This is one of those subtle ironies that you normally miss in movies because in many cases video images like movies don’t necessarily spark reflection and thoughtfulness (conversation for another post).
If you’re like me you really enjoyed thinking about the philosophical implications in The Matrix. But one piece of irony that I just can’t let go of is in this scene in particular. Neo has a buyer of some kind of illegal thing at his door. In order to get to his secret stash Neo pulls a book from the shelves. This is where the irony comes in. The book that he pulls from the shelves is none other than Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation. What is so funny is he opens the book and its empty.
Baudrillard-or sometimes referred to as the “pimp of postmodernism”-explains that sign and symbol has has replaced reality and meaning so much so that reality has been obliterated. Hence the empty book.
Howard Kainz recently asked the questions why Hegel wasn’t for Protestantism what Aquinas was for Roman Catholicism. Kainz is right on when explains Hegel’s understanding of the relationship between philosophy and theology places theology as a secondary discourse. Protestantism has always treated philosophy as a secondary discourse looking to theology to provide answers to questions pertaining to reality, knowledge, and ethics. This has caused Protestantism to look primarily to its theologians for insight into speculative matters. This is just to say that it isn’t characteristic of Protestantism to look to a Philosopher (or theologian for that matter) as a teaching “Magisterium.” In Protestantism only the Holy Spirit has that authority.
I appreciated Kainz’s article. My only complaint is that he does not reference the quotes that he uses.
Why write an article on a subject you know nothing about? This is a question that Amia Srinivasan might usefully have asked herself. She is a Prize Fellow in philosophy at All Souls College, Oxford, one of the most prestigious academic positions in the academic world; and her webpage at Oxford includes several papers of outstanding merit. You would never guess that she is a serious philosopher, though, from her article “Questions for Free-Market Moralists” in The New York Times, October 2013. The “free-market moralist” she has principally in mind is Robert Nozick, the author of Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974). If Srinivasan has read this book at all, the experience appears to have passed her by.
I was just looking through Facebook tonight and I couldn’t help but notice how angry some people get in their political posts. I’ll start out by saying I understand anger. My question is why does it get so extreme on a Facebook post? Actually this is not exclusive to Facebook as I have noticed it on other on line public message boards. But when you think about it just doesn’t make sense. Expressing ones emotional driven vitriol on a Facebook post does absolutely nothing to help her cause. In fact the exact opposite is the case when your Facebook “Friends” realize how insane you must truly be.
I have put together a brief list of reasons that try to explain this phenomenon. This is by no means an exhaustive or scientific explanation, just a late night voyage through my stream of consciousness:
* REPRESSED AGGRESSION remember the movie Falling Down? Micahel Douglas plays a mild mannered defense worker who loses his job and decides to take it out on all of his perceived social ills. My favorite one was the fast food worker who refused to sell him breakfast because he was 4 minutes late. This is similar to the vitriolic Facebook poster who spends her entire day being consumed by the pitfalls of day to day existence (demanding bosses, road rage, rude people, current events erroneously delivered by slanted media personalities) only to come home and spew it on a single post. The problem is this person probably has a legitimate thought but it unfortunately gets massed by the ALL CAPS, exclamation points!!!!!, rudeness, criticism, and general anger.
*ARMCHAIR ACTIVISM as it turns out our lives are becoming more and more filled with things that we have to do instead of things that we want to do like physically helping a cause. In this case the “armchair activist” has the opportunity to come home, read the days current events erroneously delivered by slanted media personalities and lash out on anything they deem unacceptable. This gives them a sense of accomplishment albeit a false sense of accomplishment.
*LIVING VICARIOUSLY THROUGH MEDIA PERSONALITIES its no secret that shock media gets ratings. Nobody wants to listen to some media personality who wants to explain things through the grid of journalistic integrity. Who gets the ratings? Guys like John Stewart, Howard Stern, Bill Maher, etc. media personalities who erroneously deliver slanted views.
One would hope that everyone realizes that these are entertainers who are trying to make money for their sponsors and in turn make money for themselves. Often what happens is these entertainers get confused with actual legitimate political, legal, economic, experts and their type of discourse (fallacious, arrogant, rhetorical) becomes internalized and posted in Facebook.
I feel the need to protect my Facebook “Friends” or I would share some of the posts I looked at tonight. However, I think you know where i’m coming from on this one.
At any rate its late and time to sign out. In short as I review what I’ve just written I noticed one common factor, the media.
The Six Types of Atheists
Sociologist George Yancy discusses new research that categorizes atheists in to six categories:
1. The Intellectual Atheist/Agnostic: Sees his/herself as intellectually too advanced for religion and seeks to engage with other likeminded individuals through writings, YouTube videos and talks.
2. The Activist: Proactively works for issues connected to naturalist or humanist causes.
3. The Seeker-Agnostic: Considers the metaphysical a possibility but is comfortable with uncertainty as it concerns the interaction of science and the metaphysical.
4. The Anti-Theist: Believes religion to be evil, thus actively works against religion and religious influences.
5. The Non-Theist: Does not have much interest in religious concepts.
6. The Ritual Atheist/Agnostic: Does not have otherworldly beliefs but regularly attends a religious ceremony, finding that this meets some social or psychological need.
The research data can be found here. This is good data to help us understand what drives this way of thinking, breaking up the one size fits all misconception.