Descartes Redux (was Re: Spiritualism and idealism)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Tue Jan 2 00:08:38 MST 2001

>>What you write in the second paragraph, however, seems to me to be an
>>idealist definition of "spiritual"....To think that one can name
>>one's feelings "spiritual" & at the same time imagine that such
>>"spiritual" feelings are "private" is to fall for a Cartesian
>I am afraid that you are over-intellectualizing things. When I say that
>spiritual feelings are private, I don't mean this in the epistemological
>sense. I mean it in the sense of personal. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
>Louis Proyect

You mean "spiritual feelings" _should_ be personal, in the senses
that they are not to be theocratically imposed upon the unwilling;
that they should not be taken for the signs of one's being part of
God's chosen people; that they ought not to become excuses for
oppressions of women, homosexuals, believers in other religions,
etc.; they must not be turned into justifications of wars of
conquests; and so forth?  That's a respectably liberal position, but
the problem is that most firm believers in most religions are not
happy with the "solution" -- keep it "personal" -- proposed by
liberalism.  Progressive religionists such as liberation theologians,
too, in fact cannot abide by the _principle_ of the liberal
separation of public & private (though they reject much of the
_content_ of reactionary religious impositions upon individuals).  As
a matter of fact, one thing that religious & Marxist worldviews have
in common is probably the rejection of liberalism.  The difference is
that Marxists & religionists reject liberalism on different grounds.

In the hypothetical world where different "spiritual feelings"
possess no political significance, having been reduced to, say, the
same level as a matter of difference in taste between cat & dog
lovers, we are not likely to have such debates as we have been having.


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