[ by Charles Cameron — when not dancing innumerably on the heads of pins ]
I responded to a question from David Ronfeldt today by saying I don’t know of a book that offers a “a sustained, point-for-point, systematic, thorough comparison” between earlier Christian and contemporary Islamist religious violence.
I do share his concern for point-for-point comparisons, however, and this one popped up as I was working on my response to David:
These two quotes are abstract, indeed metaphysical, I know, and don’t deal with human-on-human violence as such — but the DoubleQuote they form is nevertheless a point-for-point comparison, and the very exactness of its counterpoint gives it the sort of power the best haiku have, I believe, offering us wit in brevity, multum in parvo, small is beautiful.
An apocalypse (Ancient Greek: apokalypsis, from apo and kalypto meaning “uncovering”), translated literally from Greek, is a disclosure of knowledge, i.e., a lifting of the veil or revelation. In religious contexts it is usually a disclosure of something hidden.
— it is only natural that the revelation of secrets should provide a sometime theologian such as myself with scriptural memories..
It has long seemed to me that “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7. 1-2) offers an extraordinarily non-vengeful, non-violent option within the tit-for-tat, eye-for-an-eye scriptural formulation of justice.
[ by Charles Cameron — I am reminded also of Abraham Joshua Heschel’s great and simple book, The Sabbath ]
Two very different styles of thinking came to my attention today. The first style (upper panel, below) is that now commonly found within the effective altruism movement:
The second (lower panel, above) comes from Oliver Sacks, physician.
Between them lies the difference between quantitative and qualitative modes of thinking — which is to say between quantity and quality as the two great vectors aloing which we align our lives and futures.
[by Charles Cameron — some remedial philosophy at age 71 ]
I seem to be doing remedial political philosophy this week. As it happens, I read a Chinese comedian in my youth and was admonished against “sitting down while running round in circles” and have been aerating my brain with too much conscious breathing ever since — neither leaving me much time or interest for what in Oxford in my day was known, somewhat dismissively, PPE — Philosophy, Politics and Economics.
Which brings me today, and to grabbing lectures in just that sort of thing from Harvard’s Michael Sandel, courtesy of YouTube:
The video shows Sandel’s lectures, “Justice: Putting a Price Tag on Life”, and “How to Measure Pleasure” — salted with some dark humor:
Back in ancient Rome, they threw Christians to the lions in the Coliseum for sport. If you think how the utilitarian calculus would go, yes, the Christian thrown to the lion suffers enormous, excruciating pain, but look at the collective ecstasy of the Romans. .. you have to admit that if there were enough Romans delirious with happiness, it would outweigh even the most excruciating pain of a handful of Christians thrown to the lion.
I enjoyed the two lectures immensely — maybe I should rewind fifty years, and try PPE at Harcard?.
I mean, all of which made me wonder about Jeremy Bentham, I suppose.
We had Locke at Christ Church, staring disdainfully from his portrait during dinners in the Great Hall — but Bentham? I don’t think I saw any utility in utilitarianism.
But then I also wondered:
I wondered: how close is the analogy between the trolly problem and the ticking bomb torture questionn? Do we start from numbers of likely victims in each case and decide from there, or should we instead start by contemplating torture — and recognize the abyss staring back at us?
Zenpundit is a blog dedicated to exploring the intersections of foreign policy, history, military theory, national security,strategic thinking, futurism, cognition and a number of other esoteric pursuits.