The Circle of Stupid..

Apologies for recent radio silence…

I’m currently working on a new book. Hopefully out later this year, The Circle of Stupid will be an attempt to place the discussion of ethics beyond the awfulness of the current ‘God Debate’.

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In the first sections, I argue that the entire atheists vs Theists ‘debate’ is both ill-conceived and entirely futile. The positions taken, arguments deployed, and claims of victory seem to amount to so little, and to effect such little change both in the world and people within it. From the painfully unsubtle atheist mockery of ‘sky fairies’ on Social Media, to ill-conceived and poorly executed (if rapturously received) books of Christian apologetics on “why atheist X is wrong”, I want us to think seriously about setting the entire genre aside. I want us to consider what might actually matter – which is surely not about who gets to be most smug, but may be about how we treat each other, other animals, and the planet. In short, let’s leave our comfortable self-righteousness and think about more important matters.

I hope the second half of the book will move on to show that what really matters is not winning debates, but thinking hard about ethics. In doing so, I suggest that while religious traditions are rich sources of ethical narrative and reflection, the idea of a metaphysical back-stop to ethics, deriving from the existence of a divine being, makes no sense at all. Furthermore, if ethics are going to be of any use to us in the secular, multi-cultural world, then they’ll need to be founded on something beyond un-shared metaphysical assertions.

That is, even though I will be heavily critiquing the new-atheist position, I will ultimately claim that ethics can only exist as a non-religious, non-spiritual undertaking.

When the manuscript goes off to the publishers, I’ll try and put some more thoughts on here – and see whether I’ve entirely abandoned my position, and changed my mind on everything I’ve said here. Which is quite likely…

Episode 7: Is Atheism a Religion?

Originally posted on Unorthodoxy with Witch Zaftig:

Episode 7 of Unorthodoxy with Witch Zaftig asks: Is Atheism a Religion?

First, we discuss how atheism is defined, then examine how various groups and individuals with competing interests have amplified that definition.

One example provided is by Sam Harris, of the so-called “new atheist” movement, who advocates for a particular kind of atheistic “spirituality” in his book Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality without Religion.

To refute this obfuscation of the words “atheism” and “spirituality” is scholar of religion David Webster in his book, Dispirited: How Contemporary Spirituality Makes Us Stupid, Selfish, and Unhappy. Webster argues that “spirituality” is a superficial and meaningless concept that modern society has adapted as a response to institutionalised religion, reflective of our current anti-religious sentiment in the western world. Webster claims that this all-too-broad and new-age concept is actually toxic, and no better or worse than fundamentalist religion.

Dispirited

Finally, we bring up the growing atheist…

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Cotswold Life? (and pending announcement)

It may amuse some to see my recent profile in a local magazine, more normally reserved for expensive property ads and equine news: click to see Cotswold_Life profile..

On another note – I’ve agreed to write a book which follows up some of the themes, and style, of Dispirited, but also looks to a focus on the Atheism/Theism debate, and the place of ethics…  More details soon…

Resilience & Melancholy – talking to Dr Robin James about her new book…

DavidWebster:

From my other site – may be of interest…

Originally posted on Philosophy & Religion Video Interviews:

Dr David Webster from the Religion, Philosophy & Ethics team at the University of Gloucestershire in conversation with Dr Robin James about her new book Resilience & Melancholy: pop music, feminism, and neoliberalism 

71DZx1fVCZL Robin James is Associate Professor of Philosophy at UNC Charlotte. She is author of two books: Resilience & Melancholy: pop music, feminism, and neoliberalism  and The Conjectural 225._altBody: gender, race and the philosophy of music.Her work on feminism, race, contemporary continental philosophy, pop music, and sound studies has appeared in The New Inquiry, Noisey, SoundingOut!, Hypatia, differences, Contemporary Aesthetics, and the Journal of Popular Music Studies. She is also a digital sound artist and musician, and often works as a member of citation:obsolete.

See Robin’s blog at http://www.its-her-factory.com/

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Discover the RPE course : http://r-p-e.blogspot.co.uk/p/about-rpe-course.html 

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Mysticism, Abuse and Connections: An interview..

DavidWebster:

This is from our other blog – but may interest those here..

Originally posted on Philosophy & Religion Video Interviews:

Dr David Webster from the Religion, Philosophy & Ethics team at the University of Gloucestershire asks Catherine Tomas, a DPhil student in Theology, at Christ Church, Oxford, about a recent paper she gave, where she examines the lives of Christian mystics, and makes comparisons with the analysis often given of abusive relationships:

Discover the RPE course : http://r-p-e.blogspot.co.uk/p/about-rpe-course.html 

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An interview about ‘Indigo Children’:

DavidWebster:

Seems like it might be of interest here too..

Originally posted on Philosophy & Religion Video Interviews:

In this short video, Dr David Webster asks Cambridge PhD student Beth Singler about her work on Indigo Children. In the conversation we also talk about the phrase ‘Starseed’:

See the Religion, Philosophy & Ethics course blog at http://r-p-e.blogspot.co.uk/

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Upcoming talks

Looking forward to this event in Groningen:

Colloquium on Asian religions | Buddhism and Fetish

When: Mo 27-10-2014
Start: 16:00
End: 17:30
Where: Oude Boteringestraat 38, Groningen

 

Upcoming events, Fall 2014

Thursday, November 13, 1 p.m.
Workshop: “Desire-Cessation Theories of Happiness”
Featured speakers: Bernard Reginster, Brown University; Susan Sauve Meyer, University of Pennsylvania; David Webster, University of Gloucestershire
Corliss Brackett seminar room, 45 Prospect Street

Friday, November 14, 4-6 p.m.
David Webster, University of Gloucestershire
Public Lecture: “Fruits of the Pointless Life: Buddhist Thought in an Atheistic Future”
Crystal Room, Alumnae Hall (194 Meeting Street)
Reception to follow on site.