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Loyal Rue: The Noble Lie


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Religious naturalists . Michael Dowd has said he is a Christian naturalist, I think. I bumped into Loyal Rue on youtube where you will find "The nature of religion" pt1 and pt2. Videos, not about the noble lie, terms which sell a book, are worth your time, I think.


From the publisher's review of In By the Grace of Guile, Loyal Rue

The nihilists are right, admits philosopher Loyal Rue. The universe is blind and aimless, indifferent to us and void of meaning. There are no absolute truths and no objective values. There is no right or wrong way to live, only alternative ways. There is no correct reading of a text or a picture or a dance. God is dead, nihilism reigns. But, Rue adds, nihilism is a truth inconsistent with personal happiness and social coherence. What we need instead is a new myth, a noble lie. Only a noble lie can save us from the psychological and social chaos now threatened by the spread of skepticism about the meaning of life and the universe.



Finally, he argues that society is caught up in a Kulturkampf with nihilists promoting intellectual and moral relativism and realists defending objective and universal truths. The noble lie, says Rue, would introduce a third voice, one which first agrees with the nihilists that universal myths are pretentious lies, but then insists, against the nihilists, that without such lies humanity cannot survive.


The challenge, he concludes, is ultimately an aesthetic one: it remains for the artists, poets, novelists, musicians, filmmakers, and other masters of illusion to seduce us into an embrace with a noble lie. We need a new myth that tells us where we have come from, what our nature is, and how we should live together--a story with the courage and presumption to say how things really are and what really matters.


Oxford University Press


We're making it all up. We'd better do a good job. :)


Damning with faint praise - is this?


How does one adopt a noble lie and build a religion with it. In part 2 of his video there is a diagram that suggests that it is very difficult to adopt a central myth and maintain it, freshen it up from time to time, retelling the central myth for new contexts. If we adopt a noble lie, how do we forget that we did? Who holds that secret while everyone else believes? Humans can hold two contradicting ideas at the same time, I'm told.


Although Rue would, perhaps, call "Charter of Compassion" a noble lie, it is certainly one worth telling again and again.


Take Care



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I wish I had time to read more than that blurb. I can't decide if I agree with him or not.


I think I'd have some big problems if by lie he means deception is necessary. Additionally, I'm not a fan of claiming it's nothing but aesthetics. I agree aesthetics are more important than a lot of people give them credit, but I worry that claim over simplifies and throws babies out with bathwater.


Now, that said, the social theory I like has gone down the postmodern rabbit hole and come out the other side worried that constant critique and deconstruction leads to nihilism, and like this author, thinks that isn't a particularly good outcome. I definitely think that a positive argument based on "constructivist" principles is possible, and that doing so looks rather different than building a system of thought on an allegedly natural foundation.

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