Arms linked »« Hearing from Tiresias

What to call it

We need a better word for…

Well for this. Start with what Julian said in that article.

Atheism does not own the scientific method, and nor does good, secular thinking reduce to scientific reasoning. What is too often forgotten is that modern atheism was born in a humanistic way of thinking that drew as much on arts and humanities as it did natural science, if not more so.

We need a better word for “good, secular thinking” that includes science but is not limited to it. We need a word that encompasses law, history, forensics and detective work, critical thinking, using what one knows and understands to navigate relationships and work and the world. Reality-based inquiry? Evidence-based? Reason?

Whatever it is, it’s compatible with the arts – it’s not in tension with them – but it’s not compatible with most religion, except of the “I enjoy the music and the ritual and the community” variety. It has no problem at all with just enjoying beauty in slack-jawed wonder or bliss, but it does have a problem with trying to translate that into something both definite and vague that deserves the label “spiritual,” much less “god.”

Any suggestions?

Comments

  1. Daniel Lafave says

    Michael Devitt calls this “naturalism as an epistemological doctrine”, although I worry that “naturalism” is already overloaded with meanings. The good old-fashioned term “empiricism” could do, although that is overloaded with other meanings as well.

    None of this would be “imcompatible with the arts”. First, all of this only has to do with the context of justification, not the context of discovery. If a scientist has a dream and has a breakthrough in her work, that does nothing to compromise “naturalism as an epistemological doctrine”, which only concerns the context of justification. Second, this only concerns epistemology and knowledge. Art, Music, Fiction, etc… aren’t knowledge, because they aren’t even truth-apt. We can make claims about the arts, but those ought to be justified by the same standards as all “naturalism as an epistemological doctrine”.

  2. Pteryxx says

    The closest concept I can think to offer is “honest” or similar. Often I hear in art classes or story critique that the work has to be “honest”, “real” or “true to itself”, or that it has “veracity”. So even outside a rational or evidence-based context, the terms still refer to concepts of truth, reality, and trust. There’s also “good honest work” and the perception that an “honest person” or a “real friend” is the one you can trust, not necessarily the politest or best-appearing one.

  3. says

    “Scientistic” conveys the empirical approach of the other disciplines, coming from a root meaning “knowing”. This choice has the added benefit of undermining the attempt to invent “scientism”.

  4. Egbert says

    Sanity indeed.

    I think ‘freethinker’ is a good word, that can fix the gap between naturalism and the humanities. But it is a kind of historical movement backwards from naturalism, humanism and secularism.

    There seems to be a healthy modern sceptical community as it is, which is mostly atheistic, but also seems to generate many rifts. I think a step backwards is needed before we can go forwards again.

    It might help us mend some alliances with more liberal and sceptical theists, and that might be a good thing.

  5. Jason Dick says

    I don’t think I agree with the premise. The difficulty isn’t that skeptical atheism doesn’t draw from the humanities. The difficulty is that science does too.

    For example, one essential component of science is philosophy. Many scientists like to thumb their noses at philosophy, but the fact of the matter is that philosophy lies at the very heart of the scientific process. Whenever a scientist attempts to answer the question, “How do we know what the evidence has to say about whether or not this is true?” they have to, at the heart of it, rely upon philosophy for the answer.

    Furthermore, much of science is fundamentally a creative process. Whether you’re talking about developing a new theory or designing a new experimental apparatus, the process is every bit as much a creative one as producing a work of art. Only the goal is different.

    So I would say that science is every bit as interconnected with the humanities as atheism is. But at its heart, science is about approaching the world in a rational manner to discover the truth while recognizing that we make mistakes. And that is at the heart of skeptical atheism as well. While many of the humanities include this, they are by no means limited to this.

    Therefore, I see no problem whatsoever in linking atheism strongly with science. This doesn’t mean that it is independent from the humanities. It just means it doesn’t bother with those parts of the humanities that fly against reality.

  6. dnbarabash says

    A few suggestions:

    •Freethought?
    •Godless Humanism? (“Secular” is too weak a term for my tastes — it could also mean “I believe in spooks but don’t like to talk about it”)
    •Rational Empiricism?
    •Empirical Rationalism?
    •Clear-Headedness?

    To me, all of these connote the process of both observing the outside world and thinking about it, without a need to consult any mythology or superstition.

  7. Ken Pidcock says

    I’ll go with Reason, the Enlightenment virtue that understanding does not involve deference to authority.

  8. atlanta _ldl says

    Anything but “freethought”, as that would smack of this website’s owners and associated authors profiteering.

  9. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Jason Dick #9

    For example, one essential component of science is philosophy. Many scientists like to thumb their noses at philosophy, but the fact of the matter is that philosophy lies at the very heart of the scientific process.

    Well, some philosophy works with science. I sincerely doubt postmodernism lies at the very heart of anything but dadaism and sloppy thinking.

  10. John D says

    Psychological dualists everywhere. I am amazed by this. How can someone claim to be a thinking person and still keep themselves loaded down by the concept that there is a “great good”. I suggest you try psychological monism for a while Ophelia.

    There is no such thing as ““good, secular thinking” that includes science but is not limited to it. ”

    There is really only good thinking, good reason, and good science. There is nothing over and above this (as much as you wish there were)

    Please folks, just because you feel something (like wonder) doesn’t mean there is something outside of science and reason to explain it. Most of you have a brain. This brain creates complex chemical and electrical patters that create emotional phenomena. Your wonder, joy, empathy, hate, and lust… they all just come from the emotional phenomena created by your brain.

    I love art. I love music… and I love the people in my life. I love these things because of how they make me feel and how they motivate my thinking. It is no more mystical or spiritual than this.

    So… my contribution. I think the word you are looking for Ophelia is “fantasy”.

  11. Classical Cipher, Murmur Muris, OM says

    Please folks, just because you feel something (like wonder) doesn’t mean there is something outside of science and reason to explain it. Most of you have a brain. This brain creates complex chemical and electrical patters that create emotional phenomena. Your wonder, joy, empathy, hate, and lust… they all just come from the emotional phenomena created by your brain.

    Yeah… You’re confused. Try reading the post again.

  12. dnbarabash says

    atlanta _ldl @12:

    Anything but “freethought”, as that would smack of this website’s owners and associated authors profiteering.

    I’m pretty sure the phrases “freethought,” “freethinking,” “freethinker,” etc. have been around a bit longer than this blog.

  13. John D says

    Sorry C. Cipher. I actually read the blathering nonsensical post again. I will just quote this from O.:

    “Atheism does not own the scientific method, and nor does good, secular thinking reduce to scientific reasoning.”

    I claim that good secular thinking does reduce to scientific reasoning. All good thinking reduces to good scientific reasoning. There really is no other type of reasoning.

    Your turn to prove me wrong and your turn to read my friend. (Does everyone on this blog have a philosophy minor or other such useless specialty?).

  14. John D says

    Oh – Hi PZ – Nice to see you. I made a good point. Why don’t you argue about it? I read the blather twice. You have no argument against my criticism.

    Ophelia states this “Atheism does not own the scientific method, and nor does good, secular thinking reduce to scientific reasoning.”

    Her statement here makes no sense. It is nonsensical mystical blather.

    Please rebut…. and you should read yourself.

  15. Jason Dick says

    ‘Tis Himself, #13

    Well, some philosophy works with science. I sincerely doubt postmodernism lies at the very heart of anything but dadaism and sloppy thinking.

    Oh, yes, absolutely! But the main point here is that the parts of philosophy that are useful in science are generally also the parts that atheists make use of. Even moral philosophy has tremendous overlap with, for example, the biological and medical sciences.

    This is why I actually prefer the view of skeptical atheism as being science-based: the humanities are just entirely too broad.

  16. Dave says

    I don’t think it is mystical blather to point out that one cannot have discussions about what people should or shouldn’t do simply based on ‘scientific reasoning’. One might find out that it would be empirically rational to dig in everyone over 75 for compost, for example.

    When one is faced with the need to argue that secular thought is capable of ethics [however tragically bloody-minded and stupid the opposition to that claim might be], beginning by opening the way to a recitation of the evils of allegedly ‘scientific’ approaches to discrimination, abuse and persecution does not seem to be constructive.

    It is one thing to be perfectly aware that all one’s ethical reasoning is merely electrical activity in the brain, quite another to pretend that that is a fully-adequate perspective on what it is to be human.

  17. bogardiner says

    I’m with James. I’ve called myself a humanist for many years, Ophelia; the word you describe is precisely how I use — and deeply feel about — the word “humanistic.”

    To others I explain that the word also has a broader Enlightment-based that expands on the humanities to include progressive, reason-based philosophy and ethics, where profound meaning and joy come from the beauty and interconnectedness of humanity and all of nature, bringing a responsibility to future generations.

    –Bo Gardiner

  18. John D says

    Dave… here’s the thing… It is NOT empirically rational to dig in everyone over 75 for compost. Are you claiming that it is? If so, please define a legal system where this would make sense and how this would be rational.

  19. Dave says

    John, now you’re just going round in circles. What do legal systems have to do with rationality? Very little, last time I looked. I doubt your local jurisdiction handles the difference between alcohol and marijuana, or nicotine and cocaine, any more rationally than mine does.

    Concentrate on the substantive point – where do ethics come from, real ones, not ones you made up? Still more perplexing, where do ‘rights’ come from? If you can arrive at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by reasoning that doesn’t involve stipulating some kind of foundational ethical commitment, I shall be genuinely impressed. In the meantime, stop being rude about your host.

  20. Svlad Cjelli says

    “One might find out that it would be empirically rational to dig in everyone over 75 for compost, for example.”

    What does empirically rational mean? Or what does it mean for something to be empirically rational?

  21. John D says

    Really Dave… legal systems have nothing to do with rationality? What makes you say this? It is very rational to have a legal system. It helps provide for security and allows we fellow humans to coexist without bashing each others brains out. The legal system is a very rational approach to a very real problem. Do you think the legal system is irrational? Please explain.

    Ethics a really just a set of mental models that humans have embraced over the centuries. They provide a method and model to predict the behavior of our fellow humans and help us pick optimum strategies for success and survival. They are “memes” if you like to use that word.

    So Dave, in a certain sense, all ethics are “made up”. They are not absolute. They are mental models that have matured and been refined with time. They have been developed through a shared human experience, human emotion and need, and centuries of story telling and legal systems. Do you disagree?

    and while you are at it and so keen to defend Ophelia… perhaps you can explain what she means when she utters this:

    “Atheism does not own the scientific method, and nor does good, secular thinking reduce to scientific reasoning.”

    I contend that I still can make no sense of this. Good secular thinking can be reduced to scientific reasoning… right? Maybe O. just doesn’t mean it, or perhaps she was exaggerating, or maybe she was testing you.

  22. Richard Smith says

    @John D (#34): “Good secular thinking can be reduced to scientific reasoning… right?”

    “Can be,” but not “always is.” A good example, I think, would be one of the quotes the anti-evolutionists love to pull from Darwin, about humanity following natural selection’s rules and getting rid of the “dregs” of society to keep the species pure (scientific reasoning), while omitting the subsequent part where he opposes such behaviour (secular thinking).

  23. John D says

    Richard – Social Darwinism was not scientific thinking. It was a political philosophy that was supported by lies and bad science. To label this as scientific thinking is false. It was unscientific thinking masquerading as scientific thinking.

  24. says

    I think the problem here is that John D is using a definition of “science” that is closer to what Jerry Coyne employs, which basically is exactly what Ophelia is talking about here. The problem is one of definition, not of “mysticism”. You’re kinda being a bit of a bull in a china shop here, John D — nobody here is thinking there is some mystical non-physical extra-scientific “stuff” needed to fully explain the world, etc. It is simply a difference in terms.

    Blackford (who I see has chimed in here) once asserted as an example of something that was true and rational but not ascertainable by “science” as being, say, a list of the characters in MacBeth. His assertion is that this is a factual claim, it can be examined rationally, but it is not really “science” by his definition. By Coyne’s (and apparently John D’s) it would be.

    This is a semantic disagreement more than a philosophical disagreement, I think. Cool your jets a bit, John D.

  25. Richard Smith says

    @John D (#36): “Social Darwinism was not scientific thinking.”

    But I’m not talking about social Darwinism (I only mentioned the anti-evolutionists because they love using the out-of-context version as evidence of how evil scientific arguments are), I’m talking about what Darwin himself said about applying natural selection to humanity.

    He first proposed the scientific argument (given the science of the day) that allowing natural selection to continue its work would continue to improve humanity, then he continued to argue that such neglect of any portion of the population would be detrimental to the whole. This second part was not dealing with the science of evolution, but the more secular aspects of what makes us human. Darwin would be the first person to reject social Darwinism.

  26. John D says

    Hmmm… well… perhaps we should agree on what science is. Websters first definition is this. I am happy with this.

    Definition of SCIENCE
    1: the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding

    I don’t see a problem here… except one that is simply created in order to try to turn a clever phrase.

    Also folks. Please use the term “secular” correctly. You are truly butchering this. Richard – your comment about Darwin’s “secular” response makes no sense. Secularism is not a philosophy in this sense. It is simply a lack of religion or a worldly concern.

    Definition of SECULAR
    1a : of or relating to the worldly or temporal b : not overtly or specifically religious c : not ecclesiastical or clerical

  27. Rrr says

    Well, I for one think John D’s whole argument here rather impressively proves Ophelia’s point in this very post: “What to call it”, if you recall. It seems to me it* breaks down exactly at the level of words and their meaning, particularly variation thereof.

    Once you are reduced to dictionary fisticuffs, you have essentially lost, to reinterpret the alleged ancient Chinese saying.

    * His argument, that is, to be more precise :-)

  28. John D says

    Rrr – I have lost because I have had to explain to others what secular means? Really? Perhaps you could argue one of my points. Rather you declare a winner based on how arguments are presented. Dubious.

    Can you make sense of this for me Rrr? No one else can.

    O. says: “Atheism does not own the scientific method, and nor does good, secular thinking reduce to scientific reasoning.”

    Perhaps this only makes sense to those who do not understand the definition of “secular”. Perhaps you have all helped me figure out what is wrong. What definition is used for “secular” in this case? Is it some strange definition I have never heard of. Please let me know.

  29. Egbert says

    I don’t know if John D is for real or a parody. Which kinda makes me think that Poe’s law does apply to naturalists too.

  30. John D says

    Nice Egbert – Another mindless comment. Perhaps you are smart enough to decipher this comment from O. in her original post:“Atheism does not own the scientific method, and nor does good, secular thinking reduce to scientific reasoning.”

    You are the fifth person I have asked and so far no one has even tried to make sense of it.

    Do you know what secular means? Maybe I should take a pole…

    I am no poe and I am no troll. I have only pointed out why this post is hard to understand. I feel like I am lost in the wilderness with a group of folks… but I have the only compass.

  31. says

    I haven’t finished reading the comments yet, but just to say – I got things off on the wrong foot by somehow forgetting to blockquote the part that Julian said – which is the part that John D singled out for erm disagreement. In fact I’m disagreeing with what Julian said, a little bit – I’m suggesting we draw the boundaries in a different place and emphasize slightly different things.

  32. says

    James – nothing wrong with Humanism as such, of course, but it’s not what I mean here. It’s not a word for a kind of inquiry, or epistemology. It includes or assumes that but it isn’t a word for it.

    Russell’s “rational inquiry” is probably it. I was wondering if there were possibilities I had overlooked.

  33. says

    So anyway, John D – sorry I muddled you by not marking the quoted passage – but as others have said, dial it down. Few people here need to have the basics explained.

  34. Rrr says

    OK, John D, I’ll try and expand just a little bit on my oblique reference to supposed classical Chinese wisdom. As I recall, the old saying went something like this: When, in an argument, one person leaves the verbal phase and goes to physical attack, that means he (for it would have been a man, then) has automatically lost because he just admitted to having no more valid things to say.

    And look at you here, beating others up with dictionaries! Word-books are descriptive rather than norm-giving as such, by their nature. The theme of this post was to try and come up with creative words to describe something new, wasn’t it? Best if easily understood, of course.

    Good evening, folks.

  35. says

    The main place I’m drawing the boundaries differently is that I’m not including the humanities in general but I am including history and philosophy. Literature and the arts are not part of what I’m talking about (as needing a new word), though (as I mentioned) they are compatible with it. It is basically inquiry that I’m talking about, so Russell’s phrase is the closest to what I mean. It’s just that I wanted something like that but better…but I think there probably isn’t anything.

    I think that’s why Julian’s piece was a little muddled. It wasn’t completely clear if he was talking about that or really about all the humanities. I’m not sure “modern atheism was born in a humanistic way of thinking that drew as much on arts and humanities as it did natural science, if not more so” is actually true. That’s because I don’t think the arts or literature help much with figuring out if god is likely to exist or not.

  36. says

    Oh, I just realized – inquiry – so we’re back to Herodotus. Did you know that’s what the title of his book means? Inquiries.

    I think that’s where atheism comes from: inquiries. Not aesthetics or appreciation and not the aesthetic branches of the humanities.

  37. Jason Dick says

    Oh, I just realized – inquiry – so we’re back to Herodotus. Did you know that’s what the title of his book means? Inquiries.

    I think that’s where atheism comes from: inquiries. Not aesthetics or appreciation and not the aesthetic branches of the humanities.

    I agree very much. I just don’t see how this is distinct from science. All a scientist does, after all, is engage in rational inquiry within a specific field.

    I could perhaps understand people thinking there are PR reasons to think of another word, but merely in terms of accuracy this type of investigation is very much the same sort that goes on within science.

  38. says

    No, you’re right, it isn’t distinct from science – except that science is a more rigorous and structured version of it.

    It’s funny, some people seem very keen to define science narrowly and jump up and down about how much there is that’s not science, while others are keen to define it broadly and jump up and down about how much it has in common with other kinds of inquiry. I think the second is much more useful than the first.

  39. Egbert says

    Ophelia,

    As far as I’m concerned, atheism is lack of belief in gods and that doesn’t say very much. If we look at the development of modern atheism, then we can see it has a political basis (which is part of philosophy) and has a historical tradition.

    But I still think it’s a dead end if you’re trying to turn atheism into a philosophy. Atheism springs from philosophical traditions, but has no basis for a philosophical tradition in itself.

  40. says

    Oh, I geddit. I just looked at PZ’s dungeon, I think for the first time ever (I was curious about some crap “bluharmony” has been spewing about me), and I see there’s a John D there, an MRA type. Must be the same one.

  41. says

    Egbert………..I’m not. You’ve misunderstood. Your King Charles’s head got in the way, again. You have a bee in your bonnet about How Atheism Is Going Astray, or something, but it’s got nothing to do with what I’m saying here.

  42. John D says

    I’m no activist so I don’t know why anyone would call me an MRA. PZ just doesn’t like me I guess. He kicked me out after people on his blog called my a misogynist,rapists, sexist, bigot. Rather than tell others to behave he gave me the boot. The worst thing I called anyone was a nitwit. He likes to censor his blog.

  43. Flora Poste says

    Enlightenment values?

    “But science is bound by, and committed to, a set of normative values — values that have application to political questions. Placing a disinterested view of the world as it is ahead of our views of how it should be; recognizing that ideas should be tested in as systematic a way as possible; appreciating that there are experts whose views and criticisms need to be taken seriously: these are all attributes of good science that can be usefully applied when making decisions about the world of which science is but a part. Writ larger, the core values of science are those of open debate within a free society that have come down to us from the Enlightenment in many forms, not the least of which is the constitution of the United States.”

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v455/n7217/full/4551149a.html

  44. Caryn says

    I’ve been thinking about how to rebrand this concept for people whose hackles rise at the words “philosophical inquiry”, “Socratic method”, and/or “Enlightenment approach”, but then I experience the whole of the skeptical movement as a desperate attempt to avoid saying “philosophy of science and social epistemology.” On that note, I quite like the Ask For Evidence campaign.

    This thing we do doesn’t hang on science but on logic and a desire to map reality accurately. Science hangs on those too, leaving us quite happy with the consequences of it’s investigations. But.

  45. says

    :- )

    No problem, Egbert! Maybe today’s post on the subject will make it clearer what I’m getting at. It’s really not about atheism as such, it’s about not thinking science is the only kind of inquiry that is constrained by reality. Atheism is tangential really.

  46. John D says

    I’ve got it. I figured out what you guys should be called. (You guys being the fans of this blog etc.) You should call yourselves neo-Kantian. Seriously.

    I’ve be puzzling about this for a bit. You see, Kant was a German dood who basically believed that ethics were an absolute. He thought there is such a thing as ideal ethics. He also believed these ethics were a priori. They exist as an absolute. Since ethics are a priori they must be evidence of a greater power than man (aka God).

    Many of you here believe that ethics are a priori. I am always surprised by the number of atheists who feel this way. The thing is… if moral behavior, or ethics, are an absolute, they must have been created. Right?

    I hold that, as Hume indicated, the only a priori knowledge is that of logic.

    Please discuss…. if you like.

  47. says

    Bloody Hell, John, calm down and get over yourself…

    Ophelia states this “Atheism does not own the scientific method, and nor does good, secular thinking reduce to scientific reasoning.” Her statement here makes no sense. It is nonsensical mystical blather.

    It’s not “blather” at all. First, “Atheism does not own the scientific method” for the simple reason that atheism and the scientific method are two different things that don’t inevitably go together all the time. And second, “good, secular thinking” does not always “reduce to scientific reasoning;” sometimes it also involves emotional responses such as “Political action X horrifies and sickens us, therefore we should take a stand against it.” Or “Art makes us feel better, therefore it’s not totally idiotic to spend some public money on it.”

    What it basically boils down to, at least IMHO, is that the word “scientific” implies, to most English-speakers, an educated elite of PhDs working in labs; and while such elites have their valid place, not all rational or empirical reasoning comes from them — people from all walks of life engage in rational/empirical thinking whenever they make decisions of their own needs and interests (with varying degrees of sincerety and success, of course).

    So waht we’re looking for here, is a word that includes scientific reasoning, without implying it’s only done by scientists; and that includes at least some of the shared not-100%-rational thoughts that drive everyday human activity. “Humanism” kinda works for me, but you’d have some reclaiming to do there. How do y’all feel about “realism?” That kinda includes “rationalism” without being confined to it, or automatically excluding “emotional” human needs that can’t be reasoned away.

  48. says

    You see, Kant was a German dood who basically believed that ethics were an absolute.

    If an overwhelming majority of people subscribe to a certain code of ethics (i.e., “people shouldn’t kill other people”), then for all practical purposes, that code of ethics IS an absolute. It is, at the very least, an OBJECTIVE OBSERVABLE FACT that an overwhelming majority of people subscribe to, act on, and udge each other by, that code of ethics.

    Many of you here believe that ethics are a priori. I am always surprised by the number of atheists who feel this way.

    Ethics are indeed “a priori,” to the extent that they’re based on objective facts of what is beneficial or harmful to people. We observe that murder is harmful, we observe that nearly everyone despises the thought of themselves or their loved ones being murdered, therefore, for all practical purposes, it is an objective fact that murder is wrong, at least in places where humans exist.

  49. says

    So, this would mean that ethics are defined by what the majority believes.

    Well, yeah, that’s kinda what a code of ethics IS: a set of rules that huge numbers of people tend to obey.

    So, since almost all people in Iran think stoning is an appropriate punishment for the infidelity of a wife then it is an ethical thing.

    In line with their ethics, yes. Justifiable, no, because we can observe that killing a woman (and possibly depriving kids of a mother) does more harm than her infidelity did. (BTW, there are lots of Iranians saying the same thing about that practice.)

    Your model of ethics in incoherent and very inconsistent. How can you pretend to tell others you know how they should behave?

    Like I said, by observing the benefits and harm done by their behavior, and offering rules that better address those facts. Why is that “incoherent” or “inconsistent?”

  50. John D says

    Bee – It is inconsistent because you call ethics “a priori” and “absolute”. What you describe are purely relativistic ethics. You can’t have it both ways.

    I would argue that ethics are neither absolute nor purely relativistic, but then what word would we choose for secular moralizing? What would we call ourselves in order to prove our morality is the best?

  51. says

    Bee – It is inconsistent because you call ethics “a priori” and “absolute”. What you describe are purely relativistic ethics. You can’t have it both ways.

    What part of “for all practical purposes” and “to the extent that they’re based on objective facts of what is beneficial or harmful to people” don’t you understand? The only reason you find (or pretend to find) my ethics “inconsistent” is because you don’t understand what I’m talking about, and can’t handle complex ideas.

  52. says

    John D – you’re off on a tangent, because I didn’t say what you think I said. I already explained this, but you apparently overlooked it. I made a mistake: I forgot to blockquote the passage I quoted from Julian’s article. I fixed the mistake the next day. I didn’t say the thing you kept quoting as if I had said it. Please register that fact before you continue.

    I do not think ethics is a priori.

  53. John D says

    Ophelia… You did write this “We need a better word for “good, secular thinking” that includes science but is not limited to it.” Which is basically the same thing as Julian wrote. And… I assume by quoting Julian you agree with him/her.

    I really think you should start by saying you are trying to define a word for secular morality rather than secular “thinking”.

    and…. if this is the case and I am finally understanding you… I recommend you just call yourself a Humanist. (if you really care what I think at this point).

  54. says

    John D – why would you assume that by quoting something I agree with it? I very often quote something in order to disagree with it. I partly disagreed with what Julian said, and I also thought it was unclear. ‘We need a better word for “good, secular thinking” that includes science but is not limited to it’ is not the same as what Julian said; it is, precisely, a correction of it.

    Why should I start by saying I’m trying to define a word for secular morality rather than secular “thinking” when that’s not what I’m doing? I’m not trying to define a word for secular morality here. That’s not what I’m doing. I’m trying to think of a new word for a certain kind of thinking. You’re just wrong and confused to think I’m talking about morality instead. I don’t even know where you got that idea.

    And that’s why no, as I’ve already said here, “Humanist” isn’t the right word.

  55. John D says

    Well – then I go back to my original point. You are talking about “fantasy” or “daydreaming” or “imagining” or something like that.

    Let’s try it this way. You say we need a word for “good secular thinking”. Is there such a thing as “Bad secular thinking”? If so, perhaps a clue to your new word will come from a study of the opposite of what you are looking for. Eliminate the bad and the good remains.

  56. says

    Your original point is wrong. I am not ‘talking about “fantasy” or “daydreaming” or “imagining” or something like that.’

    I don’t understand you. What is your point? What is the point of persisting in saying that I’m talking about things I’m (very obviously) not talking about?

    I’d like you to stop it. If you have something to say, say it, but stop telling me I said up when I said down.

  57. says

    Is there such a thing as “Bad secular thinking”?

    Actually, yes, there is. “Secular” doesn’t mean “rational” or “logical,” it just means independent of religious authority and not favoring any religion.

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