Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Most Free of Thinkers Under Attack

Philosophers and Cultural Conservatives
They were not in conflict in the 19th century.
Bush support is Bush hysteria. One of my professors has stated that Bush may not be Hitler, but the kind of support he generates, the kind of behavior his followers show, is very reminiscent of that of Germans supporting Hitler.

QUOTE:House bill aimed to restrain academic scholars with legal threatsby Jacqueline Marcus Of what use is a philosopher who doesn’t hurt anybody’s feelings?—Diogenes

One may view the history of philosophy as a history of heresy.—Walter Kaufmann

In the Florida legislature, House Republicans, on the Choice and Innovation Committee, recently voted to pass a bill that threatens to restrain academic scholars. The law would allow students to sue teachers for beliefs that do not concur with conservative perspectives. If, for example, professors argue that evolution is a scientific fact instead of a theory, and if they don’t devote equal time to creationism, under this bill, initiated by conservative David Horowitz’s campaign, students can sue the professor for being biased.

Although the bill has two more committees to pass before it can be considered by the full House, it represents a growing threat against the very foundation of scholarly research. The intended goal of this bill is to portray professors as tyrannical monsters who terrorize Republican-conservative students, rendering them into poor, helpless victims under the authority of those, ah yes, Brutal Liberal Dictators! ...

Given the massive media control, it’s the last arena left where students are introduced to a humane and rational approach to serious moral issues, where they’ll be exposed to critical analysis, such as examining how the Iraqis, students their own age, feel about the U.S. invasion, an evaluation which has been deliberately ignored from the American corporate media reports from day one of this invasion. Not surprising, my students had never considered what it would be like to be in Iraqi civilian shoes, to be occupied by foreign invaders. It was the first time anyone asked them to think about Iraqi families from an empathic angle.

After we discussed Plato’s theory of Justice, I asked my students if Plato would agree or disagree with Bush’s decision to invade Iraq. Most of them understood the connection between Plato’s assessment of war and the fact that Iraq is the 2nd largest source of oil in the world. Plato argued that “the desire for more things will soon exhaust the resources of the community and before long, we shall have to cut off a slice or our neighbor’s territory…and they will want a slice of ours. At this rate, neighbors will inevitably be at war. Wars have their origin in desires which are the most fruitful source of evils both to individuals and states.” ...

Considering the lecture on Plato, you’d think that conservatives would be on Plato’s side since Plato is a Moral Absolutist. Plato argued that “Justice does not entail harming others.” Oh, oh, that doesn’t sit well with war-monger conservatives. Regarding categorical imperatives, I equated Plato’s definition of Justice with the Biblical Commandment, Thou Shall Not Kill. What’s all the fuss about? Alas, conservative Christians talk big on the Ten Commandments, but do they really accept moral absolutism?

Given the brouhaha last election over conservative “moral values,” I brought up the obvious contradiction between the pro-life position against abortion on the one hand, and on the other hand, unquestionable support for an unjustifiable invasion of Iraq that has led to over 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, mostly children. Moral Absolutism, I argued, calls for CONSISTENCY. Otherwise, if you allow for exceptions, it’s no longer absolute. Make up your minds. Either you adhere to the moral imperative or you’re a relativist.

The Bush-supporting, conservative students were not intimidated; they were raging mad at me for pointing out the contradiction. One student screamed in a fit of rage that “there are NO civilian deaths in Iraq!” END QUOTE.

No Iraqi civilians are dead.
Your house is made of gingerbread.
Empathy lies in the kiln, forgotten.
Paradox is beyond comprehension.
The person who cannot appreciate contradictions and resolve them consciously and reasonably is dehumanized and thus will dehumanize others.

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