both/and

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the excluded middle way

BOTH Dennett AND Dharma?

C4Chaos has recently posted alink to a Jonathan Haidt essay MORAL PSYCHOLOGY AND THE MISUNDERSTANDING OF RELIGION.

But once again I’m frustrated by people, Haidt not Coolmel,  lumping Dennett in the with new athiests. Sure he’s riding the same road as the bandwagons of Dawkins and Harris and Hitchens and he’s put his head well above the parapet, but his philosophy of science and religion is sound and not just saber-rattling.

Thank you Integral Options Cafe for not lumping Dan Dennett in with the fundamentalist, or Loud, athiests. Haidt’s essay is a good example of where people are mis-understanding Dennett.

The Failure of the Loud Atheists blog post says the biggest flaw of the atheist fundamentalists “is their failure to distinguish between objective reality and subjective reality” and I couldn’t agree more.

But Dennett, in both ‘Breaking the Spell‘ and ‘Consciousness Explained‘ is playing a completely different game and to roll him up into the angry atheist crowd is mis-reading him almost completely.

Dennett recognises interiors and exteriors and he doesn’t ever collapse them. He recognises evolution and development. He recognises the difference between left and right-hand quadrants (although wouldn’t use those terms). And he states clearly that 3rd person methodologies have a large part to play in really understanding interiors, how they came to be, how they work, who has them, who doesn’t.

He’s got Zone1 and Zone2 of the 8 Integral Methodological Pluralism zones covered and he spotted the blind spot that phenomenology has to structuralism and 3rd person methods. His hetrophenomenological method addressed the problem back in the 1980s.

This, from his latest TED talk, says it nicely.

"Scientists, using their from-the-outside, 3rd person methods, can tell you things about your own consciousness that you'd ever dream of. And the fact that you are not the authority on your own consciousness that you thought you were.

Has anyone read anything other than ‘Breaking the Spell’? Its his most ‘populist’ to date and perhaps suffers because of that worldly connection but ‘Consciousness Explained’ lays it all our pretty clearly.

I also think Haidt is being disingenuous in saying Dennett is mis-reading the evidence. Haidt doesn’t show how the studies he cites are reliable and he fails to recognise Dennett’s main point in BTS, that giving is an outward show of ‘belief in belief’ rather than a result of belief itself.

To say “religious believers give more money than secular folk to secular charities” shows us very little about their interiors.

If giving is part of the creed and a way of proving you believe to your peers then that starts to sound like pre-conventional morality to me, rather than proving religious people are morally superior to secular folk.

This whole debate has been polarised for way too long. Can we please have BOTH Dennett AND Dharma.

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Filed under: AQAL, Atheism, both/and, Brain, Dennett, Integral, Mind, Science, Understanding the Mind

2 Responses

  1. buddhoblogosphere says:

    this is fab stuff man, very cool and new to me! Thank you a deep bow!

    And you really been pimping your blog, most excellent.
    Becoming all thatb you were born to be, self actualising.

    Is it regular code or custom???

  2. Michael says:

    it’s all RSS – really simple 🙂

    all straight outta the box.

    more to come… i’m going to add some more twitter ideas into the mix soon!

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