[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Gregory Desilet info at gregorydesilet.com
Thu Oct 30 18:24:21 EDT 2014


Stan—like Ed, I also appreciate your term “psychotic entelechy.” Though I have only begun to scratch the surface of your writings on this topic, I find it very interesting and plan to explore further. In your most recent comments I also like what you say about religionists fishing or cutting bait. Either a text is sacred or it isn’t and the qualifiers of “substantially” or “partially” inspired leave followers in a significant quandary. 

This quandary comes to the fore when Stan asserts that “an inspired text implies an inspired reader”--which in traditional religious circles often reduces to “an inspired text REQUIRES an inspired reader.” And the inspired readers come out of the woodwork in every direction claiming to be “really, really, really, right.” There is perhaps nothing more uplifting for an insecure spirit to suddenly begin believing he or she is channeling God. This kind of thing is one of the gravest temptations of so-called “sacred texts”—resulting in “Oh yes, I know what God was saying here.” 

Stan’s last comment raises the interesting question as to why, when communicating with humans, God would bother to use language at all. In more primitive religions, natural disasters were often interpreted to be an angry god sending a message. In the New Testament the son of God speaks through miracles and parables, the latter which are perhaps in some ways like koans. They short-circuit common logic through the use of words in a way designed to bypass normal sense-making. In the beginning may have been “the Word” but “the Word” is not the last word in God’s arsenal. In fact, if really motivated, wouldn’t God just use telepathy? And, of course, there are those who claim God does communicate with them in precisely this way—no language needed. The big problem for such people, however, arises when they desire to communicate to others what God has communicated to them. 

Greg


 
On Oct 30, 2014, at 9:55 AM, Stan Lindsay <slindsa at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Greg,
> 
> At this stage, I do not disagree with very much of your argument, at all.  I think your logic is strong.  I have no problem with Ed's description of God as an "Originary Power," but I think that the metonymic (in Burke's sense) move of reducing that Originary Power to the "Great Potential" goes too far, unless by "potential" Ed is referring to Aristotle's sense of "dunamis" (translated "potential") and arguing that of the four causes of motion/action in entelechy, which Aristotle calls "dunamis"--arche, hule, eidos, and telos--he is suggesting that God is arche (the "efficient cause"/in Burkean terms the "agent" from the Pentad).    If Ed is calling God the "Great arche/agent," I kind of like it.  So, unless I am allowed to make that stipulation, I disagree with your characterization of my earlier comments as "as Stan says, are they wholly inspired, substantially inspired, or only partially inspired by the Great Potential."  I have no problem with forcing the hand of various religions.  I think they should fish or cut bait, to use another homely proverb.  I think that the Toulminian qualifiers "substantially" and "partially" are cop-outs, here, and DO, as you suggest, move sacred texts into the philosophical texts category.  If the religionists believe Allah is God, and that Mohammed is his prophet, they should be willing to stand behind, argue for/defend, and follow their sacred text, the Qur'an, but that does not mean that they are forced to accept what any specific authorities have interpreted as the true meaning of their text.  They need not be impressed by the assertions of Authorities, such as either a bin Laden or even, as an aside, by a powerful scriptural Authority like a John Calvin [to use the Christian example used by Carrol]--to the effect that an "inspired text implies an inspired reader."  I must say that the formula suggested by Carrol, "If I really really know I'm right then I'm right," is an invitation to psychotic entelechy.  Yet, I find that even Burkeans who write posts, here, seem to me to succumb to such a formula.  But that is another discussion.)  Returning to the Islamic example, as Burke teaches, there should be recalcitrance, discounting, and the understanding that all languages--including Arabic--use tropes.  Muslims should consider Burke's concept of the human as the symbol-using (symbol-making, symbol-misusing) animal, and accept the logical conclusion that their God, by choosing to communicate with humans, has chosen to use terminology (symbols) with which Allah's audience would have "shared meaning."  (This means that God would have to limit what must be--using Burke's negative theology comments--a "limitless" vocabulary/symbol system--and COMMUNicate by using symbols "made" by these symbol-using animals.  Likewise, for Jews and the Tanach (Old Testament).  Likewise, for Christians and the New Testament.  Likewise for Mormons and the Book of Mormon, and so on, through Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism,  Sikhism, etc.
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> On Thursday, October 30, 2014 3:40 AM, Gregory Desilet <info at gregorydesilet.com> wrote:
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> 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.
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> Greg 
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