[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Gregory Desilet info at gregorydesilet.com
Thu Oct 30 17:43:54 EDT 2014

Yes, Ed, “metaphysical philosophy” isn’t a bad option, though it might be confused with “spiritual metaphysics”—which has been co-opted by New Age philosophy, where at “metaphysical bookstores” you will find all manner of occult and parapsychological writings (such as “Seth Speaks” etc.). As for those you reference as “untraditional mainline Protestants” and the potential problem of their belief in God, I don’t see a problem there in placing their approach in the philosophy category, since many philosophers also express a belief in God—sans any kind of sacred text. Though perhaps those in this group could be in a sub-category called “philosophical theism.” 

At any rate, the important thing from my point of view is advocating the notion that “all texts are created equal” just as all persons are created equal. And, just as this does not entail that all persons are of equal influence, it does not entail that all texts are of equal influence. The primary thing is that no text be seen as inherently superior and unquestionable by virtue of a divine birthright or source. The merit of every text ought to be weighed by what it contains rather than by who wrote or inspired it. Currently across the world there are far too many people who believe in the inherent superiority of certain texts, regardless of what they actually say, and in many cases not even reading or fully understanding what is said in them. This is a state of affairs every communication, language, and rhetorical scholar should bemoan.


On Oct 30, 2014, at 9:55 AM, Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com> wrote:

> 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.
> Ed
> Ed
> ----- ---------------------------------------
> 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
> several
> 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
> texts.
> Greg 

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