Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: Dec. 14, 2022, 8:25 a.m. Humanist 36.297 - death of the author 2.0 continued, or swinging on a star

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 36, No. 297.
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    [1]    From: James Rovira <>
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.295: death of the author 2.0 (24)

    [2]    From: Ken Friedman <>
           Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.288: death of the author 2.0 (45)

        Date: 2022-12-13 18:26:43+00:00
        From: James Rovira <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.295: death of the author 2.0

I'm curious how Bill can say a thing is "completely new in the universe"
AND "opaque to us." It's unclear how we can make any claims about it at all
until we know what it is.

"The resulting model isopaque to us, we didn’t program it. The resulting
behavioral capacities are unlike those of any other creature/being/thing
we’ve experienced, nor do we know what those capacities will evolve into in
the future. This creature/being/thing is something fundamentally NEW in the
universe, at least our local corner of it, and needs to be thought of
appropriately. It deserves/requires a new term." - Bill B.

Is it made up of circuit boards? Run on electricity? 1s and 0s? Are we
confusing ontology with functionality?

If it excites no feelings in me, am I then allowed to say it is not -a-
being? I don't think the OED is a good source for this kind of discussion.
General participation in being has long been ascribed to inanimate objects,
but when we render something in the plural, or attach an indefinite article
to it, we ascribe a unique individuality to it. There's a sense in which
every rock is different from every other rock (unlike in exact shape and
size at least?), but we don't assign individuality to rocks ontologically.
They all equally and identically participate in their "rockness."

Jim R

        Date: 2022-12-13 13:02:19+00:00
        From: Ken Friedman <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.288: death of the author 2.0

Dear Jim,

This wasn’t exactly my use. Rather, I was trying to say that there are several
uses of the words “being” (sing.) and “beings” (pl.).

Ontologists — and Heideggerians — are only two of the kinds of people who use
the word. I also noted that folks who don’t use language our way also identify
and relate to beings in other ways. My dog, for example, would not think of
ChatGPT as a being of any kind because ChatGPT has no aroma.

Brigitte Rath made a good point by using OED.

I was just now imagining a remake of the 1944 Bing Crosby classic, “Going my
Way.” The new version will be titled “Being My Way.”

It will star Jeremy Renner as a singing theologian at a tough Jesuit university
with Morgan Freeman playing a crusty old advocate of Thomas Aquinas. Like the
Crosby original, I plan to win an Oscar when Renner and a choir sing the new
version of “Would You Like to Swing on a Star” --

Would you like to swing on a star
carry moonbeams home in a jar
and be better off than you are
or would you rather be an ontologist?

In the latter half of the film, Kevin Vanhoozer will make a cameo appearance
explaining how dramatic theology accounts for being.

Until then, I await the rebirth of the author.



> --[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
>        Date: 2022-12-12 18:24:06+00:00
>        From: James Rovira <>
>        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 36.293: death of the author 2.0 continued
> Ken's use of "being" is consistent with Heidegger and others working in
> ontology, but I don't think any of them would refer to inanimate objects as
> "beings" in the plural even if they would say they participate in "being."
> Jim R

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