Re: Religous Variation

John McCreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Tue, 30 Jul 1996 08:37:37 +0900

>John McCreery's posting is very interesting--not so much for its content, but
>for its style, which betrays the underlying attitude of its author.

An example of ad hominem, i.e., unable to deal with the argument proceed to
attack the speaker.

>I replied: "Stand by to be impressed!" Then I named a theory that has been
>discussed on this list and on Arch-L and added some details of the theory.
Details? What details?

>As does: "A 'theory of mind' would be interesting" because it is followed by "I
>have yet to see anyone here propose even the outline of what such a theory
>would look like", which means he is purposely ignoring the discussion "here"
>and on ARCH-L (which, if I am not mistaken, he participated in) between 15
>June and 17 July, at least.
All you have to do is say, don't you remember points x, y, and z? Instead,
again ad hominem.

Off-hand references to "purposely ignoring the discussion" are useless to
readers who came on-line in the interim, have been away on summer vacation
in the interim, have one of a million other possible reasons not to
remember one particular thread. Could you please spell out what you're
talking about?

For the record, I do not participate in ARCH-L.

>Now, let's get to the content:
>"'The evolution of human consciousness' suggests metaphorically that [it] is,
>in some sense, parallel to biological evolution and thus the result of natural
>Error in logic, John: If it "is, in some sense, parallel to", it cannot be
>"thus the result" of something that it is only parallel to.

It would make more sense to say directly that the evolution of human
consciousness IS an example of biological evolution, resulting from natural
selection. I've got no problem with that. But...
>"Without explicit mechanisms to account for the occurence [sic], type and
>distribution of whatever...we want to be talking about, waving the words around
>is nothing but blowing smoke."

Have you or anyone else here specified the environmental conditions that
select for, say, belief in Allah, going to confession or Sunday School,
participating in Taiwanese pig sacrifices,[add your own examples]?

>Talk about "waving words around"!
>"'Rationalization' and 'demystification' are, like 'modernization' (a concept
>from the same package)..."
>I challenge you to find the term "modernization" in any of Max Weber's works.
>Have you even read any of them?

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, The Religion of China,
Collected Works on Politics and Economics, ed. by Gerth and Wills; also a
fair amount of secondary literature on Weber. The phrase "like
'modernization'" was simply a device for locating Weber's concepts in a
broad stream of intellectual history in which "modernization" plays a
similar role--the description of a process that is presumed to be
unidirectional. Thus,
>"...variations of the thought that there is a universal process in human
>affairs tending upward to some common end."

If, being the Weber scholar your are, you could say, for example, that
Weber explicitly mentions the reversibility of rationalization in such and
such a work, then I would stand corrected.

If you noted that Weber saw Hinduism, ancient Judaism, and the religion of
China as representing various answers to the problem of theodicy and seemed
to be arguing (Here, I suspect, my memory does fail me) that they represent
permutations on a small set of logical possibilities:
world-rejecting/world-affirming; monotheistic/polytheistic, you'd have
pointed to dimensions of variation of variation in religious experience
that are, perhaps, othogonal, to the less/more ritualistic one that I have
been discussing.

Hand-waving, ad hominem, appeals to authority without spelling out what the
purported authorities have to say. Call it smoke or call it snow. It's all
the same to me.
>Where did you get that crazy idea?

Damn good question. Probably reading Lovejoy's _The Great Chain of Being_
but I couldn't swear to it.

John McCreery
3-206 Mitsusawa HT, 25-2 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
Yokohama 220, JAPAN

"And the Lord said unto Cyrus, 'Shall the clay say to him who moldest it,
what makest thou? Let the potsherd of the earth speak to the potsherd of
the earth." --An anthropologist's credo