muddle's picture

This is a review of Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro, Naturalism.

The authors begin with the acknowledgement that there is no real consensus as to just what naturalism amounts to. (Someone in a hair salon spotted me with the title, and, judging from her initial, curious questions, assumed it to involve volleyball and sunbathing.)

Alvin Plantinga has recently compared “naturalism” to “pornography”—you know what it is when you spot it, but it is very hard to define. Presumably, it is the view that, as C.S. Lewis once put it, “nature is the whole show”—that reality is exhausted by “natural” phenomena and that the only good explanations of things are “naturalistic.” But this leaves us to determine what is meant by “nature.”

One virtue of the Goetz-Taliaferro book is their careful distinction between two general varieties of naturalism, “strict” and “broad.” While all naturalists will agree that “nature” exhausts reality and see this to entail a denial of the “supernatural” (chiefly, God and the soul), strict naturalists maintain, and broad naturalists deny, that “nature itself is whatever will be disclosed by the ideal natural sciences, especially physics” (p. 7).

Arthur Danto apparently would have found Richard Lewontin’s warning, “We cannot allow a divine foot in the door,” too anemic. He described naturalism as “repudiating the view that there exists, or could exist, any entities or events which lie, in principle, beyond the scope of scientific explanation” (p. 14), thus securing all possible doors against such intrusion.

But G&T observe that there is no room for persons of any sort—divine or human—on strict naturalism. In chapter one, “The Challenge of Strict Naturalism,” we find David Papineau suggesting (p. 15) that a complete physics would eclipse psychology in that all the facts there are, including putative psychological facts, are in principle describable in the language of physics.

Thus, G&T write, “Strict naturalism, as an ideal scientific philosophy, seeks to include all aspects of reality within a comprehensive and unified perspective that excludes anything that is either conscious, or psychological, or mental in nature” (p. 16).

It is common knowledge that naturalists have no place for any sort of consciousness or teleology at the cosmic level: “Man is the product of causes that had no prevision of the end they were achieving,” Russell said. But the same is true of my decision to order a beer. There is no place for the irreducibly conscious or teleological on this view, and this much is acknowledged by its proponents.

Thus, Daniel Dennett and Georges Rey insist that the conscious must be explained in terms of the non-conscious if it is to be explained at all. And our perception of ourselves as the purposive originators of our thoughts and deeds is an understandable mistake for “information processing systems” such as us (p. 17).

Susan Blackmore seems to have taken this to heart. “I long ago concluded that there is no substantial or persistent self to be found in experience, let alone in the brain. I have become quite uncertain as to whether there really is anything it is like to be me” (p. 22). This has the ring of something confessed in confidence from a couch, but it would appear to be a corollary of the strict naturalist’s agenda. The first person “what it is like to be me” perspective eludes the third person language of science.

In chapter two (“Strict Naturalism versus a Natural View of Persons”), G&T defend “a natural view of persons” as irreducibly conscious and teleological sources of action against influential arguments for reduction or elimination. In particular, the “argument from causal closure” comes to the fore, as presented by the likes of Jaegwon Kim.

According to this argument, every physical event has a causally sufficient physical antecedent so that there is never room for an irreducibly mental cause to produce physical effects. Even if they were thought to exist, souls, like vice presidents, would be without any real influence in the world. Further, causal closure is an indispensable methodological commitment of the physical sciences, including the science of the brain.
G&T reply that the causal closure argument ultimately begs the question against the dualist. Kim’s scientist must be committed to causal closure only if he is already committed to strict naturalism (p. 35). The authors observe the conditional or “iffy” nature of law like physical explanation.

We discover the dispositional nature of things—the “propensities of particles”—so that some set of physical causal antecedents C proves sufficient for some effect E. So we observe that if C obtains, then E will be observed, and we formulate laws with justified confidence. We might say that the link between C and E is causally closed. But this does not in itself preclude a different set of causal antecedents C* that includes forces non-physical in nature so that some relevantly different effect E* results. And perhaps E may be had by other means, including the irreducibly mental. To reject this possibility from the outset is, at the same time, to assume the truth of strict naturalism (p. 42).

As G&T observe (p. 30), and as Kim has made clear in recent work, the argument from causal closure, if successful, precludes mental causation on any sort of view that holds out for the irreducibly mental. That is, it is just as effective against currently popular versions of property dualism (G&T’s “broad naturalism”) as it is against substance dualism, so that the resulting view is an implausible form of epiphenomenalism. In fact, it is difficult to see how the naturalist of any sort—strict or broad—is in a position to deny causal closure. The property dualist must insist that mental properties supervene upon physical properties. But if there is causal closure at the physical level, and the instantiation of the base properties is sufficient for that of supervenient properties, then epiphenomenalism seems unavoidable. Kim thus argues that mental causation may be preserved only if some program of reduction is successful. But, he adds, candidly, “reductionism may not be true.”

G&T press the case against reduction. They cite McGinn. “You can stare into a living, conscious brain. . . but you will not thereby see what the subject is experiencing, the conscious state itself” (p. 32). Michael Lockwood confesses that the language of physics or other relevant sciences, once sanitized of all explicit references to mental properties or events, is not even “remotely capable of capturing what is distinctive about consciousness.” He adds that, were it not for a prior “deep-seated conviction” that current physical science “has essentially got reality taped,” the reductionist programmes on offer would not be given any serious consideration (pp. 32-33).

As G&T observe, in the case of other identifications involving natural kinds, such as water=H2O, to understand the microstructure is to grasp the phenomenon itself. Not so in the case of the putative identity of, say, pain and the firing of C-fibers. Later in the chapter, G&T urge that, whereas the physical structure involved in an experience of pain is essentially compositional in nature, the intrinsic nature of pain itself is essentially simple, and this difference alone is enough to foil an identity claim (p. 49).

Kim has recently urged a “functional identity” of a limited class of cognitive properties (e.g., “To be in pain, by definition, is to be in a state which is caused by tissue damage and which in turn causes winces and groans”). But he suggests that qualia, such as what it is like to be in pain, resists such a functional reduction. But this entails eliminativism with regard to the seeming intrinsic nature of such experiences, and the fortunes of such a proposal would seem to depend upon the plausibility of the suggestion that there is really nothing that it is like to be in pain—what G&T call the “ouchiness” of pain. But isn’t there more to pain (and to Susan Blackmore)—something that it is like to be in pain (or to be Blackmore)—than a system of inputs and outputs? I, for one, think that there is something that it is like to be astonished at assertions to the contrary.

Chapter three, “Naturalism and the Soul,” is given to a defense of substance dualism against some rather forceful objections. In particular, they entertain an argument by Sosa, who argues that causal relations supervene upon certain non-causal conditions, and these include spatial relations. But Cartesian dualists conceive of minds as essentially immaterial and non-spatial. And so, Cartesian minds cannot be spatially related to physical bodies and thus cannot causally interact with those bodies.

The problem is especially acute since the Cartesian dualist depends upon causal relations to make sense of the pairing of minds with bodies. Roughly, my body, i.e., the body that belongs to me, is whatever chunk of physical stuff is subject to my direct willing. Suppose that you and I are souls, and we decide simultaneously to go for an India Pale Ale. Suppose, further, that there are two bodies in a room and that, at the moment of decision, one of these bodies jumps up, goes to the kitchen, returns with two full pint glasses, and hands one to the other body. Apart from some pairing account, you and I do not know who should say “Thank you” and who should reply “Not at all.”

G&T counter by observing that Sosa’s view assumes that causal properties are possessed extrinsically, supervening as they do upon more basic non-causal and spatial properties. Indeed, this assumption parallels a similar view that numerical identity is derivative of more basic spatial relations. One may reply there that, to the contrary, identity is intrinsic and ontologically more basic than such relations. Similarly, G&T urge that causal properties should be viewed as intrinsic to the agent. “The power of an agent and the capacity of a patient are ontologically irreducible and intrinsic causal features of those objects. They are not derivative properties” (p. 60). Of course, though causal properties may be intrinsic, causal relations may themselves be dependent upon various non-causal conditions, but it is not obvious that those conditions must include spatial relations.

G&T think this latter conclusion stands despite Kim’s argument for spatial relations as necessary conditions. Kim argues, in effect, that any two intrinsically indiscernible objects must also be indiscernible with regard to their causal powers (because those powers are plausibly thought to be either identical to or supervenient upon the intrinsic properties). However, it is possible for them to exercise those powers differently—one zigs while the other zags, say. The difference must therefore be accounted for by appeal to differences in their extrinsic properties or relations, and spatial relations fit the bill nicely (p. 63).

G&T reply, “It seems as if the fundamental issue is whether it is possible for a nonspatial object to exist.” They add that,” if it is possible for it to exist, then it is not obvious in strictly a prior or conceptual terms that it cannot interact causally with an object located in space” (p. 63).

It is not immediately clear to me that this is, in fact, the fundamental issue. Kim is concerned with discernibility, but the argument is not that, apart from discernible spatial relations, intrinsic indiscernibility entails numerical identity. As G&T have already suggested, identity is ontologically prior to spatial relations. (If one were to ask regarding two intrinsically indiscernible and non-spatial objects, A and B, “In virtue of what are A and B distinct?” the correct answer is “In virtue of their distinctness.”)Rather, Kim seeks “a principled way of distinguishing intrinsically indiscernible objects in causal situations” (emphasis added).
Kim’s worries seem not to be limited to a principled distinction among objects.

At t I am contemplating Jaegwon Kim, but then, at t1, I have thoughts of Kim Basinger. Presumably, I have undergone no changes among my intrinsic properties, so they are indiscernible between t and t1, and the same is true of my corresponding powers and potentials. How have I managed this feat? What explains this difference in the exercise of my powers? To suppose that the differences must be analyzed into differences in recipes consisting of intrinsic and extrinsic properties and relations (so that any two objects that are indiscernible with regard to all of these will also be behaviorally indiscernible), is just to beg the question against the libertarian appeal to irreducibly teleological explanations. To insist, further, that the differences must be spatial or compositional in nature is to commit a similar offense against the Cartesian dualist, not to mention the theist.

However all of this may be, the proposition, "A, which is immaterial and nonspatial, produced an effect in B, which is material" is not obviously a contradiction nor would it seem to entail one. And so G&T appear to be correct in noting that there is no obvious a priori reason for ruling it out. As they confess at the close of the chapter, the mind-body connection remains mysterious on dualism, but perhaps the mystery is simply a function of the fact that the connection is brute and thus, in principle, admits of no further analysis. But, they observe, brute connections seem unavoidable on physicalism as well.

G.K. Chesterton observed that everyone knows that pumpkins always produce pumpkins. “What nobody knows is why they should not produce elephants and giraffes.” We might suppose that, in Chesterton’s day, pumpkins were “black boxes,” so to speak. We have since cracked the pumpkin genome and understand that pumpkin helices are programmed to reproduce after their kind. Of course, this involves connections that either are or are not open to further analysis. We may proceed for a time opening boxes within boxes, but on an ideal natural science, there is a fundamental level of explanation at which the answer to the question, “Why is alpha always occasioned by beta?” is “It just does.” The appeal then is to intrinsic causal powers possessed of microparticles. G&T ask, “If this is not a deeply vexing mystery for physical causation, it should not be one for non-physical causation” (p. 70).

G&T devote a portion of chapter three to a discussion of “non-Cartesian dualism” under the heading “Why Not Locate Souls in Space?” Most of what they have to say here is in dialog with Kim’s critique of such a proposal, and so one is rather left to piece the view together out of inferences from that exchange. The basic suggestion is that souls may be conceived as being “located in the same spatial framework” as bodies. After all, it seems that the conscious part of me is found wherever my body is, so if I am otherwise convinced of dualism, this may seem a natural view. Thus, souls have spatial properties, but are immaterial and, presumably, unextended—on the order of geometric points. The basic soul-body “pairing account” is thus one of spatial contiguity rather than causation. The view apparently has some affinity to the Jain view of the soul or jiva, which literally occupies the body and fills it as light fills a room.

Chapter four, “Naturalism, Consciousness and Values” assesses “broad naturalism” in its attempt at preserving “consciousness and values within a fundamentally physicalist or materialist naturalism” (p. 71). Kim observes that this sort of “minimal physicalism” is “seductive” but also “a piece of wishful thinking.” As we have already noted, Kim urges an argument from causal closure (“The Supervenience/Exclusion Argument”) that reduces property dualism to epiphenomenalism.

G&T consider “The Problem of Emergence,” which arises out of considerations of both the striking difference between conscious states and the physical processes from which they are said to emerge and the contingency of the relationship between them. The broad naturalist resists the reduction of the mental to the physical, but is committed to the supervenience of the former upon the latter. Minimally, this requires that certain sets of physical properties or combinations of physical phenomena are sufficient for mental properties or conscious phenomena. But it seems possible for the physical properties to be instantiated without their attendant mental properties. Searle suggests that thought experiments that purport to discover worlds that are physically indiscernible from the actual world but are devoid of conscious phenomena involve a form of “cheating” (p. 77).

Of course, if we already know that mental properties just are constituted by physical properties and thus supervenient in this way, then we must agree. But this is precisely the point in dispute, and apart from such a stipulation such worlds appear to be conceivable. (Similarly, if Hitler is depraved, and his depravity is constituted by some combination of his natural properties, then there is no possible world in which someone is naturally indiscernible from Hitler but is not depraved. But this observation alone will hardly satisfy the moral skeptic who wonders why we should think that moral properties like depravity exist in the first place.)

Chapter four also includes an assessment of broad naturalist attempts at preserving objective values. G&T begin by noting that the most common naturalist account of values “appeals to the concept of evolution” (p. 86). This is followed immediately by a consideration of the views of Michael Ruse and Edward Wilson who have maintained that our sense of moral obligation is “an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes in order to get us to cooperate.” Their discussion also takes in the likes of Richard Dawkins and Darwin himself. One might have expected here a discussion of various contemporary ethical naturalists, such as the so-called “Cornell Realists,” who have argued that moral properties are either identical to or supervenient upon natural properties. I, for one, think that the naturalist’s commitment to evolutionary theory poses an undercutting defeater for our moral beliefs in general, but such an argument meets some stiff resistance from ethical naturalists, who would likely agree with Daniel Dennett that Ruse and Wilson are guilty of “greedy reductionism” in their assumption that the explanation for human morality is essentially genetic in nature. With Philip Kitcher, they might suggest that evolution has simply equipped us with the rational faculties necessary for moral discovery.

The final chapter, “Beyond Naturalism,” is given to a defense of the coherence of theism against a variety of naturalist critiques. Not the least of these is the suggestion that the very notion of an immaterial conscious mind that interacts with the created cosmos is incoherent. G&T assess such critiques and argue persuasively that the charges of incoherence are either just overstated (as no problems of a strictly logical nature are evident) or involve an illicit assumption of naturalist or physicalist tenets.

An appendix to the volume briefly develops and defends the so-called “Argument From Reason”—-a perhaps more rigorous heir of the argument presented by C.S. Lewis and others—-with the conclusion that naturalism is ultimately self-defeating since the view has implications that would undermine the very arguments that might otherwise support it.

Generally speaking, Goetz and Taliaferro (G&T) have managed to explain and assess naturalism in a way that is at once concise, careful and clear. I know of no other work engaging metaphysical naturalism that matches this one for these virtues. They allow leading naturalists to speak for themselves, sometimes including lengthy quotations, but mere “cut-and-paste” is avoided by skilful editing and lively interaction with the views discussed. The result is that the reader is likely to come away with a better understanding of the worldview itself as well as the most significant difficulties that confront it. And the book is a model of careful philosophical argumentation and worldview assessment. It should appeal to a wide audience that includes professional philosophers, undergraduates and graduate students, seminarians, pastors and interested laypersons. And it should serve as a fine text for a number of courses, including introduction to philosophy, philosophy of religion and apologetics. I have, for many years, taught a course titled Major Worldviews, which features naturalism and theism, among other views. This book should become a staple for such a course.

muddle's blog | login to post comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Submitted by hankjmatt on Thu, 05/14/2009 - 8:06pm.

I think muddle was trying to explain some of the various subgroups of atheism, the Village Atheist being the least intelligent and knowledgeable of his or her own belief system.
tower defense

Submitted by skyspy on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 8:19am.

Thank you for this blog and your other recent blog. I was afraid you wouldn't have time for us once you started teaching again.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the other books you have suggested. Is Beast and Man by Midgley similar to this book?

There are so many theories and philosophies to consider. I don't think any one point of view whether scientific theory or philosophical view can be used to explain our existence.

Keep the good stuff coming. I enjoy reading and thinking about something, other than our current local problems/issues.

I hope all is well with you and, that you and Mrs. Muddle are getting many hours of cuddle time with your new grandbaby.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 10:34am.

Midgley's Beast and Man is in a class by itself--a classic.

I guess I have a thing for British writers, but I rank her writing style along with people like Chesterton, who is my favorite essayist. Both can be hilariously funny while in the midst of urging a rigorous argument about some complex subject. (Someone once criticized Chesterton for his humorous style, saying that he was not serious enough about serious subjects. In defense of his style, he quipped, "Funny is not the opposite of serious; funny is the opposite of not funny.")

Midgley is best thought of as a Naturalist, I think. But she represents everything that the village atheists do not in that her chief aim is to think through the implications of the worldview that she embraces and to articulate and defend it. None of the knee-jerk reactions to theism. And no "straw man" arguments that would foist off the stupidest forms of "creationism" onto theists in general. In fact, she has published critiques of people like Dawkins who tend to be so shrill and reactionary.

Beast and Man in particular addresses the question of what evolution might have bequeathed to us in terms of human psychological predispositions or instincts. She steers a steady course between the extremes of the "blank paper" view, which says that there is no such thing as human nature, and extreme forms of sociobiology, which claim to find genetic explanations for nearly everything we do. She just has such a healthy dose of common sense that you cannot help but benefit even if you come away disagreeing with her.


"Puddleglum" by Weatherwax (one of the Muddlings).

Jeeves to the Rescue

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 02/18/2009 - 1:44pm.

What is a village atheist?

It is hard enough to describe an atheist in a world of 1000 religions but compounded logo rhythmically by adding "village" to the description!

Maybe if I ask another question you will better understand what I mean.
Do the Muslims have atheists? Same belief as Christian atheists?

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 4:45pm.

I think muddle was trying to explain some of the various subgroups of atheism, the Village Atheist being the least intelligent and knowledgeable of his/her own belief system.

Kinda like these subgroups of Christianity:

- the Fundie Homophobicus
- the Mormon Polygamus
- the Catholic Pedophilius

and the Islam religion has the illusive Muslim Bomb-a-bunch-of-us

Submitted by baroombrawl on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 5:02pm.

However, I think more Germain would be:

The Palinfakers
The Schism Med non-homoEspistols
The AME, ABE, ACE, Wholy inclusivestandingshouters
The CrefloBennyRobertsRobinsonChurch Horsefarmfundamentalists
The Islamicheadchoppersalittlettime bunch
The Buddhists Diet Consortium
And of course: The alcoholic Fathers in the wine factory

hutch866's picture
Submitted by hutch866 on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 11:54am.

Isn't being an atheist more about a lack of belief rather then a belief?

I yam what I yam....Popeye

Submitted by Bonkers on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 3:02pm.

Mo, lack of belief is not a good description!

Atheists have a belief, it is that they believe those who aren't atheists are looking for something that doesn't exist!

Now if you mean lack of belief in Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Budd
ism, and scores of other organized religions--or the unorganized ones, then it does partially explain just what an atheist is.

Frankly, I think most organized religious snobs think that atheists are anyone who asks questions about organized religion of any kind. That would make most philosophers atheists!

hutch866's picture
Submitted by hutch866 on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 3:35pm.

Who is mo? And does he believe?

I yam what I yam....Popeye

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 10:11am.

Villagus atheisticus is a subspecies of the genus Atheisticus westernus. Identified chiefly by his behavior, he may be observed near his habitat stalking the local parson with questions on the order of, "Did Adam have a navel?" and "So tell me how Noah fit all the animals on the ark?" and "What did the vultures eat before there was death?"

Villagus is known to display aggressive behavior, sometimes puffing his plumage so as to appear larger and more intimidating than he, in fact, is, and assuming a threatening posture. However, this display is chiefly intended to ward off the more fainthearted varieties of theisticus, in particular, the species fundamentalus. Rarely has villagus been observed in actual contest on open battleground as he prefers a sort of guerrilla tactic of hit-and-run.

Villagus is not to be confused with other varieties of atheisticus westernus, in particular, naturalus philosophicus. The latter is often deceptively docile and even friendly, but may inflict heavy casualties upon the ill-prepared specimen of theisticus in the event of open conflict. Caution is advised in approaching this species.


"Puddleglum" by Weatherwax (one of the Muddlings).

Jeeves to the Rescue

Submitted by Bonkers on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 11:36am.

My request for a description of an atheist only rewarded me with an accusation of being one! The usual attack used by those who can not answer simple questions.

I know Kain went off and married someone from Nod when at that time there were only four on earth, I think.
That might have been to the original monkey from which some of us came.

It boils down to this; if we knew how to explain it we certainly would be pretty smart!
So, all we can do is write some rules, (Ten to start with) and hope they are right, and all perform just alike!

(That is except the other 85% of the world's population.)

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 7:51pm.

I don't think you're an atheist.

Please re-read my tongue-in-cheek reply.


"Puddleglum" by Weatherwax (one of the Muddlings).

Jeeves to the Rescue

Submitted by skyspy on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 2:32pm.

Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean everyone is NOT out to get you.

Cheer up, it is sunny and warm outside. You are starting to sound shrill.

The Wedge's picture
Submitted by The Wedge on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 11:43am.

You asked for a definition of the village atheist and he provide it genus and species. In no place did I see an implication that you were personally being accused Bonkers. Of course I may be Nickpicking, or maybe wishing for a dollar a day more than I have right now. Who knows my motivations these day!

Submitted by jevank on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 10:48am.

So to question religion makes me anti-social?

You may pick your favorite phrase below:

"There are no stupid questions, only stupid answers."

"There are no stupid questions, but there are lots of inquisitive idiots!"

"We need real people with actual knowledge around to answer seemingly stupid questions."

Please feel free to add your own.

carbonunit52's picture
Submitted by carbonunit52 on Sun, 02/22/2009 - 11:57am.

According to the philosophy of the village carbonunit, religions are created by people, who also created the societies that the religions are part of, so to pose a question about a religion that a member does not like (which is a lot of territory) could be considered anti-social by that member of that religion of that society (sometimes too many "thats" are just barely enough).
I like phrase number three.

"I can't wait until tomorrow, because I become more lovable every day."

Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Sun, 02/22/2009 - 12:18pm.

There's a quote on our fridge that my spouse put up last week that reads: "Man invented religion to keep people from seeing God"

that's what I get for marrying a scientist Smiling

The Wedge's picture
Submitted by The Wedge on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 11:28am.

So to question religion makes me anti-social?

No, not to question it, but to come up with this question as a response to the previous posting makes me question you. Where did you come up with that? Are you walking around with a battery on your shoulder daring people to knock it off? No entiendo

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 10:57am.

So to question religion makes me anti-social?

Who said (or thought or implied) that?

And what is the function of the "phrases"?


"Puddleglum" by Weatherwax (one of the Muddlings).

Jeeves to the Rescue

Submitted by skyspy on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 10:38am.

I needed a good laugh today. That was one of the best responses I have seen yet to ol $dollar/bonker$.

I think your writing style is very close to Midgley's. Which I appreciate. You take a very calm, educated approach, and look at every possible angle of a question.

Thanks again for keeping our minds agile, and giving us something to think about other than the economy.

S. Lindsey's picture
Submitted by S. Lindsey on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 11:11am.

GREAT RESPONSE... Loved it made me almost forget I lost 2 windshields and both cars look like golf balls.. and I have a $1000 deductible on both.. GREAT..
Still loved it though

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 11:00am.

I would be thrilled to think that my writing was even half as good as Midgley's. More important than the question of whether my arguments work is that of whether my jokes are funny.

Yes. Must not think about the economy. For me, this is the perfect storm: thrown under the bus at my place of employment, and then stocks are down more than 80%.


"Puddleglum" by Weatherwax (one of the Muddlings).

Jeeves to the Rescue

Submitted by skyspy on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 2:55pm.

You are very funny, and it is good for the soul.

Your writing style makes people think because you look at and analyse every possible side of an issue. That is the hallmark of a great teacher. Also like Midgley and Greg Boyd, you write so that those of us who are not Phd's can understand what you are writing. That really is important. Any of you academic types can write something that your colleagues will understand. Not all of you can reach the rest of us, and our minds sorely need tweaking.

The economy is bad, but what goes down, must come up. Keep the good blogs coming.

Also I got a book for Christmas that you might enjoy it is very light for you, and about right for me. "Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar" Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes.

by Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein

They are not making fun of Philosophy, just trying to keep it simple for the rest of us.

muddle's picture
Submitted by muddle on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 7:46pm.

I have a copy. It's been a while since I read it, but, as I recall, some of the jokes are just fall down funny.

(And some are...well...obscene.) Eye-wink


"Puddleglum" by Weatherwax (one of the Muddlings).

Jeeves to the Rescue

Submitted by skyspy on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 8:14pm.

It is funny isn't it?

Just what I need tonight. I was up until 4am dealing with some water damage. I can't complain though, so many people had it much worse than me. The Sky house is dry tonight.

I think that will be my book for tonight.

Take care Muddle.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.