Blog powered by Typepad

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

Become a Fan

« Neuroscientists are getting better at reading minds | Main | Feser's superstitions, chapter I »

July 07, 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Wow, nice review! I am am definitely looking forward to your more detailed criticisms.


This is a comment I was going to leave on your Amazon review of 'The Last Superstition,' but apparently you have to have purchased something from Amazon before they let you comment. Oh well, I'll post it here:

I was going to comment on this review, but unfortunately there's literally *nothing* of substance to comment upon. I wonder if the reviewer has actually read the book.

For example, we get: "as best I can extract it from the incredibly thick polemic in which it is buried, he argues that without final causation, there's no non-Humean causation, and all final causation must terminate in God. But neither of these steps could be convincing without considerably further explanation and support than he offers."

But notice that Boyden fails to recapitulate Feser's argument, even in a bare bones form, and fails to show precisely where he thinks "further explanation and support" is needed.

Or, take this: "I expected him to misunderstand and misrepresent the naturalist position"

But notice that Boyden fails to provide a single example of Feser's "misunderstandings" and "misrepresentations." (One wonders how Boyden distinguishes what he takes to be Feser's 'misunderstandings,' which are not intentional, from his 'misrepresentations,' which must be intentional. One wonders if Boyden cares about the difference between the two.)

Another example: "Sadly, his presentation of his Thomistic view was far too sketchy to give one the slightest inkling of how he might respond to countless obvious (and frequently raised) difficulties."

Well, exactly where was it sketchy? What did it lack? Care to offer an example -- at least one? What difficulties did Feser fail to respond to? If they're so obvious, what prevented you from providing at least one example? (Could it be the fear that someone who has actually read the book might read your "review"?)

Let's go on:

"Further, of course, he did misunderstand and misrepresent the naturalist position very badly."

How? Where? If it was so bad, wouldn't it be easy to provide an example?

I could go on with this sort of thing, but what's the point? But let me address one final comment:

"I would be remiss if I didn't point out that all this mass of stilted rhetoric and terrible argument is advanced in the cause of bigotry; the first paragraph of his preface establishes the importance he attaches to his anti-gay agenda."

This takes the cake. Feser defends a version of natural law morality, provides metaphysical arguments (whether you think they're good arguments is another issue altogether) to support his position, only mentions homosexuality in a handful of paragraphs throughout the entire three hundred plus page book, and you see this as "a mass of rhetoric" in support of an "anti-gay agenda"? (Does merely defending Feser from this idiotic charge, in Boyden's mind, make me anti-gay too? I suspect it does.)

I have to wonder again if Boyden actually read the book. Or maybe he understands "reading a book" to mean reading the introduction, the book jacket, and some negative reviews of the book. Unfortunately, the utter lack of substance in this "review" supports this notion.

Aaron Boyden

Yes, I read Feser's book. I wonder if you did. Given how blatant the falsehood of some of your statements about my review are, I'd find it hard to believe you even read the review if you hadn't quoted it so extensively (and helpfully provided clear evidence that you didn't understand it). Still, while most of your points are already refuted by what you quote from me, there is a bit that you didn't quote which would be necessary to refute one of your points. You're right that it would be easy to provide an example of Feser getting the naturalist position wrong. That's why I did so, in some of the tiny bit of material in the review you didn't quote.

Many so-called conservatives want to 'turn back the clock' to the Age of Reagan, or to the conformist 1950's, or even the Robber Baron era, but Feser seems to want to throw out the clock altogether and replace it with a sun dial!

It's difficult how he's going to garner much sympathy for his views when he characterizes the philosophy of America's Founders as deluded and the basis of the liberties and toleration we currently enjoy unfounded.

Whether a 'justification' for post-Enlightenment values can be wrenched from 'natural law' cannot be doubted - such systems are ultimately capable of supporting any conclusion as they are built on word games and nothing more. But the fact remains it was only after the rejection of the intellectual straight jacket of Scholastic philosophy that science flourished and popular democracy became possible.

The comments to this entry are closed.