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Santi Tafarella's Avatar Joined about 7 years ago
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Go to: Macleans interview: Lionel Tiger

Santi Tafarella's Avatar Jump to comment 42 by Santi Tafarella


I don't disagree with much that is in your last comment. I didn't mean for the categories to be rigid. I move between them all the time (depending on mood). I don't, however, share your view that suffering and our finitude can be minimized. Suffering and death overshadows existence.

In light of these, what does life mean?


Sun, 07 Mar 2010 08:21:00 UTC | #447187

Go to: Macleans interview: Lionel Tiger

Santi Tafarella's Avatar Jump to comment 38 by Santi Tafarella

Oops. Here's the link I was trying to get you to. Sorry for the foul up:

If you can think of a ninth way of being in the world, please share it.


Sat, 06 Mar 2010 19:04:00 UTC | #447067

Go to: Macleans interview: Lionel Tiger

Santi Tafarella's Avatar Jump to comment 37 by Santi Tafarella


Well, for example, I agree with G. Bile at #27 above. I think he's reading the interview with a level head. Tiger's observations on religion's techniques of control are different from his endorsing the metaphysics or epistemologies promoted by religion.

Likewise, I find Chesterton's observation of religion's fitness interesting (without liking the fact that it is so fit). You can, for example, admire Fox News's effective propaganda apparatus without liking Fox News.

In my view, human beings are a Nietzschean "overgoing" species always moving toward the ontological mystery or the utopian (even if they are, in fact, largely illusory pursuits). We seem to have an instinct for seeking harmony in contingency and chaos---we want the universe to hold together, to make sense. As such, most people are unsatisfied with the standard comforts of secular life and Stoic resignation, and feel alienated, and so flounder for meaning in something beyond life as lived right now (whether it is in religious millenialism or some secular utopianism, such as "saving the Earth" from, well, whatever threat seems nearby and plausible).

We are a tragic species because we foresee our own deaths and can perceive all too clearly that the world appears contingent, "absurd" (without obvious purpose) and full of suffering. We are thus all engaged in concealing the horror from ourselves by various moves. Tiger is just laying out the religious moves.

My own take on the moves available to us is below. I see only eight viable ways of being in the world (secular or religious) and all of them are problematic: ways of being

Sat, 06 Mar 2010 18:58:00 UTC | #447065

Go to: Macleans interview: Lionel Tiger

Santi Tafarella's Avatar Jump to comment 33 by Santi Tafarella

Lionel Tiger is a great anthropologist. He's been writing very creative and thought provoking books since at least the 1970s. I'm not sure where the suspiciousness towards him on this thread is coming from. He deserves serious reading.

One of his interview observations above about secularism's difficulty in competing with religion reminded me of something that the Catholic essayist G.K. Chesterton had said about religion about a century ago:

"The point of Darwinism was that the bird with the longer beak could reach worms (let us say) at the bottom of a deeper hole; that the birds who could not do so would die; and he alone would remain to found a race of long-beaked birds. . . . But the point was that the fittest did not need to struggle against the unfit. The survivor had nothing to do except to survive, when the others could not survive. He survived because he alone had the features and organs necessary for survival. And, whatever be the truth about mammoths or monkeys, that is the exact truth about the present survival of religion. It is surviving because nothing else can survive."

Sat, 06 Mar 2010 16:20:00 UTC | #447023

Go to: God is the question

Santi Tafarella's Avatar Jump to comment 230 by Santi Tafarella


For example, could Richard Dawkins ever participate in a religious ritual like this as a trope for the ontological mystery? I think that I could, but I'm an agnostic. See here:

And Westerners doing the same ritual at Burning Man here:


Tue, 05 Jan 2010 23:40:00 UTC | #429067

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