File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0107, message 9

Date: Thu, 05 Jul 2001 15:51:01 -0100
Subject: comments on religion and the sublime

Eric and All,

My efforts to formulate a comprehensive response to Eric's posts on religion
have not succeeded, but I feel obliged to submit a few comments.

1) Theories of the Universe -
We wander betwixt concepts of the infiinitely large, and the infimitely
small.  Spatially, nothing so great we cannot imagine it doubled; nothing so
small we cannot imagine it halved. Same for time.
Recent observations favor the concept of  an expansionary Universe and
indicate what Einstein called "the greatest mistake of my life" may not have
been an error after all.

The bio-revolution gives us 3 1/2 billion years of evolutionary history as
scientists' study the human genome.  Molecular biologists want to know
how Nature makes the thousands of proteins that populate a single human
cell.  How do cellular substances communicate etc.?  Life is enormously more
complex than anyone dreamed at the beginning of the 20th century.

 2) Theories of the Self -
Consciousness, memory, life-histories, the petit-narratives:  On a TV show,
an MD-trained doctor (doomed by an incurable disease) who works with
similarly doomed victims of cancer, tells the story of three stonecutters,
When asked about their work, the first replies, "why do you ask, isn't it
obvious?, I'm simply cutting stone.  The second stoncutter replies: "I:'m
earning a living which makes my family comfortable."  The third replies:
"I'm building a cathedral"  The MD concludes that many of the patients she
works with seem to 0need stories as much as they need medication. The theory
of selves is, in part, a theory of the stories we have lived, and the
we have told each other.

3) Theories of Religion -
Re-checking the definition of Theodicy, I find it is an attempt to reconcile
the omnipotent, all powerful beneficence of God with the persistence of
Evil  The term is also used in dicussions of the inevitability of death and
of loved ones.

I recall an instance of a person losing her mother, son, and husband at
approximately six-month intervals, yet, apparently, because of her
fundamental Christian faith, she soon recovered and was able to help and
inspire relatives and friends for decades thereafter.

4) Theories of Abundance and Sublimity -
Epicurus, Kant, Burke, Nietzsche, and Pater ("Marius the Epicurean" -
published 100 years ago) spoke of exhalted states of mind, and/or the
abundant joys of everyday life of the the ancient Greeks.  And recently,
Lyotard and Feyerabend did the same.

This attitude  is not religion per se, but these ideas encompass a great
part of our human experience which is subjective, deals with the Unknown,
and cannot be ignored.  Perhaps a non-theistic approximation of religion can
be achieved. Scientists, at least some of them, apparently enjoy a reverence
for Nature, and sometimes realize a sort of sublimity in penetrating and
Nature's puzzles.

It's unlikely such religious impulses will have any effect on the political
scene.  Rampant Greed and Globalization are our destiny for a while.
Marxism and whatever Postmodernism may have been, are now History, and
apparently beyond resucitation,   Didn't Nietzsche say: "History is the
process by which the Dead bury the Living?



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