The philosopher AC Grayling is up to his usual polemical tricks in a Comment is Free article published today. It must be months since I last cited that august forum, and today it’s only happening as Norman Geras has taken objection to Grayling’s mode of argument.
In his article, which is ostensibly about “faith schools”, Grayling has a go at religious believers in general. Nothing new there, you may be thinking. But what is original is the author’s use of the neologism “anousics” to denote individuals who believe in ghosts, alien visitations, the dead coming to life, magic, rituals, incantations, strange psychological observances and sexual perversions, weird ancient myths, personified forms of evil and malevolence, and more.
Norm is right to question Grayling’s style and syntax, and his demonisation of all religious believers through an implied association with the stuff and nonsense listed above.
So is this just knockabout stuff, as Norm asks? Actually, it’s Comment is Free, and Grayling is merely adhering to a set of unwritten editorial guidelines understood by all those who write for the Guardian website. Grayling now has this nailed, and I kind of admire him for it.
If he were able to program a computer, Grayling could I’m sure generate code that spews this stuff out to order. And it might then be worth the paltry £75 a pop the Guardian pays those it pays at all (contrary to its freelance agreement with the National Union of Journalists).
Norm refers to honour, truth and logic. But he knows full well that there is little or no honour in Comment is Free, let alone truth. As for its internal logic, this is, shall we say, very special.