“Philosopher Ted Honderich insightfully relates four shattering current events in this articulate, well-reasoned moral and political analysis. Exploring the war in Iraq, the controversy in Palestine, and the tragic events of 9-11 and London’s 7-7, Honderich elucidates the great questions of right and wrong in a conflict-ridden era.
“Ted Honderich, Britain’s foremost radical philosopher, is Grote Professor Emeritus at University College London and a visiting professor at the University of Bath. He is internationally recognized for his numerous books on philosophy, including Punishment: The Supposed Justifications Revisited, Conservatism, Terrorism for Humanity, After the Terror, and How Free Are You? Honderich, in Right and Wrong, and Palestine, 9-11, Iraq, 7-7…, discusses what is wrong with our perceptions of the Middle East, with our American (and British) styled democracies, and how we might discern an ethical system to create a more humane planetary society.”
To many, the antithesis of modern humanism, which was founded on Enlightenment principals, would be the philosophy of postmodernism. The political Left in America, over the past 45 years or so, has been marred by postmodernism, and the Right has taken advantage of that fact. What started out as an honest and justified consideration for the well-being of cultures ‘other than’ European and American (cultures which often have been historically the victims of European/American colonialism and hegemony), has morphed into an acceptance of double standards by some thinkers.
One might call this the ‘who are we to judge’ effect. The Right, as is its wont, fights back with fundamentalisms of every sort – or what might be called their ‘we alone are to judge’ doctrine. Is there then, a way to understand and implement a progressive humanism which, while Leftist in political orientation, is still Enlightenment based?
That is the question David Detmer tries to answer in his book, Challenging Postmodernism: Philosophy & the Politics of Truth. Challenging Postmodernism is a philosophical treatise which examines the problems with postmodernism and its anti-humanistic implications, and tries to determine whether or not the intellectual Left is indeed guilty en masse of cultural relativism. It then explains how a progressive politic is indeed very much in step with Enlightenment humanism.
From the preface of Reflections in a Bloodshot Lens: America, Islam, and the War of Ideas
“For Americans, Islam has emerged as the quintessential “Other,” replacing the Soviet Union as the touchstone against which U.S. citizens measure their collective sense of Self. It has become a cliché to say that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 “changed everything.” On one level, that is true. The nation’s illusion of security was shattered; its relationship with terror as something that happened somewhere else was unalterably transformed. But on another level, 9/11 simply made overt a worldview that had long been present but little acknowledged.
“Since a keffiah-clad Rudolph Valentino first strode across the silent screen, Arabs and Muslims have been Othered in U.S. society, the subject of stereotype and differentiation. Blinded by their view of Self, most Americans knew – or cared – little about what the rest of the world thought of them. Meanwhile, Arabs and non-Arab Muslims harbored a host of clichés and preconceived notions that shaped their view of the U.S., set against the overarching perception that the U.S. is intrinsically linked to, and responsible for, the policies of Israel, the ultimate Other.
Continue reading “Show 179: Lawrence Pintak”
The effective alternative to policies which are based on misanthropic assumptions of people’s inherent laziness, greed, selfishness, and antisocial nature are policies which are radically different than the “moderate” ineffectual policies which most liberal-minded people support. If we are going to be successful at becoming the kind of free, egalitarian, open, tolerant, inclusive, creative, inventive, dynamic and forward looking culture which we want our society to be, we will need to base our policies on a very different understanding of the human experience.
Join our discussion about how things might look if our understanding of the world was based on naturalism and humanism. We’ll be taking your calls throughout the hour!