Critical notes on Harris’s “End of Faith”

-Fidelity does not specify defeater criteria in advance, but it is against experience to think that it never falls to defeaters. Divorces happen without prenuptial agreements.

-Note what happens when you shift from faith to fidelity. Faith is seen as a belief, and so is aimed at a proposition while fidelity is aimed at a person, country, family, platoon, etc. Should a shift from noun to abstract adjective make that much difference, or does one never believe in a proposition but only with one?

-Note the shift in what justification means when we shift from belief to fidelity. There’s a justification for why you don’t leave your platoon or spouse, but it’s not evidence but a vow.

-If “evidence” is whatever reasonably motivates belief, then there is both proof, doctrine and abstraction on one side and practice on the other. We clearly know many things by practice. If you have ten years’ worth of experience doing something you can’t just hand a book to a rookie to get him up to speed. Not all – perhaps very few – reasonable motives for action are amenable to didactic exposition.

-Many learn to be good teachers, but we don’t have a very good didactic exposition of what good teaching consists in. No one knows how to rate it with questionnaires or how to check off good teacher traits like features of show-horses.

-Why can’t we know at least some ultimates by practice? I actually thought Harris would be open to this since he clearly values meditation.


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