A transcendental critique of some assumptions of the "silencing-of-Christian-voices" lobby

  • Michael F. Heyns North-West University, South Africa
Keywords: Richard Rorty, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Religion, Direction, Christianity, Secularism, Ordinary life, Sources, Consensus, Self-creation, Cruelty

Abstract

Christian voices in public are currently (as was often the case in the past) confronted with the accusation that it has behind it a cruel ethos. A well- known spokesperson for the current attack is the American philosopher Richard Rorty. This article explores and questions his alternative paradigm of secularism. A first reconnoitring into Rorty’s paradigm: Although he demands that all public debate should take place devoid from religious sources, he cannot avoid appealing to something similar, namely to follow a radical form of ordinary life as ultimate direction for his vision for public life. A related exploration: As revelatory source Rorty reverts to the notion of consensus. Consensus, however, as is the case with religious sources, cannot be assumed to harbour undisputable knowledge. We thus have to make our peace with a pluralism that has room for as many voices as possible. A third exploration: Consensus is seen as authoritative because of the motive of human self-creation, which assumes the rejection of the (also) Christian notion of a given law for things. Rorty nevertheless reverts back to given norms in his thinking; he has to combat cruelty with assumptions that are deeply rooted in Christianity. It would thus be self-defeating to try to silence Christianity by trying to point out that a specific Christian accent is not valid because it proceeds from invalid assumptions – secular voices make use of similar kinds of assumptions.

Christelike stemme in die openbaar word tans (soos in die verlede dikwels die geval was) gekonfronteer met die beskuldiging dat dit ʼn wrede etos veronderstel. ʼn Bekende woordvoerder vir die huidige aanval is die Amerikaanse filosoof Richard Rorty. Hierdie artikel ondersoek en bevraagteken sy alternatiewe paradigma van sekularisme. ʼn Eerste verkenning van Rorty se paradigma: Alhoewel hy eis dat alle openbare debat sonder godsdienstige bronne moet plaasvind, kan hy nie vermy om iets soortgelyks te doen nie, naamlik om ʼn radikale vorm van die gewone lewe as uiteindelike rigting vir sy visie vir die openbare lewe te volg. ʼn Verwante verkenning: As openbaringsbron maak Rorty staat op die term konsensus. Konsensus, soos die geval is met religieuse bronne, kan egter nie aanvaar word as onbetwiste kennis nie. Ons moet dus vrede maak met ʼn pluralisme wat ruimte bied vir soveel stemme as moontlik. ʼn Derde verkenning: Konsensus word gesien as gesaghebbend op grond van die motief van menslike selfskepping, wat die verwerping van die (ook) Christelike idee van ʼn gegewe wet vir dinge veronderstel. Rorty beroep hom egter op gegewe norme; wreedheid moet bestry word met aannames wat diep in die Christendom gewortel is. Dit sou dus selfondermynend wees om die Christendom te probeer muilband met ʼn poging om die veronderstellings vir ʼn spesifiek Christelike aksent uit te wys as nie-geldend – sekulêre stemme maak van soortgelyke soorte veronderstellings gebruik.

Published
2019-07-25
How to Cite
Heyns, M. (2019). A transcendental critique of some assumptions of the "silencing-of-Christian-voices" lobby. Tydskrif Vir Christelike Wetenskap | Journal for Christian Scholarship, 55(1), 1-24. Retrieved from http://pubs.ufs.ac.za/index.php/tcw/article/view/452
Section
Artikels | Articles