Blazing New Trails… Or Not.

My senior seminar is sucking hard. I wish I had a sympathetic voice to bounce ideas off of. There’s this nagging fear in me that my entire project – my goals or thesis – may be entirely wrong. The problem is that my paper is fairly uncharted territory for an Evangelical, especially one from this university.

The guys who might resonate most with my ideas – guys like Brian McLaren & Co. – all write on such a surface level. They aren’t doing serious, rigorous philosophy of the kind I need. Just today an example came up where McLaren misappropriates Quine – gesturing at Quineian notions without really grasping what he’s saying nor the implications. Even a key article in my thinking, Phillip Kenneson’s “There’s No Such Thing As Objective Truth, And It’s a Good Thing Too” is really disappointingly shallow. Great introduction to these themes and I’d recommend to everyone, but not exactly the highest quality source for a senior thesis.

On a related note, I noticed a funny comparison between Dave Eggers and Richard Rorty. Like the former in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Rorty (et al) can sometimes be painfully self-aware or annoyingly reflective – they often frustrate by qualifying every statement to nth degree.

The Future of Religion

My Barnes & Noble order came yesterday; I’m about halfway through The Future of Religion already. A few choice quotes…

Gianno Vattimo:

“The existential analytic… makes us aware that knowledge is always interpretation and nothing but this. Things appear to us in the world only because we are in their midst and always already oriented toward seeking a specific meaning for them. In other words, we possess a preunderstanding that makes us interested subjects rather than neutral screens for an objective overview.””…postmodern nihilism constitutes the actual truth of Christianity.”

“…the redemptive meaning of the Christian message makes its impact precisely by dissolving the claims of objectivity…”

“…no experience of truth can exist without some kind of participation in a community… truth comes about as the ongoing construction of communities that coincide in a ‘fusion of horizons’… truth does not consist in the correspondence between propositions and things. Even when we speak of correspondence, we have in mind propositions verfied in the context of paradigms, the truth of which consists above all in their being shared by a community.”

Richard Rorty:

“…the quest for truth and knowledge is no more and no less than the quest for intersubjective agreement. The epistemic arena is a public space, a space from which religion can and should retreat.”

Santiago Zabala:

“…truth does not occur at the level of facts but only at that of propositions.””To surpass metaphysics means, according to Rorty and Vattimo, to stop inquiring into what is real and what is not; it means recognizing that something is better understood the more one is able to say about it. Problems are resolved with irony, privately exercised vis-á-vis one’s own predecessors rather than vis-á-vis their relation to truth.”

“The space left open by metaphysics must not be filled up by new philosophies claiming to exhibit some foundation external to the ‘conversation.'”

Fosdick Quote

I forgot to mention the second controversial item from that infamous pimp Cedars. It was this quote:

“The fact that astronomies change while the stars abide is a true analogy of every realm of human life and though, religion not least of all. No existent theology can be a final formulation of spiritual truth.”

– Harry Emerson Fosdick

Tell me if you disagree with the quote and why. I think Fosdick’s right on.