Re: [asa] Alex Rosenberg essay

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Thu Dec 10 2009 - 15:59:37 EST

Hi Doug, Schwarzwald, everybody else..

There were two remarks which struck me, neither in the essay itself but in Rosenberg's response to the various commentators;

The first was the title of that response: "How stupid of me to have thought of it!" and the corresponding comment(s) in the body; "I tried to signal that I was at least familiar with most of the moves in the debate ... In general, my commentators did not give me any credit for being acquainted with those moves."

Personally, I allow Rosenberg as much, but surely he should allow that the converse applies? Surely he should allow that his opponents are acquainted with the moves as well? All very well for him to argue that his opponents engage in a "shameless dodge" but that, in and of itself, isn't to engage in an argument either!

So whilst Rosenberg is right to say that he never engages in the locution "I believe that..." one might well ask if this is not to miss the obvious point that everything anybody ever writes in theology or philosophy could well be prefaced with exactly those words. Rosenberg is certainly offering well informed opinion, but I think there's a degree of hubris involved in efforts to take the intellectual high-ground here. Not that he's Robinson Crusoe in that regard...

Secondly, and more significantly, I was really intrigued by the concluding paragraph of this response;

I grew up philosophically having no time for Friedrich Nietzsche. It was Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea that led me to think I had been overhasty for 40 years or so. Now I am prepared to embrace the passage Brian offers us: “Whatever has value in our world now does not have value in itself, according to its nature—nature is always value-less, but has been given value at some time, as a present—and it was we who gave and bestowed it” (The Gay Science, sec. 301).” I’ll buy into this view so long as it’s understood that what we have given and bestowed is, like that great prize they give in international cricket, The Ashes, something that doesn’t exist.

Personally, I don't think anybody can call themselves an "intellectually satisfied atheist" until they have come to terms with a thoroughgoing Nietzschian nihilism. That Rosenberg could dismiss Nietzsche for 40 years suggests to me that he possibly isn't as familiar with all the moves in the debate after all.


> Heya Doug,
> I actually posted this to the list a few days ago, along with some
> comments by another philosopher:
> No responses, I believe. On the other hand, while I don't think
> naturalism is at all true (obviously), I do think Rosenberg is one of
> the rare philosophers who happens to face what naturalism really and
> truly entails head-on. I think more modern effort by naturalists is put
> into denying or obscuring what so clearly follows than defending
> naturalism itself.
> On Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 1:28 PM, Douglas Hayworth
> < <>> wrote:
> Has anyone read and commented on the following essay?
> A non-scientist friend sent it to me for comment.
> My short answer is "Well, that's one philosophical perspective, but
> it's no more legitimate or defensible than any other perspective.
> It's only his choice to view the science as compelling
> this conclusion. The persuasive nature of the essay itself is
> testimony to the fact that there's more that just the science involved."
> Doug

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Thu Dec 10 15:59:55 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Thu Dec 10 2009 - 15:59:55 EST