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I Assign You Reading!

I Assign You Reading! January 29, 2011

(Don’t worry, it’s short).

I’ve really appreciated all the reading suggestions that you’ve made which culminated in the List of Doom and the more manageable shortlist.  I’m going to keep writing about my reactions to the the books you recommended, and tomorrow I’ll be writing about G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy.

The trouble is, that as I started drafting, I knew I wanted to reference an idea that I’m not sure is in the common parlance.  ‘Metaphysical backsliding’ doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, so I can’t tell if it’s a real word yet, but I knew I needed to reference it.  I don’t want to have to take a lengthy digression in the middle of the post tomorrow (especially when other people have already explained it well), so would you all do me a quick mitzvah and read Eve Tushnet’s essay: “The Birthday Cake of Existence“?

She doesn’t use the phrase ‘metaphysical backsliding’ in the essay, but the whole piece is addressed to that problem.   Very briefly, metaphysical backsliding is the name my friends gave to having your metaphysics debunked by your ethics – a kind of proof by contradiction.  How sure do you have to be of an ethical principle to be sure that any metaphysical system which negates it must be wrong?  This question is coming back with a vengeance tomorrow.


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