Re: MD When is a metaphysics not a metaphysics?

From: David MOREY (
Date: Thu Feb 26 2004 - 10:39:47 GMT

  • Next message: MATTHEW PAUL KUNDERT: "Re: MD When is a metaphysics not a metaphysics?"


    Read your email to yourself.
    Problem is your separation hope is pure fantasy.
    The problem is not religion but dogmatism and
    resistance to the plural reality, which is the case with
    low quality religion and low quality politics and ideas
    of any kind. The whole point of MOQ is to 'take
    a position' on the universality of DQ and proclaim it as your highest value.
    That makes us very different from a lot of other people out there
    who use the word freedom as a means of oppression and
    master-slave relations, as you know. I think the DQ/SQ metaphysics
    could work well both with liberationist politics and liberationist theology
    and also western and eastern notions of enlightenment, but
    the chances of it playing this role is limited. I think the real key to all
    this may be overcoming the current crisis of reason that MOQ diagnoses.
    For now, the truth is nowhere to be found.

    David M

    out there, where

    ----- Original Message -----
    To: <>
    Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2004 12:04 AM
    Subject: Re: MD When is a metaphysics not a metaphysics?

    > Wim,
    > This last post you've added I've found the most pointed.
    > First, on vocabularies:
    > Wim said:
    > 'If you're not content any more with "vocabulary" defined as a "systematic
    arrangement or organization of your beliefs", please provide another one',
    as vocabulary appears to be a core concept in your terminology.
    > Matt:
    > I think of it as a way of speaking. For instance, as you are right to
    point out, the concept of a "vocabulary" is important in my vocabulary.
    Rorty is one of the pioneers of the "'vocabulary' vocabulary" (as Robert
    Brandom put it). I think of it terms of a conversation. For different
    conversations, you may use different words. For instance, in Christian
    conversations the words "God," "Church," and "Jesus" are important, whereas
    in football (Americana) the words "Quaterback," "Hike," and "Touchdown" are
    important. If you don't understand what these words mean, then you won't
    understand much of what those respective conversations are about. And the
    fact that these conversations don't overlap very much in terms of the
    purpose, goals, and concepts of the conversation (except the word "Sunday,"
    as in "What's more important for me to do on Sunday?") it becomes possible
    to make a viable distinction between them as being different conversations
    and using different vocabularie
    > s. There is, however, no permanent or fixed distinction between
    conversations and vocabularies except for the ones that we make. One
    distinction that William James suggested is a distinction between "science"
    and "religion." James' "Will to Believe," in this sense, was the
    dialectical update of Kant's "Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone."
    He wrote it to balance his scientific, pioneering efforts in psychology and
    his father's Swedenborgian theology. Another distinction that the
    Enlightenment thinkers suggested is a distinction between the "public
    sphere" and the "private sphere."
    > This turns to the heart of our (apparent) differences. There are two
    reasons why neo-Enlightenment political thinkers would like a separation
    between church and state, between the private and the public. One is to
    protect certain decisions that we think should be left up to the individual.
    Things like "Should I believe in God?", " What is the meaning of life?",
    "What should I do with my life?", "What book should I read next?", "Should I
    have eggs for breakfast or a bagel? Or both...?", etc., etc. The other is
    for purposes of expediency. As my oft repeated slogan goes, we don't want
    to re-enact the Republic on the Senate floor.
    > What I keep dancing away from and you keep trying to get me to admit is
    that "a Metaphysics of Quality ... DOES have relevance for politics." You
    want, for instance, "religious truths/insights/inspirations" to have
    political relevance. The only extent to which I see them as political
    relevant is the sense in which they motivate _you_, the believer, to make
    practical suggestions, for doing "social stuff." Here's what it boils down
    to: if you have a vision from God who tells you that homosexuals should be
    able to marry within the eyes of the law if they want to, the only part that
    matters is your belief about homosexuals, not where you got it from. 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. More to the point, if you
    start talking in terms of Quality, where does that leave other people who
    don't like Pirsig, or more probably,
    > have never read Pirsig?
    > I think we have to leave religion and philosophy at the door of the
    Capital on two counts: one, we don't want to start forcing people to have
    certain conversations to be able to do certain things and two, if we ever
    want to get anything done, we might want to leave a 2500+ year old
    conversation at the door. I say "at the door of the Capital" for a very
    specific reason. Its because if you and others would like to form a group
    that uses a "Quality vocabulary" to create a social vision and even to make
    practical suggestions, then you have every right to do so and I think it
    would be great. Anything that brings people together to do good stuff can't
    be bad. 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.
    > (As a side note, I have never dissuaded anyone (so far as I can remember)
    from talking about practical things or turning _this_ group towards
    generating a great social vision. The only things I've said on the subject
    are: A) count me out and B) I doubt you'll get very far in _this_ group. I
    have a feeling the group's political differences are too great for one
    generally agreed upon social vision to emerge. The only times I've ever
    spoken on the subject are when people have said things to me, in
    conversation with me or having butted into a conversation I was having
    ("butting in" is a very fuzzy line on the internet, but it can be drawn
    sometimes). At most, I've reacted slightly negative because the person was
    trying to chastise me for only sticking to philosophy. That's when I start
    talking about the purposes of this forum and private and public and blah,
    blah. I see this forum as being a private installation that allows for any
    conversation you would like (within certa
    > in limits). As such, it can accommodate as many visions of what the
    purpose of the forum should be as there are people (something that has been
    a bit of an annoyance to some). So, when I say, "the purpose of this forum
    is...," 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.")
    > Your points about the current political scenes of the West I think are
    either slightly besides the point or an agreement on the point I would like
    to make. In the case of "constitutions, democracy and all kinds of checks
    and balances," these are exactly the practical incarnations of the
    public/private distinction I'm talking about. The outcome of these
    incarnations, we neo-Enlightenment political thinkers think, is the
    secularization of our political conversations. If you are suggesting
    something different, I'm still not sure what it is. I still don't see how
    the two of us are going to talk about God and get anything practical done,
    which is exactly what I'm talking about. It may be a tad ironic that I keep
    saying that we should leave philosophy aside when talking social stuff, and
    then refuse to talk social stuff on this list, but I find it a tad ironic
    that you are talking about incorporating your Quaker beliefs in your talk
    about social stuff, yet I find so little of
    > it in our conversation. 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 stumbling blocks. It says its okay not to
    talk about philosophy or religion when we are making policy. "Do not block
    the road of inquiry" said Peirce and as far as I can see, Plato and God
    would block our inquiry as to how to solve some of our social problems.
    > In the case of American politics, you've caught me mixing the real with
    the ideal, but all good political thoughts, I should say, are just that. It
    is true, America doesn't always live up to its image, the image handed down
    by its forefathers, those Enlightenment thinkers, particularly Jefferson.
    One area it doesn't is in its secularization of politics. Rorty and I both
    lament that, still to this day, people who are professed atheists won't get
    elected to public office, certainly not the highest office.
    > You say that "this thin strip of public opinion making only leads to
    compromises of the kind that safeguard and promote American material and
    otherwise short-term interests at the expense of the social and ecological
    balance in your own society and in global society as a whole." My response
    is that I don't see how any other society could prevent such a perversion of
    image. I don't think there is anything perverted with the public/private
    distinction that would necessarily lead to such a stripmine attitude about
    the world. The turn taken by America, indeed all nations, is taken by
    perverted _people_, the greedy oligarchies and kleptocrats. If you are
    thinking that a nation whose state religion was Christianity and quoted
    Bible scripture on the Senate floor, not for inspiration, but as a debating
    point, would be more morally suited than our ostensibly secular one, I have
    only to point to the Crusades. Good ideas like "do unto others as you would
    have them do unto you" can
    > always be perverted by people. Its the people who are the problem.
    Which is why the West invented democracy.
    > In the end, you are right, 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. A
    turning point in my life was when I looked around at my fellows at Church,
    fellows who believed in God whereas I did not, and noticed that I acted just
    as morally, if not more so, then they, that I acted like a good Christian,
    just without the Cosmic Christ bit. 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, sound moral intuitions that Christianity
    gave us, things like "love thy neighbor," 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. For purposes of politics, we may separate the
    religious from the political, but that doesn't mean we are suggesting that
    they don't influence each other. It simply means that the only way we can
    imagine having Hamilton's pluralistic salad bowl society is if we privatize
    some of our beliefs and leave them out of the political conversation.
    > So, do you want a colorful salad, or do you want a grey gruel?
    > Matt

    MOQ.ORG -
    Mail Archives:
    Aug '98 - Oct '02 -
    Nov '02 Onward -
    MD Queries -

    To unsubscribe from moq_discuss follow the instructions at:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Feb 26 2004 - 14:22:18 GMT