File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0109, message 66

Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2001 21:55:12 +0100
Subject: Re: re 9/11/01

Please don't take the following in any sense personally, that is not my intent,
occasionally in these discussions things sometimes get 'rough', that's all. In a
truly civilised, physically non-violent society human beings would not have to
be polite.

The statements/proposals made are indeed a defense of fundamentalism and
fanaticism. I would regard any defense of religion and spirtuality as an
acceptance and defense of the irrational, accompanied by a reluctance to accept
that the most useful philosophical/social position is one founded on the need to
investigate and understand 'it' from a secular stance. The difference between
the Pope, the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, Rabbi J.Sachs, Billy Graham, some local
fascist evangelical priest, Mullah Oman, the sick Muslim in North London who has
been encouraging young men to die for Allah... the difference is small, in
ideological terms there is no real difference. Are the figureheads of the
religions saying 'no'  to the virtual war that is struggling to turn into a real
one? Perhaps a few... There are always good exceptions...

The position of religion in human societies has best been defined and explained
by Dumezil in his work on comparative mythology. It is as myth, an object worthy
of study and understanding alongside all other aspects of the human condition.
It's importance is perhaps, not in its humane specificity to the terror that
lies in the heart of the human condition, after all as the terror decreases
societies have tended to become more secular, recent changes changes deriving
from the postmodern economy have increased the unpleasent socieities and we have
thus seen an increase in religious activity.  (Eric I have been checking my
statistics since we last communicated about this... more anon). However what is
especially interesting is its mythological relationship to the state - all
religions desire to occupy a position of power in relation to the state, to in a
sense become the state....

During the modernist period this was being increasingly supplanted by the
science-technological nexus, recently the postmodern shift has thrown this
slightly into question and the lack of anything better...

In the sense of your post I may confess to being at times like this fanatically
atheistic, however I would reject the notion that they are indistinguishable -
in philosophical terms people have often suggested this (Lyotard in
Phenomenology for example) but I think that the argument, to propose an
alternative reading than the last time I  discussed this on the list,   is
deeply flawed because it appears to relay upon a binary construction which may
be founded ultimately on Pascal's false wager. Pascal's wager only works if you
accept its initial theistic position and not if you assume, as an atheist must,
that each 'god' is a unique myth in itself worthy of study because human
societies invented them, in the same way that there are myths surrounding the
'white house' or 'friends'....

The below paragraph, which is extremely generous to fundamentalists, of all
creeds, is contrary to the existing evidence. Except where it hints at the
levels of the legitimisation of violence and aggression.

> Fundamentalists are people who think they perceive the totality or who
> believe in the pure representation of language.  If their understanding is
> that violence is required--even suicide--they don't question that need.
> They act.  On the other hand, it is probably also true that they are less
> hesitant to be generous and kind.  This intolerance for unsurety makes
> people very effective, tremendously manipulable and extremely dangerous.

I would like you to expand on the following -

> Among "rational people" or the more circumspect, I think religion is used as
> the rationalization for violence because religious language provides the
> phrase universe from which they can draw.  They rationalize their good deeds
> in exactly the same way.  'Freedom" or "vital interests" or "Revolution"
> talk can just as easily provide justifications.  Religion is not the cause
> of the murder or the good deeds, because "moderates" don't make decisions
> that way.  Most people balance many different considerations before acting,
> starting with life, food, shelter, clothing and on down.  Unless on their
> deathbeds, religion is often placed very low on the list of priorities.
> Nevertheless, when it comes time to make an argument, it hops to the top.
> Why?  Because that's the rhetorical tradition people have access to.  It is
> the pathos trigger.
> It is worth adding that religious people are fully aware of the
> contradictions between Jewish, Muslim and Christian theology on the one hand
> and capitalism on the other.  "Do not worship money" is the most frequent
> sermon.


> The ethics I hear on this list are monotheistic THROUGH AND THROUGH.  The
> real complaint is not that people are religious, it is that people are not
> religious enough and that the religious institutions are cooperating with
> hegemony rather than resisting it as their own doctrines should insist.

We never got to discussions of Badiou, Zizek, Irigaray and Kristeva... nor to
those aspects of Lyotard which we could investigate in this way.



> regards



Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005