Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Civilised, Moderate Men

The audience for this blog, I have decided, consists of "...civilised, moderate men, whose opinions seldom transgress the limits which can be found within the pages of the two quality Sunday newspapers or the reputable literary weeklies. Their views on man, society, God or nature are unlikely to be much further left than the New Statesman or further right than the Spectator: the spectrum between the Sunday Times and the Observer will generally accomodate their opinions."---Ernest Gellner, The Legitimation of Belief, p. 139.

"If for instance I discover, at the last moment, that the train which I have been counting on to reach home is no longer running, this is a considerable inconvenience---but, without claiming any remarkable imperturbability, I can say that my general composure remains unaffected. If, on the other hand, a man is convinced one day that the identity of his parents is other than he had been brought up to believe; or that the political movement he had supported all his life is in fact criminal and immoral; or that the interpretation of recent history officially put forward by his nation is fraudulent---discoveries or conversions of this kind cannot leave him unmoved. So much else is implicated in these crucial, favoured, and entrenched convictions that if they go, much else also topples."---p. 164.

"What is crucial is the contrast between a world in which unwanted falsification (hurtful to the pervasive and entrenched myth) can hardly occur, and a rational or scientific one in which it can. The idea of criticism ... cannot really characterise or define this difference. A closed world can allow 'criticism' yet be adequately endowed with devices for ensuring that criticism will be silenced, that falsification will be evaded, in its own internal courts of appeal."---p. 175.

The purpose of this blog is to remind those civilised, moderate men that: "Well, the truth about this world is that our inherited ideas are sometimes viable and sometimes not, and that intellectual crises occur when some important part of them is unacceptable."---p. 146.


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