Thursday, April 30, 2009


Comment on "How to see" by Mark Rowlands:

I don’t see in what way How We See can be a problem for philosophy. It is a scientific problem to be investigated by the empirical methods of science. The philosopher, the poet, the artist, are concerned with the subjective experience. The only philosophically viable answer to the question about Where We See is, in my view, that it is in the totality where brain, eye, and world are one whole. The locus of experience is he Whole, and that is what is real for the philosopher as for the poet, not atoms or quarks or light rays or neurons or whatever reductionists want to trade our mind for.
D. R. Khashaba

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Language, Creativity, and Freewill

Comment on “Literary lessons” by Christopher Norris:

Here is a much needed approach both to language and to the philosophic endeavour. We have to acknowledge the essential fluidity of language if we are to overcome the inescapable contradictoriness of all determinate thought (the undiscovered secret of Plato’s Parmenides). In what I call my version of Platonism I insist that philosophic insight can only be conveyed in myth, metaphor and paradox.
The thought that “modes of utterance” that “surpass the limits of received or communal usage … throw a sharply revealing light on the issue of freewill versus determinism” appeals to me in a special way. I have often cited poetic creativity as exemplifying a metaphysical principle of creativity strangely neglected by most philosophers, a principle in which I find the solution to the pseudo-problem of “freewill versus determinism”.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Comment on “The empty name of God” by A. C. Grayling, New Statesman, 09 April 2009:

Granted that the doctrines of religions “have their roots in the superstitions and fancies” of persons who lived long ago. We have to discard those superstitions. But those superstitions grew out of a compelling urge to answer certain questions. And if we throw away the questions along with the fanciful answers, we end up with a poorer, shallower Weltanschauung. I admit that those questions cannot have definitive answers: neither empirical science nor pure reason can provide those answers. Ask Kant. So, shall we give up? No!

Religion is a “man-made phenomenon”, but it is equally a man-making phenomenon. Those old superstition-mongers were seeking a meaning to their world. They were wrong in thinking they were finding that meaning in the world, but they were wiser than they knew in putting meaning into the world. We must keep puzzling about ultimate reasons, meanings, values, and keep creating myths about all that. Plato is the greatest philosopher because he gave no answers but made myths that keep the wonder and the puzzlement alive.

By all means pull down the edifices of dogmatic religions, but don’t tell me to live in a wasteland. Leave me the metaphysical dimension, Spinoza’s God-Nature, Schopenhauer’s Will and Idea, Whitehead’s organic vision of process: these are all myths, but they are myths that enable me to live in a rich, meaningful world, albeit a world that I know to be of our own making.

Plato spoke of a battle of Gods and Giants. What is wrong with the war waged by atheists against religion is that the atheism they advocate is equated with a narrow empiricism: they want us to accept the limits of objective science as the limits of all thought. I want to live in a meaningful world, and meaning is not to be found in the world but is only to be infused into the world by creative thought, by poetry, art, and a philosophy that dares to wrestle with ultimate, unanswerable questions.

D. R. Khashaba