Monday, September 29, 2014

Open Letter to Karen Armstrong on 'The Myth of Religious Violence'

An open letter to Karen Armstrong on her Guardian article ‘The Myth of Religious Violence’. I invite Karen to either come out as a Secularist with a capital 'S', or come up with a better argument.

Go here to CFI logs for my post.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

'But is it art?' Wittgenstein on family resemblance concepts - explained!


But is it Art?

From my The Philosophy Gym: 25 Short Adventures in Thinking. This introduces Wittgenstein on 'family resemblance' and the idea of 'necessary and sufficient conditions'.

Philosophy Gym category:

Warm up

Medium
More challenging

I mean they’d gone and fucking installed the work without me even being here. That’s just not on. This is my bed. If someone else installs it, it’s just dirty linen. If I do it, it’s art. Tracey Emin (artist), Evening Standard, 12/9/00.


Today it seems almost anything can be classified as a work of art: Damien Hirst’s pickled shark or Tracey Emin’s unmade bed, for example. But what is art, exactly? What is it that Macbeth, a piece of tribal sculpture, The Nutcracker Suite, the roof of the Sistene Chapel and Emin’s bed all have in common? What is the common denominator that makes each one of these things art? This is an extremely difficult question to answer. This chapter explains one of the leading theories, taking in one of Wittgenstein’s (1889-1951) most important insights along the way.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Follow my CFI blog: The Outer Limits

Just posted my first blog post for CFI here as part of their Free Thinking site. I will be posting exclusive Humanist/Skepticism related article there regularly - at least once a month. Do please follow!

My CFI blog is called The Outer Limits. They made me a nice banner - have a look.


This blog will of course continue. In particular I'll put more academic posts here (e.g. drafts of papers for discussion, etc.), plus news of events (CFI UK especially, which I organize) and other interests. Skeptical/humanism related posts here will usually also appear over at The Secular Outpost.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Werewolves, Vampires and Witches sceptically investigated by CFI UK, 18 October

Centre for Inquiry UK and Conway Hall Ethical Society present: Deborah Hyde, Jessica Monteith, and Owen Davies speaking on vampires, werewolves, and witches.
 
Register here.
 
Deborah Hyde, Jessica Monteith, and Owen Davies introduce us to the myth and the reality regarding some of the most horrific creatures imaginable. A skeptical inquiry into some of the most terrifying creatures imaginable. Come and be terrified and informed.

Note that even if you have heard e.g. Hyde on vampires before, she is talking about werewolves at this event.

Organised and chaired by Stephen Law

Date: Saturday 18 October 2014
Venue: Conway Hall (Main Hall), 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, London, WC1R 4RL (Nr Holborn Tube)

Secular Humanism: DON'T define it as requiring naturalism


What does secular humanism (or, as we say in the UK, humanism) involve? In Humanism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP 2011) I suggest that most of those who sign up to secular humanism sign up to following:

1. Secular humanists place particular emphasis on the role of science and reason.

2. Humanists are atheists. They do not sign up to belief in a god or gods.

3. Humanists suppose that this is very probably the only life we have.

4. Humanists usually believe in the existence and importance of moral value.

5. Humanists emphasize our individual moral autonomy and responsibility.

6. Humanists are secularists in the sense that they favour an open, democratic society and believe the State should take neutral stance on religion.

7. Humanists believe that we can enjoy significant, meaningful lives even if there is no is a God, and whether or not we happen to be religious.

Now some readers may be thinking, ‘But hang on, you haven’t mentioned naturalism. Surely secular humanists also sign up to naturalism, right? They reject belief in the supernatural. So why no mention of naturalism here?