system that is in debate with and sometimes disagreement with ecologism, with the animal rights movement, and with the great mystical religions.
 
(Finally, and regretfully, I feel bound to note that at one particular point last night Prof. Grayling was hardly the greatest advert for humanity or for Reason: his gratuitous rhetorical swipe against me to the effect that I allegedly am ignorant of the nature of Buddhism would sit better in the mouth of one who does not frequently praise, as Grayling does, the value and centrality of human reason... I hope that, if the debate continues in another forum, Anthony models a little more fully the intellectual virtues that he (rightly) sets such store by.)

1 Comments:

Blogger Joe Otten said...

I guess the tradition isn't the beliefs of these writers, rather the act of reading and thinking and writing for yourself. I don't suggest that Epicurus, Aristotle, Mill and Hume are taught as such, simply that we should be aware of the variety ways of approaching questions of values and the good life that don't come packaged with claims of religious authority.

Your arguments about science and economics debasing humanity, are, I think profoundly mistaken, but that is another question and not really relevant to Grayling's argument.

18 September 2008 at 13:26  

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25. 26. RR on Radio 3 last night - listen again to me debating Anthony Grayling: Man is NOT the measure of all things... 27. 28.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00df61v
Listen again here to my debate with Anthony Grayling last night on Radio 3, on 'humanism'. (It's about 34 minutes into the programme - you can just move the bar at the bottom straight along to it.)
 
I think the conversation was useful, and certainly fun. In retrospect, however, it seems to me that we were speaking somewhat at cross-purposes in our debate, and don't actually disagree quite as much as we thought we did. For, for Grayling, apparently, humanism is only the sum of all non-supernaturalistic religion. Take for instance the list of philosophers with which Grayling begins: this has little or no unity! This is hardly a tradition. As an alleged ideology, as an 'ism', it cannot possibly be compared with (say) Hinduism or Buddhism; for it is thin gruel indeed. As I said, on the programme: if all that humanism is is the absence of superstition, then I have no beef with it. But that hardly seems to me to match closely with the actual use of the term 'humanism', to connote some coherent, substantial and positive belief-system that is in debate with and sometimes disagreement with ecologism, with the animal rights movement, and with the great mystical religions.
 
(Finally, and regretfully, I feel bound to note that at one particular point last night Prof. Grayling was hardly the greatest advert for humanity or for Reason: his gratuitous rhetorical swipe against me to the effect that I allegedly am ignorant of the nature of Buddhism would sit better in the mouth of one who does not frequently praise, as Grayling does, the value and centrality of human reason... I hope that, if the debate continues in another forum, Anthony models a little more fully the intellectual virtues that he (rightly) sets such store by.)
30. 31. 32.