Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, March 14, 2016

Quiz Mar15

T 15 - Art; Architecture; Institutions (RA VIII-X)

1. Museums have what in common with universities?

2. What does deB think we could learn from "secular cycles of representative sorrows"? 

3. How does deB think museums should be reorganized?

4. Who gave "voice to the anti-aesthetic sentiment" of Protestantism?

5. How would a Temple to Perspective differ from a science museum?

6. What was the greatest conceptual error of Auguste Comte's Religion of Humanity?

American Atheists (@AmericanAtheist)
Happy #PiDay to everyone who knows that everything, including apple pie, is made of starstuff. pic.twitter.com/01G9TfxzO4


  • Are museums really our new churches? 208 Or sports stadia?
  • Is art a better medium than philosophy for reminding you of what matters? 215-217
  • Does any particular art increase your "feelings of solidarity & compassion"? 221
  • COMMENT: "We are most of us lambs in need of good shepherds..." 229
  • Is it art's responsibility to "call forth appropriate ethical responses from us" (235) and make us "good and wise"? (244)
  • Do you agree that we are significantly damaged by the presence of bad architecture? 253f.
  • Would your life be improved by the existence of "temples to spring, to kindness" etc.? 257
  • To what kind of "shrine" would you like to be a pilgrim? Have you ever traveled in search of "existential healing"? 273
  • COMMENT: "Writing books can't be enough if one wishes to change things." 279
  • Would we still "struggle to give Nietzsche a professional home" 284 (or even a publishing deal)? 
  • Should secularists admire and emulate the brand commitment and service reliability of McDonalds and Catholicism? 287f.
  • COMMENT: "Those of us who hold no religious or supernatural beliefs still require regular, ritualized encounters..." 298
  • Would you find deB project more appealing if he didn't call it "religion for atheists"? What would you call it?
Of related interest, from Buzzfeed: I Asked Atheists How They Find Meaning In A Purposeless Universe...

Jennifer Michael Hecht, author of Doubt:

“I spent many years of my life sad about there being no divine meaning, but having learned the history of doubt and unbelief, and thought it over for the next decade and a half, that issue isn’t on the table for me, in that way, any more. What I believe now is that we think we have a meaning problem because we recently got out of a relationship with a character named God, whose given traits included being the source of human meaning.

“Most people through history have not believed in an afterlife: We have records of the first time the ideas of an afterlife appeared in our culture and others, which means that people before lived without an afterlife. You don’t hear them calling death an abyss. The horror we have about there being no afterlife is entirely local to people from a culture that used to believe that everyone went on living after death, and these are an absurd anomaly.

“If I ask myself ‘What is life for?’ I have to answer: ‘Wrong question.’ You don’t ask how your foot knows to push the blood in your toes back up to your heart. It happens, but your foot doesn’t know how it knows to do it. Life isn’t for anything, but it does matter. We are a witness to the universe. We are the witnesses to each other. We believe each other into being. We generate things and people that matter to us and to others. Human life is such a bizarre, endlessly complex riot of emotions and processes; it is amazing to be one.”
Jan Doig:

“Three years and nine months ago I would have declared myself agnostic. Then my husband died without warning at the age of 47. My life fell to pieces. This is no exaggeration. As the terrible days passed in a fog the same question kept forming. Why? Why him? Why us? I was told by well-meaning friends that it was part of God’s plan and we would simply never know what that was. Or from friends with a looser definition of religion, that the Universe had something to teach me. I had lessons to learn.

“These thoughts caused me great fear, anger, and confusion. What sort of God, even if he had a plan for me, would separate a fine, kind, gentle man from his children? Why would God or the Universe look down and pick on our little family for special treatment? Why a good man with not a bad bone in his body who had never raised a hand to anyone? My best friend for 29 years. Any lesson the Universe had to teach me I would have learned willingly. He didn’t have to die!

“I thought about it a lot. I was raised Catholic so guilt ran through me like writing through a stick of rock. Had I been a bad wife? Was he waiting for me? There were days when, if I had been certain of a belief in an afterlife, I might have gone to join him. It was a desperate time. I needed evidence and there simply wasn’t any. I just had to have faith and believe.

“One day as I was sitting on his memorial bench in the local park I suddenly thought, What if no one is to blame? Not God. Not me. Not the Universe. What if he’s gone and that’s all there is to it? No plan. Just dreadful circumstances. A minor disturbance in his heart led to a more serious and ultimately deadly arrhythmia, and that killed him in a matter of moments. It is a purely scientific view of it. I may seem cold or callous but I found comfort in that. I cried and cried and cried, but that made logical sense to me and brought me great peace.

“My heart and head still miss my husband every day. I treasure everything he gave me and I love him as much today as the day he died. But I can remember him happily without wondering what we had done to deserve this dreadful separation.

“So I declare myself atheist (and humanist by extension) and my friends shake their heads. I stay on the straight and narrow without the guiding hand of a creator or any book of instructions.

“I’m not a religious or a spiritual person. (For some reason many of my female friends are shocked by this admission!) I don’t believe in God or the Universe. I don’t believe in angels, the power of prayer, spirits, ghosts, or an afterlife. The list goes on and on. I think there is a scientific meaning for everything, even if we don’t understand it yet. I find meaning in everyday things and I choose to carry on.

“The sun comes up and I have a chance to be kind to anyone who crosses my path because I can. I make that choice for myself and nobody has to tell me to do it. I am right with myself. I try my best to do my best, and if I fail, I try again tomorrow. I support myself in my own journey through life. I draw my own conclusions.

“I find joy in the people I love. I love and I am loved. I find peace in the places I visit. Cry when I listen to music I love and find almost childlike joy in many things. This world is brilliant and full of fascinating things. I have to think carefully for myself. I don’t have to believe what I’m told. I must ask questions and I try and use logic and reason to answer them. I believe that every human life carries equal worth. I struggle with how difficult the world can be, but when we have free will some people will make terrible decisions. No deity forces their hand and they must live with that.

“Life is a personal struggle. Grieving is never an easy road to travel. It’s painful and lonely at times but I use what I know to try to help when I can. I try to be loving and caring with my family and friends, and have fun. I will cry with friends in distress and hear other people’s stories and be kind because it does me good as well. I listen and I learn. It helps me to be better. Life without God is not a life without meaning. Everything, each and every interaction, is full of meaning. Everything matters.”


  1. "Does any particular art increase your "feelings of solidarity & compassion"?"

    If I can expand the question to be about artistry instead of "art", I would quickly point to music. As I have stated in class (more often than necessary, I suspect) I find music to be vital in my life. It calms and motivates, brings me to tears and fills me with joy, grants me perspective and gives me audacious opinions of myself. And, yes, it gives me a feeling of solidarity with others. Perhaps it also lends to me a sense of compassion...that is hard to say. I think I would certainly be a worse person without it, though.

  2. Here is a short clip from appleseed that is sums up the purpose of art in making arthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzlbZha8j6Q&feature=youtu.be

  3. Discussion Question

    Comment: "Being an art 'expert' is associated primarily with knowing a great deal: about where a work was made, who paid for it, where its artist's parents came from and what his or her artistic influences may have been." Do you agree? Or do you get pleasure and moral significance from being an expert in something?

  4. Does any particular art increase your "feelings of solidarity & compassion"?

    World travelling is one of my lifelong passions. Experiencing other cultures, learning new languages, and being fascinated by completely alien customs are all inevitably part of each new adventure. Yet one of the most profound ways this cultural dissonance is experienced is through the use of art. In going to the Louvre or even the MET, I found myself in awe of expressions I hadn't even known existed. I floundered in a deep pool of humanity. So while yes, in these elements, among paint, canvas, and clay I found common human feeling and recognized pain in the faces of those drawn long ago as my own pain, it is also a discovery of the magnificent human variety. Yes, art undeniably speaks to me of solidarity, connecting me to my fellow beings. How can it not? The smirk of Mona Lisa is a smile I've smiled many times. But the power of artistic expression does not stop there. Art acts as a simultaneous catalyst for both human unity as well as human diversity. It is this double-nature that gives art, for me, its irrevocable power.

  5. DQ Do you agree that we are significantly damaged by the presence of bad architecture?

    I don't think so; bad architecture is much like problems in society, once we realize it's bad, we can improve upon it instead of it staying as a static item in society due to it being acceptable. Essentially, bad architecture can actually create good change.