[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Edward C Appel edwardcappel at frontier.com
Sat Nov 1 16:32:55 EDT 2014


One: I am not Steven Pinker.  I'm not a cognitive or personality psychologist, a geneticist, an evolutionary developmental biologist, or a statistician.  My post was not centrally about the controversy between the likes of Pinker and, say, Hans J. Eysenck, on the one hand, and Lewontin and, say, Stephen J. Gould,  on the  other.  I have no expertise to justify putting my "oar" into that dialogue, in any way.  My post was meant to make the point that Pinker was making about "ideology," as that term is refined and modified Burke-wise and Lindsay-wise, to wit, "psychotically entelechialized ideology" in general, and its manifestly equally deleterious outcomes, as human history has vouchsafed.  I think that particuular point was well-taken by Pinker.  And it relates to the current discussion: Are there different kinds of "perfected" and exclusionary belief systems a Burkean should look especially askance at, or just one kind, the "religious" variety.

Two: In sum, on the matter of your strongly-worded opinion, or statement of fact, to quote Alec Guinness in "Bridge on the River Quay," "I haven't the foggiest," nor would my view, or Pinker's, whatever it actually is, be relevant to the matter at hand.



On Sat, 11/1/14, Carrol Cox <cbcox at ilstu.edu> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever
 To: kb at kbjournal.org
 Date: Saturday, November 1, 2014, 10:42 AM
 Again, just a footnote. Pinker's
 "Blank Slate" metaphor is more than a distortion of what his
 opponents (e.g., Richard Lewontin) believe; it comes close
 to be a deliberate lie.
 NO "anti-hereditarian" (to use that jargon) believes in a
 blank slate.
 And on race: There is no such thing.  Races do not
 exist! And you cannot measure what doesn't exist.
 -----Original Message-----
 From: kb-bounces at kbjournal.org
 [mailto:kb-bounces at kbjournal.org]
 On Behalf Of Edward C Appel
 Sent: Saturday, November 01, 2014 8:26 AM
 To: LeeCerling; wessr at onid.orst.edu
 Cc: kb at kbjournal.org
 Subject: Re: [KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever
 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
     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
     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,
 On Fri, 10/31/14, wessr at onid.orst.edu
 <wessr at onid.orst.edu>
  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  the  distinction explicitly include
 the Freud essay in PLF and  the  dialectic of
 constitutions in GM. But it is really a motif 
 that  appears frequently in Burke. This distinction is
 operating  every time  Burke speaks of a
 motivational "recipe" or some comparable  metaphor.
  Greg, as I understand him, is interested in finding
 the  motivation of  authoritarianism and locates
 it in the belief that text X is  divinely 
 inspired. This is "essentializing." Whether Greg thinks
 this  belief  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 
 "proportionalizing."  Belief that text X is divinely
 inspired can be a  motivational  "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 
 pursue  the connection that interests him more
 profitably by  reframing it  within a proportional
  PROPORTIONALIZING TODAY: The news out of the Middle 
 East  understandably makes us look for links between
 religion and  violence.  But Burke cautions us to
 look for proportionalizing  complications. An 
 eye-opener for me came a few months ago from Reza Aslan,
 a  religious  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  event  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  declared  itself the new Caliphate,
 so its ambitions appear  boundless.  "Terrorism"
 doesn't begin to cover all that they are  evidently
  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  West.  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  "oranges."  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 
 things  > relevant to Ed and Stan's comments in the
 course of my  answer.
  > 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  or  >
 legitimating role for all kinds of behaviors,
 including  social  > 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  dragon  > 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  residing  > 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 
 Divine  > 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  standpoint  > might look like an
 Authoritarian approach to religion,  that  >
 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
  > 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  with.
  >> 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
  >> 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 
 significant  >> 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
  >> 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
  (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  >>
  >> 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 
 Appel  >>> <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  Union 
 >>> 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  negatively-induced 
 >>> "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 
 still-more-entelechialized  >>>
 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
  >>> Again, peace be with you, however pale
 and  evanescent.
  >>> Ed
  >>> --------------------------------------------
  >>> On Thu, 10/30/14, Cerling, Lee <cerling at marshall.usc.edu>
  >>> Subject: Re: [KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke
 Part  Whatever  >>> 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  friendly  >>>
 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  the  >>>
 extent that some community is self-consciously  shaped
 and  >>> formed by it.  So "inspiration"
 or source  of  >>> inspiration is not the
 key inflection point,  but  >>>
 accreditation by a community.  In this 
 view,  >>> "sacredness" is a matter of degree,
 and a text  is  >>> more or less sacred
 depending on the degree to  which some 
 >>> living community (or communities) are in
 some  definable  >>> sense "constituted"
 by it.  By that  standard, the  >>>
 Bible is an exceptionally sacred text in that 
 innumerable  >>> 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  normative 
 >>> 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  even  >>> strengthened
 over time.
  >>> My point is this:  I do think that
 texts  which  >>> are significantly
 constitutive in nature, texts  to which 
 >>> human beings have committed themselves,
 and  especially those  >>> texts for
 which human beings have voluntarily  undergone 
 >>> 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  devastating  >>> 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  on  >>> "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  Testament, 
 >>> 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  exchange.
  >>> 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 
 Age  >>> philosophy, where at
 “metaphysical  bookstores” you will 
 >>> find all manner of occult and
 parapsychological  writings  >>> (such as
 “Seth Speaks” etc.). As for those  you
 reference  >>> as “untraditional mainline
 Protestants” and  the  >>> potential
 problem of their belief in God, I  don’t see a 
 >>> problem there in placing their approach in
 the  philosophy  >>> 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  should  >>> 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,  etiolated  >>> Christianity of
 the very liberal side of the  Mainline 
 >>> Protestant Church "metaphysical philosophy"?
  >>> Burke calls metaphysical philosophy "coy 
 >>> theology."  Maybe we can find a measure
 of  common  >>> ground with that
 linguistic accommodation.
  >>>>> The only
  >>> problem there is, such untraditional
 Mainline  Protestants  >>> openly profess
 belief in a Power that can  rightfully be 
 >>> called "God."  They're not
 particularly  >>> "coy" about their theistic
  >>>>> 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  personality,  >>>
 I've long since thought that Burke's dramatism, 
 and  >>> what I've observed going on around
 me, had best  be  >>> 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)  can  >>> 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  >>>
  >>>>> Whithout going into detail, how
 long  >>> do you think it will take this
 rapidly  expanding species of  >>> animal
 life to despoil this planet's  ecosystems 
 >>> irreparably, render this "Garden of Eden"
 half  a  >>> wasteland, devoid of so
 very, very much of its  rich  >>>
 biodiversity, and who knows what else?  Humans, in
 their  >>> entelechial quest for more and
 more  "properties,"
  >>> 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  sapiens 
 >>> (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  are  >>> 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  campaign 
 >>> 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  Part  >>> 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
  >>> 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  nature  >>>>> 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 
 being),  >>> 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  constantly 
 >>>>> 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
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