Saturday, November 26, 2005


The Maverick Philosopher is beginning a series of posts asking "what is religion?" He begins by suggesting that an important preccursor to religious sentiment is the feeling that something is not right in the world.
By radically defective and fundamentally unsatisfactory, I mean that the dis-ease of our condition goes right to the root of it, and so cannot be dealt with by any half-way measures. In particular, no one who is religious could possibly believe that the fundamental malaise of our condition could be alleviated by any sort of human social action no matter how concerted or revolutionary. We need help, and if any truly ameliorative help is to come it must come from elsewhere, from beyond the human-all-too-human. A religious person can and must take action now and again to right wrongs and make piecemeal improvements in the conditions of his own life and those of others; but no religious person could be an activist if an activist is one who believes that humanity has the resources within itself to bring about any such fundamental and lasting improvement in the human condition as the elimination of war. For this reason, Communism is not a religion, though it is in many ways like a religion and functions in many as a substitute for religion. In characterizing our predicament as defective and unsatisfactory, I mean to allude in the first instance to moral and natural evil, but without denying that there is much moral and natural goodness in the world. This life is radically defective (defective from the root up, and not merely in the branches), but not wholly defective. But beyond this there is the ontological deficiency of our condition which will loom large in the ensuing pages. To say that the natural and social world of our ordinary waking experience is ontologically deficient is to say that its very metaphysical structure is fundamentally unsatisfactory. As a material world of time and change, it is devoid of ultimate reality. As Plato puts it, "nothing which is subject to change...has any truth." (Phaedo St. 83a)
I'm looking forward to the rest of these. I think think there is embedded in Bill's premise of fundamental deficiency a criterion against which we judge. We'll see where he goes with this idea.

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