Skip to content
February 11, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

Existentialism’s Critique of Fredderick Nietzsche

Fredrick Nietzsche’s writing perplexes many, but its ultimate implications are quite dubious and dehumanizing.  Milan Kundera the existentialist writer (and philosopher) expresses what I think is an excellent critique here:

Critique of Nietzsche:

“In the presence of Esch, values have hidden their faces. Order, loyalty, sacrifice—he cherishes all these words, but exactly what do they represent? Sacrifice for what? Demand what sort of order? He doesn’t know.

If a value has lost its concrete content, what is left of it? A mere empty form; an imperative that goes unheeded and, all the more furious, demands to be heard and obeyed. The less Esch knows what he wants, the more furiously he wants it.

Milan Kundera, Art of the Novel

Critique of Nietzsche:

“The uniform is that which we do not choose, that which is assigned to us; it is the certitude of the universal against the precariousness of the individual. When the values that were once so solid come under challenge and withdraw, heads bowed, he who cannot live without them (without fidelity, family, country, discipline, without love) buttons himself up in the universality of his uniform as if that uniform were the last shred of transcendence that could protect him against the cold of a future in which there will be nothing left to respect.”

Esch: the fanaticism of the era with no God. Because all values have hidden their faces, anything can be considered a value. Justice, order—Esch seeks them now in the trade union struggle, then in religion; today in police power, tomorrow in the mirage of America, where he dreams of emigrating. He could be a terrorist or a repentant terrorist turning in his comrades, or a party militant or a cult member a kamikaze prepared to sacrifice his life. All the passions rampaging through the bloody history of our time are taken up, unmasked, and terrifyingly displayed in Esch’s modest adventure.”

Milan Kundera, Art of the Novel

February 7, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

Carl Sagan on Science and Spirituality

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual…The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.”

Carl Sagan

I would specifically highlight a particular passage:

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual…The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.”

Carl Sagan

Some suggest this is out of context, but I think the way in which I’ve called attention to the spiritual experience is incompatible with the worldview of scientific naturalism and scientism which underlies the polarization thesis.  So while the intent of the passage may not be to communicate this message, the overall implication for the science versus spirituality seems to be the same.

The feeling should be totally meaningless in a determinist universe–after all that turns us into “flotsom and jetsom” and we’re basically robots made of just biology, chemistry, and physics according to that theory.  And theoretically the feeling should be irrelevant from a scientific perspective (given that its theoretically subjective).

Sagan’s experience and feeling ultimately is a body blow to those who want to suggest we follow only a naturalistic account of the universe.


February 1, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

Five Types of Critical Thinking for Business

This type of strategic leadership requires five different types of thinking. Knowing when and how much to utilize each one is the hallmark of great leaders.

  1. Critical thinking is the mental process of objectively analyzing a situation by gathering information from all possible sources, and then evaluating both the tangible and intangible aspects, as well as the implications of any course of action.
  2. Implementation thinking is the ability to organize ideas and plans in a way that they will be effectively carried out.
  3. Conceptual thinking consists of the ability to find connections or patterns between abstract ideas and then piece them together to form a complete picture.
  4. Innovative thinking involves generating new ideas or new ways of approaching things to create possibilities and opportunities.
  5. Intuitive thinking is the ability to take what you may sense or perceive to be true and, without knowledge or evidence, appropriately factor it in to the final decision.

Source: Here

I think that list of 5 is certainly helpful.  Here is a list of 8 more types of thinking (note that 6 and 7 are part of 4 above):

  1. Self-reflective Thinking (self and organization)–how to think about the past.
  2. Vision and Strengths Thinking–how to think about the future.
  3. Relational Thinking–thinking about humans/thinking about relationships.
  4. Emotionally Intelligent Thinking–EQ about self & EQ about others  (human thinking)
  5. Team/group/culture Thinking–thinking about where we are going as a team.  (this includes motivation and values thinking)
  6. Audience Listening and Sensing–Market thinking, audience thinking, and customer thinking–empathy.  Also feedback loops and overall listening.
  7. Design Thinking–innovation that is human centered.  Based on the work at IDEO and Stanford and elsewhere.
  8. Service Design Thinking–Innovation in process & service
  9. Problem solving–in terms of people (lets say conflict)
  10. Productivity and Process Thinking–Productivity & schedule & time thinking (time management)
  11. Mindset Thinking–mindsets of an employee.  This overlaps with many of the others, and certainly with the EQ and culture questions.
  12. Growth Thinking–Mentorship, coaching, and development thinking–growth & development

Its worth noting that these categories aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.

Others might include hiring people & hiring firms (consultants, coaches, and outsourcers).

[I’m curious when people say critical thinking if they really mean “tactics and strategy”–that is strategic thinking.]

I’m curious to what extent legal-oriented critical thinking

Also, I think the EQ, relationship, values, and design thinking pieces could all be integrated into the larger picture of critical thinking.

What are your thoughts on what critical thinking is conceptually or as a process or as part of a business or organization?  How has critical thinking helped you?  How did you learn critical thinking?  What is the best way to learn critical thinking in your opinion?

A working definition of critical thinking, albeit from an academic rather than a business context.  It perhaps describes the passion behind critical thinking:

Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way.   People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, empathically.    They are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked.   They strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and sociocentric tendencies.   They use the intellectual tools that critical thinking offers – concepts and principles that enable them to analyze, assess, and improve thinking.   They work diligently to develop the intellectual virtues of intellectual integrity, intellectual humility, intellectual civility, intellectual empathy, intellectual sense of justice and confidence in reason.   They realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they can always improve their reasoning abilities and they will at times fall prey to mistakes in reasoning, human irrationality, prejudices, biases, distortions, uncritically accepted social rules and taboos, self-interest, and vested interest.   They strive to improve the world in whatever ways they can and contribute to a more rational, civilized society.    At the same time, they recognize the complexities often inherent in doing so.   They avoid thinking simplistically about complicated issues and strive to appropriately consider the rights and needs of relevant others.   They recognize the complexities in developing as thinkers, and commit themselves to life-long practice toward self-improvement.   They embody the Socratic principle:   The unexamined life is not worth living , because they realize that many unexamined lives together result in an uncritical, unjust, dangerous world.

~ Linda Elder, September, 2007

February 1, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

CS Lewis on Christian Apologetics–What the Christian Faith Is and Isn’t

This distinction, which is demanded by honesty, also gives the apologist a great tactical advantage. The great difficulty is to get modern audiences to realize that you are preaching Christianity solely and simply because you happen to think it true; they always suppose you are preaching it because you like it or think it good for society or something of that sort. Now a clearly maintained distinction between what the faith actually says and what you would like it to have said or what you understand or what you personally find helpful or think probable, forces your audience to realize that you are tied to your data just as the scientist is tied by the results of the experiments; that you are not just saying what you like. This immediately helps them to realize that what is being discussed is a question about objective fact–not gas about ideals and points of view.

Secondly, this scrupulous care to preserve the Christian message as something distinct from one’s own ideas, has one very good effect upon the apologist himself. It forces him, again and again, to face up to those elements in original Christianity which he personally finds obscure or repulsive, He is saved from the temptation to skip or slur or ignore what he finds disagreeable. And the man who yields to that temptation will, of course, never progress in Christian knowledge. For obviously the doctrines which one finds easy are the doctrines which give Christian sanction to truths you already knew. The new truth which you do not know and which you need must, in the very nature of things, be hidden precisely in the doctrine you least like and least understand. It is just the same here as in science. The phenomenon which is troublesome, which doesn’t fit in with the current scientific theories, is the phenomenon which compels reconsideration and thus leads to new knowledge, Science progresses because scientists, instead of running away from such troublesome phenomena or hushing them up, are constantly seeking them out. In the same way, there will be progress in Christian knowledge only as long as we accept the challenge of the difficult or repellent doctrines. A “liberal” Christianity which considers itself free to alter the faith whenever the faith looks perplexing or repellent must be completely stagnant, Progress is made only into a resisting material.

You can find the original here.

February 1, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

Top Christian Apologists on Twitter

  1. Gary Habermas
  2. Fazale R. Rana
  3. William A. Dembski
  4. Greg Koukl
  5. Douglas Groothius
  6. Frank Turek
  7. John Warwick Montgomery
  8. Darrel L. Bock
  9. Paul Copan
  10. Randy Alcorn
January 31, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

What are the most influential Enlightenment thinkers

The six most influential thinkers and authors during the Enlightenment and on the history of Western philosophy and culture (I’m excluding Plato, Aristotle, and the Bible, which are all influential on the period itself and Western civilization, because the Enlightenment was later in time).

Most Influential Enlightenment Thinkers and Writers in Philosophy/Epistemology:

  • Rene Descartes–founder of enlightenment philosophy

Most Influential Enlightenment Thinkers and Writers in Science:

  • Francis Bacon–founder of enlightenment science

Most Influential Enlightenment Thinkers and Writers in Politics, Political Philosophy, & Liberalism:

  • John Locke–founder of the social contract which gave rise to the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution
  • The Federalist Papers by the Federalist–gave rise to our US Constitution and the American structure of government
  • The Founders of America–gave rise to the US Constitution and founding of the American structure of government

Most Influential Enlightenment Thinkers and Writers in in Economics & Capitalism

  • Adam Smith–gave rise to the philosophical justification for capitalism and free trade.
January 27, 2017 / compassioninpolitics

Christian responses to Nietzshce: Criticism, Reflections, and Review: Is God Really Dead?

Is God Dead?  A Christian Critique of Nietzsche’s Philosophy

Nietzsche points out that the proclamation of atheism, that god is dead results in a meaning vertigo that is absolutely nihilistic in nature:

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him — you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space?

Nietzsche is a hopeless philosophy. Its not a very good starting point if you want to find meaning or purpose or understand how to live better in the world.

Nietzsche ultimate says its all will to power, but he doesn’t so much prove it as simply assert it. This undermines the values we need to function in the world—to have better relationships and have functionally communities and civilizations (for instance rights, justice, and the US Constitution get tossed out along with everything else).

Bernstein provides a macro-level critique of Nietzsche:

“Nietzsche never attempted a logical refutation of the possibility of God’s existence. He does not appear to have thought it attainable. What he substituted was a genetic reduction of faith, which was clearly intended to have the effect of a refutation by suspicion….Nietzsche’s implication is that the belief in God is traceable to human needs.”

John Andrew Bernstein, Nietzsche’s Moral Philosophy (Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses, 1987), 165-66.

As a slight aside, its worth noting that Nietzsche does provide some insight into answering the problem of suffering or evil in terms of its value for human beings in their overall development.

I also think the thought experiment or gut check “Would you want your brother, sister, friend, or family member to be a Nietzschean?”  This simple self-reflection on will to power is in some sense pretty powerful. (its seems an implicit call to reflect on the nature of ethics in relationship in the context of respect and perhaps the Golden Rule).

Further, I think the historical record of the value of Christian culture and thought for civilization has been incredibly helpful for progress and the dignity of humans.  (Its worth noting that Nietzshce critiques this, but I would argue thats precisely the weakness of Nietzshce is his inability to understand the value of love, compassion, kindness, and ultimately human dignity and value).  Its also the reason that Nietzsche’s whole edifice would seem to collapse under the weight of its nihlisitic, skeptical, and reductive approach to value, meaning, and truth.

It would also seem that in Nietzshce’s critique of Christian ethics (basically compassion is bad because it ends up treating people as weak, an argument that sounds more like social darwinism than anything or an argument for Aristocracy, by contrast to equality and kindness) is that Christian morality also challenges people to do great things with risk (see Paul, Jesus, and the apostles and early Christians).  So, Nietzsche’s approach to Christian morality and Christian culture and practice is in some sense.  Not to mention there is an underlying current of “I make all things new.” which is a way that Christianity actually captures a certain cultural critique of the old for the new.

It also seems to be inherently self-contradictory–because following Nietzshce would ultimately undermine itself.  Becoming a Nietzschean doesn’t seem to be very Nietzschean.  (In the words of the famous philosopher Allanis Morrissette, “isn’t it ironic…don’t ya think!?!?”)

This is a simple straightforward critique of Nietzshce’s argument:

William Lane Craig responds to Nietzsche’s critique of Christian morality:

Finally, Ravi Zacharias also provides a critique of Nietzsche and one which he returns at from slightly different angles in a number of his talks and podcasts. (you can click on the link to listen to Ravi’s critique)