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What Philistinism Looks Like


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Roger Kimball



For anyone who wants to take a peek into what is perhaps the most radical philistinism of our time, I recommend “The Heretic,” Andrew Ferguson’s long and thoughtful essay in the current Weekly Standard. In part, Ferguson’s piece is an account of the ostracism of Thomas Nagel, the distinguished NYU philosopher who first entered the academic empyrean with his clever 1974 meditation on the mind-body problem, “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” (short answer: very difficult for us humans to say). But the case of Thomas Nagel’s academic proscription is only half of Ferguson’s story. The other half concerns the breathtaking, almost comic village-idiot sort of philistinism displayed by those presiding over Nagel’s ostracism.


Why and by whom was Thomas Nagel ostracized? At first blush, he would seem to be an unlikely candidate for the we-now-cast-you-into-outer-darkness treatment by his peers. He has espoused all the right (i.e., decidedly left-leaning) political opinions. And his philosophical work, though sophisticated in its insistence on the irreducibility of consciousness in understanding experience, operates well within the prescribed boundaries of academic acceptability (no God-talk, for example).


But last year, Nagel committed an unpardonable sin. He published a book called Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False. Yikes. Ferguson shows in hilarious if also disturbing detail how the orthodox high priests of the neo-Darwinian consensus — chaps like Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins — have read Nagel out of the fraternity of OK people for daring to question the tenets of their faith.









There is no God but Darwin....and Dawkins is his prophet.


There is a line from the Qur'an. "and they plot away while God is plotting too, and God is the best Plotter!"

Found it in Tom Clancy's Red Storm Raising....I like it.

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