[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

Stan Lindsay slindsa at yahoo.com
Fri Oct 31 11:34:39 EDT 2014


Clarke,

Thanks for offering a very interesting credential for Lee.  Now, I am very curious to learn about KB's statement concerning when discussing Jesus' functions in the theological framework as a substitute for the previous Judaic tradition.

Lee,

I agree that the ways texts are read by various individuals and groups is an extremely important focus.  And, various milieus read texts in different ways (your case in point:  the various milieus that read the New Testament as anti-Semitic).  Such a reading surely produced psychotic entelechy.  Having taken my master's from Henry Fischel at Indiana, in Rabbinic Hebrew, I have an entirely different (pro-Semitic) view when reading the New Testament.  I am very appreciative of the opportunity to view the New Testament from the perspective of such a renown Jewish scholar.

Ed,

I agree that there remains a substantial difference between those who approach "sacred texts" as philosophers and liberal mainline Christians who most definitely see the God element implicitly at work.  This is what I meant by using Toulminian qualifiers, and saying we can't paint with a broad brush.  Even those who used the "definitely not" qualifier may still utilize the wisdom of the texts, however.  Such would be philosophers.

Greg,

Thanks for helping me clarify that the comment was a repetition rather than an assertion.  I actually thought that your phrasing was purely accidental, but I did not want anyone to think I went along with Calvin on that.  The confusion, however, did illustrate how difficult it is to write an "inerrant" text, however.  :)  Now, to your point that "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."  I see an even bigger problem with telepathic communication from God.  There would be no way for religious communities to critique the message.  As it is, with "sacred text" communication, religions have been able to parse messages, to question transmission channels (as in textual criticism), to question genres
 (Burke's conventional form) employed (as in form criticism).  to perform redaction criticism, and even, as I do in my forthcoming article in the KB Journal, to propose new critical approaches, such as epideictic criticism of the Gospels.  Far from being immune to criticism, "sacred texts" are actually targeted for criticism.  I am using the term criticism, not in the negative connotation of American English, but in the Greek sense of "judgment."  A sacred text is out there to be judged by the world.  (I was disappointed, years ago, when a QJS editor refused to consider my original article on "The Rhetoric of bin Laden's Battle" on the basis that, since I am not a Qur'anic scholar, my interpretation of the Qur'an from a rhetorical perspective was somehow invalid.)  Everyone critiques the Bible--atheists, evangelicals, mainline Christians, Jews, philosophers, psychotics, and other religionists.  Trust me, the Bible is not immune from criticism.  
 
Dr. Stan A. Lindsay, Ph.D. 
Teaching Professor 
Professional Communication 
College of Applied Studies 
Florida State University 
slindsay at pc.fsu.edu 
http://www.stanlindsay.com 
http://www.lindsayDIS.COM


On Friday, October 31, 2014 10:36 AM, Clarke Rountree <rountrj at uah.edu> wrote:
 


Lee, I'm glad you chimed in! On Lee's bona fides: he was one of the interviewers of Burke in the Iowa interviews and, as I recall, he elicited one of the most original statements from KB when discussing Jesus's functions in the theological framework as a substitute for the previous Judaic tradition.

Clarke


On Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 10:55 PM, Cerling, Lee <cerling at marshall.usc.edu> wrote:

Hi, all--
>
>I have lurked on this list for a long time without contributing, and I think maybe none of you know me except Clarke Rountree, who was my colleague at Iowa back in the day.  But this has been an intriguing discussion, and I would like to offer some friendly resistance to the flow of argument, to see how the argument plays out.  Whether it is a Burkean resistance or not, I don't know; you all know Burke much better than me, and you can judge.
>
>That said, I want to gently probe the concept of "sacred" texts as it has developed in this thread. It seems to me that a "sacred" text is a text that has won or earned "sacredness" by virtue of its constitutive power--that is, it functions as "sacred" to the extent that some community is self-consciously shaped and formed by it.  So "inspiration" or source of inspiration is not the key inflection point, but accreditation by a community.  In this view, "sacredness" is a matter of degree, and a text is more or less sacred depending on the degree to which some living community (or communities) are in some definable sense "constituted" by it.  By that standard, the Bible is an exceptionally sacred text in that innumerable communities past and present have been constituted by it; the Declaration of Independence is also sacred, but less so.  And the writings of Kenneth Burke are only very weakly sacred, in that this small community is very loosely formed by
 it; but not in the sense of its members being willing (for example) to suffer death for it, as is the case with more strongly sacred texts, such as the Declaration of Independence or the Bible or the Koran.
>
>And in this way of thinking, texts can lose their sacredness:  this has certainly been the pattern in Christianity, where the Bible may become less and less normative to successive generations, until it is effectively "desacralized"--no longer normative for a given community; no longer constitutive of that community.  (I am thinking of the movement from Puritanism to Unitarianism).  So for that community, it is no longer sacred; whereas for another Christian community (say, the Amish) its sacredness may be re-affirmed and even strengthened over time.
>
>My point is this:  I do think that texts which are significantly constitutive in nature, texts to which human beings have committed themselves, and especially those texts for which human beings have voluntarily undergone torture and death, are entitled to a special kind of respect and reverence in the academy and elsewhere.
>
>That said, I agree with what I take Greg to be saying below, that no text, regardless of its sacred status, is thereby exempt from criticism.  And in fact, precisely because of the extraordinary power that these sacred texts exercise over human beings, it may well behoove us to give them much more than an ordinary amount of critical attention.  (That is certainly what Augustine does in the first half of City of God--lavish devastating critical attention on the primary pagan sacred texts of his day.)
>
>And one last caveat:  I do think that criticism of a (sacred) text should focus less on "what it contains" than on "how it has been read."  So that I am not persuaded (at least, not yet) that the New Testament is anti-semitic; I am persuaded, however, that a strong and long and honored tradition of reading the New Testament, from Chrysostom to Luther (and beyond, in both directions) was deeply and repugnantly anti-semitic.  And in my view, at least, it is not the New Testament texts themselves that are to be censured, but that tradition of reading the text.
>
>All for now.  My apologies if this line of thought is too much at odds with the tenor of what has been a most interesting exchange.
>
>Best regards,
>
>Lee Cerling
>
>
>
>
>
>Sent from my iPad
>
>
>> On Oct 30, 2014, at 2:44 PM, Gregory Desilet <info at gregorydesilet.com> wrote:
>>
>> 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.
>>
>> Greg
>>
>>
>>
>>> 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
>>>
>>>
>>>
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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.
>>> Greg
>>
>>
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-- 

Dr. Clarke Rountree
Chair and Professor of Communication Arts
342 Morton Hall
University of Alabama in Huntsville
Huntsville, AL  35899
256-824-6646
clarke.rountree at uah.edu

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