File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2000/bhaskar.0009, message 52

Subject: Re: BHA: Bhaskar and God
Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2000 22:20:36 -0400

Hi Gary--

Quick responses again:

> As always you give me pause for thought.  I would need to think through
> what is idealism.  For me the defining characteristics of  idealism were a
> preference for ideas over matter and a belief that ideas called matter
> being. i.e. consciousness determined social being.  (Marx was of course
> as classically consistent on this question as some of his avatars
> claim)  So if Bhaskar's ideas are not creating the world i.e. if god is
> real then how can he be  idealist?

I had in mind not the super-idealism prevalent in much poststructuralist
thought, but rather the Platonic (or maybe Neoplatonic) claim that ideas are
the basis of all material things, and that an image of an object actually
partakes of or is infused by the same idea as the object itself.

>                    One could of course argue that the
> religious experience is false or a product of what Iterm doamine flows,
> then isn't that truly a vulgar materialist explanation???

Certainly -- I for one don't think religious experiences can be explained
away in such a manner.  Of course what "counts" as a religious experience is
probably subject to argument.  In any case dopamine flows surely don't all
get translated into religious experiences: a lot of social, cultural,
psychological and other factors come into play.  Some people might treat
them secularly, as simply a "natural high."  And my own reading is that many
religious experiences don't involve anything like a dopamine flow, but can
be meditative, reflective, perceptive, even jocular.  What I *don't* accept
is that religious experiences are themselves clear proof of God's existence.
This is one area where FEW really astounds me: RB takes a wholly naive and
uncritical approach to experience as evidence.  How can this be?

Best, T.

Tobin Nellhaus
"Faith requires us to be materialists without flinching": C.S. Peirce

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