RE: MD When is a metaphysics not a metaphysics?

From: David Buchanan (
Date: Sun Feb 29 2004 - 02:32:51 GMT

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    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.

    dmb says:
    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'
    vocabulary" help?...

    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.

    dmb says:
    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.

    Matt said:
    ..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.")

    dmb says:
    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.

    Matt said:
    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.

    dmb says:
    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.

    dmb says:
    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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