[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Stan Lindsay slindsa at yahoo.com
Thu Nov 13 13:12:13 EST 2014

Or, another way to put it is that Christianity was responding to the recalcitrance of its philosophical scene in the Medieval age, as it does in most ages.
Dr. Stan A. Lindsay, Ph.D. 
Teaching Professor 
Professional Communication 
College of Applied Studies 
Florida State University 
slindsay at pc.fsu.edu 

 From: "wessr at onid.orst.edu" <wessr at onid.orst.edu>
To: Gregory Desilet <info at gregorydesilet.com> 
Cc: "kb at kbjournal.org" <kb at kbjournal.org> 
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2014 12:23 PM
Subject: Re: [KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Stan, thanks for the Burke references, and to everyone, thanks for the  

By noting the relative historical belatedness of philosophy, I was  
stressing that the philosophical level is difficult to get to.  
Typically, you have to push to get there. With respect to religion, I  
wasn’t suggesting that religious people are typically anxious to get  
to philosophy (like Greg, I’m not a fan of religion). I was  
suggesting, rather, that religion speaks directly about ultimate  
questions, so that its subject matter makes it easier to push to the  
philosophical level if you're so inclined. You might encounter  
resistance, but that is a different issue. Medieval philosophers were  
exceptional in being both religious and ready to push religious  
questions to a philosophical level.

Medieval philosophy comes centuries after the Dark Ages. It brings  
Greek ideas, especially Aristotle's, back into the tradition of  
western philosophizing (e.g., Aquinas). But in any case, my point was  
not that we need to go back to medieval philosophy but that medieval  
philosophy gives you good examples of pushing religious questions to a  
philosophical level. That’s all.

Yes, the pentad is a good place to go to use Burke in this connection.  
Personally, I’d start at GM 71: did (1) God will “the good because it  
is good”? or (2) is “the good good because God willed it”? Burke  
translates a religious question about God into a philosophical one by  
explaining that (1) privileges “scene,” while (2) privileges “agent,”  
each with a different logic.

Burke's point about monotheism, which I referenced last time, is that  
monotheism was IMPLICIT AND PRIOR in polytheism, but unrecognized;  
Burke adds that with monotheism, polytheism is transformed into  
differences of interpretation based in part on differences in situation.

More later, specifically on Greg's "difference and change," mainly to  
use his discussion to illustrate addressing questions of ULTIMATE  
PRIORITY with argumentative rigor, which is what is most  
characteristic of philosophy, at least for me.

In the mean time: Greg, what is your USGA handicap? I'll understand if  
you don't want to answer that question.


Quoting Gregory Desilet <info at gregorydesilet.com>:

> 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.
> Greg

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