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Antony Flew - A Brief Appreciation

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  • Dr Sean Gabb
    http://libertarianalliance.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/antony-flew-rip/ Antony Flew has died at the age of 87:
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 14, 2010
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      http://libertarianalliance.wordpress.com/2010/04/14/antony-flew-rip/

      Antony Flew has died at the age of 87:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/culture-obituaries/books-obituari
      es/7586929/Professor-Antony-Flew.html

      I came across Antony’s work in the early 1980s, when I first discovered
      David Hume. I admired Antony without ever supposing I’d meet him. We did
      eventually meet in June 1992. I was sitting in my office in the Prime
      Minister’s Palace in Bratislava. The telephone rang. It was one of the
      guards on the main door. He told me there was a strange old man with him
      who understood a little German, but no Slovak, and who was unable to make
      himself understood. I went down, and found it was the great Professor
      Flew. He’d arrived at the main railway station to give some lectures for
      the Jan Hus Foundation, but hadn’t been met. So he’d wandered the streets
      of a Bratislava where almost no one in those days knew any English.
      Eventually, for some reason I was never able to discover, he’d been pushed
      towards the Prime Minister’s Palace. I took him off to his hotel and got
      him booked in. Before we parted, he asked if I’d like to go with him the
      following morning to the site of Austerlitz (Slavkov) to inspect the
      battlefield.

      Next day, I went off with him as his interpreter, and spend the day
      translating all the inscriptions there out of Czech and French and Latin.
      It was a jolly outing.

      Back in England, I found myself bumping into him at an increasing number
      of libertarian and conservative events. Most people, I regret to say,
      regarded him as something of an old bore. He liked the fact that I always
      regarded him with awed admiration and enjoyed discussing his favourite
      subjects – empirical epistemology and so forth.

      I remember walking with him to Charing Cross Railway Station in late 1997.
      He surprised me then by wishing for a Christian revival to counter what he
      regarded as the much more malign force of Islam. This did sort of prepare
      me for his later conversion to theism – though I was always surprised at
      his acceptance of the argument from design in terms that our common
      Master, David Hume, had already demolished. I was too polite in any of our
      later conversations to press him on this. Instead, I let him talk and talk
      about the quite irrelevant facts of DNA and its complexities. And, since
      I’m a sceptic rather than an atheist, I’ve never tried to argue anyone out
      of a belief in God that might well be correct, even if I don’t feel
      terribly drawn to it myself.

      During his last few years, his mind began to fail him. I met him once
      while he was wandering lost in London. He recognised me and was grateful
      that I was able to get him onto the right railway train back to Reading.
      But he was increasingly vague about everything except philosophical issues
      on which he’d spent his entire life working, and that were unlikely to
      leave him even after he’d most much sense of his own identity.

      He lived long. He lived well. If there is a God, I don’t think He’ll hold
      against him the little matter of sixty years of philosophical atheism. I
      bid farewell to a friend and a guide:

      E tenebris tantis tam clarum extollere lumen
      qui primus potuisti inlustrans commoda vitae,
      te sequor o Graiae gentis decus inque tuis nunc
      ficta pedum pono pressis vestigia signis….

      --
      Sean Gabb
      Director, The Libertarian Alliance (Carbon Positive since 1979)
      sean@... Tel: 07956 472 199
      Skype Username: seangabb

      http://www.libertarian.co.uk
      http://www.seangabb.co.uk
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      http://www.richardblake.org.uk/
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      Wikipedia Entry: http://tinyurl.com/23jvoz

      Buy these novels by Richard Blake: "Conspiracies of Rome"
      <http://tinyurl.com/l8uj8r> ("Fascinating to read, very well written, an
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      <http://tinyurl.com/n9ugw3> ("Nasty, fun and educational" The Daily
      Telegraph) "Blood of Alexandria" will be published in June 2010, "Sword of
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      <http://tinyurl.com/yb4qvms>
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