Re: MD When is a metaphysics not a metaphysics?

Date: Mon Mar 01 2004 - 18:00:03 GMT

  • Next message: Matthew Poot: "Re: MD When is a metaphysics not a metaphysics?"

    Sam, David,

    Matt said:
    Two, I never said there was a problem with religion. There is only a problem with conversations that occur where there is minimal hope of agreement on anything of substance (hopes, purposes, language, etc.) which is what happens when a theist and an atheist talk about God. Which is why, when it happens on the Capital floor, I ask them to take it outside.

    Sam said:
    What counts as 'minimal hope'? Would it make a difference if that central clause were rewritten as 'when a fascist and a liberal talk about race'? In other words, are you saying that the (minimal) boundaries of democratic discourse need to be defended with arms? (ie force people to 'take it outside') If so, you are making religious discourse illegitimate within a democracy. Which DMB would agree with, I think, despite his other criticisms ;-) I don't agree with it. I think that can be demonstrated by pointing out the internal contradictions that liberal discourse generates, and the necessity of an external reference or input. In MoQ terms, the insufficiency of any SQ system, and the necessity to remain open to DQ. In the secular language space what are the mechanisms by which DQ insights can be integrated? (Don't say democracy, because that simply brings in religion by the back door! Same for free speech.)

    The contradiction of liberal discourse that Sam is talking about (at least, this is the one I'm familiar with) is when critics ask Rawls, after he says that a liberal society is the kind of society in which each citizen has the freedom to have their own "conception of the good," if his "justice as fairness" principle that governs liberal society is not just one of these conceptions. Its what happens when public schools say that they don't teach values at school, and religionists respond that the "secular humanism" they teach is a set of values. These are actually the types of connumdrums that Pirsigians have no patience with because we already know that no thing is valueless. So, does liberal democracy fall apart because of an internal, conceptual inconsistency, or can we neo-Enlightenment thinkers reformulate our point? (And, just in case people buy into the recent hack-and-slash campaign renewed against me, if I include myself under the any of the ever-proliferating, s
    ometimes grandiose appellations I use, it is only because I agree with the heavy hitters, not because I think I'm on a par with Oakeshott, Berlin, Rawls, or Rorty.)

    I think we can reformulate our point. Part of the answer is analogous to how Rorty answers the slightly misleading question, "So, is the pragmatist theory of truth itself true?" Both answers are that we need to look at the culture that is created by them, is an Enlightenment culture better than other cultures?

    Liberal culture is the culture that applies Mill's utilitarian point about what people are premitted to do for happiness to what governments are permitted to do to instill values. Secular humanism is a set of values, but it is the set of values that says that you can have your own conception of the good above and beyond secular humanism. It says that you can believe non-believers are going to hell as long as you get along with them at work. Any conception of the good, "above and beyond" secular humanism, that can make that concession, is one that can fit in liberal society.

    In other words, I am telling Sam and Wim to "go secularize" themselves. "Secular" is the word liberals use to denote something we can all talk about. I'm not asking Christians to stop talking about God altogether, I'm asking that they not talk about God when talking about health care or campaign financing. What denotes "minimal hope" cannot be defined because it is something that is muddled through and decided for each particular case. The only sense in which the boundaries of democratic discourse need to be defended with arms is the sense in which we should repel the Nazis and the Communists from taking over our government with arms. The only sense in which religious discourse is illegitimate in a democracy is the sense in which religious discourse poses as political discourse. In secular language, DQ _is_ left in the space of countenace by democracy. I'm not sure at all why this is a bad answer, except perhaps because the question is bad. Dewey secularized DQ by ta
    lking about America's "spirit of experimentalism." Its the fallibilism where we keep trying things, not to get it _right_, but because we want things to get better.

    Lately I've felt like I'm taking crazy pills in this conversation. What do people really think I'm saying? More to the point, I'm not sure what all of my critics are suggesting. I asked for proposals because that's the only way liberals can really understand a critique. We know that our way of life begs many of the important questions over the fundamentalists, but that's not a strike against one side or the other. What's a strike against fundamentalists is the type of persecution that would occur in a fundamentalist culture. And we need only look overseas to the Middle East for examples of what might happen. So, what I want to know is what everybody is proposing. Saying that you want self-criticism and understanding instead of a public/private split makes absolutely no sense to me because I still have no idea why they are mutually exclusive. I need something more specific.

    How is relgious discourse illigetimate? How do you keep it legitimate in your sense? Are talking about theology debates on the Senate floor? What are you talking about then? Are you talking about critical thinking about all things? Then explain to me why what I'm saying is somehow against that.

    I never said the public/private split solves all of our problems, political or otherwise, or helps us even think about all of our problems. It may help us think about some of our problems, however, like gay marriage. The question for secular humanists like myself is: how does gay marriage hurt me or my society? As far as I can tell, homosexuality is private and so is marriage, so I'm not sure why its really a debate.

    Pragmatism only leaves you empty-handed if you start asking it for things that its not supplying. Like secularism, its more like a purifying agent, then an orange or an apple to munch on. Once again, that's not a strike against pragmatism, that means you are confused in what pragmatism is supposed to do.


    p.s. We appear to have come to some intersubjective agreement, however, on the issue of poo-tasting.

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