Sunday, August 27, 2017

The "'structural' sin of modern liberal cultures"

"the peculiarity of our age lies precisely in its ability to render invisible, as it were, the primacy it accords to relations of power, through its claim of a technology or technical expertise or institutional procedures considered 'neutral' 'in themselves,' and thereby supposedly equally open to moral or immoral use.  Our age's distinctive 'imbecilism,' in other words, consists in its ignorance of the more basicontological-theologicalsense in which a false primacy of power-relations is  hidden already in this claim of neutrality."

     David L. Schindler, "The meaning of the human in a technological age:  Homo faber, Homo sapiens, Homo amans," Communio:  international Catholic review 26, no. 1 (Spring 1999):  90-91 (80-103).
what is most objectionable about 'proceduralism' is not so much that it grants priority to (putatively empty) form over substance, but that the priority it grants to form itself already hiddenly contains (however unwittingly) the substance of mechanism.  'Empty' procedures are exactly the mechanized hence dumb procedures that Bernanos saw as the content of imbecilism.
     . . . an appeal to 'formal' institutional procedures and freedom of choice as the primary means for putting forward a genuinely creaturely notion of the self just so far already embodies (however hiddenly and unwittingly) a contrary, technological notion of the self.  Here, then, we see the peculiar difficulty in dealing with modern technological problems:  those who would offer a solution to these problems characteristically appeal to methods that imply a primacy of the (mechanistic) anthropology-ontology which, at the most basic (objective) level, generates the problems in the first place. . . .
     . . . particular attention must be given to the distinct way in which modern liberal societies conceal their (ontological-spiritual) ambiguity and indeed 'voluntarize-privatize' their sin:  that is, by claiming to have carved out 'public-institutional-technical-procedural' space empty in principle of any ('evil') ideology, leaving evil to be exhaustively identified with an always (supposedly) private abuse of freedom [(99-101)].

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