Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Roman Catholic Political Philosophy

This is a quote from a book review on James V. Schall's book Roman Catholic Political Philosophy.

The distinction between political and religious concerns, though important to recognize, is not as great as is supposed by many--especially by modern secularists, who tend to compartmentalize religion when they think of it at all. For one thing, every person, no matter how oriented toward revelation, must live in the world, and cannot wholly escape political matters or the concerns of the social sciences. Moreover, because politics does not represent humankind's ultimate end, good political philosophy must point beyond itself, and the good state must point beyond itself. A point central to Schall, and in his view a key mark of Roman Catholic political philosophy, is this recognition that "the ultimate destiny of each human being, the political animal, is not located in politics" (p. 158). Following Eric Voegelin, Schall recognizes the rise of ideology, and then the exhaustion of ideology, as symptoms of modern society's failure to recognize this basic reality. In closing itself to revelation and rejecting metaphysics, politics becomes its own monstrous metaphysics. Paralleling the phenomenon of political modernity is modern philosophy's hubristic tendency to identify the wholeness of reality with what is knowable through philosophy's methods. We neglect the vital role of revelation at our peril. (A book review by William F. Byrne)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Doctrines You Least Like

A clearly maintained distinction between what the Faith actually says and what you would like it to have said or what you understand or what you personally find helpful or think probable, forces your audience to realize that you are tied to your data just as the scientist is tied by the results of the experiments; that you are not just saying what you like. This immediately helps them to realize that what is being discussed is a question about objective fact - not gas about ideals and points of view.

The new truth which you do not know and which you need must, in the very nature of things, be hidden precisely in the doctrines you least like and least understand. It is just the same here as in science. The phenomenon which is troublesome, which doesn't fit in with the current scientific theories, is the phenomenon which compels reconsideration and thus leads to new knowledge. Science progresses because scientists, instead of running away from such troublesome phenomena or hushing them up, are constantly seeking them out. In the same way, there will be progress in Christian knowledge only as long as we accept the challenge of the difficult or repellent doctrines. A "liberal" Christianity which considers itself free to alter the Faith whenever the Faith looks perplexing or repellent must be completely stagnant. Progress is made only into a resisting material. (C. S. Lewis, Christian Apologetics)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dehumanized by Technology

I’m haunted by that scene in 2001. What makes it so poignant, and so weird, is the computer’s emotional response to the disassembly of its mind: its despair as one circuit after another goes dark, its childlike pleading with the astronaut—“I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m afraid”—and its final reversion to what can only be called a state of innocence. HAL’s outpouring of feeling contrasts with the emotionlessness that characterizes the human figures in the film, who go about their business with an almost robotic efficiency. Their thoughts and actions feel scripted, as if they’re following the steps of an algorithm. In the world of 2001, people have become so machinelike that the most human character turns out to be a machine. That’s the essence of Kubrick’s dark prophecy: as we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence. (Nicholas Carr)

I see this in my own relationship with technology. When I spend too much time on the computer I become emotionally, socially, and spiritually flat.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pwned by Stuff

POSSESSED from Martin Hampton on Vimeo.

This will have you throwing stuff away after watching it. As a social worker I see a lot of homes like this. Like obesity these types of issues are hard to hide. At different levels we are all slaves to things that are below us.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

In Defense of Modesty

"After they touched a bra, men are more likely to be content with a smaller immediate monetary reward," writes Bram Van den Bergh, one of the study's authors. "Prior exposure to sexy stimuli may influence the choice between chocolate cake or fruit for dessert."

The authors believe the stimuli bring men's minds to the present as opposed to the future. "The study demonstrates that bikinis cause a shift in time preference: Men live in the here and now when they glance at pictures featuring women in lingerie. That is, men will choose the immediately available rewards and seek immediate gratification after sex cue exposure."

Do all straight men respond the same? Actually, no. Some men are highly responsive to rewards while others are not so sensitive, and the more reward-sensitive men are the impatient ones.

In fact, doing a task designed to inspire financial satisfaction reduced the bikini-inspired impatience, just as feeling full reduces food cravings. Men may want to be aware of bikinis' effects on their bank accounts and waistlines. (Link)