[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Edward C Appel edwardcappel at frontier.com
Sat Nov 1 09:25:40 EDT 2014

Greg, Lee, Bob, Stan, Carrol---whom have I missed?---All,

	I want to cite another argumentative turnaround analogous to Lee’s.  I think the example will exhibit something of the “proportionality” Bob speaks of.

	Steven Pinker, the Harvard psychologist, is a hereditarian.  He wrote a book called The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (Penguin, 2002/2003).  The case Pinker makes in the book is hereditarian throughout, except for a rhetorically strange Chapter 8, entitled, “The Fear of Inequality.”  In the chapter, Pinker deals with a subject he is not allowed to be hereditarian about, or he would risk the same kind of student protests, picketing, and death threats his predecessor at Harvard, Richard Herrnstein, experienced in the 1970s.  So, in a parenthetical paragraph in the chapter, Pinker claims not to be a hereditarian on this particular topic.  There’s not enough evidence in yet.  Maybe we’ll find out “someday.”  The “someday maybe” theme is repeated so often, it’s hard to count all the variations.

	Still, Pinker argues from beginning to end for the virtue of the hereditarian viewpoint as a MORAL stance, if handled sensitively in light of American egalitarian commitment to the worth and dignity of all, no matter how wrongheaded hereditarians may turn out to be on this specific issue---when sufficient data come in, by and by.

	Most acutely, Pinker is vexed by what Burke would  call the following “equations”: Hereditarianism leads to racism; racism leads to fascist, authoritarian, hyper-exclusionary political and social policies, based on fraudulent beliefs about “superior” and “inferior” races; these fascist, authoritarian, hyper-exclusionary political and social policies lead to genocide.  Proof: In the death camps, Hitler’s racist, fascist, authoritarian Germany killed Jews by the millions.

	Pinker says no, it’s not “hereditarianism” that leads to authoritarian, hyper-exclusionary liquidation of a supposedly inferior “enemy.”  It’s “ideology.”  By way of Stan’s apt locution, we can amend that term to psychotically entelechialized “ideology.”  Case in point: communist “Lysenkoism.”  Lysenko was an idiologized social scientist, so-called.  His notion: Heredity had little to do with traits in offspring.  Life experiences, social and political environment, especially the modifying power of the “workers’ paradise” that is Leninist socialism, can, over the generations, remake man and woman into the collective, cooperative political beings that will transform human life on earth.  The “enemy” of this categorical and immanentized belief system was any person or group that would not “cooperate,” submit supinely and completely to its rigid demands: farmers in Ukraine, military officers suspected of disloyalty,
 even Bukharin, who only wanted workers on the collective farms to retain a small portion of their produce for sale at local markets.  Proof: These ideological heretics were killed by the millions.  Hereditarianism had nothing to do with the slaughter.  Quite the opposite.

	As Burke reminded me in personal correspondence, the “motive of perfection” is used in dramatism “ironically,” as well as “straight.”  One suspects more “ironically” than “straight.”  That motive tempts, cajoles, and pressures us in all sorts of ways.  Be on the lookout for its allure not only in transcendentalized texts, but also in those that dogmatically prescind the Divine from any consideration, as well.

	Richard Dawkins, in The God Delusion, and, I think, Sam Harris , in The End of Faith, try to pin the secular genocides of the 20th century on “religious faith” of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim kind.  It doesn’t work.  To employ Greg’s metaphor, genocidal “ideology” can grow to full, noxious bloom in all kinds of “soils,” including those as far from conventional religion as you can get.

	Thanks for your visit to the parlor, all.


On Fri, 10/31/14, wessr at onid.orst.edu <wessr at onid.orst.edu> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever
 To: "Cerling, Lee" <cerling at marshall.usc.edu>
 Cc: "kb at kbjournal.org" <kb at kbjournal.org>
 Date: Friday, October 31, 2014, 8:29 PM
 Hi all, thanks for an interesting
 series of posts.
 Let me offer a Burke distinction to sort out some of the
 issues, as  
 least as I understand them. The distinction is between 
 "essentializing" and "proportionalizing." Texts discussing
 distinction explicitly include the Freud essay in PLF and
 dialectic of constitutions in GM. But it is really a motif
 appears frequently in Burke. This distinction is operating
 every time  
 Burke speaks of a motivational "recipe" or some comparable
 Greg, as I understand him, is interested in finding the
 motivation of  
 authoritarianism and locates it in the belief that text X is
 inspired. This is "essentializing." Whether Greg thinks this
 and authoritarianism always go hand-in-hand, such that when
 you find  
 one you always find the other, isn't altogether clear.
 Probably not.  
 His essentializing may not be that pure, but the main drift
 of his  
 argument seems to be in this essentializing direction, as
 least as I  
 understand it.
 Burke rejects "essentializing" in the name of
 Belief that text X is divinely inspired can be a
 "ingredient" in different "recipes," some good, some bad.
 Lee's last  
 post gives clear examples of some good ones. There must be
 others; I  
 can't help thinking some people have lived saintly lives
 based on the  
 belief that text X is divinely inspired. Greg may be able to
 the connection that interests him more profitably by
 reframing it  
 within a proportional framework.
 PROPORTIONALIZING TODAY: The news out of the Middle
 understandably makes us look for links between religion and
 But Burke cautions us to look for proportionalizing
 complications. An  
 eye-opener for me came a few months ago from Reza Aslan, a
 studies scholar who happens to be Muslim (he was on Book
 TV's monthly  
 "In Depth" program). He said that while it has been common
 in the West  
 to link the Muslim victory over the USSR in Afghanistan to
 the rise of  
 bin Laden, the West tends not to understand the full
 significance of  
 that victory for many in the Muslim world. What happened
 there is that  
 Muslims from DIFFERENT NATIONS came together to fight an
 enemy, and  
 they WON. They not only won, they beat a SUPERPOWER. That
 revitalized the idea of the Caliphate, that is, one ruler
 over all  
 Muslims in one state, and beyond that, over a world
 consisting only of  
 Muslims--the Caliphate is the solution. ISIS evidently has
 itself the new Caliphate, so its ambitions appear
 "Terrorism" doesn't begin to cover all that they are
 evidently after.
 No doubt in the "recipe" of ISIS's motivation, belief that
 text X is  
 divinely inspired is an "ingredient." But obviously one can
 also see  
 the appeal of overcoming national boundaries draw up by the
 There are a bundle of "ingredients" here that no doubt
 energize one  
 another to produce a terrifying authoritarian "recipe."
 Aslan, by the  
 way, sees no alternative to destroying ISIS. He urges,
 instead, that  
 we learn to distinguish Muslim groups with Caliphate
 ambitions from  
 groups that are factions within nations with an agenda of
 issues local  
 to their nation. These two kinds of groups are "apples" and
 Confusing them just confuses us, so Aslan contends.
 Quoting "Cerling, Lee" <cerling at marshall.usc.edu>:
 > Many thanks, Clarke, for your gracious intervention on
 my behalf!   
 > And thanks to Ed and Stan for their comments as
 well.  I'm going to  
 > focus on Greg's comments below, and hopefully touch on
 > relevant to Ed and Stan's comments in the course of my
 > Greg, your response is quite illuminating as to the nub
 of the  
 > issue, I think.  I had felt that I was missing an
 important central  
 > point of this discussion, and your response is very
 helpful in  
 > putting the argumentative train back on the rails, so
 to speak.
 > Here is what makes me nervous in your comments
 below:  I think the  
 > real dragon you wish to slay is "authoritarianism," and
 you believe  
 > that you have found the path or route to the dragon's
 lair through  
 > this thing called "religion," specifically "religious
 texts whose  
 > adherents claim divine inspiration or authority." 
 Your worry, as I  
 > understand it, is that these texts play an authorizing
 > legitimating role for all kinds of behaviors, including
 > control, that we (i.e., the academic community?) find
 maddening and  
 > intolerable.  You wish (or so it appears to me) to
 criticize, to  
 > de-legitimate, these specific religious texts, as a
 means of  
 > fighting against the dragon "Authoritarianism."
 > My problem with all of this is that I think that the
 > Authoritarianism doesn't live there.  Or to change
 the metaphor, I  
 > think that Authoritarianism can grow up quite naturally
 in many,  
 > many different soils, including, but certainly not
 limited to,  
 > communities of people formed by belief in a divinely
 inspired text.
 > Put baldly, I think that human beings love Power; and
 they love  
 > consolidating their own power, concentrating it, and
 (to use a  
 > biblical phrase) lording it over other people. 
 And I think humans  
 > are ingenious in the ways they go about this; and that
 one of the  
 > ways they do this is through the use of religious
 texts.  No doubt  
 > about it.  And to understand how texts believed to
 be divinely  
 > inspired by their adherents are used to nefarious ends
 is a worthy  
 > and important academic study--your project, I believe.
 > My worry is the way you seem to locate the problem as
 > specifically in purportedly "divinely inspired
 texts."  Because I  
 > want to locate Resistance to Power in those same
 texts.  That is, it  
 > is possible to read the Bible, from the stories of
 Moses, Esther,  
 > Daniel, the prophets, and through to Jesus and the
 apostles, as a  
 > continuing story whereby individuals and groups of
 individuals are  
 > empowered, precisely because of their adherence to
 > Communications, to resist Authoritarianism.  The
 stories of Daniel  
 > and his three friends are archetypal here:  "O
 King, we do not have  
 > to answer you in this matter.  Our God is able to
 deliver us from  
 > the fiery furnace.  But know this:  even if
 he does not deliver us,  
 > we still will not bow down and worship you."
 > It is stories like this, together with what from our
 > might look like an Authoritarian approach to religion,
 > presumably enabled, say, the Maccabees to fiercely
 resist what was  
 > by any measure an overwhelming Authoritarian rule.
 > So I wonder:  in your approach to these religious
 texts that you  
 > believe authorize Authoritarianism, is there room to
 acknowledge the  
 > ways in which they may, in actual historical practice,
 provide the  
 > means to resist and de-legitimize Authoritarianism?
 > Best regards,
 > Lee
 > PS -- One quick note re my interview at Iowa with
 KB:  Clarke can  
 > correct me here, but I believe that in his *Rhetoric of
 > KB argued that Christ the sacrifice was effectively
 "required" by  
 > the rhetorical structure of the OT.  I asked him
 why, then, was  
 > Jesus not more readily accepted by the religious
 leaders of the day,  
 > if they had been as well prepared rhetorically as he
 asserted in   
 > RoR. His response, as I recall, was that he thought
 that a good  
 > question that he would have to think about, and that he
 would need  
 > to revise his argument to accommodate that fact. 
 I don't remember,  
 > though, what kind of revision he actually made, or
 where he made it,  
 > though I have a very vague notion that he did address
 it again more  
 > fully somewhere in those interviews that we conducted
 at Iowa.  But  
 > Clarke would know the details far better than I have
 recounted here;  
 > and what I have recounted is clouded by nearly 30 years
 of not  
 > having thought much about it!
 > Sent from my iPad
 >> On Oct 31, 2014, at 10:16 AM, Gregory Desilet 
 >> <info at gregorydesilet.com>
 >> Thanks to Lee for your comments. I agree with
 everything you say  
 >> about the sacred and sacredness. But then I step
 back and place it  
 >> in the context of lines of thought about religion
 that I’ve been  
 >> pursuing and something does not feel right. So
 I’ve been thinking  
 >> about that and trying to get a fix on this vague
 feeling and what  
 >> it is about. Here’s what I’ve been coming up
 >> While like many, I’ve had general training in the
 field of  
 >> communication, my more precise focus of interest
 has always been  
 >> argumentation. Frankly, I love to argue. And by
 that I don’t mean I  
 >> love to disagree for the sake of disagreeing. I
 mean argumentation  
 >> as the term is used in this field. I love to
 attempt making a case  
 >> for a particular view. And that also means
 providing a reason or  
 >> reasons why that point of view might be more useful
 or appropriate,  
 >> or in some cases more “accurate," than competing
 points of view.
 >> So in this instance I’m making a case for the
 >> That it is worthwhile to consider narrowing the
 term “religion” to  
 >> include only those beliefs and practices centered
 around texts  
 >> considered to be inspired or revealed through a
 divine source.
 >> On quick glance this may seem like a very
 small-minded thing to  
 >> want to make a case for. Obviously, the term
 “religion” is commonly  
 >> used in a much broader sense. As several have
 pointed out, many  
 >> faiths of the past century have adopted approaches
 to their central  
 >> texts as texts that are understood to be
 “sacred” in the sense Lee  
 >> has indicated. That view of “sacred” is
 certainly defensible.
 >> For purposes of my argument, however, it was
 necessary to find a  
 >> term to refer to a particular attitude toward
 texts—the attitude  
 >> that a text is inspired or revealed through a
 divine source. In  
 >> other words, the text is not really of human
 origin. And I think  
 >> that it is possible for all of us to agree that a
 >> difference exists between a text considered to be
 the word of a god  
 >> and a text considered to be of strictly human
 origin. So I needed a  
 >> word to refer to this difference and chose the word
 “sacred.” And  
 >> there is some etymological support for that choice,
 although there  
 >> may be a better choice out there of which I’m not
 aware (I  
 >> acknowledge not always being very good at making
 the best choice  
 >> when so much hinges on a particular word choice).
 >> So when Lee makes the point that there may be
 another sense of the  
 >> sacred more in touch with how texts are actually
 approached in many  
 >> religious communities, this is not really speaking
 to the line of  
 >> argument. I wasn’t originally trying to make a
 case for narrowing  
 >> the use of the word “sacred.” I was only
 attempting, for the  
 >> purposes of communicating an argument, to find a
 word to refer to a  
 >> particular attitude towards texts—texts
 considered to be of divine  
 >> origin by those who use them. For that purpose, I
 chose the term  
 >> “sacred” and defined how I was using it in this
 line of argument.
 >> Having said that, I am, however, trying to make a
 case for  
 >> narrowing the term “religion” and now I see
 that the same case can  
 >> be made for narrowing the term “sacred.”
 (I’ll summarize again  
 >> below my reason for wanting to narrow the use of
 these terms).
 >> But knowing what we know in the field of
 communication and Burke  
 >> studies about the nature of language argues
 powerfully for the  
 >> notion that the use of these terms cannot be
 artificially narrowed  
 >> in the sense I am suggesting. For example, people
 are not going to  
 >> stop saying things like: “You make a religion of
 your workout  
 >> routine” and “Any baseball signed by Mickey
 Mantle is sacred”—and  
 >> many other uses all over the map, including those
 related to faith  
 >> practices.
 >> Nevertheless, I still argue for the use of the
 terms “religion” and  
 >> “sacred” in a more technical sense by those who
 are writing and  
 >> discoursing on themes relevant to these terms in
 academic and  
 >> journalistic contexts.
 >> As already stated, my reason for wanting to narrow
 the term  
 >> religion in these situations relates to the notion
 that the term  
 >> “religion” carries a lot of baggage with it of
 the sort related to  
 >> authoritarian practices and attitudes toward texts
 which regard  
 >> them as either self-evident and dictatorial or
 dictatorial and in  
 >> need of “correct” interpretation by inspired
 readers who come from  
 >> a small circle of elect and highly gifted persons
 closely connected  
 >> to God.
 >> Needless to say, these authoritarian practices and
 attitudes have  
 >> proven to be very dangerous in human history and
 anything we can do  
 >> to undermine and separate human communities from
 this “baggage” is,  
 >> I argue, beneficial. Using the term
 “philosophy” rather than  
 >> “religion” to refer to the beliefs and
 practices of certain  
 >> community groups to distinguish them from more
 authoritarian groups  
 >> will, therefore, potentially carry a beneficial
 message into the  
 >> general public. For example, people may ask, “Why
 did that  
 >> journalist just describe those Unitarians as
 practicing a  
 >> philosophy instead of a religion?” Encouraging
 the use of the term  
 >> “philosophy” in these contexts could gain
 useful traction and  
 >> facilitate distinguishing between authoritarian
 (and quasi-fascist)  
 >> groups from other community groups.
 >> Having said all this, one may still take issue
 directly with my  
 >> argument—perhaps by claiming that the term
 “religion” does not  
 >> carry the baggage I assume it does and that I am
 being very  
 >> narrow-minded and perhaps bigoted to suppose it
 does. But the mere  
 >> fact that this issue is debatable (and I think I
 could make a good  
 >> debate of it) argues for the substitution of the
 term “philosophy”  
 >> as I have argued. It is safer to say the term
 “philosophy” does not  
 >> carry the potential for a misleading authoritarian
 message that the  
 >> term “religion” does. It’s just a better word
 choice all around for  
 >> those faith practices that regard their texts as
 clearly NOT  
 >> divinely derived.
 >> Greg
 >>> On Oct 31, 2014, at 9:22 AM, Edward C
 >>> <edwardcappel at frontier.com>
 >>> Lee, Stan, Greg, and Carrol,
 >>> Great contributions all around.  I take to
 heart Lee's point that  
 >>> we create the "sacredness" of texts to various
 degrees.  Most of  
 >>> us are not yet ready to "die" for Burke's
 treasure trove of  
 >>> pronouncements, but we will, triennially,
 travel a thousand miles  
 >>> in votive service to its enduring worth.
 >>> I also like Stan's point about how the assumed
 "limitless" gets  
 >>> embodied in the necessarily "limitedness" that
 characterizes any  
 >>> particular language, of necessity in need of
 the "discount."
 >>> Greg's point about "philosophy" reminds me of
 the identifying  
 >>> properties of Paul Tillich, when he taught at
 >>> Seminary in New York (or was it when he was at
 >>> Professor of Philosophical Theology.
 >>> On "psychotic entelechy" transcendentalized:
 Thirty-five years  
 >>> ago, Jim Chesebro spoke of the church's
 "profound use of the  
 >>> negative."  I mention several of those
 >>> "perfections" in Evangelical Protestantism in
 the Primer (on  
 >>> Falwell in Chapter 10)  Let me here cite
 an additional  
 >>> "perfection" extant today even in relatively
 "comedic" Mainline  
 >>> Protestantism, as well as in
 >>> Catholicism.  I speak of the "til death do
 us part" proviso in the  
 >>> marriage vow.  (When I broached this issue
 with Daughter Beth, a  
 >>> Presbyterian preacher who has performed many
 marriages in her  
 >>> ministry, she corrected me with, "as long as
 you both shall live."  
 >>>  There's no difference, I
 admonished.)  The church requires this  
 >>> categorical promise before the altar of God
 from even teenagers  
 >>> and early-20-somethings.  For cryin' out
 loud, the human brain  
 >>> isn't even fully developed until age 25, and
 then it takes a  
 >>> couple of years more until somebody
 >>> begins to get a good handle on who he or she
 actually is.  Just  
 >>> think through the implications of "as long as
 you both shall  
 >>> live."  What is the church saying, other
 than it's more righteous  
 >>> to blow your brains out than divorce the person
 you married at a   
 >>> tender age?
 >>> I could go on in respect to this profound
 proscription, but I  
 >>> sense I may have already offended some
 subscribers to this list.
 >>> Again, peace be with you, however pale and
 >>> Ed
 >>> --------------------------------------------
 >>> On Thu, 10/30/14, Cerling, Lee <cerling at marshall.usc.edu>
 >>> Subject: Re: [KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part
 >>> To: "Gregory Desilet" <info at gregorydesilet.com>
 >>> Cc: "Ed Appel" <edwardcappel at frontier.com>,
 "kb at kbjournal.org" 
 >>> <kb at kbjournal.org>
 >>> Date: Thursday, October 30, 2014, 11:55 PM
 >>> Hi, all--
 >>> I have lurked on this list for
 >>> a long time without contributing, and I think
 maybe none of
 >>> you know me except Clarke Rountree, who was my
 colleague at
 >>> Iowa back in the day.  But this has been
 an intriguing
 >>> discussion, and I would like to offer some
 >>> resistance to the flow of argument, to see how
 the argument
 >>> plays out.  Whether it is a Burkean
 resistance or not, I
 >>> don't know; you all know Burke much better than
 me, and
 >>> you can judge.
 >>> That said, I
 >>> want to gently probe the concept of "sacred"
 >>> as it has developed in this thread. It seems to
 me that a
 >>> "sacred" text is a text that has won or earned
 >>> "sacredness" by virtue of its constitutive
 >>> power--that is, it functions as "sacred" to
 >>> extent that some community is self-consciously
 shaped and
 >>> formed by it.  So "inspiration" or source
 >>> inspiration is not the key inflection point,
 >>> accreditation by a community.  In this
 >>> "sacredness" is a matter of degree, and a text
 >>> more or less sacred depending on the degree to
 which some
 >>> living community (or communities) are in some
 >>> sense "constituted" by it.  By that
 standard, the
 >>> Bible is an exceptionally sacred text in that
 >>> communities past and present have been
 constituted by it;
 >>> the Declaration of Independence is also sacred,
 but less
 >>> so.  And the writings of Kenneth Burke are
 only very weakly
 >>> sacred, in that this small community is very
 loosely formed
 >>> by it; but not in the sense of its members
 being willing
 >>> (for example) to suffer death for it, as is the
 case with
 >>> more strongly sacred texts, such as the
 Declaration of
 >>> Independence or the Bible or the Koran.
 >>> And in this way of thinking,
 >>> texts can lose their sacredness:  this has
 certainly been
 >>> the pattern in Christianity, where the Bible
 may become less
 >>> and less normative to successive generations,
 until it is
 >>> effectively "desacralized"--no longer
 >>> for a given community; no longer constitutive
 of that
 >>> community.  (I am thinking of the movement
 from Puritanism
 >>> to Unitarianism).  So for that community,
 it is no longer
 >>> sacred; whereas for another Christian community
 (say, the
 >>> Amish) its sacredness may be re-affirmed and
 >>> strengthened over time.
 >>> My point is this:  I do think that texts
 >>> are significantly constitutive in nature, texts
 to which
 >>> human beings have committed themselves, and
 especially those
 >>> texts for which human beings have voluntarily
 >>> torture and death, are entitled to a special
 kind of respect
 >>> and reverence in the academy and elsewhere.
 >>> That said, I agree with what I
 >>> take Greg to be saying below, that no text,
 regardless of
 >>> its sacred status, is thereby exempt from
 criticism.  And
 >>> in fact, precisely because of the extraordinary
 power that
 >>> these sacred texts exercise over human beings,
 it may well
 >>> behoove us to give them much more than an
 ordinary amount of
 >>> critical attention.  (That is certainly
 what Augustine does
 >>> in the first half of City of God--lavish
 >>> critical attention on the primary pagan sacred
 texts of his
 >>> day.)
 >>> And one last
 >>> caveat:  I do think that criticism of a
 (sacred) text
 >>> should focus less on "what it contains" than
 >>> "how it has been read."  So that I am not
 >>> persuaded (at least, not yet) that the New
 Testament is
 >>> anti-semitic; I am persuaded, however, that a
 strong and
 >>> long and honored tradition of reading the New
 >>> from Chrysostom to Luther (and beyond, in both
 >>> was deeply and repugnantly anti-semitic. 
 And in my view,
 >>> at least, it is not the New Testament texts
 themselves that
 >>> are to be censured, but that tradition of
 reading the
 >>> text.
 >>> All for now.  My
 >>> apologies if this line of thought is too much
 at odds with
 >>> the tenor of what has been a most interesting
 >>> Best regards,
 >>> Lee Cerling
 >>> Sent from my
 >>> iPad
 >>>> On Oct 30, 2014, at
 >>> 2:44 PM, Gregory Desilet <info at gregorydesilet.com>
 >>> wrote:
 >>>> Yes, Ed,
 >>> “metaphysical philosophy” isn’t a bad
 option, though
 >>> it might be confused with “spiritual
 >>> metaphysics”—which has been co-opted by New
 >>> philosophy, where at “metaphysical
 bookstores” you will
 >>> find all manner of occult and parapsychological
 >>> (such as “Seth Speaks” etc.). As for those
 you reference
 >>> as “untraditional mainline Protestants” and
 >>> potential problem of their belief in God, I
 don’t see a
 >>> problem there in placing their approach in the
 >>> category, since many philosophers also express
 a belief in
 >>> God—sans any kind of sacred text. Though
 perhaps those in
 >>> this group could be in a sub-category called
 >>> “philosophical theism.”
 >>>> At any rate, the important thing from my
 >>> point of view is advocating the notion that
 “all texts are
 >>> created equal” just as all persons are
 created equal. And,
 >>> just as this does not entail that all persons
 are of equal
 >>> influence, it does not entail that all texts
 are of equal
 >>> influence. The primary thing is that no text be
 seen as
 >>> inherently superior and unquestionable by
 virtue of a divine
 >>> birthright or source. The merit of every text
 ought to be
 >>> weighed by what it contains rather than by who
 wrote or
 >>> inspired it. Currently across the world there
 are far too
 >>> many people who believe in the inherent
 superiority of
 >>> certain texts, regardless of what they actually
 say, and in
 >>> many cases not even reading or fully
 understanding what is
 >>> said in them. This is a state of affairs every
 >>> communication, language, and rhetorical scholar
 >>> bemoan.
 >>>> Greg
 >>>>> On Oct 30, 2014,
 >>> at 9:55 AM, Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com>
 >>> wrote:
 >>> OK, Greg, howabout if we call the blanched,
 >>> Christianity of the very liberal side of the
 >>> Protestant Church "metaphysical philosophy"?
 >>> Burke calls metaphysical philosophy "coy
 >>> theology."  Maybe we can find a measure of
 >>> ground with that linguistic accommodation.
 >>>>> The only
 >>> problem there is, such untraditional Mainline
 >>> openly profess belief in a Power that can
 rightfully be
 >>> called "God."  They're not particularly
 >>> "coy" about their theistic bent.
 >>>>> I'll
 >>> mull over your demurrers some more and maybe
 get back.
 >>>>> '
 >>>>> What I
 >>> want mainly to do here is address Stan's term
 >>> "psychotic entelechy."  I like it. 
 Maybe owing
 >>> more to my dour, "morbid" Scaninavian
 >>> I've long since thought that Burke's dramatism,
 >>> what I've observed going on around me, had best
 >>> described as half insane.  I.e., the
 "glory" and
 >>> the "sickness" of the "symbol-using
 >>> animal" (Burke), the "symbolizing animal"
 >>> (Condit), or the "symbolic species" (Deacon)
 >>> legitimately be described as half amazingly
 wonderful and
 >>> half bonkers.  I'm talking about the
 >>> human race.  People give evidence of being
 nuts whether
 >>> that "entelechy" is being immanentized or
 >>> transcendentalized.
 >>>>> Whithout going into detail, how long
 >>> do you think it will take this rapidly
 expanding species of
 >>> animal life to despoil this planet's
 >>> irreparably, render this "Garden of Eden" half
 >>> wasteland, devoid of so very, very much of its
 >>> biodiversity, and who knows what else? 
 Humans, in their
 >>> entelechial quest for more and more
 >>> both tangible and symbolic, evince, in the
 large, no thought
 >>> of the vast expanses of geologic time and their
 import.  In
 >>> a mere ten thousand years since  the end
 of the last ice
 >>> age and beginnings of urban living, homo
 >>> (there's a joke for you) has already altered
 that brief
 >>> Holocene Epoch into what earth scientists are
 now saying
 >>> should be labeled the "Anthropocene," things
 >>> already getting that bad.  What are the
 chances of a
 >>> turn-around?  What are things likely to
 look like in
 >>> another mere one million eight-hundred-thousand
 years, the
 >>> brief span so far of this, the eleventh period
 of the
 >>>>> Phanerozoic Eon, the Quaternary?
 >>>>> '
 >>>>> Listen
 >>> to Fox News, read the Wall Street Journal,
 watch China built
 >>> another goal-driven power plant each week, read
 letters to
 >>> your local newspaper or posts by the vox populi
 on the
 >>> internet, pay even cursory attention to the
 >>> rhetoric now reaching a crescendo, and
 weep.  I see next to
 >>> no chance, until things get so bad we're
 suffocating in
 >>> our own effluvia.
 >>>>> On the transcendental craziness, more
 >>> later, if I can screw up the courage to risk
 offending some
 >>> subcribers to  this list.  You know,
 the "free
 >>> speech"/don't-"hurt"-the-feelings-of-others
 >>> quandary.
 >>> "Psychotic entelechy"?  Well, I guess.
 >>>>> Ed
 >>>>> Ed
 >>>>> -----
 >>> ---------------------------------------
 >>>>> On Thu, 10/30/14, Gregory Desilet
 >>> <info at gregorydesilet.com>
 >>> wrote:
 >>> Subject: Re: [KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke
 >>> Whatever
 >>>>> To: "Ed Appel"
 >>> <edwardcappel at frontier.com>
 >>>>> Cc: "Stan Lindsay" <slindsa at yahoo.com>,
 >>> "kb at kbjournal.org"
 >>> <kb at kbjournal.org>
 >>>>> Date: Thursday, October 30, 2014, 3:40
 >>> AM
 >>>>> Many good points have been made by
 >>>>> several
 >>> persons, so there is much to respond to and if
 I do not
 >>>>> touch on someone’s
 >>>>> point here that will be because of my
 >>> limits as a mere human
 >>>>> and not
 >>> because I
 >>>>> view a particular point
 >>> as not meriting a response. Turning
 >>> to Ed’s comments
 >>>>> first, he points
 >>> out that his definition of “religion”
 >>>>> is different from mine.
 >>>>> But I think this kind of response gets
 >>> off on the wrong foot
 >>>>> with regard
 >>> to the
 >>>>> thrust of what I’m
 >>> attempting to say. Granted, it is
 >>> perfectly sensible and
 >>>>> legitimate
 >>> in a discussion of religion to say, “this is
 >>>>> what I mean by
 >>>>> religion.” But when Ed says “Greg
 >>> means something
 >>>>> different,” I
 >>> believe more
 >>>>> than that is going on.
 >>> True, we can each have our different
 >>>>> definitions of
 >>>>> religion and go our separate ways, but
 >>> what I’m attempting
 >>>>> to do is
 >>> argue
 >>>>> (persuade) others that the
 >>> term “religion” ought not to
 >>>>> be
 >>> applied in certain
 >>>>> ways due to the
 >>> circumstance that it thereby loses much of
 >>>>> its usefulness as a
 >>>>> term. For example, if we call every
 >>> bright light in the sky
 >>>>> a
 >>> “star,” that’s
 >>>>> okay but there
 >>> is benefit to be gained by refining our
 >>>>> distinctions to separate
 >>>>> out stars, planets, comets, galaxies,
 >>> etc.Ed has seemingly accepted my
 >>> challenge to distinguish
 >>>>> religions
 >>> that abandon the sacred text notion from
 >>>>> philosophical study and
 >>>>> inquiry by offering the following:I
 >>> regard its [religion’s] primary
 >>> reference as
 >>>>> characteristic of one
 >>> who believes in an Originary Power we
 >>>>> can rightfully call
 >>>>> "God."  For me, as a
 >>> Burkean, I would reductively
 >>>>> define
 >>> that
 >>>>> Power as the "Great
 >>> Potential."In other words, divinity or God
 >>>>> becomes the
 >>> “Great Potential.” All such reasoning is
 well and
 >>> good,
 >>>>> but what becomes of the
 >>>>> status of what have been called
 >>> religious texts by way of
 >>>>> such a
 >>> view of
 >>>>> religion? Are these texts
 >>> in some way the “voice” of the
 >>> “Great Potential”? Or
 >>>>> as Stan
 >>> says, are they wholly inspired, substantially
 >>>>> inspired, or only
 >>>>> partially inspired by the Great
 >>> Potential? And what makes
 >>>>> these
 >>> religious texts
 >>>>> substantially
 >>> different from other texts such as those
 >>>>> written by Plato, Aristotle,
 >>>>> Descartes, Spinoza, etc? Are not these
 >>> latter texts also
 >>>>> inspired by the
 >>> “Great
 >>>>> Potential”? In fact, is
 >>> not EVERYTHING inspired by the
 >>> “Great Potential”?When we humans sever,
 cloud, or
 >>>>> muddy the link
 >>>>> between a text and a divine source of
 >>> that text, we in
 >>>>> effect place that
 >>> text
 >>>>> alongside all other texts
 >>> composed by human hands. Who is to
 >>> say, for example,
 >>>>> that Oscar
 >>> Wilde’s “De Profundis” is not as much or
 >>>>> more divinely inspired than
 >>>>> any text of the Bible—if the
 >>> divinity is regarded as the
 >>> “Great Potential”? The
 >>>>> problem
 >>> is that deciding if texts are religious in
 >>>>> and in inspiration
 >>>>> becomes a very arbitrary issue. From
 >>> within this view, we
 >>>>> may as well
 >>> call every such text “religious” or
 >>>>> every such text “secular” because
 >>> there is no longer a
 >>>>> distinction
 >>> between the two
 >>>>> that can be
 >>> convincingly defended. At least I am not
 >>>>> convinced and I hope I
 >>>>> have convinced others not to be
 >>> convinced.As soon as we no longer have a very
 >>>>> direct and
 >>> clear link to a divine source (a higher
 >>> manifested
 >>>>> decisively in some
 >>>>> texts and not in others, we have a
 >>> situation where every
 >>>>> text
 >>> discussing the
 >>>>> nature of “life”
 >>> effectively reduces to the category of
 >>>>> philosophy. Some of
 >>>>> these texts may be valued more than
 >>> others by particular
 >>>>> individuals
 >>> but none
 >>>>> of these texts any longer
 >>> have a source or origin
 >>> unquestionably superior to
 >>>>> any
 >>> other. The benefits of each text must be
 >>>>> ARGUED and not assumed.
 >>>>> This attitude toward texts makes a big
 >>> difference in how
 >>>>> texts are
 >>> approached
 >>>>> and in how they are
 >>> valued. I believe the use of the term
 >>>>> “philosophy” to
 >>>>> describe such texts and associated
 >>> practices is better than
 >>> “religious” because
 >>>>> it reduces
 >>> the chances for conveying an authoritarian
 >>>>> quality in the text—the
 >>>>> quality traditionally associated with
 >>> so-called religious
 >>>>> texts.
 >>>>> Greg
 >>>> KB mailing list
 >>>> KB at kbjournal.org
 >>>> http://kbjournal.org/mailman/listinfo/kb_kbjournal.org
 > _______________________________________________
 > KB mailing list
 > KB at kbjournal.org
 > http://kbjournal.org/mailman/listinfo/kb_kbjournal.org
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