I have yet to find the time to sit down and write a thorough response to Dan Corjescu’s last piece “On the Metaphysics of Revolution”, which was, to my mind, a gross misinterpretation of Socrates in particular, and on the evolution of revolutionary thought in philosophy in general. However, on the appearance of this, his second piece, I promised myself I would make sure I find the time in the near future to do so.
None-the-less I felt compelled to respond to Corjescu’s latest piece, “On the Persistence of Religion”. This piece begins with the erroneous assumption that there is some great disjuncture between the rational mind and the expression of emotions in general and of anger in particular; that calmness and reason somehow walk hand in hand. As I shall argue, this is not the case. This is an invalid first assumption.
Moreover, as we move from his axiom to his exemplification thereof, Richard Dawkins for example, we find that it does not hold true. Richard Dawkins can become very emotional when he talks about evolution. (And how Corjescu left Christopher Hutchins out of his equation I don’t know.). He has obviously never heard Richard Dawkins turn his fury on irrational religious individuals.
Beyond this he blurs the lines between emotions and emotional appeal, even as he fails to properly identify completely and properly, the appeal of religion. “After all, I thought emotional appeals are for religious people?” Religion is to be sure, based on emotional needs, but it also based on other things. We can say even and particularly of the religion of Pagans, that there is an element of scientific thought involved as Pagan religious beliefs, in particular those of the Greeks, were an attempt to explain Nature.
Finally, the piece de resistance, “Clearly, for some, personal history and psychological trauma have a defining role to play in their world-view regarding religion (and other matters as well).” This statement clearly puts forth the argument that those who respond to his arguments with anger and indignation have something wrong with them that is the result of the way they have been raised or some “psychological trauma”. Therefore, their rage at religion (which in no way allows that they should be labeled atheists but only, at best, antireligious), is PERSONAL and in no way social or political in nature. It is the result of some individual flaw and not a response to objective reality. Thus, Mr. Corjescu has committed the logical sin of making an Ad Hominem argument
And finally, the ultimate question – how does one define Reason? Are we to define it according to the laws of Aristotle’s logic, predicated on either/or individuation? In this case, one is either rational or emotional, but never both? Or in the logic of Heraclitus, Socrates, Hegel, and Marx, who all assert that there is a unity between Reason and Feeling and one might add, Action which is the Unity of both.
First of all, while there is the demand that scholars should base their arguments purely on logic and reason and never fall prey to emotions and arguments based on emotions, this ideal is difficult to achieve. It is difficult to achieve because the separation between the real and the rational does not exist. Or so says Hegel, and I am every bit a Hegelian. Accordingly, Reason is not a category of mind, nor the product of logical laws, it is Ontological in nature; which is to say it corresponds to the structure of reality, which is itself constantly changing. While for Hegel this change is the result of the Creator realizing himself (I may or may not be a Hegelian in this respect), it is through the actions of humans that that change occurs. Thus, it is important that human beings feel that change must occur. Feeling may be the lowest and poorest level of knowing, yet and still, it is the first and essential mode. (Followed by Understanding and then by Reason). So too, as Hegel explains in his writings on religion, Faith is the feeling that a Creator exists, but it is only in Reason that we fully apprehend its existence.).
Thus, it is that perfectly rational human beings feel as well as think what is right and wrong in the world: they understand. When rationally understands that the world is made up of “masters and slaves” of one type or another one has two choices, either to accept or reject that situation. The decision to reject it is a judgement, and not one that can be separated from emotion. One must rage with righteous indignation against the capitalist machine, against racial injustice, against the horrific brutality directed towards women by patriarchy, against hunger, against poverty, against all those things which prevent each and every human being from being fully human, from realizing their potentials. And yes, against Religion with a capital R, which has been responsible for such great human suffering; which has accompanied and been the handmaiden of repressive regimes, and above all and before all, which has, because it is based on faith and unfounded beliefs and arguments, on dogma and mythological characters, is the enemy of Reason itself.
Mary Metzger is a 74 year old semi retired teacher. She did her undergraduate work at S.U.N.Y. Old Westbury and her graduate work In Dialectics under Bertell Ollman at New York University. She has taught numerous subjects, from Public Sector Labor Relations to Philosophy of Science, to many different levels of students from the very young to Ph.D. candidates, in many different institutions and countries from Afghanistan to Russia. She has been living in Russia for the past 12 years where she focuses on research in the Philosophy of Science and History of the Dialectic, and writes primarily for Countercurrents. She is the mother of three, the grandmother of five, and the great grandmother of two.