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Thread: Christopher Hitchens

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    Leading Seaman sailor jack's Avatar
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    Default Christopher Hitchens

    What do you guys think his greatest contribution was to public intellectual discourse?

    Do you think he was rehashing old polemic arguments which resulted in his evergrowing "cult", or was he the fresh-thinking, wise thinker that so many see him as?

    Personally I think his work on religion was a bit ad hominem on occassion, but overall he was one of the best thinkers of our time.
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    His new book Arguably looks relly good, and his essay on the Elgin Marbles was brilliant. If you only know him for his atheism, he was actually a good writer on many other topics.
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    feel like funkin' it up gwahir's Avatar
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    ryan (nine castles) said about him on facebook something like "RIP christopher hitchens, mostly right about atheism, mostly wrong about everything else." i thought it was funny.

    i think an iconoclastic voice is a very important voice in social dialogue, and he brought that to the table in spades. unfortunately (and predictably) it doesn't tend to go down well in a lot of circles, but it must be said that pretty much nobody did it like hitchens. he was clever, insightful and a valuable voice across a lot of discussions, to be sure -- atheism, the war, marxism, activism -- but there are lots of polemicists on those subjects, whereas few have the guts or the skill to tear down mother theresa.

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    also i thought his writing on atheism and god was very useful and important. it does come across too stridently for some people, theists and atheists alike, understandably. and politically it is difficult to persuade someone when you are calling them child molesters and bigots. but that's not what he was trying to do, and i respect that. he was trying to persuade the unpersuaded, the fence-sitters, people who hadn't really thought about it, and so on. and he wanted to give preexisting atheists the guts to come out and say that, not only did they not believe in god, but the idea of god is reprehensible and the god of the bible is an abomination. he was very good at that too.

    i also happen to think that one reason that he was so good at tearing things and people down is that he was not himself tear-down-able. if he had been of unimpeachable character, someone somewhere would have found a way to impeach him. but he was a swearing, boozing, smoking, former-marxist, pro-war loudmouth. there was nothing that could be said about him to shame him; nothing that he didn't already wear on his shirtfront with pride. if you see what i mean. when he ripped into someone, he pretty nearly always won, because the person on the ground can knock down someone's pedestal, but the person on the pedestal can at best defend themselves, but not actually attack back.

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    He was a true wit with that too. When George Galloway called him a "drink-sodden, former trotskyist poppinjay", he only complained that he could actually hold his drink very well.
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    I just heard of him right after his death and watched some video where he tore into religion. Sounds like an intelligent human being, and still hearing about him I'm guessing he was an incredibly admired and equally hated person.
    Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
    Albert Einstein

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    The thing I take away from this is it is important to distinguish anti-religion from atheism.

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