Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ali vs. Harris

Ayaan Hirsi Ali takes on Lee Harris and wins in the first round. In a new book Harris examines the West and declares that its main problem is its reliance on reason. Harris gives his reasons in a recent article on the conservative website, TCS Daily. Harris’ final paragraph sums it up:

“In a world that absurdly overrates the advantage of sheer brain power, no one wants to be seen as a member in good standing of the stupid party [as John Stuart Mill once called the British Conservative Party]. Yet stupidity has been and will always remain the best defense mechanism against the ordinary conman and the intellectual dreamer.”

Harris’ bizarre mental gymnastics leads to the above conclusion. Perhaps he’s strangling in his own rationalistic sophistry. Ayaan, flaws and all, still gets to the essence of reason: it is a process of grasping reality that is iterative, testable, and self-correcting.

“Enlightenment thinkers, preoccupied with both individual freedom and secular and limited government, argued that human reason is fallible. They understood that reason is more than just rational thought; it is also a process of trial and error, the ability to learn from past mistakes. The Enlightenment cannot be fully appreciated without a strong awareness of just how frail human reason is. That is why concepts like doubt and reflection are central to any form of decision-making based on reason. “

It is individualistic in both process and purpose.

“But what makes America unique, especially in contrast to Europe, is its resistance to the philosophy of Hegel with its concept of a unifying world spirit. It is the individual that matters most in the United States. And more generally, it is individuals who make cultures and who break them.” …

“Harris also fails to address the enemies of reason within the West: religion and the Romantic movement. It is out of rejection of religion that the Enlightenment emerged; Romanticism was a revolt against reason.”

“Both the Romantic movement and organized religion have contributed a great deal to the arts and to the spirituality of the Western mind, but they share a hostility to modernity. Moral and cultural relativism (and their popular manifestation, multiculturalism) are the hallmarks of the Romantics.”

Perfect? Perhaps not but she goes for the jugular. You have got to love her.

Update1: Ayaan is under constant threat from Islamists. Support her protection. (Hat Tip Jeff Perren)

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it silly to claim that reason leads to viewing Islam as moderate? Apparently Harris would view it as unreasonable to note that Islam is destructive.

Weingarten

1/8/08, 1:21 PM  
Blogger Farmer John said...

Moral and cultural relativism (and their popular manifestation, multiculturalism) are the hallmarks of the Romantics.”

Bullsh*t.

1/8/08, 1:34 PM  
Blogger Ducky's Here said...

Ayaan, flaws and all, still gets to the essence of reason: it is a process of grasping reality that is iterative, testable, and self-correcting.
---------------------------
Agreed (although I don't think Ayaan "gets" or cares about much but speakers fees).

Now is reason sufficient? Farmer and I both know the Romantics said, no and modern neuropsychology agrees.

1/8/08, 2:19 PM  
Blogger Jeff Perren said...

She is an amazing woman. Please encourage your readers to contribute to her security fund, initiated by Sam Harris.

http://www.samharris.org/site/security_trust/

Jeff

P.S. You have my sympathy for having to tolerate the vermin that regularly infest your site.

1/8/08, 5:46 PM  
Blogger Donald Douglas said...

I read "Suicide of Reason," but had to stop when Harris started hammering the adminisration on Iraq.

Other than that, he makes a powerful argument. Hirsi's good, but she herself is not an Islamic scholar, more an anti-Islamic activist from the Muslim street.

Interesting, in any case.

1/9/08, 9:10 PM  
Blogger Amir said...

Hi ,
I am an Iranian guy, about 30 years old, and a phd student in engeering. I currently live in the US. Unfortunately lots of people in the world, specially people in the US, don't have a clear picture of what it's like to live in Iran. I have created this weblog to address the questions you may have about Iran.
Regards & Thanks,
Amir

1/11/08, 2:41 PM  
Blogger Silly Allah said...

When more people actually read the Koran, they will find "reason" being critically important to understanding Islam's clear support for terrorism.

We should all be thankful for Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

1/20/08, 2:12 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Dear Gunfighter:

It is time we think seriously about acts of counter-terrorism and go on the offensive...I say we form "leaderless cells" like the Muzzies have done already and draw up lists of traitors and Islamists to be terminated with extreme prejudice. We are war with the Red and Green to the death. The issue between us will not be settled by fine words, compromise and appeasement, but only by blood and iron. So I say burn the Mosques, and shoot the Red traitors and hang the Mullahs! If history has taught us anything it is this – anyone can be killed. THE ONLY GOOD MUSLIM IS A DEAD MUSLIM!!! THE ONLY GOOD RED IS A DEAD RED!!!

2/10/08, 6:14 AM  

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