sirdroseph wrote: That was probably the best thing you've posted. Reminds me of many an impassioned debate I've had with deconstructionists and their ilk (the best one was in Venice one night with a number of professors in English and the humanities).
He is right, of course, and also wrong, for much the same reasons as he himself elucidates. It is unfortunately almost impossible for us to properly understand someone coming from a totally different belief system who has had experiences entirely foreign to our own without something getting lost in translation. In this regard, there is at least a grain of truth underlying the claims made in the name of identity politics. "We"* simply cannot always understand where they are coming from. Ultimately, the gulf in meaning between disparate belief systems will only be bridged by discourse and social evolution with an awful lot of misunderstanding along the way. But it will happen because the alternative is isolation and insularity, which is now almost impossible to imagine.
Socrates says in Platoâs Gorgias that thereâs nothing more serious than âthe question (of) how we ought to live.â We may aspire to live a good and happy lifeâbut what does such a life consist in? Good in what way? And happy how?
For a pious Jew or Christian, perhaps, the answer seems simple: a life in line with Godâs will as expressed in the Bible. But what about the rest of us who have turned our backs on revelation? One of the first to do so was the Dutch Portuguese Jewish philosopher Benedict de Spinoza in the seventeenth century. The prophets had no wisdom, he claimed, and the Bibleâs picture of God was utterly wrong: there is no creator God who performs miracles and reveals his will to Moses, let alone records it on tablets. (It shouldnât come as a surprise that Spinoza was excommunicated from Amsterdamâs Jewish community in 1656 for âhorrible heresies.â He was twenty-three.) Spinoza had to find a new answer to that most serious question. Forget revelation, he argued, and follow reason, which will lead you to peace of mind and lasting joy. If you want to be âblessedâ and âsaved,â let the philosopher guide you, not the prophet. (...)
Greater than all physical dangers are the tremendous effects of delusional ideas, which are yet denied all reality by our world-blinded consciousness. Our much vaunted reason and our boundlessly overestimated will are sometimes utterly powerless in the face of âunrealâ thoughts. The world-powers that rule over all mankind, good or ill, are unconscious psychic factors, and it is they that bring consciousness into being and hence create the sine qua non for the existence of any world at all. We are steeped in a world that was created by our own psyche.
Anything new should always be questioned and tested with caution, for it may very easily turn out to be only a new disease. That is why true progress is impossible without mature judgment. But a well-balanced judgment requires a firm stand point, and this in turn can only rest on a sound knowledge of what has been. The man who is unconscious of the historical context and lets slip his link with the past is in constant danger of succumbing to the crazes and delusions engendered by all novelties. It is a tragedy of all innovators that they empty out the baby with the bath-water.â