Monday, May 28, 2007

Half Thoughts

Last night I saw the final instalment in the Richard Dawkins' documentary The Root of All Evil?

I find Richard Dawkins’ rhetoric as frightening as that of the religious fundamentalists with whom he finds such fault.

Perhaps it’s because Michel Foucault has had such a profound influence on thinking in the Humanities and Social Sciences, but when Dawkins makes his argument for Reason and Scientific Rationalism above all else I am not convinced.

I agree, there is much to be critical of that has been done in the name of religion: from sidewalk fire and brimstone, to the systematic oppression of women, and the targeting of whole populations.

I do dread the day that my niece discovers I don't believe what she does.

However, there is also much to be critical of that has been done in the name of Reason and Scientific Rationalism: the systematic oppression of women, the targeting of whole populations…

(I'm not always convinced by Foucault either.)

There is much to celebrate about both regimes of knowledge.

I am suspicious of both the evangelical and the dogmatic. I am more persuaded by the uncertain.

I believe in ethical dilemmas.


Tim said...

Nice post, and one that sums up my thoughts on the issue. Norm Geras makes much the same point here.

Kirsty said...

Thanks Tim. Yes I really think that Dawkins does science and scientists a huge disservice by extending his rightful criticism of 'creative design' to condemning whole ways of living.

Shado said...

Kirsty, I have to agree with you about Dawkins. He has in fact a religious fervour of his own when it comes to science - it is very old fashioned, incredibly patronising and reminds one of people like Bertrand Russell. It is hard to take him seriously after the kind of reasoned critiques mounted by Foucault. I can't think of much of Foucault that I object to to tell the truth, not that I'm biased of course!!

Thanks for putting up the cover of
Foucault Studies it is a hoot of a photo.

I've added a new post on my blog and a few photos to old entries. You will see some pets you recognise!

OTT said...

Do you believe in ethical dilemmas dogmatically?

Just being cheeky ...

Kirsty said...

Shado, if you look over in the sidebar to the books I'm reading at the moment, you might recognise one in particular. It's because of reading this that I feel able to say with some confidence that I don't think Foucault would have wanted me to tow the line; he would welcome my disagreement, wouldn't he?

Kirsty said...

Oanh, I have a lot invested in ethical dilemmas I'll admit. It took me over two years to figure out one once ; )

Ariel said...

Agreed about Dawkins here, too - and yes, any kind of dogmatism where one looks for things to prove their argument rather than looking to discover. (Hope that makes sense.) I don't like the way both religious and anti-religious dogmatists don't respect the way others have chosen to live their lives and what they believe in. If it does no harm (which for many, it doesn't) then leave them to it, I say.

Shado said...

I examined your sidebar of books - excellent taste :-) I agree - the last thing Foucault wanted was people to tow the line.

One person I know can't stand Foucault for the very reasons I like him - namely Foucault doesn't tell you what to do or tell you what is 'true'. This friend doesn't like the fact that he can't tell where Foucault's ideas end and his own begin when he is reading some of Foucault's work.

To tell the truth - I find some of Foucault's writings on power in the early to late 70s pretty difficult to wade through and some of his early literary texts (and Dream and Existence) are fairly unreadable.

Black Knight said...

Ah. . . finally.

Yes, Dawkins has turned into the very people he despises, a religious nutjob. A reason I don't read him, nor PZ Myers come to that.

I find all flavours of fundamentalist rhetoric obscene.