Is There an Eco in Here?

by rsbakker

Apparently Theo has discovered a “fail proof method” for determining whether The Prince of Nothing is pornographic. According to Umberto Eco (an impressario famed for the development of ‘fail proof methods’) any time the pace of a narrative lags, the book or film or what have you is ‘pornographic.’

Is it possible that Theo is serious? If this is simply his way of exacting ironic vengeance, then I think it’s actually quite funny. Otherwise… Holy moly, man. Talk about “inept philosophizing”!

There is, however, a serious criticism buried in a footnote (!) to the text: the question of whether it’s possible to sincerely suspend judgement. He offers what might be called a “When Push Comes to Shove” argument. I’m not sure his formulation is coherent, but the general point, I think, has actual bite. Moral action does seem to demand clarity and conviction. 

This, by the way, is another self-conscious thematic pillar of The Prince of Nothing (that he missed), the relationship between our attitudes to our beliefs and the kinds of actions they license. The fact is all our moral judgements are at best educated guesses, whether we acknowledge them as such or not. Once you acknowledge this – my argument is – you’re more inclined to give the other the benefit of the doubt, to be conciliatory, or to put it in terms that Theo would understand, turn the other cheek.

One of the reasons I’m so critical of the new atheists is their tendency to see religion as the moral problem, rather than as one symptom among others. Certainty is the problem. Communists, Islamists, Anarchists: it doesn’t matter. In each case you have a three pound brain murdering other three pound brains in the name of some truth that no three pound brain is capable of grasping.

I’m not sure why he thinks I’m ‘post-moralist,’ given that I’m a moral realist. Is it simply because I refuse to think morality is simple?

Also, why doesn’t anyone make fun of me for my aphorisms. That’s the way to go.

And lastly, is it my imagination, or does he seem to be modifying his rhetorical tactics? He’s using more qualifications, it seems to me.