Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON
LECTURE ONE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d__In2PQS60
LECTURE TWO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al7O2puvdDA

ALSO AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ONE THROUGH TEN ON IDEOLOGICAL CRITIQUE



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Thursday, February 5, 2015

RELIGION HAS A LOT TO ANSWER FOR

As I have several times observed on this blog, there have been times in the history of the human race when religion may have been a net plus for society.  I think, quite naturally, of the sixth century anno domine when, as Gregory of Tours tells us in his indispensable History of the Franks, the bloody-mindedness of the upper classes in Northern Europe was somewhat moderated by the influence of the local priesthood.  [Of course, since Gregory was a Bishop, his account may be suspect, but as we have no other, but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.]

However, this is not one of those times.  The sheer evil being inflicted on innocent victims by true believers of one sort or another is not in the slightest made up for by the engaging cheeriness of the current Pope.  I am moved to write, of course, by the latest atrocity committed and advertised by ISIL, but in far-reachingness of effects, if not in immediate brutality, that act is matched by the efforts of religious Muslims, religious Christians, religious Jews, and religious Hindus to inflict misery on those not sharing their particular form of nonsense.

I would like to think that the act of ISIl is an evidence not of strength but of weakness, a desperate attempt to recapture the attention of a world public inured to mere beheadings, but that may well be groundless wishful thinking by a constitutional optimist.

Voltaire, where are you when we need you?

2 comments:

Magpie said...

Prof. Wolff,

Now that we are talking about religion, I'd like to ask two questions:

(1) What is religion, in your opinion?

If we stumble upon something, how do we know whether it is a religion and not another kind of phenomenon?

For example, would it be legitimate to call Marxism, Free-Market Liberalism, Conservatism, Libertarianism religion?

And

(2) Historically, religious beliefs include supernaturalism. But is belief in the supernatural necessarily a component of religion? Is there anything besides supernaturalism in religion?

Seth said...

Today, the media circus has turned attention to the shocking history lesson Pres. Obama offered the other day: Christians have done some nasty things over the centuries.

As Charles Pierce -- the contemporary journalist, not the 19th century philosopher -- put it recently: America is a nation of infantilized yahoos.