Protected: The Problem of Pronouns

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Genocide: for whom the lesson of never again?

A rumination on the connection of genocide and who learns the lesson of ‘never again’, following a recent article in Haaretz: Having failed to learn its lessons, Holocaust Remembrance Day doesn’t belong in Israel’s reality (Yossi Klein, 02 May 2019).

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What is a ‘female’ in medicine?

Above is the definition of the word ‘female’ from the MedicineNet site. According to this, the classification of an individual who bears young (or at least potentially), or produces eggs as a ‘female’ is out of date.

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What does the term ‘Islam’ mean anyway?


The standalone term ‘Islam’ has become problematic in recent years, particularly in public discourse around religion, culture clash, and terrorism in Western societies. The problem is old: the same term is assumed to refer to the same thing but in fact for different interlocutors in important discussions, it refers to quite different varieties of religious experience. We need a better term for use in the West.

As someone slightly obsessed with correct terminology in my day job (ontology, epistemology and informatisation of clinical medicine), the best conclusion I have reached to date is that the term ‘traditional Islam’ is pretty good. That implies (at least to me) an Islam based in the canonical texts, i.e. Qur’an, Hadith plus or minus Shari’a. Canonical Islam is clearly political and juridical, so the term ‘political Islam’ is redundant, and since the most obvious interpretation of the texts being that Islam is a total programme for a society to which the individual is completely subservient, this is the understanding thereby attached to the term ‘traditional Islam’. One could probably even construct an argument for a capital-T ‘Traditional Islam’ being overtly text-based with ‘traditional Islam’ being practice- or tradition-based (e.g. among people with poor literacy).

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The truth, or what’s left of it

We live in strange times. In the public sphere, we talk more than ever about ‘truth’ and ‘facts’, and yet in a civilisation that has developed some pretty good methods of getting at the truth, particularly in the sciences, medicine and law, nothing is more contested today. We have at our disposal the internet and other technologies that one might have expected to lead to ever-greater popularisation of science and the arts, enabling a concomitant shift to considered, rational debate of topics in politics and society. However, the same tools have turned out to be just as good at purveying misinformation, diatribe and invective, and our collective ability to solve social problems or even talk about them appears to be quickly eroding rather than improving. Of course, the tools of the information age are not innately at fault; they are merely amplifiers of states of mind.

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Posted in Ontology, Post-modernism, Science | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments