Tag Archives | Jove’s Witnesses

Part 2: Who Is Sheldon Richman, and Why Does He Love Jihadis, French Communism, Godless Atheism, and Weird-Ass Epistemology?

In Part 2 of this 2-part interview, I chat with Sheldon Richman about the Israeli occupation of Palestine; u.s. intervention in the Middle East; the meaning of Jewish identity; the relation between libertarian individualism and social cooperation; the communistic theories of Frédéric Bastiat; the theologico-political merits of Spinoza; Nathaniel Branden and George H. Smith on atheism; Thomas Paine and Lysander Spooner on deism; the philosophical failings of the New Atheists; rehabilitating the cost-of-production theory of value; the uses of coherentist epistemology for both theists and atheists; reading Wittgenstein for relaxation; the advantages and disadvantages of Randian approaches to knowledge and concepts; the sordid truth behind the special effects in my videos (and in particular, what the deal is with my hair); Sheldon’s case against open Borders; and the shocking misuse of libertarian think tank resources to photocopy body parts (but who did it, Sheldon or myself? and which body parts? watch and learn!).


Decaffeinated Philosophy: The Existence of God; or, Apophat Boy Slim

[cross-posted at POT]

It’s long been the custom of the Auburn U. Philosophy Club to hold a public meeting at a local coffee house – generally either Mama Mocha’s or the Coffee Cat – where a panel composed of both students and faculty from the department give brief presentations on some philosophical topic of general interest, followed by Q&A.

In light of the Current Unpleasantness, this semester’s panel will be online via Zoom rather than in-person, which will sadly mean no access to the venue’s excellent coffee. But we must soldier on with a decaffeinated, or at least less gloriously caffeinated, version of our usual caffeinated-philosophy event. And the positive side is that folks not physically present in Auburn will be able to attend.

The topic for this semester’s panel is “The Existence of God.” I will be one of the speakers (and my contribution will of course decisively settle the theism vs. atheism debate once and for all! – although in my experience neither side tends to be very fond of my solution). It will be held on Wednesday, October 7th, at 7:00pm Central (8:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific). The meeting is free and open to the public; but please register in advance at https://auburn.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZIvce6gqjguGdJC7olVpoP-TnWgaZtUCkKr. After registering, you’ll receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Be there or B2!


Gary Gary Quite Contrary

In my latest Agoric Café video, I chat with Gary Chartier about Robin Hood, left-wing market anarchism, natural law, free speech and employer power, libertarian secularism, Seventh-day Adventism, religious epistemology, long-arc television, urban fantasy, Lawrence Durrell, Iris Murdoch, Whit Stillman, the evils of giving extra credit and taking attendance, and the attractions of being emperor.


(You Know) Who Said This

I won’t say “guess the author” on this one, because the author is unmistakable, even if the content will be somewhat surprising to many:

I believe that my statement of man’s proper morality does not contradict any religious belief, if that belief includes faith in man’s free will. … Christianity was the first school of thought that proclaimed the supreme sacredness of the individual. The first duty of a Christian is the salvation of his own soul. This duty comes above any he may owe to his brothers. This is the basic statement of true individualism. The salvation of one’s own soul means the preservation of the integrity of one’s ego. The soul is the ego. Thus Christianity did preach egoism in my sense of the word, in a high, noble and spiritual sense. Christ did say that you must love your neighbor as yourself, but He never said that you must love your neighbor better than yourself – which is the monstrous doctrine of altruism and collectivism. Altruism – the demand of self-immolation for others—contradicts the basic premise of Christianity, the sacredness of one’s own soul. Altruism introduced a basic contradiction into Christian philosophy, which has never been resolved. The entire history of Christianity in Europe has been a continuous civil war, not merely in fact, but also in spirit. I believe that Christianity will not regain its power as a vital spiritual force until it has resolved this contradiction. And since it cannot reject the conception of the paramount sacredness of the individual soul – this conception holds the root, the meaning and the greatness of Christianity – it must reject the morality of altruism.


The Lash and the Loophole

The poet ibn Harma performed for the Prince of the Muslims and so delighted was the Caliph with his performance that he said “name your reward.”

The poet replied, “the reward I wish from the Prince of the Muslims is that he should send instructions to his officials in the city of Medina, commanding that when I am found dead drunk upon the pavement and brought in by the city guard, I be let off from the punishment prescribed for that offense.”

“That is God’s law, not mine; I cannot change it. Name another reward.”

“There is nothing else I desire from the Prince of the Muslims.”

Al-Mansur thought a little, then sent instructions to his officials in Medina commanding that if anyone found the poet ibn Harma dead drunk upon the pavement and brought him in for punishment, ibn Harma should receive eighty strokes of the lash as the law commands. But whoever brought him in should receive a hundred.

And ever after, when someone saw the poet lying dead drunk upon the pavement, he would turn to his companion and say “a hundred for eighty is a bad bargain” and pass on.

— David Friedman, Legal Systems Very Different from Ours


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