Friday, December 02, 2005

National Review Considers Islam?

Is National Review falling for the standard Islamic propaganda? A recent article, by Mustafa Akyol, spins the usual “we’re just a religion like yours” party line to appeal to the dhimmi-type conservatives that lurk in the halls of National Review. Of course, he makes no mention of the warrior origin of Islam and the centrality of jihad in Islamic history. Instead, Akyol suggests conservatives in the West can win the hearts and minds of Muslims if they change their society and get rid of … Darwin! Yes, it’s that damn materialist Darwin that is responsible for Islam’s hostility to the West!

Akyol regurgitates the standard conceptual confusion that's common at National Review (he’s studied them well.) First, he implicitly equates naturalism with materialism by the usual false alternative of supernaturalism vs. soulless materialism. But what about Aristotle? Aristotle saw ethics and teleology as natural and he accepted the universe as eternal. At the same time Aristotle opposed the arch materialist/reductionist Democritus.

Let’s remember that Islam got rid of Aristotle just before the West adopt his worldview and thereby set the stage for the Renaissance. Of course, contemporary secularists have also turned their back on Aristotle, and that’s problem with philosophy, today. Perhaps, it’s time for conservatives to realize that not all naturalism is the materialist, reductionist, determinist, relativist, collectivist kind prevalent in today’s university. Islam is an excellent example of a religion that found no room for Aristotle but so is the post-modern nihilism all too common in today's university.

16 Comments:

Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Oh oh, Aristotle worship. Do we smell a Randoid?

Jason, a follower of the most thoroughly discredited of the discredited world views?

Let's tune in next week and find out.

12/2/05, 4:33 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

LOL. Now I know what Ducky shares with Islam: a rejection of Aristotle. Figures.

12/2/05, 7:10 PM  
Blogger beakerkin said...

The Duck fails to learn from 1300 years of continual human rights abuses and the slaughter of 100,000,000 more in the name of Marx.

Anyone seen Elmer Fudd its Duck Season

12/2/05, 9:19 PM  
Blogger Caroline said...

What I love about this site is that I feel like I'm back in college and being given an assignment that challenges me to really learn something. I read the post but then wandered off to Wikipedia to try to brush up on basic philosophical terms like "Objectivism", even though I read Atlas Shrugged as a teenager and recall it as being one of my favorite novels (I didn't read many but it stood out so maybe I chose wisely. But then Thoreau's Walden Pond also stood out hugely when I was 16 - not a novel admittedly - but it had a huge impact even though I didn't realize he was a descendent of Rousseau). But then I find myself lost in a labrynth of links to every major philosopher and there is so much to put together between what I vaguely recall from my liberal education plus my very specifically Catholic (and decidedly Jesuit influenced) family upbringing and then my own explorations into eastern philosophy spanning some 20 years now, which largely accounts for my losing touch with the basic tenets of western philosophy.

I point all this out for the purpose of saying to Jason that I really appreciate what your site offers. It presents a real challenge and stimulates me to (re)explore western philosophy and familiarize myself with what should be common working knowledge for the educated westerner but sadly isn't. (Well , in my defense, I doubt most of my reasonably educated friends could hold forth on the distinctions between Kant and Heidegger and Locke and Husserl but maybe I hang around a low-brow crowd:-)

More accurately, it probably didn't matter all that much to us baby boomers to understand these distinctions. What could possibly happen to the west anyway?! But now it actually matters to understand this intellectual history. When your civilization is literally threatened, it's time to brush the dust off those old books and to figure out clearly where you come from intellectually and to be able to articulate where you stand now.

All of which is to say that I have no educated comment to make regarding your current post but that I truly appreciate the importance of working on that sad fact. For whatever such a comment is worth!

12/2/05, 10:59 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Caroline,
I know what you mean. I didn't pay all that much attention to philosophy when I was in school. I thought that subject matter would always "be there," should I get interested. I feel more urgent now.

12/2/05, 11:06 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Caroline, you know about many subjects. I remember Katy (Old Peculiar) pointing that out when she invited you to join her in “Harry’s Place” – a British-based blog where they argue with people across the political spectrum. Of course, we all (myself included) need to review at times and I also enjoy the resources on the Internet. There’s always another article to read! As a matter of fact, you’ve left quite a few good links. Thanks for stopping by. And feel free to share more good links.

12/2/05, 11:16 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thanks in part to Sixth Column, I can follow much of this.

Though I am a Conservative (and, yes, of the Creationist point of view), I will not defend the unrelated lumping-together of unrelated items to which Conservatives are often prone. Blaming Darwin for Islam's hostility toward the West is absurd!

As I recall Aristotle, he placed great emphasis on ethics. [Please correct me if I'm wrong] A good dose of ethics is what the world needs. And Conservatives, particularly of the Christian kind, need to understand that not all systems of ethics similar to Juedo-Christianity are faith-based. In fact, if Christians would read their Bibles a bit more carefully--especially the New Testament--they'd find that what I'm saying here is so.

BTW, Islam had to reject Aristotle, because Islam couldn't stand up to reasoning and debate.

12/2/05, 11:21 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Aristotle (along with Socrates and Plato) agued that ethnical knowledge is possible. They explicitly rejected the relativism of the Sophists. Today the relativists in academia are like the Sophists both in their assertion that ethics is subjective and in their bogus logic meant to confuse the average person. Aristotle has an extensive treatise on ethics [1] which influenced Aquinas’ second part of the Summa Theologica [2]. Aquinas argued that there was no contradiction between the two.

What I didn’t mention was parallel between the cheap attempt to woo conservatives by Muslims parroting and parodying the conservative criticism of today’s intellectuals (and criticism is warranted) and the communist attempt, in years past, to woo liberals by seizing upon valid failures to live up to our ideals of equality (particularly in race relations.) Both communist and Muslim propagandists want to convince our own critics to “come over to the other side” and reject everything great about our Western tradition. I’m disappointed National Review falls for this tactic like some on the left fell for communist propaganda.

1. Aristotle’s Ethics
2. First Part of the Second Part and Second Part of the Second Part These are too long to read on line but I listed them just for reference.

12/3/05, 8:09 AM  
Blogger LASunsett said...

The bottom line is, they want the world to return to the middle ages. But of course, they want to be in charge and have everyone to bow to their will, under the guise of what is supposed to be a religion.

And while it's true that Catholicism was that way once, they evolved out of it. They eventually recognized that the world had forever changed. Mankind could not be kept in the dark forever and just accept the words of those that were supposed to be spiritual guides. Mankind is too inquisitive and too curious to allow darkness to be imposed, forever.

Islam needs a renaissance, badly. And I believe there are many within the fold that would welcome it. But the jihadists have grown and continue to grow and oppose the very idea, with fear and intimidation, the way it was done in the middle ages.

12/3/05, 11:23 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Jason,
Aristotle has an extensive treatise on ethics [1] which influenced Aquinas’ second part of the Summa Theologica [2].

Yes! I recall this now.

As I said, I'm very rusty on the philosophers. But thanks to Farmer John's many posts about Socrates and Plato, I knew about the ethical connection with Aristotle.

LA mentions a renaissance of Islam. Actually, the jihadists consider themselves such and believe that a lack of aggressive militantism is a cause of the decline of Islam.

By its very nature, a few terrorists can control a large body of people. Add to that the problem of a lack of appearance of the moderates to "take back" their so-called faith.

See "Five Anwers to Prager," also by Akyol, @
http://www.thewhitepath.com/
archives/2005/11/
five_answers_to_prager_about_islam.php

I stumbled onto "Five Anwers" when I followed the link from National Review.

12/3/05, 1:48 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Typo! "Anwers" should be "Answers." Sorry!

12/3/05, 1:51 PM  
Blogger beakerkin said...

Jason

All utopians are bound to fail no matter what label they call themselves.

12/3/05, 4:12 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

Let me add how hard it is to separate all the influences on Western Civilization and attribute credit to one or the other. After all Paul was a educated Hellenistic Jew before he became a Christian. Augustine was influenced by Plato and Aquinas by Aristotle. When I try to asses the influences and weigh them to form the total picture, I can’t expect others to but the pieces together with the same weight. It’s something one thinks about over years and decades. Here’s Angelo Codevilla striving to get the balance right in his book “The Character of Nations:”

Plato and Aristotle “taught us to differentiate between the demands of rulers and the demands of nature. This distinction … theoretically diminished the scope of government to a heretofore unimaginable extent. Jesus’ injunction to 'render unto Caesar….' left no doubt that rulers could no longer lay claim to spiritual authority. The Christian commentators combined Jesus’ command with Platonic-Aristotelian natural law and gradually produced what might be called the social doctrine of the Christian Middle Ages—a set of ideas and practices that limited the consequences of government as never before or since. (Page 30)”

Later he changes the emphasis: “Nevertheless, with all due deference to Aristotle, ethics in Judeo-Christian civilization derive from commandments, and the natural law draws its authority from God. (Page 176)"

Other authors will argue their synthesis. Much depends on one’s philosophy and view of ideas in history. Thus, I fully respect and understand a broad range of attempts to put the total picture together. However, I present mine given my current thinking.

12/3/05, 5:24 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

That's funny, AOW, I came across that attempt to answer Prager as well. I forget where. If that's the Muslim answers, Prager, like Spencer should just keep asking the questions. The silence or poor rationalizations say it all.

12/3/05, 5:29 PM  
Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Weird.

I'm not too fond of Ayn Rand, being that I am proponent of a philosophy I call "Astigmatism" - the logic of blurring all points into indistinctions. I haven't written the book on it, because, quite frankly, I'm afraid people will read it.

But I seriously doubt my objections to Objectivism are the same as Ducky's.

12/3/05, 7:10 PM  
Blogger LASunsett said...

"Jesus’ injunction to 'render unto Caesar….' left no doubt that rulers could no longer lay claim to spiritual authority."

Jason,

I agree with this statement, but would also add that it goes the other way too.

I believe that this is the one scripture that overtly separates church and state. And while it shut out rulers as spiritual leaders, I believe that it shuts out spiritual leaders, as being rulers.

I wouldn't want Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, or even the Pope ruling in any government. And I damned sure would not want a Muslim cleric running this country or any other, for that matter.

That said, I do not believe (unlike the left)that attacking Christianity as an entity, does anything whatsoever to promote the separation of church and state.

12/4/05, 11:30 PM  

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