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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: January ::
Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0171  Wednesday, 26 January 2000.

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Jan 2000 18:35:03 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0164 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility

[2]     From:   Judith Matthews Craig <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Jan 2000 20:55:49 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0164 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Tuesday, 25 Jan 2000 18:35:03 -0800
Subject: 11.0164 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0164 Re: Marx, Religion, and Nobility

Patrick Dolan argues that

>It strikes me that the claim that human spiritual nature is continuous
>(rather than "the same," the weaker formulation is closer to what I
>believe) is either tautological, arising from one's definition of human
>or a matter of faith. In neither case do I suppose that it's at all
>"modest" to claim that all humans who have ever been or could ever be
>have the same, a similar or a continuous spiritual nature.

I don't think it's much different from claiming that materiality is
continuous.  After all, we often make critiques of Shakespeare (or at
least, his society) based on a continuum between 16th century economics
or politics and our own.  Even the most stolid economic historian
doesn't claim that the logic of economic life was created ex nihila by
Marx or Keynes.  If we follow Hegel's dialectic, in which economic
conditions are products of the spirit, then our tendency to universalize
economics would, in fact, make the spirit universal.  On the other hand,
if we follow Marx's dialectic, in which economics dictates culture, then
we'd still be universalizing, but universalizing the material rather
than the spiritual.

>It's even
>less modest when you start defining that spiritual nature as precisely
>as any religion worth the name must define it. As a Buddhist, for
>example, I don't believe that human beings possess the kind of spiritual
>nature that yearns for God. When I was a young Catholic boy at Brebeuf
>Jesuit in Indianapolis, I believed precisely that.

That's besides the point-has your nature actually changed with your
beliefs?  If it hasn't, then you're not making much of an argument for a
radical discontinuity between your old soul and your new one (nor, by
analogy, for a complete distinction between 16th century spirituality
and that of our own age).  You're only arguing that your understanding
of your spiritual nature has changed, which is a different matter.  If
Buddhism is correct, or even grounded in what is correct, then you
should be able to apply elements of Buddhism to understand, perhaps even
empathize with, non-Buddhists.  Are the Christians of The Merchant of
Venice turning money into the Dao?

I'm not sure that I would want to read an article making a sort of
structurally Buddhist (is there such a thing? I rather doubt it, but
will defer to you) claim about the characters, any more than I'd want to
read an article by Oral Roberts on how Christianity justifies
money-making, so the Christians of the play are really quite virtuous.
I would, though, be interested in an article which would argue that the
Christians in the play are rendering material things like love or
friendship, which aren't material, or at least, shouldn't be.  Such an
argument would not have to start from a specific religious standpoint,
but it would have to resist the attempts of recent criticism to
understand everything in material, economic terms.

>I think the notion that of "class struggle" is slightly more
>falsifialbe. After all, if you're careful, you can cash it out as an
>empirical claim. I happen to think that when you do so, you find
>that

 

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