Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fish Story

Filed under: General — m759 @ 10:12 AM

Stanley Fish reviewed a new book, Steven Smith's The Disenchantment of Secular Discourse, in yesterday's online NY Times

…the self-impoverished discourse of secular reason does in fact produce judgments, formulate and defend agendas, and speak in a normative vocabulary. How is this managed? By “smuggling,” Smith answers.

. . . the secular vocabulary within which public discourse is constrained today is insufficient to convey our full set of normative convictions and commitments. We manage to debate normative matters anyway— but only by smuggling in notions that are formally inadmissible, and hence that cannot be openly acknowledged or adverted to.

The notions we must smuggle in, according to Smith, include “notions about a purposive cosmos, or a teleological nature stocked with Aristotelian ‘final causes’ or a providential design,” all banished from secular discourse because they stipulate truth and value in advance rather than waiting for them to be revealed by the outcomes of rational calculation. But if secular discourse needs notions like these to have a direction— to even get started— “we have little choice except to smuggle [them] into the conversations— to introduce them incognito under some sort of secular disguise.”

And how do we do that?

A Jewish Answer

By the Coen brothers in "A Serious Man"–


"When the truth is found to be lies
And all the joy within you dies….

A Christian answer

“Like all dreamers I confuse
disenchantment with truth.”
– Jean-Paul Sartre


Disenchantment author Steven Smith is a a professor at the University of San Diego. This suggests a look at the feast day of San Diego himself… Here are Log24 posts that mention that day, November 12 (which is also Grace Kelly's birthday).

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