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March 11, 2006

Better Late...

The New York Times has finally gotten around to the debate on Leon Wieseltier's review of Daniel Dennett's new book -- after the Web has been chewing on it for a few weeks.

The entire letters page in this Sunday's (12 March) Book Review section is devoted to the debate -- one side of the debate: Sam Harris weighs in. Hume is briefly mentioned. And there's this great letter from Tim Maudlin, a philosophy professor at Rutgers:

Leon Wieseltier writes: "You cannot disprove a belief unless you disprove its content. If you believe that you can disprove it any other way by describing its origins or by describing its consequences, then you do not believe in reason."

Recall that Dennett's book attacks religion by investigating the causes, mostly in terms of evolution, of religion. Maudlin continues:

Someone tells me that he believes that the core of Mars is iron. When I ask how he came by that belief, he tells me that it came to him in a dream. This does not disprove his belief, but does show that there is no reason at all to take it seriously.

Posted by Mitchell Stephens at March 11, 2006 2:55 PM


I don't remember the last occasion that the Times Sunday Book Review devoted all of its letters to one review/book. And I don't remember ever, in such a situation, every single letter, in this case seven, having one opinion. Well, good for the Times.

To be a little wrong can produce interesting results. To be completely wrong is just stupid and boring.

Posted by: ARTHUR ENGORON at March 11, 2006 8:58 PM

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