Up@dawn 2.0

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Study Guide

De Botton

March 1

1. Does deB find Pascal's pessimism depressing?

2. Who are "the most anxious and disappointed people on earth"?

3. How would an e-Wailing Wall be more consoling than the one in Jerusalem?
4. How does deB think God's answer to Job "works"?

5. What does the secular world lack?

6. How does deB suggest we use astronomy and technology to connect to ideas of transcendence?

March 15

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?


March 17

1. How did James characterize fervent unbelief?

2. What is the "core of secularist doubt"?

3. What's a sensu divinitatis?

4. Religious epistemologists neglect what?

5. What was Clifford's position on the ethics of belief?

6. What's "soft atheism"?

March 22

1. (Again:) Plato's Euthyphro poses what dilemma, and why does the popular perception of a tight link between religion and ethics persist?

2. Saying that ethical deliberations answer only to a local ethical code leads to what?

3. In the rudimentary ethical project of our ancestors, the likeliest emotion motivating conformity was what? (Hint: listen to the 
2,000 Year Old Man...transcript)

4. What is the important achievement of ethical revolutionaries?

5. What Deweyan judgment does Kitcher say we should endorse?

6. The center of secular value is what?

March 24

1. Name one of Kitcher's assumptions he says "refined religion" abandons.

2. What is it about mortality and meaning that refined religion poses as a challenge to the secularist?

3. Name a famous defender of refined religion from the past century.

4. Full-blooded truth presupposes what?

5. What is a "true myth"?

6. What kind of future do secularists like Kitcher envisage?

March 29

1. Secularists can agree with Hamlet, that death is nothing to fear, if they dismiss what possibility?

2. What lies behind the sense of horror at the prospect of non-existence?

3. Meaningful lives do and do not require what?

4. Kitcher wants to resist what temptation?

5. What are the chief sources of pessimism?

6. By what does Kitcher want scriptures to be superseded?

Name a thinker who reacted against the outside imposition of meaning, emphasizing autonomy instead.
Kitcher thinks we should be committed to what, instead of salvation?
What does Kitcher say about a grandfather's joy?
What's wrong with the Christian and Muslim afterlife?

Bertrand Russell

April 7

1. What's Russell's definition of a Christian?

2. What changed Russell's mind about the First-cause Argument?

3. If there were reasons for divine law, why does God then become superfluous?

4. What "makes you turn your attention to other things"?

5. What's the gnostic position Russell is not concerned to refute?

6. What was Christ's serious character defect?

BONUS: Who does Russell rank above Christ in wisdom and virtue?

BONUS: From what does Russell say the conception of God derives?

April 12

1. Why does Russell say religion is morally and intellectually pernicious?

2. Individualism has culminated in what doctrine, paralleling what philosophical duality?

3. How can education eliminate fear?

4. What does Russell say about the evidence for immortality so far adduced by psychical research?

5. How should all moral rules be tested?

6. What habit does education attempt to cure children of?

7. What must we have, to live a good life?

8. What can we learn (besides "humbug") from the Victorian age?

9. What is "natural"?

April 14

1. Russell says belief in a future life is caused by what?

2. Our view of the universe as good or bad depends on what?

3. Why can there be no experience of a Deity?

4. When Russell looked back at "A Free Man's Worship" a quarter century after publishing it, what did he "still believe"? What had he abandoned?

5. What attitude does Russell detect in God's answer to Job?

6. What unites humanity?

April 19

1. What does Russell consider the main difference between Catholic and Protestant conceptions of virtue?

2. How did George Eliot typify the Protestant freethinker?

3. What would not have occurred to Mill, Bentham, and other advocates of pleasure as the end of life?

4. What must we remember about life in the middle ages, and about history in general?

5. Why did Tom Paine take up the American cause?

6. What religious duties did Paine attest?

April 21

1. What does Russell say was "nice" about young girls when he was young? Who does he say was more commonly nice in 1931?

2. What's the chief characterstic of nice people? What are some of the nice things they do?

3. What was killing niceness in Russell's day?

4. What is sin?

5. What was the result of conventional attitudes (in Russell's day) towards sex?

6. What belief did Russell say was dying out in 1936?

BONUS: What we do has its origin in what?

  • Russell rejects _____’s view that the U.S. is the least philosophical nation in the world.
  • Russell feels “profound moral reprobation” for those who say religion ought to be believed because it is ____.

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