Author Topic: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"  (Read 1754 times)

Mark Steels Stockbroker

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John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« on: July 25, 2018, 11:32:54 PM »
Haven't read it yet, but did get a signed copy off the old boy when he did a signing:

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« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 08:03:47 AM by Barry Admin »

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Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2018, 11:53:50 PM »
I like John Gray a lot and I will read this book.

Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2018, 12:11:53 AM »
Sounds like a nice meeting you had. There's one in London in a few months' time with Kwame Appiah on Tribes, £30's a bit steep though.

Did he mention Mauthner at all? I've been reading about him recently, sounds like he would be up Gray's street, he even wrote his own history of atheism.

Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2018, 12:15:12 AM »
Can you just paste these Facebook notes in please, whatever they are.

manticore

  • 'nut with really wacky opinions'
Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2018, 12:21:50 AM »
I have barely any interest in John Gray and will not be reading this book. One might just as well read Jordan Peterson or any other pop philosopher - at least Peterson doesn't salivate at the prospect of the extinction of the human race. Imbecile.




Mark Steels Stockbroker

  • Lost in the former West
Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2018, 12:30:59 AM »
Can you just paste these Facebook notes in please, whatever they are.

There has to be some pretext of relevance.

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Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2018, 12:40:38 AM »
One might just as well read Jordan Peterson or any other pop philosopher

Gray is pretty much the opposite of Peterson and is so very much more than a ‘pop philospoher’. I’m quite bemused by the anti-Gray sentiment on here, not sure what he’s done (or not done) but there seem to be a few posters who stick the boot in when his name crops up. Of course, it helps to have actually read his books and at least some of the writers and thinkers he discusses, something which does seem to elude most of his knee-jerk critics.

Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2018, 07:53:07 AM »
I read an interview with him once that annoyed the heck out of me. I think it was in the New Humanist. I'll see if I can dig it out so I can remember precisely why he riles me so much...

Mark Steels Stockbroker

  • Lost in the former West
Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2018, 10:58:16 AM »
Dear Barry Admin, the Notes are blog posts that contain pictures and hyperlinks that can't be easily pasted. I didn't know we were banned from linking to blogs, but you haven't deleted the links in the H.P.Lovecraft and Ash Sarkar threads.

Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2018, 11:15:10 AM »
Yes, people aren't allowed to post links to blogs, sorry.

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Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2018, 12:10:25 PM »
I read an interview with him once that annoyed the heck out of me. I think it was in the New Humanist. I'll see if I can dig it out so I can remember precisely why he riles me so much...

I’ve not really read many interviews with him or even heard him speak much. I would be very interested to read why someone doesn’t like him. I’m not convinced he’s a miserablist, he’s much more of a ‘lyrical pessimist’ like Leopardi or Cioran. I find it hard to argue against stuff like this:

Quote
"Accepting that the world is without meaning," he writes, "we are liberated from confinement in the meaning we have made. Knowing there is nothing of substance in our world may seem to rob that world of value. But this nothingness may be our most precious possession, since it opens to us the inexhaustible world that exists beyond ourselves."

That’s from a John Banville review. He’s one of Gray’s champions and I do pretty much agree with everything he says, which is a handy way of not having to fully type up my own reasons for liking him!

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/feb/15/silence-animals-john-gray-review

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/25/the-soul-of-marionette-enquiry-human-freedom-john-gray-review

As I said in a previous thread, a lot of Gray’s stuff is just repackaged thoughts of some very great and respected thinkers, so to write off Gray is to write off a lot of those too. Presumably it’s his style rather than the content people object to, but even then that style is very much in a venerable literary tradition, albeit more of a Central European one that English people may be more unfamiliar with.


Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2018, 01:58:33 PM »
I read an interview with him once that annoyed the heck out of me. I think it was in the New Humanist. I'll see if I can dig it out so I can remember precisely why he riles me so much...

Well, as long as you have good reasons for your dislike.

I’ve not really read many interviews with him or even heard him speak much…

I’ve been to a few events that Grey has spoken at (mainly where he in conversation with someone about their work) and he’s a brilliant communicator in that environment. Also, he’s very amusing and has quite a playful sense of humour.

In one discussion with Philip Blond about Red Toryism, although Blond and a few audience members were being quite provocative, Grey remained calm and charming thoughout.

Went to see him talk about False Dawn and the years after its first edition; Grey had a cold but gave a great talk. Afterwards, my friend and I chatted with Grey at the signing session; it was then we realised that his cold was absolutely horrendous and I have no idea how he managed to speak so well and for so long on stage. He seemed quite interested in how we found the talk and was extremely apologetic for having a cold (basically, he thought that because he was below par, we were getting short-changed.

manticore

  • 'nut with really wacky opinions'
Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2018, 03:24:39 PM »
My impression:

John Gray is a philosopher who takes some legitimate arguments against Enlightenment ideas of inevitable human progress and twists them into a an invective against the principle of hope altogether. People like him for that because hope is hard and misanthropism is an easy refuge. That's one reason why people would rather read him than Adorno, another critic of Enlightenment thought, who understood its Janus-faced nature but didn't give up on the possibility of emancipation that it partly embodies. Adorno is an infinitely more interesting thinker.
 
Gray is presented as a maverick when actually he's quite in line with the dominant thinking of this time, which explains his celebrity and his circle of big name admirers. Anti-humanism in its various forms has been a great academic career move back to at least the 70s, and he's just another manifestation of that that.

This is based on reading his articles, interviews and reviews of his work and may be unfair in some respects. Anyone can tell me why that is so if they would like.


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Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2018, 04:23:05 PM »
My impression:

John Gray is a philosopher who takes some legitimate arguments against Enlightenment ideas of inevitable human progress and twists them into a an invective against the principle of hope altogether. People like him for that because hope is hard and misanthropism is an easy refuge. That's one reason why people would rather read him than Adorno, another critic of Enlightenment thought, who understood its Janus-faced nature but didn't give up on the possibility of emancipation that it partly embodies. Adorno is an infinitely more interesting thinker.
 
Gray is presented as a maverick when actually he's quite in line with the dominant thinking of this time, which explains his celebrity and his circle of big name admirers. Anti-humanism in its various forms has been a great academic career move back to at least the 70s, and he's just another manifestation of that that.

This is based on reading his articles, interviews and reviews of his work and may be unfair in some respects. Anyone can tell me why that is so if they would like.

Well I’d definitely read one of his books before you make up your mind fully. I’d argue that having a pessimistic outlook is harder, especially when at the deeper level it’s actually a kind of joyful, lyrical pessimism, ie a kind of disguised optmism. I don’t think he has the ego to consider himself a maverick, and I think he has such a genuine and obviously thorough interest and knowledge in what he writes about that it would be pretty unfair to think of his style as manufactured for career reasons.

As for Adorno, I’ve read a fair bit of his writings on music and find him a lumpen, miserable git.

Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2018, 04:24:27 PM »
My impression:

John Gray is a philosopher who takes some legitimate arguments against Enlightenment ideas of inevitable human progress and twists them into a an invective against the principle of hope altogether.…

Can’t say that’s been my impression from any of his books – rather the opposite

… Gray is presented as a maverick when actually he's quite in line with the dominant thinking of this time, which explains his celebrity and his circle of big name admirers….


Some examples would help – but in any case, I think it would be a struggle claiming that to have been a consistent element to Grey’s career.

False Dawn, for instance, was given a critical booting when it first came out and provide. Reviews provided ample testimony that Grey’s was out of step of “dominant thinking” and his warnings were unhinged. Ten years later, when the book was reprinted, the original was now hailed as ‘prophetic’… what a difference a banking crisis can make.

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Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2018, 04:28:14 PM »
Gray.

Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2018, 04:31:34 PM »
Gray.

I always misspell his name and suspect that I always will.

manticore

  • 'nut with really wacky opinions'
Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2018, 05:32:32 PM »
From my reading the bloke thinks humankind is doomed due to its inherent nature and all endeavours for social change are pointless. Millions of people like to think like that - he's just another one, but he makes it kind of glam in a way that attracts people who like shiny seeming ideas.

Quote
“The destruction of the natural world is not the result of global capitalism, industrialisation, ‘Western civilisation’ or any flaw in human institutions.” Rather, he explains, it is “a consequence of the evolutionary success of an exceptionally rapacious primate.”

https://www.thenation.com/article/grays-anatomy/

This is so old.

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Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2018, 06:09:59 PM »
In his books he presents his thinking as the opposite of ‘shiny new ideas’ by showing how these ideas have manifested themselves in the works of great thinkers throughout the ages.

manticore

  • 'nut with really wacky opinions'
Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #19 on: July 26, 2018, 07:14:34 PM »
I wrote 'shiny seeming' ideas, not 'new'. They are indeed (acknowledged) mostly old ideas glossed up to take a 21st century form of quietism and falalism. From his pieces available online he's a clever man and has a fluid writing style and has some interesting insights, as do some other conservative thinkers, but his judgement as epitomised in the quote I cited in the last post is just something i've heard a million times before and holds little interest for me beyond wanting to oppose it.


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Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #20 on: July 26, 2018, 09:23:24 PM »
Fair enough. I do really recommend reading one of his books, though, The Soul of the Marionette being my favourite. It goes quite deeply into the nature of consciousness and free will. So much more to it than ‘life sucks’ or his quote from above.

ZoyzaSorris

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Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #21 on: October 15, 2018, 09:12:59 PM »
Gray is a shit crock of shite cunt fucknugget

Shoulders?-Stomach!

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Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #22 on: October 23, 2018, 08:10:37 AM »
Gray is a shit crock of shite cunt fucknugget

LITERARY CRITICISM

Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #23 on: October 23, 2018, 04:16:08 PM »
I like his books a lot but often dislike his politics writing in the New Statesman where he indulges an unflattering pettiness and can seem more interested in his own reputation as an iconoclast than events themselves. His eagerness for the liberal world order to fall to authoritarian nationalism and prove him right once and for all to his naysayers isn’t exactly endearing. I also went to a talk for the release of the Soul of the Marionette and it was all a bit “I was right about North Korea, I was right about the European constitution, and by God I think I’m right about the congestion charge”. Having said that I always enjoy his books and Straw Dogs was pivotal for me when I read it way back when. He’s also turned me on to other interesting writers and ideas by putting them in a context I can use a jumping off point (Conrad, Marais, Schopenhauer, massive depressing book about the Warsaw ghetto, some others I reckon dunno can’t remember).

Kishi the Bad Lampshade

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Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #24 on: October 23, 2018, 07:38:31 PM »
The seven types of atheism are shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits

Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #25 on: October 24, 2018, 03:20:11 PM »
He is definitely popular with types who believe any kind of involvement in politics or attempts at emancipation are for vulgarians. People like Will Self who say that we should now focus on living as meaningful a life for ourselves as we can, which is the ruling ideology of our day, he may as well just say '[verb] your [adjective]'. Fuck Will Self.

Re: John Gray's "Seven Types Of Atheism"
« Reply #26 on: October 25, 2018, 12:29:59 AM »
I don't know, he certainly was involved in politics at some point. He knew Thatcher and I think supported Blair as well in the early years. He also did a few pieces for the BBC more or less coming out for Leave.

I haven't read this one, but I gather Conrad comes out of it as a 'good' atheist. Maybe the Conrad of Nostromo gives a clue as to Gray's own politics: a sort of cynical, tragic fatalism, but that doesn't give in to nihilism. Whereas for Conrad the silver mine/imperialism/capitalism is the central corrupting force that directs all the characters (who nevertheless think they are in full control of their actions), for Gray that becomes illusion/ideology/myth whatever.

These myths or illusions may be necessary for human beings to go out and act positively in the world, but they become damaging as soon as you forget that they are exactly that (a process which he takes to be inevitable, as I read him), and in any case the effects you do in fact have often bear no relation to the ones you set out to achieve, because you were unknowingly in thrall to powers greater than yourself. That's my glib reading anyway.

eg, on Thatcher, I think I've read him evoke her positively when it comes to the necessary sweeping away of the moribund corporatism that prevailed in the 1970s, but negatively once she inevitably became wrapped up in her own mythologising and became detached from reality.

Quote
If Thatcher changed Britain beyond recognition, it was not through her policies but through their unforeseen effects... The changes that she set in motion had a self-defeating effect of the sort common among revolutionary movements...While Thatcher’s supposed mentor Hayek never ceased calling attention to the unintended consequences of socialism, neither of them considered the unintended consequences of unleashing the free market. The settled middle-class life of the 1950s to which Thatcher looked back with nostalgic reverence was an artifact of Labour’s postwar settlement, which stabilized society through the power of solid institutions and strong government. When, in the 1970s, the Labour settlement began to crumble away, so did this settled way of life. Rather than reversing the process, Thatcher’s free-market policies had the effect of completing it. A society based on lifelong marriages and careers cannot co-exist with an economy driven by unfettered choice and the pursuit of short-term gains. Selling off municipally owned council houses was one of her flagship policies, but the eventual consequence was a housing boom in which saving and productive investment were overshadowed by debt-fueled speculation as a source of wealth. The free market that Thatcher promoted actually worked to undermine and to dissolve middle-class values.