torsdag, mars 29, 2012

Heidegger on the flight from the world

"Into the position of the vanished authority of God and of the teaching office of the Church steps the authority of conscience, obtrudes the authority of reason. Against these the social instinct rises up. The flight from the world into the suprasensory is replaced by historical progress. The otherworldly goal of everlasting bliss is transformed into the earthly happiness of the greatest number. The careful maintenance of the cult of religion is relaxed through enthusiasm for the creating of a culture or the spreading of civilization. Creativity, previously the unique property of the biblical god, becomes the distinctive mark of human activity. Human creativity finally passes over into business enterprise."
Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology, and Other Essays (Garland Pub., 1977), 64.

onsdag, mars 28, 2012

Westphal om ontoteologi

"Onto-theology is thus a bit like Baskin-Robbins or Heinz. It comes in thirty-one flavors or fifty-seven varieties or who knows how many different versions. In discussing Nietzsche on the death of God, Heidegger lists the following as God surrogates in secular modernity: conscience, reason, historical progress, the earthly happiness of the greatest number, and even business enterprise. No ‘‘flight from the world into the suprasensory’’ is necessary to find that particular being whose task will be to give unity and intelligibility to the whole. 
But all forms of onto-theology have a common purpose. Each puts its God, whether it be the Unmoved Mover, or Nature, or Spirit, or the Market to work as the keystone of a metaphysical theory designed to render the whole of reality intelligible to philosophical reflection. Thus, for example, those writers who identify freedom with free enterprise and make this the immanent telos of human history are onto-theologians in an era of the death of God."
Merold Westphal, Transcendence and Self-transcendence: On God and the Soul (Indiana University Press, 2004), 18

måndag, mars 26, 2012

Förnuftet känner inga gränser

"For reason, there is nothing beyond, as there is in a mere opposition of the understanding, because in speaking of a beyond reason is already encompassing this beyond, which is within reason and not beyond it. In this Hegel was right, for in thinking of anything as beyond something else, even if this something be the whole of what is finite, one is already thinking of two sides and of either side as caught up with its opposite through some infinite that is neither this side nor that side, neither here nor beyond, but simply all-encompassing. There is no going beyond this true infinite, since going beyond it is always still only reinventing it. Reason, in its own infinite movement, is always already beyond any attempt to set any limits beyond which it cannot go. [...]
There is no way of setting a limit, because reason is always already beyond that limit in its encompassing movement. What we have demonstrated, however, at the end of metaphysics, is the existence of, or rather the necessity of affirming, a Being that totally transcends anything reason can encompass in its grasp."

Oliva Blanchette, Philosophy of Being: A Reconstructive Essay in Metaphysics (CUA Press, 2003), 526

onsdag, mars 21, 2012

Dualismernas dilemma

Nature/grace. Sacred/profane. Natural/supernatural. All such dualisms are fruits of our fallen logics, despite our best and most honorable intentions. This fallen logic ends only in ruin, the ruin of the "spiritual". For the logic is in the end, "atheist,"not to mention the very destruction of the secular, or the natural. For all that is left in the wake of this logic is dust, with only ever momentary, arbitrary (that is, accidental) shapes and identities.
A similar sin is equally present in the religious. As the theologian John Milbank strikingly claims, "once there was no secular." One could add a corollary this: once there was no religion - or, better put, once nothing was sacred. This idea should be no cause for Dawkins to lick his lips in excitement, desperately seeking a time machine to travel back to any such secular idyll. No, if Dawkins wishes to be an atheist, in a sense he would be wise to join his local church. This is not to say that the church per se (which for Christians is the body of Christ) is illegitimate, much less that we should take up some sort of New Age position and abandon formal worship, liturgy, and so on. No, quite the contrary. Any form of apartheid between the profane and the sacred, the natural and the supernatural, always produces disastrous results, results that are the opposite of those motives that first set up any such division. 
Conor Cunningham. Darwins Pious Idea - Why Ultra-Darwinists and Creationists Both Get It Wrong. Eerdmans, 2010. s, 408 
Kan varmt rekommendera Cunninghams bok, om vilken Slavoj Zizek skriver:
"Even those sympathetic to the recent wave of evolutionary attacks on religion cannot help feeling that something is missing there: Dawkins and company lack a minimum of understanding of what religion is about, of how it works. Cunningham's book is thus obligatory reading for all interested in this topic: while fully endorsing the scientific validity of Darwinism, it clearly brings to light its limitations in understanding not only religion but also our human predicament. A book like Cunningham's is needed like simple bread in our confused times."

tisdag, mars 20, 2012

Om Kant i Döda poeters sällskap

Via en serie tweets fick jag mig nyligen Upplysningens valspråk av Kant till livs:
"Upplysning är människans utträde ur hennes självförvållade omyndighet. Omyndighet är oförmågan att göra bruk av sitt förstånd utan någon annans ledning. Självförvållad är denna omyndighet om orsaken till densamma inte ligger i brist på förstånd, utan i brist på beslutsamhet och mod att göra bruk av det utan någon annans ledning. Sapere aude! Hav mod att göra bruk av ditt eget förstånd! lyder alltså upplysningens valspråk."*
Det där med "att göra bruk av sitt förstånd utan någon annans ledning" har kanske en lite annan klangbotten idag än vad det hade 1784. Kant exemplifierade då omyndigheten med: "Har jag en bok som har förstånd i mitt ställe, har jag en själasörjare som har samvete i mitt ställe, har jag en läkare som bedömer dieten i mitt ställe osv, så behöver jag inte anstränga mig själv".
Idag väcker valspråket andra sorts frågor: Är mitt förstånd verkligen mitt? Är det möjligt att göra bruk av sitt förstånd utan påverkan och ledning? Har Upplysningen gjort oss till myndiga och mogna människor? Jag kom att tänka på en träffande text av Stanley Hauerwas som problematiserar en oreflekterad tilltro till det fria förnuftet:
"Both Kant and the utilitarians assumed that the task of the ethicist was to explicate the presuppositions everyone shares. Ethics is the attempt to systematize what we all perhaps only inchoately know or which we have perhaps failed to make sufficiently explicit. Such a view of ethics can appear quite anticonventional, but even the anticonventional stance gains its power by appeal to what anyone would think upon reflection. This can be nicely illustrated in terms of the recent movie, The Dead Poets Society. It is an entertaining, popular movie that appeals to our moral sensibilities. The movie depicts a young and creative teacher battling what appears to be the unthinking authoritarianism of the school as well as his students' (at first) uncomprehending resistance to his teaching method. The young teacher, whose subject is romantic poetry, which may or may not be all that important, takes as his primary pedagogical task helping his students think for themselves. We watch him slowly awaken one student after another to the possibility of their own talents and potential. At the end, even though he has been fired by the school, we are thrilled as his students find the ability to stand against authority, to think for themselves.
This movie seems to be a wonderful testimony to the independence of spirit that democracies putatively want to encourage. Yet I can think of no more conformist message in liberal societies than the idea that students should learn to think for themselves. What must be said is that most students in our society do not have minds well enough trained to think. A central pedagogical task is to tell students that their problem is that they do not have minds worth making up. That is why training is so important, because training involves the formation of the self through submission to authority that will provide people with the virtues necessary to make reasoned judgment." **
Själv funderar jag på om det kan vara så att Upplysningens upprop mot traditionsbaserat förnuft parat med dess negativa frihetssyn har gjort oss blinda för en annan sorts omyndighet. John Milbank sätter ord på något av detta:
"I can choose anything anywhere, but these choices will always be for the choices of others, selecting me. Since anything can now be mine, nothing will really be mine. Since I am offered absolute Kantian liberty without the guidance of education of my judgement, I will be perfectly manipulated: absolutely controlled in my important choices (for the exploitative outlet for sub-standard coffee for example, or the exploitative lifestyle website, that some poor individual imagines they have freely invented), and within this allowed a measure of predetermined indifferent laxity (a shot of this or that sickly flavour to disguise the third-rate coffee-blend, the sub-choice of lifestyle that gives me the illusion of interacting with the Internet . . .)"***
Om Kants upprop gällde frigörelse från blind auktoritetstro och självförvållad omyndighet, så är samtidens stora fråga var det finns resurser som kan att leda människan ut ur hennes självförvållade kommersialisering, ensamhet, och vilsenhet. Om Upplysningens valspråk på sin tid var ett stridsrop för frihet, är det idag snarast ett uttryck för konformism. Den viktiga politiska frågan idag är inte så mycket bristen på frihet, utan bristen på gemenskap. 

* Ur «Vad är upplysning» Immanuel Kant, Symposion, 1989
** Stanley Hauerwas - Discipleship as a Craft, Church as a Disciplined Community
*** John Milbank. Being Reconciled. Routledge, 2003. s.290

söndag, mars 18, 2012

Michel Polanyi om materialism och moral

"Men may go on talking the language of positivism, pragmatism, and naturalism for many
years, yet continue to respect the principles of truth and morality which their vocabulary anxiously ignores." 
Michael Polanyi. Personal Knowledge. Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. Routledge, 1998. s. 247

John Gray om det sekuläras kristna rötter

“Secular thinking is a legacy of Christianity and has no meaning except in a context of monotheism […] Post-Christian secular societies are formed by the beliefs they reject, whereas a society that had truly left Christianity behind would lack the concepts that shaped secular thought."
John Gray, Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), 268.

lördag, mars 17, 2012

The dilemma of ultra-Darwinism

"A number of ultra-Darwinists have argued that teaching religion to children is a form of abuse (one thinks of both Dawkins and Dennett here), because religion is, for them, an illusion. But ethics is also an illusion for them, as is free will. What, then, do we tell our children? How do we accurately describe to them the world in which we they live - according to ultra-Darwinistsm? Surely, to be good enlightened parents, we must tell our children that there are no such things as ethics, and there is no real reason (ultra-Darwinian reason). Why should they be allowed to eat the chicken but not the dog? Indeed, why should the dog not be allowed to eat them? Should weteach our children that there are no such thing as free will, that mind is reducible to matter, that there is no such thing as rationality, that we do not love them, and, lastly, that they do not really exist? As Lennon might have sung it: imagine there are no pelple, ethics, love, humans, or rationality - it´s easy if you try."

Conor Cunningham. Darwin´s Pious Idea - Why the Ultra-Darwinists and the Creationists Both Get It Wrong. Eerdmans, 2010. s. 238

torsdag, mars 15, 2012

Sekularismen är religiös!

The anthropologist Brian Morris, in the introduction to his book Anthropological Studies of Religion (1987), says that "the rubric 'religion', to me, covers all phenomena that are seen as having a sacred or supra-empirical quality: totemism, myth, witchcraft, ritual, spirit beliefs, symbolism, and the rest".

Now it occurs to me that all values are supraempirical, and if we include as values the American Constitution, the rights of man, and the concept of the civil society, then religion in Morris's usage covers what defines secular western society. In point of fact Morris's usage tends to make 'religion' identical with ritual, thus including many institutions that others would like to label secular.
Timothy Fitzgerald. The Ideology of Religious Studies. Oxford University Pres, 2003. s. 12

onsdag, mars 14, 2012

Hegel om epistemologins dilemma

We ought, says Kant, to become acquainted with the instrument before we undertake the work for which it is to be employed; for if the instrument be insufficient, all our trouble will be spent in vain. … But the examination of knowledge can only be carried out by an act of knowledge. To examine this so-called instrument is the same as to know it. But to seek to know before we know is as absurd as the wise resolution of Scholasticus, not to venture into the water until he had learned to swim.

Gillian Rose. Hegel contra Sociology. Athlone, 1981. s. 43-44

måndag, mars 12, 2012

Connolly raserar modernitetens murar ...

"The difference between philosophy and faith - which has formed the hallmark of secular thinking - is not recognized by either of us to be a distinction of type. It functions at best as a delineation of components within a religious/philosophical perspective. Every faith has a philosophical component. And every philosophy is invested with faith. The attempt to maintain a sharp line of distinction between the two is one of the things that has placed Catholic philosophy in limbo in academic life. And, I must add, it also encourages many philosophers and theologians to place a minority, non theistic faith in the West, advanced variously by Epicurius, Lucretius, Spinoza, Nietzsche, Deleuze, and Foucault, in the same position. Once you come to terms with the element of faith in utilitarianism, Kantianism and Hegelianism, and then re-encounter the philosophical components of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam, the academic marginalization of both Catholicism and Nietzscheanism loses much of its intellectual grounding. The modern, secular line of distinction between philosophy and faith begins to blur. By faith in this context I mean a lived interpretation which so far has not been subjected to definitive demonstration, one that involves both refined reflection and a gut commitment below the threshold of complex intellectualization. The human condition that makes faith unavoidable, plural, and effective is the same condition that makes the key question of ethics less how to resolve issues within a shared moral creed and more how to negotiate relationships between constituencies, within and across state lines, inhabited by different operational faiths."

William Connolly ”Catholicism and Philosophy” in Ruth Abbey, Charles Taylor (Cambridge University Press, 2004), 171.

söndag, mars 11, 2012

fredag, mars 09, 2012

Hauerwas om hälsa

When "health" is thought to name "total well being," as it often is in modernity, and medicine becomes the agent of health, this threatens to make medicine the institution of a secular salvation. I suspect that is why for many today medicine has become an alternative church.
Stanley Hauerwas - At peace with finitude: The body of medicine and the Christian body 

torsdag, mars 01, 2012

Williams vs. Dawkins

Ärkebiskopen of Canterbury debatterar livets uppkomst med Richard Dawkins.