[MD] Julian Baggini: This is what the clash of civilisations is really about

John Carl ridgecoyote at gmail.com
Mon May 25 14:00:53 PDT 2015

dmb, all,

On Sun, May 24, 2015 at 11:27 AM, david <dmbuchanan at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Baggini wrote:
> "The clash of civilisations is happening not between Islam and the West,
> as we are often led to believe, but between pragmatic relativism and
> dogmatic certainty."
> dmb says:
> We don't need Truth to be Objective, Fixed, Absolute, or Eternal and we
> can't have that kind of truth anyway. But we do need truth to be vigorous
> enough and strong enough to kill lies, bullshit, fanaticism, propaganda,
> honest mistakes and good old fashioned stupidity. We need excellence in
> thought and speech and ideas that actually work when they're put into
> practice.

"The contrast is not one between intellectualism and pragmatism. It is the
contrast between two well-known attitudes of will, — the will that is loyal
to truth as an universal ideal, and the will that is concerned with its own
passing caprices.

And yet, despite all this, the modern assault upon mere intellectualism is
well founded. The truth of our assertions is indeed definable only by
taking account of the meaning of our own individual attitudes of will, and
the truth, whatever else it is, is at least instrumental in helping us
towards the goal of all human volition. The only question is whether the
will I really means to aim at doing something that has a final and eternal

All logic is the logic of the will. There is no pure intellect. Thought is
a mode of action, a mode of action distinguished from other modes mainly by
its internal clearness of self-consciousness, by its relatively free
control of its own procedure, and by the universality, the impersonal
fairness and obviousness of its aims and of its motives. An idea in the
consciousness of a thinker is simply a present consciousness of some
expression of purpose, — a plan of action. A judgment is an act of a
reflective and self-conscious character, an act whereby one accepts or
rejects an idea as a sufficient expression of the very purpose that is each
time in question. Our whole objective world is meanwhile defined for each
of us in terms of our ideas. General assertions about the meaning of our
ideas are reflective acts whereby we acknowledge and accept certain ruling
principles of action.

And in respect of all these aspects of doctrine I find myself at one with
recent voluntarism, whether the latter takes the form of instrumentalism,
or insists upon some more individualistic theory of truth. But for my part,
in spite, or in fact because of this my voluntarism, I cannot rest in any
mere relativism. Individualism is right in saying, "I will to credit this
or that opinion." But individualism is wrong in supposing that I can ever
be content with my own will in as far as it is merely an individual will.
The will to my mind is to all of us nothing but a thirst for complete and
conscious self-possession, for fullness of life. And in terms of this its
central motive, the will defines the truth that it endlessly seeks as a
truth that possesses completeness, totality, self-possession, and there
fore absoluteness."

J Royce -  William James and other Essays on the Philosophy of Life

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