Squelching Pinker some more

I don’t often read Guardian profiles unless I have written them. I sometimes worry that this attitude will spread. But Bernard Williams looked like fun; it was. Very nicely written, and it had two quotes which made him appear entirely sympathetic:

Jeffires had talked to his first wife, Shirley Williams, and got a wonderful quote out of her:

“To be completely honest … I’m fairly unjudgmental and I found Bernard’s capacity for pretty sharp putting-down of people he thought were stupid unacceptable … He can be very painful sometimes. He can eviscerate somebody. Those who are left behind are, as it were, dead personalities. Judge not that ye be not judged. I was influenced by Christian thinking, and he would say ‘That’s frightfully pompous and it’s not really the point’. …
Williams concedes: “Sometimes I can be extremely tough. I like to think that this is usually when I’m confronted with self- satisfaction. In philosophy the thing that irritates me is smugness, particularly scientistic smugness. What makes me really angry these days are certain kinds of reductive scientism that knock all the philosophical difficulties out.” He then proceeds to say some very disparaging things about the evolutionary biologist Steven Pinker. “I heard him talk recently. He’s a very smooth performer, very clever, but utterly glib. He just rides roughshod over the real philosophical problems.”
This entry was posted in Literature. Bookmark the permalink.