[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Edward C Appel edwardcappel at frontier.com
Thu Oct 30 11:55:40 EDT 2014

OK, Greg, howabout if we call the blanched, etiolated Christianity of the very liberal side of the Mainline Protestant Church "metaphysical philosophy"?  Burke calls metaphysical philosophy "coy theology."  Maybe we can find a measure of common ground with that linguistic accommodation.

The only problem there is, such untraditional Mainline Protestants openly profess belief in a Power that can rightfully be called "God."  They're not particularly "coy" about their theistic bent.

I'll mull over your demurrers some more and maybe get back.
What I want mainly to do here is address Stan's term "psychotic entelechy."  I like it.  Maybe owing more to my dour, "morbid" Scaninavian personality, I've long since thought that Burke's dramatism, and what I've observed going on around me, had best be described as half insane.  I.e., the "glory" and the "sickness" of the "symbol-using animal" (Burke), the "symbolizing animal" (Condit), or the "symbolic species" (Deacon) can legitimately be described as half amazingly wonderful and half bonkers.  I'm talking about the "normal" human race.  People give evidence of being nuts whether that "entelechy" is being immanentized or transcendentalized.

Whithout going into detail, how long do you think it will take this rapidly expanding species of animal life to despoil this planet's ecosystems irreparably, render this "Garden of Eden" half a wasteland, devoid of so very, very much of its rich biodiversity, and who knows what else?  Humans, in their entelechial quest for more and more "properties," both tangible and symbolic, evince, in the large, no thought of the vast expanses of geologic time and their import.  In a mere ten thousand years since  the end of the last ice age and beginnings of urban living, homo sapiens (there's a joke for you) has already altered that brief Holocene Epoch into what earth scientists are now saying should be labeled the "Anthropocene," things are already getting that bad.  What are the chances of a turn-around?  What are things likely to look like in another mere one million eight-hundred-thousand years, the brief span so far of this, the eleventh period of the
 Phanerozoic Eon, the Quaternary?
Listen to Fox News, read the Wall Street Journal, watch China built another goal-driven power plant each week, read letters to your local newspaper or posts by the vox populi on the internet, pay even cursory attention to the campaign rhetoric now reaching a crescendo, and weep.  I see next to no chance, until things get so bad we're suffocating in our own effluvia.

On the transcendental craziness, more later, if I can screw up the courage to risk offending some subcribers to  this list.  You know, the "free speech"/don't-"hurt"-the-feelings-of-others quandary.

"Psychotic entelechy"?  Well, I guess.



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On Thu, 10/30/14, Gregory Desilet <info at gregorydesilet.com> wrote:

 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: Thursday, October 30, 2014, 3:40 AM
 Many good points have been made by
 persons, so there is much to respond to and if I do not
 touch on someone’s
 point here that will be because of my limits as a mere human
 and not because I
 view a particular point as not meriting a response. Turning
 to Ed’s comments
 first, he points out that his definition of “religion”
 is different from mine.
 But I think this kind of response gets off on the wrong foot
 with regard to the
 thrust of what I’m attempting to say. Granted, it is
 perfectly sensible and
 legitimate in a discussion of religion to say, “this is
 what I mean by
 religion.” But when Ed says “Greg means something
 different,” I believe more
 than that is going on. True, we can each have our different
 definitions of
 religion and go our separate ways, but what I’m attempting
 to do is argue
 (persuade) others that the term “religion” ought not to
 be applied in certain
 ways due to the circumstance that it thereby loses much of
 its usefulness as a
 term. For example, if we call every bright light in the sky
 a “star,” that’s
 okay but there is benefit to be gained by refining our
 distinctions to separate
 out stars, planets, comets, galaxies, etc.Ed has seemingly accepted my
 challenge to distinguish
 religions that abandon the sacred text notion from
 philosophical study and
 inquiry by offering the following:I regard its [religion’s] primary
 reference as
 characteristic of one who believes in an Originary Power we
 can rightfully call
 "God."  For me, as a Burkean, I would reductively
 define that
 Power as the "Great Potential."In other words, divinity or God
 becomes the
 “Great Potential.” All such reasoning is well and good,
 but what becomes of the
 status of what have been called religious texts by way of
 such a view of
 religion? Are these texts in some way the “voice” of the
 “Great Potential”? Or
 as Stan says, are they wholly inspired, substantially
 inspired, or only
 partially inspired by the Great Potential? And what makes
 these religious texts
 substantially different from other texts such as those
 written by Plato, Aristotle,
 Descartes, Spinoza, etc? Are not these latter texts also
 inspired by the “Great
 Potential”? In fact, is not EVERYTHING inspired by the
 “Great Potential”?When we humans sever, cloud, or
 muddy the link
 between a text and a divine source of that text, we in
 effect place that text
 alongside all other texts composed by human hands. Who is to
 say, for example,
 that Oscar Wilde’s “De Profundis” is not as much or
 more divinely inspired than
 any text of the Bible—if the divinity is regarded as the
 “Great Potential”? The
 problem is that deciding if texts are religious in nature
 and in inspiration
 becomes a very arbitrary issue. From within this view, we
 may as well call every such text “religious” or
 every such text “secular” because there is no longer a
 distinction between the two
 that can be convincingly defended. At least I am not
 convinced and I hope I
 have convinced others not to be convinced.As soon as we no longer have a very
 direct and
 clear link to a divine source (a higher being), manifested
 decisively in some
 texts and not in others, we have a situation where every
 text discussing the
 nature of “life” effectively reduces to the category of
 philosophy. Some of
 these texts may be valued more than others by particular
 individuals but none
 of these texts any longer have a source or origin
 unquestionably superior to
 any other. The benefits of each text must be constantly
 ARGUED and not assumed.
 This attitude toward texts makes a big difference in how
 texts are approached
 and in how they are valued. I believe the use of the term
 “philosophy” to
 describe such texts and associated practices is better than
 “religious” because
 it reduces the chances for conveying an authoritarian
 quality in the text—the
 quality traditionally associated with so-called religious

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