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Nietzsche, The Atheist Who Didn't Flinch

...the Enlightenment effectively tore out the foundations from under the polite bourgeois morality that it wished to maintain. You cannot do this, says Nietzsche. You have unchained the earth from the sun, a move of incalculable significance. By doing so, you have taken away any basis for a metaphysics that might ground either knowledge or ethics.... The cheerful and chipper atheism of a Richard Dawkins or a Daniel Dennett is not for Nietzsche because it fails to see the radical consequences of its rejection of God. To hope that, say evolution will make us moral would be to assume a meaning and order to nature that can only really be justified on a prior metaphysical basis that itself transcends nature, or simply to declare by fiat and with no objective justification that certain things we like or of which we approve are intrinsically good. 

--Carl Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self

I haven't finished this book yet, and will probably have more to say about it. But it's actually better than I expected--not that I didn't expect it to be good, but it's both wider and deeper than I thought it would be. 


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This one has been fairly high on my list. Looking forward to hearing more about it.

I think you'll find it interesting. It's in part a pulling-together of the insights of several other thinkers who have analyzed the modern condition, and of the views of various other thinkers who have brought about that condition. I only wish I had read more of those others. I have to take his word about Freud, Marx, Marcuse, and many others.

I read both the one you're currently reading and the "abridged" version, Strange New World. I found the latter helpful after I had already read the first one because of the way it serves as a sort of digest of the bigger book and provides a focus on the primary points.

I imagine it could work in reverse as well. One could read the smaller book for the main arguments then tackle the bigger one for background, more detailed argument, etc. In that way you'd be familiar with the gist of the thing before diving in.

Speaking of books, Front Porch Republic has three reviews up of Berry's new book The Need to Be Whole. All three are worth reading, but this one is the longest and most in-depth:

It's interesting that some of the early "liberal" responses to the book do exactly what Berry says we shouldn't be doing in our conversations about race - treating it as a problem of its own that has no relationship to other social problems, especially those related to economics.

Berry: "Yes, the rats in the building are a huge problem, but it also has termites and mold, and all these things are connected to general misuse and neglect, which is the underlying issue. We should look at the rat problem in conjunction with these other things and not simply by itself."
Liberals: "But what about the rat problem?"

So tedious.

I probably won't read the shorter one. Question is whether to buy it. I got it from the local library and have wanted to mark pages. I was pleased and slightly surprised that the library had it. It must be pretty successful for a book of its type, and that's encouraging.

I'll read the Berry reviews later. Not supposed to be online right now. :-)

A friend of mine that knows Trueman says it has sold something like 65,000 copies, but I think he may mean the big one in combo with the small one. That's still pretty amazing for a very 'academic' book.

That it sold 65,000 is very encouraging. That only 65,000 people, or, generously, two or three times that number, will encounter these ideas is discouraging. In other words, how much influence can a book actually have? Maybe we can add some more thousands for the abridged version.

I read the FPR review of Berry's book. Very good. Unfortunately the online savages won't be reading it.

Yes, the people who most need to read it, left and right, will either not read it, or read it dismissively. As you say, how much influence can a book actually have? Even the silly partisan-polemic jillion sellers cranked out by the dozen have no real influence other than troop-rallying via bias confirmation.

An interesting and sad example of this is Chris Arnade's excellent book Dignity. As one FPR commenter put it, the book's success could be hindered by the fact that it couldn't be used by one political tribe to cudgel the other, since it was critical of both sides. My take on this is that had the book been either strongly anti-right or anti-left it would have been a bestseller.

Re: Nietzsche not flinching, I can't recall if Trueman mentioned Dostoevsky in that context, but FD didn't flinch either, which is why Nietzsche read him. Although FD never read Nietzsche, his responses to nihilism are extremely relevant. In my view guys like Trueman who are doing critiques of modernity should read more Dostoevsky.

I'm pretty certain Trueman doesn't mention FD in his discussion of Nietzsche, and there's no entry in the index for him, so if he's mentioned anywhere at all it must be only in passing. Though I guess it's an understandable in this book, as Trueman doesn't deal much at all with the opposition to the movement he traces.

I remember a few years back saying to God "Couldnt you at least have given us a hint that the earth rotated?"
It was not long after that that I came across a guy named "Vega" (I think thats his name),who went back to the "original" Hebrew manuscripts and actually countered the prevailing view that the bible taught the earth didnt move.(he lived at that time)
How did he do this?
This is what the King James says(Job 38:14):

Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;
That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?
It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment. Job 38:12-14

You will find in Genesis 3:24

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

The phrase 'turned every way' is actually here translated "revolvia"in my Reina Valera 1569,1602 . It doesnt take a scholar to recognize the English translation of that word.
The phrase is actually a single word in Hebrew as best as I can tell: Haphak. This is the same Hebrew word used in Job 38:14 "turned". The earth is 'turned". I mean,that is the word.
Perhaps Vega got the connection somehow by reading the Reina Valera version translation before the controversy erupted. I dont know as I cant find mention of him anymore.
It has been noted that the King James translation seems to preserve some curious phrases from the Hebrew without trying to shoehorn them into "current wisdom".
CS Lewis said something close to "the Bible has that peculiar quality about it that real things have"

Into this seeming biblical error alluded to by Nietzsche a whole era of unbelief was given "honest" justification. I dont see how anybody could deny this helped pave the way for Darwin and his abomination.
Now we have the whole clear biblical history thoroughly discredited by even believers
who are eagerly accepting of various evolutionary scenarios. ("please oh please oh please dont call me an anti-science fundamentalist...I'm not one of them" ....this even in the face of a steady overthrowing of the latest evolutionary theories/cosmogonies that they were not so long ago shamed into believing as the LAST WORD IN SCIENCE.
Folks will be folks. Old Noah still isnt popular.

"I guess it's an understandable in this book"

True, man! ;-)

"an understandable"--I think I like that. Opposite of "a mystery". :-)

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