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View Full Version : Marilynne Robinson was on The Daily Show!



TerzaRima
08-02-2010, 07:01 AM
I don't know how I missed it--she was on July 9 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/09/marilynne-robinson-on-jon_n_640577.html) talking about her new book, Absence of Mind which apparently explores the dialogue between science and religion--looks interesting. As per usual, she is full of win here and I just want to sit at her feet and retrieve what philosophical and syntactical droppings I can.

mccardey
08-02-2010, 07:21 AM
I just want to sit at her feet


Oh, move over!! That's MY spot!!!!!!!!!!

ColoradoGuy
08-02-2010, 10:00 PM
I just read her book. It's quite fascinating. I was thinking of putting up a post about it, so thanks for reminding me.

First, the book is a series of lectures at Yale (the Terry Lectures (http://www.yale.edu/terrylecture/past_00-04.html)) that has been running since 1923 and has an amazing history of past luminaries. Paul Tillich's 50s-era foundation of maintream liberal Protestantism, The Courage to Be, is part of the series, for example. Other books from the series are Erich Fromm's Psychoanalysis and Religion, John Dewey's A Common Faith, Jung's Psychology and Religion, Paul Ricoeur's Freud and Philosophy. More recently, there's Terry Eagleton's Reason, Faith, and Revolution: Reflections on the God Debate. So this is quite the distinguished venue Robinson has been asked to write for.

The book needs to be read slowly and carefully, but it's not long -- only four lectures comprising 135 pages. It is clear but dense. Her underlying premise is that strictly scientific formulations of brain functioning, or neurochemistry, cannot encompass the totality of human consciousness: or, science cannot explain the mind. The argument for her position is largely a philosophical one, although she is very irritated at folks like Dawkins and Hitchins for their condescending dismissal of anything beyond what can be easily measured and studied. It's sort of a variant of the "absence of evidence does not constitute evidence of absence" argument.

Her argument does seem to do a bit of cherry-picking among philosophers, and she spends an entire lecture describing Freud's impact on theories of mind, something which I think is a bit outmoded. One of her chief arguments rests upon explanations for altruism.

I liked the book a lot. As a Quaker, I was intrigued to notice that many of her observations were essentially descriptions of what Quakerism is. Robinson herself is clearly a person of faith herself, as anyone who has read Gilead (which I highly recommend) can see easily.

TerzaRima
08-02-2010, 10:11 PM
Hmm. Maybe I'll include it in my cache of vacation books for next week.



Robinson herself is clearly a person of faith herself


She belongs to the Congregational church around here--I think she's an elder--and every so often she does a lecture there.

ColoradoGuy
08-02-2010, 10:14 PM
She belongs to the Congregational church around here--I think she's an elder--and every so often she does a lecture there.

Considering the lead character in Gilead, I'm not surprised at the Congregationalism. She has her character ponder predestination quite a bit.