“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

God, Meh


But as for the other sort of materialism ... I really don’t see what’s so horribly catastrophic about people believing in God. Worst-case scenario: they’re wrong. Yet I don’t see the biggest problem in philosophy as being that people are wrong about things. We’re all wrong about an awful lot of things, as we all realize when modifying our previous views on anything. When reading people’s work let’s look for depth, seriousness, originality, commitment, and insight, and not measure people by what we ourselves think to be their ratio of true to false explicit propositions.

Non-theism (eg Buddhism) means you have stopped identifying with theism--and thus also with atheism...


Daniel said...

If that is what non-theism is (ceasing to identify with theism—and thus also atheism), would it be fair to say that we find, scattered here and there within the Abrahamic religions, some non-theists, even if the traditions as a whole are theistic (obviously)? I'm thinking of figures like Dionysius the Areopagite, or various Sufis, or someone like al-Hallaj.

I mean in one sense you could say that non-theism, as it manifests itself within the theistic traditions, is just a strong attempt to avoid idolatry: the notion that any name/concept one assigns to the source of all things fails, whether that name is affirmative (theistic) or negative (atheistic).

But perhaps that's not what you were getting at.

Timothy Morton said...

Hi--definitely. Couldn't agree more. No one has a monopoly on non-theism. As far as I can see it's just something that pops up spontaneously, though one can prepare the way for it.

And plenty of Buddhists are theistic! And nihilistic!

Daniel said...

Is there one branch or sect or group within Buddhism which avoids the theistic 'trap' as it were? I've always sort of assumed this would be Ch'an / Zen Buddhism, but I don't know that much about it.

Timothy Morton said...

Well I think they all do, in their different ways. Practitioners, on the other hand, are another story.