Saturday, February 6, 2010

Faith vs. Science vs. Psychology on Bones 5.14

On the masthead of this blog, you'll find mention of George Santayana's "irrational faith in reason".  Many philosophers - not only Santayana but Bertrand Russell and Karl Popper - have recognized that the roots of reason are not logical, and instead rest in faith that reason and the logical process work.  Because, if one is asked to defend logic and rationality, the response will undoubtedly be an appeal to logic - or using the very process which is in dispute to demonstrate the value of that process.   Philosophers refer to this as tautology or "infinite regress"  (see my Mind at Large: Knowing in the Technological Age for more).

So, now you know (in part) why my blog is titled "Infinite Regress".  But faith in reason is also what Bones says she has, at the end of a fine, intellectually outstanding episode 5.14 of Bones, which features not just faith vs. reason, but hard science vs. psychology.

The specific plot concerns a burnt corpse which looks like the devil.  Turns out the horns were implanted coral (around which bone grew) and the tail was vestigial.   We're then treated to one of the better who-done-its on Bones as Booth, Bones, Sweets, and team suss out the identity of the killer.

But I especially liked the complex schools of thought that each of the three represent, and defend as they investigate the murder.  Booth, as always, will never rule out faith.   Bones deals with evidence and logic.  And Sweets is almost somewhere in between, dealing with suppositions and informed intuitions, which is not faith but not quite hard evidence, either.    Booth admits that the evil in this case will test his faith in a good deity,  Bones admits that her faith in reason is sometimes shaken by inexplicable results.   But they both will recover their faiths, and will remain united as well by their good-natured ridicule of Sweets and his psychology.

Back at the lab, there's also some good exposition about the Islamic conception of angels and demons by Bones' assistant Arastoo.   When he says he sees the devil everyday, Cam thinks he's talking about her and/or the great American Satan, but it was pretty clear to me that he was talking about looking in the mirror, which was in fact the case.   It was a nicely instructive, entertaining little vignette about the emergence of misconceptions in our tense age.

Bones continues to deal with complex, even profound, philosophic and cultural issues, in the form of funny, police-procedural, endearing television.


5-min podcast review of Bones

See also Bones: Hilarity and Crime and Bones is Back For Season 5: What Is Love? and 5.2: Anonymous Donors and Pipes and 5.3: Bones in Amish Country and 5.4: Bones Meets Peyton Place and Desperate Housewives and Ancient Bones 5.5 and Bones 5.6: A Chicken in Every Viewer's Pot and Psychological Bones 5.7 and Bones 5.8: Booth's "Pops" and Bones 5.9 Meets Avatar and Videogamers ... Bad Santa, Heart-Warming Bones 5.10 ... Bones 5.11: Of UFOs, Bloggers, and Triangles ... Bones 5.12: A Famous Skeleton and Angela's Baby ... Love with Teeth on Bones 5.13







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