July podcast

bpm200In the latest edition of his Philosophy Monthly, tpm editor Julian Baggini is talking to two philosophical antagonists, AC Grayling and John Gray, discussing belief in progress and the power of reason. Plus he meets Labour MP and political theorist Tony Wright, who reveals how much Blair and Brown really care about ideas.

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  1. I share Grayling`s exasperation at philosophers like Gray who seem to use some very shaky historical analysis to try and undermine , I will be charitable and say unwittingly, the `Enlightenment Project` of which they are part. In the philosophy group of which I am a memeber `Second Philosophy` we have debated these issues several times. The following is a definition of the Enlightenment Project used in those discussions.

    *A belief in the power of human rationality to establish reliable, universally recognised scientific and moral knowledge.
    *A rejection of beliefs that claim truth based solely on authority and tradition.
    *A belief in the equality of humans in terms of their ability to be rational and an impulse to remove all barriers to the exercise of that rationality via the promotion of individual liberty, autonomy and choice.
    * A belief in the capacity of humankind to use rationality to promote individual and communal progress.

    The project and its intentions are very clear and regardless of how fragile its gains have been in certain times and places it is something that exists as a historical phenomena and is gaining in strength. As Grayling says what is the alternative throw up your hands in despair. I think not.


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