Mr. Eccles Presents | Sci-fi and Philosophy

This is episode 87 of the Ra-Men vodcast, hosted by YouTuber Aron Ra, and here featuring his recent interview with one of my favorite philosophy professors, David Kyle Johnson. He’s the same gent who taught the Great Courses course I’ve reviewed a bit back, The Big Questions of Philosophy, and here he’s discussing the latest offering of his from the Great Courses, Sci-Phi, Science Fiction as Philosophy. He and Aron go over the outline of the course, as well as addressing a few essential points, two of which include the existence of knowable facts, and that apologetics is at best philosophy done badly, its abuse and in method its antithesis; that even if we do exist in a computer simulation, said simulation is reality for us, a reality with its own rules and its own facts, though everything would exist in digital form as bits in a server. Professor Johnson notes the importance of philosophy, how it gave rise to all other intellectual disciplines, and even now has use in the modern age.

One thing I’ve noticed about apologetics, and Johnson points this out, is that it always, without fail, operates on the basis of an agenda to defend, often religious, though I personally know at least one political apologist, have read many in my time, and have locked horns once with another (Here’s looking at you, Tobin). Apologetics is unconcerned with such niceties as a search for knowledge over error, of getting one’s facts right and using cogent reasoning, or with rigorous thinking and a deep understanding of concepts. It is instead concerned with the sowing and perpetuation of confusion over clarity, fallacies over good reasoning, and twisting the facts beyond recognition to support whatever agenda is at play, rationalizing backward from the conclusion by shoehorning the premises to support it.

That being said, I love debates and listen to or watch them often, but they are not for me to engage in personally, not yet, at least. I’m an inexperienced public speaker, tend to get emotional in an argument, and I’m easily annoyed, not thinking myself particularly kindhearted when faced with an arguer who shows that they are not willing to abide by the rules of good rhetoric, logic, or dialogue, and have nothing of any evident value to teach me from their perspective. I try to avoid arguing with anyone online, much less in meatspace, almost never to folks I don’t know, rarely with those I do, and prefer to do any argument through the medium of a blog post, or more abstractly, through my stories in published fiction. That’s good for offsetting my fight-or-flight response, and keeping my thinking clear. This is why I don’t debate apologists, including those who try to pass themselves off as philosophers. I find apologists who pull what they erroneously think to be unimpeachable philosophizing in a serious debate incredibly annoying. They argue dishonestly, as per the nature of apologetics, and I refuse to debate anyone who argues in bad faith, obviously so to anyone who is logically and rhetorically literate and not operating under the agenda to defend a presupposed conclusion.

Anyhoo, the interview lasts for about 30 minutes, and it’s quite good. Both Ra and Johnson are articulate, knowledgable, and a lot of fun to listen to. That’s something worth aspiring to in time, and with practice.

Tf. Tk. Tts.

Here are the show notes (via Aron Ra):

Interviewing Professor David Johnson of Kings College about his Great Courses–Exploring Metaphysics and The Big Questions of Philosophy and Sci-Phi: Science Fiction as Philosophy (buy it on DVD/CD or stream it): Sci-Phi: Science Fiction as Philosophy (Audible Audiobook):…

Sci-Phi: Science Fiction as Philosophy (DVD from Amazon as of Jun 4th:…

“The Great Courses Plus” (Smartphone App: Has “The Big Questions of Philosophy” and should have “Sci-Phi” by June 25).

Sci-Phi: Science Fiction as Philosophy (On iTunes):… Here is the websites for my other courses (which are also available as audiobooks, etc.):

Big Questions of Philosophy:…

Exploring Metaphysics:…

Here is a link to his article on Craig:…

And here is my article on (open letter to) Bill Nye:… Writing the letter is what actually got me the opportunity to speak to him. It was my “Big Questions of Philosophy” course that convinced him to love philosophy—especially the first four lectures. He emailed me to thank me and everything.

You could also direct them to my two blogs:

Plato on Pop:…

A logical Take:…

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