I know they sound like a firm of solicitors, but it’s not law that they have in common.
Terry Eagleton wrote an excoriatingly incisive critique of AC Grayling’s decision to leave Birkbeck College in order to set up the New College of the Humanities. Eagleton questions the motives, values and consequences of the establishment of this college – which only rich kids will be able to access. Others suspect it might be a successful venture, but don’t address some of Eagleton’s questions (especially of the values underlying the move).
Giles Fraser has a go at atheistic humanism, stripping bare the pretensions of an assumed humanism that has amnesia with respect to its own roots and fails to follow through the logic of its own case. He cites Nietzsche and Foucault en route to his challenge:
Indeed, the new atheists simply duck the challenge made by atheistic anti-humanism, believing their expensive scientific toys can outflank the alleged conceptual weakness of their humanism. Thus they dismiss the significance of philosophy just as much as they have always done of theology – as if the two were fundamentally in cahoots. But this is nonsense. Nietzsche, Marx and Freud attacked Christianity with passionate ferocity.
Christian theology of the 20th century has spent much of its time wrestling with the consequences. Why won’t the new atheists do the same?
It’s a good question. I wonder of any answers will be forthcoming. Probably not from the New College of the Humanities which appears to be headed towards the sort of thing Grayling & co hate about (their often misguided perceptions of) faith schools: only addressing matters from a narrow perspective that conforms to a set of philosophical assumptions that have been previously agreed – and won’t admit inconvenient theologies or anti-humanist philosophies.
Or will we be surprised?