[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Carrol Cox cbcox at ilstu.edu
Mon Nov 3 18:55:41 EST 2014

Atheists, Roman Catholics, & Presbyterians can and often do share the same
politics. On the lbo-talk e-list, one of the subscribers whose politics are
nearly identical with mine is a Roman Catholic while I am an atheist (by
birthright more than merit).  His "philosophical" point of departure is why
is there something rather than nothing. He suggests that 'real' atheism
consists in denying that that is a problem.  And I suppose everyone on this
list has at least heard the phrase, Liberation theology.

Wherever and whenever we find ourselves we are always already enmeshed in an
ensemble of social relations and the kind of thinking that emerges from that
ensemble. Since those relations are extraordinarily complex and messy,
clearly the opinions that emerge are endlessly messy, complicated, often or
usually contradictory. Margaret Thatcher had it exactly wrong: there are no
individuals in her sense but only social relations. And in so far as
something like this is the case, propositions such as "Idea X" leads to
"Idea Y" are too superficial. We need a perspective that will explain the
quite wild combinations of "basic views" in the same persons that we see
in actuality. Roman Catholics span the political perspective from
totalitarian to "Red as a Baboon's Ass." Atheists can be found also
distributed across the spectrum of political and/or social perspectives.
History of Ideas or Rhetorical theory are totally  inadequate to account for
ideology*. (The word "ideology" has an indefinite number of legitimate
senses; I use it as a near synonym for "common sense," for all those
perspectives which most members of a society spontaneously (i.e.,
unconsciously) take for granted.

Rhetoric (argumentation; persuasion; education) characteristically 'works'
only when it appeals to the (pre-existing) ideology of the audience/reader.
We can only persuade those who in some very substantial (though not
necessarily conscious) sense already agree with us. The present thread is,
in fact, a nice illustration of this. The arguments presented by "all sides"
have been well expressed and coherent (logical). No one's opinion has been
substantially changed.


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