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A Critique of Science (continued). 22. August, 2013, Blogging my thoughts

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A Critique of Science (continued). 22. August, 2013

I’ve been reading Polanyi on religion and science this morning and that is giving me more thoughts about the piece I just wrote yesterday about the MD’s setting up that health outpost in the jungle under a shaman. The question becomes how could the shaman have understood things that the medical doctor only learned in medical school?

I think it has to do with his living in and understanding his world as densely populated by spirits, to use Dr. Herndon’s description of their cultural thought world. Thinking in terms of spirits is a way of thinking in terms of faith and thus thinking in terms of God, because “God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24)

It is problematic when faith is replaced by one way of understanding, because, as a base,  a genuine faith is open to many paths on the way to understanding. As St. Anselm said, “I believe in order to understand.”[1] If we substitute one way of understanding for faith then a reductionism becomes involved that disregards the totality of the picture that a faith cognizant of the whole can provide. Faith, an open faith, that is, should not be marginalized for the sake of one way of understanding. It is rather foolish for some scientists of today to argue for the non-existence of God, as if science could replace faith. And it is as foolish for representatives of a faith to reduce their faith to one way of understanding.

Polanyi argues that the reductionism of science is problematic for human beings.

Modern science and scientific philosophy cannot analyze the human person without reducing it to a machine. This flows from assuming that all mental processes are to be explained in terms of neurology, which in their turn must be represented as a chart of physical and chemical processes. The damage wrought by the modern scientific outlook is actually even more extensive. It tends toward replacing everywhere the personal I-Thou by the impersonal I-It.[2]

To continue quoting Polanyi:

We can go farther. Evidently any attempt to identify the particulars of an entity would involve a shift of attention from the entity to the particulars. We would have to relax the intention given to the whole for the sake of the discovering its particulars which we had noticed until now only by being aware of them as part of the whole. So that once we have succeeded in fully identifying these particulars, and are in fact attending to them now directly in themselves, we clearly shall not be relying any more on our awareness of them as particulars of the whole and therefore will inevitably have lost sight of the whole altogether.[3]

The emphasis on ecology in science is now trying to correct this historical defect. Polanyi continues:

This fact is abundantly borne out by half a century of Gestalt psychology. We may put it as follows. It is not possible to be aware of a particular in terms of its contribution to a whole and at the same time to focus our attention on it in itself. Or again, since it is not possible to be aware of anything at the same time subsidiarily and focally, we necessarily tend to lose sight of an entity by attending focally to its particulars.[4]

That “entity” Polanyi is referring to is a person or spirit that even understands nature in an I-Thou relationship, let alone in relation to human beings. On the other hand, science has the tendency to make even human beings into objects in an I-It relationship.

The long citation from Polanyi above explains what Dr. Herndon described as “the narrow lens of science looking through a tunnel, becoming limited by what the scientist chooses to see.” Suddenly, the story about looking for a lost ring, that could have been lost anywhere, only under the street lamp of science, is the metaphor that came to my mind.

Dr. Herndon claimed that the missionary and the government officials destroyed the “shell of spirit” in marginalizing the shaman and the tribal world of knowledge, their treasury of wisdom, making the tribe completely dependent upon them. [5] (Teilhard de Chardin would speak of the particular self-generated envelope of thought as their “noosphere.”) Evidently tribal members think not in terms of concepts, or with an experimental scientific method, but through experiencing and thinking in terms of spirits, which is their path to understanding.

In his world of thought, the shaman claimed that an evil spirit was in a forest, because that was his way of thinking and understanding in terms of spirits. He did not know the scientific particulars, in terms of rodents in the forest spreading a microbial disease, but he was grappling with the fact that tribal members who went into that forest died and he could not cure them, thus an evil spirit was at work.

In conclusion, science is of course a very important and crucial pathway to understanding and impacting our lives and environment, but it is not the only pathway, and it still has to make way for faith, for an open faith, not one that distorts it or tries to replace it, but a faith that checks our totalitarian attitude about its being the only way to reliable knowledge. Did our false, dominating spirit of monotheism somehow get into scientists? Christ showed us the way and it’s a humble, suffering helpfulness, even in epistemology.


[1] Compare St. Anselm with Descartes: “I think, therefore I am.” This philosophical conviction is certainly a reductionism of living, acting, and experience to thought. These can all be thought but not be reduced to thought, for example, a relationship is more than the analysis of it.

[2] Michael Polanyi, “The Scientific Revolution,” in Hugh C. White, ed., Christians in a Technological Era, (New York: Seabury Press, 1964), p. 28.

[3]Ibid., Page 30.

[4] Ibid.

[5] From notes that I took at Dr. Christopher Herndon’s power point presentation. See my previous blog.

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Hearing about a Health Outpost set up in the Jungle, Blogging my thoughts by Peter Krey

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Hearing about a Health Outpost set up in the Jungle

Blogging my thoughts by Peter Krey

 

My friend Ron Moore and I attended a presentation by Dr. Christopher Herndon M.D.[1] on August 15, 2013 at 7:00pm in the Bone Room on Solano Avenue in Berkeley. His lecture or PowerPoint presentation was called, “Learning from Tribal Healers.” Over the last ten years or so, he has been working with remote Amazon tribes in South America, more precisely, southern Suriname. The card advertising his presentation read: “He will discuss his experiences learning from Amazon healers, that is, shamans and the relevance of traditional medicine to conservation and the importance of shamanism to their medical systems – and to our own.”[2]

Dr. Herndon’s purpose was to persuade us about the value of the world of knowledge of the traditional shaman of these remote tribes, many of which were becoming extinct.  This wisdom became lost after contact with the West, when government officials and Christian missionaries considered the shamans to be witch doctors, caught up only in negative superstition and evil spirits. But the shaman like glue held the whole tribe together. Usually from childhood he was brought up to become one and had long, even ten-year apprenticeships on his way to become the accepted shaman of the tribe.

Dr. Herndon told that when a botanist learned the language of a tribe one shaman could designate 2000 different species of trees by merely looking at the leaf from that tree. Usually a western PhD in botany needed another component besides the leaf and could not even name 25 trees in the area in which he lived. A zoologist with a PhD studying bees, asked a tribal member about them, who named 52 different varieties of bees, dumbfounding him by his knowledge of the flora and fauna.  A shaman also knew the healing properties of many leaves and vines, insects and the secretion of frogs, and medicines from under the bark of trees. They had diagnostic capabilities that were dumbfounding to a Western medical doctor knowing what he had learned in medical school. But it took the love to take the time to learn their language and the humility to listen to the shaman and learn what he knew. What opened up for the western MD was his universe of knowledge, his treasury of wisdom, which is ordinarily lost thirty years after a shaman was driven from the tribe. In this way cutting the whole tribe off from the source of its knowledge and culture, it was then placed on its way to extinction. Before that point it was made completely dependent on the West in unsustainable ways. In a medical health clinic set for western medicine, he was discussing a diagnosis with the indigenous staff. He looked through their microscope and discovered that it was broken. They were merely pretending to use it for their take on the diagnosis.

Dr. Herndon set up a traditional health outpost in Suriname in an Amazonian tribe known as the Trio and reinstated the shaman to be the tribal healer.[3]  This traditional health outpost is designed to complement a western medical clinic nearby. After he set it up and invited the shaman who had been shunned to return and do his work, Dr. Herndon did the best thing he could do. He left them alone. He flew to Washington, D.C. returning by plane after a few months. These remote jungle locations are only accessible by air. While landing, from the plane he could see a long line waiting to see the shaman at the health outpost.

Dr. Herndon presented many examples of the diagnostic capabilities and the treasury of wisdom possessed by the shaman lost to us because of our feelings of superiority and complete disregard of their knowledge and culture. Meanwhile contact with the West was destroying one tribe after another and many more are nearing extinction after becoming completely dependent on the West. (Not the pharmaceutical were threatening the tribes quite so much as oil, mineral, and lumber extraction.)

For example, some tribes use 12 to 13 foot long blow pipes with poison darts to hunt the monkeys they consume for food. The poison they use is a muscle relaxant that makes the monkey fall silently through the trees and vines to the ground. (Their “poison” is used in every operating room today, but of course, there is no way to give them intellectual property rights.) After contact with the West, tribal hunters use shotguns, disturbing the whole environment and making all the animals flee, with the wounded animal as well.  Because the monkey’s muscles do not relax, they remain inaccessible because they cling and stay way up in the trees. Then the hunters run out of ammunition and can’t afford to buy more, and to add insult to injury, they no longer know how to make the medicine.

Dr. Herndon’s talk provided me with many theological insights. To preach Christ and do missionary work that decimates the culture of the people contradicts Christ. “Who is as blind as my servant?”[4] asked the prophet Isaiah. To be a missionary means to continue the incarnation of Christ. That requires becoming one of the people, to become a tribal member by learning the language, learning their culture, learning the treasury of their wisdom. Tribal members are still very much in touch with nature and “know the leaves of the trees that heal the nations” as written in Revelation.[5] “Who is as blind as my servant?” The missionaries who preach Christ without continuing his incarnation in their lives impose an alien and unsustainable culture upon the tribal members that contradicts the incarnation of Christ. Why are we so inflexible and why have we lost the sensitivity and capability to become one of the people we are trying to win? St. Paul said, “To a Jew I became a Jew in order to win the Jews…to the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.”[6] In a sense in our culture blindness we crucify not only the witch doctors but the whole tribe as well, because the extinction of the whole tribe with its language, culture, and treasury of wisdom is certainly comparable to their crucifixion.

Plus we have to thank God for a secularism permeated with wonderful values that freed an M.D. from the blinders of Christian missionaries and government officials to see the value in shamans, whom the missionaries swept aside as demonic witch doctors. They certainly are sinners[7] caught up in some deception and self-deception but so are we and in the self-righteousness and presumption of our faith we act as if we are not.

Dr. Herndon was not anti-religious or using this critique against missionaries, the way for the sake of self-criticism, I am doing here. But his talk made me realize our vast shortcomings, which we need ourselves as missionaries to become aware of, at this point. What a waste of lives, culture, and wisdom has followed our witness when we do not continue the incarnation ourselves when we preach Christ.

(I want to also include his critique of science and scientific, technological medicine below), but first more about what I mean by continuing the incarnation.  He spoke about the field coordinator of his organization, a David Fleck, PhD, who has lived with an Amazonian tribe full-time since 2008, became fluent in their language, wrote a grammar for it as his doctoral dissertation, and married a member of the tribe. This kind of loving embodiment and of their culture and world, this total cultural immersion by baptism is the continuation of the incarnation and provides the possibility for the grace that brings abundant life to these tribal members and whole tribes rather than their destruction and extinction.

“Dear God, forgive us Christians! We are such cultural barbarians! Forgive us for the things we have done. Intercede for us again from the cross, saying: “Father, forgive them they know not what they do!”

Dr. Herndon’s critique of science was similar to the critique I have mounted to our religion. Western science relies on reductionism to more and more simple elements. In that culture complexities and potency were also understood in a way that is outside the purview of our science. Without the unsustainable technology of our scientific medicine, the shaman could make diagnoses like the ones the doctor had learned in medical school. Dr. Herndon argued that because of its methodology of reductionism, science looked through a narrow lens through a tunnel, limiting us by what we chose to see and making us disregard the value of the knowledge of the tribal shaman and the treasury of their tribal wisdom.

While he was speaking, a telling analogy came to my mind: a person lost a ring at night knowing not where but looking for it under a streetlamp. Another coming upon him asked, “Why are you looking for it here?” “Because here is where I have light.” he answered. But the ring could lie anywhere in the darkness outside of the perimeter of the light thrown by the streetlamp. Scientific medicine in its knowledge does not grasp the complexities and intensities from a perspective of an ever greater wholeness, which lets the tribal members have sunlight in the places where our scientific streetlight does not shine.

Dr. Herndon said that the shamans lived in a world densely populated with spirits. Houston Smith claims that Jesus, who was filled with the Spirit, was completely acquainted with the spirit world and used his Spirit attendant powers for exorcism, healing, challenging people, and pronouncing a whole new social order. I guess our missionaries would have shunned and deposed Jesus Christ as a witch doctor!

When I asked Dr. Herndon about their spirit world, he said, “What is an evil spirit? They said a certain forest had an evil spirit. Don’t go in it if you value your life. We discovered a certain kind of rodent there that could give you a disease (He named the fever.) from which you died, because the shaman had no cure. That is what they referred to as the evil spirit.”[8] They may not know about germs and other microbes, like bacteria and viruses, or about radio waves and their frequencies, but they grasp and think through some of these phenomena in terms of personalized spirits in a way that helps them understand some aspects of reality in ways modern science cannot.

The question was asked about how effective the cures of the shaman in the health outpost were. This question could not yet be answered because there was no way to evaluate the practice, but when the missionaries were translating the Bible into the tribal language they had given some members of the tribe the literary skills to read and write and these members of the tribe were writing down the basic medical information about each case that the shaman was treating. [Note how missionaries did make a contribution, too.] These medical notes will provide the basic information to be used for later evaluation. How effective is our modern scientific technological medicine? He asked. Our technology is unsustainable and we really don’t know how effective our practice of medicine is either for cancer, for example.

Somehow, I think that secularism is a complementary place that Christianity provides, or has been compelled to provide, in order to make its faith one that can be accepted freely by persuasion without governmental or even social coercion and if it is not a stepchild of Christianity, it certainly belongs to Christianity in some way. Thank God for it, because it gives some the freedom to explore the world without the blinders that often accompany the faithful. These blinders make us stumble into the self-contradictory place where Christian missionaries would have shunned and driven away Christ as a witch doctor. The fact is that missionaries, especially scientifically trained medical doctors cannot be self-critical enough of their science as well as of their religion.

Now perhaps in a contradictory way, I ask myself, the way science has overtaken the “science” of antiquity and even the “science” of the deep past, i.e. the millennia before Christ; some human understandings in anthropology, linguistics, sociology, and psychology have also overtaken the state of knowledge of humanity represented in our theology. In other words, the science of scripture does not only need to be updated, but our understanding of the human being as well. We are stumbling around in the dark in our own culture, the way our missionaries have been among those Amazonian tribes.  Today we have to continue aligning the incarnation of Christ with the preaching of Christ more and more deeply, like the example given by Dr. David Fleck. That means listening and learning the Gospel of Christ for today. Thus the spirit world will have to be better interpreted to gain the holistic, complex, personal, social, and anthropological dimensions that tribal treasuries of wisdom contained – complementing the understandings of modern science. The spirit world interpreted as personal, internal, subjective wisdom needs to complement our external, methodological scientific knowledge as we seek to listen, learn, and incarnate Christ today.


[2] The Bone Room Presents its August Events, Solano Avenue, Berkeley, Ca www.boneroompresents.com

[4] Cf. Isaiah 42:19.

[5] Rev 22:2, cf. Ezekiel 47:12.

[6] 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.

[7] Dr. Herndon discovered that they knew a great deal about human anatomy and shuddered to think how they learned so much about human internal organs.  Some of their superstitions are quite repugnant.

[8] Studying Houston Smith is well worthwhile: The World’s Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions, (New York: Harper San Francisco, 1991, 1958) pages 318ff.

Written by peterkrey

August 20, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Notes from the Book “Luther and Hegel” by Ulrich Asendorf

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How is Luther’s Theology Related to Hegel’s Philosophy?

notes taken by Peter Krey

Notes from reviewing Ulrich Asendorf’s Luther and Hegel: Untersuchung zur Grundlegung einer Neuen Systematischen Theologie, (An Investigation for the Foundation of a New Systematic Theology), (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, GMBH, 1982), an 11 page Bibliograpgy, 529 pages in all.

I studied sections of this book when I was working on the question: „Does the Immanent Trinity Precede the Economic Trinity in Hegel?” It became a 200 page unfinished manuscript. When I was writing it I was really exploring Hegel and books about the Holy Trinity in order to understand the question. I was in an open ended, exploratory mode of thinking, which precludes the possibility of finishing a work.

Now I realize that the economic Trinity refers to God as relating to creation, redemption, and sanctification of humankind on earth, while the immanent Trinity is the blessed Triune Godhead in God’s self; the Aseity of God, in philosophical terms.

According to the paradoxical principle, which Hegel as a Lutheran held, that the finite is capable of containing infinity (finitum capax infiniti) and thus in concert with it, for Hegel the economic Trinity does precede and hold the immanent Trinity. Then again, however, for Hegel, the matter goes through a reversal, because of his arguing for logical precedence over chronological precedence; or as in Jesus saying, “Before Abraham was, I am,” that is, the precedence of God’s Son’s divine nature coming before his human nature.

Thus the question has to be understood in its double paradox, namely that first, the economic Trinity precedes the immanent Trinity and then secondly, that logical and ontological states precede chronological time. But from this vantage point it is now possible to read Hegel and determine what his position is on the question. In this way my work on Hegel could once again proceed and not try to cover the whole waterfront or to say the same thing in German: um nicht ins Uferlose zu vergehen.

Here are some notes taken while rereading Asendorf’s Luther and Hegel: (N.B.: All the following translations from the German are mine.)

Asendorf, page 151: “Luther’s teaching concerning the Trinity concentrates on the coming of God to us, thus on the economic Trinity. With this salvation-economic conception of the Trinity, Luther joins himself above all with Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Athanasius, in once again placing a different accent on this teaching from that of Augustine, for whom the salvation-economic interest clearly begins to disappear.”

Asendorf, page 152: Luther discloses (erschliesst) the immanent Trinity from the economic Trinity: “In view of early Scholasticism [with its emphasis on the immanent Trinity] [Luther] continues his tendency of placing a strong emphasis on the economic Trinity in [an ever greater] opposition to Scholasticism, thus liberating the teaching of the Trinity from its isolation. From the revealed Trinity he discloses the immanent Trinity. Again Luther sustains his thinking through salvation history, when he understands the teaching of the Trinity essentially from an economic salvation perspective, or better yet, he opens up access to the teaching of the Trinity from this vantage-point, and this fact is precisely the strongest proof for his historically mediated thinking. It seems therefore justified that such a conceptualization of the teaching of the Trinity can be recognized as a prefiguration of Hegelian thinking. With the prior significance of history and with it, the economic Trinity, the secret of the inner workings of the Trinity (opera trinitatis ad intra]; whose explication is impossible without speculative help, opens up.”

Asendorf cites R. Jansen in a footnote: “If Luther can use the same Bible verse (John 15:26) to give both economic Trinitarian and immanent Trinitarian interpretations even at the same time, then it is an index for the way the immanent Trinitarian statements for him are only the necessary, preliminary theological statements for economic Trinitarian sentences. The opera trinitatis ad extra and the opera trinitatis ad intra allow themselves to be distinguished but not separated.”

Page 158: “In Hegel’s thinking both the logical process of the self-realization of the Spirit, as well as the history of the whole, point to theological relationships, which were thought out beforehand by Luther and are philosophically rethought by Hegel.”

Hegel and Luther, of course, work from different presuppositions, [with philosophy using reason and theology using faith], but Hegel was and remained a good Lutheran.

N.B. For Luther’s theology and Hegel’s philosophy, the operative word again has to be mutatis mutandis, i.e. the necessary changes having been made.

Page 159: “Luther’s teaching of justification and Hegel’s Philosophy of the Spirit can be seen as different delineations of the same phenomenon.” Luther said that the Spirit makes the lover and the beloved one.

Page 160: Luther at the end of the Bondage of the Will writes of the light of nature, the light of grace, and the light of glory:

In note 32, page 160, Asendorf explains: “In a threefold light, each higher step explains what was insoluble at a lower one.“ In German: „In dreifachen Licht erklärt die jeweils höhere Stufe das, was der niederen verschlossen war.

Thus Luther writes that what cannot be understood in the light of nature can be resolved in the light of grace and what cannot be understood in the light of grace can be resolved in the light of glory.[1]

Asendorf, page 160, quotes Luther this way: “In the simple world of morality there is no explanation why the good have to suffer, this however becomes resolved in the light of grace. In the light of grace it cannot be understood why someone who can do nothing but sin, becomes punished by the righteousness of God. But what cannot be solved by the light of grace will be, in the light of glory. Each lower step becomes resolved in the higher one. (aufgehoben) All three are caught up in the unity of their teleological movement. Only from the vantage-point of the telos, can the whole process become understood.”

Page 162: N.B. Is Hegel’s philosophy based on Luther’s theology? According to Asendorf, different from Hegel, there is a double reflection [of realized eschatology and still outstanding eschatology for theology]. Although history before and history after the crucifixion are there for both theology and philosophy; but only history itself can be the court of judgment [for Hegel’s philosophy] while the last judgment when history comes to an end (can be taken into account for theology as well). Instead of simple reflection involving [only] the realized eschatology of Hegel, Luther’s double reflection [upon realized eschatology and the eschatology that still stands out] takes place theologically. “What Luther in his explication of justification thought out beforehand in [that double reflection], becomes for Hegel a new starting point for philosophy.” (162)

“In a strict sense Hegel’s philosophy is the historical thought of the reality transformed by Christ. It is both a philosophy from revelation and of revelation.”

“Luther’s teaching or theology about the sacrament of communion is the classical locus of Hegel’s concrete spirit thinking.”

Page 163: The Trinity, Christology, the theology of the sacrament, and the theology of the Trinity, all form a direct line toward the concrete spirit of the economic teaching of the Trinity. The Spirit is mediated historically, oriented toward the Incarnation and Passion. Luther comes close to Monophysitism (one incarnate nature of Christ) and Theopaschitism, i.e., that God the Father also suffered on the cross) by holding to the concrete spirit and saying “God is dead” and by calling Christ, the God-martyr.

Page 163: “In a double way Hegel remains in Luther’s footsteps, when he not only articulates the concrete spirit in a new way, but makes the death of God the cornerstone of his thinking.” Luther first encountered the abstract spirit in Zwingli and the latter [not Luther’s concrete spirit] became victorious in the Enlightenment. Zwingli’s is the opposite figure encountered in Luther’s understanding of the concrete spirit. In Hegel there is a new awakening of anti-spiritualistic thought.

Page 172-173: Kant loses sight of history in his philosophy. “In that Kant established his concept of [human and natural] science on Newton’s physics, in a compulsory way the realm of history had to be precluded.” N.B.: Perhaps Kant replaced religion with rational morality.

Page 193: Here Asendorf finds just the right words for a thought: “This interpretation does not only change the original meaning, but succeeds to make it mean the exact opposite.”

“Bultmann’s demythologization style is a kind of an existentialist interpretation carried out under the banner of morality.” Bultmann follows Kant’s deletion of history from philosophy and thus the Incarnation, Ascension, etc. all become meaningless. God does not come up in the naturalism of science. [And Kant’s metaphysics are very much oriented around the physics of the natural sciences.]

Page 193 bottom: N.B. Do an economic study in the spirit of Luther. Perhaps the new orientation of evolutionary economics in Eric D. Beinhocker’s The Origin of Wealth and Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly’s Unjust Deserts could be helpful in this endeavor.[2]

Page 194: In Kant and those who follow in his footsteps, giving any objectivity to theology becomes impossible. “Theology cannot accept the way Kant excludes it from claiming to have objects. [With Kant’s objectivization Verbot] Theology loses itself at the same time as it loses its object.”

Page 196: “For Kant contradiction does not lie at the heart of reality.” In German; „Hier gehört der Widerspruch prinzipiell nicht zum Wesen der Wirklichkeit.”

N.B: I believe Michael Polanyi describes a contradiction in the middle of reality or one close to it in his book, Science, Faith and Society. Polanyi is speaking about the experience of scientists in a Marxist-Leninist ideology that “denies the intrinsic creative powers of thought.”[3]

And “Since this power regards itself as the embodiment of historic destiny and as a dispenser of history’s promises to humankind, it can acknowledge no superior claims to truth, justice or morality. Alternatively, materialistic (or romantic) philosophies, denying any universal claims to standards of truth, justice or morality, may deprive citizens of any grounds for appealing to these standards and thus endow the government with absolute power. The two practices are in fact fused in their joint justification of force as superior to mind.

“But we must add here an additional process which makes violence the embodiment of the values it overrides. Those in our day who brought into power governments exempt from standards of humanity were themselves prompted by an intense passion for the ideals which they so contemptuously brushed aside. They had rejected the overt professions of these ideals as philosophically unsound, hypocritical and specious, but they had covertly injected the same ideals into the new despotisms which they set up. Thus these ideals became immanent in the violence that ruthlessly rejected them. By virtue of the moral inversion (as I have later called it), the very immoralism of this power became a token of its moral purity. In view of its internal structure it could honestly reject any accusations of immorality in the very breath of proclaiming its own immorality.”[4]

N.B.: Perhaps it would be more accurate to say “force as superior to mind” is a contradiction in the midst of a social reality. But Polanyi’s description of modern despotisms reminded me of what Martin Luther faced in an unreformed church headed by corrupt popes. Instead of honest debate for the sake of truth, he was labeled a heretic, and what an irony, that one of the statements listed as heretical, was that burning heretics at the stake was wrong, and should not be allowed for the church! In burning a person at the stake, the Christian ideals of love and righteousness “became immanent in the violence that ruthlessly rejected them.” To forbid coercive power to the church, but allow it as a lesser of evils to the civil government, still plants a contradiction into reality, but one that needs to be overcome by ever decreasing the coercion of governments as well, when the evil and violence they block internally and externally also decreases. Note that Kant’s categorical imperative constituted immorality as a rational contradiction.

On pages 196, 358, and 389 Asendorf mentions the Latin formula, finitum capax infiniti: the finite is capable of containing the inifinite. Kant held that finitum non capax infiniti, i.e. that it was not. Zwingli and Calvin provide science with a foundation for the empty finite. God is repressed or expelled from the world. (Gott Verdrängung) (“Verdrängung” is a psychological word meaning driven into the unconscious where God cannot be remembered nor accessed).

Page 198: Nominalism splits reason and revelation.

Page 200 top: “Kant’s religion of morality leaves the human being alone, unredeemed or feeling no need of redemption. In a transfigured light, over the complete horizontalism of his thinking, hovers the utopian cloud of a kingdom of God; of course, as the perfected kingdom of humanism. The cross of Christ has become superfluous. And in the schizophrenia of our time, theologians have remained Kantian.”

Page 182: Theology can be inside Philosophy, much like the infinite inside the finite. “The unity of [Hegel’s] form consists of the unending togetherness and mutual indwelling of theology and philosophy.”

N.B. A verse in the spirit of Luther

The One greater than the all in all

Now lies in a crib so small.

Page 262: From the German Christmas Song by Martin Luther:

Der aller Welt Kreis nie beschloss,

der liegt in Marien Schoss.

The One too great for the universe to wrap

is now sweetly lying in Mary’s lap.

 

N.B. Again in his Bondage of the Will, Luther’s thinking is dialectical and tends to ascend toward higher levels of resolution. Thus his thinking etches out nuances that monological thinkers often fail to grasp. For example, in his different relational fora, Luther does not reject free will on the horizontal level, i.e., coram hominibus (before others), but only before God, coram Deo. In a similar way Luther does not reject reason, the way some think he does, monolithically, charging him with fidéism. Reason remains the queen of its earthly house. Only when caught up in human pride, when it goes out of bounds, interferes with a person’s faith, and tries to set itself over God, does Luther reject it. Luther’s levels of understanding ascending from the light of nature through the light of grace and into the light of glory in his Bondage of the Will,[5] remind me of Hegel’s thinking ascending from a philosophy of substance to one of the subject, which he finally brings to the concept in the philosophy of the spirit.

I will translate the following long citation from U. Asendorf:

Page 408: Die allgemeine theologische Bedeutung von Hegels Logik

Diese ergibt sich aus der Auseinandersetztung mit dem Denken der Aufklärung. Der Verstand als das Trennende, am Widerspruch scheiternde Denken, zerstört die Religion. Aufgabe des Denkens, nicht nur des theologischen, ist es, den Bereich der einander entgegengesetzten Reflexionsvorstellungen und ihre Abstraktheit zu überwinden. Der Gegensatz zwischen Betrachtetem und Betrachtendem muss aufgehoben werden. Die logische Bestimmungen sind daher doppelt, insofern sie dem Seiendem wie dem Denken zuzuschreiben sind.

Das Denken muss zur Höhe der Idee hinaufgehoben werden, in welcher Subjektivität und Objektivität gleich sind. Hier geht es um den ersten Zusammenhang der Idee mit dem Ganzen.

Hegels Logik formuliert dann den Aufbau der logischen Welt in einem dreifachen Aufstieg von der Seins- über die Wesens- zur Begriffslogik.

Page 409: Wenn sich Hegels Logik ferner um eine neue Erschliessung des Ganzen bemüht, so ist das Leben die Idee, so dass dieses teils Leben, teils Erkennen, teils Wissenschaft ist. Dieser Bezug der Idee auf das Ganze impliziert einen hohen theologischen Anspruch, nämlich das Wissen des Absoluten, welches darin begründet ist, dass Gott Geist ist und im Geist und in der Wahrheit erkannt werden will. Deswegen gilt beides, dass Gott das Ganze ist und dass er absoluter Begriff ist. Es ist darum nicht zufällig, wenn Hegels Begriffslogik offenbarungstheologisch begründet ist. Wenn aber die Begriffslogik als offenbarungstheologisch begründete, wenngleich unzulängliche Kommunikationstheorie verstanden werden kann, so gilt das nicht zuletzt trinitätslogisch in den doppelten Bezugssystem der immanenten und der ökonomischen Trinität. Es liegt also in den Konsequenz des Hegelschen Denkens, wenn die entwicklung der logischen Kategorien die Entwicklung der metaphysischen Bestimmungen Gottes ist, wie ferner die Vernunft erst im Licht des geoffenbarten Absoluten zu sich selbst finden kann, weil Hegels Ansatz ein rein immanentisches Vernunfstverständnis ausschliesst. Auch darin hat er die äussersten Kantischen Grenzmarkierungen hinter sich gelassen. Aus allem Gesagten folgt, dass der Geist erst mit begriffslogischen Kategorien voll erfasst werden kann.

Aus den Gesagten folgt aber auch, dass die oft zu hörende Kritik, Hegel verstosse in einer gradezu klassischen Weise gegen Luthers Verbot der Spekulation, nicht zutrifft. Luthers Kritik nämlich richtet sich dagegen, mit Hilfe der Spekulation an der Offenbarung vorbei zu Gott gelangen zu wollen and damit die Vernunft an die Stelle der göttlichen Offenbarung zu setzen, wodurch diese gegenstandslos würde. Hegels Denken wird von diesem Vorwurf nicht getroffen, weil er von der in Christus geschehenen Versöhnung her philosophisch denkt.

To translate the notes from page 408 and 409 in English:

Page 408:

8.5 The General Theological Significance of Hegel’s Logic

This ensues from the confrontation of his thought with the Enlightenment. The kind of reason that brings separation and fails in face of a contradiction destroys religion. It is the task of thinking, and not only of the theological kind, to overcome abstraction and the realm of representations of reflection that oppose each other. The opposition between the observer and observed has to be overcome (aufgehoben). The logical determinations are therefore doubled, insofar as they are attributed to being and thinking.

Thinking has to be lifted up to the level of the idea,[6] to the point where subjectivity and objectivity become the same. Crucial here is the first relationship of the idea with the whole.

Hegel’s logic, therefore formulates the ascension of the logical world in a threefold rising level [of logic] from being- through essence- to concept logic. [N.B. like the progression from substance to subject to concept or spirit]

Page 409: Because Hegel’s logic further concerns itself with an opening up of the whole, thus life is idea, such that the latter is partly life, partly perception, and partly science [again science as understood as both natural and human.] This relation of the idea to the whole implies a high level claim on theology, namely, the knowing of the absolute, which is therein grounded in that God is spirit and wants to be known in Spirit and in truth. That is why it is both valid that God is the whole and that God is the absolute Concept. Therefore it is not by chance that Hegel’s concept-logic is grounded theologically in revelation. If however the logic of the concept is grounded in revelation theologically, even if an inadequate communication theory could be understood by it, then it is valid not last of all for the logic of the Trinity in the double relational system of the immanent and economic Trinity. Therefore abiding in the consequences of the thinking of Hegel, it is the case that the development of his logical categories is [at the same time] the development of the metaphysical determinations of God, and further, reason can only find its way back to itself in the light of the Absolute, because Hegel’s thinking precludes an understanding of reason as purely immanent. Even here it shows that he left the outermost markings of the Kantian limitations behind him. From all that has been said, it follows that only with concept logical categories can the Spirit become fully grasped.

But from what was said it also follows that the often heard criticism is misplaced, namely, that Hegel violated Luther’s prohibition against speculation in a diametrically classical way. That is because Luther’s criticism is directed against that kind of thinking, which by the help of speculation wants to reach God through by-passing revelation and by wanting to place reason alongside God’s revelation, thus taking away the latter’s object. This reproach fails to touch Hegel’s thinking, because his philosophy has its starting point and is based on the atonement that happened through Christ.

Now paraphrasing Asendorf further in English:

Page 410: Hegel knows well that he is following the philosophical tradition and cannot proceed by faith. But his philosophy provides a place for Christian revelation, because his thinking starts from it. Hegel’s thinking demonstrates its theological and revelatory source in three ways.

1. The language form of his thinking that brings reconciliation to opposites

2. Because of his mutual and reciprocal relation of the Spirit and History his logic also contains the movement of history

3. And finally the concrete nature of his thinking demonstrates its theological and revelatory source.

Very early already Hegel criticized the false infinity of Kant, because he wanted to strengthen his commitment to finitum capax infiniti: the finite could grasp the infinite. To separate both completely, Hegel held to be Manichaean.

Page 410: Hegel’s concrete spirit is spirit moving through history.

His reference to a doubly wrong world reminds me of a place in Luther’s Commentary on Psalm 117: “Grace appears outwardly as if it were pure wrath, so deeply does it lie hidden under two thick [covers]…which is probably why St. Peter says, ‘the word alone shines upon us as in a dark place’ (2 Peter 1:19). Yes, certainly in a dark place!”[7]

Page 411: After considering the separation of the finite from the infinite, Asendorf states: “The option for the absolute finite and [abstract] spiritualism are factually identical. A similar negative judgment can only also be made for a pure theological horizontalism. The latter in the truest sense of the word by dint of its logical incapacity, does not know what it is talking about….In this sense the concept in its theological significance has to be disclosed and considered anew, insofar as it is the process, in which the infinite and the finite are connected.”

Page 411 (bottom): Dialectic

“By the fundamental schema of his “Encyclopedia,” three steps need to be differentiated, namely, the abstractly understood, the dialectical-negative reasonable, and the speculative positive reasonable (Vernünftige). The first two belong to Enlightenment thinking. The third reaches the fullness of the concept. Only in this way does the idea realize itself fully in the concept.”

Page 412: “Therefore, the Spirit is not a state of being but a movement. Luther’s Deus semper actuosus [God’s always living, acting, and working] reaches all the way into Hegel’s logic. Because of that, logic can be the philosophical organum [instrument] for grasping the things of God, the way faith is, for the theological.”

Page 435: “Luther’s tract, “The Freedom of a Christian” is the secret center of the philosophy of the Spirit, which is as such at one and the same time the philosophy of history.”

Page 435: Hegel held fast to Lutheranism his whole life, like the Latin speech he gave as the rector of the University of Berlin on the third anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, 25th of June, 1830. “The unending pain embodied in Israel, stands opposite the unending positivism in Christ. The birth of Christ is the dialectically understood turning point in the history of the Spirit.”

Page 435-436: “Hegel wanted to lift up the representation of faith, love, and hope to the reality of a self-conscious rationality (Vernünftigkeit), namely, in a worldly kingdom of a community of free people. In its mere subjectivity, it is a kingdom of arbitrary choice and barbarism, which is not mediated by and does not stand opposite to an other-worldly kingdom. Thus Hegel speaks of the difficult conflict between the different [sides] of this idea, in which the kingdoms are rooted, the spiritual [kingdom] of a heavenly existence and the [kingdom of] a common, earthly reality. When heaven descends and settles down on the earth and the worldly ‘gets built upward’ out of its abstract being-for-itself to the rationality of justice (Recht) and law, then the old opposition is weakened to insignificance. The presence has stripped itself of its barbarism and the truth has stripped itself of its other-worldliness. With that, the atonement has become objective, so that the state has unfolded as the image of the reality of reason. Religion and science (understood as both natural and human science) become complementary manifestations of truth.”

N.B. Luther relegates reason and law to the state and faith and the Gospel to the church. Hegel seems to be thinking this position through in all its implications. Only if Hegel then substituted the state for the church would he have gone wrong. But if he saw a kind of partnership of the church and state via such different ways of operating, then he would still be thinking in the spirit of Luther.

Luther could see those in the vocation of the state as saviors. Like a Norwegian theologian, who disagreed with me, when I said that Luther’s theology was used there for the aggrandizement of the state at the expense of genuine faith and the church.[8] He said that Luther’s theology had changed the whole paradigm of the church and state, because they became the two wings of a new butterfly.

Page 436: “The concept is the subject as well as the object of the idea.”

“The double movement of estrangement and return are understood together as the concept of the Spirit.”

Page 437: A criticism of Hegel is that for him an unknown future does not exist. It is a problem that for the sake of philosophy Hegel excludes faith. [N.B. But that is legitimate when reasoning under the auspices of philosophy and the state.]

Page 440: But he places the Christ event in the middle of his philosophy.

Page 438, footnote: Hegel no longer wished to allow the paradoxical and oppositions to diverge infinitely, (like Kant and Kierkegaard did) but sought their reconciliation through his thought. “Thus Hegel concerns himself with melting the absolute and the concrete, the universal and the particular, [together] into the concept.”[9]

Page 445: “The reasonable is reality and what is real is reasonable.” or “The rational is reality and what is real is rational.” Another permutation: “The real is rational and the rational real.” (Vernünftig, “Vernunft” means reason.) (N.B. When my father said, “Sei doch vernünftig!” he meant “Behave! Be reasonable!”

N.B. The philosophy of being holds the whole world in stasis. It as if it were based upon the Ptolemaic Universe, where the earth stood still and the sun, moon, and stars rose and set around it. Movement was peripheral, while the still-standing earth allowed for a static logic. But now we understand that the planet earth revolves around the sun, the sun is moving inside the galaxy of the Milky Way, which is swirling around a black hole, while all the galaxies are diverging in an expanding universe. Now a logic of becoming, one that has movement at its center, thinks in terms of grasping a moving target. Hegel’s is a logic of becoming, of life, of development.

Page 456: “In the absolute Spirit, freedom and history interpret each other.”

As on page 484, here Hegel presents the Trinity in his language:

Page 476: “God is Spirit, – i.e. that, which we call the Three-in-One God; – God is Spirit – the absolute activity actus purus i.e., Subjectivity – eternal personality – unending – differentiating himself from himself – [thus] begetting – but this differentiation is in the eternal concept, i.e. held in generality as absolute subjectivity, – so it is placed in his unending differentiation, not for the sake of darkness – i.e. Being-for-itself – non-transparency, impenetrability and coming to end – but at the same time as his differentiation remaining in an immediate oneness, and in his differentiation in himself – so with that, the whole divine Concept – Son – and God, this absolute unity as in his-self, in his difference, identical with himself, as eternal love.” N.B.: Hegel seems to be contemplating the Holy Trinity through the Holy Spirit, where we usually do through the Son or the Father.

Page 483: “Love is, namely, the gazing at oneself in the other.” N.B. Elsewhere Hegel would says, the differentiating of oneself from the other.

Page 484: Here Hegel presents the Trinity in his language.

Page 484, footnote 57: J. Splett writes, “[Hegel’s] logic as a whole is the presentation of the speculative truth, which Christian dogmatics calls the immanent Trinity, like his whole system is the economic Trinity.”

N.B. Wow! That is quite a claim!

Page 485: “The Spirit is to be grasped as Being himself, For-himself, and In-and-for-himself.” („Geist ist damit nach seinem Ansich-, seinem Fürsich- und seinem An-und-für-sich-sein zu begreifen.“)

N.B. Hegel challenges Kant’s phenomenal limitation of the noumenal. For Hegel knowledge of a limit means that ne already knows something beyond the limit. Thus Kant’s things and things- in-themselves do not relate with Hegel’s movement of thought and life expressed in being-itself, being-for-itself, and being–in-and-for-itself.

Page 495: “Love is to be understood in its endless pain and its healing of it.”

Page 495: “The concept of the absolute oneness of the divine and human nature – is the reality of God.”

N.B. Perhaps this is the contradiction in the midst of reality.

N.B. Reading Asendorf’s considerations for a new systematic theology helped by Hegel’s philosophy, I realize that perhaps when I ascribe growth to the theory of opposites, it may be more a philosophical insight than a theological one. That way I introduce the mediation of reasoning. It resembles the way I’ve begun to speak about God in another dimension rather than in heaven. A philosophical and intellectual mediation seems to replace faith as much as when Asendorf argues that justification by faith has no place in Hegel’s philosophy (page 514) where it is quite central in Luther’s theology.

Thus the presuppositions as well as the different associations or contexts of meaning have to be taken into consideration in theology on the one hand and in philosophy on the other. That is why when taking a philosophical word and using it theologically, it first has to undergo a bath, like baptism. (Page 511) Otherwise the distortion and mistakes produced by a mixing of categories could occur, i.e., a categorical error.

Page 514: “The statement, in its association of meanings, “contradictio est regula veri” [contradiction is the basis of truth] could not have been understood in classical Greek philosophy and logic.”

Page 515: The ancients would not have understood negation as an essential in dialectical thought, the double negative as affirmative, the doubly wrong world or the atonement of opposites as a task of logic.

Page 515: A principled shake-up of metaphysics cannot be addressed merely by Nygren’s presuppositional analysis. („Eine prinzipielle Perhorreszierung der Metaphysic hindert also die Theologie genauso wie die Philosophie daran, ihere logischen Klärungsfunktion gerecht zu werden.“)

To translate: “A principled shake-up of metaphysics hinders theology as well as philosophy from carrying out their logical clarifying function adequately.”

Page 516: “In the sense of modern philosophical anthropology, the world-openness of people is brought into a three-fold expression, namely, in the schema: God/human, human/nature (creation), and Spirit/history.”

N.B. Hegel may have been citing Luther in saying that the Holy Spirit was involved in justification. (I seem to have read that in Luther’s Genesis Commentary. While Hegel does not speak of faith, he does champion the concrete spirit.

Page 517: Asendorf claims, “Hegel did not sacrifice faith for philosophical speculation.”

Page 517: Hegel said, “A half of philosophy leads away from God…, true philosophy, however, leads toward God.” Perhaps the text for Hegel’s philosophy comes from 2 Corinthians 3:17: “The Lord is Spirit and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

N.B. I wonder why philosophy cannot consider the future, nor faith? Why is it in principle that eschatology is closed to philosophy?

Page 518: Hegel’s philosophy looks backward not forward. Think of the owl of Minerva! Hegel concentrates on realized eschatology, but not the eschatology that still stands out.

N.B. Asendorf has quite a wonderful last paragraph: “The remaining difference only makes [more] clear the deep relationship of Luther and Hegel, which has its source in a common philosophy of love, in the joyful exchange, the recognizing oneself in the other. Crucial is the vis unitiva, ex amante et amato unum quid constituenz, [the uniting power that makes the lover and the beloved one], which comes out of Luther’s Epistle to the Romans Lectures, as well as from his great meditation on Galatians 2:20 in his later lectures on the Epistles to the Galatians, where it receives its classical formulation. Out of love, as Hegel discovered it in the Gospel of John, the whole philosophy of Spirit develops in ever new onslaughts. In a similar and comparable way for Luther the “love of Christ” is taken in the sense of the double genitive [i.e. of our loving Christ and Christ’s loving us], which finds its form in justification, the center of the circle that encloses all.”

 


[1] In Luther’s Bondage of the Will, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Fleming H. Revell, 1957), page 316-317 or see Luther’s Works, Vol. 33, page 291 or the Weimar Edition, Vol. 18, ca. page 787.

[2] Eric D. Beinhocker, The Origin of Wealth: the Radical Remaking of Economics and What It Means for Business and Society, (Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press, 2006, 2007). And Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly, Unjust Deserts, (New York: The New Press, 2008).

[3] Michael Polanyi, Science, Faith and Society: a Searching Examination of Meaning and Nature of Scientific Inquiry, (University of Chicago Press, 1946), page 17.

[4] Ibid., pages 17-18.

[5] In Luther’s Bondage of the Will, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Fleming H. Revell, 1957), page 316-317 or see Luther’s Works, Vol. 33, page 291 or the Weimar Edition, Vol. 18, ca. page 787.

[6] Mostly I have been using the term “concept” where Asendorf uses the term “idea.”

[7] Philip and Peter Krey, editors, Luther’s Spirituality, (New York: Paulist Press, 2007), page 142. Check out Luther’s dumbfounding, divine, diabolical dialectic in this place.

[8] In a private conversation in Washington, D.C. with either Inge or Per Lønning at the Luther Jubilee, November 6-12, 1983.

[9] Asendorf is citing H. Schmitz, Hegel als Denker der Individualität, (MPF XX, Meisenheim/Glan, 1957).

 

 

Robert Bellah: our Relationship with Traditions with Help from Confucius

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Confucius (551-479 BCE) on Tradition[1]

In the Chinese tradition, Mencius (390-305 BCE) was a great follower. Ch’in Hsih Hung Ti 221 BCE /Han Dynasty 200 BCE-200 CE.

Confucius taught us to seek inspiration in our own traditions for humanizing and harmonizing conflicts in the present.

“He who by reanimating the Old can gain knowledge of the New is fit to be called a teacher.” (Analects 2:11)

The latter is one of the most important passages from the Analects. In the course of our lives the challenge presented by tradition tends to break down in two directions: Some tinker with tradition by proof-texting. That way tradition can be made to say anything we want it to say. The verse is yanked out of context and made to point to something alien to it. Those who use this practice are not truly traditionalists. Confucius said, “I have been faithful and respect the ancients.” The challenge is to genuinely love the past and reanimate their traditions.

When we pick and choose from traditions “cafeteria style”, we misuse them. “Take what you want and leave the rest.”

Others, who rigidly and uncritically hold onto tradition, also misuse tradition. They have a ruthless disregard for the spirit of that tradition.

We need to look at the Old

in the light of the New,

letting the Old criticize the New

and the New criticize the Old.

Most of us breakdown on one side or the other in intelligently conventional ways. Some throw out and dismiss traditions altogether, but we cannot accept forms of life en bloc. Much of our lives continues to rest on practices of the preceding age. When we reanimate these traditions then we preserve integrity. We can abandon, reanimate, or reunite with traditions, because they are a living thing. We have to constantly readjust them to the present while being loyal to the past. It is a mistake to take tradition as a fixed thing or throw it out altogether.


[1]From a lecture by Prof. Robert Bellah, Sociology of Religion given 3/19/96 in University of California at Berkeley. The book for Confucius was Herbert Fingarette, Confucius: the Secular as Sacred, (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1972).

 

John F. Haught Lecture Notes on Teilhard de Chardin (2007)

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John F. Haught: Lecture Series on Science and Christian Faith

This 2006-2007 Lecture Series was sponsored by Metanexus Institute and Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA

Annotated Lecture Notes of February 19th 2007 taken by Peter Krey

See www.religiononline for Teilhard’s book, Future of Man and his Hymn of the Universe.

[Teilhard was] animated by a great hope and love for humanity.

Our essential work is saved in the life of God. Society has to give us back ourselves, and not in a depersonalized way.

True unity differentiates, [it does not confound.[1]] The Nazis exiled, annihilated whatever was different. History proceeds from the tribe to city state to nations to globalization. Neo-collectivism [returned] in a perverse way in the 1900’s.

The building up of the Kingdom of God makes all things new. [The Kingdom comes by the process of] emergence and by a process of centration, too. [We have] individual angst – [when] we are not the center, thus [we have] de-centration. Community is a higher value, [we have] a super-centration here.

Centration brings individual happiness.

De-centration means enlarging our base (for the communal)

Super-centration means joining together for a higher purpose.

To be leads to love leads to worship.

[Teilhard felt that we] make our way to heaven through the earth (i.e. nature) pace Marx.

[Let me take the last first. Marx makes the intellectual superstructure depend completely on its basis, the material infra-structure. I do not know if John Haught used the following apt citation, because Teilhard has other critique of Marx in his work: “We need to remind ourselves again, so as to offset this truly pagan materialism and naturalism, that although the laws of biogenesis by their nature presuppose, and in fact bring about, an improvement in human living conditions, it is not well-being but a hunger for more-being which, of psychological necessity, can alone preserve the thinking earth from the taedium vitae (disgust and weariness with life). And that makes fully plain the importance of what I have already suggested, that it is upon its point (or superstructure) of spiritual concentration, and not on its basis (or infra-structure) of material arrangement, that the equilibrium of Humankind biologically depends.[2]]

[Secondly,] we make our way to heaven through the earth (i.e. nature): [“But let there be revealed to us the possibility of believing at the same time and wholly in God and the World, the one through the other: In a Christ no longer seen only as the Savior of individual souls, but (precisely because He is the Redeemer in the fullest sense) as the ultimate Mover of anthropogenesis.”[3] (If I may comment with some of my own ideas: In this way Teilhard is not only writing about individuals becoming Christ, but the new genotype, the new phylogeny of the children of God to come. Because of the convergence of species, the coming ones will evolve in the new frontier, and now more quickly, within, i.e., in the internal dimension.)]

First God will be Christ. [Our emergence] needed spirituality for Christ to germinate. Cosmogenesis is at heart Christogenesis. Evolution’s purpose is Christ.

To create is to unite matter, life, mind, and spirit. Matter is spirit in the state of disbursal.

What we do on earth is heaven. [What we do is woven] forever into the fabric of heaven and our lives matter everlastingly. Our essential work is saved in the life of God.

Socio-biology is scientific materialism and naturalism. It is a modern expulsion of mind from nature and the universe – like the myth of the exiled soul – [from The Symbolism of Evil by Paul] Ricoeur: [If I can conjecture Haught’s analogy here: the exile of the soul is like the heavenly person driven out of the earthly one, where the soul as heavenly first gave meaning to the body as earthly. It is somewhat like Adam and Eve driven out of the Garden of Eden. The exile then, is like taking the heavenly (God, the spiritual, and mind) out of the earthly (the natural, the material, the body),[4] which constitutes the beginning of science as natural philosophy, where natural explanations are given for natural events, excluding God and the spiritual.[5] ] matter for trial, purification, etc.

Teilhard (1881-1955) [wrote of] communing with God through the earth. God is not above us but ahead of us.[6] The Biblical God is calling the universe to a new future. Primordial radiation progressed to human mind. The Earth is clothing itself with a brain and crossing the collective threshold of thought.

The Law of Complexity and Consciousness: [the more complex the organism or organization or institution the higher the possible consciousness. In Teilhard’s own words: “The more complex a being is, so our Scale of Complexity tells us, the more it is centered upon itself and therefore the more conscious does it become. In other words, the higher degree of complexity in a living creature, the higher its consciousness; and vice versa.”[7]]

Purpose equals the actualization of value.

Spirit equals matter in a state of unity (centration).

Matter per se is not integrated.

The unity of centration [is associated with] (multiplicity, complexity).

[The High Priestly Prayer of] John – that all may be one [is basic to Teilhard’s thoughts here].

[Thus Teilhard] held a great hope in common-religion, cosmological religion. Through religion the cosmos searches for a center. What’s going on [can be explained in terms of] the three Kantian questions: [What can I know? What ought I do? For what can I hope?]

[There’s a] mediation of the universe of us and God. Being born and developing as a function of a cosmic stream for more being.

Teilhard’s Grand Option [has] three vital decisions:

1/ pessimism versus optimism, 2/ optimism of withdrawal versus the optimism of evolution, and 3/ communion versus the individual [for] more being.

[At] the critical threshold, divergence becomes convergence and the emergent human person [becomes] the dominant cell.

(My soul was in turbulence when I took these notes and I missed a lot so that they became quite disjointed. John Haught’s books God after Darwin (Second Edition 2008) and In Search of a God for Evolution (2002) must contain some of these ideas.)


[1] [Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Future of Man, (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1964), pages 55-57, 316. Totalisation (in terms of reflective psychism) by its nature does not merely differentiate, but personalizes what it unites (page 265).

[2] [Pierre Teilhard, The Future of Man, page 317.]

[3] [Pierre Teilhard, The Future of Man, page 281.]

[4] [Paul Ricoeur, The Symbolism of Evil, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967), page 279ff. Perhaps Haught related the myth of the exiled soul with the expulsion of mind from nature and the universe by the materialism of socio-biology. But the way the soul conceals the body and the body conceals the soul, the mind might be concealed from materialists. In this Orphic myth the soul exiled from heaven is expiated by the body-prison in which it is punished by the torments of this life. This relates to trial and purification.]

[5] [cf. Paul Ricoeur, page 18. “Divine as to the soul, earthly as to the body, the [human being] as the forgetting of the difference and the myth tells how that happened.” (page 280) “The soul of the sleeping wakes and the soul of the waking sleeps. Soul and body, then have inverse possibilities, which conceal each other. The soul is the witness of the other world, hidden while we are awake in this life and revealed in dreams, ecstasies, love, and death.” (page 286)

[6] [Pierre Teilhard, The Future of Man, page 281-282.]

[7] Ibid., page 116.

Written by peterkrey

August 28, 2011 at 6:37 am

Notes on All the Robert Bellah Lectures (posted so far) on the Sociology of Religion, Spring Semester, UCB, in 1996

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University of California at Berkeley Spring Semester, 1996

Department of Sociology             Professor Robert N. Bellah

Sociology 112

Sociology of Religion

Excerpts Prof. Bellah’s lectures for Theological Consideration with comments by Peter Krey in the footnotes

January 15, 1996 to February 26, 1996

Overcrowding made it impossible to follow the class discussion from outside the door in the hall.

Jan. 18th: Missed Lecture.

Jan. 23rd:    For the study of the Sociology of Religion it is important to be able to bracket out your own belief. A radical atheist or a person who believes theirs is the true faith might not be able to do this. Just take the attitude, “It might be true.” Generalities are made here about religions, but nothing applies to them all.

What is reality? Berger and Luckman wrote a book entitled The Social Construction of Reality. From Alfred Schutz we also discover that reality is not a given. Defining reality delivers real power far superior to that of Bill Gates. Psychology and sociology overlap enormously here. This power is derived from the capacity to set the ideological agenda in the society; setting the parameters for what can be taken seriously; what is real and what isn’t real. For example in the scientific field that power determines who gets tenure and who not, and that concerns whose view of reality is accepted. When a scholars views are not considered real, their suffering becomes very real. Balancing the budget deficit is another example. Who now questions it? Will it redistribute massive new wealth to the rich?

To repeat: What is reality? Berger and Luckman wrote a book entitled The Social Construction of Reality. From Alfred Schutz we also discover that reality is not a given.[1] Defining reality delivers real power far superior to that of Bill Gates. Psychology and sociology overlap enormously here. This power inherent in defining reality is derived from the capacity to set the ideological agenda in the society, i.e., setting the parameters for what can be taken seriously, what is real and what isn’t real. Balancing the budget deficit is a particular example. Who now questions it?[2]

There are three approaches to religion:

1) the cognitive propositional

2) the expressive experiential

Using a Noam Chomsky expression, there is a deep structure to all religions and there are surface structures. Psychology has a preponderance in our society.

3) the cultural linguistic

Religion is a whole way of life. Learning religion is like learning a language with a whole grammar into which one is inducted over a long period of time. Religion is a system of beliefs and practices relative to the sacred creating a moral community. This moral community is critical. Private religion violates moral community. This definition of religion marginalizes private religion.

Chuang Tzu dreamt he was a butterfly and awoke, not knowing if his waking state was a dream or his dream was his waking state. Was he Chuang Tzu or a butterfly? This example concerned alternate realities and identities.

Alfred Schutz noted in 1930 that realities come in multiples and it is not just one thing. The wide awake grown up man sees reality of the world very differently from the way it is seen by a child. Reality could be gendered according to some feminist epistemology. But it would seem to be possible to move between these gendered realities.

Thy World of Daily Life

It is characterized by a natural attitude of which we are not conscious. Reality is what it seems to be, and what it seems to be I will take for granted is. This world as given in the reality of daily life is not experienced in the full immediacy of absolute “hereness and nowness”. It always thinks: “What next?” And thus does not live in the radical sense of the here and now. The latter is a different reality, which is dominated by a practical and pragmatic interest of doing something and getting it done. Or thinking about what one hasn’t done yet and has to do.

Schutz was a phenomenologist and described how in the world of daily life one brought about a projected state of affairs by bodily movements, i.e., working. Thus it is changing things from how they are to how we/they/or professors prefer they be. Because the world of daily life concerns striving beyond working, and is about concerted effort, it always entails the background element of anxiety (to which we return after describing its sense of space and time).

In the world of daily life standard time and space are used. Clock time, in other words, and measuring-stick space, which is mechanical and utterly featureless: twelve o’clock midnight is the same as twelve noon; twenty miles whether coast land or hills, it does not matter. Nothing is pertinent here but exact measurement. The world of work is built on our common agreement on time and space. And standard time is very recent in our history. Not long ago every town had its own time. The railroad changed this and now standard time dominates us so completely we do not think about it.

Schutz was Jewish and hailed from Austria and then Germany.  A fundamental anxiety underlies the reality of daily life. It derives from the knowledge that we all must die. Subliminally we are aware of the fragility of things. Nothing will last. People will abandon us and we ourselves are mortal. As a child Professor Bellah himself was taught the children’s prayer:

If I should die before I wake

I pray the Lord my soul to take.

In the same fragility of life, children still die even now. Thus this anxiety plays into our working and striving. So that a big hole will not open in front of us, we always have to work very hard to keep things going. This characterizes the epoché.  Such doubt needs to be bracketed out. We do not raise that question. Children are more into the here and now because they are less into working. And they perceive the world differently. In taking a trip from his town into Basel, his child stepped out of the car and exclaimed:

“Look! The sun came with us!”

[Question: If mentally challenged people have delusions, and if we argue that the reality of daily life is just another delusion, then how can it be shared? Dreams and delusions are individual.][3] Prof. Bellah’s response: The world of daily life is a socially constructed world, a collective representation, in Durkheim’s words. Realities are different in different subcultures. Thus what is being described here is not a psychology, but we are concerned with shared beliefs and these can be true or untrue. Think of the tulip mania in Holland. This was a common delusion.

Our selfhood is not a given. Selfhood in Bali is very different from our definition of it.

Occasionally daily life has intrusions which do not fit the rules. But this is experienced as strange. Bob Dillon’s “Ballad of a Thin Man” comes to mind:

“Something is happening here, and you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?”

When this happens something lifts the brackets of the epoché.

Thus the reality of the daily world is not the only reality any of us live in. No one can stand to live in it all the time. Some can’t stand to live in it at all. We leave it when we sleep. And here dreams are necessary as sleep. The structure of dreams is almost antithetical to the reality of the daily world and its space and time. To escape we also day-dream. At home we switch on the TV. One study speaks of the happiness quotient involved, and finds that TV leaves its viewers mildly depressed. But it gets us out of the reality of daily life with its anxieties and concerns. But TV can produce its own anxiety. But that is not real but play-anxiety.

Games represent another multiple reality. They are not played in the world of daily life, but in an artificial world as a parody of daily life. The latter is simplified to having one clear goal, that of winning. Games have a means-ends structure. Our lives do not. Games violate standard time and standard space. In a football game one hour is really more like three hours. Clock time is not equal to game time. In football the space is arbitrarily limited to end at a line. Thus the limiting of space gives it intensity. If we care too much about who wins or loses, then games do not do much for our psychic states.

Travel also helps get away from daily life.

Church services put us into a different reality.

Science operates in an alternate reality. It does not wish to discover useful answers, but merely how the world is. Practical and pragmatic concerns are in all the sciences, but they do not predominate. Science cannot accept the brackets of the daily world, of the epoché, because it looks beneath the surface. What is really going on is not what seems to be going on. The earth goes around the sun, according to science. But can anyone in this room demonstrate that this is really so? We still take it on faith. Even science cannot doubt everything at once. On the other hand, systematic doubt cannot characterize the daily world. It would drive you nuts. Science however uses systematic doubt.

Art responds with more immediacy to realities. If we were to open ourselves to great works of art enough, they might say to us: “Change your lives!” Such masterpieces pull us into themselves so deeply that they lift the brackets and place us into question.

We tend to think daily reality is really real and all others are not quite real. Even our dreams. Even the university is not quite the real world. But the insulation of the university makes it more real rather than less real. Our culture, however, denies these alternate realities, while other cultures have considered other realities much more real. Especially religious reality has been considered that way. From the world of daily reality, they will all wake up, because daily life is a dream. It is an illusion that one is a ruler another a herdsman. The Buddha exclaimed that the world is a burning house – get out of it. Daily life is an illusion and those who put their trust in this world are lost and deluded. Such a religious reality is a direct frontal assault on the reality of daily life and a variation of outcomes results. In tribal religion the reality experienced in the great ceremonials is really real in comparison with hunting and gathering and digging in the fields. There is a contest for what is really real among alternate realities. In our culture, daily life makes religious reality go under. If it is asked whether religious reality is merely an escape from daily reality, then one needs to take account of the fact that the realities of daily life for different cultures are also different. Cultural variability demonstrates that reality also has some variability.


[1]Alfred Schutz, The Problem of Social Reality, (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1962).

[2](This note is added by Peter Krey.) A good portion of our national debt (18%?) will be redistributed to the rich giving them massive new wealth. If we owed the national debt to ourselves, repayment would not be a redistribution-of-wealth problem. But when Reagan made huge tax cuts in the 1980’s, while increasing military spending, the tax cut amounts needed to be borrowed from the financial community and the people of wealth here and abroad, to whom our government is now beholden (yes) for over 15% of tax income for debt service. I write these figures from memory from the New Grollier Encyclopedia, but I believe they are pretty accurate. P. Krey.

[3]These words are the approximate sense of the question that I myself asked Prof. Bellah.

Parallel to the theorizing of Alfred Schutz on daily reality we have the thinking of Abraham Maslow concerning Deficiency cognition and Being cognition.[1] In the latter what he describes as peak experiences come close to what tribal people experienced as “the felt whole”. (See the chart.) Maslow would argue that D – experience characterizes the anxiety of daily life. It is a mode of relating to the world in a partial reality, a deficiency reality. One is not concerned with how things are, but how to use them. One is concerned with manipulation, even of people. Things and people are used to get ahead. In deficiency reality the full immediacy of being in the presence of anything is absent or severely limited. In contrast to this, Maslow speaks of B-cognition in which participation is predominant, that is, “being with” – and being with is its own end. This is the classical ideal type which predominates in B-cognition. Not how to use, but to be open to totality has primacy.

D-cognition has a complete split between subjects and objects. I am clarifying that I am me and not you. I am an independent person relative to anyone. Thus parents cannot nor can you tell me what to do. This goes into our very self definition.

In B-cognition the subject/object split is for the moment abandoned. If I am really with you this moment, the distinction between you and me is not gone, but not salient. In D-cognition there is a great sense of difference from the Other. I am me! Such an emphasis makes a big deal about the Other. But for Being cognition there is no other.

Another distinction between B and D cognition is that in the latter one looks at things as means, because one always looks ahead. But in the former, the means is its own end. We are a very means oriented culture and hence we are very manipulated, while also being keyed into standard time and space. B-cognition is a-spatial and atemporal. Eternity is not endless existence in time but out of time. Something going on forever and ever is not heaven, but the worst nightmare. First Maslow did not have the question of religion in mind at all. B-cognition can occur in all kinds of places. He called them peak experiences, and occurring in athletic feats they can rival contemplative graces. Joe Montana reports entering a “zone.” He reports no longer hearing the crowd – all become one. The difference between player and game, dance and dancer disappears. The minute you worry what will happen next it is gone and you are out of the zone. This is an experience of the felt whole. The feeling proceeds through participation.

Is this experience in sports the same as a religious one? Richardson speaks about feeling a finite whole, while in religion one feels an infinite whole. But is there really a distinction? A finite whole is like the immensity of the ocean, or the presence of another. Jonathan Edwards, a Puritan of the eighteenth century spoke of an infinite whole. -There came into my soul and was as it were, diffused through it, a sense of divine being. How excellent that Being was. And wrapped with him in heaven. And he wanted that excellence to remain his whole life. He continued about feeling the general rightness of all things, and perfect being.

In life dominated by deficiency cognition things are not that great. The consideration is how to respond to the next challenge. This is the expressive experiential point of view (See p. 1 above) with cultural definition.

Another peak experience comes from P. Havel, the current president of Check Republic, who had it when he was in prison. It is recorded in his Letters from Prison.

On a hot cloudless day Havel gazed into the crown of a gorgeous tree that stretched over the fences alongside the watchtowers of his prison. Its branches quivered in the fragile sky. And he went into a vision – all his memories became co-present with an acceptance of the inevitable sovereignty of being. (That is merely the gist of a much longer description of his vision.) Being is one of the definitions of God. Havel felt he was trembling at the abyss of meaning, standing at the edge of the finite. I was struck by the love, he said, I don’t know from whom or from what. He described participation, rightness of things, personal well being.

These experiences are often expressed aesthetically in music or poetry. Wallace Stevens brings in an awakening: Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake, to watch a definition become certain. A cock crows on the left and all is well. Not the balances we achieve, but the balances that happen, moments of awakening, sit at the edge of sleep. Behold the academics as structures in the mist. (These notes should identify his poem so that it could be more accurately transcribed.)

Is there a method to achieve enlightenment?

Sit in order to be enlightened and you will not be. It cannot be manipulated. The sense of enlightenment comes or doesn’t come by itself. You cannot force it. These are trance states. Sometimes dances or bodily movements induce trance states. People in sports don=t seek them, it suddenly comes to them. Quiet meditation and prayer are the background for it often. Taking the Eucharist can be shattering, an incredible experience – when you know you are the body of Christ. Certain things set it up and make it more likely. Samsara is the world of suffering. Even in the world of deficiency something can break.

Can it be achieved through morality?

Morality has a prohibitive and punitive aspect, but also a positive aspect, an attraction to the good component. The former is quintessential to the problem. But for Plato beauty equaled the good. Morality is constraint but also attraction to good. Morality has a special relation to Being cognition.

In B-cognition realities come together. Objects can have different realities. Havel saw the world tree. But it could be just another tree. An object can have another meaning from the one it has in the world of working. Communion bread and wine, for example. A symbol has an ordinary meaning in one realm and can have another meaning in another realm. In the world of daily life we are constantly surrounded by symbols or potential symbols: a tree, a room, a teacher, can mean a lot of other things. Part of us thinks about it in our consciousness. We can train ourselves to become sensitive, but it is of itself. It cannot be manipulated.

Maslow himself had a B-cognition as the Dean of Brandeis University. (Brandeis is located in a suburb of Boston.) A procession was going to take place, and he was expected to attend in full regalia. He had always avoided these processions as silly rituals. We often say, AThat is just a ritual.@ But without rituals we would not be human. He was the dean, so he could not very well avoid the exercise. As the procession began to move, he suddenly saw it stretch out before him. He saw Plato, Aristotle, Marx, Freud and others before him, all in their place until he himself took his place. Behind him were all his students, and his students’ students yet unborn. He experienced an apprehension of the academic procession of academic learning extending backward through time and space, seeing the real basis of the university. If we no longer glimpse that sacred foundation, then it is gone. There is no wholesale knowledge outlet for the consumer society, no ideology factory, but a community devoted to the search for meaning, and if only for a job, all is lost.

Kenneth Burke makes >beyond= into a verb, and speaks of ‘beyonding’.  It is symbolic transcendence. There is something deeper, something truer. One can be trapped in the world of dreadful immanence, totally captivated in the deficiency world with no way out. Like Weber one can be trapped in the iron cage. Sole response can be determined by desire and need. Thus one needs beyonding. One needs to break the dreadful fatalities of this world of realities. To hold everyday reality as the paramount reality is a dangerous assumption. It is just a necessary one for a time. But those locked into this time fail to overcome the deficiencies, and thus ceremonies are necessary, practices whose goods are internal to them. They are not means to an end. It is not what we achieve, but what happens. Meals, sports, concerts, the Sabbath, day of rest, rituals, Time, in part, out of time, with the anxieties of life temporarily allayed. A break seems to be essential.


[1]Abraham H. Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being, (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1968).

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January 30th. I missed this lecture.

February 1, 1996

The point when religious structures were distinguished from social ones is important. Formerly religion was a whole way of life. It is in a late development that religion becomes a restricted sphere.

Bodily actions are central to religion at every stage, as well as materiality in the sacraments. The notion that art, music, poetry is other than religious is quite recent.

Narrative mode of expression stands in contrast to logical or experimental demonstration, which has more prestige in our society. But here in the social sciences the latter are more ambiguous. For example, narrative is necessary at the center of history for it to be able to understand itself.

Myth stands in contrast to how it really is. The former has no concern for when or whether it happened. Saga, however, has rooting in historical experience.  In oral history the meaning of its accounts were shaped by the concerns of later historical elements. It is a huge project to try to isolate the historic elements in the Bible. But Judaism is a historic, not an archaic religion. The Bible does not contain myth, but saga, with mythical elements. The Bible is not tribal (i.e., primitive). They believe it happened.

Facis [from the Latin facio?] points to a fact, a made thing.

Facis points to fiction, a made thing.

But history is also a made thing.

History, at least in a book, also has a plot. Historians want to tell how it actually was, but that is hubris. History is narrative.

Q. (Moving up in the chart gets you into B-cognition.) [See post with Bellah’s first two lectures.]

Anecdote: Bellah was at the Princeton House of Studies and had an opportunity to experience some of the world’s greatest mathematicians and physicists. They are not into the everyday realities of life. Their wives had to come to the door in order to get them and take them home. Music reached them the way normal human interaction could not. This also shows the interrelationship of math and music.

A question arose whether or not Genesis did not have to be considered a myth. What Mid-eastern myth starts off with God? For a very long time Genesis was considered history. The stories were not perceived as myth, and they were not meant to be myths. The stories were at odds with myths and intended as critique of myths. But they have mythical elements.

Q. If our faith and religion are restricted in our society, and every society is inescapably religious, then what is the real religion of our society?[1] Every society has a faith, has a religion, and it can be called humanistic rationalism (The Right is not crazy.) or civil religion. You can’t get rid of it even if you don’t like it. You can only reform it.

A Buddhist apprentice, Ishida Baigan, (Ishida is his family name), practiced meditation.  While nursing his mother, he opened the door, the doubt of his former life scattered, fish swam in the water, birds flew in the air, everything is natural and he rejoiced. He related his experience to his teacher who was not satisfied, because the I remains. There must be nature without the I. In other words the element of subjectivity must be overcome. Then he experienced the serenity of the great sea and the cloudless sky and their distinction disappeared.

It can be the cry of a sparrow, something radically unexpected that wakes you up. Get the self out of the experience. In his second experience, the objective reality is in the forefront, and in the first it was his subjective interpretation. He was a single individual to the point of his second experience.

What he experienced can also be a group experience. It was primarily originally collective, a collective effervescent experience, which is the experience of a different and deeper reality. When the general effervescence is increasing, the group is dominated and carried away by an external power, in which a person does not recognize himself. The Greek word is ec stasis, to stand outside oneself, i.e., to become a new being. A mask is put on the face, and all the companions feel transformed in some way. An environment of exceptionally intense force metamorphosizes them. The language they use is close to that of being born again. The force takes people out of themselves and reveals to them another reality. Not the world that drags along is here, but the sacred power of reality itself. These are unitive events – like experienced in Pentecostalism. The I is gone, who is experiencing is gone; there is no subjectivity nor objectivity but Reality.

There is of course a “hard-wiring” potential for shifts of consciousness. But there is no cheap grace. Drunkenness or drugs will not do. You cannot get it out of a bottle. Because there is no religious atmosphere, you do not get into the B-consciousness.

Jean Piaget[2]

Children first see objects as extensions of their bodies. Early experiences are lived rather than thought, or thinking is living at that stage. But gradually, Piaget notes, for the child to hold in the mind without holding in the hand is an achievement. This is the grasp. (J. Brunner) Representation can be put to the guidance of action itself. Even after action-free imagery has developed, the child needs to do what it is talking about. This is enactive representation. We can give a verbal instruction of how to tie a knot. But it is not learned until it becomes a body motor, sensory-motor habit. It becomes an embodied recipe for certain kinds of actions. Only in this sense can we speak of representations.

The seeing becomes important, but centered on the face relating to holding, feeding, warming and comforting. Seeing is embedded in global human relation.

Religion is always in part bodily. But this brings one problem: we can get sick because of our bodies. Religion has an important role here. Sabaton is rooted in bodily health.[3]

Birth and death are almost always central for religious systems. There is the importance of the rhythm of bodily motion. Concerted physical movements can induce B-cognition. Things can be thought out or danced out. Dancing can be a highly complex and highly intelligent form of activity. But it is embodied. Meditation is an extremely refined use of the body. (Note that the word “use” is very problematic here.) But it is sitting. The pain in the knees kill you. That painful sensation gets better, long devotees report, but it never completely goes away. Breathing is an important form of religious action.

W. B. Yeats wrote an example of enactive representation about six days before his death in 1950?

I know for certain my time will not be long.

I am happy and full of energy.

Man can embody truth, but he cannot know it.

I must embody it in the completion of my life.

Our culture makes knowing anti-physical. If I can’t embody it, if I know it just mentally, it is not there. Christianity rests its truth on the Incarnation, on the embodied truth.

A question was asked concerning the enactive mode of representation. We cannot do without the world of working. A degree of means-ends thinking is pretty essential to avoid catastrophe. If we remain in the unitive state then we are always looking up, and then we fall into a hole.

Here we are making an analogy between the development from childhood to adulthood and the evolution from primitive social fusion to a higher differentiation as society.

To think with a pencil in hand is one thing.

To think without a pencil in hand is an achievement.

To think with a pencil in hand is another achievement again.

A symbol means all kinds of things.  Rockets all over the map.

Some mean the conceptual by it. But Piaget means things rooted in something separate from the body. Piaget speaks of being with a child beside a cathedral in which the bells began ringing with a deafening noise. In his office, the child makes a lot of noise next to his desk. “You are bothering me.” He says to the child.

“You can’t bother me. I am the church.” Piaget noticed that the child was enacting the bell from the church.

When the child starts becoming loose from the enactive stage the game Peek-a-boo becomes its favorite. The deep structure of Peek-a-boo is controlled disappearance and reappearance of a face or object. Children are fascinated with the game. It is preverbal. When played by the mother or with a familiar face the child responds with laughter. But with a stranger it collapses into tears. The game plays with its deepest fears, those of being left. It brings the child to the edge of terror. But it has a ritual delight. There is the loss of the care giver, or loss of object and return. It is a rousing of anxiety and allaying it, also not unknown to religion.

Paul Ricoeur holds that religious symbolism is the central point of religious representation. Subjectivity and objectivity are not radically separate. Both are going on in the representation of a child and in religion. There is regression and progression, double regression and return to discovery. We have the surveyor, staff, and guide, cosmos and psyche, and the great hierophanies. There are great symbols that reveal the sacred: light, water, sun, iconic symbols. The little girl as the church. Images are full of muscles and they do not only affect the brain, but induce enactment.

When a child is first given a crayon it first begins with a random scribble, which is an enactive symbol. It has pleasure in the movement. The hand, line, crayon are all fused. The child is not making a picture, above all not about something. The child is the picture. The paintings of Jackson Pollack are of an adult who is two years old.

Then the child discovers shape, which is more than just an extension of the body. Then at three to four years of age it can draw more clearly bounded shapes like circles and squares. Adults with a strong difference between themselves and the world want the picture to be about something. There is a bounded form in the emerging self.

Mandela, rose window

With a central cross

There is a sense of order in both the self and the world. A drawing can be of a sun or a flower.

Then at four or five children are capable of drawing people identifiably. Then the drawing gets a face – and it is me – or the sun? a flower?  Me?

There are resonances

between the self and the world.

Rhoda Kellog and Scott O’ Dell in the Psychology of Children show that if a child is pushed to representation then it collapses, and then it becomes tedious and bored with the exercises.

Music. If images are full of muscles, then rhythms are characterized by bodily life. Music reaches right into the body. Although the mathematicians and physicists at Princeton were so disembodied, the music could reach them. At a concert the audience should not sit there like a stone. They were playing Vivaldi and Bach and all the musicians were moving, and the audience should too. Otto Klemper, who sat beside Bellah, could not keep still. Music is embodied. It comes out of enactment and goes back into it. Singing is enactment. It is body. To many worshipers, singing is the most important thing in the service.

In many pre-modern conditions music was a more central phenomenon in terms of how cosmic and personal reality came together. Pythagoras discovered that the scale had seven notes, and the planets moved in a musical progression. He heard the music of the spheres, which was an expression of the order of the cosmos. Singing is not just a form of self expression, but one is bringing oneself into harmony with the sounds and rhythms of the cosmos. Confucius takes music to relate to the inner rhythm of Tao and the state of the moral consciousness of people. He visited a number of small states in China. If he heard licentious music there, he said: This state cannot last long.


[1]This is another of my questions.

[2]Bellah is most likely referring to J. Piaget, The Child’s Conception of the World, or Judgement and Reasoning in the Child. A child’s conception of the world provides a recapitulation for the unitive event in religion developing into the mature conceptual stage of adults as well as religions.

[3] Note: Is Sabaton a Swedish sauna? It names a band. It can also be medieval foot and toe armor. I missed the reference and connection here.

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February 6, 1996

Rhoda Kellog and Scott O’ Dell, Psychology of Children.

Music has the power to reach into the body.

We have Verbal symbolization

Poetic symbolization

Narrative symbolization

and Conceptual language.

We take the latter for granted, especially in the university, where we are saturated with it all the time.

Linguistic symbolization.  The relation of a sign and the object to which it points is [said to be] arbitrary. E.g., ‘dog’ and ‘chien’. We turn to the cognitive development of a child to shed light on the fact that the word and object to which it refers is not arbitrary. Piaget is questioning a child: They are discussing a picture of the sun.

“How did we know its name was ‘sun'”?

“Because it was yellow.”

He questioned it over and over again and never could disconnect the sign from the object. They just said it was the sun. There was no understanding that the ‘sun’ is an arbitrary name. For the children the name is an essential part of the thing. The name of the sun entails it. For children the sun is not a concept but for them, the object itself.[1]

Wallace Stevens calls the poem “the cry of the occasion.” It is part of the thing itself, not about it. Conceptual language is always about something. Thus the poem collapses. What is essential is lost. Archibald MacLeish writes:

A poem should be palpable and mute

As a globed fruit.

Dumb

As old medallions on the thumb….

Motionless in time,

As the moon climbs….

A poem should not mean

But be.

“A poem should not mean but be.” We should not ask, what does it mean? It is being at a different level of our consciousness. We have to be part of it. The quality of our participation gives poetry its particular force.

Performative language is not about something, but does something off in a ritual context. “I do” spoken in a marriage ceremony speaks the vows that make the action. Poetry is power. A metaphor can change the world. Unless we see speech acts and not descriptions, we won’t understand the force of the great sonnets of Shakespeare: sense and sensibility. Images and sounds reach into the body. This is accomplished by heightened language, condensed language does that too.

An example for what language can do: An urban pastor was called into the home of a dying mother by her daughter. The daughter explains that she does not know why she called the pastor. A friend had notified the pastor, because they had been estranged from the church a long while. She asked him to pray, but right there.

“Why not in your mother’s room?” the pastor asked.

“Because she has been in a coma a long time, and she would not hear you.”

The pastor insisted that the prayer should be said in the room where the mother lay dying. When the pastor began the Lord’s Prayer, the deeply familiar words reached into her body and pulled her back, because she started to pray the words with them. She remained conscious for a few days and could communicate with her daughter until she died.

Emile Durkheim speaks of a collective consciousness. These words had been said in unison 1,000 times together. 99% of the time speaking the Lord’s Prayer is routine. It is ‘ritual’ in a put-down sense. But 1% of the time, it does do it. Another mode of relating reached her.

Condensed language is the intimate language of a parent and a child, of lovers, words and expressions, unique, only in that relationship. In rocking a child, one says nonsense things, and some stick, become constitutive, trigger associations, touch the world of the shared experience, reach into the body.

In our rush to modernization, we have lost the art of memorization. Before its significance was understood. Foucalt said that it inscribed words on the body forever. Therefore we had a shared culture. Most of the culture any of us has is deeply rooted in the body, the way traditional cultures would have been.

Benedict Anderson speaks of reciting words together operating in forming national identity. They are banal words and times, but a commonality develops. That the words are spoken in unison is important, making the sounds together. This is an echoed physical realization of the imagined community.

In Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1913), Emil Durkheim described religious language as condensed, poetic, performative, and involving unisonality. Wallace Steven writes, “The heaven of Europe is empty, like a Schloss abandoned….” He writes about what did it: “Rust on the steeples. These stretched mother of pearl.” But then Stevens goes on to give it back: “There was a heaven once far beyond thoughts of regulation. The mind saw transparence. The doves of azure. Each man beheld the truth and knew it to be true.” This is something like a B-cognition by Wallace Stevens. God and imagination are one. Rhythm and poetry and heart beat.

Q. Is the religious performative the same thing that John Searle is speaking about? A. Yes. It is doing something with words.

2) Narrative is transitional. It falls between the symbolic poetic and the conceptual. Its language is loaded, but is still somewhat conceptual. There are literal descriptions of what was done. Forms of narratives are often governed by symbolic modes of representation as opposed to literal conceptual concerns. Mythical discourse takes place at the total level not that of the word, sentence, or story. An important question: Is plot in the world or is plot something we see in the world. The truth in narrative does not arise from the correspondence of its words to facts. But story is true at a much deeper level than the literal one. A poem translated into the conceptual has loss. A story also has loss when expressed in conceptual language.

Myth, like music, appears to be in time, but is actually outside time. It requires time to unfold, but it has a special relation with time. It requires time only to deny it. It catches and unfolds like a cloth flapping in the wind. (Claude Levy-Strauss has much to say about music and myth.) The temporal element is not the key. It enters e-ternity. Out-of-time. It deals with permanent truth, which is atemporal and permanent in time. In an adventure movie you gasp and cringe because you lose the distinction between yourself and the movie. You get into it. Narrative, in the same way, obliterates the distinction between you and what is going on – between the inner and outer, between the self and world. In such a way narrative operates differently from conceptual analysis.

In Masterpiece Theater: Final Act makes one identify with a monster, Richard III. He is unspeakably awful. Great plays make you identify, e.g., with Macbeth or Othello. We say “Don’t get upset. It is only a story.”   Would we say, “Don’t get upset. It is only a ritual”? It upsets us because it gets us at a level of truth that is there. We feed on narratives. Narratives keep us going. In a study it was found that narratives occurred every seven minutes between mothers and children. We tell stories to others and to ourselves.  Brunner holds that there is a constitutive function of narrative. We are looking for a plot, a story, so that our self and the world make sense. The self can be depicted as a story teller, which comes close to what it means to be a self. Telling a story to the self encloses one story in another. In this view the self is a telling. The story one tells about oneself to oneself is the self.[2]

There are screen memories, fiction and fact. Truth is not historical but narrative truth. And new narrative is necessary. Psychoanalysis can be presented as re-describing one’s life so that there is more life and possibilities in it than some of the tellings we tell ourselves.

In universities, Departments of Sociology have stories to tell. Scientific accuracy is not the point. Point for point accuracy is not the point. Johann Baptiste Metz said do not obscure intentional dangerous memory. For the nation state, [it is necessary] to tell a story to its people about that people to create that nation. The deepest disputes in history are not about facts, but about the story. What is the right way to tell the story? That is the issue. There is a strange mixture of forgetting and remembering. We have to be very careful about both. But you cannot tell anything you like. Who is to control our freedom? Kenneth Burke states that significant narrative has to deal with those things which we cannot forget. TROUBLE. Things that are just there. For example, Buddha’s birthplace is in Nepal, but India tells it is in Northern India. Someone dead, someone sick, someone old – off Buddha goes. Who has life without trouble? Who has a self without trouble? W.E.H. Stannen an Australian anthropologist speaks of the “immemorial misdirection of life.” Things go wrong right where you don’t want them to. Jesus’ disciples are horrified by the crucifixion. But the cross is the symbol that takes time and trouble into the heart of daily life. Thus the disciples are not to deny the crucifixion, but place it right into the heart of daily life and 1,000 times 1,000 times. It is enacted every moment. Every day is Good Friday.

Benedict Anderson says that national histories are involved in remembering our dead, who must be remembered so that they will not have died in vain.

Narratives have moments where we breakthrough trouble, but can’t stay there. It is just like we can’t stay in daily life all the time. Is this all just an illusion, just an opium for the people? Marx also saw religion as a cry from the heart of a heartless world. If religion kids us out of facing trouble, then it is no help. It needs to be taken up case by case. But most religions are not about that. To dismiss religion is a massive form of denial, which really shows an inadequate study of the subject.

In the transition to conceptual language, Brunner notes that logical propositions are most easily understood when they are embedded in a story. In the broadest sense poetry is also rational and there are categories in narrative too. Conceptual representation is not equal to rationality. Stories are organized by concepts. Religion is involved with the worst as well as the best things done to people. This is the empirical study of religion.

K. Burke notes the powerful story of Genesis chapters 1-3. Rephrased in logical entailment, these chapters concern the freedom to choose, which leads to the logical consequence of disobedience. “Do not do that!” a child is told. “No.” In the logic of the situation, given free will, Q.E.D., they eat the apple. The story is not antithetical to logic. One can tease the logic out of it.

At some point Piaget’s European children at age 7 or 8 begin to achieve the capacity to distinguish themselves from what it is we are describing or arguing about. “The sun did not come with me. I moved. The sun is not a part of me or is only in relation to me.” We learn to ‘decenter’ , which is a classic term coined by Piaget. Much goes on independently of us. We come to the end of our ego-centric period. The child learns to distinguish different points of view. George Herbert Meade speaks of the capacity to take the place of another. One can play baseball, a game in which one has to know all the player positions to be able to play. It is the self against the world, and baseball is a very complex game. The decentered world of late childhood approximates the world of daily life. Because the child does not fully dominate daily life, it is not so conceptual. It has not differentiated itself fully. But reverting back, in a special moment at the end of its first year, the child may take the spoon and feed its mother. That is a sign for not just give-me, but also, I-give-you. Of course, we never quite entirely reach the moment when we don’t think the world hinges on us, but we try.

When we conceptualize, we bracket ourselves and try to see the world as it is, as much as possible. The Greek philosophers had two concepts: 1)epistome and 2)doxa, i.e., 1) knowing, demonstratively, and 2) being of the opinion, which is always arguable. The first deals with objective argument which can be tested. What it tests is always saturated with opinion, doxa. Rhetoric persuades, but it cannot demonstrate. The epistemic can demonstrate, but it cannot persuade. And the world cannot run on epistemes alone.

When the world was de-contextualized and de-centered, a conceptual critique of myth enters, and in the 17th century, conceptual conscious representation arises. But in revolutionary triumph, one throws out from the past what cannot be thrown out. In the words of Yeats: “One cannot know the truth. One can only embody it.” Thomas Hobbes would say that there is no truth in speech, no truth in things spoken of. Only a proposition is true. In a text, the metaphorical is deception. The whole absurdity of metaphor needs to be thrown out. There is no such thing as a common good.” That is language gone crazy. Descartes comes in here. Rosenstock Husey yearning for a clean slate, which could be attained at twenty, exclaimed, “Would to God we had all been born at the age of twenty!” Hobbes and Descartes led to the Enlightenment and modern science. They went too far. This brought about the dark side of modernity, because they denied too much, rather than dealing with it. We cannot really live in the light of conceptual consciousness.


[1]Jean Piaget, The Child’s Conception of the World, (Totowa. New Jersey: Littlefield, Adams, & Company, 1976), p.69 and 86.

[2]A thought of my own that I attach to this lecture: In this version of the self the speech act and the self could be related if it were not a mere sentence as the basic unit, but a literal form, like a poem or story, or drama, or novel, etc, perhaps as unit. It may turn out that a higher level of such a complex speech act could be a person.

Written by peterkrey

August 19, 2010 at 12:21 am

Notes on Another Sociology of Religion Lecture by Robert Bellah, Spring Semester, 1996

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February 6, 1996

Rhoda Kellog and Scott O’ Dell, Psychology of Children.

Music has the power to reach into the body.

We have Verbal symbolization

Poetic symbolization

Narrative symbolization

and Conceptual language.

We take the latter for granted, especially in the university, where we are saturated with it all the time.

Linguistic symbolization.  The relation of a sign and the object to which it points is [said to be] arbitrary. E.g., ‘dog’ and ‘chien’. We turn to the cognitive development of a child to shed light on the fact that the word and object to which it refers is not arbitrary. Piaget is questioning a child: They are discussing a picture of the sun.

“How did we know its name was ‘sun'”?

“Because it was yellow.”

He questioned it over and over again and never could disconnect the sign from the object. They just said it was the sun. There was no understanding that the ‘sun’ is an arbitrary name. For the children the name is an essential part of the thing. The name of the sun entails it. For children the sun is not a concept but for them, the object itself.[1]

Wallace Stevens calls the poem “the cry of the occasion.” It is part of the thing itself, not about it. Conceptual language is always about something. Thus the poem collapses. What is essential is lost. Archibald MacLeish writes:

A poem should be palpable and mute

As a globed fruit.

Dumb

As old medallions on the thumb….

Motionless in time,

As the moon climbs….

A poem should not mean

But be.

“A poem should not mean but be.” We should not ask, what does it mean? It is being at a different level of our consciousness. We have to be part of it. The quality of our participation gives poetry its particular force.

Performative language is not about something, but does something off in a ritual context. “I do” spoken in a marriage ceremony speaks the vows that make the action. Poetry is power. A metaphor can change the world. Unless we see speech acts and not descriptions, we won’t understand the force of the great sonnets of Shakespeare: sense and sensibility. Images and sounds reach into the body. This is accomplished by heightened language, condensed language does that too.

An example for what language can do: An urban pastor was called into the home of a dying mother by her daughter. The daughter explains that she does not know why she called the pastor. A friend had notified the pastor, because they had been estranged from the church a long while. She asked him to pray, but right there.

“Why not in your mother’s room?” the pastor asked.

“Because she has been in a coma a long time, and she would not hear you.”

The pastor insisted that the prayer should be said in the room where the mother lay dying. When the pastor began the Lord’s Prayer, the deeply familiar words reached into her body and pulled her back, because she started to pray the words with them. She remained conscious for a few days and could communicate with her daughter until she died.

Emile Durkheim speaks of a collective consciousness. These words had been said in unison 1,000 times together. 99% of the time speaking the Lord’s Prayer is routine. It is ‘ritual’ in a put-down sense. But 1% of the time, it does do it. Another mode of relating reached her.

Condensed language is the intimate language of a parent and a child, of lovers, words and expressions, unique, only in that relationship. In rocking a child, one says nonsense things, and some stick, become constitutive, trigger associations, touch the world of the shared experience, reach into the body.

In our rush to modernization, we have lost the art of memorization. Before its significance was understood. Foucalt said that it inscribed words on the body forever. Therefore we had a shared culture. Most of the culture any of us has is deeply rooted in the body, the way traditional cultures would have been.

Benedict Anderson speaks of reciting words together operating in forming national identity. They are banal words and times, but a commonality develops. That the words are spoken in unison is important, making the sounds together. This is an echoed physical realization of the imagined community.

In Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1913), Emil Durkheim described religious language as condensed, poetic, performative, and involving unisonality. Wallace Steven writes, “The heaven of Europe is empty, like a Schloss abandoned….” He writes about what did it: “Rust on the steeples. These stretched mother of pearl.” But then Stevens goes on to give it back: “There was a heaven once far beyond thoughts of regulation. The mind saw transparence. The doves of azure. Each man beheld the truth and knew it to be true.” This is something like a B-cognition by Wallace Stevens. God and imagination are one. Rhythm and poetry and heart beat.

Q. Is the religious performative the same thing that John Searle is speaking about? A. Yes. It is doing something with words.

2) Narrative is transitional. It falls between the symbolic poetic and the conceptual. Its language is loaded, but is still somewhat conceptual. There are literal descriptions of what was done. Forms of narratives are often governed by symbolic modes of representation as opposed to literal conceptual concerns. Mythical discourse takes place at the total level not that of the word, sentence, or story. An important question: Is plot in the world or is plot something we see in the world. The truth in narrative does not arise from the correspondence of its words to facts. But story is true at a much deeper level than the literal one. A poem translated into the conceptual has loss. A story also has loss when expressed in conceptual language.

Myth, like music, appears to be in time, but is actually outside time. It requires time to unfold, but it has a special relation with time. It requires time only to deny it. It catches and unfolds like a cloth flapping in the wind. (Claude Levy-Strauss has much to say about music and myth.) The temporal element is not the key. It enters e-ternity. Out-of-time. It deals with permanent truth, which is atemporal and permanent in time. In an adventure movie you gasp and cringe because you lose the distinction between yourself and the movie. You get into it. Narrative, in the same way, obliterates the distinction between you and what is going on – between the inner and outer, between the self and world. In such a way narrative operates differently from conceptual analysis.

In Masterpiece Theater: Final Act makes one identify with a monster, Richard III. He is unspeakably awful. Great plays make you identify, e.g., with Macbeth or Othello. We say “Don’t get upset. It is only a story.”   Would we say, “Don’t get upset. It is only a ritual”? It upsets us because it gets us at a level of truth that is there. We feed on narratives. Narratives keep us going. In a study it was found that narratives occurred every seven minutes between mothers and children. We tell stories to others and to ourselves.  Brunner holds that there is a constitutive function of narrative. We are looking for a plot, a story, so that our self and the world make sense. The self can be depicted as a story teller, which comes close to what it means to be a self. Telling a story to the self encloses one story in another. In this view the self is a telling. The story one tells about oneself to oneself is the self.[2]

There are screen memories, fiction and fact. Truth is not historical but narrative truth. And new narrative is necessary. Psychoanalysis can be presented as re-describing one’s life so that there is more life and possibilities in it than some of the tellings we tell ourselves.

In universities, Departments of Sociology have stories to tell. Scientific accuracy is not the point. Point for point accuracy is not the point. Johann Baptiste Metz said do not obscure intentional dangerous memory. For the nation state, [it is necessary] to tell a story to its people about that people to create that nation. The deepest disputes in history are not about facts, but about the story. What is the right way to tell the story? That is the issue. There is a strange mixture of forgetting and remembering. We have to be very careful about both. But you cannot tell anything you like. Who is to control our freedom? Kenneth Burke states that significant narrative has to deal with those things which we cannot forget. TROUBLE. Things that are just there. For example, Buddha’s birthplace is in Nepal, but India tells it is in Northern India. Someone dead, someone sick, someone old – off Buddha goes. Who has life without trouble? Who has a self without trouble? W.E.H. Stannen an Australian anthropologist speaks of the “immemorial misdirection of life.” Things go wrong right where you don’t want them to. Jesus’ disciples are horrified by the crucifixion. But the cross is the symbol that takes time and trouble into the heart of daily life. Thus the disciples are not to deny the crucifixion, but place it right into the heart of daily life and 1,000 times 1,000 times. It is enacted every moment. Every day is Good Friday.

Benedict Anderson says that national histories are involved in remembering our dead, who must be remembered so that they will not have died in vain.

Narratives have moments where we breakthrough trouble, but can’t stay there. It is just like we can’t stay in daily life all the time. Is this all just an illusion, just an opium for the people? Marx also saw religion as a cry from the heart of a heartless world. If religion kids us out of facing trouble, then it is no help. It needs to be taken up case by case. But most religions are not about that. To dismiss religion is a massive form of denial, which really shows an inadequate study of the subject.

In the transition to conceptual language, Brunner notes that logical propositions are most easily understood when they are embedded in a story. In the broadest sense poetry is also rational and there are categories in narrative too. Conceptual representation is not equal to rationality. Stories are organized by concepts. Religion is involved with the worst as well as the best things done to people. This is the empirical study of religion.

K. Burke notes the powerful story of Genesis chapters 1-3. Rephrased in logical entailment, these chapters concern the freedom to choose, which leads to the logical consequence of disobedience. “Do not do that!” a child is told. “No.” In the logic of the situation, given free will, Q.E.D., they eat the apple. The story is not antithetical to logic. One can tease the logic out of it.

At some point Piaget’s European children at age 7 or 8 begin to achieve the capacity to distinguish themselves from what it is we are describing or arguing about. “The sun did not come with me. I moved. The sun is not a part of me or is only in relation to me.” We learn to ‘decenter’ , which is a classic term coined by Piaget. Much goes on independently of us. We come to the end of our ego-centric period. The child learns to distinguish different points of view. George Herbert Meade speaks of the capacity to take the place of another. One can play baseball, a game in which one has to know all the player positions to be able to play. It is the self against the world, and baseball is a very complex game. The decentered world of late childhood approximates the world of daily life. Because the child does not fully dominate daily life, it is not so conceptual. It has not differentiated itself fully. But reverting back, in a special moment at the end of its first year, the child may take the spoon and feed its mother. That is a sign for not just give-me, but also, I-give-you. Of course, we never quite entirely reach the moment when we don’t think the world hinges on us, but we try.

When we conceptualize, we bracket ourselves and try to see the world as it is, as much as possible. The Greek philosophers had two concepts: 1)epistome and 2)doxa, i.e., 1) knowing, demonstratively, and 2) being of the opinion, which is always arguable. The first deals with objective argument which can be tested. What it tests is always saturated with opinion, doxa. Rhetoric persuades, but it cannot demonstrate. The epistemic can demonstrate, but it cannot persuade. And the world cannot run on epistemes alone.

When the world was de-contextualized and de-centered, a conceptual critique of myth enters, and in the 17th century, conceptual conscious representation arises. But in revolutionary triumph, one throws out from the past what cannot be thrown out. In the words of Yeats: “One cannot know the truth. One can only embody it.” Thomas Hobbes would say that there is no truth in speech, no truth in things spoken of. Only a proposition is true. In a text, the metaphorical is deception. The whole absurdity of metaphor needs to be thrown out. There is no such thing as a common good.” That is language gone crazy. Descartes comes in here. Rosenstock Husey yearning for a clean slate, which could be attained at twenty, exclaimed, “Would to God we had all been born at the age of twenty!” Hobbes and Descartes led to the Enlightenment and modern science. They went too far. This brought about the dark side of modernity, because they denied too much, rather than dealing with it. We cannot really live in the light of conceptual consciousness.


[1]Jean Piaget, The Child’s Conception of the World, (Totowa. New Jersey: Littlefield, Adams, & Company, 1976), p.69 and 86.

[2]A thought of my own that I attach to this lecture: In this version of the self the speech act and the self could be related if it were not a mere sentence as the basic unit, but a literal form, like a poem or story, or drama, or novel, etc, perhaps as unit. It may turn out that a higher level of such a complex speech act could be a person.

[See the notes of all the lectures posted so far in Deficiency Cognition and B-Consciousness.]

Written by peterkrey

August 19, 2010 at 12:08 am