Saturday, October 17, 2009

Politics Takes the Plunge

From time to time, I've made posts to this blog in which I've criticized political activists, from environmentalists to tea partiers, for engaging in ridiculous theatrics to draw attention to one cause or another.  Such useless and distracting political gestures typically serve only to obscure real, important questions of value and obligation that lie at the heart of most policy debates.

For all that, political theatrics can sometimes strike a chord.  For some reason, I found this one particularly touching:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog, Blog, Blah, Blah

Today has been dubbed "Blog Action Day" by a group of people who have come together to dub today "Blog Action Day." Here's what the dubbers of "Blog Action Day" say about their event on their website:
Blog Action Day is an annual event held every October 15 that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day with the aim of sparking discussion around an issue of global importance. Blog Action Day 2009 will be one of the largest-ever social change events on the web.
Why have they done this dubbing?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Last week, while I was mulling over the principles of the 912 Project, I fell into a long and rambling conversation with the two other members of one of the bands in which I play fiddle.  The three of us have somewhat different backgrounds and come down in different places on the political spectrum.  Still, through our conversation, I started to glimpse the possibility of a new political movement.

I later dubbed it "The League of Noisy Moderates."

Lots of people are out there making lots of noise, motivated either by rigid ideology, nameless fear, or some other force that deprives their speech of nuance as it raises the volume.

Meanwhile, thoughtful people, those who might be willing and able to do the actual hard work of democracy, sit back quietly and shake their heads.

Enough of this. The time has come for those of us who are in the broad political middle - from thoughtful conservatives to thoughtful progressives, and everyone in between - to take to the streets in angry protest, demanding . . .

an end to angry street protests?

Oh, never mind.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Gold Standard

As I have been reconfiguring this blog, I have also begun to explore more widely what I've started to call The Skeptics' Corner of the blogosphere.  Some things I read this evening have converged with a few other threads that have been running through my thinking of late concerning the character of skepticism, all pointing to questions that require some sort of answer.

Here I am, ranging through human experience, subjecting beliefs and assumptions to the acid of doubt.  But what standard should I apply when I scrutinize beliefs and assumptions?  On what basis should I say this belief is faulty, but that belief is all right?

And then: To what end am I doing all this?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Death and Taxes

From time to time, I discuss the problem of evil - or, The Problem of Evil - with my students.

This week, it was in the context of a special topics course on the Darwinian Revolution and its philosophical implications.  Trying to bring them to some insight into pre-Darwinian ways of thinking, I had them read a few selections from Leibniz on the principle of plenitude - sorry, the Principle of Plenitude - and the Principle of Sufficient Reason, followed by the First Epistle of Alexander Pope's Essay on Man.

Two lines from Pope provide a deft summary of Leibniz, and help to solidify the idea of the Great Chain of Being.
. . . all must full or not coherent be,
And all that rises rise in due degree.