Robert Price and the embarrassing wing of atheism


Add this one to your “atheism doesn’t make you rational” file: Robert Price being Robert Price again. A couple of years ago, he sparked controversy at an HP Lovecraft convention (he’s also a well known Lovecraft scholar as well as an atheist philosopher/theologian) by basically endorsing Lovecraft’s racism, and further using Lovecraft’s words to support racist policies in the US. Here are the comments he made at that time.

If we can manage to look past [Lovecraft’s] racism, we will manage to see something deeper and quite valid. Lovecraft envisioned not only the threat that science posed to our anthropomorphic smugness, but also the ineluctable advance of the hordes on non-western anti-rationalism to consume a decadent, euro-centric west.

Superstition, barbarism and fanaticism would sooner or later devour us. It appears now that we’re in the midst of this very assault. The blood lust of jihadists threatens Western Civilization and the effete senescent West seems all too eager to go gently into that endless night. Our centers of learning have converted to power politics and an affirmative action epistemology cynically redefining truth as ideology. Logic is undermined by the new axiom of the ad hominem. If white males formulated logic, then logic must be regarded as an instrument of oppression.

Lovecraft was wrong about many things, but not, I think, this one. It’s the real life horror of Red Hook.

Oy. White males invented logic? That’s mythic bullshit. And then to reference the Lovecraft story, The Horror at Red Hook, possibly his most blatantly racist story…to Lovecraft fans, that’s a real dog whistle.

At the time, Price denied the racism.

Having now read several posts from those who were offended by my remarks Thursday night at 1st Baptist, including several friends, I must say I am astonished and very grieved. I am amazed at how they misunderstood me. How can they think I was replicating HPL’s racism, that I was attacking Affirmative Action (didn’t they hear the word “epistemology”?), etc.?

How dare you think he was racist for reciting racist tropes? And how could you possibly think he was criticizing affirmative action?

Well, now he has removed all ambiguity with another racist essay. I have to comment on this one.

I call it the Trayvon Martyr Syndrome [That’s a rather offensive appropriation of a murdered black man, pretending it was some kind of psychological syndrome]. It is a wider phenomenon, and a particularly nefarious one. There had been substantial progress in putting racism behind us in America [No. There was progress in papering it over. Look up sundown towns, redlining, racial profiling, segregation. This stuff has left a historical legacy of discrimination. It ain’t over yet], thanks to the courage of great reformers and real martyrs like Dr. King [I’ve noticed a fondness for dead civil rights leaders among some racists trying to appear tolerant. King was hated by white folks in his time]. But the Obama administration (advised by Al Charlatan) cynically fomented race hate for cheap political advantage and set us back years in race relations [How? Cite one comment by Obama in which he advocated anything other than tolerance]. Who knows why? Well, the Left has successfully used the “Law of Attraction” [Does Price know that this isn’t a law, and it doesn’t work?] to manifest an ugly race-hate climate that didn’t exist until they conjured it into being by insisting it was real [So racism didn’t exist until Obama, and it’s all black people’s fault for making white people hate them?]. And it became real. Their cop-hatred [Yeah, getting shot by cops does tend to make one hate cops] and obnoxious demonstrations [Demonstrations and protests are supposed to annoy their targets; he’s annoyed that Black Lives Matter didn’t make racists comfortable with their racism], invading restaurants and rebuking diners for imagined racism and “white privilege,” had the predictable result: they had goaded the objects of their wrath into the very antagonism they had accused them of. [It’s all their fault for pointing out my racism!]

Or consider the tendency to defend black hooligans and criminals simply because they are fellow blacks, as if to call one a criminal amounts to indicting all African Americans. [No one is doing that, except the people who equate blackness with criminality.] The most idiotic example of this must surely be a black Leftist official in Baltimore claiming that to call anyone a “thug” is racist. Uh, you mean because there is an inherent link between “black” and “thug”? [Incorrect. Take a look at the news media, this is a shockingly common trope. If a black person is gunned down, there is an immediate attempt to tar their reputation with a search of their arrest record; being a murdered black man means it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’re going to get called a “thug” in the press. Murdered white men, no matter how guilty or heinous their crimes, become “troubled loners”] Who except you is saying that? It is you who are inviting the rest of us to think so!

[Wait for it, wait for it, you knew this was coming…]

The sheer absurdity of all this blather about systemic racism was obvious from the fact that white America had elected the first black President! [That a coalition of progressive white voters and minorities and women got together to elect a black man does not mean that all the other racists in the country were absolved; it also does not mean that the institutions that support racist policies suddenly evaporated]

A man who voted for Reagan and George W. Bush, wants to elect Sarah Palin, who praises Trump and voted for him, does not get to claim that because other people voted for Obama, racism does not exist. He’s walking talking writing raving evidence to the contrary.

Comments

  1. KG says

    He’s also a mythicist. Along with Richard Carrier, probably the most prominent around. Obviously, mythicists don’t have to be arseholes, but this is at the least a rather odd coincidence.

  2. lakitha tolbert says

    OMG! He’d better be glad that “force-choking” a person is not something that actually exists. At some point I ceased to be surprised at the vileness spewing from white men’s mouths. When did that happen?

  3. Zeppelin says

    “The blood lust of jihadists threatens Western Civilization”

    As far as I can tell, jihadists have so far been entirely ineffectual in harming us here in “the West”. Sporadic terrorist attacks are nasty, but they’re not an existential threat by any stretch of the imagination.
    The actual harm has been self-inflicted, courtesy of the idiots who’ve let said jihadists goad them into unwinnable, aimless asymmetrical wars and draconian domestic policies. What threatens “Western civilisation” right now are homegrown authoritarians looking to grab power under the guise of keeping us safe from this minor threat.

  4. consciousness razor says

    Lovecraft envisioned not only the threat that science posed to our anthropomorphic smugness, but also the ineluctable advance of the hordes on non-western anti-rationalism to consume a decadent, euro-centric west.

    Still trying to unpack this…. Is Price Euro-centric, or is that one of the things that leave us vulnerable to “the hordes”? Maybe he’d own up to that, pious sinner that he is, while also thinking he’s a lone voice crying out in the wilderness? … About something ineluctable? I think I’m already lost at this point.

    Superstition, barbarism and fanaticism would sooner or later devour us.

    You know, just like science….? Uh, well, the point is we’ll be devoured one way or another. But don’t start any apocalyptic cults about it or anything…. Just act normal, I guess. No wait, not normal. That won’t do at all. Be racist. Yeah, that’s the ticket. But you’ll be devoured anyway of course, so that’s really just to blow off some steam while you’re waiting for your turn.

    Fear is one hell of a drug.

    KG:

    He’s also a mythicist. Along with Richard Carrier, probably the most prominent around. Obviously, mythicists don’t have to be arseholes, but this is at the least a rather odd coincidence.

    But based on everything I know about him, Carrier is very progressive and would disagree vehemently with all of the crap quoted in the OP. So, I mean, plain old assholishness isn’t enough to make for a very surprising coincidence, definitely not these days, if it ever was. Thinking Jesus was mythical: also not very remarkable. Now, if they both have the same tattoo of a green three-legged elephant next to their left testicles, that would be a rather odd coincidence.

  5. Torsten Pihl says

    Robert Price kept referring to Hillary as Hitlery during his interview with Thomas Smith of Serious Inquiries Only (formerly Atheistically Speaking). Oh the ironly of him voting in actual fascists and outright Nazis. He has lost self awareness, if he had any to begon with.

  6. says

    gotta laugh at Robert Price’s own goal here:

    Just the other day, speaking at a conference, I had the nasty experience of having my opinions waved away as “the voice of white privilege.” First time for me. I found this experience pretty hilarious for a couple of reasons. First, the topic for the meeting was a book by an African American author whom I knew at Drew University years ago. I was passed over for a permanent position there, while this man, who had a Sunday Schooler’s grasp of biblical criticism, was essentially an Affirmative Action hire. (I’d had the same thing happen at Montclair State College when they hired an African fellow to teach Islam, which he knew nothing about.) White privilege, you say? What white privilege? I’d say somebody else had the privilege.

    unintentionally refuted later when he says:

    New Thought is cousin to Christian Science and shares its faith that one can think away illness. God can’t be ill, so we can’t be either unless we buy into the illusion that we are not God and can be sick. I suspect the illusion is on the wrong foot here. It presupposes the Division Fallacy: if something is true of the larger whole it must be equally true of every individual part of it. If America is a wealthy nation, it follows that I personally must be rich, right? Wrong.

    laugh/cry

  7. Usernames! (╯°□°)╯︵ ʎuʎbosıɯ says

    Missed one!

    But the Obama administration (advised by Al Charlatan)
    (emphasis mine)

    Haw haw! You showed them, Mr. Price!

    Tool.

  8. jerthebarbarian says

    KG @1:

    They both have PhD’s as well. In my experience having a PhD correlates with aresholishness far more than believing in mythicism does. (He says as a PhD holder himself…)

  9. says

    Uh, he also says:

    Black Lives Matter is founded squarely upon debunked lies about the death of a worthless thug, as if he had been gunned down by a white cop while raising his hands in surrender. He wasn’t.

    He doesn’t say who he’s talking about (it has to be Trayvon Martin, since that’s the incident that started the #BalckLivesMatter hashtag) or how he got any of this idea.

  10. Khantron, the alien that only loves says

    He’s talking about Mike Brown. None of the “credible” witnesses (coached by the police to keep their stories straight) thought Wilson did anything wrong. Witnesses that “lacked credibility” (had normal fallible recollections of events) are ignored.

  11. says

    @10, Khantron

    He’s talking about Mike Brown.

    Ah, ya the citation on wikipedia about the origins of the Hashtag (which I was basing my comment on) does say that it spiked in popularity around that incident, not Trayvon, even though it existed earlier, and it does better fit what Price is saying about the “hands up” story (which possibly was debunked) etc.

    But when Price says it was founded “squarely upon” that, seems like an extreme simplification. Probably more convenient for him, less cognitive dissonance, than handling the reality. And boiling Brown down to “a worthless thug” probably also serves the same purpose.

    […] witnesses (coached by the police to keep their stories straight) thought Wilson did [nothing] wrong. Witnesses that “lacked credibility” (had normal fallible recollections of events) […]

    Well there’s something I’d have to look into before accepting from a stranger on the internet…not that I can totally trust the justice system either…

  12. Dark Jaguar says

    Oh goodie, another despicable racist. Ya know, I have a bit of tolerance and understanding for someone who’s got the “just doesn’t actually understand what minorities are going through” sort of racism and sexism. Those people at least believe we’re all equals, even if they’re utterly ignorant of how society isn’t equal yet. THEY can be reasoned with, and generally they are disgusted by flagrant racism when it rears it’s ugly head. I can WORK with that sort of person. They can, at least in theory, be taught.

    Then there’s people like this. They’re the old school “the other races and genders are categorically different from me, and what a coincidence, I happen to be part of the group with the best morals and brains” types of racists. Even within that group, there’s those that actively want to hunt down all those different than them and do… something (some never really want to nail down WHAT they want to do about the problem, because if they were forced to come up with a plan, they know it would be morally reprehensible), and those who don’t want to actually DO anything, they just want everyone to “see the truth”. At any rate, it doesn’t really matter, because as far as I’m concerned the whole lot of them are horrible.

    Lovecraft was FIRMLY in this second group. He wasn’t JUST as racist as his time, he was racist even by the standards of the day, with his own wife chiding him every time he muttered something horrid under his breath when passing by a minority (or more accurately, someone Lovecraft thought was a minority). Anyone who says “Oh, Lovecraft wasn’t really racist” is just ignorant or trying to come up with excuses to prevent tarnishing the man’s name. That’s not good, but to the person who says “Yes, he was racist, and I agree with him”, I say “You are evil”.

  13. busterggi says

    Bob Price is a prime example of cognitive dissonance & compartmentalization. Much as I enjoy his fiction & bible commentary I find his devotion to all things right-wing disturbing.

    “to Lovecraft fans, that’s a real dog whistle.” Not all of us, to some its just a loud farting noise.

  14. says

    Zeppelin@3, I suspect Price is probably including the idea that Muslims are flooding Europe in huge numbers, and that they will quickly outbreed Europeans until they can wrestle control from the white folks. Of course this ignores that even in a number of majority Muslim countries the fertility rate has dropped dramatically. Like Iran, which may have a slightly lower rate than the US at the moment. Or that Islam is just as fragmented as Christianity is.

  15. mnb0 says

    A Dutch historian of Antiquity once suggested that Jesusmythology has an antisemitic component: rather no Jesus than a jewish Jesus. First I thought it nonsense at least for our 21st Century (19th Century JMs might be a different story) but perhaps I should reconsider.

  16. militantagnostic says

    Their cop-hatred [Yeah, getting shot by cops does tend to make one hate cops]

    One of the snarkier commenters ant Respectful Insolence (Herr Doktor Bimmler) used the term “Uniformed Lynchers” to describe the police involved in these incidents.

    Torsten @6
    Price also expressed a desire for more Kent State type incidents. For those too young to remember National Guard troops dealing with an unruly anti Vietnam war demonstration opened fire killing 4 students , none of whom were involved in the demonstration. 2 of the students killed were walking between classes and the other 2 (one was an ROTC student) were watching the demonstration.

  17. Feline says

    I find it curious that every ‘Lovecraft scholar’ I’ve encountered has tried to minimize or obliterate his racism, while us regular fans are quite capable of saying “I like his works plenty, but there’s a complete shitload of racism there, we can’t ignore that.”
    I like Lovecraft, undeniably turgid and purple though it might be (and sure, having read it early might have put its mark on my writings, but then again so would Tolkien’s, (William) Gibson’s and Asimov’s, so, you know…), but I have no issue with contextualizing his writings before reading it, roleplaying with it, referencing it in conversation, playing boardgames based on the mythos, or whatever. The only people I’ve seen who can’t treat his works without commingling his racism and his ideas are racists and ‘Lovecraft scholars’, and the ‘scholars’ keep me unimpressed with their scholarship, because they tend towards recounting rather than reading.

  18. says

    Yes, HPL was an awfully racist individual.

    Hell, you could start a whole blog based on examining and analysing his works! He wasn’t just racist, he was rather sexist and xenophobic, as well. Plenty to dissect, for those who’d like to do so.

    Me, I’m just going to enjoy the stories, and save any analysis for later.

  19. colinday says

    White males invented logic?

    So Aristotle didn’t invent logic, or was he not a white male?

  20. says

    I’d say that Price probably suffers from an inability to separate loving the works of an artist from loving the artist themselves. In his mind, his appreciation for Lovecraft’s works, and probably extensive study of Lovecraft’s personal writings has probably left him convincing himself that he needs to defend Lovecraft and claim he wasn’t racist, lest he himself be tarred by association due to his choice to study Lovecraft’s works.

    This is bullshit, of course. You can enjoy a work of art without endorsing the views of the artist. I can enjoy Call of Cthulhu, The Color Out Of Space or At The Mountains of Madness without denying that Lovecraft was a severely messed up individual in the head. Same as any classical music enthusiast can enjoy listening to Wagner’s compositions without necessarily being anti-semitic or being associated with the Nazis because Hitler was a Wagner fan.

    Of course, there’s also the possibility that Price’s head was wedged firmly up his ass before he ever decided to study Lovecraft, and that he chose Lovecraft’s work because the racist undertones appealed to his own prejudices.

  21. consciousness razor says

    So Aristotle didn’t invent logic, or was he not a white male?

    He didn’t invent logic. He was one of the first to give it the sort of systematic and formal treatment we’re familiar with these days. He could at least get credit for compiling it all into his books, even when the ideas weren’t original to him, as he routinely did when it came numerous subjects. Of course, “Aristotelian” logic is riddled with problems, hence the development of much more modern systems which attempt to address them, so don’t put too much stock into that either.

    It would be pretty wacky to think that even other Greek philosophers before Aristotle were not working with any such thing, albeit in some rudimentary or unsatisfactory way (however happy we’re supposed to be with the Aristotelian system, which as I said is presumably not much), because it hadn’t yet been invented. They made logical mistakes, certainly, but a huge mass of evidence (in the form of their philosophical, scientific and mathematical works) points very strongly in the opposite direction. Also, none of what they were doing was exclusive to Greece, so there’s no reason to believe it all merely traces back to yet more “white men” like Plato or Socrates. And if you kept going back in that tradition past those two generations, the pre-Socratics themselves have fairly diverse backgrounds anyway, so very quickly you’re led outside of that little bubble the Aristotle happened to be in.

  22. emergence says

    Was Aristotle even white by today’s standards? Were any of the classical philosophers for that matter?

  23. emergence says

    First, I’m fairly certain that some video footage was recently released showing that Mike Brown wasn’t shoplifting in that store. Wilson also admitted in an interview that Brown never reached for Wilson’s gun. It also ignores that tons of other black people have been shot and killed for minor infractions like broken tail lights, while white spree killers can walk away unharmed.

    Also, notice the trope that the recent surge in white supremacism is somehow an understandable response to black people calling out white people for implicit racism. It’s somehow black people’s own fault for white people hating them, instead of white people responding to reasonable requests by being whiny little shits and proving black people’s point. If anything, all black people have done is expose the ugliness that’s been hiding in white America this whole time.

  24. says

    Zeppelin@3, I suspect Price is probably including the idea that Muslims are flooding Europe in huge numbers, and that they will quickly outbreed Europeans until they can wrestle control from the white folks.

    Hey, I was recently informed by some expert on Twitter that German culture is collapsing because of the muslim hordes.
    NO, even if we assumed that there was absolutely no overlap between German culture and muslim, and that muslims in Germany were all one monolyth, I would still say that if 6% muslims, most of them on the absolute bottom rung of society and with no voting right, manage to kill our culture, it was a damn fragile thing to start with.

  25. KG says

    Now, if they both have the same tattoo of a green three-legged elephant next to their left testicles, that would be a rather odd coincidence. – consciousness razor@5

    And how do you know they don’t? Huh? Huh?

  26. says

    Bob Price is a prime example of cognitive dissonance & compartmentalization. Much as I enjoy his fiction & bible commentary I find his devotion to all things right-wing disturbing.

    My feelings exactly. It’s weird, because when he’s talking about history and the bible, he’s always pretty careful in his conclusions and inserts caveats and subtle distinctions. And then when he turns to politics, he starts talking massive loads of bullshit, ignoring obvious counter-arguments and asserting his personal opinions as definite truths. Sometimes, it feels like it’s two different people doing the talking.

  27. cartomancer says

    emergence, #24

    Would Aristotle have been considered “white” by modern standards? It’s difficult to say, because who is considered “white” is as much about culture and behaviour as it is about appearance and skin colour. In fact, the category “white” is very recent in racial theory terms. In HP Lovecraft’s day people would talk about Nordic, Aryan, Slavic, Frankish or Anglo-Saxon (and, to the Nazis at least, Slavic most definitely wasn’t on the acceptable list). Italians, Greeks and Turkish people were shunned in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by many Americans and Northern Europeans – the idea that they would be considered a part of the same racial group would have horrified many.

    Aristotle’s actual appearance is difficult to quantify. We have no contemporary descriptions of what he looked like (the busts we have of him are sculpted to an ideal and none are anything like contemporary). He was born in Stagira in the very north of Greece (actually a part of Macedonia in his day), in a town that was founded by Ionian settlers centuries earlier. The Ionian islands are very close to modern Turkey, and would undoubtedly have hosted plenty of people with Middle Eastern ancestry. So his ethnic make-up would very likely have included elements from mainland Greek, Nesiote (Greek Islander), Macedonian, Asian (as in Asia Minor) and other Eastern European peoples. He might well have had rather darker skin than we traditionally imagine him with, and almost certainly sported a thick black beard as shaving the face was not at all common in Greece in his day. It is quite likely that by appearance alone he might be considered “non-white” today, and almost certain that he would have been excluded from the approved racial groups a hundred years ago.

    But, of course, European culture has lionised Greek philosophy for thousands of years. The Greek and Latin Classics have been a cornerstone of European cultural chauvinism, and Aristotle has been at the forefront of that since the Twelfth Century. He is exactly the sort of person that definitions of “our kind of people” get stretched to include. It is also worth noting that Medieval Islamic culture tended to imagine Aristotle looking just like them as well.

    The irony of this is that, to Aristotle himself, everyone who wasn’t Greek was a barbarian. A creature suited by nature for slavery because its rational faculty of thought is vestigial and needs guiding by properly rational people who look like Aristotle. That would very likely include Robert Price.

  28. jefrir says

    colinday

    So Aristotle didn’t invent logic, or was he not a white male?

    Aside from the fact that logic was not invented by a single person, the racial category of “white” is a concept that developed from approximately the 16th century onwards. Applying it to someone who lived about 2 millennia before that is anachronistic, and unlikely to lead to helpful analysis.

  29. says

    Isn’t logic one of those things that sort of exists independent of peoples’ awareness of it? I guess somebody got to name it and all that, and it rests on certain cultural premises, but invention seems like an odd word to fight about.

    ice

  30. Dark Jaguar says

    To Feline:

    Yep, it’s bizarre. I mean, he named a character’s pet cat “Niggerman” for goodness sake! That cat factored into my absolute favorite Lovecraft story, The Rats in the Walls, but I still wince when I see it. It’s stuff like that which prevents fans from being able to really “recommend” HPL’s works to other black people. I mean, if you’re white, and you like these books, really think very carefully about recommending it to any black people unless you know them well enough that you’re pretty sure they wouldn’t take offense to it, and even then make sure to warn them in advance and be fully willing to accept a flat out rejection once they know the sort of man Lovecraft was and how it did seep into his works like acid in a vampire’s grave. Well, as said, really ANY minority or disenfranchised group should be well-warned. I mean, he wrote horror stories about monsters breeding with humans to create a mongrel race beneath the hills. His positions weren’t exactly subtle.

    Speaking of racists who’s works I happen to enjoy (albeit uncomfortably), Jontron! This is definitely a matter of taste, but I actually liked that guy’s sense of humor and unlike Lovecraft, his alt-right opinions didn’t ever seem to actually bleed into his videos. He had good timing, what can I say? Unlike Lovecraft, I haven’t been able to go back to that guy’s Youtube channel since he “outed” himself as racist pond scum. I hope, HOPE, that he can eventually take a look at his views a few years from now and abandon them. I get the impression that he got suckered into this group online and wasn’t exactly raised like this (I mean, he lives in New York), and heck, I managed to completely change my world view at one point.

    I guess the reason I have a lot more trouble enjoying his stuff is, he’s still alive. He still has agency in the world, and my views contribute to that agency. Lovecraft’s influence is long dead, and enjoying his works has no such strings attached.

  31. colinday says

    @icis bokonen
    #31

    I can’t speak for PZ, but I wasn’t really raising that question. Also, would you say that language is a discovery or an invention?

  32. colinday says

    Also, is the belief that Aristotle was the whit male inventor of logic restricted to such blatant racists as Robert Price?

  33. jefrir says

    Also, is the belief that Aristotle was the whit male inventor of logic restricted to such blatant racists as Robert Price?

    I would say not, but it is limited to people with a poor understanding of both the history of ideas and the history of race.

  34. consciousness razor says

    cartomancer, #29:

    But, of course, European culture has lionised Greek philosophy for thousands of years.

    Well… For many centuries in the middle of all of that, it was largely forgotten and not lionized in Europe. It had to be reintroduced, by people from the Middle East and Northern Africa, to get us all where we are now. That’s all more or less implicit in what you say in the follow-up sentence below, but I think it’s important to highlight another layer of irony that you didn’t quite articulate:

    The Greek and Latin Classics have been a cornerstone of European cultural chauvinism, and Aristotle has been at the forefront of that since the Twelfth Century.

    Of course, some Aristotelian (and mostly derivative, neo-Platonist) works were accessible for certain Europeans before that, but beyond that there were a lot of big gaping holes.

    He is exactly the sort of person that definitions of “our kind of people” get stretched to include. It is also worth noting that Medieval Islamic culture tended to imagine Aristotle looking just like them as well.

    Right. I would say “our kind of people,” culturally speaking, includes that whole Islamic world as well (though nowadays their religion is worldwide), because we’re woven together so tightly that it’s hard to make many meaningful distinctions. Meanwhile, there is more cultural distance between the European/Mediterranean world and that of East Asia or sub-Saharan Africa or the Americas, all of which to varying degrees developed more independently of each other for very long periods. (Things admittedly get pretty blurry at the borders, like around India for example.) Of course, that way of lumping people together doesn’t correspond to what anybody means by “whiteness,” but it’s not clear in the first place what’s supposed to be interesting about whether a person counts as white (that is, what counts today, by using your criteria, mine, white nationalists’, etc.).

  35. colinday says

    @Jefrir #35

    And how many Americans have a poor understanding on those topics?

  36. consciousness razor says

    colinday:

    And how many Americans have a poor understanding on those topics?

    Most of them. I’m not even sure I should be totally satisfied with how well I understand them. Where are you heading with this line of thought?

    An earlier question of yours:

    Also, would you say that language is a discovery or an invention?

    Neither? A specific natural language, like English for example, is an invention of some sort, although not one that any single person made of course.

    However, language itself (or the use of it) is an extremely old ability that everyone has. I assume you wouldn’t say that sight, hearing, walking upright, and so forth, are the sorts of things that at some time or another were either “discovered” or “invented” in a meaningful sense. They’re just things we’re capable of doing, crafted to some extent by evolutionary pressures and various physical constraints. Nobody had to go out and look for it somewhere in the natural world, nor did they need to put together some pieces of that world to create some artificial thing that wasn’t already around. Those things were apparently just part of a package deal that you get, once you have modern human beings.

  37. kaleberg says

    Robert Price sure sounds like an asshole, but please don’t put down the white European guys who gave us the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment. The number of societies that have condemned slavery and at least tried to do something about, that have recognized that women are people and deserve a full place at society’s table, and that have embarked on the systematic acquisition and application of knowledge are extremely limited. So far as we know, there has been only one, and it is not clear that if their program fails another will arise.

    Thinking logically and inventing logic are two different things. Trying to apply logic to political and societal issues is yet another. Please don’t slam these white European guys gratuitously. They may seem monsters by our yet more enlightened standards, but they are our intellectual ancestors. Their program has taken us far, and we can take it farther.

  38. KG says

    kaleberg@39

    Since there’s a centuries-long tradition of insisting that only “white European guys” have ever done anything worthwhile, and this tradition is still very much alive and flourishing, I don’t really think there’s any great danger of their achievements being overlooked. You might do well to acknowledge that “we” have intellectual ancestors from many parts of the world – and some of them were not even “guys”.

  39. colinday says

    @consciousness razor
    #38

    As to your first question, I did believe that Aristotle was the white male inventor of logic. The white part was due to Raphael’s The School of Athens; the inventor (discoverer?) of logic is a common belief.

    As to your second question, I was responding to icis bokonen’s statement that logic was a discovery rather than an invention. I was trying to get some idea of the distinction.

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