File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2000/bhaskar.0009, message 56

Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2000 00:17:53 +0100
Subject: Re: BHA: Bhaskar and God

Hi Gary (et al),

Yes, I think there is continuity between DCR and TDCR in this (and
other) respect(s), as I think my paper makes clear (Nick's and Alan's
too). But that's perfectly compatible with discontinuity within the
system as a whole (there's no beginningless God-stuff qua essential Self
as the pulse of freedom in the pre-DPF books that I can detect; on the
contrary, there the Self seems to be thought of as the essence of social

Those ropes are working loose... What will you do? Unstop the ears of
the crew? Jump overboard and swim?? Anyway, how's about rum all round
(or was it retsina)?


Gary MacLennan <> writes
>I have always said that the dialectic is remorseless.  I cannot though 
>quite believe that here I am defending the possible existence of a god. 
>Talk about karmic burden!!
>Mervyn, and Howard and Tobin and Phil have sent me scrambling through my 
>books for a definition of idealism.   We will see what I can come up 
>with.  The point for me is whether Roy has followed Hegel.  Is he trying to 
>deduce everything including Krug's pen?  Perhaps he is.  On the other hand 
>I cannot see how if there is a god that we can simply argue that Roy had 
>deduced him.
>But let me comment on one other aspects of FEW.  What is especially 
>striking for me is its strong esentialism (we are god like) and a 
>consequent absolutist teleology, where the soul *will* learn 
>eventually.  There was of course a weak essentialism before in DCR and also 
>a weak teleology encoded in the notion of the conatus to freedom.
>It is this movement from weak to strong that I think marks something of a 
>continuity rather than a rupture between FEW and the earlier works. Is this 
>strong teleolgy a siren voice?  Certainly I find the notion attractive, but 
>I remain reasonably bound to the mast.
>warm regards to all the mariners
>At 09:38  18/09/00 +0100, you wrote:
>>Hi Gary, Phil
>>Gary wrote:
>> >If there is a god then he is not an idealist.
>>I would have thought the contrary follows, since Roy conceives God both
>>as ultimate reality and as the Word in some sense, consciousness,
>>concepts, really real categories, spirit... What does follow negatively
>>is 'If there is [such] a god then he is not mistaken in his idealism'.
>>(This however also makes him an ontological irrealist, in that
>>ontological realism as defined within his own system cannot be sustained
>>insofar as we are God and have beginningless souls.)
>>Such *philosophical* idealism often (though by no means always) goes
>>hand in hand with a rejection of historical materialism, whose primacy
>>thesis was once espoused by Roy, and indeed this is just what one finds
>>in EW which, with its emphasis on category mistakes and ideological
>>illusion, and its 'reassessment of the role of ideas in history', in
>>effect asserts the primacy of ideas in human history, rather than
>>material conditions (which include ideas), thereby embracing what might
>>be called *historical* idealism.
>>I think you're quite right, Gary, that such positions can't be
>>demonstrated to be valid or invalid in some definitive sense. I think a
>>strong case can be made out, however, that they are radically
>>inconsistent with previous positions - ie that you've got important
>>developmental inconsistencies within TDCR as a system. (And the
>>historical idealism of course must pose rather grave problems for your
>>own Marxism.)
>> >The very ambitious and courageous nature of this attempt should
>> >be acknowledged.
>>I'm fully prepared to acknowledge that it is very brave, and I admire,
>>and deem important, the attempt to synthesise religion and science (but
>>I'm not quite sure what is supposed to follow from this; certainly,
>>bravery is no guarantee of truth...) However, every fibre of my being
>>registers that it is *also* simultaneously a surrender, a defeat, a
>>regression, a succumbing to siren voices...
>>Gary MacLennan <> writes
>> >Phil I am still re-working my response to FEW.  I have to try and integrate
>> >the insights of the series of very incisive and often  brilliant anti-FEW
>> >papers that you, Alan, Nick and Mervyn gave at the conference.
>> >
>> >For me, though it may sound ridiculous, all the charges against Bhaskar as
>> >an idealist fail if he happens to be correct in his radically new
>> >ontology.If there is a god then he is not an idealist. As things stand this
>> >can neither be proved or disproved.
>> >
>> >The central problem seems to me what weight do we give to religious
>> >experience - defined broadly as the intuitive or that which cannot be
>> >subsumed under the rational?  Clearly Bhaskar has had a range of such
>> >experiences and he is now attempting to integrate them into critical
>> >realism.  The very ambitious and courageous nature of this attempt should
>> >be acknowledged.  Most people I know who have had a 'religious' experience
>> >(and BTW very few of us have not) prefer to bracket them off and not try
>> >and follow through logically their full meaning. Certainly that was my own
>> >path.   Bhaskar however is made from a different mold. Perhaps that is why
>> >he appears as the 'world historical individual'.
>> >
>> >The problem of proofs from religious experience is, 'How does one
>> >distinguish the genuine from the pathological?' For personal reasons I have
>> >an ongoing interest in schizophrenia.  Many sufferers report
>> >hallucinations, voices, divinations etc.  If we administer a neuroleptic
>> >then such phenomena often disappear.  But what of the mystics like
>> >Kierkegaard, Swedenborg, Blake and so on?  What indeed of the great
>> >philosopher Thomas Aquinas who had a mystical experience and fell into
>> >silence?
>> >
>> >Can we explain everything by an excess of dopamine?  I do not think so but
>> >neither do I know a way to make a distinction.  It is the price one pays
>> >for abandoning rational scepticism.  Karen Armstrong suggests that the
>> >genuine mystic is quiet rather than hysterical.  I am not at all sure that
>> >this is a good solution.
>> >
>> >Howard in his post raised an analogous question.  When one allows for a
>> >depth ontology where does one draw the line?  Again I do not have a ready
>> >answer.  My own response is that one has a commitment to the truth and one
>> >follows that wherever it leads one, even it be to a god. At which juncture
>> >I am *still* inclined to mutter 'God forbid'.
>> >
>> >warmest of regards
>> >
>> >Gary
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >     --- from list ---
>>Mervyn Hartwig
>>13 Spenser Road
>>Herne Hill
>>London SE24 ONS
>>United Kingdom
>>Tel: 020 7 737 2892
>>      --- from list ---
>     --- from list ---

Mervyn Hartwig
13 Spenser Road
Herne Hill
London SE24 ONS
United Kingdom
Tel: 020 7 737 2892

     --- from list ---


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