Back to Blackburn

August 12, 2008

Wow!  Been a year since my last post.  But I am back at least today and perhaps later this week as well.

Lot to chew on in Blacburn’s “Being Good,”  but this is what caught my attention last night.  In making the distinction between an ethical climate and a moralistic one, Blackburn observes, “one peculiarity of our present climate is that we care much more about our rights than about our ‘good.’  For previous thinkers about ethics, such as those who wrote the Upanishads, or Confucius, or Plato, or the founds or the Christian tradition, the central concern was the state of one’s soul, meaning some personal state of justice or harmony.  Such a state might include resignation and renunciation, or detachment, or obedience, or knowledge, especially self-knowledge.” (p. 4).

Now I have no intention of specifically addressing his topic, rather I was struck by he emphasis on self-knowledge.  Yes we all know our preferences like technology (Mac), music (Terrence Blanchard) or ice cream (cookies & cream ice cream cake from BR).  But do we know ourselves?  Can we map the terrain of our own soul.  Or is it just a baffling place that sends us fleeing to the hills?

I once had an altercation with someone I like and respect.  It should not have blown up to the degree that it did.  It took a bit of digging and ruminating until I found ‘it.’  So now I walk away with a deeper understanding of who I am and a greater sensitivity to the humanness of those around me.

Lest I puff myself up too much, I must acknowledge that most days are spent following my preferences (and avoiding the mint chocolate Dips in the freezer).  I enjoy my family, friends, and work.  I pursue intellectual topics that I find stimulating.  Perhaps I should spend a bit more time with compass, paper, and pencil in hand.


Butter in the Fridge?

September 16, 2007

Quotes from Simon Blackburn’s “Truth: A Guide”

“…we can also describe ourselves as people who want to know what happened, or as people who want to find the truth, and a good thing too.” – p. 164

“And only what is true explains what happens.” – p. 184


A Satisfying Saturday Afternoon…

September 8, 2007

A cup of tea (English style), jazz in the background, deciphering Blackburn’s “interpretation” of Nietzsche!

Note:  The category “Simon Says…” refers to musings that sprung from Simon Blackburn’s Truth:  A Guide.


Minimizing Truth

September 7, 2007

“What is truth?” – is the classic question Pilate asked of Jesus.  Is truth something internal to me such that I determine what is true.  If I believe it, it is true.  Astrology is true.  Astrology is not true.  Relativistic confusion abounds.

Or is truth outside of me?  Is there some “other” out there?  A form. A logos. A God. A universal code to which all things must aspire?  Thus some more enlightened, whether it be in science, history, language, ethics, are more right in their assessment of what is true about the world?

Of is there really a third way, another lense through which to peer such that truth is neither inside us nor outside us.  Rather truth is just not.  Perhaps when we say “x is true” we are really saying “x is the case.”  And if I present x to the public sphere for investigation, the results will confirm that “x is the case.” 

For instance, the temperature at 9News in denver on Sept 7th at 8:24 am is 62 degress Farenheit.  I make that claim and you and your friends can go confirm that it is or it is not.  And interestingly, in the process you will not use an anemometer (mearsures wind velocity)or a barometer (measures atmospheric pressure).  You will use a specific instrument that measures temperature.  You will use the investigative tools that are germane or local to the issue at hand.  Moreover, in this instance, the measurement of temperature is to a scale that has been instituted by “just us humans.”  There is no other “temperature logos” out there – “just us.”

So if I take this minimalist conception and apply it to some of Jesus sayings, what do I find?  Often Jesus says “I tell you the truth…”  And in context he’s saying “this did happen or was said and you should go investigate the facts to indeed confirm that x is the case”  In this context (and yes I fully admit Jesus uses “truth” in may other contexts and I’ll get to that later) can this minimalist view of truth fit with Jesus’ use of language?


Advice from an Atheist

September 6, 2007

Simon Blackburn writes an engaging, persuasive, and witty book about his conception of the nature of truth in “Truth:  A Guide.”  As he introduces his audience to the seminal debate between the absolutist and the relativist he has this to say, “I try to write with the creed that we need to think and to reflect, if we are to be in control of our words and ideas rather than be controlled by them.”

Whether it is philosophy, politics, theology or just our everyday personal lives – we should heed Blackburn’s advice!