File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0109, message 67

Date: Mon, 17 Sep 2001 17:28:19 -0100
Subject: Re: Mystify me!


Herewith some comments on statements by Eric and MAL, and also reflection on
Lyotard, the relevance of "Le Differend".

 Eric wrote:

> I also personally am not completely opposed to religion, but have often
> been moved by its teachings and the individuals it inspires.  I see it
> at its best as a kind of poetics of being, one that like the political
> critique can lead us beyond the immediate situation into the further
> dimensions of possibility.


Since Darwin, and acceptance of evolutionary theory by the scientific
since acceptance of the belief that Planet Earth is the only known source
of cosmic life,
most of us acknowledge the being and consciousness of human species'
ancestors, and
existence of other species with other modes of being.

>Christian philosophers such as Etienne Gilson and Paul
> Tillich have argued that God is the name we give to our conception of
> what underlies the universe, what is the meaning of things, our ultimate
> concern and hence that some concept of God is necessary to any system of
> thought.  In this reading, even atheism is a form of theism.  Thus, Marx's
>God was history as the process of dialectical materialism, Nietzsche's God
>was the will to power as eternal return. Perhaps!


Did God create Nature, or did phenomena described by Science culminate with
humans who created, and refuse to do without, God.

MAL wrote:

>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
>sermon. Someone on the list made the point that our real religion is money.
>That was a semetic (semiotic?) observation, am I wrong?

It is a generalized observation, not specifc in the sense of a dictionary
definition of religion.  Think of Wittgensteins question,  if forced to
consecutively give up beliefs, which would you give up last?

Belief is not merely the affirmation of words, texts, creeds, it is action.
Compare the Roman Empire's worship of gods, emperors, emperor-gods, with
U.S. Empire's worship of capitalism.

>Why do you think the zealots jumped off Masada?  It was because the Romans
>wanted them to use money that had the emperor printed on it and they saw
>that as money worship.  The postmodern danger of images?  Semetic.  The
>evil of  hegemony?  Semetic.

I have no knowledge of  the Masada incident, but accept your reference.
Given further explanation of the questions you ask and answer, I will try to

>The whole thing emerged out of resistance to the Romans (the U.S. of old).
>As far as "individual autonomy" goes, didn't that emerge out of Protestant
>to a Church that had had become hegemonic and corrupt?  And hasn't it been
>embraced as an ethical norm by moderate Jews, Muslims and Catholics?

Yes.  "Religion and the Rise of Capitalism" is a useful reference someone
previously posted.

>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.

I sympathize with this approach.  However, it may be useful to distinguish
what Eric calls the "political critique" which applies to institutional
actions from the personal ethical/religious actions of individuals.


Relevance to "Le Differend":

Although it is tedious and difficult, IMHO, no one has offered a better
description of the mystery of language, of human situations, words, phrases,
and how language relates to justice.  Since it is not written in religious
terms, it is relatively objective and accessible to
theists.atheists of all persuasions.

1) On the personal level,  the bonding and mutual obligation of significant
others, children and parents is recognized.

Leaving the book, and taking a religious stance, we note, along with
praying, and other  rituals professing belief in a particular religion, the
prescribed rituals for
ultimate and inevitable events of  "being" and being human:
These are the rites of: christenings, weddings, funerals. Despite the
miasma, the volcanic profusion of information spewed forth daily by modern
media, these ceremonies endure.

In less than 25 percent of households in the U.S. (and some countries of
western Europe) are children found living with both parents,  Children need
a sense of security to survive and achieve their potential as adults.
Historically, religion has provided such rites and security, and despite
fragmentation of families, religious rites persist.

2) On the levels of institutional organization, we find in "Le Differend" an
analysis of the legitimization of the powers of nation-states, including the
French Republic.

3) Lyotard's discussion of the Holocaust, and his discussion of courts,
judges, witnesses, the way language (phrases in dispute) operates in
relations of individuals and their governing  institutions,  is an instance
of  "political critique", which, to my knowledge is unique and worthy of
study in our efforts to understand the intricate convolutions of secular
authority with religious authority, and analysis of the present crisis.



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