Re: MD God relieves from suffering?

From: Wim Nusselder (
Date: Thu Apr 17 2003 - 22:52:25 BST

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    Dear Platt,

    You wrote 17 Apr 2003 11:21:07 -0400:
    'I don't agree with [Kuitert's] definition of postmodernism as the movement
    that rid the Western world of heresy. Instead, that was the great
    contribution of the Enlightenment.'

    I don't read such a definition in his words. He described 'postmodern
    culture' as 'the stage of not charging others with heresy anymore'.
    The Enlightenment indeed enabled people to substitute the distinction
    between true and false ideas for the distinction between orthodox and
    heretic ideas. It claimed that rational thinking and/or empirical methods
    would enable one to make this distinction. As most people most of the time
    are NOT thinking rationally and are using rules of thumb indirectly and
    often mistakenly derived from experience rather than empirical methods, the
    'modern culture' resulting from Enlightenment is the stage of people
    charging others of entertaining false ideas, of people judging one another
    by their ideas.
    The Dutch word 'verketteren' which I translated (probably too literally) as
    'charge with heresy' is commonly used in a broader, more metaphorical sense
    then the way you interpreted it. It rather means 'denunciate', like we often
    do on this list (-;

    Don't you think that 'postmodern culture' (to be distinguished from your
    'postmodern movement'), understood as a step beyond 'modern culture' in the
    sense that people do not denunciate each other any more for their ideas, is
    a step forward? 'Postmodern culture' as Kuitert (I think) means it, is
    simply a culture with freedom of speech.

    But ... if everyone can express any opinion and if during centuries of
    'modern culture' neither rationality nor empiricism apparently produced much
    consensus, how can we know what ideas are more valuable than others?
    Rational thinking and empirical testing have been proven incredible as means
    to choose between ways of giving our lives Meaning, both individually and
    That's why we need a step even beyond 'postmodern culture' and just freedom
    to each follow our own lights.

    To return to the start of this thread: simply invoking 'God', as a reference
    to old myths or to a personlike being who will choose for us and relieve us
    from suffering, is no solution.
    I don't think that man's command of 'the Word' is a solution either.
    Everyone simply creates his own world of words (his own 'final
    vocabulary'?). That won't prevent us from falling in the old habit of
    pitting our words against those of others, charging them of 'heresy' or
    'falsehood' or whatever. ('Man is for a while a governor of spirit, because
    he commands the word, and the power of the word is spirit.' was not my
    statement, but Kuitert's.)
    Man's command of Beauty and Meaning may be the solution. Beauty and Meaning
    can indeed be said to reflect the 'spirit' or 'god'. And if we experience
    Beauty and Meaning in direct, personal, intimate relationship, we can also
    write 'Spirit' or 'God'.

    With friendly greetings,


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