[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever
slindsa at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 9 01:43:16 EST 2014
I guess Burke is correct that "a way of seeing is a way of not seeing." I feel, Greg, that you are determined to miss my point (not see) while you are in the process of arguing against some "straw man" that you have created. Assuming that this is unintentional on your part, I will try yet another way of saying it. You state:
"The difference between the two faiths of science and religion, for example, is the difference between faiths in contrasting modes of evidence—the evidence of an experience that can be repeated (the scientific test) and the evidence of tradition, sacred texts, and transcendent personal experience (sometimes called direct divine communication or DDC). Both forms of evidence require faith in a process and it becomes a question of which process one finds more persuasive as a mode of evidence."
Having already argued against the validity of the "transcendent personal experience (sometimes called direct divine communication or DDC)" approach to interpreting texts, I am not sure what more I can say about that subject to make my position clearer. That approach opens the door to psychotic entelechy. This is a bad thing. Yet, you seem to want to continue fighting against this straw man that you have created. That horse is dead. Why beat it further?
Burke's entire methodology of bringing enlightenment to texts would be trashed, if you have your way. There is no way that ANY text (whether considered sacred or secular) could be tested in a purely scientific (repeating, using experimentation) sense. Yet, cluster-agon analysis, symbol-system analysis (using "objective citation"), entelechial analysis, pentadic analysis, etc. are what Burke would bring to a text. Burke asks that we "use all that is there to use." If Burke's approach to studying a text is not a valid approach to producing a more enlightened understanding of a text, then why are we discussing this matter on a Burke listserve? What makes your pronouncement of what Aristotle means by "faith" so authoritarian? Who died and made you the arbiter of what faith is? When I use the term "faith" to identify the objective of rhetoric, I mean "pistis" as Aristotle uses the term, not as you use it. Burke calls his method of criticizing texts "a
statistical method." It is strikingly in agreement with many of the ways of criticizing biblical texts long employed (for over 100 years) by members of the Society of Biblical Literature, a premier scholastic society comprised, as I have mentioned repeatedly, of atheists, theists, and agnostics of innumerable stripes. You seem to dismiss that most venerable society, in your "straw man" argument, as a group of theologians who are bent on authoritarian rulings. Where do you even get that? Do you even know anything about the SBL? If you did, you would understand what I meant, early-on, about your tendency to paint with too broad a brush. Even in this discussion, you have encountered Ed, Lee, Clarke, Bob, Carrol, and myself discussing texts from "different" perspectives. Each of us have substantial nuanced differences from each other. None of us would necessarily be out of place in a session at the Society of Biblical Literature (although I am not
suggesting that all or any would even care to be at such a session). Even Burke, himself, was a contributor to the companion scholarly society of SBL, the American Academy of Religion. So, why would you lump all students of biblical texts in a single category, such as those who determine meaning based on "the evidence of tradition, sacred texts, and transcendent personal experience (sometimes called direct divine communication or DDC)."
Sorry to be so blunt, but I think it is necessary to move past this straw man, if any progress is to be made. As Carrol suggests, I doubt that any of us will ever persuade others of our positions. We dogs are too old to learn new tricks. The progress I hope for is not persuasion, but perhaps greater understanding of other perspectives.
Dr. Stan A. Lindsay, Ph.D.
College of Applied Studies
Florida State University
slindsay at pc.fsu.edu
From: Gregory Desilet <info at gregorydesilet.com>
To: "Cerling, Lee" <cerling at marshall.usc.edu>
Cc: "kb at kbjournal.org" <kb at kbjournal.org>
Sent: Friday, November 7, 2014 3:30 PM
Subject: Re: [KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever
to Lee and Stan for additional comments. Both make interesting and challenging
points. But I think the response to both is implicit in what they say about the
phenomenon of interpretation that in fact takes place in religious circles and
theological discussions. To quote Lee, “. . . the history of the
Catholic Church is a history of argument about what the Word of God, and other
things such as Tradition, actually say.” Here the revealing words are “actually
say.” The assumption is that divinely inspired texts have an “actual” or
univocal meaning, that God does not speak ambiguously.
Rhetorical scholars have seen the persuasive
reasoning for seeing the nature of texts as such that they can and should be read
in multiple ways. And here Stan is correct to say this need not imply one
interpretation is as good as another. But it should be understood to mean there
are two or more interpretations capable of being well supported (though not
necessarily equal in everyone’s eyes). Theologians argue about the meaning of a
divinely inspired text because they assume it has “a” proper, authoritative
meaning to the exclusion of other meanings. On the other hand, secular literary
critics may point to a text, a short poem for example, disclose how it may well
have multiple meanings (some perhaps even contradictory), and then be content
to leave it at that. Theologians, in my experience, are rarely if ever content
to leave a religious text undecidable. They seek and argue for an authoritative
interpretation and in doing so prop up the authoritarian ethos of religion.
Examples to the contrary do not so much defeat my argument as expose the
ongoing process of the secularization of religion—a process so slow yet
penetrating that congregations of the future will likely wake up one day and
find their sacred texts have been moved from the “religion” to the “philosophy”
shelf in bookstores and libraries (should these latter institutions survive
long enough for this future).
Regarding Stan’s reference to my use of the
phrase “what we know about”—this is a good point. And I agree that “faith” is a key term to examine here. Even Sam Harris—he of the book titled “The End of Faith”—must have “faith”
in the power of reason and the methodology of science. The difference between
the two faiths of science and religion, for example, is the difference between
faiths in contrasting modes of evidence—the evidence of an experience that can
be repeated (the scientific test) and the evidence of tradition, sacred texts,
and transcendent personal experience (sometimes called direct divine
communication or DDC). Both forms of evidence require faith in a process and it
becomes a question of which process one finds more persuasive as a mode of
These lines of analysis lead to further layers
of distinctions—which take us down many related byways. What Lee proposes—an
NCA panel for 2015—is an interesting suggestion. For me, though, it would be difficult
to do because I have so many competing projects and a very limited travel
budget. Nevertheless, Lee, if you want to draft a question or questions or an
outline of the substantive issue of such a panel, we could all take a look and
discuss it further.
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KB at kbjournal.org
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