Bernard Williams has been a distinctive presence on the intellectual scene for more than three decades. . . . His writings do not offer the dubious exhilaration of grand philosophical theory, in which messy reality is tamed and caged, but the thrill of seeing pretension punctured by a kind of high-voltage common sense (backed up by impressive erudition). . . . There is no one in philosophy quite like him.
It is an odd fact of evolution that we are the only species on Earth capable of creating science and philosophy. There easily could have been another species with some scientific talent, say that of the average human ten-year-old, but not as much as adult humans have; or one that is better than us at physics but worse at biology; or one that is better than us at everything. If there were such creatures all around us, I think we would be more willing to concede that human scientific intelligence might be limited in certain respects.
Our general repression of matters disgusting prevents us facing up to a serious health problem. If we are the 'god that shits,' then we are in full flight from ourselves. I even wonder whether religion itself and the whole idea of a god is produced by our self-disgust.
Tolerating somebody else's beliefs is not failing to criticize them. It's not persecuting them for having those beliefs. That is absolutely important. You should not persecute people for their beliefs. It doesn't mean you can't criticize their beliefs.
Once you were just insentient cells, no more aware of anything than your liver is now. Today you are brimming with consciousness. How did you make the grade? What catapulted you into consciousness? There must be some kind of natural process behind this astonishing leap, but this process is obscure.