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edifice rex

The last word on the last words of Christopher Hitchens

Mortality keeps atheism's faith, but falters in the delivery

I think a post about Christopher Hitchens' last book is appropriate for a Dawkins community. But if the mods disagree, I won't pout too, too much.

The Winter 2012/2013 issue of the magazine Humanist Perspectives published my review of the late Christopher Hitchens' last book, Mortality.

Naturally, all of you who can find a copy at your local newsstand should rush right out and buy a copy of the magazine before it's gone forever.

But for those who won't (or can't), I have now posted said review on my website.

The TL/DR version is this.

Mortality's eight brief chapters are typical Hitchens. Often caustic, sometimes thoughtful, occasionally even moving, Hitchens' uncompromising look at his affliction with cancer has some lovely moments. The chapter on intercessory prayer (there were Christians praying for the recovery of the outspoken atheist, but at least as many were praying for his death and subsequent eternal torture in the Lake of Fire) is particularly strong. Even in his last days Hitchens remained an entertaining and sometimes even moving polemicist. But he was by no means a deep thinker.

Too often, Hitchens takes the easy road, scoring cheap points and relying on his delivery, rather than rigorous thinking, to make his argument. In his introduction, Vanity Fair's Editor, Graydon Carter, notes that Hitchens, awash in scotch, could bang out a serviceable column in an hour. A rather impressive feat, but one wonders what the man could have accomplished if the words hadn't come, quite, that easily to him.

Cut short by his death, Christopher Hitchens might have been better served had these final essays been left to the impermanent pages of back issues of Vanity Fair or the more permanent, but less tangible, archives of the internet.

As always, comments here or on my site are more than welcome. Was Christopher Hitchens a hero, a villain, or just another too-erudite and too-emotional Englishman who loved a good fight almost as much as he enjoyed his cigarettes and liquor?

The full review lives at ed-rex.com/reviews/books/hitchens_mortality.


Сейчас я второй раз перечитываю "Расширенный фенотип" Ричарда Докинза, и некоторыми своими мыслями, возникающими по ходу чтения, я хотел бы поделиться.

Появление новых поведенческих паттернов 

Докинз считает, что новые поведенческие паттерны (благодаря случайной генетической мутации, разумеется) появляются как бы из ничего. Я ничего не имею против случайной генетической мутации, но справедливо ли думать, что она творит нечто из ничего? Или же она просто ограничивает уже имеющийся поведенческий паттерн?

Представьте, что ранее здоровый человек вдруг заболел неврозом или же принял какую-то религию, что примерно то же самое, и у него вследствие этого появился какой-либо ритуал... Например,  не есть свинину или ходить на работу только по строго определенному маршруту. Что мы наблюдаем в данном случае: появление нового паттерна или ограничение старого (контекста)?

Я склонен думать, что мы имеем дело именно с ограничением оригинального контекста. Но в таком случае, как обстоят дела на уровне генов? Новая генетическая мутация, которая оказала влияние на фенотип означает, что начал вырабатываться новый белок. Это что, появление нового из ничего или же ограничение контекста - работы химической машины (организма)?  

16th-Jun-2011 04:34 pm - Rereading The Extended Phenotype

Now I re-read the second time Richard's The Extended phenotype and some of my thoughts that arise in the course of the reading, I would like to share.

The emergence of new behavioral patterns

Richard believes that new behavior patterns (due to random genetic mutations, of course) emerge as if from nothing. I have nothing against random genetic mutation, but whether it be right to think that it creates something from nothing? Or it simply restricts the already existing behavior pattern?

Imagine that a previously healthy person suddenly fell ill with a neurosis or adopted some religion (what is roughly the same thing), and because of that, he has a ritual ... For example, do not eat pork or go to work only on a strictly defined route. What we are seeing in this case: the emergence of a new pattern or restriction of the old (context)?

I am inclined to think that we are dealing with the restriction of the original context. But in this case, what we have on the level of genes? A new genetic mutation, which influenced the phenotype indicates that started making of a new protein. What is this: the emergence of a new out of nothing or a restriction of the original context - the operation of a chemical machine (organism)?

sherlock - pink hue eye
Hello! Just so to interest anyone here, I am starting a Richard Dawkins Fan Fiction community!
It's brand new and fan fiction is yet to be written but come along and become a member so you can write and read fan made stories about Richard Dawkins <3
28th-Jul-2010 10:14 pm - Atheism is NOT a replacement religion
Religious asshole
When theists ask you what atheism has to offer, it sounds as if they want atheism to fill in the blanks that would be left behind if religion weren't true.

But atheism is not just another belief system with dogma and a community; whether or not atheism lacks the extraneous trappings of religion should not matter to whether or not one casts off religion. Only the existence--or lack thereof--of god has anything to do with whether or not one should be an atheist.
22nd-Jul-2010 11:45 am - God Discussion Radio Show - Tonight!
Coming Out Atheist show link:

I will be a guest along with several other prominent YouTube atheists and a few other notables.

Be there! :)
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