Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Western constellation

I wonder if it is evident that at heart my concern appears to be moral? It seems to me natural that defining a shape to experience is fundamentally a moral concern, a question of choice over different priorities whether then expressed in philosophy or art or both. But here I am baffled with two seemingly conflicting perspectives – namely whether we have to deliberately fashion such a shape to achieve the necessary profound ethical transformation (gradual or otherwise) or if there is a pre-existing fundamental form to our being in the world that upon realization will bring about such a transformation. I think the distinction is meaningful (if of venerable age) and I find us intellectually utterly unable to come to any rational conclusion about it – showing how far we are from such a state of transformation. But what follows from this formulation is in itself very clear: we must firmly reject the primitive fundamentalist formulation of religion (with its child-adult subject manipulating into "existence" an "all powerful" imaginary object, God). With less materialist and more mystical interpretations of religion there is much less conflict, maybe none at all.

Naturally we must also firmly reject any irrational conservative philosophies about the inherent impossibility of ethical human progress (or any positions on past “Golden Ages” - history has been nothing but a slow holocaust) along with all radical optimism concerning the “easiness” and straight forwardness of such progress (if only we would be more committed, aware etc. etc.). At heart this is a somewhat bleak assessment which would explain its lack of acceptance and currency. It is much less scary to throw oneself on the back of the ancient beliefs and consolations, or on their radical new versions. Of course any formulation is at heart localized, inherently not universal – this appears to me to be our current Western position since God died, and there certainly will be others, whether they will be grappling with the selfsame issue will always remain open to debate (goes my enlightened argument).

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