Posts Tagged ‘cooperation’

Extended sympathies

May 28, 2012

A Memorial Day dream, or pure fantasy? Depends on how many of us share and spread the cooperation meme. Andrew Revkin imagines a time when humans will war no more. Darwin did too:

“As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.” Descent of Man

A Memorial Day for War’s Fallen, Perhaps Someday for War Itself? – NYTimes.com

Atheism & Philosophy in the wings

January 4, 2012

Spent a pleasant few hours yesterday setting up the new course blog for “Atheism & Philosophy” (A&P, I’ll call it) which commences in just over a week. The masthead announces that we’ll be exploring the philosophical, ethical, spiritual, existential, social, and personal implications of a godless universe. Put in a nice long raft of book links,* a few images including an homage to Hitch and another to the evolution of godless cooperation, and a reiteration of the James claim we’ll devote ourselves to confirming (or not).

…ethics have as genuine and real a foothold in a universe where the highest consciousness is human, as in a universe where there is a God as well. “The religion of humanity” affords a basis for ethics as well as theism does. -William James, “The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life

I’ve placed the end at the beginning: our final assignment, in April, will be to write and present a short testimonial essay: “Why I am [am not] an Atheist.” Perhaps some will choose to share their entries via Pharyngula or some other public archive of the lately-burgeoning humanist ouvre.

We’ll begin, once introductions are out of the way, with Jennifer Michael Hecht’s “Scale of Doubt” Quiz. Then we’ll parse some of Rebecca Goldstein’s 36 Arguments for the Existence of God. Then to Julian Baggini’s Atheism, Louise Antony’s anthology Philosophers Without Gods (and maybe her recent New York Times piece “Good Without God” too), Russell Blackford’s 50 Voices, and Sam Harris’s Moral Landscape.

Can’t wait!

*

together again

August 28, 2010

The “entire faculty” did not show up for our Fall Faculty meeting  yesterday morning, not even close.

But those of us who did, and who endured all the disingenuous platitudes about “this great institution” and our “wonderful university” etc., ad nauseum, were finally treated to a couple of moments I, at least, found to be well worth waiting for.

First, the President shared a quote from the Sultan of Swat about the value of teamwork. It doesn’t matter how many stars are on your roster, the Babe once sagely (allegedly) observed, they won’t succeed if they don’t play well together.

I loved the cornball oddity of our leader’s appeal to a hall full of Ph.D’s with deep insight from an undereducated old athlete. (This on the heels of reassuring us that our Blue Raiders are scholar-athletes all.) But of course it happens to be true, no matter who did or didn’t say it.

Then, the real highlight: the annual award to a distinguished elder statesman of our tribe, for a lifetime of service and scholarship. This year it went to a chemistry professor-emeritus who became very emotional recalling 9.11.01, when he found himself in Hiroshima, Japan at an academic conference attended primarily by Japanese, German, and Russian scholars. The clear message, once again: it is crucial, and very possible, for us all to work together– that word again. Hiroshima has rebounded and is today a beautiful modern city, he said, showing how resilient humans can be. Not a natural admission for a Scandinavian like himself, he said, but born out in his long experience.

There was also a very nice tribute from the President to Dean McDaniel, who probably knew more about getting disparate egos to pull effectively together than any of us. His absence was keenly felt in the hall, in the deficit of intelligent wit and humanity we always counted on him to plug.

So, the team still on the field is just going to have to suck it up and leave it all out there.

If that’s not enough sports metaphor for you, tomorrow’s convocation speaker is the author of Outcasts United, about a diverse soccer team of refugees in a small Georgia town learning to play well together. Teamwork and resilience. Got it?

I hope a few of us will make the effort to be there. 90% of success– or is it 110?– is just showing up. Which, presumably, we’ll all do whether we feel like being there or not, on Monday. Opening Day, finally.