Contrastivism (Philosophy)


Contrastivism, or the contrast theory of meaning is an epistemological theory proposed by Jonathan Schaffer that suggests that knowledge attributions have a ternary structure of the form ‘S knows that p rather than q’. (source: Wikipedia)

In regard to Free Will debate, both Compatibilist and Non-compatibilist are right in contrast to a certain position. Compatibilist are right if we talking about freedom from constraints, while Non-compatibilist are right if we are considering freedom from causation.

We can never know whether we are living in a Matrix or not (Skeptic is right), but we do know a lot of things by contrasting them. For instance, I know I am writing this on a blog, not a paper.

Dr. Asad Q. Ahmed and Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy on Islam and Science

My Notes

Dr. Hoodbhoy

Dr. Hoodbhoy speaks first lamenting the current state of science in the Islamic world. He blames the encroachment of scientific sphere by the religious extremists for hindering the progress of Muslims. He talks about the plethora of pseudo- scientific literature which boosts about recently discovered scientific facts being already alluded to in the earliest sacred texts of Islam and nonsensical claims of stationary earth, using Genie for energy and more.

According to Dr. Hoodbhoy’s account, Ehteram ul Haq Thanvi, a pakistan religious scholar and son of Ehtisham ul Haq Thanvi said to Dr. Hoodbhoy in a conversation that Muslims are behind in science because they don’t read Quran with understanding and western scientists secretly do so to make advancement in science.

Sir Syed Ahmed from subcontinent come up with an approach to keep science and religion separate and allow each to play its due role in society. He realized that if one believes in science and causality, there is no room for miracles and they have to be explained away as allegorical. Sir Syed was severely criticized for all this.

Ghazali is the prime target of Dr. Hoodbhoy’s criticism as the seminal figure who turned things around for worse at a time when Islamic Civilization was at its peak. His attack on rationality, denial of causality and inclination to mystical explanation of natural phenomenon derailed the course of scientific progress of his civilization or so believes Dr. Hoodbhoy.

Dr. Asad Q. Ahmed

Agreeing with the Hoodbhoy about the present abysmal state of science in Muslims countries, Dr. Asad disagrees with everything else he said.

The pseudo-scientific literature is not unique to Islam, it is a global phenomena.

Ghazali was not against rationality, rather his tahafut points out that those who deduce metaphysical truths from logic are not rational enough. Philosophers disagree among themselves in matters of metaphysics because their proofs are not rigorous, as they are when it concerns facts which are susceptible to demonstration. On the other hand, demonstrable phenomena like solar eclipse falls within the realm of science and it would be unwise for religious scholars to argue with philosophers and scientists on these matters.

It was the work of Muslim astronomers after Ghazali who came up with various models of solar system which directly led to the heleo-centric Copernican system.


What is time? Isaac Newton described it as absolute, but Einstein proved that time is relative, and, shockingly, that time and space are intricately interwoven. Now recent work in string theory and quantum gravity suggests that space and time may not be fundamental. If this is true, what new picture of reality will emerge? These questions and more were explored in the 2015 World Science Festival program “Time Is of the Essence … or Is It?” moderated by author Jim Holt and featuring physicist and philosopher David Z. Albert, theoretical physicist Vijay Balasubramanian, theoretical physicist and cofounder of the loop approach to quantum gravity Carlo Rovelli, and theoretical physicist and founding faculty member at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics Lee Smolin.

New Atheist Critiques of Religion (Discussion on The Partially Examined Life)

Discussing selections from Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel C. Dennett.

Should we be religious, or is religion just a bunch of superstitious nonsense that it’s past time for us to outgrow? Does faith lead to ceding to authority and potential violence? Can a reasonable person be religious? We say lots of rude things about these authors, and at times about their targets in this listener-requested episode featuring Mark, Wes, Seth, and Dylan. Read more about the topic.

Buy/read what we did:
-Ch. 1-2 of Harris’s The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason(2004)
-The last three chapters of Hitchens’s God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything(2007)
-Ch. 4, and some of ch. 2, from Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion(2006)
-Ch. 8 (and skimming 3 and 7 to get context) of Dan Dennett’s Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon(2006)
-Chapter 14 of Anthony Kenny’s 2008 book From Empedocles to Wittgenstein: Historical Essays in Philosophy(which we read as a response to Dawkins).