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“No man treats a motor-car as foolishly as he treats another human being. When the car will not go, he does not attribute its annoying behaviour to sin; he does not say: ‘You are a wicked motor-car, and I shall not give you any more petrol until you go.’ He attempts to find out what is wrong, and to set it right. An analogous way of treating human beings is, however, considered to be contrary to the truths of our holy religion. And this applies even in the treatment of little children. Many children have had habits which are perpetuated by punishment, but will probably pass away of themselves if left unnoticed. Nevertheless, nurses with very few exceptions consider it right to inflict punishment, although by so doing they run the risk of causing insanity.

– Bertrand Russell, Has religion made useful contributions to civilisation?

“The racist/fundamentalist parents of our students say that in a truly democratic society students should not be forced to read books by such people – black people, Jewish people, homosexual people. They will protest that these books are being jammed down their children’s throats. I cannot see how to reply to this charge without saying something like: ‘There are credentials for admission to our democratic society, credentials which we liberals have been making more stringent by doing our best to excommunicate racists, male chauvinists, homophobes and the like. You have to be educated in order to be a citizen in our society, a participant in our conversation, someone with whom we can envisage merging our horizons. So we are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable. We are not so inclusivist as to tolerate intolerance such as yours.
– Richard Rorty

A colleague of mine presented a paper on Rorty and Habermas at our post-grad colloquium, and this quote caught my attention. The papers that were presented were all excellent, I spoke on Schopenhauer’s Metaphysics of Morals which was a bit abstract in comparison. But one paper blew us all away, a friend of mine spoke on Nietzsche, Marx and the development of the Blues. I actually managed to listen to the entire presentation (I struggle to concentrate if people just read their papers) the title was: “I asked her for water, but she gave me gasoline.”…What a rock star! He’s gonna do a lot for philosophy someday, I’m sure of it!

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