About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tim Dean and others debate Alain de Botton...

... on this thread.

I dunno. I don't have strong feelings either way about de Botton's book, which I thought was well enough written and quite enjoyed. I still think that de Botton goes out of his way to make potentially (and sometimes actually) oppressive features of religion sound like a good thing. I really don't see the need for the sort of direction, structure, etc., in my life that he seems to think is necessary (or at least psychologically desirable). I can provide enough of that myself, thank you very much. The notion of whole societies being structured and directed by religions, with their sacred texts, comprehensive moral systems, and general efforts to permeate every aspect of our lives just seems to me to be claustrophobic and creepy.

But that's just me. I'm not claiming that you have to feel the same way, and I'm certainly not out to suppress religion by force. All I really ask is that religions maintain some sense of modesty about what influence and authority they ought to have ... and particularly that no religion be imposed on people by state coercion.

1 comment:

Bruce S. Springsteen said...

Just saw him speak here. Even my wife, not of a philosophical bent but determined to listen carefully to his arguments (without being seduced and distracted by his jokes), became mightily annoyed at the way every virtue he claimed for religion is easily identified with a corresponding, cancelling vice that he was unable or unwilling to notice. If his rose-colored view of the various sales techniques religion deploys couldn't bamboozle her, I doubt he's going to make much headway with active anti-theists.

The gratuitous, reflexive pot shots at Straw-Man Dawkins with which de Botton routinely begins his stump speech diid not set a favorable tone.