12/15/2005: The Best or the Worst Ideas in History...
Old Babbling Brooks is at it again...
Today Babbles has deftly (?) presented a garbled account and rewritten the History of Capitalism and the Dark Ages (preparing, presumably, for the NEW Dark Ages we are entering.)
But, I've been meaning to post this GEM from Polar Donkey on Ethical monotheism - who I am sure would disagree with Babbles defense of Religion as the fount of all that is "Holy" and "Good" in Capitalism:
"Ethical Monotheism: The Worst Idea In Human History?
This was an interesting interview with Peter Watson, who has written a book called "Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, From Fire to Freud," which claims to chronicle all the major ideas in the world since the invention of the hand ax two million years ago. I particularly like what he had to say about religion.
"Questions for Peter Watson
What's the Big Idea?
Not all big ideas are good ideas. In fact, most big ideas are probably terrible ideas. What do you think is the single worst idea in history?
Without question, ethical monotheism. The idea of one true god. The idea that our life and ethical conduct on earth determines how we will go in the next world. This has been responsible for most of the wars and bigotry in history.
But religion has also been responsible for investing countless lives with meaning and inner richness.
I lead a perfectly healthy, satisfactory life without being religious. And I think more people should try it.
It sounds as if you're starting your own church.
Not at all. I do not believe in the inner world. I think that the inner world comes from the exploration of the outer world - reading, traveling, talking. I do not believe that meditation or cogitation leads to wisdom or peace or the truth.
Then I don't understand why you would want to write a history of ideas, since inner reflection and dreaminess surely count at least as much as scientific experiment in the formation of new ideas.
To paraphrase the English philosopher John Gray, it is more sensible to look out on the world from a zoo than from a monastery. Science, or looking out, is better than contemplation, or looking in.
If that were true, how would you explain a novelist like Virginia Woolf, whose achievement was based on the rejection of the panoramic outward view in favor of inner sensibility?
The rise of the novel generally is a great turning in. But I don't think it has given a lot of satisfaction to people. It has not achieved anything collective. It's a lot of little personal turnings that lots of people love to connect with. But these are fugitive, evanescent truths. They don't stay with you very long or help you do much.
Karen on 12.15.05 @ 04:25 AM CST