Re: MD secular humanism and dynamic quality

From: David MOREY (
Date: Sun Mar 28 2004 - 14:55:39 BST

  • Next message: Platt Holden: "Re: MD secular humanism and dynamic quality"


    thanks for your thoughts, we certainly
    need a more adult political culture, also culture generally,
    perhaps us all getting older may help.

    David M

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "David Buchanan" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Sunday, March 28, 2004 2:14 AM
    Subject: RE: MD secular humanism and dynamic quality

    > Sam, Matt, DM, Leland and all MOQers:
    > dmb says:
    > Let me begin by saying how interesting this thread has been. There are
    > dozens of points that are compelling enough to require a response, but,
    > the sake of brevity, I've decided not to do the point by point thing this
    > time. Instead I'd like to take a step back and do a big picture in broad
    > strokes kind of thing. By way of introduction, as a way to get you in the
    > mood, here is a snippet of one exachange between Matt and David M...
    > Matt said to DM:
    > You are right to wonder, (if views like being kind to each other or
    > cruelty may in fact prove to be shallow and uninspiring.) but Rorty and I
    > hope not because those thin kinds of views are the only types of things we
    > can see a culturally diverse population agreeing on. One's reasons for
    > kind may differ, but we take the view that cruelty is the worst thing you
    > can do as the least common denominator of the type of people we want
    > around.
    > ...So, when we are talking politics, we need a vocabulary we can agree
    > and in the face of diversity it's going to end up being thin. The only
    > strategy we've come up with so far to help us stick to a vocabulary we can
    > agree on is secularization.
    > David M replied:
    > ...problem is, as Rorty accepts, things are not looking very good for
    > liberalism. Problem is real solutions are not on the agenda, the call is
    > arms, and we've got millions of them! We continue with a lesser of many
    > evils approach, is there a path to something that is actually good? Can we
    > just walk away from the edge of the abyss? ...the result of us letting the
    > oil go? Can the US do without the world's resources? ...all those
    > anti-democracy regimes we propped up from the cold war ...Iraq? Can
    > something good be achieved? I
    > think we may be in more trouble than hanging or to liberalism can handle,
    > because we are probably are going to be able to hang on to it.
    > dmb says:
    > I'd go even further - or is it just bigger and broader? - and say that
    > of our problems are NOT ONLY too much for liberalism to handle, some of
    > most serious problems are intimately tied in with those problems. The
    > vulgar aspects of materialism and the benefits of liberal democracy are
    > part of the same package. Modernity has its good and bad sides and it
    > that Matt and David aren't really making mutually exclusive cases. They
    > both be right...
    > Ken Wilber in his INTEGRAL PSYCHOLOGY:
    > "Modernity, it is said, marked the death of God, the commodification of
    > life, the leveling of qualitative distinctions, the brutalities of
    > capitalism, the replacement of quality by quantity, the loss of value and
    > meaning, the fragmentation of the lifeworld, existential dread, polluting
    > industrialization, a rampant and vulgar materialism - all of which have
    > often been summarized in the phrase made famous by Max Weber: 'the
    > disenchantment of the world'. ...But clearly there were some immensely
    > positive aspects of modernity as well, for it also gave us the liberal
    > democracies; ideals of equality, freedom and justice, regardless of race,
    > class, creed, or gender; modern medicine, physics, biology and chemistry;
    > the end of slavery; the rise of feminism; and the universal rights of
    > kind. Those, surely, are a little more noble than the mere 'disenchantment
    > of the world'."
    > dmb says:
    > If I understand the problem, its all about 'the disenchantement'. Along
    > a scientific world view we also get the death of God, the loss of value
    > meaning, existential dread, or in Pirsig's terms, "a terrible secret
    > lonliness", "a culture of millions of isolated people living and dying in
    > little cells of psychic solitary confinement" The process of trying to
    > politics from religion and science from both has produced wonderful
    > principles like the seperation of church and state, freedom of speech and
    > all the rest, but it has also gone too far in that process of
    > differentiation so that the domains are divorced, alienated and
    > disassociated to the point of hostility. I mean, its good for both science
    > and religion to have independence, but why should they be hostile to each
    > other and at odds? This is only the most conspicuous example of the
    > of Modernity. And its no accident that liberal democracy, as a child of
    > Modernity, hasn't done a very good job of dealing with this. I wouldn't
    > suggest we tear down the wall of seperation, but it strikes me as a
    > over, a sweeping under the rug. I have no good answers, nothing better
    > this ancient bandage, but it is becoming increasingly clear that we need
    > something better. I mean, when fundamentalism is in a pitched battle with
    > vulgar materialism its hard to get behind either side. We all lose no
    > who wins that one.
    > Ken Wilber, again from INTEGRAL PSYCHOLOGY:
    > "..the major philosophers of the Enlightenment were committed to what we
    > would recognize as an empirical-scientific outlook, in any of its many
    > forms; sensationalism, empiricism, naturalism, realism, materialism. And
    > there was good reason for this empirical slant. ... But the inherent
    > downsides of this approach are perhaps obvious: All subjective truths
    > (introspection, consciousneess, art, beauty) and all intersubjective
    > (morals, justice, substantive values) were collapsed into exterior,
    > empirical, sensorimotor occasions. Collapsed, that is, into dirt.
    > The great nightmare of scientific materialism was upon us (Whitehead), the
    > nightmare of one-dimensional man (Marcuse), the disqualified universe
    > (Mumford), the colonization of art and morals by science (Habermas), the
    > disenchantment of the world (Weber) - a nightmare I have also called
    > flatland. ...The spiritual dimension, it was solemnly announced, was
    > but a wish-fulfillment of infantile needs (Freud), an opaque ideology for
    > opressing the masses (Marx), or a projection of human potentials
    > (Feuerbach). Spirituality is thus a deep confusion that apparently plagued
    > humanity for approximately a million years, until just recently, a mere
    > centures ago, when modernity pledged allegiance to sensory science, and
    > promptly decided that the entire world contained nothing but matter,
    > The bleakness of the modern scientific proclamation is chilling."
    > dmb concludes:
    > In the long term, I'm not sure if a nation that operates upon the "thin"
    > views of the "lowest common denominator" with "technocratic language" can
    > long endure, achieve any real greatness or act as a moral force in the
    > world. Surely we can't go backward in history and we do not want theocracy
    > or anything that puts the state behind a sectarian religion view. But
    > provided the assertions can stand up to intellectual scrutiny, I don't see
    > why political philosophers, political scientists, or even actual
    > should be barred from openly considering spiritual values in their work.
    > convinced that the seperate domains can be reintegrated at a higher level
    > discourse. I mean, it seems that Pirsig's levels crack the problem open
    > better than describing it a differing vocabularies. If the level of debate
    > is raised to the intellectual level, disscussing the values that are
    > to all religions or the mystical core of all religions for example, we can
    > talk about God on the Senate floor without violating the constitution or
    > wasting people's time. I mean, I agree with Sam's point - on steroids. I
    > only think we need to talk about what is most worth doing, and not just
    > best to do them, I think we need to talk about some deep issues and make
    > some global decisions. Don't you think its time the liberal democracies
    > up, especially the United States? And if we had a more rational and mature
    > public conversation about spiritual matters, don't you think there would
    > far fewer fundamentalists - who very much insist on talking about God on
    > Senate floor - in this country? I do. I really think it would help. The
    > problem is, no one really knows how to do it yet. I think the language is
    > just now being invented.
    > Thanks,
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