Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Nature of Truth

the Knight and friends dance into death and eternity in Bergman's
greatest film,The Seventh Seal 

A poster on Cadre blog says that Christianity screwed up truth and spoiled the rich ancient heritage in modernity, as though Christianity is the historical newcomer and modernity has an ancient heritage,

The word 'truth' and its underlying concept has been so wantonly cheapened over the centuries by the christian experience as to render it meaningless. The only thing we can say is certain about religion, christianity being no exception, is as Prof David Eller, renowned anthropologist eruditely explains, "Religion is essentially social, in both senses of the word. It is an activity that humans do together; it is created, maintained, and perpetuated by human group behaviour. It is also social in the sense that it extends that sociality beyond the human world, to a (putative) realm of non-human agents who also interact with us socially." Any every religion exhibits the very same pathologies based on superstition and ignorance of how the mind works. Its been a tough nut to crack but thankfully science is slowly but inexorably shining a light into those shadowed recesses.So the question about the "Trooth™" of christianity as the 'one and only true religion', or any of the thousands of extinct and extant religions that make the identical claim, is simply enculturated mumbo-jumbo.[1]

He not only spells truth differently but gives it a registered trade mark; nothing could be more appropriate because the modern denuded concept of truth replacing the real idea of truth is a product of 1DM [2] and thus the simulacra  truth of the closed realm of discourse (the product of regicide everything to consuming and producing). In his mind he thinks the issue is between fact based empirical science and pretend made up unreliability Christianity, he;s a dupe. He;s duped into  that false dichotomy. The scientific model that seems so factual is not factual at all it's the streaming data. The data stream is relative and vanishing based upon  the constantly shifting sands of surface level things. The mere existence of the physical is the end of the line for the stream of  data. There can be no unseen  reality there. Of course there is one, the subatomic level but that;s just part of the inconsistency of ideology. That unseen reality plays a crucial role in scientific theory so it;s necessary but spirit doesn't so it has go.

The Christian ideal of truth is not made up.It's the concept of unseen reality that forms the basis of reality (like the subatomic level). It is unchaining,timeless, the basis of all that is. That is the description of god, In St. Augustine's view God = truth.

 Augustine, after he had experienced all the implications of ancient skepticism, gave a classical answer to the problem of the two absolutes: they coincide in the nature of truth. Veritas is presupposed in ever philosophical argument; and veritas is God. You cannot deny truth as such because you could do it only in the name of truth, thus establishing truth. And if you establish truth you affirm God. “Where I have found the truth there I have found my God, the truth itself,” Augustine says. The question of the two Ultimates is solved in such a way that the religious Ultimate is presupposed in every philosophical question, including the question of God. God is the presupposition of the question of God. This is the ontological solution of the problem of the philosophy of religion. God can never be reached if he is the object of a question and not its basis.[3]

In the ideology of scientism God must necessarily be seen as "made up"and any unseen  realm not subatomic has to be made up because if surface level of relativity is all there is then there can be no unseen. So the data stream version of truth is based upon ideology of scientism, at least the science oriented version of it is.I still see it as a creature of post human era (circa 1980) and thus akin to 'Trumpism and alt truth. So even tough fundamentalism calls itself "Christian" it has forsaken the Christian conception truth and is really just another product of the same forces that produced new atheism.

Lest there be any doubt that Paplinton is in the scientism way look at his answer to my comment:
"The overwhelming evidence suggests an explanation for why christianity [and all religions for that matter] persists is not that its narrative is true per se but that it is an epiphenomenal by-product of our need to make sense of the genetic and evolutionary drivers for human behavior in the absence of modern scientific knowledge and understanding two thousand years ago that we now are so thankfully privy to." So he has to destroy the concept of truth,make sure is no concept of a grander context in which material reality plays out amid unchanging eternal  verities,it has to be relative and made up. It's just epi-phenomenal not even a real phenomenon. It;s based upon the need to explaimn things,which is the only motive for any belief if scientism is your only mode of thought. Because it emulates  science.

His sense of history is totally distorted, The Christian concept is closer to teh Greek, having borrowed from it. The modern scientism view narrowed from the Christian. Physicist Paul Davies recognizes that modern enlightenment conceits of laws of physics are merely the residue of the God concept with the personality taken out, French philosphes just retained the powers of God with no will to motivate them.[4] The meta-narrative of scinentisms's ideology would have us believe that only Christianity is an attempt to understand and make sense but the empirical data stream of science is facts and the truth and the true explanation. In reality it is it just another meta-narrative with a different rational but still one that attempts to understand what is beyond its understanding.

Notice he has the social scientist pronounce religion just a social institution. Like that proves that's all it is. But the social sciences (founded largely by Auguste Comte) working out of the early dialectical materialist circles of  Saimt-Simon, Fuerbach, and Marx were set in the path of atheist critique from the beginning,

Classical sociological theories are theories of great scope and ambition that either were created in Europe between the early 1800s and the early 1900s or have their roots in the culture of that period. The work of such classical sociological theorists as Auguste Comte, Karl Marx, Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Georg Simmel, and Vilfredo Pareto was important in its time and played a central role in the subsequent development of sociology. Additionally, the ideas of these theorists continue to be relevant to sociological theory today, because contemporary sociologists read them. They have become classics because they have a wide range of application and deal with centrally important social issues. [5]
Many of those thinkers made a big thing of atheism. I was a sociology major,l competed the whole major, my BA is in sinology and communication. I got out of the field because its disregard of any view other than its grinding number crunching reductionist meta-narrative.


Data stream

Most modern Theologians base their view of truth upon the correspondence theory, true of Tillich in particular.

 [The idea]... that truth is a relational property involving a characteristic relation (to be specified) to some portion of reality (to be specified). This basic idea has been expressed in many ways, giving rise to an extended family of theories and, more often, theory sketches. Members of the family employ various concepts for the relevant relation (correspondence, conformity, congruence, agreement, accordance, copying, picturing, signification, representation, reference, satisfaction) and/or various concepts for the relevant portion of reality (facts, states of affairs, conditions, situations, events, objects, sequences of objects, sets, properties, tropes). The resulting multiplicity of versions and reformulations of the theory is due to a blend of substantive and terminological differences.
The correspondence theory of truth is often associated with metaphysical realism. Its traditional competitors, pragmatist, as well as coherentist, verificationist, and other epistemic theories of truth, are often associated with idealism, anti-realism, or relativism. In recent years, these traditional competitors have been virtually replaced (at least from publication-space) by deflationary theories of truth and, to a lesser extent, by the identity theory (note that these new competitors are typically notassociated  with anti-realism). [6]
So my notion of truth understands the data stream of science in terms of understanding the physical world but it cant communicate any reality beyond the surface which is empirical existence. Truth with a capital "T" i that which is and it includes  eternal necessary being that can neither cease nor fail to be.It is beyond our understanding.

I close with an explanation of my graphic, Why do I use a scene from the Seventh Seal? BTW the mast head photo is also from the same film, the knight plays chess with death, After doing so he finally looses and he and his friends dance off into death symbolic of dying of black pleasure. Art beats science it's the perfect medium to transmit religious tough into the modern world. It's "made up" but not false.It's the symbol of a truth beyond our understanding that has to be mediated through metaphor, science is made  phony when scientism pretends it can go beyond itself and explain the transcendent, that really means explicate it away.

we all play chess with death, we are all going to die,we do not know what's over the hill.But we know there is truth over the hill.


[1] Paplinton, "If Christianity were True Would You Become a Christian?" Comment section, Cadre Comments.(April 22) 2017 blog. URL"
(accessed April 26,2017)

[2] 1DM is "one-Dimensional Man" Herbert Marcue's concept marking the decline of Western civilization and the ultimate triumph of capitalistic market forces in producing a tantalized system of obedience. It was the ultimate in capitalism  induced false consciousness arresting class struggle. The workers get hooked on false needs, they don't perceive their need to rebel

see Marcuse: Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964, 12.

[3] Paul Tillich, Theology of Culture, New York: Oxford University press,1964 12-13.

[4] Paul Davies, “Physics and The Mind of God: the Templeton Prize Address,” First Things, August 1995, on line version URL: accessed Nov 25, 2016

[5] Paul Rtzer and Douglas J.Goodman, Classical Sociological Theory, New York: McGraw Hill 4th edition, 79.

[6] Marian David,, "The Correspondence Theory of Truth", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <>.
First published Fri May 10, 2002; substantive revision Thu May 28, 2015

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Jesus mytherism is a symptom of One-Dimensional Man

Image hosted by
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Historical site
of Jesus' death,burial,and Resurrection.

One dimensional man was Herbert Marcue's concept marking the decline of Western civilization and the ultimate triumph of capitalistic market forces in producing a tantalized system of obedience. It was the ultimate in capitalism  induced false consciousness arresting class struggle. The workers get hooked on false needs, they don't perceive their need to rebel.[1] In the 90s the plucky grad students from UT Dallas produced the academic journal Negations, which sought to update Marcuse into the 90s. Publisher was a J.L.Hinman, Our unique contribution to the subject, the nature of the closed realm of discourage. Everything has to be about consuming and producing,[2]

Fast froward into the current age, the age of the Foux President. Negations was before my days as a Christian apologist (although I was a Christian and had my Masters in theology). As a Christian apologist I have seen and confronted the phenomenon of the Jesus myther. The idea that Jesus was not a man in history but totally myth. For 1900 years Jesus was considered an historical fact, Then in 18th-19th century he was for a sort time seen as mythical by a handful of crack pots whose ideas where smitten. [3] Now that notion has come back to a point that 1 imn 4 Britons thinks Jesus was mythical. [4] Why now? Obviously it's part of the New atheism, but I argued recently on this blog that both fundamentalism (the hard turn right) and atheist fundamentalism (Dawkamentalism) are manifestations of the same collapse of civilization and the filling of the void with ignorance.

One might resist the notion (no pun) that there could be a connection, But let;s consider it. First, we know that the vast majority of historians still believe that Jesus lived as a man in history.

Seldom have recent scholars questioned or denied the historical existence of Jesus.  Of the very few who have done so, G. A. Wells is probably the best known.  In this article, I will outline and then respond to some of his major tenets.Before turning to this topic, I will first note that the vast majority of scholars, both conservative and liberal alike, generally disdain radical theses that question the very existence of Jesus.  For example, theologian Rudolf Bultmann asserted, "By no means are we at the mercy of those who doubt or deny that Jesus ever lived." [i]Historian Michael Grant termed the hypothesis that Jesus never lived an "extreme view."  He charges that it transgresses the basics of historiography: "if we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus' existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned."  Grant summarizes, after referring to Wells as an example: "modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory."  These positions have been "annihilated" by the best scholars because the critics "have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary." [ii] [5]
He goes on to say a publisher wanted him to remove a chapter on Wells [famous advocate ofJesu myth theory]  because it was devoid of "serious sophistical content," He quotes Well's assaying: "nearly all commentators who mention the matter at all, [set] aside doubts about Jesus' historicity as ridiculous." [iii]  [6] Even the famous Wells agrees with him that most historians don't accept it, The mythers dismiss that fact by saying they are biased, it's a prejudice. That may well be but the point is it's presumed true by the people who wrote history and the mythers have no positive argument, All of their arguments basically amount to the absence of direct proof rather than any real evidence that Jesus did not exist, That is not enough, 

One fact that puts the British belief into perspective is that the same people in Briton who doubt Jesus' existence also doubt the existence of Winston  Chrichhill. That's right he was Prime Minister within living memory and yet they doubt he existed! Not only him but King Richard he Lionheart and Florence Nightingale. These are people/whose existence is well documented in history,[7] While there may be actual serious thinkers taunting the Jesus myth theory the real popularity seems to be a symptom of ignorance of the times. Likewise these mythers call for historical proof and yet they are not willing to accept the word of historians, They assert that historians believe in Jesus' historicity as the result of bullying from academic figures and tradition,so they are attempting to pschologize a whole academic disciplined they know nothing about and to use their own standards to critique it by,To me that says major crass ignorance.

There is a larger issue of which all of this is just symptom,That is the battered concept of truth and how truth itself has fared. The alt fact syndrome we saw in  the election is just the latest turn in the death of truth. One example is revealed in the use of the encyclopedia. I argue that all standard reference works include Jesus' historicity as a fact, The mythers just roar with   laughter at the idea that one would quote an encyclopedia. I realize that the encyclopedia is not a sophisticated source. I  would never relay on that in a paper for graduate school. Yet it's enough to pose the basic presumption of Jesus' existence until such a time as a myther has an actual positive bit of evidence which they do not have now, They can't understand this concept,

Then in looking for evidence that says encyclopedia is a valid reference work I find quotes that castigate the encyclopedia in favor of Wiki. Witness Racel S. Wexelbaum's 'study"at St. cloud State University. "Findings – Due to their static nature, traditionally published encyclopedias are not always accurate, objective information resources. Intentions of editors and authors also come into question. A researcher may find more value in using encyclopedias as historical documents rather than resources for quick facts."

The word “encyclopedia” comes from a corruption of the Greek phrase enkyklios paideia which literally translates as “complete instruction” or “complete knowledge”. As human knowledge increases and evolves, capturing it between two covers becomes impossible. With advances in communication, travel, and scientific research, expecting encyclopedia entries to persist as authoritative fact becomes laughable. The traditional encyclopedia survives as a reference resource due to criticism of open source Wikipedia by historians and academic librarians. While the structure of Wikipedia allows for infinite updates to our expanding, shifting knowledge base, the traditional encyclopedia has value as a historical document. Any explanation of phenomena bound between two covers (or rendered immutable by copyright and license agreement) provides a snapshot of what we had once perceived as truth [8]
It seems that most of the reasons She gives for the death of encyclopedias the static nature of print, She says traditional works don't include the view point of  LGBT community ,I have a solution, go into a new printing. But no, truth itself is reduced to news feed. The stream of up to the minute data replaces the concept of timeless truth. Lest some argue appeal to authority this is not the informal fallacy of appeal to improper or necessary authority It just betrays ignorance of science and ignorance of epistemology that people don''t;know this. This is quite different Authority proper is always a basis for knowledge even in science.[9] Every academic I know complains about Wikipedia being used by their students as authoritative source when it can be changed overnight by any hacktivist. But Wexelbaum makes that into one of the selling point of Wiki over encyclopedia. Because truth changes in an instant. Truth is no longer a timeless reality but now a ever changing news feed,

The knowledge standard to which the mythers appeal is not one used by historians but is based upon Wikipedia or upon the instant knowledge of streaming data. There's no instant feed Jesus is not on the 6:00 news, therefore he can;t be historical. This ruthless model of knowledge fits the closed realm of discourage in one-dimensional society (1DM) because no truth can be allowed to penetrate the closed realm that centers around consuming and producing,That is all there is  and nothing else can stand as truth.


[1] Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. Boston: Beacon Press, 1964, 12.

[2] J.L.Hinman, "Manifesto," Negations: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Social Criticism. Premier issue (winter, 1996). (accessed 4/23/17) URL:

[3] Albert Schweitzher, chapter 11 "Bruno Bauer," Question of the Historical Jesus, London:A&C Black Ltd. trans w. Montgomery, First English Edition 1910.First German Edition "Von Reimarus zu Wrede," 1906.159 On line copy on Early Christian Writings, Peter Kirby,
accessed 11/12/13
Table of contents for Online copy:


[4] BBC News, "Jesus not a Person Many Believe," (31 Oct) 2015 URL: (accessed 4/23/17)

[5] Gary R. Habermas, "A Summary Critique Questioning the Existence of Jesus,"   
Originally published in the Christian Research Journal / vol. 22, no. 3, 2000.Habermas cots two sources:
[i].  "The Story of the Synoptic Gospels," Form Criticism, trans. Frederick Grant (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1962), 60.
[ii].  Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels (New York: Macmillan, 1977), 199-200.

[6] Ibid. Habermas cites:
[iii].  Did Jesus Exist?, Revised edition (London: Pemberton, 1978, 1986), 213 (abbreviated in text as DJE).

[7] Telegraph (feb 24,) 2008

[8] Racel S. Wexelbaum, Are Encyclopedias Dead? Evaluating the Usefulness of The Traditional  Reference Work. St. Cloud State University, Paper 26, 2012
(accessed 4/24/17)

archival address:
Wexelbaum, Rachel S., "Are Encyclopedias Dead? Evaluating the Usefulness of a Traditional Reference Resource" (2012). Library Faculty Publications. Paper 26.

[9] Steven Shapin, A Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in Seventeenth Century England
Chicago: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (November 15, 1995.

 (accessed 4/23/17)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Whatever Happened to The Trump/Putin Connection?

Remember the fear that Trump was workings for Putin? that has sort of been lost in the Shuffle,Perhaps Trump's planned Saturday night wrestling match with Putin on National Smack down drew our attention away. Some might think hostility over the attack on Assuad's base proves Trump is not Pautin's Pawn? It is unrealistic to think Trump is a real agent for Moscow. I never actually thought that. I did think he may have been manipulated into  helping them as the recipient of their messing with the election without having to do anything for them. That would still make him beholden to them. All of the possibilities are still poem. They are still being investigated nothing has really been taken off the docket.

A Russian agent really was trying to recruit an American business man Carter Page. That we for a fact. That same Carter page became foreign policy advisory to Trump. That is also a fact.[1]
Somehow the Russian attempts gained notice by the FBI they began watching Page with the supposition that he might be an agent:
From the Russia trip of the once-obscure Mr. Page grew a wide-ranging investigation, now accompanied by two congressional inquiries, that has cast a shadow over the early months of the Trump administration. At a House Intelligence Committee hearing last month, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, took the unusual step of publicly acknowledging the investigation of Russian interference in the election, which he said included possible links between Russia and Trump associates.[2]
Even at that point Trump's then campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was already under criminal investigation for reconfigure money from pro Russian group supporting Putin in Ukraine. That would have helped Trump's campaign there's a connection, Wili leaks had already started postimng emials obtained by Russian intelligence from Democratic party, That clearly helped trump win, These are facts, [3]

It's odd that the Russians sought to help Trump, you would think they would dread having the conservative in office, The KG B actually tired to sway the election against Reagan in 1982 (the 1984 election) [4] Putin blames the US for it's long string of anti-communist electiopm tamperimng and backimg of converter metabolites,some in Soviet block, and the Arab Spring and  lames Sec of state Clinton for anti-Putin machinations   why would he not see the more conservative Trump as moreof the same? Could there be a connection in Trump's pick for secretary of state, (Tillerson) a business contact who had been awarded honors by Putin? The New Yorker's article is a must read fopr understanding the Russia connection. [5]

In seeking to understand where we are so far in discovery we cam;t overlook the Washington post's article. [6]That article lays it all out in vast panorama with charts shoeing the huge complex collusion of Team Trump imn Russian connections,  Just a very small sample: The article goes on with a vast layout listing the players on the team and their involvement. The Russian connection is already as complex as Watergate.

Major Player:

Ret. Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn 
Former national security adviser and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn resigned as the NSC head after The Washington Post reported that he misled Vice President Mike Pence and others on the true nature of his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, saying he had not privately discussed U.S. sanctions.
2013 | Flynn meets Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on a trip to Moscow. Read more 
Dec. 10, 2015 | Flynn is paid more than $45,000 by Russian-government-backed RT for his participation in a Moscow panel honoring the news agency. At a related gala, he sat at the table of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Also in 2015, he was paid more than $22,000 by Russia-related entities for two speeches in Washington. Read more 
Before Nov. 8, 2016 | Flynn contacts Kislyak, according to Post reporting. It's not clear how often they communicated or what was discussed. Read more 
December 2016 | Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, Flynn and Kislyak meet at Trump Tower for 20 minutes. This was just before the Obama administration sanctioned Russia for interfering in the 2016 election. Read more 
Dec. 29, 2016 | Flynn places five phone calls to Kislyak, who was being monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies. The same day, President Obama announces the sanctions. Putin chooses not to retaliate. Read more 
Jan. 12, 2017 | Post columnist David Ignatius reveals that conversations took place between Flynn and Kislyak. On Jan. 15, Vice President Mike Pence says on "Face the Nation" that Flynn had assured him that he and Kislyak did not discuss sanctions. Read more 
Jan. 24, 2017 | Flynn tells FBI interviewers that he did not discuss sanctions with Kislyak, contradicting transcripts from intelligence officials who monitored the calls. Two days later, acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates tells the White House counsel that Flynn had discussed sanctions and could be vulnerable to blackmail by Russia. Trump fired Yates Jan. 30 for refusing to enforce his travel ban. Read more 
Feb. 8, 2017 | Flynn tells a Post reporter that he did not discuss sanctions with Kislyak. The next day, he waffles; a spokesman says Flynn "couldn't be certain that the topic never came up." Also that day, Pence learns from a Post story that the White House knew in January that Flynn and Kislyak had discussed sanctions. Read more 
Feb. 13, 2017 | Flynn is fired after news reports revealed that he misled Pence. Read more 
March 7, 2017 | Flynn files paperwork to register as a foreign agent because of lobbying work potentially benefitting Turkey. Days later it is revealed that his lawyers twice alerted the White House counsel during the transition that Flynn may need to register, meaning the nation's top national security voice was also being paid to represent the interests of another country. Read more 
March 28, 2017 | The Post reports that the Trump administration unsuccessfully tried to block Yates from testifying in a House Intelligence Committee hearing after her lawyer told the Justice Department that her testimony would probably contradict statements by White House officials. Committee chair and former Trump adviser Devin Nunes canceled the hearing. Read more 

The investigation is on going we are only just begriming to see the outlines of the real issues, There;s clearly enough here to demand of our congressmen that we get to the bottom,


[1]Scott Shane.Mark Mazzetti, and Adam Goldman, "Trump adviser's Visit to Moscow Got FBI's Attentions," New York Times (April 19, 2017) on line version URL:

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid.

[4] Even Osnos, et al, "Trump. Putin, and The New Cold War." The New Yorker, (March 6. 2017)
(accessed April 20/17)

[5] Ibid.

[6]  Bonnie Berkowotz, Denise Lu, and Julie Vitoklvkaya, "Here is what we know so far about team Trump's ties to Russian Interests," Washington Post (March 31, 2017)
(accessed April 20/17)

[7] Ibid.

Updated April 17, 2017

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Albert Schweitzer and the Death of Civilization (1 of 3) (with current political import)

Albert Schweitzer

I find that 1 in 4 Briticisms doesn't believe Churchill existed. I think what I said bout the death civilization ears repeating.*I used MLA footnotes (written kn Graduate school) so references to Schweitzer's works are in parenthetical inserts and other informational such and other sources and commentary is in superscription.

This is probably the best article I ever wrote. It was published under the name J.L. Hinman (my name) and published in Negations, Winter of 1998. That was the academic journal that I published. It was peer reviewed. I know it's long, but hey this is my real work here. This is my academic career. In a couple of days we will get back to God stuff. Although I believe this is theological. . It has very important application to the current political situation.

... The ethical ideas on which civilization rests have been wandering about the world, poverty stricken and homeless. No theory of the universe has been advanced which can give them a solid foundation...--Albert Schweitzer

Before there was Mother Teresa, there was Albert Schweitzer. At the time of his death in 1965, he was the household symbol of the best sacrificial instincts in humanity, a man who gave all he had to serve among the poorest of the poor. Unlike Mother Teresa, however, Schweitzer gave up not one, but four brilliant careers to became a doctor in equatorial Africa. Today he is chiefly known for his medical mission, and secondly as the theologian who shaped our modern view of early Christian eschatology.[1] Yet, in addition to being a theologian, minister, and concert organist, Schweitzer was also a philosopher. Yet today, his philosophy has been forgotten. When he went to Africa, it became easy to tuck him away as a convenient symbol of humanitarian sacrifice, and to ignore the bothersome notions which had shocked thinkers of his day: Schweitzer argued (as early as 1900), that civilization was already dead, and that we live in a barbarous society. In so arguing, he anticipated much of Marcuse's One-Dimensional Man, and C. Wright Mill's notion of the "cheerful robot," as well as the decline which now besets our society. In 1923 he published, The Philosophy of Civilization2 While many of Schweitzer's ideas are quaint, seemingly outmoded, even naive, they contain a profound nature. In an age when "civilization" is either vilified as hierarchical, exploitive and environmentally unsound, or it is reduced to a sociological examination of cities, it may help to know that, at least according to Schweitzer, we are beating the wrong dead horse. Schweitzer argues that the concept of civilization has been forgotten, and the material infrastructure which accompanied it historically has been put over as the thing itself.

Schweitzer was born on January 14th, 1875 at Kayserberg in Upper Alsace, his father was a minister from a long line of ministers, and he was the older cousin of Jean-Paul Sartre. He grew up in Gunsbach in the Muster valley. In October of 1893 the young Albert became a student at Strasbourg University. He attended the lectures of Heinrich Julius Holtzman (New Testament), Wilhelm Windelband, and Theobald Ziegler (history of Philosophy), all of whom became his academic advisers and close personal friends.3 In July 1899 he took his doctorate, and shortly after that he began a position on the theological faculty at Strousbourg, and another position as an assistant minister at a small church near by. He began work on his best known book, Quest of the Historical Jesus4 in 1901, it was published in 1906. By that time, he had already declared his intention to become a jungle doctor (which he announced to family and friends in October of the previous year). The decision was a bombshell for all who knew him, (Ziegler burst into tears) and everyone tried to discourage the idea. Schweitzer himself said that the decision was based on a natural realization one morning as he woke up, he had been allowed a happiness and success that the vast majority of people never know, and now it was time to do something concrete for the happiness of others.5 He began work as a medical student in 1905, while continuing to do some of his greatest theological scholarship, including a revision of the Quest. Some where along the way he also found time to write a book on Bach, and a book on Organ building. He continued his intellectual work and music throughout his life, writing The Philosophy of Civilization while a jungle doctor in Africa (completing the work in 1923).

The Philosophy is divided into two parts, The Decay and Restoration of Civilization (also published as a single volume by Unwin books) and Civilization and Ethics. In part I, Schweitzer argues that we live in a barbarous society because the concept of civilization has been forgotten. The notion has become confused with the trappings of the material infrastructure of civilization; the "modern" industrialized world of technological production. But, civilization is not merely in-door plumbing, telephones, and sky scrappers, it is a notion built on ethical assumptions. In part II, Civilization and Ethics, Schweitzer deals with a long and detailed analysis of the failure of ethical thinking which led to the decline of civilization. Schweitzer defines Civilization as "the sum-total of progress made by `mankind' in every sphere of action and from every point of view, in so far as this progress is serviceable for the spiritual perfecting of the individual. It's essential the ethical perfecting of the individual and the community" (translation notes, 69). This definition, is fraught with the baggage of a terminology long outdated, and laced with the metaphysical assumptions of an age which we are coming no longer to understand. Nevertheless, it encodes the philosophical givens of Schweitzer's day ("progress," "individual," "spiritual"); they are anathema in our time. Rather than try and unpack these definitions at this point, because that would require unraveling an entire world view, it would be better to use them operationally at the moment, and to explain Schweitzer's use of them in the context of his notion of civilization.

For Schweitzer, civilization consists in the efforts of individuals, as part of the mass, to overcome the struggle for existence and to establish favorable conditions for living. But, "favorable conditions for living" involve more than food and housing, but also the situations in which the artistic and intellectual ("spiritual") freedom of the individual can flourish as well.6 The struggle is twofold: to overcome the limitations imposed by nature which make living burdensome (physical survival), and that of conflicts between people. This latter suggests the necessity of ethical content, it also implies something more than mere survival, since humans seem to be constituted such that mere survival is not enough. We also create culture, and when culture reaches a level such that the intellectual and artistic is able to flourish, and the ethical level obtains a degree of moral excellence, we are civilized (Decay, 41). Schweitzer's notion of "progress" was not Hegelian, not based on some inevitable telos, but based upon a more practice desire to solve problems. In the late 19th century, however, according to Schweitzer, the grand metaphysical systems of the day collapsed, and in so doing, took the ethical assumptions they had co-opted with them. Having stripped the "spiritual" dimension from the equation, all that remained was a physical definition of civilization; civilization came to be seen as overcoming nature and establishing highly organized and viable living conditions in a purely physical sense. In other words, the totality of the twofold struggle is reduced to its material components alone, and the concept of civilization is limited purely to its material dimension.

Schweitzer saw the results of the loss of civilization taking shape in concrete interactions between society and the material conditions imposed by economic forces. "[hindrances to civilization] are to be found in the field of spiritual as well as economic activity, and depend above all on the interaction between the two" (9). Civilization is the result of people thinking out the ideals of progress and fitting them to the concrete situation of their lives (Ibid.). Civilization, therefore, depends upon freedom of thought and action. "Material and spiritual freedom are closely bound up with one another. Civilization presupposes free men [and presumably women] for only by free...[individuals] can it be thought out and brought into realization. But today both freedom and the capacity for thought have been diminished" (10). Just as C. Wright Mills and Herbert Marcuse7 would argue four and five decades latter, Schweitzer saw an inverse correlation between freedom and capacity for thought on the one hand, and the rise of material abundance and prosperity on the other (Ibid.). The struggle for abundance, the imposition of material conditions for survival in an industrialized society, and ideas of self-interest which result from this way of life, subsume the ideals of civilization, and the energy and time it takes to ponder them.

In much of his analysis Schweitzer sketches out a sense of modern life which anticipates Marcuse's One-Dimensional Man. In the opening lines of that work, Marcuse speaks of "a smooth, easy, reasonable democratic unfreedom...,"8 so Schweitzer observers, "...through revolutions in the conditions of life...[humans] become in ever greater numbers, unfree instead of free" (87). He sketches an historical development of capitalism with almost Marxian overtones.

The type of man who once cultivated his own bit of land becomes a worker who tends a machine in a factory; manual workers and independent tradespeople become employees. They lose the elementary freedom of the man who lives in his own house and finds himself in immediate connection with Mother Earth. Further, they no longer have the extensive and unbroken consciousness of responsibility of those who live by their own independent labor. The conditions of their existence are therefore unnatural. They no longer carry on the struggle for existence in comparatively normal relations in which each one can by his own ability make good his position whether against Nature or against the competition of his fellows, but they see themselves compelled to combine together and create a force which can exert better living conditions (87-88).

Perhaps Schweitzer lacked Marx's faith in the nature of class struggle, but he understood that the industrial age, in so far as it had crated a streamlined version of class antagonisms, and moved workers from their own sphere of life and work, into the factory or the office as cogs in the machine. As Marx stated, "The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society... all that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned."9

Moreover, the pace and tension of this way of life, a life that counterfeits civilization in the techniques which have built the material apparatus of a once civilized society, place such demands upon our mental energy and time that the ideal of civilization, and the practices of freedom are forgotten. In time we come to accept the material abundance and the rigors of maintaining the infrastructure as a replacement for the thing itself. "Overwork, physical or mental or both is our lot. We can no longer find time to collect and order our thoughts. Our spiritual dependence increases at the same rate as our material dependence" (88). He speaks of the growing power of the state, of the increase in political organization, and economic forces which strangle the individual and necessitate conformity (Ibid.). While Marx sees class struggle as an inevitable result of capitalistic ownership, Schweitzer sees it as a threat to peace, a problem necessitated by growing industrialization and the greed of ownership. Where Marx saw class struggle as a logical social outcome, Schweitzer saw it as a necessary although problematic and dangerous reaction to a situation which had no other solution, yet he places the blame squarely on the shoulders of the capitalists: " was machinery and world commerce which brought about the war (WWI) "(Ibid.). But in the final analysis, he is arguing that all of these ills, class oppression, war, and economic deprivation, are the result of losing the concept of civilization, and of mistaking the historically bound material conditions which accompanied it for the thing itself.

Schweitzer argues that in so far as workers are separated from the total production process, the individual becomes a mere "cog in the Machine." This holds true for office work as well as factory work. The office worker shuffling papers (or pounding the key board) is also left out of the over all production process, so that there is no sense of craftsmanship, no sense of the overall purpose. A mentality is cultivated in which the "bottom line" is all that matters. The reason for producing the product in the first place is lost. Profit margins become the reason for all our endeavors. As people become their jobs, plan careers around orbitrating production problems and maintaining cost effectiveness, etc. the notion grows gradually that the commodified product is the standard model against which all of life may be judged. "Excellence" in life becomes greater efficiency in production.

The resulting affects upon popular culture transform leisure time and entertainment into even greater anti-civilizing forces. Predicting the sound-bite and the "dumbing down" that we now see all around us, he comments on the simplification of newspapers compared with those of the nineteenth century, the result of time constraints on readers (12). He speaks of how the worker must spend leisure hours in vein entertainment since his/her energies have been drained to the point that any serious contemplation is futile "To spend the time left to him for leisure in self-cultivation, or in serious...[conversation] or with books, requires a mental collectedness and self-control which he finds difficult" (11). Schweitzer's words reflect an interest in books as a part of mass culture which is unknown today. Of course, they didn't have as many ways to waste their time in 1923, and so they tended to read more. But, the nature of an ever expanding entertainment and leisure market have meant a totally different way of life, one in which it is natural to expend energies on fruitless and pointless entertainments, and attempts at serious conversation are often a serious social transgression.

As civilization is lost conceptually, it is replaced conceptually by a shift to the organizational structure of its own physical infrastructure. Organizational structure comes to be seen as civilization itself, and organizational strategies come to replace ideals. Learning and thinking become specialized and segmented(16). On this point he anticipates C. Wright Mills argument that the rise of organizational bureaucracy limits freedom. As the arms of bureaucracy stretch forth, as workers lose the global vision of their activities, the goals and ends of their lives, they come to rationalize their lot in the overall scheme of things. The opportunity to reason about life is replaced with rationalization, no one can follow the big picture. The system takes on a life of its own, even the leaders, "like Tolstoy's generals, only pretend to know what's going on." (Mills, op. cit.). Specialization of knowledge and scientific reductionism are the result of the decay of our concepts of civilization. "Most clearly perhaps in the pursuit of science, we can recognize the spiritual danger with which specialization threatens not only individuals, but the spiritual life of the is carried on now by teachers who have not a wide enough outlook to make their scholars understand the interconnection of the individual sciences, and to give them a mental horizon as wide as it should be" (13).

In the latter part of the 20th century, these trends in education and reductionist thinking have reached critical mass, they have created a situation in which the loss of a concept of civilization creates further erosion of civilizing forces. A hefty portion of the work of professors now consists in trying to fill in gaps left by the educational system. Still more alarming, however, is the realization that the educational system itself is being dismantled and replaced with a corporate training system. A study by the National Alumni Forum found that two thirds of the colleges and Universities answering the survey do not require English majors to learn the Western literary canon. The emphasis has been shifted from Homer and Dante to boxing stories, gangster films, and soap operas. Only 23 of 67 schools responding required Shakespeare.10 It is not that society will fall apart because people don't read Shakespeare, but, the perpetuation of civilization as a concept requires at least passing familiarity with the greatness of the past. When Graduate students can spout off reams of regurgitation about Derrida or Lyotard, but have never heard of Dante, there might just be an indication that something is wrong. As it will be argued further down, civilization is passed on through the tradition of letters. Knowing the tradition as a continuous chain of literary and philosophical links is part of the process of maintaining it (and losing the links, Schweitzer argues, is part of the problem). While many of the respondents site student choice as the main reason for dropping requirements of canonical writers, others refer to the trendy ideologies of the day (Ibid.). The canon is hierarchical, we must not privilege one writer over another. Of course the effect is that boxing stories are privileged over Faulkner or Joyce.

More and more, universities are becoming the servants of corporate finance. Originally, state universities were conceived as a way for working class kids to get a college education. As the consequences of Reagan's tax revolt continue to work their magic, however, fewer tax payers are willing to foot the bill. Education is no longer viewed as a means of passing on a repository of knowledge in culture, but merely a means of job training. State Universities are more often forced to seek private funding, which ties them to corporate needs and expectations. The results of this trend are devastating for academic freedom. "Knowledge that was free, open and for the benefit of society is now proprietary, confidential and for the benefit of business. Educators who once jealously guarded their autonomy now negotiate curriculum planning with corporate sponsors... [emphasis mine] ...Professors who once taught are now on company payrolls churning out marketable research in the campus lab, while universities pay the cut-rate fee for replacement teaching assistants... University presidents, once the intellectual leaders of their institutions, are now accomplished bagmen."11

Moreover, the avenues of learning which once offered the working class a means of entry into the rarefied world of letters, are being dismantled. As a case in point, the State University of New York, (SUNY) once offered affordable education to the poor, and many students who began in the humblest of circumstances wound up getting Ph. D's. But, SUNY is being taken apart, it's funding curtailed, and it's future tied to corporate leadership. Mayor Rudy Giuliani has called for an end to open admissions at CUNY, (City University of New York) which is also being overhauled. "In recent months, SUNY and CUNY have come under a barrage of attacks from anti-tax activists and right-wing think tanks and from the Republican politicians whose budget-cutting frenzies they feed..."12 Solomon documents the involvement of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation (a mega funder of right-wing think tanks) Scaife Family Foundations, the Manhattan Institute, and many others. The major reason for "reform" cited by the Mayor, is that the system is a failure--remedial courses, only 9% of the students graduate in four years (which is true of most baccalaureate graduates now days, as the Center for Educational Statistics shows (Ibid. 6) and only 1% from the cities community colleges in two years. The content of courses is also sited, the emphasis upon popular culture rather than the classics, but the "reformers" are not replacing these remedial courses with Dante and Milton. They infuse corporate need into University life, and orient the program along the lines of a job training program. "They speak of the degrees they grant as `products' and their students as `customers' and insist upon `productivity measures' that are more appropriate to widget manufacturing than to broadening students' knowledge and critical faculties."13

While academics try to justify abandonment of the Western tradition of letters with the most ideologically trendy line, the economic realities lurking behind the problem speak for themselves. The American publishing industry is going under, with sales of adult hardcover trade books slipping 7% in one year (1996-1997). The sale of Randomhouse to the German company Bertelsmann is a prime example. It is not that publishers are selling so few books that they can't stay in business, rather, the expectations of booksellers are not being met. Publishing has changed profoundly over the past 30 years. "Today's books are more like grocery products than works of literature. Publishers scrutinize an author's sales history and before buying a new title they consult with the marketing and sales departments about the books chances."14 As the concept of civilization collapses, art and literature are reduced to commodities. A rash of corporate takeovers in the `80s and early `90s transformed the publishing industry. "Under corporate ownership, the cultural appeal of books began to give way increasingly to bottom line considerations. Media czars, expecting books to yield the same 15%-20% profits as their other current businesses..." (Ibid.). Thus, publishers try to compete with other forms of media by holding publishing hostage to market research. While there is a valid question of causality involved here--is the failure to teach and respect the canon the cause or the result of this cultural drift away from serious reading?--it is not hard to see that Universities and other institutions of "higher learning" are doing precious little to prevent the consequences. Not only are the very people who should be furthering the tradition, seeking the theoretical means to justify its demise, but the University itself is imperiled.

One might add to the litany the state of the arts. While the explosion in small presses has brought with it an abundance of very prosaic poetry and a flourishing small press movement, the situation for artistic institutions is very different. "Every major cultural institution, from the metropolitan Museum of Art to the New York Public Library to Lincoln Center would collapse immediately if it were at the mercy of market a handful of entertainment conglomerates have become the main suppliers of cultural products, and even popular arts, it is argued, have suffered under their watch."15 "High culture," is an acquired taste. Society is no longer very interested in passing on that taste, thus, the market cannot support it. As we grow more dependent upon market forces, the emptiness of the culture begins to feed upon itself. The educational system must work twice as hard, it must battle both the tax revolt, and the culture itself; a culture which has been taught to despise learning and thinking. Without the concept of civilization, all aspects of life are reduced to commodities, and the commodification becomes the only valid pursuit, dominating all taste, all vision, and all aspirations.

The common link in each of these problems is between the loss of civilizing influences and their affects upon society. Each new problem which emerges becomes in turn a new source of the loss of civilization. Popular culture is a good example. As the culture itself takes on a reduced aspect in its "spiritual" milieu, (capacity for free thought and artistic expression), the resulting popular culture creates mazeways through which the next generation grows up even more separated from the ideals and pursuit of civilized life. The next generation grows up thinking of civilization as freeways and flush toilets, with no concept that it could be an ideal of behavior or of individual thought, and with no concept that spare time might be a source of intellectual renewal, rather than the chance to play. As C. Wright Mills remarked, alienated from work, the average person is alienated from leisure.16 The generation after that grows up thinking of civilization as one of those old fashioned hierarchical things we were smart to get rid of, and the generation after that one will grow up never knowing the term existed. The specialization of knowledge is an even better example. While specialization itself is necessitated by technological advancement, the disconnected nature of knowledge results from the loss of a global view. We do not have "learning," we merely have "information," because the ideals of having a civilization are missing. Students are not taught to have an inter-related world view, but to cram bits of knowledge into their heads so that they might find a job. The University ceases to be a "little universe," but becomes a honeycomb of specialized interests, and increasingly the pet project of industry. In turn, knowledge becomes even more specialized under the demands of meeting the burden of the already overly specialized fields. Thus, the loss of civilization becomes a "snowball" effect. Ultimately, however, Schweitzer traces the original core of the snowball back to the failure of 19th century philosophy.

part 2

A. Simpsom, "Churchill Never Existed" Telegraph ( Feb 2008) URL

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1 He shaped the modern view of the historical Jesus. In the 19th century Christ was seen as a 18th century rational man, just a bright fellow who understood reason in way not unlike the way in which Voltaire or Kant understood it. Schweitzer realized that Jesus of Nazareth was rooted in a 1st century Palestinian context, and as such, saw his own mission as eschatological; it was the end of times, the Kingdom of God would soon manifest on earth, God would call the Romans to account for their oppression of the Jews, and the Jews to account for their faith, or lack thereof. In short, Schweitzer placed Christ in the milieu of an essene or zealot, whose mission was quasi-political, and based on the late hour in human history. This is still the basic historical view which dominates theology in the liberal protestant tradition, and which informs liberation theology. See In Quest of the Historical Jesus.
2 Albert Schweitzer, The Philosophy of Civilization. Translated C.T. Campion, Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books. 1980 (originally 1923). The work is divided into two sections, the "Decay and Restoration of Civilization," and "Ethics and Civilization." Unwin has published the first section as an independent volume entitled The Decay and Restoration of Civilization. Because this is the main text used in this paper I am using parenthetical notes for that source, and documenting other sources as textual end notes.
3 Holtzmann was famous for the "Marcian hypothesis," the theory that the Gospel of Mark was written first, and that the others follow its basic plan and outline. This theory has become the standard outlook in Biblical scholarship, and is considered such a basic aspect of knowledge that the few scholars who still dare to challenge it are outside the mainstream view. Schweitzer's schooling was disrupted for a brief bought of military service. He took his Greek New Testament with him on maneuvers, and managed to do such valuable work that he made a major contribution to the synoptic problem, and earned the respect of Holtzmann, even though it contradicted part of his own theory. For all biographical information, see Albert Schweitzer, Out of My Life and Thought. New York: Mentor Books, originally published by Henry Holt and co. no copy right date given, the Post Script dates from 1932 and 1947.
4 Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus: A Critical Study of Its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede. New York: MacMillan, originally 1906, MacMillan paperbacks 1961, eighth printing, 1973.
5 Albert Schweitzer, Out of My LIfe and Thought. New York: Mentor Books, no date given, 69.
6 The word "spirit" is, of course, the German word giest--which is usually translated as "mind." But it can mean more than mind. Paul Tillich says that it refers to the total "dynamism of the individual." (see The History of Christian Thought). It is artistic, intellectual, and ethical sensibilities, and Schweitzer uses the term in all of these senses.
7 C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination.
8 find
9 Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto. New York: International Publishers, 1948, 12.
10 Fewer U.S. Colleges Make English Majors Study Leading Writers," The Dallas Morning News, Sunday, Jan. 5., 1997, 6A.
It is not my wish to open this can of worms in this paper. The doctoral program in which I have been ensconced these past several years is one which prides itself on the trendy view point of multiple readings and alternate canons, so I am well aware of this kind of thinking. My main point is just that it is great to let new works into the canon, let's let everything in that we can, and it is fine to understand the notion of multiple readings, I don't have the only true reading. But, without an understanding of what came before, these concepts lose all meaning (and they will eventually lose their avant guard value). Moreover, we should not forget what came before, preserve the greatness of the past, while finding new greatness.
11 John Harris, "Universities for Sale," This Magazine (Sept.) 1991.
12 "Enemies of Public Education," Alisa Solomon with Deirdre Hussey, Village Voice Education Supplement, April 21, 1998, 2.
13 Ibid. 4.
14 "The Book on Bertlesmann," by Stacy Perman, with Andrea Sachs and Peggy Salz-Trautmann. Time, April 6, 1998, 54-56.
15 Edward Rothstein, "Nays and Ayes for Capitalism as Purveyor of Culture," New York Times, Monday, April 27, 1998,
16 C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination.