Tuesday, May 5, 2009

God Gang Fight Back Against Ditchkins

Stanley Fish reviews Terry Eagleton's Reason, Faith and Revolution in an article which should consign Ditchkins (aka Dawkins and Hitchens) to the dustbin of history. But the history of ideas is not always that straightforward. Here's an excerpt from Fish's piece, published in the New York Times:

"“Ditchkins,” Eagleton observes, cannot ground his belief “in the value of individual freedom” in scientific observation. It is for him an article of faith, and once in place, it generates facts and reasons and judgments of right and wrong. “Faith and knowledge,” Eagleton concludes, are not antithetical but “interwoven.” You can’t have one without the other, despite the Satanic claim that you can go it alone by applying your own independent intellect to an unmediated reality: “All reasoning is conducted within the ambit of some sort of faith, attraction, inclination, orientation, predisposition, or prior commitment.” Meaning, value and truth are not “reducible to the facts themselves, in the sense of being ineluctably motivated by a bare account of them.” Which is to say that there is no such thing as a bare account of them. (Here, as many have noted, is where religion and postmodernism meet.)

If this is so, the basis for what Eagleton calls “the rejection of religion on the cheap” by contrasting its unsupported (except by faith) assertions with the scientifically grounded assertions of atheism collapses; and we are where we always were, confronted with a choice between a flawed but aspiring religious faith or a spectacularly hubristic faith in the power of unaided reason and a progress that has no content but, like the capitalism it reflects and extends, just makes its valueless way into every nook and cranny."


Anonymous said...

So are you for or against Eagleton's point of view?

Peter Carrell said...

I am for Eagleton's point of view as cited herein ... but I do not know enough about Eagleton's oeuvre to make a judgment on the whole of his thinking.