Friday, December 18, 2009

Institute of Philosophy Conference

The Institute of Philosophy in London organised an event on 11 Deecember 2009,
celebrating 40 years of the Journal Metaphilosophy (published by Wiley Blackwell).
Speakers were Terrell Ward Bynum (Southern Connecticut State), Timothy Williamson
(Oxford), Philip Kitcher (Columbia) and David Papineau (King?s College London), as well
as a panel discussion.
The whole day has been recorded and is now available as a series of podcasts at the
following URL:

I would appreciate it if you could post this information on your blog.

There might be other papers on my website your readers might find interesting:

Rorty Conference with Bjorn Ramberg, Robert Brandom, Albrecht Wellmer and Michael
Denis McManus - Heidegger, Wittgenstein and the Last Judgement:
Slavoj Zizek - Apocalyptic Times:
Albrecht Wellmer - Adorno and the Difficulties of a Critical Reconstruction of the
Historical Present:
Jason Gaiger - Can There be a Universal Theory of Images:
Thinking with Spinoza: Politics, Philosophy and Religion:
Sacred Modernities: Rethinking Modernity in a Post-Secular Age:

and many, many others - browse through the archive/index

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hellinistic Syncretism Redux!

A new poll by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that large numbers of Americans engage in multiple religious practices, mixing elements of diverse traditions. Many say they attend worship services of more than one faith or denomination -- even when they are not traveling or going to special events like weddings and funerals. Many also blend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs such as reincarnation, astrology and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects.

I'm all for it. This, I believe, is the shape religion should take and the direction in which ecumenism should have gone. I cannot fathom why it should matter whether Christian churches agree on fundamental theological claims, much less whether they achieve some sort of liturgical uniformity. What matters is that individuals are welcome to participate in any cult the please whenever they choose, no questions asked.

Churches are now collapsing under their weight of their own arrogance--imagining that they have wisdom to teach, that they embody "worldviews," that they are in a position to teach us how to live. Priests imagine that they're able to exercise intellectual and moral leadership. The sheer arrogance is breathtaking. These jerks want to be important, when they are, and should be, no more than trained monkeys doing pujas.

The pity is that the high cults are dying, as the cults of the city gods did during the Hellenistic period, and being replaced by vulgar, superstitious, boring crap. We know what the denoument was then: Constantine and the triumph of Christianity, gobbling up both high and low paganism--the Neoplatonism of the elite assimilated and the superstition of the vulgar sucked into the cult of the saints. I doubt that this will happen again. It was an historical accident that an emperor took up a cult and promoted it.

It seems a shame. Almost two thousand years of an historical tradition, the development of theology and art--so much of the good stuff of our culture trashed and replaced by the vulgar shopping mall religiousity of the megachurches, commercialized New Age products, and bits and pieces of Eastern Religions.

I don't care if people do yoga or dance naked around maypoles or play at Wicca. I just want my cult to survive so that I can enjoy it.