Sticking it to the Rationalist Man

In her article “The Sickness of SecularismSoumaya Ghannoushi claims that:

We are witnessing the rise of an arrogant secularist rhetoric founded on belief in the supremacy of reason and absolute faith in science and progress, dogmas which arouse ridicule in serious academic and intellectual circles nowadays.

Of course, since it’s obviously the case that we should resist people in the grip of dogmas that are the object of ridicule by serious academics and intellectuals it follows we should resist this perverted secularism, especially if these secularists are arrogant bastards. And they certainly are; a brief read of Dawkins and Grayling, two of the high priests of the secularist movement, will leave one with the bitter taste of epistemic intolerance.

Unsurprisingly, I think there is very little agreeable with Ghannoushi’s nugget of fallacious rhetoric. The most striking fact, I suppose, is that it is simply a monumental question beg; an assumption that in being arrogant and intolerant the relevant kind of secularism is hopelessly misguided. But this is exactly the issue since evidence that certain epistemic practices or tools are ill-conceived is, ipso facto, support for their exclusion from any adequate epistemology. Ghannoushi provides us with nothing but an argument from (misplaced) authority and an assertion that we are to disavow the methods professed by the likes of Dawkins and Grayling. But this is not enough. We want to know why we should employ epistemologies that to us seem wrongheaded. This, however, is not something we are provided with.

But maybe it’s because I’m an arrogant bastard in the grip of a secularist fever whose symptoms include epistemological hallucinations that I’m looking for a decent argument in the first place.


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This site is written by Ed and Jim and occasionally others.


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