Another response to Harding’s essay by Alan-in-London. Actually, just go to his site and read responses.
Might I refer to myself as a “pragmatist?” Then, as A-in-L states below, are we Anglicans going to throw away this more pragmatic way of approaching the faith, if in fact we do approach the faith in this way?
July 27th, 2006 at 7:03 am
A very interesting essay. In the end, however, I would actually question whether the ordinary person is in thrall to scientific â€˜objectivismâ€™ and methodological â€™scepticism. Rather, â€˜pragmatismâ€™ rules the day, what works for them and helps them get along with life and other people. Whilst this might be galling to those who think they know the â€˜truthâ€™, it avoids the horrors of totalitarianism, political and religious. It is interesting that Polanyi recognised this â€˜pragmatismâ€™ (dislike for grand moral or political theories) in the English during the second world war, which helped save western civilisation and democracy for the world. How interesting too that it is Anglicanism – a form of English Christianity – that too could be viewed as theologically â€˜pragmaticâ€™. Are we to throw this away for some totalitarian vision of the â€˜truthâ€™?
My friend, Jon, one of the few people from my Chi Alpha days with whom I am still in contact, wrote a response to Harding’s essay I referenced in a post, yesterday. Even though he accidently posted the comment to my weblog and I am glad he did, it is still a good and interesting response. So, I am posting it here. Thanks, Jon. I will say this, however, that we need to remember that Harding is attempting to apply Polanyi’s ideas to the troubles within The Episcopal Church…
The essay was interesting, but ultimately disappointing; I think that Polanyi’s thought is caught in the same loops that he critiques. In short, (pardon my rudeness) philosophizing like this seems like just more mental masturbation about mental masturbation.
Polanyi’s thoughts are understandable given that he saw World War II close up… but could he have written about the “self-destruction of all the major European institutions” if he had lived to the present day and seen European prosperity, and powerful trends for increasing unity and peace, flower so beautifully?
Postmodernism is only “hyper-modernism” in the realms where the mind believes that the “right” knowledge equals truth or salvation. And that’s as much the core of the allure of Fundamentalism, as it is of atheism. The former, by the way, is continuing to grow and become ever more controlling and political in the US, despite the increasing diversity of religion, culture, and lifestyle in the country.