Tag Archives: Religion

The Kiss of Death

Yesterday I finally got round to seeing the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich (the one with the sexy longitudinal grid coordinates). Although regarded as the number one naval museums I found it personally disappointing, about which more in a later article.

I arrived for a talk on the death of Nelson, which was excellent and the highlight of the visit, and the guide said something that caught my attention. When Nelson asked Hardy to kiss Nelson our guide seemed to be very keen that we should understand that this wasn’t a sexual kiss—which I think is a historically respectable sentiment (whichever way you look at it people who are departing are not in the mood for sex) but otherwise I don’t see the point in making such a fuss, but this was not what caught my attention. According to the narrator Hardy knelt and kissed Nelson on the cheek and then administered what she seemed to call the ‘kiss of death’ (though I can find no other instance of the phrase being used in this way)—this was the bit that struck me—Hardy kissed him on the forehead, a common practice that had the effect of settling sailors in death according to our guide.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Metaphysical Bloviation (II)

The Ducks have challenged me on my pleas for metaphysical tolerance and Hey Skipper has posted some reflections on an Economist article, When Religions Talk, asserting “By definition, religions assert mutually exclusive metaphysical claims”.

Robert Duquette strikes close to the heart of the issue in his comment on my article:

Continue reading

Metaphysical Bloviation?

Over at talkingphilosophy blog Jeff Mason has an elegant essay on metaphysics that takes the Kantian view that the physical sciences are the source of all knowledge and everything else is mere speculation. My problem with this essay, and Kant’s critique, is that they are the worst examples of the very thing that they are complaining about—making, as they do, grandiose excessively-general statements about the nature of reality that are quite immune from empirical or logical examination, the most extravagant metaphysical conceit of them all. The genre really should be called metametaphysics as it installs itself as the last arbiter on truth and preemptively disqualifies, tout court, anything that could offer an alternative to its dogmatically positivistic understanding of reality.

Continue reading

Why Fisk is Wrong about Ahmadinejad

[Part of a series of articles reviewing blogs and websites (here Robert Fisk) on my blog-roll; see the about page.]

[Update: See also The Love Buzz, an important companion article without which this article may seem a little puzzling, and Goldberg is also Wrong on Ahmadinejad.]

Latest reports suggest that there could be a resolution to the nuclear dispute between Iran and the USA on the horizon? If it is so then Ahmadinejad had better if the Iranians kept Ahmadinejad out of the way. But before I come to these reports I would like to look at how the President of Iran may have influenced the process. He is portrayed, even by great instigative journalists as insane, but others have detected method in his madness. To do that you have to avoid getting distracted by the hysterical projections of his detractors and treat him seriously.

The great instigative journalist is Robert Fisk, who has a new article in Saturday’s Indie, The Middle East never tires of threats. Until the end of the article it is vintage Fisk, looking at the absurd, boastful theatrics that makes up so much of conflict, and especially Middle Eastern politics. His best shot comes when the boasts stop.

The problem about threats, of course, is that once you’ve made them, you’ve either got to carry them out or pretend you were misunderstood. I never believed George Bush would invade Iraq; not, that is, until I turned up at UN headquarters in New York and actually heard him ranting on about the powerlessness of the UN. And then he actually did invade Iraq. And I still have my notes of an interview with a certain Osama bin Laden, and his last words to me were: “I pray that God permits us to turn America into a shadow of itself.” And I wrote in the margin the one word “rhetoric?”. September 11 cleared that one up.

For those that haven’t already read Commander Huber’s essay on how we all walked into the trap, I recommend it, for it America has become a shadow of herself, even if, despite extensive south-west-Asian commitments, her ability wreak death and destruction remains formidable . I mean the American brand is a shadow of itself, though its not irreparable (and already underway?).

Unfortunately Fisk gets carried away with his story and finishes with the most hackneyed of comparisons, and following a narrative lovingly constructed by the purveyors of the meaningless, lazy and empty rhetoric that Fisk despises so much.

Continue reading