Choice Superstition by Patrick Gray

Choice Superstition

Patrick Gray on Abortion Rhetoric & Common Sense

The Kentucky farmer and philosopher Wendell Berry called a recent book “An Essay Against Modern Superstition,” and many readers must have asked: If an idea or practice is modern, isn’t it free from superstition? Superstition is something primitive, unscientific, and unmodern. Fear of the “Evil Eye” and belief in palm reading are superstitions. Anyone who thinks that a person meets misfortune as the result of a dirty look or can avoid misfortune by following the advice of a fortune-teller does not know how the real world works.

What is superstition? Philosophers of old, as well as modern philosophers like Bertrand Russell, identified the corruption of the rational faculty by the passions as the hallmark of superstition. I would add that this corruption is marked by a rejection of common sense and ordinary language for wishful thinking and redescription of reality.

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Patrick Gray teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, where he lives with his wife and their two children.

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