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Re: What would Richard Dawkins think of Stoicism?

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  • Anthony Callan
    ... I hope I don t turn anyone off when I say that I am a huge fan of the Four Horseman of the Counter-Apocalypse : Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam
    Message 1 of 57 , May 2, 2008
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      --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, Mark Ure <mark_ure@...> wrote:
      >
      I hope I don't turn anyone off when I say that I am a huge fan of
      the "Four Horseman of the Counter-Apocalypse": Richard Dawkins,
      Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. I'm not aware
      of any statements by Dawkins attesting to his being an Epicurean.
      Hitchens, however, has stated that he is an Epicurean many times in
      public. Harris and Hitchens are my favorites of the bunch. Of
      course, Epicurean physics is only "kind-of" right. Epicurean physics
      wasn't a bad guess as far as conceptual formulations of the physical
      world go. However, it better approximated 17th century
      corpuscularian (Newtonian) physics, which of course, since Einstein,
      Bohr, Bohn, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, etc. has been found to be
      incomplete at the atomic and subatomic levels.

      This is why I'm such a fan of Becker's book. He realizes that the
      Ancient Stoics promoted Divine Providence because this was the best
      explanation at the time. Had the Stoics not been consumed by
      Christianity and had continued their school, their physics, and as a
      result maybe even their ethics, would likely be different today. In
      Becker's book, instead of "Following Nature", he talks
      about "Following the facts wherever they may lead us, no more, no
      less". This is, IMV, a much wiser slogan and one that is much more
      in the spirit of empiricist science and, therefore, doesn't smack of
      dogmatism. After all, what is nature? Strict scientific
      determinism? Quantum indeterminism with a touch of chaos theory?
      Can we say that it doesn't matter because, even though
      particles/waves only demonstrate probabilities, these probabilities
      can be represented with mathematical rigor? The truth is that we
      really don't know what nature "truly" is. Even still, do we run the
      risk of committing the naturalistic fallacy (claiming that IS implies
      OUGHT) if we try to model our ethics on nature? These are hard
      questions with no easy answers.

      Modern science has found a cosmic mind/divine providence to be
      untenable. IMV, holding these Ancient Stoic tenents brings us into
      the realm of the supernatural which I think we should run from
      screaming.

      Just my two cents.

      Tony




      > It makes a lot of sense that he's an Epicurean
      > actually, and the others too.
      >
      > I certainly feel comfortable with the idea of it being
      > theistic as that corresponds with my spiritual
      > beliefs. However, i'm giving a talk to the local
      > secular society on philosophical counselling, and i'm
      > sure they'd benefit from Stoicism. Apart from
      > anything else, they have explicitly opted for
      > utilitarianism, and virtue-based ethics would work
      > better for them. This is one reason i'd like some
      > kind of non-theistic account of Stoicism. Maybe
      > Spinoza is part of the answer.
      >
      > Kevin, i'll reply to you shortly but i don't want to
      > clog up the group with messages, except to say that i
      > put quotes around "supernatural" in order to indicate
      > my opinion that metaphysical naturalism for the Greeks
      > and Romans would have included much which today's
      > scientific opinion would tend to see as refuted.
      >
      > --- brunians@... wrote:
      >
      > > Dawkins is an Epicurean.
      > >
      > > So was HL Mencken and Isaac Asimov. There are a lot
      > > of them around.
      > >
      > > Ayn Rand was sort of a branch off Epicureanism.
      > >
      > >
      > > .
      > >
      > >
      > > > I havent read Becker, but Stoicism is pretty
      > > theistic, isnt it?
      > > >
      > > > We should accept whatever happens to us because
      > > its part of the great
      > > > Logos, which is a living network of
      > > intelligence... (marcus aurelius)
      > > >
      > > > we should serve the 'God within' (epictetus)
      > > >
      > > > everything in the universe is as it should be
      > > according to god's
      > > > masterplan...
      > > >
      > > > these are theistic ideas, arent they?
      > > >
      > > > i reckon stoicism is a good example of how dawkins
      > > doesnt really
      > > > understand the benefits of religion as cognitive
      > > and affective therapy. he
      > > > doesnt understand the idea of spiritual exercises,
      > > in stoicism or other
      > > > traditions, as practices that have been handed
      > > down for millennia because
      > > > they work, they can (at their best_ take us from
      > > suffering to health, and
      > > > teach us autonomy and self-control.
      > > >
      > > > for dawkins, i imagine, if youre emotionally
      > > suffering, his solution would
      > > > be to take some prozac. he doesnt really
      > > comprehend emotions, which is why
      > > > he cant really comprehend religion. william james,
      > > on the other hand, had
      > > > a much better understanding that religion was as
      > > much an affective state,
      > > > or group of states, as it was dogma. i think james
      > > discusses stoicism in
      > > > his varieties of religious experience, but i dont
      > > have it to hand right
      > > > now.
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Jim Goddard <jim.goddard1@...> wrote:
      > > I was thinking much the
      > > > same thing, so thanks, Mark, for putting it
      > > > probably more cogently than I would have done.
      > > >
      > > > Regards,
      > > >
      > > > Jim
      > > >
      > > > On 29 Apr 2008, at 18:19, Mark wrote:
      > > >
      > > >> I don't agree. Becker tries to divorce Stoicism
      > > from theism, and they
      > > >> could be seen as not having yet become atheist
      > > rather than being
      > > >> fundamentally theistic. Dawkins would presumably
      > > see his view as the
      > > >> result of a rational approach to what he
      > > observes, and if one believes
      > > >> atheism is rational, it could still be atheist.
      > > Stoics living in
      > > >> Classical times did not have the opportunity to
      > > investigate certain
      > > >> phenomena that can now be explained without
      > > recourse to "supernatural"
      > > >> explanations because they lacked the detailed
      > > instruments, both of the
      > > >> mind and in the sense of machinery, so they had
      > > a tendency towards
      > > >> theism. Besides that, Seneca and the like do not
      > > refer extensively to
      > > >> that realm of thought and are still able to
      > > function as Stoics.
      > > >>
      > > >> Leaving all that aside, a philosophy which sees
      > > the Universe as
      > > >> rationally arranged, sees that as close to the
      > > essence of divinity and
      > > >> sees humans as partaking of divinity in their
      > > own rationality is
      > > >> pretty close to identifying God with rationality
      > > itself. That isn't
      > > >> too far from the notion that the world is simply
      > > rationally arranged,
      > > >> through logical necessity rather than by the
      > > agency of a conscious
      > > >> being. Stoicism is also physicalist, an approach
      > > surely very close to
      > > >> Dawkins' heart.
      > > >>
      > > >> --- In stoics@yahoogroups.com, Kevin wrote:
      > > >> >
      > > >> > I assume he is an Atheist, (defined by me as
      > > against Theism).
      > > >> Classical Stoicism is a theistic philosophy, so
      > > I assume he would be
      > > >> against it.
      > > >> >
      > > >> > Regards
      > > >> > Kevin
      > > >> >
      > > >> >
      > > >> > Leo Iermano wrote: I just finished
      > > >> watching a repeat of Richard Dawkins on the BBC
      > > show Hardtalk. I also
      > > >> reading his book "The God Delusion". What do you
      > > think Richard's
      > > >> attitude on Stoicism would be?
      > > >> >
      > > >> > Ciao
      > > >> > Leo
      > > >> >
      > > >> >
      > > >> >
      > > >> >
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      > > >> >
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      > > >> >
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      >
      >
      >
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    • murrell91910
      ... Interestingly, when I was doing research to round out my web-story Roman Trek, I found some information about one of the early Stoic teachers who headed
      Message 57 of 57 , Jun 2, 2008
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        Keith Seddon <K.H.S@...> wrote:
        > ...Modern Paganism (or Neopaganism) takes many forms,
        > ranging from Witchcraft, Druidry and Asatru,...

        Interestingly, when I was doing research to round out my
        web-story "Roman Trek," I found some information about one
        of the early Stoic teachers who headed the ancient Stoa on the
        Island of Rhodes. Deemed a more eclectic Stoa, this teacher
        traveled from Rhodes to Britannia, met with Druid elders,
        listened to their teachings, and I guess integrated some of
        their thinking into his own thought.

        Couldn't find the specifics about this account, so I didn't mention
        it in my web-story; but I surely let the main character study at
        Rhodes!

        --Beatrix
        < http://romantrek.blogspot.com >
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