File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0109, message 89

Subject: Re: Mystify me!
Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2001 18:56:45 -0500

Responses below. mal
----- Original Message -----
From: Mary Murphy&Salstrand <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2001 10:11 PM
Subject: Re: Mystify me!

> Matthew:
> I think we have established we are substantially in agreement concerning
> our fear and loathing of the present regime.  I certainly don't think
> you are a reactionary or anything like that.  As I said before, our
> politics seem to be fairly close to one another.

I have no idea what your politics are.  My use of the word "reactionary" was
in response to your quip about knee-jerk reactions.  It's a Nietzschean
redefinition of the term.  Never mind.

> I am talking about Islam, Christianity and Judaism.  You are talking
> about religion in general.  I am talking about institutions. You are
> talking about unverifiable beliefs.  I am talking about politics,
> history and sociology.  You are talking about meta-science.

If you want to make this more specific and just talk about one religion, we
can do that.  I can just as easily hold that defaming Jews, Muslims and/or
Christians is unhelpful as that defaming religious people is unhelpful.

> I feel our whole conversation is not just taking place in different
> rooms. It is taking place on different floors.  You have a suite at the
> top.  I'm in the basement.

No.  I don't accept this.  Just because I am looking at the structure of
your arguments doesn't mean my point is any more or less abstract,
metaphysical, real or generalized.

> I am not arguing the Catholic Church is bad as you try to imply in your
> syllogism.  I am saying the Church as an institution is relying on a
> certain social definition of the body and gender that puts it in
> conflict with those who advocate greater autonomy and individual
> self-determination.  It does so, furthermore, not because it is
> fundamentalist, but because it operates with a certain philosophy that
> has the organization and the social power to perpetuate its views.  It
> is simply not at all your previous example of a couple of guys drinking
> beer in a bar and arguing about theology.  If it was, I would agree with
> your arguments against mystification.

I didn't really think your point was as simple as "Catholicism is bad."  I'm
not going to argue that the Church's policies have been good for women.  Or
that people who advocate "autonomy and individual self-determination"
whatever the fuck those are don't criticize it.   I'm not advertising for
the Church. Who are you arguing with?  Certainly not me.

> The reason religious institutions need scientific rationality today is
> because in a highly technical secular society this kind of reason
> carries a high degree of authority.  If religious institutions do not
> legitimize themselves in terms of this rationality they begin to lose
> both their authority and membership.  Yes, they can ignore this
> rationality, but only at the risk of marginalizing themselves.  Look at
> the flat-earth society!

I honestly don't see scientific institutions and religious institutions as
being in conflict.  They are two discrete sets of practices.  People all
over the world worship their idols and gods and then go to work and play
with test tubes.  They feel no conflict whatsoever.

> This has nothing to do with meta-science.  It has, however, everything
> to do with history and the drift of society.  You seem to be arguing for
> religion in a kind of very generalized a-historical sense in which the
> developments of science and technology have nothing to do with the
> insulated narratives of faith teachings.  (It seems at times that your
> argument is the following:  Because philosophy cannot make the killer
> metaphysical punch to prove God does not exist, the development of
> science and technology has no real historical impact on religious
> institutions!)

No, I'm not saying anything like that and I suspect you knew that as you
were writing this.

> What I would say is that the charisma of technology has historically
> blown away the charisma of Monotheism religion over the past two hundred
> years. (And remember it hasn't been that long historically since "The
> Origin of Species" was published.) This has put these institutions into
> a state of crisis.  They have become socially and intellectually
> de-legitimized.  As they struggle to regain their authority, they must
> engage in mystification because their metaphysical claims have been
> historically exploded.
 Of course people are getting charmed by technoscience and have more faith
in antibiotics than other totems.  I never said otherwise.

> Would you acknowledge that my historical view and your metaphysical view
> are operating at different levels on Jacob's ladder?  (and would you
> entertain the view that what I have put forward about the recent history
> of religion is not my own personal philosophy of what religion might
> become? ie. that I am not necessarily hostile to religion per se or even
> secularist!)
> Or is this all still more of the devil's terms for you?

My view is historical AND metaphysical, as is yours.  You have certainly
backed away from attacking religion.  Yet this historical vs. metaphysical
thing is more of the same structure in which you oppose two terms so that
one can be "rational" and the other can be "fantastical."  Face it:  it's
all rhetoric.

This is hilarious.  I didn't say "the devil's terms" as if I believe in the
devil.  I said "devil terms" meaning that you were using the old cliche' of
"mystification" in order to make religion the negative term so that your
rationality could be the positive term.  If I did use the apostrophe that
way, I am sorry to be misleading.  LOL.


> eric


Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005