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Is Tocqueville a Metaphysical or Darwinian Conservative?

Or, in other words, does Tocqueville understand religion to be more than merely civil theology? Not surprisingly, Larry and I disagree.

Discussions - 6 Comments

Link does not work.

You are playing games with him. Tocqueville understands religion to be more than merely civil theology because it is more than merely civil theology.

As an observer Tocqueville is required to see a disagreement on the issue and side with the option that contains the greatest number of functions.

If one person is arguing that a watch is a time piece and another is arguing that it is jewlery, Tocqueville is required to observe that it is both, and explain the differences between people who use an object in a utilitarian way vs. those who use an object as a status symbol(with infinite potentiality for permutations/associated ideas, and the possibility that status symbols are utilitarian for acquiring sex, happiness, recognition fullfilment)...i.e. Fox news lampooning Obama for spicy mustard trying to force the associated idea of smugness/Grey Poupon vs. the difference in cognition of the situation if it is associated with Bertman's mustard(Jacobs Field, Cleveland Indians, baseball, american pie...or whatever the computer program decides folks who enjoyed this book also enjoyed) This also makes David Hume via the association of ideas/epistemology agree with Dr. Lawler that religion is more than just civil theology. In other words religion is whatever religion is associated with. Now Toqueville actually warns against this autonomy/subjectivity that transcends civil theology. In other words when you depart from the typical associations of ideas within a culture, you must conceal this as David Hume did at dinner parties with Adam Smith.

Ultimately I think the Darwinians will discover that only the lymbic brain is honest, that the Neocortex is capable of dishonesty, or rather capable of infinite logically possible associations between ideas.

Now it may be possible as you dig deeper into the science of the brain that you uncover truths that only exist because you have associated ideas in a particular way. Thus associated Civil religion is simply a shared function or meaning behind an act. Hegel comes out in favor of Civil Religion for the sake of being able to reach agreements, communicate and act together...but also recognizes a sphere for subjectivity(alternate associations of ideas, ideologies). If Dr. Lawler is saying that religion is more than just Civil religion he is preserving a realm for subjectivity, and this realm of subjectivity is itself impenetrable scientifically in a way that can be shared in words, because to be shared in words would require shared association of ideas or an ideology or religion that is a civil religion.

Thus Hegel says that each age has a civil religion, but that the civil religions of previous ages never die off completly.

But it is logically possible that civil religion not be associated down these pathways, subjectivity is thus preserved.

This is the same problem you face in argueing for a consequentialist ethic, which is why the true Mill/Utilitarian branches towards idealistic pantheism or Ben Franklin as I prefer to think of the best example.

In some sense the preservation of subjectivity is not a problem, it is communication in a civil theology that registers the same associations of ideas in the minds of the readers/listeners.

On one level the internet is good because we can write out long reflections, on the other hand it is horrible for communication because we cannot see or read the lymbic reactions of real people, we thus have no real sense for how they react because we already know that the printed word is the work of the neocortex and thus capable of falsehood. That is why I don't bother to edit my thinking, but by not following this convention of civil theology, I am still aware of the need to taylor my associations into words that can be understood...of course I am simulataneously aware both of the words others use that I do not understand or associate similarily and the words I use that others do not understand.

In other words it isn't suprising that Larry and Dr. Lawler disagree, but it is also not suprising that even if I agreed with one or the other I would also disagree with one or the other because I have formed different neural pathways.

Subjectivity is thus proved, religion is more than civil religion.

The interesting question is if Civil religion even exists or is just a default, lets be polite and pretend we agree. Or a pact for agreement when it counts. In other words there are Darwinian limits to how philosophical/subjective/argumentative we should be, and we can agree on this.

In this sense the Republican party is in trouble, because the internet as a mode of communication has deprived human beings of lymbic reactions/feedback. We are thus impelled towards too much honesty, and too much honesty deprives us of the illusion of shared grounds of associated meaning.

In other words all that can be said is that I know that Dr. Lawler is not suprised that Larry disagrees with him, Larry is not suprised that Dr. Lawler disagrees with him, but what we should be suprised by is the existence of someone who agrees with us for more than civil theology reasons.

I will be damned if this isn't the same problem that plagues men and women in marriages. I mean how do you answer a woman who says: You are just agreeing with me to shut me up? Well...I love you so I am willing to agree? I hear the eternal recurrance of your gripe throughout the entire history of philosophy...which is why I bought stock in Lazy-Boy and other makers of fine couches?

Actually I agree with both, Larry is right, but we have to pretend Dr. Lawler is right, and Dr. Lawler really is right in terms of how much we really care when we understand our prioritized concerns.

On some level we have to understand civil religion to be more than ideology. But this is why Clint is right when he criticizes politicians appropriating religion.

So we are playing a game that isn't a game, telling a joke that isn't funny once explained?

link fixed, thanks, John M

Does it really matter whether Tocqueville really believed in religion, or merely saw it as a useful fiction? Not from the standpoint of political philosophy, no. From the standpoint of religion or "real" philosophy, sure. It's important to keep the distinction clear.

Arnhart ends up making a rather non-useful distinction when he focuses on religious belief, or percieved religious belief. Because from a consequentalist viewpoint, Hume's idwas fit in neatly with those of Burke and Tocqueville, and not at all well those of Hayek, Or with the ideas of Hayek's intellectual father, Locke.

The religious right in general makes a big mistake when it thinks that Locke is one of their own. Rejecting Locke and embracing Hume is the more sensible position, even if somewhat counter-intutive. Because Lockes conception of human nature is ultimately incompatible with transcendant belief.

Stream of consciousness, kerouac, ginsberg, I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by reducing everything to gambling and brainless stock market lingo in one post, then reducing everything to neural networks in the next post. Do not bother to edit your thinking, be sure to mention Hegel, Mill, Tocqueville, and of course throw in a 'founder' or two. Ipseity John Lewis ipsissima verba.

Stertinius is just upset that I am Lucriferous to his Luciferous, and that by the simple act of adding an r, I give more credit to Fourcault than Foucault.

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