Re: MD God relieves from suffering?

From: Elizaphanian (
Date: Tue Apr 15 2003 - 18:16:06 BST

  • Next message: Elizaphanian: "Re: MD Philosophy and Theology"

    Hi Wim,

    I liked your Kuitert extract very much; I also agree with your point about
    his postmodernism (the Word turned in on itself). I have the impression that
    this is what Derrida is presently engaged with, through his work on
    Augustine, but as I haven't studied it properly I couldn't say for certain.
    I'm not sure what was behind your naming of the thread though (when I saw
    it, I was expecting something else).

    You asked, "Could Kuitert's 'only real experience that does matter and that
    is universal' and his 'transcendence' refer to Pirsig's DQ?" I would suspect
    not. I would think it refers to Quality as such; if the 'only [thing] that
    does matter' is DQ then SQ, defined by contrast, becomes the realm of things
    that do not matter, and I don't think that's what the MoQ implies (to say
    'does not matter' implies 'has no value' - so how can it be Quality?). Plus
    which, there is, I would argue, a danger here in getting hung up on personal
    experience; a subject which we have discussed before, and I think you know
    what my views are - principally that the emphasis on personal experience is
    derived from subjectivist Modernism, and is religiously incoherent or
    otherwise irrelevant.

    I particularly like Kuitert's point about the Fathers, which is
    uncontentious within theological circles, yet causes ripples when brought to
    a wider audience, viz: "we are dealing with mythological imagery, that
    doesn't do justice to God.... Because the myth lacks transcendence, they
    said, and god should be transcendent or otherwise he isn't god." However, I
    disagree with him when he writes, "According to them the biblical depiction
    of god is that of religious myth and not to be taken seriously; the biblical
    images of god are appearances." I think he is here using a particular
    conception of myth which I would disagree with.

    What I object to is the (almost) imperceptible glide from calling something
    mythological to saying that it is 'not to be taken seriously'. I don't think
    that we can do without mythology (whether we eventually place it in level 3
    or level 4 of the MoQ). This has two aspects. The first is the 'shrub/tree'
    point - that the mythos shapes our logos, so, in a historical/genealogical
    sense we need to understand myth in order to be able to think at all.
    Science has its own mythos (and mystique, and priests and rituals) just as
    much as, in this intellectual sense, a religion. Secondly, I think that our
    cognitive faculties are irreducibly narrative in structure - this might even
    be embedded in our genetic heritage (if you have the capacity to communicate
    information through narrative, eg 'go left by the apple tree, walk two
    hundred years past the waterhole and there you will find the animal I
    slaughtered' then an evolutionary advantage is gained). This has the
    interesting corollary (which many theologians advocate for various reasons)
    that mythologies resist exhaustive abstraction - that you can't do without
    the symbol or the story, however much you quarry it for abstract
    intellectual insights.

    On this topic Kuitert further writes: "creating images never leads one to
    real transcendence", and "Transcendence cannot be caught in an image or
    formula, transcendence happens, occurs, befalls you, is an experience that
    is unconditional and universally binding."

    I think that images can be created, although they can't be created by an
    intellectual process (so much the worse for intellect). There seems to be a
    little Protestant iconoclasm at work in his thinking here - Eastern
    Orthodoxy has an entire spirituality built around the use of icons (think
    Andrei Rublev) so in what sense is it true that this prevents transcendence?
    Or is he saying that an entire religious tradition is invalid? (I doubt it).
    His perspective would seem to rule out the Quality of Art.

    I would like to bring in here something from the 'Philosophy and Theology'
    thread. I wrote (to Rick/DMB): "I (i) don't think it's possible to think
    without an underlying mythology (meta-narrative, final vocabulary, whatever)
    (ii) think that science operates within a mythology which is largely
    unacknowledged (iii) think that the Christian mythology, for all its faults,
    is superior to the scientific one (more precisely, it is superior to
    Modernism)...I'd also be interested to know what are the myths which he (and
    you) live by." I would be interested in your response to that, bringing in
    Kuitert as necessary.



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