The idea of a human nature that is fixed, stable or essential has been disputed on the biological (Darwin) and philosophical (Nietzsche) grounds. The latter I have some sympathy with, the former I find it a little harder to accept – particularly in its John Harris manifestation. I am not entirely sure what Žižek is getting at when he says further alienation from our roots in nature is required rather than a return to nature to deal with the ‘ecological crisis’.
‘I maintain only that to speak of the evil of religion or to desire its abolition is, again, as simpleminded as condemning and wanting to abolish politics. [Daniel] Dennett, for example, on several occasion in Breaking the Spell proclaims his devotion to democracy, a devotion that one can assume remains largely undiminished by the knowledge that democratic governments – often in the name of protecting or promoting democracy – have waged unjust wars, incinerated villages or cities full of noncombatants, abridged civil liberties, tolerated corruption and racial inequality, lied to their citizens, aided despotic foreign regimes, or given power to evil men’.
– David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies, Yale University Press (2009), p. 13-14.
Through the rhetoric of the “New Atheists” in which distinctions are blurred and particularities made universal, Christians are called on to defend the purity of “religion” in the abstract. This, of course, is a trap. No one is loyal to “religion”, just as no one is loyal to “politics”.
The Christian is loyal to Christ, as Dennet is loyal to democracy. The former does not need to defend “religion” against the charge of violence, just as the latter isn’t require to do the same for “politics”. Furthermore, just as Dennet sees no inconsistency with remaining loyal to democracy despite the horrors it has produced; there is no inconsistency in the Christian remaining loyal to Christ while denouncing the Spanish Inquisition.
Of course, “if the analogy fails in any respect, it is only that Christianity expressly forbids the various evils that have been done by Christians, whereas democracy, in principle, forbids nothing (exception, of course, the defeat of the majorities will).”
332 – The Gay Science
The evil hour. – Every philosopher has probably had an evil hour when he thought: What do I matter if people don’t accept my bad arguments, too? And then some malicious little bird flew over him and chirped: ‘What do you matter? What do you matter?’ – Nietzsche
I am trying to finsih a draft of my final chapter. The evil hour has come. However I am not concerned about whether or not people accept my bad arguments, but whether I can make(up) my bad arguments.
The Puritan wanted to work in a calling; we are forced to do so. For when asceticism was carried out of monastic cells into everyday life, and began to dominate worldly morality, it did its part in building the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order. This order is now bound to the technical and economic conditions of machine production which to-day determine the lives of all the individuals who are born into this mechanism, not only those directly concerned with economic acquisition, with irresistible force. Perhaps it will so determine them until the last ton of fossilized coal is burnt. In Baxter’s view the care for external goods should only lie on the shoulders of the “saint like a light cloak, which can be thrown aside at any moment”. But fate decreed that the cloak should become an iron cage. (p. 123)
Weber, Max. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Translated by Talcott Parsons. London: Routledge Classics, 2001.
I have been re-reading Weber for reason other than the connection between Christianity and capitalism, however Byron’s question Can Christians be capitalists? reminded me of this rich paragraph.
Considering that Weber’s thesis puts the blame for the birth and growth of capitalism at the door of Protestantism, perhaps it is appropriate to re-turn to Protestantism (or at least Christianity) for a solution to throwing off the ‘iron cage’ before the last ton of coal is burnt and our lives are fully determined.
Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will forever define me.
Whether terms of abuse can be positively reclaimed and transformed into a self-given name is questionable, but either way we still need to call and be called something. If the hate is present, perhaps the speech is irrelevant.