As I picked my jaw up off the floor after hearing Rep. Todd Akin’s now infamous statement that women’s uteruses have the magical power to resist impregnation in the case of rape, I wondered, “Where could he have gotten that idea?” Laura Helmuth, writing for Salon.com’s XXfactor, noted that his “statement was a crystallization of Akin’s worldview: sexist, blame-shifting, and profoundly ignorant.”
Then it clicked for me — yes, it’s a worldview but in a much deeper way than Helmuth realizes. The Onion hit the nail on the head when one of their “experts” noted that “It’s almost as if these people are unaware that the Enlightenment, the scientific revolution, various civil rights movements, and the entirety of social progress over the previous several centuries even occurred.”
That’s right. Akin’s views are positively medieval. I mean this literally. Medieval means prerational. And the problem is that rationality, the capacity to … Read More »
A few news events have caught my eye this past week—particularly, the Orthodox Jewish newspaper that photoshopped Hillary Clinton out of the iconic Situation Room photo and The Atlantic Monthly’s report “Danger: Falling Tyrants” by Jeffrey Goldberg on the move toward democracy in the Middle East. But it was an email exchange with one of our former editors/writers, Maura O’Connor, who is reporting from Afghanistan where she’s embedded among US troops, that made me think about these events in the context of our responsibility, as sophisticated postmodern individuals who are living in a pluralistic global society. We often literally brush up against those who have very different worldviews—radically different ways of understanding reality and human relationship.
Maura told me that she and a friend, another young American female journalist, were talking about whether to wear headscarves in … Read More »
With the “new” atheism getting more and more publicity by the day, it seems important to amplify voices that recognize just how dangerous it is to lose touch with Spirit given the materialism and secularism of our postmodern era. Perhaps few have made this point more strongly or eloquently than Huston Smith in his epic 2001 book, Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief. I reviewed this book for a special EnlightenNext magazine supplement called WIE Extra (WIE for our former name What Is Enlightenment?). Since it was only distributed to a few thousand subscribers back then, I thought that it would make a good read for our online readers. I’m sure you’ll find that Smith’s message is as relevant today as it was when it was published. Enjoy!
Have you ever heard of the Turing test? Years ago, I encountered it in Daniel Dennett and Douglas Hofstadter’s 1981 book The Mind’s I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul. It’s bugged me ever since. Put forth by Alan Turing in a 1950 paper on computing and intelligence, Turing proposed a simple and apparently straightforward way to assess whether computers could actually think. Since defining “thinking” is tricky–because immediately we find ourselves grappling with questions about the nature of consciousness or intelligence–Turing suggested that we skip all of the deeper philosophical questions with an empirical test: if a human interviewer was to receive written answers to questions posed to two entities hidden from view, a computer and a person, would it be possible for the computer to “trick” the interviewer into believing that it was the human? If so, if the computer was able to convince someone that it is capable of doing what we (thinking … Read More »
Today Andrew Cohen and Ken Wilber did their first audio internet-based seminar—bringing the much loved Guru and Pandit dialogues from EnlightenNext magazine live into homes around the world. (There were over 600 who signed up for the seminar, hailing from all over the globe—including New Zealand, Dubai, India, and China.) These two pioneering thinkers worked seamlessly together to open up our understanding of Spirit in the four quadrants of Integral Theory, as the three faces of God, from the ground of Being to the creative thrust of Eros, and across the evolutionary trajectory. It was quite a ride!
One of the points that Ken made at the end of the day really struck me. He said that mainstream liberals (those folks who are reviled by the Right for highjacking our media, among other dastardly deeds) make no distinctions about anything that … Read More »