Running with the Pack: Thoughts from the Road on Meaning and Mortality.
Running with the Pack will be published on March 7th – with Granta, the publishers of The Philosopher and the Wolf. The launch coincided with a scheduled (and, needless to say, very well-earned) sabbatical from the University of Miami, and before I knew it I found myself on a tour of the UK: split between March and May (in between I’ll be spending a month at the École Normale Supérieure in Lyon, where I’ll be Visiting Professor). I’ll post details of the March schedule as soon as they have been finalized.
What is the state of belief of an atheist? An atheist is often defined as someone who does not believe in God. It is quite true that an atheist does not believe in God, but that is insufficient to define the state of belief of an atheist.
Some friends of mine have recently alerted me to some strange things my old sparring partner, Ken Aizawa, has been saying about my work on his blog (www.theboundsofcognition.blogspot.com)
Ken accuses me of being a proponent of what he calls revolutionary extended cognition. That is, I apparently believe that all cognitive processes are extended. This is a very strange and implausible view that I do not endorse, and never have endorsed.
"What triggers disgust? Paradoxically, disgust is both primitive and yet infused with civilization and its objects seem heterogeneous and without unifying principle (from corpses to feces to rats to body parts). McGinn suggests that death figures in objects we find disgusting, directly or indirectly, so that symbolism is at work in this most visceral of emotions. But the way death figures is subtle. Skeletons are not disgusting while rotting flesh is. McGinn argues that ultimately it is our incongruous nature as “embodied souls” that lies behind disgust"
Colin McGinn talks about Disgust and Death during the interview at University of Illinois. Press here to listen.
... It's about us. I've steered clear of commenting on this, because I really have better things to think about than an unfaithful golfer (not a real sport, by the way), staggering though his unfaithfulness might have been. But now I find myself interested - not in Tiger, he still bores me - but in everyone who is interested in Tiger. In The Philosopher and the Wolf, I talked about how vicious we apes are, and I got a lot of flak for it. But there is no better illustration of what I was talking about than the Tiger Woods affair.
What is the state of belief of an atheist? An atheist is often defined as someone who does not believe in God. It is quite true that an atheist does not believe in God, but that is insufficient to define the state of belief of an atheist. A tree or a rock or a lizard does not believe in God either--but it would be bizarre to describe such beings as atheists. This is because they are not believers at all, in anything. And even a dog or a chimpanzee, which plausibly do have beliefs, are hardly to be characterized as atheists. Furthermore, an agnostic does not believe in God either, since he suspends belief on the question. What is missing, obviously, is the fact that an atheist disbelieves in the existence of God—he believes that there is no God.
Taylor's argument seems to go like this:
(1) The meaning of life cannot be found in purpose (the dilemma - see The Meaning of Life Part 1)
(2) Therefore, it must be found in something else.
(3) To see what, we should revisit the reworked version of the Sisyphus' myth.
It had been dawning on me that it was a defect in my tennis game that I wasn't getting to the ball early enough, in time to set up properly and hit with control (the strokes themselves were okay). Watching Melanie Oudin play brought this home to me:
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