[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Gregory Desilet info at gregorydesilet.com
Wed Nov 12 14:57:32 EST 2014

Bob—as I sit under the covers, wrapped in a blanket (and, yes, the heat is also on) and the temperature outside is 6 degrees with a wind chill taking it to -3 degrees, and I was just last weekend playing golf in shirtsleeves, I find myself feisty, resentful, oppressed by cabin fever, and in peak argumentative form. So please forgive me for taking stubborn but amicable issue with you on a point or two you make in your recent post. It may just be a symptom of weather induced orneriness. 

I agree that philosophy is more fundamental than religion. But I would argue that most religions, as practiced in their institutionally codified and highly influential forms, do NOT get to the philosophical issues more quickly. In fact, I would argue the reverse. Such religions are among the primary obstacles to getting at core philosophical issues because they very effectively block open philosophical inquiry by an overly narrow disposition toward what counts as evidence justifying belief. The medieval period of “philosophy” was not called the “dark ages” for nothing. Human inquiry effectively stalled for over a 1000 years and many valuable insights gained during the Hellenic period were lost or buried under mountains of dogma and authoritarian induced ignorance. 

As for monotheism, I don’t believe it is philosophically more coherent or defensible, nor is the more philosophically abstract position of monism. Instead, these positions are overly reductive and consequently become incoherent with respect to addressing issues of essential difference. 

These points are, of course, debatable. So I offer an excerpt from some recent relevant musings of mine, which also provide a definition of metaphysics and postmodernism that may be of use to some participants in this forum. Sorry for the length of this post, but you can also blame that on the weather. So if this post seems wearisome, please pray for better weather in Colorado and elsewhere.

Definition of Postmodernism

Postmodernism presents a significant break from traditional and modern metaphysics.

Definition of Metaphysics

Metaphysics is the philosophy of the nature of being through which every speculation about the nature of being involves a grounding assumption about the primary structure of oppositional relations. Technically speaking, there can be no monistic metaphysics because the job of metaphysics is to explain the phenomena of difference and change, which always requires at the bare minimum schism or the existence of two. If there were but ONE, there could be only stasis and nothing could HAPPEN; there could be no EVENTS and there could be nothing like CONSCIOUSNESS. In this sense every coherent metaphysics amounts to a metaphysics of the nature of being as becoming.

In pre-modern or traditional metaphysics the primary structure of oppositional relation consists of the view that one side of the pairing is accidental, inessential, illusion, or contamination (for example, Platonic metaphysics of being/time where being is pure, stable, and unchanging and is then contaminated by time, which introduces impurity, instability, and change and is fundamentally inessential to the nature of being). Call this metaphysics: antagonism, describing a tension permanently erosive of a fundamental essence.

In modern metaphysics the primary oppositional structure posits one side as essential to the pairing but always subordinate to the other (for example, Cartesian and Kantian subject/object relations where the object is subordinate to the subject by virtue of the act of cognition wherein the subject effectively appropriates the object). Call this metaphysics: subagonism, describing a tension of permanent dominance of one side between different essences.

In postmodern metaphysics the primary oppositional structure consists of an understanding of oppositional relations whereby each side is essential to the other and one side cannot be reduced to the other (for example, the particle/wave relation in physics where particles cannot be reduced to waves and waves cannot be reduced to particles and even when one manifests itself without the other, the other exists alongside it in superposition). Call this metaphysics: synagonism, describing a tension of interaction, alternation, and exchange among sides equal but not mutually erosive in essence; one side may dominate the other in changing contexts but neither is essentially dominant. 

Thus, postmodernism, as a philosophically distinct orientation, may be defined as the adoption of a metaphysics applying synagonal structure to key oppositions or displacing key oppositions with new synagonal oppositions.  



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