People operate with diverse systems of belief and we can live with this incoherence - Political Theology: Four New Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty - Page 118 - Paul W. Kahn - 2011 - Preview - More editions In the postmodern world, the...1 month ago
In view of the fact that multiple anonymous comments in a thread make confusing reading and it becomes difficult to track who is telling what and to whom, only comments bearing some name/pseudonym/identity will appear in future. [TNM 011110 SEOF]
Sunday 30 September 2007
- So why allow this obvious lie to be printed?
- Does Wilber think that serious people don’t understand the difference between hype and genuine credibility?
- Now if Ken wants to be taken seriously and to avoid the New Age tag, then why does he do this regular gig with Cohen in a magazine that carries ads for a range of dubious teachers and products?
Friday 28 September 2007
Wednesday 26 September 2007
Oh I like Kierkegaard to a degree anyway; that’s one of the reasons I always include him when teaching 19th century philosophy. There are even times I prefer him to his arrogant prick counterpart Nietzsche. (But in front of the students, I’m also Nietzschean ;) Anthony Paul Smith Says: September 25, 2007 at 7:48 am
Christ on a cracker!
N&P does have a few things on religion, but I wouldn’t say it is the focus. Has a few good things to say and then ultimately decides that religion is more productive of reactive forces than active forces (I’m paraphrasing mightily here).
Shit like this is why more religious scholars are needed, not less, and why they need to start actively and aggressively calling this shit out. And of the kind that says, “No, really, this wasn’t even meant to be taken literally when it was just the Hebrews reading it.” A shit, backwards Christian university Biblical scholar wouldn’t even say you should take that literally (I know, I attended one and had to take a survey course on the Old Testament). And it is not just academic scholars that say stuff like this. I’m just really, really shocked that the school board would cave to something so weak.
As to the fairy tale comment, I had an econ teacher, one of the best teachers I ever had in high school, challenge my then held beliefs. I thought this was, you know, part of an education. Just like I had my then liberal beliefs challenged by an old school conservative history teacher. We’ve really lost sight of what it means to think in this country (yet again) and I don’t know what the solution is.
Keep your head down and suck up to your students. (Almost makes you sympathize with Sarkozy wanting reform the education system so that students show respect for their instructors… almost.) Evgeni V. Pavlov Says: September 25, 2007 at 5:49 pm
there’s probably more involved in the situation in Iowa and it’s very likely difficult to show the cause and effect but even if it is the reason for being fired, i suppose it is quite sad that education is seen as a kind of experience that excludes the real challenge. however, i think if the theme of the offense is raised - people do get offended by the beliefs of others, think, for example, about genital mutilation or other cultural rites some find repulsive and “anti-human” - it needs to be openly addressed in class. although it doesn’t always help, i usually say in the beginning of my course that i might offend someone with my own interpretations of philosophy (not even theology) but that hopefully the educational environment that i will attempt to create during the course would prevent anyone from truly believing that i am intentionally putting them down. i.e. i think it depends on a teacher as well: i say some pretty aweful things in my class, but since most students know i’m an open-minded and sarcastic person, no one takes it personally and just has a good laugh. but then again i’m european and often my eccentric behavior is attributed to my origin.
PS. i like your selection for the intro course - i threw in Aurelius’s Meditations into my Ethics course and i think it works much better (for me) than even good old Plato and Aristotle.
Tuesday 25 September 2007
however, i do have some potential concerns, derived only from what i know about your project from the few paragraphs of your introduction:
i would be concerned that such 'reconstruction' not give the lie too much with science--grant science too much authority in shaping theological thought; in other words, that iworry that theology's job or the role of the church is to play 'catch up' to contemporary thought in philosophy, science, or what have you--this is the story of post-enlightenment liberal protestant theology. so, how would this project differ from those?
it also seems to me that a significant amount of contemporary scientific thought should be run through the lens, not of contemporary christian thought, but through the fathers. i want to see the tension between 'ancient-future' remain palpable, not dissolved into a 'future' that is premised on some neo-darwinian theory of christianity's evolution.
i worry about the hubris of contemporary science in its enlightenment form and the subsequent problem of 'doing science' in its wake, was a way of 'adapting' to its truth. i am intrigued by the work of social epistemologist and science historian steve fuller, who is very much interested in the necessity of 'lost' or 'defeated' scientific knowledge being re-excavated in contemporary discourse. in fact, he's been publically supportive of intelligent design as an important part as an important participant in scientific discourse. his constructivist understanding of science seems to counter the hubris of science as the present-day answer to all our problems, including spiritual ones.
i would hope that such reconstruction can also offer a rigorous and apt criticism of contemporary thought, in whatever form that takes, even in science. i'd be concerned that a reconstructivist theology might place dogma 'up for grabs' in the face of scientific discoveries. and so i'd be interested in exploring what of dogma wouldn't be up for grabs and how those determinations would be made.
Posted by: daniel a. siedell September 24, 2007 at 10:27 AM
Yes, you've identified some very real and important concerns.
I agree that theology should not try to "catch up" with science, as you put it. In fact, I think it should in some cases actually be taking a lead in the discourse. One important way to do this is through engage in philosophical reflection on concepts like difference, temporality, etc.
I also agree that we should engage the fathers and the rest of the Christian tradition, but the WAY in which we do this, in my view, is not to repeat what they said, which was couched in the terminology of their own scientific and philosophical assumptions, but to do what they did: articulate the transforming experience of the biblical God in ways that show its illuminative power in our own cultural context(s).
This includes dealing with the issues you have raised, including philosophy of science and the question of criteria for theological formulations.
I've tried to do these and other things in the book.
For this post, I'm especially interested in encouraging us to think about the role of our own fear and desire, and how these affect the way we react to the possible dialogue between theology and science.
What do we fear most, and why?
What do we desire most, and why?
Posted by: LeRon September 25, 2007 at 01:09 AM
I suppose in Europe there is a deep seated skepticism about about the Christian message ( hangover from medaevil times, scientific nonsense, religion is an evil that has caused many wars etc.) I speak as ordinary rank and file Christian who finds it a real challenge to maintain confidence in the Christian message in the wake of such an onslaught. My fear in any such dialogue is that the non-negotiable essentials of the message are surrendered in the pursuit ot trying to make the message credible to modern ears. (I have seen this happen in the dialogue between Christianity and postmodern philosphy in for example the growing influence of 'religion without religion' theology of J Caputo on the emerging church.) If your project can deal with the tension of articulating the transforming experience of God in new ways yet remain rooted within the Christian tradition then it can make a much needed contribution to trying to wrestle with the problems of being a Christian in 21st century Europe.
all the best,
Posted by: rodney neill September 25, 2007 at 04:05 AM
So okay. Then we have Lenin. By 1917, the entire world has collapsed around him. His big Other is Marxist theory, but the situation no longer seems to cohere with it — but despite the fact that Marxism says revolution can’t happen in a place like Russia, etc., he is convinced that the time for revolution is now and that not seizing it will mean delaying it for decades. So he steps out and does it — which not only creates a massive change in the overall geopolitical situation, but also introduces a qualitative change into Marxist theory itself. This change having been made, I would argue that Lenin himself collapses into perversion, such that Marxism-Leninism becomes the new big Other or Sittlichkeit, and then Stalin continues this degradation all the more. Marxist-Leninist theory underwrites the “historical necessity” through which Stalin justifies his horrible crimes — he has no comparable “Kierkegaardian” moment. (If you think he does, then be my guest — but you are going to end up more sympathetic toward Stalin than Zizek is, and you’re going to have to be clear that Zizek is somehow underwriting your idiosyncratic Stalin.)
You’re, again, placing too much emphasis on the bare fact that “God” is talking to people. In Zizek’s terms, we all get messages from “God” (the big Other), we all believe in that God — the teleological suspension of the ethical means discarding the God we previously knew.
It’s a risk, but if the odds were known or even knowable ahead of time, it would still be “covered” by some overarching scheme or big Other. The risk here is worse than “long odds” — it is 100% guaranteed to be wrong in terms of the given situation. (For instance, it’s not like there was only a 10% chance that revolution could happen in Russia in Marxist terms — it had to be an advanced capitalist country. Or there’s the more obvious example of killing your son.)
It doesn’t make sense to me to claim that Abraham had, say, a 50/50 chance of being right about this whole “sacrifice Isaac” thing — risk is the only word I can think of for that situation, but the connotations of “playing the odds” are not appropriate. If you can’t deal with that kind of ambiguity, then for your own good, stop reading Kierkegaard! Anthony Paul Smith Says: September 21st, 2007 at 8:20 am ‘Seriously, this is another one of those things Kierkegaard anticipates. If this is just one of those things that was perfectly normal way back when - however that might have been - then Abraham wasn’t the father of faith.’
No! It’s not the fact that God communicates with Abraham that makes him the father of faith. What is not perfectly normal about Abraham is his response to God. Read Genesis, as Kierkegaard did, and you’ll see that God is talking to people from the get go way up until the end (though it gets more and more indirect).
It’s also not clear to me you understand the ethical in Kierkegaard. It’s not that you’re free from having to mess about with the good or concrete acts of charity. In non-Kierkegaardian terms you are confusing what is called for by a transcendental, “the good”, with the infinite demand of a radical transcendence. This is much clearer in Practice in Christianity than in Fear and Trembling. And of course the Postscript is helpful here too. This is all a bit off topic with regard to Zizek though since I’m not at all sure he has read either of those texts, though he really should just for his own upbuilding if he is really committed to this whole Protestant secular theology thing.
Re: Lenin. I think it is a gross oversimplification that leads one to total falsification. At the very least you aren’t going to convince anyone who is sympathetic with Lenin and read him, though you will certainly get a lot of head-nods from others who are unsympathetic. To be quite fair I can’t really take you to task for not knowing your Lenin better; you’re a liberal who initially supported the Iraq war. And your Lenin = utilitarian is certainly supported by other liberal critiques of Lenin (like Service, though his is a more complete picture than you have, even as you hide it under ‘broadly’).
For me, and this isn’t a majority view and you certainly are not going to change your mind becuase of me, all philosophical taxidermy is repugnant falsification of actual philosophical thought. I just don’t find them helpful and very, very unpersuasive. In the ecosystem of thought I’m a Gleasonian. Still, I know it is not a popular view, but if you come back at me with some bullshit about how I don’t actually believe this I’ll ban you from the site.
Anthony Paul Smith Says: September 21st, 2007 at 8:24 am ‘This change having been made, I would argue that Lenin himself collapses into perversion, such that Marxism-Leninism becomes the new big Other or Sittlichkeit, and then Stalin continues this degradation all the more.’
To be fair Lenin never considered himself a Leninist of the grand order. But this is still an open debate about how much of the blame of Stalinism can be laid at the feet of Lenin and hardliners of both sides really grasp at straws here.
Anthony Paul Smith Says: September 21st, 2007 at 8:33 am Actually if I remember correctly it was Stalin who coined the term Leninism in a pamphlet by the same name.
People make fun of it as a minor heresy, but monothelitism packs a punch. Posted by Adam Filed in Meister Eckhart, monothelitism 3 Responses to “The Most Pernicious of Heresies”
I think monothelitism gets downplayed because after you’ve worked through the Nestorian mess nobody cares about any heresy beginning with “mono.” Too much time has already been lost trying to puzzle out what was really at issue in all that dreck; another heresy which sounds a little like Nestorianism is not what anyone wants to spend time on. So you briefly mention it and then move on to the iconoclasts. At least, this is how I learned church history.
I do think you’re right that after Nestorianism, everyone’s tired of petty distinctions. A HUGE MISTAKE!!! An und für sich “This is more a comment than a question…”
Thank you, Dan and larvalsubjects, for giving such detailed replies to my queries. It was very encouraging for me to have my concerns addressed so directly and thoughtfully.
Dan reminded me of how “philosophical revelations” are not just directed at or akin to artistic endeavors but are, in Nietzsche sense, always already artistic”, and that is precisely what drove me toward philosophy and theory. As a young music student, falling in love with Steve Reich led to falling even more deeply in love with Deleuze. A love of film became a fascination with film theory. It’s gotten to the point that an intelligent observer of poetry or novels will find more pleasure in the latest Zizek book than in most recently published novels, I feel. It is the “game playing” of theory that makes it closer to art than science, and this is its strength as well as its weakness.
It has been my goal to be a philosophically and theoretically-informed artist, and I’ve had a bit of success for my efforts. But “success” can only be defined as myself having made works that, to me, include the philosophical criteria I’ve mandated the work to have, and not success as far as making a career for myself as an intellectual artist. I realize now that if I want to make art that addresses and/or includes the themes (or forms, or structures) that theory/philosophy deal with, I will be doing so in a much tighter ghetto than even the most arcane of intellectuals reside. Searching for current artists who stick to Badiou’s Theses On Contemporary Art here in NYC is like rooting for truffles in a desert.
Here, larvalsubjects, is where I feel like I should soldier on, because if you yourself can so poetically express your own doubts and feelings of futility as regards your philosophical practice, then I can find the courage to overcome mine in regards to my artistic practice. I think recently I have been drawn to the rigor and discipline that the study of philosophy necessitates. Artistic practice however must depend on rigor and discipline that somehow creates ruptures within logic and reason, and it seems here that the two disciplines take radically different courses.
Ha, it would be great to see a film made by someone like Slavoj Zizek and/or read a theoretical paper written by someone like Santiago Sierra.
Whereas you think that your feelings of futility in your philosophical pursuits have nothing to do with philosophy and have a personal psychoanalytic reason, I must, as an outsider to philosophy, point out a possible reversal.
Dan’s reminder that “theory is filled with vestiges and contradictions that make a hard nexus harder”, that it should not be viewed as different than set theory or genetics in its opacity to popular understanding, is only half right. In fact, art has dealt extensively with difficult disciplines such as physics, genetics and set theory, if not with a full understanding of them or their recent findings, then with at least an intention to use such disciplines as subject matter, to bring them to attention within the wider culture. Few artists investigate leftist theory unless it is to ironically comment on its unintelligibility. (I, myself, have only gained acknowledgement from works that employ such trivial investigations, while works that attempt to get at the “substance” of theoretical discourse are ignored.) Such artists are scorned in the US and are only paid attention to because of prior, less political or theoretical (not art theory, which truly IS a miasma of pointless game playing) work.
So I am saying, larvalsubjects, that I feel your nagging sense of futility has everything to do with philosophy itself. Philosophy is dying to get out and get some fresh air. It’s crying for attention from those outside its own family. Likewise, “Art” is dying for a new injection of philosophical concepts, a new “fix”. This is not just a problem with smug academicians keeping themselves in jobs, but rather also with an art culture unable or unwilling to comprehend philosophy past the graduate level. This seems to me to be a double disavowal that is need of serious academic, as well as artistic and cultural, investigation.
When Zizek or Badiou speaks here in NYC at an art gallery, the place is packed. They speak at a university or cultural center, and half the seats remain empty. Art has a hunger for philosophy that is insatiable, and I do feel that philosophy could throw out more than the bones that they currently give us. After Baudrillard’s bastardization by artists in the 80’s, it only seems natural that philosophers would be reticent to interact with them. As Zizek says, he is more afraid of being accepted than rejected, and rightly so.
However, Burroughs once said, “painting is miles ahead of writing”. I think now we’re experiencing sort of the opposite: philosophy is light-years ahead of the arts. What will it take to close the gap? Blogs are a great starting point, one for which I am very thankful! But I feel more traditional “outreach” programs could help.
I am just back. You say “The thing itself is a launching point into an analysis of its genetic conditions.” The “thing itself” is — as Adorno teases out best — an antimony that cannot stand even on its own terms much less as a beginning foundational object for “genesis.” So, I cannot accept your interpretation of the D passages you mobilize in defense of this interp. The concept of thing that you maintain seems to have an epistemic and ontological perdurance that I see as the sign of an idealistic imposition which then registers itself — in its own mind as it were — as necessary since it has already formalized itself as the structure of interpretation. So you say in your response “By necessity I have in mind an immanent structure or organization that unfolds within a particular thing like a musical theme or style” This is exactly the Kantian having your cake and eating it too — if the object is the “unfolding” of an “immanent structure” then that “expression” is but a redaction of a Platonism, a parole of an extant langue the object manifests. So that is what I mean by your “sublation of the process”: an allusion to the Hegel solution to the circularity intrinsic to the Kantian argument: that is to sacrifice the self-similarity of any instance to a transhistorical process by which — the philosophical return of Christ — reaches (it projects) the absolute. But D — reacting to Hegel through Hyppolite –specific eschews difference under the Absolute for difference without regulation. You reconstitute something like the Cartesian subject in the “object itself” (indeed, I think this is the definition of the Cartesian subject) . But we see from (335). “What is expressed is sense….that was everywhere lacking in Cartesianism.” Sense is not the unfolding of something immanent in the “object itself”: the object itself is not and never was or will be, rather such a concept is an x-ed out term that wishes to act with the x as its shield rather than its denial (Derrida is good on this). The series is not variations on a theme anymore than the rhizome is a flower on a stem.
Dan, I really haven’t the foggiest notion as to what you’re talking about, nor do I see how what I’m claiming is any different than what you’re claiming beyond my use of the rather unfortunate term the “thing itself”. The whole point is that there’s no “thing itself”. It sounds like you’re attributing some belief in a thing in-itself to me, or rather a belief in an unchanging substance lying beneath change. Fortunately I wasn’t looking for you to “endorse” my interpretation or correct me– a practice that implicitly suggests a belief in a text in-itself underlying textual play –but attempting to work out some understanding of Deleuze. If you have something interesting and useful to add beyond rather stale deconstructive gestures and policing, that would be most welcome and even interesting.
Ah, rereading the original paper I see where you’re getting this from. I had entirely forgotten the later portions of the essay, as the issues I’ve focused on since revolve around Deleuze’s accounts of genesis, production, and individuation. Read Bergsonism where Deleuze outlines his method. According to Deleuze, the first step of Bergson’s method of intuition begins with mixed composites or things themselves, and then breaks them down into differences in degree on one side and differences in kind on the other. On a number of occasions Deleuze claims that the concept must coincide with the thing itself. Of course, for Deleuze, concepts are not ideas inside the head, but are themselves beings or entities. Having first approached Deleuze with a background in Kant, Hegel, and Husserl’s notion of categorical intuition, I found such claims deeply mysterious (based on Hegel’s first move in the sense-certainty chapter) and have since struggled with how he could possibly make such claims, given the daunting difficulties with talk of mediation. It seems to me the strongly Derridean reading you make here and elsewhere makes for uncomfortable bedfellows with Deleuze. To put it crudely, where Derrida repetitively shows how something is not possible, how something undermines itself, and how the metaphysics of presence is perpetually contaminated from within, Deleuze seems uninterested in deconstructing the metaphysical tradition or perpetually showing how the conditions of possibility are conditions of impossibility. This does not entail that he advocates a metaphysics of presence– his Bergsonian conception of time and Nietzschean account of becoming and the eternal return seem to be evidence of having moved beyond this tradition –just that he does not go the skeptical route that Derrida seems to go. In this regard, Deleuze seems to differ from all the other French thinkers of his generation in engaging in traditional philosophical projects of explaining the various things in the world (Badiou would be another notable exception), rather than playing the part of the sophist or skeptic.
As an aside, you seem to be attributing far more rigor to my reflections than perhaps they warrant. I suspect this is a sort of transcendental illusion produced by texts on a page, where the intentional structure at work in them suggests a finished product that is all there at once, complete and self-contained, when phenomenologically we can never encounter that whole but must produce it in the time of reading, and where the text itself was the result of a genesis that was itself groping, uncertain, and surprising even to the person doing the writing. I think of writing and philosophy as being closer to producing tools or making an artwork, than as representations. Just as the toolmaker endlessly tinkers with his inventions, finding them somewhat useful for this task, useless for that, needing in modification, interesting to work with, falling flat, etc., I think a lot of what I do here has that sort of status. Hence the name “Larval subjects” for this blog. Or to take up one of the analogies I drew in the paper, different philosophies are akin to the difference between how a dog sees, smells, and hears the world and how a bat senses the world through sonar. Perhaps the best question isn’t whether it is true or false– we’d never ask whether bat sonar is true or false –but rather how such and such a thought allows us to see when we occupy such a thought. On these grounds, I find the sort of engagement you seem to be angling for– a critical and polemical engagement premised on somehow getting it right or conforming to a society of those against the metaphysics of presence –all but useless to what I’m up to.
To my own cognition, neither my position nor my intention are those you seem to find in me. That is not to say you are incorrect, but only that these are not my most immediate understanding. To speak affirmatively, my engagement with this material is for joy in participation. In the thinking engagement with the world and you, your blog, and the ideas at hand mostly I get pleasure. I can see in myself — a reflection I do not pursue — a certain conditioned aggression toward the encounter. Still, I would not fully subscribe to either a purity of method or a fixity of truth that you seem to think I desire.
I hate America and want us to lose in Iraq is transformed to General Petraeus is a traitor, or I am a racist becomes America is racist, or I am envious becomes the wealthy are engaged in class warfare against me!Another characteristic of the unconscious is that it is timeless, in the sense that it can reverse temporal relations. For example, in the unconscious mind, if A is the cause of B, B can also be the cause of A. Thus, "before" and "after" become meaningless. Therefore, although we were inexcusably attacked by Islamists on 9-11, within minutes, leftists were saying that the real reason for the attack was that we had done something to offend Muslims. Likewise, throughout the Cold War, leftist scholars wrote "revisionist" histories, in which the United States was the cause of the Cold War, or at least equally responsible for it. You will notice that there are no conservative revisionists who write, for example, that blacks were the cause of their own lynching, or that Japanese Americans were the cause of their own internment. You can only think in this manner if you are pathologically under the sway of unconscious symmetrical logic. Also in the unconscious mind, there is no distinction between the memory of something that actually occurred vs. the memory of a fantasy. Here we can understand how and why the left is so prone to mythologizing the past, as their fantasies are mingled with reality. Thus, no amount of reality and asymmetrical logic will ever convince them that FDR made the Great Depression worse, not better, or that the black family only began to disintegrate after the imposition of all the "Great Society" programs of the mid to late '60s. No amount of logic could convince a leftist that his policies harm the "little guy," since his ruling myth, in the face of all evidence to the contrary, is that he is here to rescue the hapless little guy (for whom the leftist always feels rich contempt in the unconscious mind, contempt which only seeps out everywhere). One thing you will notice about the left is that they are passionate. Because the left is guided by feelings and intentions, they are blind to the results of their actions. If their feelings are infinitely good, then in the unconscious mind, the results must also be infinitely good. As I have written before, this is a religious passion in the absence of religion, so it has no traditional means to structure and channel it. ... posted by Gagdad Bob at 9/24/2007 08:33:00 AM
Monday 24 September 2007
The World Congress on Sprituality and Psychology
Date: January 5-8, 2008 Venue : Habitat Centre, New Delhi, India
The Jedi in the Lotus: An Eastern Look at Star Wars - a book by Steven J. Rosen
Global Renaissance Institute: An Institute for the Advanced Study of the Inner Arts and Sciences in the Modern University
Infinity Sponsored Outer Knowledge Book Series:
"Textile Technologies: a Historical Perspective" by Charu Smita Gupta, PhD
"Channeling Nature: Hydraulics, Traditional Knowledge Systems, And Water Resource Management in India – A Historical Perspective" by Rima Hooja, PhD
"Harappan Architecture and Civil Engineering" by Jagat Pati Joshi, PhD
"Zinc Production in Ancient India" by J.S. Kharakwal, PhD
"Iron Technology and Its Legacy in India (From the Earliest Times to Early Medieval Period)" by Vibha Tripathi, PhD
Madhu Kishwar's Book on Indian Women
Association for Asian Studies' Special Section on "Teaching Indic Traditions" in Education About Asia
Arindam Chakrabarti for University of Hawaii Programs
Announcing the Appointment of the Second Infinity Foundation Visiting Professor at Harvard University
Dr. Karl Potter's Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophy
Dr. Jonathan Shear's Book on the Major Meditation Systems of the World
Lancaster University's Educational Fund for the Study of Asian Religions by Overseas Students
Yvette Rosser's Survey on American Attitudes Toward Indic Traditions
A Measurement of India's Secularist Policies by S.K. Menon
Dr. Guy Beck's Research on Indic Influences on World Religious Chant and Music
Dr. Subhash Kak's Sourcebook on Indic Contributions in Mathematics and Science
Dr. Alok Kumar's Book on India's Contributions to Science
Dr. Ramesh Rao's Research Concerning Media Bias In Recent U.S. Reporting of India
Dr. Don Salmon's Book on Integral Psychology as Taught by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother
13th International Congress of Vedanta – September 12-15, 2002
National Conference on Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology – September 29 - October 1, 2002
Seminar on Traditional Knowledge Systems – Summer 2002 in Almora, India
W.A.V.E.S. International Conference on India's Contributions & Influences in the World – July 12-14, 2002 University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, MA, USA
British Psychiatry: History of Madness and the Phenomenology of Mental Illness in Colonial India: The Mysore Syndrome
African-American Encounters with Indian Nationalists and the Gandhian Nonviolent Movement
Saturday 22 September 2007
americanchronicle.com Saturday, September 22, 2007 News World National State News Politics Business Technology Industry Science Medicine Sports Education Entertainment Weather Opinion Latest Articles View Topics View Authors Features Latest Articles View Topics View Authors Community Town Hall CityBlogs Join Our List Other Sections Affiliates Advertise Video
All presidents are politicians. All politicians are salespersons. All salespersons are liars. This may sound like a brazen conclusion, but in today’s world it is a reality that must be confronted and dealt with.
To begin with, we are all salespersons to different degrees, in our everyday lives. We all have something that we want to sell. We want to sell our boss on our talent or skills. We want to sell our neighbors on our friendliness or personality. Almost everything that we do, the style of clothes we wear, the model of car we own, our mannerisms and behavior are all carefully selected to sell ourselves, to attract the opposite sex, to increase our income or just to become more popular. Everyone in almost all professions are salespersons. A lawyer is trying to sell the jury on the defendant’s guilt or innocence. All public speakers are trying to sell the audience on whatever subject they are promoting; a book, an idea, an ideology or whatever. A politician is also trying to sell to the public his agenda, his ideology or his qualifications for an office he is seeking.
The statement that all salespersons are liars needs to be explained. There many different way in which a person can tell a lie. There are simple straightforward lies in which the liar is simply stating a fact that is false. Sometimes this type of lie, if repeated often enough will be believed by many, especially if it comes from someone in a place of authority. However most of the lies that people tell are more complicated and are better classified as fallacies. These are complex deceitful statements that are used to sell an idea by misleading claims. This is done by different individuals to different degrees for different purposes. Some are harmless but some are dangerous and illegal.
There are over 166 different ways in which a person can use fallacies to deceive or mislead someone. These can be summarized in several general classifications: emotionalism, propaganda, suggestion, irrelevance, diversion, ambiguity and inference, confusion and inference, cause and effect, oversimplification, comparison and contrast, evasion and verbal ambiguity. The best and most successful salespersons are those individuals who are clever enough to use these fallacies in complex combinations. If a fallacy is complex enough, even a thoughtful person will not recognize it.
Why was the statement made that all salespersons are liars? This is because all of the sales tactics learned in any sales training class are based on fallacies and all fallacies are intentionally deceptive. This is the definition of a lie. A lie is a statement that is intentionally deceptive. Fallacies are all lies. Many examples could be given. If one salesperson was well dressed and friendly and another salesperson was sloppy and rude, which one would you buy a product from? People would almost unanimously choose the first. This is a fallacy because the buyer is not buying the salesperson, they are buying their product. Their choice should be based on the characteristics of the product and not the characteristics of the salesperson. This is true of almost all fallacies. The fallacies have nothing to do with the product.
What a salesperson says and what they do and their product should be evaluated separately. This is especially true of politicians. In today’s professional advertising campaigns, politicians almost always read speeches written by professional speech writers. What a politician says in a beautiful patriotic speech should be clearly separated from their actual experience, their character, their qualifications and their real accomplishments in relevant professions. These political speech’s are essentially lies simply because no matter what they say, they were written by another person. The speaker is simply an actor reading another’s words. He is misleading because he is pretending that the ideas are his own.
The obvious question is why do salespersons use fallacies? Why don’t salespersons simply tell the truth? The answer to this is very simple. They use fallacies because they work. They sell products. People in general don’t spend a lot of time analyzing a sales pitch. They are easily swayed by a friendly smooth talking salesperson. Simple fallacies are the most effective way to sell any product, whether it is a used car, a political ideology, a religious creed or any consumer product. A salesperson (politician, lawyer, used car salesperson etc.) does not want to tell the whole truth. They only want to tell the potential buyer the good features of their produce, not the bad features. The detrimental result of this practice is that the buyer can only make a sound judgment if all features of a product are known. However this is irrelevant to the seller, who is only interested in making a sale.
In most of our daily activities, many of these sales judgments we make are trivial and not of significant importance. Choosing between two different TV sets or two automobiles may have little lasting consequences. Unfortunately, the general public’s habit of not analyzing a sales pitch about consumer products, which is not especially important, also have the same attitude toward sale pitches in other areas, such as politics, economics or law, which are very important.
In many situations, these choices may be of extreme importance. If a lawyer uses misleading fallacies, a guilty person may be freed or an innocent person may go to prison. A jury must be critically observant when any lawyer is being deceitful.
The nation’s news media also have the highest responsibility to tell the whole truth. As the fourth branch of government, the news media are the sources of information that the public relies on to make sound judgments about everything local or national. Fallacies and misleading articles have no place in any news media. Unfortunately these are quite common and contribute to the public making bad choices in elections.
This practice of using fallacies to mislead may be of even greater importance to our entire nation when these deceptive, misleading statements are made by the nation’s highest leaders. Our democratic system of government, in which the people are required to make judgments about issues that effect the entire nation, our economic well being or the peace of the world, demand that the nation’s leaders give to the people the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In their critical positions, politicians and presidents must be held accountable for every fallacy or misleading statement that they give whether they are straightforward lies or deceptive propaganda. In general, selfish politicians lie to promote their own personal agenda and their own personal well being often to the detriment of the rest of the nation and the world.
The office of the president of the United States is not a private office to be used by any individual for private financial gain, personal ambition or self serving glorification for themselves or for any special interest groups. The office of the president exists to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and promote the peace and the best interests of the entire nation.
The president of the United States should never use fallacies, lies or any deceitful misleading statements in any speech either public or private for any reason whatsoever. The people must demand truthful leaders. The alternative can be disastrous. americanchronicle.com
Friday 21 September 2007
"The thing I see about the Bible that's unfortunate is that it's a tribally circumscribed mythology. It deals with a certain people at a certain time. The Christians magnified it to include them. It then turns this society against all others, whereas the condition of the world today is that this particular society that's presented in the Bible isn't even the most important. This thing is like a dead weight. It's pulling us back because it belongs to an earlier period. We can't break loose and move into a modern theology.
"One of the great promises of mythology is, with what social group do you identify? How about the planet? To say that the members of this particular social group are the elite of God's world is a good way to keep that group together, but look at the consequences! I think that what might be called the sanctified chauvinism of the Bible is one of the curses of the planet today." -- Joseph Campbell on The Bible