David Thompson


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July 25, 2007



I remember seeing John Searle on TV (Channel 4!) in the 1980s saying there was nothing interesting in Derrida that hadn't already been said in far better language by Nietzsche 100 years earlier.

Strictly speaking Islam isn't a culture any more than Monetarism or Anarchism is. It's a set of opinions about reality - an ideology. These opinions include the following:

1. There is a deity. This deity dictated his absolute and final set of instructions for the human race 1400 years ago IN ARABIC, via the angel Gabriel, to an illiterate Arab - Muhammad.

2. This illiterate Arab managed to preserve the deity's set of instructions UNMODIFIED - as the Koran.


I was afraid someone would catch that. You are, of course, correct--there is no such thing as "Muslim culture."

The Koran is tough reading in English--and Arabic. I've been told that even highly educated Arabs cannot read all of it. It's not arranged chronologically, but by Sura length, and it seems to be largely composed of finger-wagging. (At least the Bible has some good stories.) The scholars have figured out the chronology, and also dealt with flagrant contradictions with the imaginative device of "abrogation." Sufism is the only aspect of Islam that I have any time for.

Don't get me started on the other major and minor religions. I tend to like Buddhism--the only major religion without terrorists--but, as my late partner pointed out, to be able to meditate continually requires an army of lesser mortals to do the care and feeding.

wayne fontes

Kudos to Dr.Dawg for sticking it out alone on this blog. D Thompson's space wouldn't be the same without you.

wayne fontes

Kudos to Dr.Dawg for sticking it out alone on this blog. D Thompson's space wouldn't be the same without you.


Thank you. And thank you again. :)


The fact that the Koran is a tough read is itself a problem for Islamic theology. We are told that Allah had previously sent various messengers to earth to deliver his exact instructions for humans on how to live. But the humans kept on misunderstanding the message and erring. So Allah, tired of being misunderstood, and driven by the imperative to have his wishes understood clearly, once and for all, by the whole of humanity, decides:

1. to dictate his message to someone who cannot read or write.
2. to use a minority language - Arabic - which is subject to several lexical anomalies and ambiguities, even when there is a language available - Greek - which is widely spoken and written, and which has a proven record of expressing difficult ideas with great clarity (Plato, Aristotle etc).
3. To arrange these instructions not chronologically, not thematically, but by order of verse length.
4. To include contradictory instructions, which the humans must resolve for themselves using the principle of abrogation.


I have struggled with the Koran in English translation. Muslims insist that no translation from Arabic is capable of expressing Allah's wishes for humanity. So presumably Allah wants the whole planet to speak 7th Century Arabic. Even allowing for that, I felt I was reading a chaotic assemblage by multiple authors. For comparison I went to my bookshelf and picked out Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (also in translation). Here was a book that was clearly the product of a single mind. It was coherently ordered and lucid. It felt to me that if God exists, he'd send us a book that was more like the Tractatus than like the Koran.


“Kudos to Dr.Dawg for sticking it out alone…”

I knew it. This enormous thread is actually a bizarre initiation ritual.


So...am I in? :)


Somebody fetch a decoder ring and prepare an amulet.

[ plays sacred initiation music ]


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