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Incompatible worldviews: The castle in the Pyrenees

The Castle in the PyreneesThe Castle in the Pyrenees by Jostein Gaarder

The book takes the form of e-mail correspondence between two former lovers, Solrun and Steinn, who meet by accident some thirty years after they parted, at a hotel that was linked to the events that caused them to part. They reflect on the events that led up to their parting, which involve a mysterious “Lingonberry Woman”, and the divergent interpretations of their shared experience, naturalistic and supernaturalistic, that eventually caused them to part.

The story is almost allegorical, with the main characters standing for two worldviews, a technique that is shared with some of Jostein Gaarder‘s other books. In the end, neither the philosophical nor the narrative mystery is solved, and both are left hanging. I can understand this in the case of the philosophical mystery of the natrualistic or supernaturalistic worldviews, but in the case of the narrative mysteries it makes the story a bit unsatisfactory.

Perhaps I am missing some literary allusions, but the title is one of the mysteries. All the action takes place in Norway, and none in the Pyrenees — the closest the characters get to the Pyrenees is a trip to Normandy, which is mentioned in passing. And the “Lingonberry Woman” apparently has nothing to do with lingonberries (whatever they may be). She neither gathers them, nor eats them, nor offers them to the characters to eat. It might have been more appropriate to call her the “Foxglove Woman” since the characters are looking at foxgloves when they encounter her.

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I’m an Aristotelean and didn’t know it

My Philosophy Guru | Mark Vernon:

Your recommended philosophy-guru is ARISTOTLE.

Key fact: The star pupil of Plato.

Must have: A desire to study the world and see what it reveals.

Key promise: The good life, which comes from living a virtuous life.

Key peril: The virtuous life can be tough.

Most likely to say: ‘Everything has its proper place.’

Least likely to say: ‘Science is where humanity went wrong.'”

Hat-tip to The Stroppy Rabbit: Zeno of Citium

Find out who your ancient Greek guru is.

Noam Chomsky

verbum ipsum says:

Noam Chomsky is, to put it mildly, a polarizing figure. For a particular species of left-wing campus activist he’s a kind of guru, someone who has penetrated the veil of illusion and seen reality as it really is. For certain conservatives and “serious” liberals he’s an ayatollah of anti-Americanism, a kind of ritual hate figure.

While A conservative blog for peace says:

Noam Chomsky: Apparently his criticisms are spot-on but he doesn’t offer a good alternative

To which my response is that the same could be said of Amos, and most of the other Old Testament prophets.

When Christians in South Africa sent out a four-page document called A message to the people of South Africa, which pointed out that apartheid was both a heresy and a false gospel, the government responded that they were so negative — criticising government policy and ideology without offering anything to put in its place.

So the South African Council of Churches and others set up the Study project for Christianity in Apartheid Society (Sprocas).

Sprocas produced six reports of about 200 pages each, cost an enormous amount in having commissions and preparing papers and writing proposals, and probably no one in the government read the reports, except perhaps the Security Police, to see who they could ban, detain, harass or persecute next.

The idea that you should not criticise evil until you can offer a practical alternative is a monstrous cop out.

Noam Chomsky is a linguist and political commentator who has been critical of US foreign policy in recent years.

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