Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Journey Towards Truth

When I first started this blog a couple of years back my hope was to create a kind of Christian conversation around political, cultural, and social issues, using in particular the resources of the so-called "theological turn" in French phenomenology and Anglican theology. I don't think that conversation ever really got off the ground at least in part because I was too preoccupied by the soap opera of Bush-era scandals to make my central thesis understandable, which is that the errors of modern political movements are the result of fundamental failures to reason clearly, and especially, to reason clearly about matters of faith. What I really meant to be writing about from the beginning was the way in which philosophic wisdom can work together with Christian faith to shed much needed light on the causes of evil and injustice in the modern world, and to provide an alternative to the dominant discourse of global capitalism. It has always been my conviction that politics is, like theology, an art of interpretation, which simply means that to exercise power is to express one's attitude towards truth. Behind every public policy and every political action is an epistemology, a theory of what constitutes valid judgments and beliefs, of what counts as evidence, of what can be proved and what must be taken on faith, of such fundamental concepts as recollection, anticipation, discovery, conjecture, proximity, testimony. All of these concepts are the unspoken content of what is reported in the news on a daily and hourly basis. Even more profoundly concealed from our sight is the relationship between politics and ontology, which means the relationship of visible icons of power to a perceived invisible order, which may be variously located in the cosmos, the intellect, the will, or in the categorial structures of a priori reason. Thus, it is my contention that the seemingly intractable shortcomings of our present political and cultural situation, which we are all aware of to some degree, can be traced back to their source, and once exposed, can be overcome. In that sense what I am trying to develop might be called a "journalistic philosophy," or to use the language of phenomenology, an eidetic analysis of political and cultural discourse. Yet this is only one half of the problem. We have only focused on the possibility of using phenomenology as a resource for placing political actions in their proper context. The other half of the project is to show how Christianity - both natural theology and revealed truth - may also provide such a resource. This will be the subject of the next post.

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