Interesting post from Sam Norton. A thoughtful Christian positioning on recent “blasphemy furies”. Amongst other things I was taken by this quote from Rene Girard.
“The invention of science is not the reason that there are no longer witch-hunts, but the fact that there are no longer witch-hunts is the reason that science has been invented. The scientific spirit … is a by-product of the profound action of the Gospel text.”
Seems difficult to reconcile that with the image of subversion of scientific texts dramatised in “The Name of the Rose” and assorted bonfires of the vanities – but yet again we are really talking about the difference between enlightened understanding of a belief system vs misguided things done it its name – not to mention subsequent misguided reactions to such belief systems based on misunderstanding it on the basis of those very things done in its name.
On a very brief reading of the Girard reference Sam provides, I can also feel a parallel between his avoidance of “taking offense” and Follett’s integration of differences (as opposed to resolution of differences). Not to mention Argyris’ avoidance of giving and receiving embarassment, and his distinction between “espoused theories” and “theories in use” and of course Brunsson’s “necessary hypocrisy” …. I could go on.
Also of great interest is Girard’s use of the word mimetism (mimetic) for “contagion”. Precisely the same mimesis etymological root as “memetic” – artificially re-constructed by Dawkins to rhyme audibly and visually with “genetic”. Mimicry, contagion, replication, infection. Inescapable. So much social-anthropology / evolutionary-psychology (pragmatic-reality, yes even “science”) is to be found in etymology.