[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Edward C Appel edwardcappel at frontier.com
Tue Nov 11 14:38:54 EST 2014

A bit more in reply to Greg and Carrol:

Greg, on the relationship between, say, empirical science and interpretation of texts: Albert Schweitzer's influential 1909 book, The Quest for the Historical Jesus, was subtitled, From Reimarus to Wrede.  Reimarus's "quest" was published in bits and pieces between 1774 and 1778.  His studies and publications marked the beginning of the modern higher and lower criticism of Biblical texts.  I think it's pretty obvious that Reimarus's inaugural effort "went with" the Enlightenment emphasis on the practical application, via empirical studies, of the great theoretical shift from medieval to modern thinking that began in the previous century (not counting Copernicus, whose thoughts did not quickly take hold, like Galileo's).

Schweitzer's thesis was expressed in a metaphor: Previous critics had looked down a well, so to speak, in their search for the "real" Jesus, and saw a reflection of themselves.  Their studies shad produced little of value.  The "quest" should be brought to an end.  Of course, it wasn't.  To this day (see the likes of Crossan, Borg, etc.), lives of Jesus and radical (the Jesus Seminar) and traditional (N. T. Wright) readings and speculations continue apace.

Also, Greg, your problematizing of "causation" in the light of modern physics, astro and micro, is, I believe, well taken, and much related to Burke, I'd say.  Many moons ago, Jim Chesebro made a connection between dramatism and the relativity model of Einstein;'s.  I think we can throw quantum mechanics into the mix, too.  Jim said Burke's "system," as Jim called it, fit well with the relativity side, rather than the classical side, of the following polarties, Newton first, then Einstein:

Absolute truth; relative truth.

Concerned with beings and objects; concerned with events and systems.

Process is predictable and predeterminable; process is discontinuous and random 

Causation is explained in terms of space and matter, time does not come into play; causation is temporal and variable, relative time binds together the constituents of events.

Discrete facts; relationships.

Note the ending of the Merriam-Webster definition of "event," from the perspective of relativity physics: "It being a fundamental assumption of the theory of relativity that all physical measurements reduce to observations of relations between happenings."

Your use of the term "association" as substitute for "cause" fits well witnin these parameters.

Carrol, on the flexibility of theologians' relationship to sacred texts: Even Luther rejected the book of Revelation as part of the received Biblical canon.  I don't think he was too much pleased with the book of James, either.  In the Presbyterian Church USA, sitting a little right of center in the denominational spectrum, ministers, at ordination, affirm their commitment to the historic creeds of Protestantism in this way: They will be "guided" by them, not that they need to believe them in anything close to their entirety.  This pledge at least suggests a tenuous relationship with the historic Protestant commitment to belief in the Scriptures in  their "plain sense."

Thanks for posting, all.



On Tue, 11/11/14, Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever
 To: "Gregory Desilet" <info at gregorydesilet.com>
 Cc: "kb at kbjournal.org" <kb at kbjournal.org>
 Date: Tuesday, November 11, 2014, 11:35 AM
 Greg and Carrol,
 Greg, on Burke as something of
 a Postmodernist, Tim Crusius stands pretty much at that pole
 of Burkean interpretation.  Tim seems to have given
 especial weight to P&C.  Trevor Melia, and John Stewart
 and Karen Williams, have come down on the side of Burke as
 very much un-Postmodern, Stewart and Williams even calling
 Burke a "Cartesian representationslist."  A panel
 at Airlie House in 1993 debated the question.  Jim Chesebro
 and somebody else said Burke wasn't Postmodern enough. 
 Andrew King and David Cratis Williams said the opposite, as
 I recall.  Of course, for Jim, Burke's falling short of
 Postmodernism was a huge failing of his; for Melia, it was a
 Melia put great
 weight on "recalcitrance," of course, but also on
 what Burke says on p. 272 in RR: "For however the world
 is made, that's how language is made."
 More later in reply to your
 post, and Carrol's.  Suddenly have to get to something
 On Mon, 11/10/14, Gregory Desilet <info at gregorydesilet.com>
  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: Monday, November 10, 2014, 8:43 PM
  Thanks for your comments,
  You’re a brave
 to raise the topic of Burke and Postmodernism—that’s
  a thorny issue given
  the many
 facets to Burke (will the “real” Burke please
  stand up?) and the
 surrounding Postmodernism. So you’ll understand
  if I don’t go there,
  but I
 do find the position you express quite reasonable.
  As for science influencing the
  interpretation process
 towards texts—yes. But experimental
 testing as an
  approach to interpretation?
 Not sure how that would work.
  Which reminds
 me of
  an interesting distinction—not sure
 if I’ve mentioned it
  before in some
  thread. The physical universe may be
 full of causal links
  but the textual
  universe is only comprised of interpretive
  links. And, given the
  weirdness of quantum theory, we may begin to
 wonder what a
  “causal link” might
  be. Could it share some properties with
 interpretation? Ugh,
  I’ll understand
  you don’t go there. Greg
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