I’ve just posted on my Blog about: Humanists https://t.co/0mBcjdAAVO

July 23, 2021

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It’s about damned time. Now let’s expunge that name from the #MTSU ROTC Building and so many mid-TN streets and byways! https://t.co/GeEIe51bPe

July 23, 2021

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Humanists

July 23, 2021

The American Humanist Association‘s 80th anniversary conference is underway. 

I registered, so I’m in remote/virtual attendance. They read my question last night about the pioneering 19th century Kansas freethinker (“not an oxymoron,” not thenEtta Semple, while I was out on my evening ramble. Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) gave a thorough and instructive response.

Semple said “I never yet have seen the person who could withstand the doubt and unbelief that enter his mind when reading the Bible in a spirit of inquiry.”

The conference continues through the weekend. Dr. Fauci will be giving the keynote, as a most deserving Humanist of the Year in this year of pandemic travail.

Are you a humanist?” Indeed I am. “Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity…” (Manifesto III, continues)

Humanism will be the anchoring theme of my biennial course Atheism and Philosophy next time. They’re not the same thing, atheism and humanism, but there’s more than enough family resemblance to merit the coupling.

Vera Rubin was a humanist, I’d guess. She deserved top honors too.

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Enlightened observation from the discoverer of dark matter. Did Carl Sagan say it first, or did she? https://t.co/eZwbq41Trn

July 23, 2021

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I’ve just posted on my Blog about: Intermediate Man, immediate delight https://t.co/I2V4Fnu9rh

July 22, 2021

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Intermediate Man, immediate delight

July 22, 2021

 Yesterday was bookended by delightful surprise at the front end, and whatever you call its opposite at the other. I’ll call it gratuitous confusion and acrimony, and I’ll say nothing much more about it.  Just this: some humans, particularly those in my profession, can be difficult and obtuse. Be better, please, colleagues. 

The delight, owing to a different sort of academic: an invitation to participate in a panel at the next gathering of the Tennessee Philosophical Association to commemorate “Intermediate Man at 40.” 


Intermediate Man
was my mentor John Lachs‘s refreshing paean to immediacy in experience and in life, published August 1, 1981. It caught my eye at about the same time its author did, in my first year of grad school. In keeping with its theme it insinuated no footnotes or other distractions between author and reader, just a smart, humane, extremely unpedantic scholar reflecting on the live-but-latent possibilities of perception for those who resolve to remove mediating obstacles from their direct intercourse with the world. 

Lachs writes: “Once attention is shifted from the future and we begin to enjoy activities at the time we do them and for what they are, we have transcended the mentality that views life as a process of mediation toward distant ends…”

I’ve been wrestling pleasantly and, I think, constructively with that proposed form of transcendence ever since. Distant ends and the remote future matter profoundly for us, I believe, as prime motivation for responsible conduct in the present, and the challenge of becoming good ancestors. If we’re going to address climate change and the other existential threats of our time we’re going to have to accept our collective responsibility for distant ends. We’re going to have to think globally and act locally. We’re going to have to care about the future, just as our more enlightened ancestors cared about their future–our present.
But… enjoying present activities presently, extracting the full meaning and richness of the moving spotlight that is the specious present, is the unnegotiable condition of our happiness. 
So, balancing Lachsian transcendence and its attendant shift of attention without sacrificing sensitivity and commitment to the “long now” has been my bellwether aspiration in philosophy. I am endlessly and immediately grateful to John Lachs for giving me that perspective, and that reflective frame.

So I anticipate with immediate delight that upcoming TPA event in November. There will be scholarly talk and interchange — the usual academic exercise in extended mediation — and then, more delightfully and most appropriately, for a man who always asks after my wife and daughters, a family lunch. 

It will be transcendent. Or rather, it already is. The future is now.

“There is something devastatingly hollow about the demonstration that thought without action is hollow, when we find the philosopher only thinking it.”

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@Raymodraco That’s pretty much how it works in US media… except for the “fair & balanced” network, with its surplus of idiots.

July 21, 2021

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@cmcohoe @Helenreflects Right. “Our errors are not such awfully solemn things…” Not usually. Evidentialism is not uniformly impossible, for WJ, but it’s less constructive than an experimental approach to living.

July 21, 2021

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@EmzaO Much better than being held by cops.

July 21, 2021

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I’ve just posted on my Blog about: Don’t worry now https://t.co/9Xfj81nX0t

July 20, 2021

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