Zero Sum or Principles? by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Zero Sum or Principles?
Abstract: If we refuse to accept materialistic reductionism that makes our social lives exhaustively the product of capricious genetics, the amygdala, and chemicals in the brain like oxytocin, we are the species that can ask what we should do. By playing a zero sum game, one knows who “won” whereas acting on principle gives one the satisfaction that one tried to do more than “win.” However, here it is claimed that the alternative of a zero sum game and principles represents not an exclusive dyad as if one can pursue one of the options only by exclusion of the other. Both are symptomatic of humanity’s “radical” evil and “radical” goodness. We can pursue one or the other only because we have the capacity to do both. Hence, deeper than decline, progress, or stagnation is an understanding of humanity as the source of a causal efficacy that is not reducible to physical causality and, therefore, this suggests that with humanity we find in degree an “openness” in nature that allows for creative change while demanding assumption of moral responsibility for the exercise of humanity’s creative power.
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The following paper was presented at at the Society for Ricoeur Studies at the University of Oregon, October 27, 2013
PDF Version: What is ‘Radical’ Evil? A Reading of Ricoeur on Kant and Religion
What is ‘Radical’ Evil?
A Reading of Ricoeur on Kant and Religion
What follows I can best describe as a “lover’s quarrel” anchored, for my part, in deep gratitude and respect. On the one hand, I will strenuously critique Ricoeur’s reading of Kant, particularly with respect to 1) the ontological status of “radical” evil, 2) the anchoring of morality in violence, 3) Ricoeur’s “deliberative,” hence, consequentialist ethic, and 4) his limiting of religion to historical religion. On the other hand, the “ontology” of his theory of metaphor as well as the centrality of the “productive imagination” in his theory of discourse are applauded vigorously and can be viewed as thoroughly in harmony with the “ground” of Kant’s ethical reflections, “autonomous freedom,” which will be proposed as a more comprehensive “ground” for morality, and a more adequate “ground” for understanding of religion.
Reflections on the Symbol: A Quasi-Transcendental Assumption that “Gives Rise to Thought”
I begin my investigation of Ricoeur’s reading of Kant by examining the notion of “symbol.” I will seek to demonstrate that the pre-figuration, which is the symbolic for Ricoeur, functions in a quasi-transcendental sense that makes symbols a posteriori synthetic judgments and, therefore, hypothetical, not, as for Kant, a priori synthetic judgments that are categorical (I will speak to the difference between a posteriori and a priori synthetic judgment below).
Reflections on Michel Foucault’s ‘Was ist Aufklärung?'”
At least since the French „Encyclopedists,” the notion of enlightenment has been associated with knowledge of the correct facts. As a consequence, even Kant’s famous aphorism for labelling enlightenment, Sapere Aude! (Dare to know for oneself!), has been frequently taken to mean: assume responsibility for your own knowledge of the facts (i.e., don’t trust authorities to be providing you with the true facts)!
On Martha Nussbaum’s Reading of Kant by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
On Martha Nussbaum’s Reading of Kant: Aristotelian Teleology Meets Kantian Archaeology
The following is an email that was sent to Herman Waetjen, Emeritus Professor of the San Francisco Theological Seminary and Berkeley’s GTU. During a recent visit with him in San Anselmo, Herman shared with me passages from Martha Nussbaum’s Frontiers of Justice that offer her reading of Kant on reason, morality, and humanity’s responsibilities to nature, other species, and the physically and mentally challenged. Herman had written a paper on “The Theology of Animals” for the Spring 2016 meeting of the Pacific Coast Theological Society meeting. His paper is available on-line at the PCTS webpage. This email provides my response to what I take to be a serious but, unfortunately, all too frequent “mis-reading” of Kant. To be sure, every reading of a text is an interpretation, but that fact is no license to generate any whimsical reading that serves one’s purposes in the moment. As Paul Ricoeur proposed: A good reading is congruent with the text and generates a plenitude of rich meaning. A poor reading is narrow and far-fetched. In my judgment, Martha Nussbaum’s reading of Kant is incredibly narrow and far-fetched, even if there are powerful voices in the academy today who share her reading.
The following is Doug’s Dissertation submitted to and accepted by The Divinity School of The University of Chicago in 1983. The doctoral adviser was Prof. Paul Ricoeur, and the readers were Profs. David Tracy and Langdon Gilkey.
If one’s intellectual life is an odyssey, it would be a shock to look back over thirty-plus years at this dissertation to find myself entirely in agreement with everything in it. I am by no means shocked. However, back then I had the “clever” idea that one can establish a parallel between the “metaphor” that functions “at the level of the sentence” and the “symbol” that functions “at the level of the narrative.” I have since followed Langdon Gilkey’s wise advice to read Ernst Cassirer’s corpus, especially his Philosophie der symbolischen Formen, to learn that I was addressing only a segment of symbols, that is, religious symbols. In most circumstances, I would be now more comfortable were the reader to substitute “religious symbol” wherever “symbol” occurs. I was unable to find a publisher for this early work (I couldn’t even get a publisher to send it out to readers) so that I am posting it here. Although I have some reservations, I am arrogant enough to believe that there are elements here that justify its being accessible on-line.
On the Soteriological Sitnificance of the Symbol of the Kingdom of God in the Language of the Historical Jesus by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Table of Contents
Critical Idealism: A Brief Introduction
Critical Idealism has been out of favor at least since the Vienna Circle imperially proclaimed in the first third of the Twentieth Century that there are no such things as a priori synthetic judgments. Because that’s what intellectuals in Europe wanted to hear as they turned away both from religious revelation and from Hegel’s spiritual meta-narrative toward the physical world, few (if any) bothered to ask just what an a priori synthetic judgment was – according to Immanuel Kant. In fact, the Vienna Circle presupposed precisely what it denied.
“Should Language Acquisition be Required” by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Should Foreign Language Acquisition be Required?
29 December 2016
According to today’s NY Times (29 December 2016), Princeton University is making the learning of a new language a mandatory requirement of its General Education program — even for those already proficient in a second language. I’m commenting here because I don’t have a Facebook account, which the NY Times requires for commenting on their blog.
In our day, it is an incredible privilege as a US citizen to know a second language if you are not an immigrant or from a recently immigrated family. It is a privilege because foreign languages unlike in almost all other industrialized nations are not required in elementary school, and, increasingly, they are not required in high school even for those intending to go on to college because even colleges are rapidly dropping the requirement. After all, all one needs to get ahead in the world these days is English because the whole world has committed to English as the lingua franca of research and business. I am among the privileged able to afford two summers at Middlebury College’s Summer German School at the ripe age of 31. I know full well that the costs in time and money make such an experience simply impossible for most Americans. Continue reading “Should Foreign Language Acquisition be Required? 29 December 2016”
Waetjen on Romans: A Hermeneutics of Disclosure and Justice by Douglas R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
A Hermeneutics of Disclosure and Justice:
A Reading of Herman Waetjen’s The Letter to the Romans: Salvation as Justice and the Deconstruction of the Law
Herman Waetjen offers a profound reading of Paul that takes as its clue Romans 1:17: “For (gar) the justice of God (dikaiosynē theou) is being revealed in it [the gospel] out of trust into trust (ek pisteōs eis pistin) even as it is written, ‘The just will live out of trust (ek pisteōs)’.” What follows understands Herman’s project to be an example of the hermeneutics of disclosure that calls not only the Christian community but also all humanity to do justice in faith/trust. This paper applauds enthusiastically Herman’s reading of Paul and places it in the context of the relationship between what Kant calls “historical” and “pure” religion. In short, although one can neither prove nor disprove whether the Christ event involves an ontological change in the human condition that establishes a New Moral Order as an “historical” religion claims, one can unequivocally affirm that a deconstructed (de-mythologized) Paul challenges humanity “to become what we are” in the sense of trusting in the “law that is above law” to pursue justice “this side of the grave.” Here we have a concrete example of “pure” religion at the core of a “historical” religion and of a New Testament scholar as vanguard engineer of the locomotive of faith rather than leading a rear guard at the back of the train defending “Reformation heresy.”
One World, One Reason, One Faith, but Many Religions: Religious Studies in an Age of Pluralism by Douglass R McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
One World, One Reason, One Faith, but Many Religions: Religious Studies in an Age of Pluralism
[With an “Excursus: The Nihilism of Meaning and Pure Religion”]
Contrary to the popular notion that “all religions are different paths to the same God” this paper proposes that what unites all religion is not God (much less doctrine, ritual, or institutional structure) but the shared physical conditions and creative capacity that constitute humanity’s extraordinary position and responsibilities in the order of things. Just as the conditions for reason are the same for all, yet reason is manifested differently, there is one religion that involves the communal support of the moral improvement of each individual that is manifested differently in multiple faiths.
“On Peace and Religious Literacy” by Douglas R. McGaughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
On Peace and „Religious“ Literacy:
A Response to Ulrich Rosenhagen
Not surprisingly, the popular response to religious violence is a call to peaceful understanding of the “other.” Given the pressing need in our climate of violence to foster the understanding of religion, Ulrich Rosenhagen at the University of Wisconsin in his commentary piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education of December 2, 2015, entitled “The Value of Teaching Religious Literacy” calls for an “immersion” approach that would establish student “learning communities” of various religious confessions sharing the same living and study space. The goal is “to learn from one another” not “about” one another. The principle driving this “immersion” model of religious studies is that direct experience of religious differences fosters the cultivation of our common humanity.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/.
“Studying Religion: More and Less than Mapping Territories”
Rather than portray Religious Studies by J. Z. Smith’s metaphor of mapping territories, here the metaphor is extended to cover Kant’s description of the human condition as consisting of three regions of experience: fields (Felde), territories (Böden), and domains (Gebiete). All three regions involve clarity of conceptualization. Fields constitute regions of experience where there is conceptualization without rules (e.g., dreams, fantasies, hallucinations), territories regions where rules are possible but not universal (e.g., civic laws), and domains regions where rules are necessary and universal (e.g., nature and creative freedom). Concerned with all three, RS is grounded in the necessary conditions of possibility for experience where there is self-legislation (because imperceptible) of rules for its understanding and action. This paper contrasts this grounding in domains with eleven territories of RS. Neither a mere perspective on life nor limited to a single region of experience, RS focuses on pure religion at the core of all historical religion.