Is anyone as pitiful as Richard Dawkins? He has at least one organ missing. His plaintive cry that reason is a fragile faculty, in my view, could not be more true and that is why his ridiculous, unreasoned, unsustainable, arrogant dependency on the reasoning faculty only, is so weak and so wrong.
Reason is the new kid on the block in terms of brain development and we are mighty pleased with it. It is our shiny new toy. Dawkins is so proud. He struts around semi-using it, like a rooster set on pecking to death all of the other roosters. He does not have strong enough observational powers to see that the drive for his arrogant program is not based in reason, but in something else, at least in part, rooster hormones.
Reason is a faculty so weak that if it doesn’t surrender itself for 8 hours out of every 24 and simply shut down, it cannot work properly. Subjected to continual use for say 72 hours straight, it completely explodes, causing hallucinations, breakdowns in the whole organism and finally, uncontrollable sleep. Is reason fragile? Yes. Is reason wonderful? Yes, amazing, beautiful, astonishing. Even with a third of the time being shut down, it has been the source of marvels. For me, personally, and I suspect Dawkins, it is also a source of great pleasure.
One of the reasons reason is fragile is the same reason computers are so fragile: the system is immensely complicated. It is an energy hog [20-25 percent of our calories go to the brain, much of which is used in reason] and simply must be re-booted or it tangles itself in it’s own strings, fragmented storage exigencies, mislabeled permissions and constant jumble of mistakes. These are exhausting and all must be rested and reset.
This fragile faculty does need to be protected and cared for and appreciated, as any new baby must be. But we also must not let its tantrums and infantile grandiosity carry the day. That is undisciplined, unwise and unreasonable.
In this interview with Satish Kumar, where Dawkins comes off as a retarded child and Satish’s eyes are full of compassion, Dawkins admits to never being able to understand a basic concept of philosophy (mainly the whole notion of ontology) but plows ahead, absolutely convinced that he knows better than everyone else, and apparently blissfully unaware that his bare bottom is sticking out and that he looks foolish. He edits these interviews, so that his interviewees out of context sound silly and then labels them, the people who clearly have greater powers of reasoning than he does, ‘Enemies of Reason’.
I don’t mind Dawkins being passionate about reason, I’m passionate about it myself. But I mind his arrogance and lack of personal insight terribly, because somehow, other people with a similar lack of scientific, cultural and psychological insight, have given him a platform from which to spout his nonsense. He likes to call what other people say ‘mumbo-jumbo’, but it is his own jargon, his own cultural, unreasoned biases that are the source of most of the gumbo.
At heart, the failure once again is of humility in the face of Creation and even, creation. Dawkins always reverts to challenging people on their ‘imprecise’ use of language. Dawkins’ use of language is that of the lawyer and the scientist. These are highly specialized languages that in the service of their disciplines, require the most intensely denotive language possible. It is a terribly difficult type of language in that it has the same problem as that of a radioactive half-life. You can never quite get there, to the perfect denotive words. If we could, there would not be contract law lawsuits. But even with people who are being paid hundreds of dollars an hour to write their precision language, pure reasoned agreement is imperfect, and therefore arguable. We can come close, but meaning itself is ultimately uncapturable. Why is that?
Because language has another function – connotative language. This language is a glory and is the reason we have poetry and meaningfulness. Dawkins dismisses this sort of language as mumbo jumbo because it is a language he has not been trained in and doesn’t speak. He doesn’t realize that connotative language is equally as precise as denotive language. It’s precision rests in it’s ability to sound the harmonics – and the right harmonics – of a word, of a sentence so that the multivalent meanings can all occur at once. This harmony, this resonance is in many ways what makes life worth living. It is why art and myth live on and on and on through the centuries. When you hear the harmonics, the ringing, that extra ringing is the ring of truth, that is why we feel such pleasure. The language Dawkins likes – and that is all it is, a personal preference – is the pure machine tone of the digital beep. When he hears resonance, his head hurts and he starts calling it mumbo-jumbo. Metaphors make him wobbly. He understands what they are, but doesn’t really get them. It’s like that Incredible String Band song, ‘You know all the notes and you sung all the words, but you never quite learned the song she sung. I can tell by the sadness in your eyes, that you never quite learned the song.’
And really, Dawkins is so sad that he just stomps around calling everyone else an idiot because he cannot understand. Or sing.