Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Aristotle Hates Barack Obama

Aristotle's major premise:
"Men like the sophists are fools to embrace paradox and to get others to do so 
(and I hate them for that)."

Schaeffer's minor premise:
"Barack Obama is a person who embraces paradox and encourages us to do so.  (See more below)."

Aristotle's conclusion:
"I hate Obama 
(because he's like the sophists, and all such fools embrace paradox)."

Get Aristotle's logic, his chain of reasoning, his conclusion? 
Here's more from Aristotle, in his Nichomachean Ethics:
ἔτι ὁ σοφιστικὸς λόγος ψευδόμενος ἀπορία· διὰ γὰρ τὸ παράδοξα βούλεσθαι ἐλέγχειν, ἵνα δεινοὶ ὦσιν ὅταν ἐπιτύχωσιν, ὁ γενόμενος συλλογισμὸς ἀπορία γίνεται· δέδεται γὰρ ἡ διάνοια,ὅταν μένειν μὴ βούληται διὰ τὸ μὴ ἀρέσκειν τὸ συμπερανθέν, προϊέναι δὲ μὴ δύνηται διὰ τὸ λῦσαι μὴ ἔχειν τὸν λόγον. συμβαίνει δὴ ἔκ τινος λόγου ἡ ἀφροσύνη μετ’ ἀκρασίας ἀρετή·τἀναντία γὰρ πράττει ὧν ὑπολαμβάνει διὰ τὴν ἀκρασίαν, ὑπολαμβάνει δὲ τἀγαθὰ κακὰ εἶναι καὶ οὐ δεῖν πράττειν, ὥστε τἀγαθὰ καὶ οὐ τὰ κακὰ πράξει.

Again there's the difficulty raised by the fake-out argument of the sophists. The sophists wish to show their cleverness by trapping their adversary with a paradox, and when they're successful, their resultant chain of reasoning ends in a deadlock: the mind is shackled, being unwilling to stand still because it can’t approve the conclusion reached, and yet being unable to go forward because it can’t untie the knot of the argument. Didn't I already say these men are fools?
Here's more from Frank Schaeffer in his HuffPo blog post "President Obama: Bad News For the New Atheists and Other Fundamentalists":
Into the all or nothing culture wars, and the all or nothing wars between the so-called New Atheists and religion the election of President elect Obama reintroduces nuance. . . .

[Obama is saying:] "I think it's time that we join a serious debate about how to reconcile faith with our modern, pluralistic democracy. . . ."

President elect Obama has said, and I paraphrase: Strip the human race of our spiritual language and what do we tell each other about hope?

As President elect Obama has pointed out, a world of all math but no poetry is not fit for human habitation. If everything feels flat and dull, stripped of mystery and meaning who will bother to do the science? Why bother, if all we're doing is serving those selfish genes for another round of meaningless propagation?

So does this faith always make "sense?" No. Because our perspective is from the inside, something like paint contemplating the painting of which it's a part. We're all in the same boat, all stuck on the same "canvas."

So let's admit we all share the problem that was best articulated by Darwin in his dairy: "Can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?"

As our new president recognizes, self-awareness and mortality are already such a mutually exclusive (and terrifying) contradiction that accepting a few more contradictions is par for the course! And President elect Obama has a generous enough spirit and a large enough intellect so that he can do with his spiritual life, what the Religious Right and the New Atheists have not done: understand that there is no shame in embracing paradox.

President Obama is about to make reasoned faith fashionable again. It's about time.

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