File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0109, message 52

Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 08:39:34 -0100
Subject: Re: Mystify me!

Eric, Matthew, All,


A saying of names, religious, philosophic, scientific; a performance of
birth, bonding, death, and WAR.



> In my way of thinking, the most important statement made by various
> postmodernisms is that "mystification" is not something that can be
> overcome. There is no meta-science that can tell us which beliefs are
> mystifications and which beliefs are true.  The pragmatic realization is
> that things are true or false based on what you are doing at the moment.
> The explanations we use to guide our actions are never true in an
> ahistorical sense.  Nevertheless, they are true insofar as they allow us
> to act well (and "wellness" is also contingent).
> Mal:
> Let's step this down a notch.  You say "there is no meta-science that
> can tell us which beliefs are true." I agree, but then I would turn
> around and ask you if you believe there is any science that can tell you
> which beliefs are true?
> You mentioned pragmatism and I'll mention Dewey who argued that concepts
> are technological tools that impact instrumentally on the world in ways
> that transform it and us into something else.  We are always the
> products of our own interdependent actions. (You see, we have always
> been cyborgs.)
> The reason why an atheist and a believer can never reach agreement is
> not merely because the meta-science is lacking or (to invoke Lyotard
> here) because no tribunal exists that can resolve the differend, the
> phrases in dispute.
> It is also because our concept technology operates in a holistic
> fashion. To quote WVO Quine:
> "The total field is so undetermined by its boundary conditions,
> experience, that there is much latitude of choice as to what statements
> to reevaluate in the light of any single contrary experience.  No
> particular experiences are linked with any particular statements in the
> interior of the field, except indirectly through consideration of
> equilibrium affecting the field as a whole."
> Whatever logical points our atheist may score against the believer, the
> latter will not change because the interior of the field, the deep
> structure remains impervious.
> Does this mean that the holistic structures that govern religion will
> never change? Obviously not, for the simple reason you also invoked.
> These holistic structures are embedded in a dynamic environment that is
> relentlessly historical and driven by temporality.
> Why are there so few Zoroastrians or active temples of worship for Diana
> today? For the simple reason that God appears to have placed all
> religions into a Darwinian universe.
> So, yes, I believe it is possible to argue politically that institutions
> such as Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are  "mystifications" because I
> think they are adapted to the needs of an earlier age and their inherent
> xenophobia renders them ill-suited to the new cultures blossoming within
> the emerging globalism.
> What is the meta-science I use to determine this?  None at all.  I am
> simply making an empirical judgement based upon my own holistic garden
> of forking concepts and a set of values that favor greater autonomy and
> self-determination for individuals and hence is opposed to all those
> institutions that remain authoritarian, anti-gay, anti-women and white
> supremacist. (For the latter I am referring primarily to certain strands
> of Fundamentalist Christianity.)
> My judgement is inherently falsifiable. Only time will tell if I am
> right or wrong, but my actions will create that emerging time as well
> through the feedback loops of history.
> -----------
> You also say: "It is always the other folks that are mystified."
> Well, no, not exactly.  In my own lifetime I have been a Roman Catholic,
> an atheist, a Buddhist, a born-again Pagan, a tithing student of AdiDa
> and finally the practicing Epicurean I am today. How is it that I myself
> became de-mystified, unless you want to posit some thoroughly postmodern
> plurality of selves where it was always just those other folks and never
> me?
> Does this mean I have become de-mystified in some kind of absolute,
> metaphysical way?  Of course not.   It is all thoroughly
> organimistically, pragmatically, holistically evolving concepts and
> judgements.  I deeply believe my concepts and judgements have improved
> over time and I bet yours have too.
> Let's have a postmodernism which honors that instead of an abstract
> relativistic discourse that impoverishes political and social action and
> makes us all a little too weak-kneed before the authoritarian bullies
> who currently run the planet and could care less about metadiscourses or
> metanarratives.  The structures of knowledge may seem relative, but the
> structures of power are not!
> ----------
> For the rest, I liked what you had to say about Bataille, the general
> economy and religion.  Have you seen that Canadian letter currently
> making the rounds? (I think it was even read on tv by Peter Jennings.)
> It also invokes the Marshall Plan as a sign of American generosity.  The
> trouble is that was over fifty years ago.  As you imply, why not forgive
> the IMF debt now that is crippling so many countries?
> I also have argued in the past for a cybernetic potlatch society based
> upon similar notions deriving from Bataille about the general economy
> and the notion of the accursed share. A postmodern global information
> society is all about play and dis-play. The only competition should be
> for each one of us to strive to exceed one another in joy, ecstasy, love
> and beauty. At the ataraxia of the turning world, there the dance is.
> best wishes & may you groove with your God to the beat of the times,
> eric


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