An appendix summarizing both 36 philosophical arguments for the existence of God and refutations performs double duty.
In addition to summarizing a branch of philosophical inquiry, the appendix is also the conclusion of the ictional book, “ The Varieties of Religious Illusion, ” authored by the main character Cass ( Chaim) Seltzer, professor of the sychology of religion.
It posits four choices based on parameters of belief and the fact or fiction of God. Goldstein follows her formulation with a witty commentary on the shortcoming of the question.
( Bertrand Russell, when asked what he would have to say to God, if, despite his reasoned atheism, he were to die and face his Creator, responded, 'Oh Lord, why did you not provide more evidence?'). ” The fictional work is structured into 36 chapters titled as “ Arguments ... ” like the appendix.
Chapter 1, the “ Argument from the Improbable Self, ” introduces the eader to Cass, a phd in the sychology department at Frankfurter University, an institution forced to glean provender in the shade of mighty Harvard.
The reader 's own opinion is soon validated by the snarky appraisal of Cass' sympathetic colleague Mona, after Pascale divorces Cass.Like the dappling effects of sunlight, ironies and shifting perspectives nicitate in this memoir.
When a fellow graduate student, Gideon Raven, mentions the View from Nowhere, Cass mistakes his reference to the nondescript bar and student hangout for a book authored by the philosopher Thomas Nagel.
Jonas Elijah Klapper, Cass' charismatic mentor, is a megalomaniac with a fondness for obscure courses with alliterative titles like “ The Sublime, the Subliminal and the Self "; and “ The Manic, the Mantic and the Mimetic. ” Klapper delivers a prestigious lecture entitled “ The Absurdit of Eternity. ” Unfortunately, the academic host introduces it as “ The Eternity of Irony. ” Cass' horrified reaction contrasts with the reader 's perception that the transposition is insignificant to any grasp of meaning.
She dubbs Klapper “ the Klap ” and his pontifications as “ thunder-Klaps. ” Likewise, Sy Auerbach, Cass' literary agent, seems to have Klapper in mind when he derides expounders of “ obscure references rendered in dead languages falling from their lips like flecks of food off a messy eater. ” Despite Gideon 's warning, Cass is drawn to the brink of the ra ole, and the reader is treated to an ever escalating spoof of academic vanity and delusion which climaxes when Klapper learns that Cass is related to the Rebe of Valdener, the head of a nearby Hassidic community called New Walden.
The trajector of Cass' relationships with Pascale, Roz and Lucinda jostle for space with Klapper 's paradox shift, Hassidic ritual and genealogy, a philosophic debate with a neo-conservative Harvard economist, Euclid 's proof for an infinite number of prime numbers, musings on gematria, the riotous absurdities of academic rivalries, elemental game theory, a riff on the mind of Thomas Nagel, an exploration of moral value, and a brush with the technical meaning of the term “ rigid designator ”.