Friday, August 31, 2007
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Patterson-Banister Professor of Political Science and H. Malcolm MacDonald Professor of Comparative and Constitutional Law, University of Texas at Austin. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
End-of-life issues for a modern India - Lessons learnt in the West Puri Vinod K
The whole point of my book is that Judeo-Christian civilization stands for values that are more humane and life-affirming than those of Islamic Sharia
August 28, 2007 Derbyshire/Spencer: The Pajamas brawl Here is Derbyshire's response to my response to his review of my book Religion of Peace?.
And here, also from Pajamas, is my final response. Hearty thanks to John Derbyshire for this exchange, which I have enjoyed immensely. I hope he has also.
I ask Mr. Derbyshire’s indulgence if I mistook his statement in his review that “God’s instructions to us through Mohammed are no more or less likely to make us better or worse than his instructions through Christ” as meaning that God’s instructions to us through Mohammed are no more or less likely to make us better or worse than his instructions through Christ. It was on that that I based my own summary of what I took to be his view: that Christianity and Islam are “equally likely to incite violence.” Looking at his words again, I still think it’s reasonable to conclude that that’s what they mean.
But no matter. If he doesn’t mean that, so much the better. He now says, “persons wishing to commit violence will find justification in any text they pick up—the New Testament, the Koran, Science and Health, or the Harry Potter saga. Charles Manson, if memory serves, got his inspiration from a Beatles song about a fairground attraction.” This is obviously true, but Charles Manson is in the bughouse for excellent reasons, and if Derbyshire is now saying that any text – any text at all – is no more or less likely to incite violence than any other, this would manifest a nihilism so corrosive as to strip all words, and everything altogether, of any meaning. It is certainly true that someone who is thoroughly deranged and depraved could understand “Do you don’t you want me to love you/I’m comin’ down fast but I’m miles above you” (from the Beatles song in question) or even “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” as containing some kind of coded command to destroy other human beings, but clearly the words don’t mean that, and that is why we do not see and have never seen large-scale, international movements of terrorists justifying their actions by invoking Beatles songs, or Harry Potter, or Science and Health, or…the Bible.
The Qur’an, however, is quite another matter. It has given rise to a global movement of terrorists who frequently and copiously quote its teachings to justify their actions (in ways the Crusaders, Inquisitors, and all the rest of history’s Christian bogeymen never dreamed of doing with the Bible). Unless words mean absolutely nothing, “slay the unbelievers wherever you find them” (9:5) and “fight…the People of the Book…until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued” (9:29) and “fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah” (2:193) and all the rest (and there are many more) do contain more incitement to violence than a pop song about a playground slide, and thus more violence is committed in the name of the Qur’an than in the name of Helter Skelter.
And to be sure, Mr. Derbyshire is cautiously “inclined to think that Islam offers more and better justifications for militancy than does Christianity.” That, of course, is my entire point in the book, since that very point is routinely controverted in the mainstream media. It is controverted to an extent that I thought it necessary to consider it in a book-length treatment, and to try in the process to give people who enjoy the benefits of living in the Judeo-Christian West a sense that they have a culture and a civilization that they should be proud of, and begin to defend more forthrightly and unapologetically.
This is not a matter of religious belief or proselytizing. I don’t proselytize in the book, which is about the value of Judeo-Christian civilization; accordingly, Mr. Derbyshire’s continued insistence that “irreligious people see all religions as equally preposterous” seems to me to be a bit off the point in this discussion. I am not arguing in this book that Christianity is less preposterous than Islam, and there is nothing I wrote in it that could not have been written by an informed atheist, or Jew, or Buddhist. The fact that Mr. Derbyshire considers Christianity preposterous is noted; it may, however, have blinded him to the ways in which he benefits from the civilizational advances it fostered, as well as to the ways in which the propagandistic “equivalence” arguments that are so prevalent nowadays sap the will of Westerners to defend what we are told every day is a rotten, worthless thing.
Thus I appreciate Derbyshire’s quip that “perhaps the book’s subtitle should be: ‘Why Christianity is a religion of peace and Islam isn’t, and how I wish it were the other way round!,’” but I must reject the sentiment. The whole point of my book is that Judeo-Christian civilization stands for values that are more humane and life-affirming than those of Islamic Sharia. In place of supremacism, conformism, fear, and a culture of violence and revenge, there is the possibility of genuine virtue, born in genuine freedom, and an affirmation of the dignity of the human person that does not – pace Derbyshire’s earlier contention – lead with any inevitably to relativism and the loss of the will to defend one’s own. We can only regain that will by recovering a sense of the value of who we are, of what we have done, and of what we have made. That is why I wrote this book, and why I am as glad as he is that Mr. Derbyshire and I share some views of what must be done to extricate us from this present fix. With all his immense talent and insight, I look forward to fighting alongside him for the survival of our embattled common civilization.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
- The first category of sociologists consists of those who have used classical texts, i e, Indological sources, in understanding contemporary social structures, institutions, statuses, roles, values, and cultural practices by tracing their origins to one or more Sanskrit texts and then reinterpreting or rationalising them in the present day context.
- In the second category we find those sociologists, not few in number, who narrate the historical background of social reality, either of the past or contemporary one, which they are researching for. In some cases such a historical account is given as a routine matter to assure readers that the relevant past has not been ignored.
However, neither such a historical account forms a part of researcher’s explanatory scheme nor is it integrated with their sociological analysis. In some cases, though, researchers do believe that the historical background given in great detail deepens their understanding of the research problem or may help them to search appropriate answers to their research questions. In the second category, what is involved is mostly a metaphoric use of history. What is, however, important is the substantive use of history for sociological purposes. Among Indian sociologists there are some who have used historical analysis and method substantively, in the sense that they have deployed it as an explanatory device, or to test a hypothesis... Email: email@example.com EPW
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Immigrants with religious ties are creating 'transnational' communities in the United States. By Jane Lampman The Christian Science Monitor from the August 28, 2007 edition
Sociologist Peggy Levitt of Wellesley College in Massachusetts works at the intersection of these concerns – studying the religious commitments of immigrants and their implications for the US.
Much has already been written about the arrival of world faiths and how they are reshaping the American religious landscape. But in God Needs No Passport Levitt brings a fresh perspective, one that suggests the current debates are out of sync with reality. The true picture, it turns out, is both unsettling and encouraging.
Globalization is much more than an economic juggernaut or the spread of American culture around the world, Levitt says. It is a social force that not only brings more faiths into direct contact with one another, but also creates people with "transnational lives" for whom religion is often the glue that bonds them to more than one country.
In 10 years of studying the lives of migrants to the US from Brazil, Ireland, India, and Pakistan, Levitt found this to be true for Hindus, Muslims, Roman Catholics, and Protestants. Religion is a globalizing force that can serve to root people in their homelands even as it supports them in their new environments.
"Just as the local Gap clothing store is part of an extensive global corporate network, so more and more local mosques, temples, and Pentecostal churches are global operations," she writes.
Suburbanites Dipa and Pratik Patel, who work in the US telecommunications industry, are a case in point. Even as they pursue the American dream, they are still deeply connected to their community back in India's Gujarat State, with strong ties to their Hindu denomination (the International Swaminarayan Satsang Organization, ISSO).
Levitt describes time spent with them in their Indian village as well as in the US. "Belonging to the ISSO is very much about maintaining a home in India. Pratik constantly consults with religious leaders, not only about temple business, but about difficult decisions he faces in his personal life," she writes. They also host in the US a stream of visiting dignitaries from India and other ISSO chapters who are part of a global religious network.
Each religion is building global networks. Families from Valadares, Brazil, have set up home in Framingham, Mass., helping that city renew its depressed downtown area even as Brazilian pastors lead the spread of Pentecostalism in New England. Yet many also retain religious and business ties in Brazil.
The transnational lifestyles that Levitt explores are criticized by some Americans as disloyal – "like polygamy." Muslims especially have been looked upon with suspicion since 9/11 for maintaining such ties. But those of any faith who live transnationally are the face of the future, she contends.
"People who know how to function across borders, who are bicultural and bilingual, have the best résumé for today's world," Levitt says. And they could be the best diplomats for moderating religious conflict.
While such dual loyalties might distress some Americans, this book also offers very good news. Levitt's in-depth interviews with some 250 immigrants, and her studies over time reveal a remarkable coincidence of their values with those of native-born Americans.
Each immigrant group included views from across the religious spectrum, from strict conservative to very liberal. They expressed familiar ideas on what it means to be American and what constitutes a good society – including the opportunity to be oneself, to make choices, to live respectfully with those who are different.
"I always tell people from Muslim countries, none of you have ever really tested Islam as it was meant to be tested – as a pluralistic religion that ... accepts everyone for what they are," says Imram, an American Muslim. "America is probably the most Islamic country in the world even though it is not a Muslim country, because it has the principles an Islamic state is supposed to have."
"God Needs No Passport" is written for both a general and academic audience. It puts an intriguing human face on immigration and globalization. It may take a while, however, for Levitt's message to take hold: that it's time to abandon the assumption that social worlds fit neatly within national boxes. Jane Lampman is a Monitor staff writer.
2. A discussion of why technical advance was so slow before 1800
3. A discussion of how much institutions matter, and asking why medieval England didn't grow more rapidly.
4. "The emergence of modern man"
Even putting aside the debate on how long evolution requires (who will be the first to mention lactose intolerance and dachsunds in the comments?), does this explain the economic supremacy of England? Recall that England climbed out of the Malthusian trap but most of the rest of Europe did not. Was positive selection more pronounced in England than in Italy? Than in France? There is no evidence for those propositions, which in any case strike me as unlikely. Even if one buys into positive selection, we have at most "positive selection for some countries vs. others," not "positive selection elevating England over the rest of Europe and driving an industrial revolution." Positive selection doesn't get us very far in explaining the climb out of the Malthusian trap, which was more or less unique to England and the Netherlands.
Clark mentions in passing that positive selection bred the Chinese to be natural capitalists. If we accept this portrait, I am now more confused about
Until the 1980s or so, the Chinese record simply isn't very good over the last few centuries. In fairness to Clark we have not yet finished his discussion of these factors. I'll also note that I see positive selection in terms of culture, family norms, and peer effects, rather than genes. Or you might think it is some mix of the two. If you focus on the biological issues in the comments I think you're missing the strongest and most general version of the argument.
But my conclusion differs from Clark's. I conclude "science is more important for growth than we had thought, and the simple fact of freedom does not itself guarantee much progress for science." In this view the institutions which support science matter profoundly. Science, science, science. I recommend Jack Goldstone's forthcoming book, much of which focuses on science and engineering culture in early modern England.
Infrastructure also matters. In medieval England the state wasn't strong enough to help establish a large open geographic area for trading. Early English economies were still local rather than national, and yes economies of scale matter.
That all said, I will accept a reformulated argument: "Institutions matter, but we should not take institutions as exogenous." On this middle ground just about all of Clark's substantive contributions will hold up. So I view him as overstating his case, and taking too big a swing at institutional theories. This overreaching, however, does not negate his core arguments. So maybe you disagree with Clark on this point, as I do, but you cannot use it as reason to dismiss his other claims.
Contracts, Constitutions, and Outsiders By Morning's Minion
Vox Nova Monday, August 27, 2007 9:12 AM Labels: Law, Morning's Minion Comments (25)
natural law cannot enforce itself!i recommend Tom West's "Vindicating the Founders" for a deeper understanding of the Constitution.more generally, political philosophy would help broaden your understanding of the political nature and limits of man.Father James Schall of Georgetown is a great guide to this discipline. I recommend his "Another Sort of Learning"zach 08.27.07 - 11:56 am #
Organic communities underpinned by the common good cannot exist without the following:- the obligation to those closest to us in the communities where we reside- the obligation of civil authorities to protect those communities in their careThursday is exactly right:Law and order are the first duty of the state. Military strength is necessary to preserve peace. Handouts to the poor are a moral hazard and often do cause more harm than good. It may not be pleasant to say it, but in this realm as in others, two and two really do equal four.http://manwhoisthursday.blogspot.comI wish it weren't so, but "open borders" are harmful to the advancement of these things, and it is not in the slightest anti-Christian or anti-Catholic, even as there are arguments about details. We have to resist the utopian, brotherhood of man mindset, even as we love our neighbor....jonathanjones02 08.27.07 - 12:02 pm #
If you have a chance, read some de Maistre. While I give some of his thoughts on constitutions, you should read his essays as a whole; they are very insightful and provide much support for MM's post.Henry Karlson 08.27.07 - 12:06 pm #
I am assuming there is a large literature on this on the domain of political philosphy, and thanks for the references. The post was prompted by own attempt to grapple at what I see are the problems with "constitutionalism". It is very much the musings of an amateur. But I think it is an incredibly important topic worthy of further debate.Morning's Minion Homepage 08.27.07 - 12:14 pm #
"Military strength is necessary to preserve peace"Something vaguely Orwellian here. As for the "handouts for the poor" thing, nobody is arguing that moral hazard can be an issue, abd must be taken into account in the policy debate. But it most certainly is not an excuse for ignoring God's call toward the preferential option for the poor, and that often means removing the blinkers of liberal ideology (and I use that term, as always, in its true meaning, not its debased and worthless US form). And yes, our duty to the poor has a public as well as a private dimension. Consider this:"In many respects, democratic socialism was and is close to Catholic social doctrine and has in any case made a remarkable contribution to the formation of a social consciousness.”-- Cardinal Ratzinger, 2004.Morning's Minion Homepage 08.27.07 - 12:17 pm #
"Military strength is necessary to preserve peace"Something vaguely Orwellian here."Perhaps if "Orwellian" in this context means "based upon all prior history" or "common sense".Donald R. McClarey 08.27.07 - 12:42 pm #
1. Democratic socialists - and certainly the European ones - are not absolute pacifists (which is an honorable intellectual tradition). 2. No argument here about the details of military intervention, only that uncomfortable realities should keep utopian ideals on their toes, which is the small point Thursday was making (much better than I could - bookmark him).jonathanjones02 08.27.07 - 12:45 pm #
Very Interesting post. Of course I suppose that all written constitutions will be deficient is some regard.That being said it must be pointed out the Non American Citizens do have rights in the USA under that document. The internment of the Japanesse Americans went against the entire ethos of the DocumentI am of course a big fan of the Constitution. I think it works fairly well. I really don't see how people living abroad how a right to the same protections against survelliance we do. It must be remembered that true the Const spells out rights. Even though really the document limits Govt. That being said it is a two way street. For people to recieve the rights under the Const there would be obligations. I am pretty sure most non USA citizens would object to that.However this really hits on something else. I had Justice Kennedy come lecture my callss back in college. He talks about "rights" and why they were important. However he talked about why certain "rights" were not in the Const. That is for instance the "right to a job" and the "right to health care" and the "right to a education" or more specifically laid out in a explict way. It was because Const do a bad job of that and it is not the place to doJH Homepage 08.27.07 - 1:06 pm #
The main reason why I believe a written constitution to be an asset is that it sets out, in very specific terms, what the government can and cannot do. Furthermore, it is difficult to change. Of course, this can also be a liability, if the constitution is unjust (slavery being, of course, the perfect example). But I believe a written constitution to be preferable to a constitution that can be changed easily at any time, such as Great Britain's. When I think of some of the things that Congress has done in the past 8 years or some of the things that our Legislature in Pennsylvania has done in the past few years, I would find it terrifying to know that a group of legislators in Washington could sweep away my basic rights in one vote.Matthew Kennel 08.27.07 - 1:22 pm #
De Maistre, on the other hand, points out once you have such a document, people begin to argue over the meaning of the words, slowly eroding rights which were believed before the document was produced (because they would not be written into it if they were not) yet afterwards, can be lost and argued away. Look to the history of American Constitutional thought as to whether you think de Maistre's is correct. I think he is.Henry Karlson 08.27.07 - 2:02 pm #
"I am of course a big fan of the Constitution. I think it works fairly well."I suppose it works fairly well if you are born. Personally I think that one of the big lessons of Roe v Wade is that the constitution is an utter failure.ben 08.27.07 - 2:39 pm #
Ben-Four points. First, Roe v. Wade is not a failure of the Constitution; it's a failure of the Supreme Court.Second, the Constitution was not meant to address every societal issue. That's the purpose of having a federalist system. Some matters are better left to the States.Third, abortion was not prevalent at the time of the founding, and as such the founders almost certainly did not even consider addressing the practice in the Constitution.Fourth, there is a fairly strong argument that the unborn are, as an original matter, protected under the Constitution. If you are really interested in the matter, I will try to provide you with some reading material on the subject.Alexham Homepage 08.27.07 - 3:13 pm #
BTW, fwiw, I am for a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution to specifically outlaw abortion in all instances.Alexham Homepage 08.27.07 - 3:15 pm #
Ben: I would be interested to hear more about why you think Roe v Wade renders the constitution an "utter failure."It perhaps exposed some limitations on what the constitution can do, or perhaps how it can be (mis)interpreted...but I don't see comprehensive failure being demonstrated by that infamous decision.Matt Talbot Homepage 08.27.07 - 3:17 pm #
The supposed genius of the constitution is that it was to protect the people from the abuses of government. The constitution of the United States is termed better than or superior to the constitutions of other states because under this system we have been protected from various forms of tyranny.Simply put, this track record came to a screeching halt in 1973. We can no longer say that we live in a state where the rights of all are protected. We can no longer say that we live in a state that is free of grievous human rights abuses. US constitutionalism has proven no better than other political systems as preserving rights. It is most certainly no better on that score than the monarchy it replaced.You can say what you want about Roe having been wrongly decided. But the fact of the matter is that the constitution left it to the court to wrongly interpret the law.The constitution failed because it did not protect and has not protected the poeple from judicial tyranny.The judicial tyranny that has resulted in the murder of over 40 million Americans is a tyranny more real and more viscious than anything that came from King George.ben 08.27.07 - 3:44 pm #
Ben,Or we can go back to something even more basic and primal -- the Constitution still allowed for slavery. That shows it did not protect human rights -- it only protected the interests of a specific group of people.Henry Karlson 08.27.07 - 4:16 pm #
Henry,You could make a very good case that the Constitution deliberately includes the means to end slavery - something not politically feasible at the time.jonathanjones02 08.27.07 - 5:08 pm #
I think there is certainly no problem with using the constitution as a means to an end. The problem is treating it as an end in itself, like a secular sola scriptura. I would say the same thing about the UK's unwritten constitution (I find the "muddling through" approach far more satisfactory, but that's just my personal preference).Morning's Minion Homepage 08.27.07 - 5:11 pm #
It doesn't change the fact that men aren't governed by paper. The case ending school segregation even though laudable would have been laughed at by men like Jefferson and others who wrote the Constitution. In the end rulers serve either God or their own interests. Heck, we haven't had a properly declared war since WWII.M.Z. Forrest Homepage 08.27.07 - 5:13 pm #
The fact of the matter is, though, that it is not a failure of our Constitution as a written instrument that allowed for abortion. It was unjust men, acting under our Constitution, that allowed for that. Sure, the Constitution can be misconstrued in that way, but other forms of government can and do allow for such abuses when they are run by unjust men. It is a weakness of our constitution that it cannot be quickly and easily amended to deal with these injustices, but perhaps (and please not that I said PERHAPS) that is something we have to deal with in order to get the benefit of having rights protected in a more permenant fashion. I disagree with Henry when he follows Da Maistre's opinion with regard to the whittling away of rights. While this may happen in some cases, in others it may happen that rights which were at first applied more sparingly are later applied more liberally. The first example of this is free speech. I have a hard time believing that the Founders really intended such that right to give the freedom to produce pornography. The second example is equal protection, as is given in the 14th amendment. At first, this was applied by the philosophy of having races be "seperate but equal", but now it is construed that seperation of the races is not implied. I don't think that bringing up legal arguments made by the Bush administration is really proof against the constitution. How can you take seriously an Administration that argues that the Constitution does not grant the writ of Habeus Corpus? Any attentive 8th grade civics student could tell you that that notion is preposterous. The bottom line is this. So far as I am concerned, the main advancement of modern democratic governments over ancient forms of government is the idea that no man, not even the sovereign, is above the law. The best way that I have seen to ensure that is that there should be a written and set law that even the government must follow. Sure, it won't work perfectly, but then, to quote James Madison in Federalist 51, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary."Matthew Kennel 08.27.07 - 5:32 pm #
"The problem is treating it as an end in itself, like a secular sola scriptura."That's very true. Matthew Kennel 08.27.07 - 5:36 pm #
MZ-"The case ending school segregation even though laudable would have been laughed at by men like Jefferson and others who wrote the Constitution."But not necessarily by all of the men who wrote and ratified the 14th Amendment.Alexham Homepage 08.27.07 - 6:19 pm #
Of course if one wanted to go to the extrem we could say "Hey look at the Bible-" It has not protected us from evils andin fact evils have been done in its name. Of course this does not invalidate scripture.In the end the Const is not Holy Writ. However I do think it is a pretty darn good document. What is sometimes missing in allthis is a healthy robust Federalism. That itself has mixed track record on some issues. However I often wonder if many of the issues we talk about here should not seen through a Federalism lensjh Homepage 08.27.07 - 6:30 pm #
"In the end rulers serve either God or their own interests."Like most of us rulers sometimes serve God, sometimes their own interests, sometimes both, sometimes neither and sometimes they don't have a clue what God would want in a particular situation or how their own interest may be served. Without a written constitution we are completely dependent upon the wisdom of the present. Bad idea! Better to have a document that codifies the wisdom of the past. At worst it slows down goverment, often not a bad thing, and at best it is a guide that helps rulers avoid the worst mistakes. Donald R. McClarey 08.27.07 - 6:53 pm #
Monday, August 27, 2007
A guest-post by Cynthia Nielsen Wednesday, 31 May 2006
Whooeeee that is one of the sharpest distinctions between theology and philosophy that I have read for some time. So philosophy is understood as that search for “truth” that excludes the poetic and theological (sorry that may not be a helpful can of worms to try and open). Was Kierkegaard a philosopher?
This is my formulation, not Badiou’s (though I suspect he’d be sympathetic). I see the experience of the sacred, as I understand it, as identical to the sort of hypnotic adoration we see in fascist movements or the hypnotic mass group phenomena described by Freud in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, and as turning us away from the world and the project of improving our conditions in the world. I associate the sacred with the phenomenon of the sublime and an experience of the transcendent. Large swaths of American Christians are obsessed with the issue of abortion, teen sex, evolution, and gay marriage, and end up voting for a party that exploits them through the way it relates to the interests of large corporations and the environment. These same groups seem to tie their religious beliefs to militaristic, nationalistic, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, authoritarian, anti-intellectual, anti-scientific agendas. Those ministers who have risen up trying to preach a social gospel (devotion to issues of poverty and liberation, rather than primarily the sexual issues which, incidentally, always seems to be about someone else), or stewardship to the environment, or peace, etc., have often been denounced as heretics and received tremendous pressure from the evangelical organizations (as in the case of the current president of the NEA). It seems clear, then, that in many instances, perhaps the majority of instances, these religious groups are intent on maintaining a certain dominant ideology tied in with current structures of capitalism and exploitation.
No, I’m treating them as synonyms, although it is appropriate to speak of “crypto-theologies” where there isn’t an explicit religious discourse arising out of a sacred text, but a structure of thought that posits privileged esoteric experiences and revelations. Much of Derrida’s later work, for instance, could be characterized as “crypto-theological”.
Yes, I believe so, though it can take more and less dangerous forms. IndieFaith Says: August 25, 2007 at 6:26 pm
Thanks for your thorough response. I can’t say that I have the stamina to respond to all that right now, much appreciated though.In time I can hopefully do some more work on addressing the potential poverty of categories such as transcendence and immanence (though you did a great job making some important distinctions) for what I am trying to address. My concern with the sacred arises from my reflection on language and beauty and the issue of “presence” (and yes of course flows from confessional commitments).Here is my most substantial piece on language, aesthetics and the sacred.
Thanks for the link to the fascinating paper. I would fall squarely in some variation of the Douglas camp and have often argued along these lines on this blog. I see no reason that Christianity or any other religion should be treated any differently than Clendinnen treats the Aztecs or Vernant and Detienne approach Greek mythology. Milbank’s argument that such theorist presuppose the social precedes the religious strike me as a misconstrual of what the anthropologist is claiming (the anthropologist and sociologist seeing all these relations bound up with one another in a whole). Not having read his work, however, it’s entirely possible I’m misconstruing his claims or simplifying them. larvalsubjects Says: August 25, 2007 at 7:40 pm
McCutcheon’s Critics not Caretakers is an excellent read on these issues as well. I would see these anthropological and sociological forms of analysis as a form of critique, showing how apparently religious phenomena can be explained on immanent grounds, thereby allowing us to reject any ontological claims of transcendence. IndieFaith Says: August 26, 2007 at 2:59 am
I suppose this is where things come to an impasse. Both theology and sociology assume the ability to correctly read and position the other. Milbank was essentially saying that in sociology’s critique of (policing) the sublime that they claim to have seen the “other side” and that there is nothing. Sociology is in no such position or should be more forthright in declaring such assumptions.
This returns us in some respect to your initial quotation in this post. Which narrative is authoritative and on what grounds? I am not sure that the two of us could agree on a mediating third discourse of shared ontology and epistemology. To be a little non-philosophical we are in some ways reduced to the primacy (and hope) of language as the place (perhaps neither the beginning nor the end) of possibility and relationship.
On one other note: “Yet I have to use my lips, teeth, tongue, and ears as well, but I do not treat these as conditions in this way.” Graham Ward (I will have to get the specifics later) writes a great article on the condition of “touch” as all of our senses are also ultimately fields of touch (i.e. the surface of the tongue, ears, eyes, etc.) N Pepperell Says: August 26, 2007 at 5:28 am
IF - Just a quick and inadequate note, as I’m a bit fuzzy today :-) The sort of critique that Milbank makes - of a form of sociological theory that operates (tacitly or explicitly) from a claim to its own objective or “God’s eye” point of view - would probably seem to many of us to address a form of sociological or anthropological theory that itself contravenes the notion of immanence. The fact that something claims to be sociological, rather than theological, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is immanent - no matter how vociferously it may claim to reject transcendence...