Monday, 22 October 2007

Agnostic Huxley

“Tolerably early in life I discovered that one of the unpardonable sins, in the eyes of most people, is for a man to presume to go about unlabelled. The world regards such a person as the police do an unmuzzled dog, not under proper control. I could find no label that would suit me, so, in my desire to range myself and be respectable, I invented one; and, as the chief thing I was sure of was that I did not know a great many things that the -ists and the -ites about me professed to be familiar with, I called myself an Agnostic. Surely no denomination could be more modest or more appropriate; and I cannot imagine why I should be every now and then haled out of my refuge and declared sometimes to be a Materialist, sometimes an Atheist, sometimes a Positivist, and sometimes, alas and alack, a cowardly or reactionary Obscurantist.”
T.H. Huxley, Aphorisms and Reflections From the Works of T. H. Huxley, selected by H.A. Huxley (London: MacMillan & Co, 1907), CCLVI [C. E. ix 134], published online at The Huxley File.


dearieme said...

My wife once went to a conference on an aspect of the Social Sciences. She remarked that everyone had a label but her. I suggested "Post-Humian Scepto-Empiricist". Only on the last day did anyone realise that she was taking a rise out of them.

Pietr said...

Every time I say I don't believe in god, somebody says "So you're a Humanist then?"
WTF is a Humanist anyway?

Deogolwulf said...

Did they see the funny side, Dearieme?

Pietr: "WTF is a Humanist anyway?"

A man who has set himself up as an idol of worship in the image of his betters, but who has retained just enough decency to allow that like-minded members of his own species might wish to do the same.

Too cynical?

Pietr said...

Actually Deog, there is a big section in Wikipedia that represents Humanism as something not really barking at all.
I don't think you are cynical.
I regard the ability to exalt oneself as the highest from of idealism.

Count James d'Estaing said...

Why do you label gthe labelless Huxley, DW?

Deogolwulf said...

"Why do you label gthe labelless Huxley, DW?"

He started it.