6 June 2011

Mary Midgley's 'The Myths We Live By'

an extract...

'I lately came across a mug inscribed with the following remark, which it attributed to Margaret Mead: 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does.' It struck me at once that this was a mug badly at odds with current thinking; indeed, it cannot lately have been attending to the media as an educated mug should. These days, the message that we chiefly hear is that changes in the world are due to something on a much larger scale - perhaps economic causes, perhaps a shift in the gene pool, perhaps cultural evolution - certainly far grander than a few people worrying in an attic. Is the mug therefore wrong?

This seems to me rather an important issue. We always have a choice about the perspective from which we will look at human affairs, whether we will examine them from the inside, as participants, or from some more distant perspective, and if so, which of many distant perspectives we will choose. Or can we combine these angles? In theory, we know that these points of view are not really alternatives but complementary parts of a wider enquiry. Yet current thinking urges us to find, somehow, one key explanation, a single standpoint that is guaranteed right because it is scientific.'
p75, 2003

This is a really interesting book by moral philosopher Mary Midgley about how that which we consider myth is not the opposite of science...

Hopefully more on this at some point.

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