25 March, 2008

Where have I been?

Not here, that's for sure. But I have been having some interesting interactions around the blogosphere:

A discussion with philosopher Victor Reppert on moral issues involved in teaching the doctrine of hell to children.

A discussion with philosopher/scientist Massimo Pigliucci on the difference between libertarians and those who claim libertarian ideals and yet look for every opportunity to suckle at the government teat.

I would say that this is a great example of the positive ability of the internet (and the blogosphere in particular) to allow interactions between all sorts of individuals in ways that were simply not possible before. Both of these gentleman are distinguished academics with lists of scholarly published works. One certainly might interact with them through the particular universities at which they teach, but absent that it's most unlikely that someone removed from that arena would likely have the opportunity to do so.

It gives me great hope for the future of our collective intellectual life that thinkers like Drs. Reppert and Pigliucci have blogs and are willing to take comments and hold discussions with interested individuals. It sort of puts me in mind of the old "Penny University" coffeehouses in London during the eighteenth century. Except instead of a round table and a penny cup of coffee, we have computer terminals over the internet in every country in the world and a cup of home-brew (or perhaps Starbucks). But the net effect is the same: people from diverse backgrounds and cultures are interacting; meeting one another and exchanging ideas. Even if the conversation isn't always polite, it's often stimulating. And as in London where individuals often left these "Penny Universities" smarter or better informed than when they arrived (or so thought Montesquieu), the same hopefully might be said of our newer, technologically-enhanced version.

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