Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Cosmic Christmas

For Carl, Darwin's insight that life evolved over the eons through natural selection was not just better science than Genesis, it also afforded a deeper, more satisfying spiritual experience...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

almost free

In other words: It's 9 am Sunday, I've been grading for hours already this morning, and I'm taking a break.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hitch alive

Sifting through my personal archives for a fitting Hitchens tribute, on this sad morning of his demise, I come across a dawn post from October 2010 titled alive:

We talked about the varieties of humanism yesterday.

I really like the version that sees humanism fundamentally as an expression of the love of life.

Humanism is, in sum, a philosophy for those in love with life. Humanists take responsibility for their own lives and relish the adventure of being part of new discoveries, seeking new knowledge, exploring new options. Instead of finding solace in prefabricated answers to the great questions of life, humanists enjoy the open-endedness of a quest and the freedom of discovery that this entails.

This sentiment was given unexpected voice recently by Michael Gerson, George Bush’s old speechwriter, writing of Christopher Hitchens’ joie de vivre and his special talent for friendship.

In earlier times, without derision or irony, this would have been called “humanism,” a delight in all things human — in wit and wine and good company and conversation and fine writing and debate of large issues. Hitchens’s joy and juice put many believers of my acquaintance to shame — people for whom religion has become a bloodless substitute for life. “The glory of God,” said St. Irenaeus, “is man fully alive.” Hitchens would hate the quote, but he proves the claim.

I don’t think Hitch hates the quote. I don’t. The best humanists are fully alive, as Hitch seems to be in these sadly dwindling days of his cancerous physical decline. Glorious days.

The days, as Emerson said, are Gods.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"What Is College For?"

It's for "opening up to new dimensions," both in and out of the classroom.
Students readily accept the alleged wisdom that their most important learning at college takes place outside the classroom.  Many faculty members — thinking of their labs, libraries or studies — would agree.  But the truth is that, for both students and faculty members, the classroom is precisely where the most important learning occurs.
Gary Gutting, "The Stone"

And if you missed it: Simon Blackburn, "Of Hume and Bondage"

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Humanist Community Project | From the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard

The Humanist Community Project | From the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard:

Greg Epstein apparently aims to gather a herd of independent minds. "Humanist community" may not be a flat contradiction in terms, but it definitely rubs against the grain for some. Most un-churched humanists don't want a church, but a stronger sense of solidarity (or at least a greater awareness of their numbers) might be just what they need.

'via Blog this'

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why are we here?

The question I always ask myself at staff and committee meetings.

Thanks for finding this, Zachary.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

working on treadmills

Now here's a metaphor for you, for the absurdity of modern life in the corporate/consumer world. Move over, Sisyphus! Most of my academic staff and committee meetings feel like treadmilling too. But it is a good idea, if you have to be trapped in a rectangle surrounded by suits, to move. Must we imagine these people happy? Accelerating Intelligence News