What Happened Before the Big Bang

From the Atlantic.

For those of you who believe that technological progress cannot exist in the Dark Age, I will point to the following paragraph. We are in a Dark Ages now. He is another exhibit in the case:

Last May, Stephen Hawking gave a talk at Google’s Zeitgeist Conference in which he declared philosophy to be dead. In his book The Grand Design, Hawking went even further. “How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves? How does the universe behave? What is the nature of reality? Where did all this come from? Traditionally these were questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead,” Hawking wrote. “Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics.”

Stephen Hawking proves that, as an amateur philosopher, he is a fine professional physicist.

As a spokesman for the barbarism of the intellect, he is ironically eloquent. Philosophy dead? Say, rather, that reason is dead. Whether true or false, the sentence reflects poorly both on the man who says it and the era of which it is said.

I am not alone in the opinion, albeit others may voice my objection less forcefully. I admit I now begin to understand certain philosophical opinions I have come across frequently of late, voiced by men who do not realize that they are voicing (amateur) philosophical conclusions, and who, indeed take a Conan-esque pride in their lack of philosophical training.

Such men will utter inane philosophy (usually something that can be refuted in a paragraph, or a sentence) and burst with unseemly pride that they are above the foolish triviality, hair-splitting and vain speculations of philosophy.

To a degree, their pride is justified. They are not doing philosophy, that is, they are not attempting to reconcile their various opinions and positions and morals with their reason, and they are not using their reason to live life virtuously. Their philosophical errors are many, but all share the one common property that they cannot be used as a basis on which to erect a moral code. Philosophy is not merely speculation about the nature of words and ideas: it is habituation to the question of how best to live and how best to die.

But being irrational in thought and vice-addicted in deed is not of which to boast.