[KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever

wessr at onid.orst.edu wessr at onid.orst.edu
Fri Oct 31 20:29:38 EDT 2014

Hi all, thanks for an interesting series of posts.

Let me offer a Burke distinction to sort out some of the issues, as  
least as I understand them. The distinction is between  
"essentializing" and "proportionalizing." Texts discussing the  
distinction explicitly include the Freud essay in PLF and the  
dialectic of constitutions in GM. But it is really a motif that  
appears frequently in Burke. This distinction is operating every time  
Burke speaks of a motivational "recipe" or some comparable metaphor.

Greg, as I understand him, is interested in finding the motivation of  
authoritarianism and locates it in the belief that text X is divinely  
inspired. This is "essentializing." Whether Greg thinks this belief  
and authoritarianism always go hand-in-hand, such that when you find  
one you always find the other, isn't altogether clear. Probably not.  
His essentializing may not be that pure, but the main drift of his  
argument seems to be in this essentializing direction, as least as I  
understand it.

Burke rejects "essentializing" in the name of "proportionalizing."  
Belief that text X is divinely inspired can be a motivational  
"ingredient" in different "recipes," some good, some bad. Lee's last  
post gives clear examples of some good ones. There must be others; I  
can't help thinking some people have lived saintly lives based on the  
belief that text X is divinely inspired. Greg may be able to pursue  
the connection that interests him more profitably by reframing it  
within a proportional framework.

PROPORTIONALIZING TODAY: The news out of the Middle East  
understandably makes us look for links between religion and violence.  
But Burke cautions us to look for proportionalizing complications. An  
eye-opener for me came a few months ago from Reza Aslan, a religious  
studies scholar who happens to be Muslim (he was on Book TV's monthly  
"In Depth" program). He said that while it has been common in the West  
to link the Muslim victory over the USSR in Afghanistan to the rise of  
bin Laden, the West tends not to understand the full significance of  
that victory for many in the Muslim world. What happened there is that  
Muslims from DIFFERENT NATIONS came together to fight an enemy, and  
they WON. They not only won, they beat a SUPERPOWER. That event  
revitalized the idea of the Caliphate, that is, one ruler over all  
Muslims in one state, and beyond that, over a world consisting only of  
Muslims--the Caliphate is the solution. ISIS evidently has declared  
itself the new Caliphate, so its ambitions appear boundless.  
"Terrorism" doesn't begin to cover all that they are evidently after.

No doubt in the "recipe" of ISIS's motivation, belief that text X is  
divinely inspired is an "ingredient." But obviously one can also see  
the appeal of overcoming national boundaries draw up by the West.  
There are a bundle of "ingredients" here that no doubt energize one  
another to produce a terrifying authoritarian "recipe." Aslan, by the  
way, sees no alternative to destroying ISIS. He urges, instead, that  
we learn to distinguish Muslim groups with Caliphate ambitions from  
groups that are factions within nations with an agenda of issues local  
to their nation. These two kinds of groups are "apples" and "oranges."  
Confusing them just confuses us, so Aslan contends.


Quoting "Cerling, Lee" <cerling at marshall.usc.edu>:

> Many thanks, Clarke, for your gracious intervention on my behalf!   
> And thanks to Ed and Stan for their comments as well.  I'm going to  
> focus on Greg's comments below, and hopefully touch on things  
> relevant to Ed and Stan's comments in the course of my answer.
> Greg, your response is quite illuminating as to the nub of the  
> issue, I think.  I had felt that I was missing an important central  
> point of this discussion, and your response is very helpful in  
> putting the argumentative train back on the rails, so to speak.
> Here is what makes me nervous in your comments below:  I think the  
> real dragon you wish to slay is "authoritarianism," and you believe  
> that you have found the path or route to the dragon's lair through  
> this thing called "religion," specifically "religious texts whose  
> adherents claim divine inspiration or authority."  Your worry, as I  
> understand it, is that these texts play an authorizing or  
> legitimating role for all kinds of behaviors, including social  
> control, that we (i.e., the academic community?) find maddening and  
> intolerable.  You wish (or so it appears to me) to criticize, to  
> de-legitimate, these specific religious texts, as a means of  
> fighting against the dragon "Authoritarianism."
> My problem with all of this is that I think that the dragon  
> Authoritarianism doesn't live there.  Or to change the metaphor, I  
> think that Authoritarianism can grow up quite naturally in many,  
> many different soils, including, but certainly not limited to,  
> communities of people formed by belief in a divinely inspired text.
> Put baldly, I think that human beings love Power; and they love  
> consolidating their own power, concentrating it, and (to use a  
> biblical phrase) lording it over other people.  And I think humans  
> are ingenious in the ways they go about this; and that one of the  
> ways they do this is through the use of religious texts.  No doubt  
> about it.  And to understand how texts believed to be divinely  
> inspired by their adherents are used to nefarious ends is a worthy  
> and important academic study--your project, I believe.
> My worry is the way you seem to locate the problem as residing  
> specifically in purportedly "divinely inspired texts."  Because I  
> want to locate Resistance to Power in those same texts.  That is, it  
> is possible to read the Bible, from the stories of Moses, Esther,  
> Daniel, the prophets, and through to Jesus and the apostles, as a  
> continuing story whereby individuals and groups of individuals are  
> empowered, precisely because of their adherence to Divine  
> Communications, to resist Authoritarianism.  The stories of Daniel  
> and his three friends are archetypal here:  "O King, we do not have  
> to answer you in this matter.  Our God is able to deliver us from  
> the fiery furnace.  But know this:  even if he does not deliver us,  
> we still will not bow down and worship you."
> It is stories like this, together with what from our standpoint  
> might look like an Authoritarian approach to religion, that  
> presumably enabled, say, the Maccabees to fiercely resist what was  
> by any measure an overwhelming Authoritarian rule.
> So I wonder:  in your approach to these religious texts that you  
> believe authorize Authoritarianism, is there room to acknowledge the  
> ways in which they may, in actual historical practice, provide the  
> means to resist and de-legitimize Authoritarianism?
> Best regards,
> Lee
> PS -- One quick note re my interview at Iowa with KB:  Clarke can  
> correct me here, but I believe that in his *Rhetoric of Religion,*  
> KB argued that Christ the sacrifice was effectively "required" by  
> the rhetorical structure of the OT.  I asked him why, then, was  
> Jesus not more readily accepted by the religious leaders of the day,  
> if they had been as well prepared rhetorically as he asserted in   
> RoR. His response, as I recall, was that he thought that a good  
> question that he would have to think about, and that he would need  
> to revise his argument to accommodate that fact.  I don't remember,  
> though, what kind of revision he actually made, or where he made it,  
> though I have a very vague notion that he did address it again more  
> fully somewhere in those interviews that we conducted at Iowa.  But  
> Clarke would know the details far better than I have recounted here;  
> and what I have recounted is clouded by nearly 30 years of not  
> having thought much about it!
> Sent from my iPad
>> On Oct 31, 2014, at 10:16 AM, Gregory Desilet  
>> <info at gregorydesilet.com> wrote:
>> Thanks to Lee for your comments. I agree with everything you say  
>> about the sacred and sacredness. But then I step back and place it  
>> in the context of lines of thought about religion that I’ve been  
>> pursuing and something does not feel right. So I’ve been thinking  
>> about that and trying to get a fix on this vague feeling and what  
>> it is about. Here’s what I’ve been coming up with.
>> While like many, I’ve had general training in the field of  
>> communication, my more precise focus of interest has always been  
>> argumentation. Frankly, I love to argue. And by that I don’t mean I  
>> love to disagree for the sake of disagreeing. I mean argumentation  
>> as the term is used in this field. I love to attempt making a case  
>> for a particular view. And that also means providing a reason or  
>> reasons why that point of view might be more useful or appropriate,  
>> or in some cases more “accurate," than competing points of view.
>> So in this instance I’m making a case for the following:
>> That it is worthwhile to consider narrowing the term “religion” to  
>> include only those beliefs and practices centered around texts  
>> considered to be inspired or revealed through a divine source.
>> On quick glance this may seem like a very small-minded thing to  
>> want to make a case for. Obviously, the term “religion” is commonly  
>> used in a much broader sense. As several have pointed out, many  
>> faiths of the past century have adopted approaches to their central  
>> texts as texts that are understood to be “sacred” in the sense Lee  
>> has indicated. That view of “sacred” is certainly defensible.
>> For purposes of my argument, however, it was necessary to find a  
>> term to refer to a particular attitude toward texts—the attitude  
>> that a text is inspired or revealed through a divine source. In  
>> other words, the text is not really of human origin. And I think  
>> that it is possible for all of us to agree that a significant  
>> difference exists between a text considered to be the word of a god  
>> and a text considered to be of strictly human origin. So I needed a  
>> word to refer to this difference and chose the word “sacred.” And  
>> there is some etymological support for that choice, although there  
>> may be a better choice out there of which I’m not aware (I  
>> acknowledge not always being very good at making the best choice  
>> when so much hinges on a particular word choice).
>> So when Lee makes the point that there may be another sense of the  
>> sacred more in touch with how texts are actually approached in many  
>> religious communities, this is not really speaking to the line of  
>> argument. I wasn’t originally trying to make a case for narrowing  
>> the use of the word “sacred.” I was only attempting, for the  
>> purposes of communicating an argument, to find a word to refer to a  
>> particular attitude towards texts—texts considered to be of divine  
>> origin by those who use them. For that purpose, I chose the term  
>> “sacred” and defined how I was using it in this line of argument.
>> Having said that, I am, however, trying to make a case for  
>> narrowing the term “religion” and now I see that the same case can  
>> be made for narrowing the term “sacred.” (I’ll summarize again  
>> below my reason for wanting to narrow the use of these terms).
>> But knowing what we know in the field of communication and Burke  
>> studies about the nature of language argues powerfully for the  
>> notion that the use of these terms cannot be artificially narrowed  
>> in the sense I am suggesting. For example, people are not going to  
>> stop saying things like: “You make a religion of your workout  
>> routine” and “Any baseball signed by Mickey Mantle is sacred”—and  
>> many other uses all over the map, including those related to faith  
>> practices.
>> Nevertheless, I still argue for the use of the terms “religion” and  
>> “sacred” in a more technical sense by those who are writing and  
>> discoursing on themes relevant to these terms in academic and  
>> journalistic contexts.
>> As already stated, my reason for wanting to narrow the term  
>> religion in these situations relates to the notion that the term  
>> “religion” carries a lot of baggage with it of the sort related to  
>> authoritarian practices and attitudes toward texts which regard  
>> them as either self-evident and dictatorial or dictatorial and in  
>> need of “correct” interpretation by inspired readers who come from  
>> a small circle of elect and highly gifted persons closely connected  
>> to God.
>> Needless to say, these authoritarian practices and attitudes have  
>> proven to be very dangerous in human history and anything we can do  
>> to undermine and separate human communities from this “baggage” is,  
>> I argue, beneficial. Using the term “philosophy” rather than  
>> “religion” to refer to the beliefs and practices of certain  
>> community groups to distinguish them from more authoritarian groups  
>> will, therefore, potentially carry a beneficial message into the  
>> general public. For example, people may ask, “Why did that  
>> journalist just describe those Unitarians as practicing a  
>> philosophy instead of a religion?” Encouraging the use of the term  
>> “philosophy” in these contexts could gain useful traction and  
>> facilitate distinguishing between authoritarian (and quasi-fascist)  
>> groups from other community groups.
>> Having said all this, one may still take issue directly with my  
>> argument—perhaps by claiming that the term “religion” does not  
>> carry the baggage I assume it does and that I am being very  
>> narrow-minded and perhaps bigoted to suppose it does. But the mere  
>> fact that this issue is debatable (and I think I could make a good  
>> debate of it) argues for the substitution of the term “philosophy”  
>> as I have argued. It is safer to say the term “philosophy” does not  
>> carry the potential for a misleading authoritarian message that the  
>> term “religion” does. It’s just a better word choice all around for  
>> those faith practices that regard their texts as clearly NOT  
>> divinely derived.
>> Greg
>>> On Oct 31, 2014, at 9:22 AM, Edward C Appel  
>>> <edwardcappel at frontier.com> wrote:
>>> Lee, Stan, Greg, and Carrol,
>>> Great contributions all around.  I take to heart Lee's point that  
>>> we create the "sacredness" of texts to various degrees.  Most of  
>>> us are not yet ready to "die" for Burke's treasure trove of  
>>> pronouncements, but we will, triennially, travel a thousand miles  
>>> in votive service to its enduring worth.
>>> I also like Stan's point about how the assumed "limitless" gets  
>>> embodied in the necessarily "limitedness" that characterizes any  
>>> particular language, of necessity in need of the "discount."
>>> Greg's point about "philosophy" reminds me of the identifying  
>>> properties of Paul Tillich, when he taught at Union
>>> Seminary in New York (or was it when he was at Harvard?):  
>>> Professor of Philosophical Theology.
>>> On "psychotic entelechy" transcendentalized: Thirty-five years  
>>> ago, Jim Chesebro spoke of the church's "profound use of the  
>>> negative."  I mention several of those negatively-induced  
>>> "perfections" in Evangelical Protestantism in the Primer (on  
>>> Falwell in Chapter 10)  Let me here cite an additional  
>>> "perfection" extant today even in relatively "comedic" Mainline  
>>> Protestantism, as well as in still-more-entelechialized  
>>> Catholicism.  I speak of the "til death do us part" proviso in the  
>>> marriage vow.  (When I broached this issue with Daughter Beth, a  
>>> Presbyterian preacher who has performed many marriages in her  
>>> ministry, she corrected me with, "as long as you both shall live."  
>>>  There's no difference, I admonished.)  The church requires this  
>>> categorical promise before the altar of God from even teenagers  
>>> and early-20-somethings.  For cryin' out loud, the human brain  
>>> isn't even fully developed until age 25, and then it takes a  
>>> couple of years more until somebody
>>> begins to get a good handle on who he or she actually is.  Just  
>>> think through the implications of "as long as you both shall  
>>> live."  What is the church saying, other than it's more righteous  
>>> to blow your brains out than divorce the person you married at a   
>>> tender age?
>>> I could go on in respect to this profound proscription, but I  
>>> sense I may have already offended some subscribers to this list.
>>> Again, peace be with you, however pale and evanescent.
>>> Ed
>>> --------------------------------------------
>>> On Thu, 10/30/14, Cerling, Lee <cerling at marshall.usc.edu> wrote:
>>> Subject: Re: [KB] "Deacon"-structing Burke Part Whatever
>>> To: "Gregory Desilet" <info at gregorydesilet.com>
>>> Cc: "Ed Appel" <edwardcappel at frontier.com>, "kb at kbjournal.org"  
>>> <kb at kbjournal.org>
>>> Date: Thursday, October 30, 2014, 11:55 PM
>>> 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
>>>>> 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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