[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

wessr at onid.orst.edu wessr at onid.orst.edu
Fri Nov 14 20:11:22 EST 2014

Greg, a book on Burke and golf? Tell me more.

I know of one Burke reference to golf: GM 335. Maybe there are others.  
Burke is talking about the difficulty in American culture of grounding  
values in the here and now, as distinct from the futuristic. In our  
culture, the here and now is merely a vacation, time out from the  
reality of working for the future. In this context, Burke suggests  
that grounding basic values in the "vacational act would be too much  
like playing golf pro bono publico."

Burke may have picked golf for purposes of rhetorical amplification:  
no sport is more individualistic, less connected to the communal.  
Arguably, primal golf is just you against the course, with the weather  
sometimes helping, sometimes hurting--a la Robinson Crusoe (remember  
he could get his clubs off the sunken ship).

In any case, for my own good, if not the public's, I know that if I  
ever run into you on a golf course, I need to ask for a lot of shots.  
As a golfer, I peaked when I was 17 (my last year of eligibility in  
junior golf). Ever since, there have been peaks and valleys but  
overall it has been a "bear market" downward trend. This year I  
started with a 10.5 handicap, had aspirations to get to single digits,  
fiddled with my swing, and fell into a crash equivalent to the 2008  
crash, slipped all the way to 15.3. The worst year in memory. A year  
is really bad when your best rounds are in January and February. My  
main problem is that the older I get, the more distance I lose. Every  
time you lose 10 yards, the game gets harder and seems to change.

As for the "Dark Ages," I think the boundaries have been revised from  
time to time, but your high school teacher went over the edge it seems  
to me in using the term to include centuries that produced the likes  
of Chaucer, Aquinas, and Dante.

More shortly,


Quoting Gregory Desilet <info at gregorydesilet.com>:

> Bob?okay, I take your point about religion and philosophy and I  
> think you do have a point there. Religion does deal with the big  
> issues of life and how to live. In fact, I think philosophy, in  
> university departments, in the last half of the 20th century up  
> until now has strayed too far from confronting the big issues and  
> has spent too much energy on analytical language philosophy (at  
> least in Britain and the U.S.). Though I admit some of this has been  
> interesting to me. One of the great things about Burke was his  
> ability to confront issues of language and interpretation and blend  
> these seamlessly with the big issues of life and world?through  
> dramatism and logology.
> I always thought the medieval period was from the 5th century to the  
> 15th century and that this ?middle period? was also called the ?dark  
> ages? as a contrast with the periods of the Renaissance and the  
> Enlightenment in the centuries that followed. Did I have a bad high  
> school history teacher?
> As for my USGA handicap, Bob, right now my index is at 8.6. I hit a  
> low of 6.3 during the summer but it went up again when I started  
> working on some swing changes to increase distance. I was just  
> hitting a groove with these changes and now the weather is going  
> south, er, coming south?too far. But taking my new swing into the  
> new season next spring, I plan on being able to become a scratch  
> golfer. Okay, how?s that for ?hope springs eternal?? Are you a  
> golfer and, if so, what?s your handicap? And if you can putt, I?m  
> open to a tip or two on putting, though perhaps we can take that  
> off-line, unless you can find a way to relate golf to Burke studies.  
> Come to think of it . . .   I won?t go there right now but speaking  
> of Burke and golf gives me an idea for that golf book I?ve always  
> wanted to write.
> Ed?Thanks for the info on Schweitzer?s book and on Reimarus. Since  
> Schweitzer?s effort it seems there has been a growing interest in  
> finding the ?real? Jesus through archeological digs and deciphering  
> relics like the Gnostic gospels. Some of the faithful seem eager to  
> have scientific support for their faith, which is an interesting  
> confrontation of world views. Speaking of science, you mention  
> relativity and Einstein. Apparently in the new movie ?Interstellar?  
> there is significant discussion of the effects of relativity in  
> space and time as well as stunning visual representations of these.  
> Neil DeGrasse Tyson said some favorable things on Twitter about how  
> the movie handled the science on all this, which was good to hear.  
> Then I read a review by a film critic who called the characters  
> wooden, the dialogue numbing, the plot nonsensical, and the  
> soundtrack overblown and deafening. I was about ready to charge out  
> to a theater after Tyson?s comments but perhaps I?ll wait for the DVD.
> Greg
> On Nov 13, 2014, at 10:23 AM, wessr at onid.orst.edu wrote:
>> Stan, thanks for the Burke references, and to everyone, thanks for  
>> the responses.
>> 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.
>> Bob
>> 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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