From: David Buchanan (DBuchanan@ClassicalRadio.org)
Date: Sun Feb 29 2004 - 02:32:51 GMT
Matt, Wim and all MOQers:
Call me the big buttinski...
On the distance between churcher goers and football fans, Matt said:
And the fact that these conversations don't overlap very much in terms of
the purpose, goals, and concepts of the conversation it becomes possible to
make a viable distinction between them as being different conversations and
using different vocabularies. There is, however, no permanent or fixed
distinction between conversations and vocabularies except for the ones that
we make. ...If we start discussing it in terms of God, what am I supposed
to say? I don't believe in God. The conversation doesn't go very far
because the vocabularies we are using don't overlap enough.
Seems like an overly cumbersome way to say that people differ in their
beliefs, but feel free Jargon man. It seems that 'mindset' is much easier to
spell and much more clear than 'vocabulary', but as long as I know what you
mean I can work my way around it. Anyway, it seems that saying "the
vocabularies we are using don't overlap enough" to have a productive
conversaton is pretty much the same as saying "we can't really talk because
we believe in too many different things". OK. But I think we all know that
from experience and common sense, don't we. So, how does the "'vocabulary'
Matt said to Wim:
My only suggestion is that when your group "goes public," you might want to
reformulate the practical suggestions you have and drop the Quality
vocabulary to increase the chances of your suggestions' success.
If one's vocabulary is equal to one's mindset and you've suggested that Wim
"drop" the vocabulary as a strategy, haven't you effectively told Wim to
"drop" his beliefs? Aren't you just telling him to go secularize himself?
:-) It seems unlikely that he, or anyone else, would like to discard their
mindset or comply with such a strategy.
..I'm really saying that "This is the purpose I have for the forum, and I
won't really be straying from it. And unless you know where I live, I don't
see how you could stop me from only participating in what I want to.")
Exactly. No one can stop you from straying from your beliefs or using your
own terms. And no one can stop the bible-thumpers from doing the same thing
on the Senate floor. In fact, the political conversation is presently
dominated by persons who speak that language. Right-wing fundamentalism
controls the Republican party and the Republican party is presently in
control of all three branches of government. So the very notion that our
conversational stumbling blocks with voluntary vocabulary conversions can
only be asserted by one living in oblivion. Your enemies do not make the
public/private distinction and are in some cases actually working against
the seperation of church and state. At this very moment a constitutional
amendment banning gay marriage is the national topic of conversaton.
Essentially, you're meeting me on my secularized ground. And that's just
it: for both of us to have this conversation we have to agree on some ground
rules. My point about the distinction between public and private is a point
about vocabularies. It is a practical suggestion about how to think about
things, about how to talk about things, so we don't come to as many major
You see as a "practical suggestion". But the religious right thinks liberal
secular atheism is the work of the devil and would never agree to meet you
on "secularized ground". That's the enemy. As they see it, agreeing to meet
there means they've lost the whole argument before its even begun. They've
given up everything before they've even taken their seats at the negotiating
table. I honestly don't see how your suggestion is of any practical use
whatsoever. It seems to be one huge exercise in begging the question. It
boils down to little more than suggesting everybody who wants to talk to you
simply adopt your mindset, beliefs and terms. It laughable in its
circularity and stunning in its narcissism.
Finally, Matt said:
...the Quakers were instrumental in America's early moral make-up. But what
is important for us secularists is still not that they opposed slavery
because of God, but that they opposed slavery. ..What secularists are
betting is that you don't have to be religious or philosophical to be moral.
We're betting that you can reformulate the good, ..and reformulate them in
different terms, terms that drop out reference to God or the Bible, and not
lose anything. If the _only_ way in which you can formulate your point, if
the only way you can defend your political view, is by referring to the Will
of God, quoting the Literal Truth of the Bible, or from your sight of the
Form of the Good, then secularists argue that it isn't defensible as a
political belief. In this case, it is a religious belief or a philosophical
belief, but not a belief that you can debate on the Senate floor. And we
are not sure how you can have it any other way.
I'm not saying we should tear down the wall between church and state. I'm
just saying that this neopragmatic approach to politics doesn't seem to
help. It seems to try to solve social and political conflicts simply by
telling us who is good enough to attend the party and/or how they should
talk when they get there. Again, the very notion can only be asserted by one
from another planet, a planet where no creature has an ego or a will of his
own. I mean, do you honestly think the bible-thumpers would remain silent
while all references to God and the Bible are dropped? If you can get any
politician to go more than a month without making such a reference it would
be a miracle. I mean, what color is the sky in your world?
I think Pirsig sorts out these political issues much better. (Take a look at
chapter 24 of LILA.) In fact, the "vocabulary" approach somehow manages to
be shallow and incoherent at the same time. Its quite remarkable, really.
But this one is too long already.
Thanks, dear eye-strained reader.
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