Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Superficial pluralism

Ladies and gentlemen, Notre Dame professor John Haldane, interviewed in Mercator.net:
Haldane:There are two kinds of pluralism that we find today in Western countries. One is a lifestyle pluralism, a variety of ways of living. That can be quite superficial, simply like cakes, clothing or furniture or whatever. And there is a deeper diversity or plurality, a pluralism of philosophies or ideologies... So if you take, marriage, for example, Jews, Christians and Muslims tend actually to share, broadly speaking, the same views about this. The diversity comes among people who don’t have an ideology... But these are really not expressions of deep philosophies. These are expressions of consumerism, of the desire to have more choices. Serrano: What would you like to see? Haldane: I think that two things need to be done. One is the need to make a negative critique of superficial pluralism. We should be ready to show that although there is a great deal of diversity there, it doesn’t reveal deep philosophy, it’s rather shallow. That’s the negative side. And then the positive side is that the advocates of deep ideologies —- and these days, the only deep ideologies tend to be religious, because Marxism has gone -- need to work together to think about what exactly they share. ... We have to create a thoroughgoing, extensive and perceptive and rhetorically effective critique of the superficiality of consumer choice in society. And at the same time we have to try to among ourselves to develop a coherent, deeper account of how you might try to think about things like the human life, human reproduction, death and so on. ... It’s not so much that we need to do more philosophy. I think we need to recover a more natural and simpler style of explanation, less scholastic, less technical, more natural. Also we need to promote that in effective rhetorical modes, using imagination, examples, illustrating, rather than just giving people arguments. That’s why I think things like films, journalism, novels, music are much more important in our world. That’s where people are,

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