Author Archives: Fred Eaker

The Burden of White Christians

“Too often the church has preached blessings to those who are already rich and has delivered woe to those who are poor; too often we have encouraged the well-fed to feast on food that has been stolen from the poor. Too often judgement has been passed on those who are already marginalised and excluded. For some people the gospel really should be about liberation. For those who are imprisoned, the gospel means liberation. For those who are oppressed, the gospel means freedom. But what we need to realise is that some of us aren’t imprisoned. Some of us are exactly the people whose private property prisons exist to protect. We’re the jailers. Some of us aren’t oppressed; we are the ones in whose name other people are oppressed. We’re the oppressors. And for us the words of Jesus which promise us life are also hard words because to get to that life we first have to go through death.” (Marika Rose “The White Christian’s Burden”)

Responding to “Evil”

Because evil exists beyond the limits of reason, what matters for Ricoeur is not that we identify evil, but that we respond to it appropriately. He rightly observes that the tragedy of evil is not the act committed, but the experience of the victim. Separating evil perpetrated from evil suffered shifts the concern from what or who is evil to the best possible action in the face of it, which according to him is “not a solution, but a response.”

In the common conception, solutions to evil require retribution, and the most obvious way to achieve retribution is through violence. Responses, on the other hand, engender what Ricoeur calls “wisdom,” an unwavering commitment to relieve and prevent suffering. Any violence used in a response to evil would, therefore, be focused on the alleviation of suffering rather than the attempt to stamp out evil where we think we see it. (Steven Paulikas “How Should We Respond to ‘Evil’?”)

Neuroscience on Microchips

Microprocessors are among those artificial information processing systems that are both complex and that we understand at all levels, from the overall logical flow, via logical gates, to the dynamics of transistors. Here we take a simulated classical microprocessor as a model organism, and use our ability to perform arbitrary experiments on it to see if popular data analysis methods from neuroscience can elucidate the way it processes information. We show that the approaches reveal interesting structure in the data but do not meaningfully describe the hierarchy of information processing in the processor. This suggests that current approaches in neuroscience may fall short of producing meaningful models of the brain. (Derek Lowe “Understand the Brain? Let’s Try Donkey Kong First.”)