The secularisation thesis

Vattimo argues that the implications for philosophy of the end of history, and therefore of modernity, are profound. The postmodern experience is fragmented, whereas modernity, with its coherent narrative, is unified. Thinking within a unified, coherent narrative is oriented towards a foundation or origin. It sees history as moving forward from this origin through a logical progression. By lacking this sense of progress, postmodern experience for Vattimo thus coincides with nihilism. In searching for an anchor for the self, the postmodern person finds no centre and no certain foundations. As such, Vattimo views the notion of nihilism as the expression of the dislocation humans feel in the postmodern age. Nihilism is encapsulated by a Nietzschean phrase that Vattimo uses in his work The End of Modernity : that man ‘rolls “from the centre toward X”…because, to use a Heideggerian expression for nihilism, “there is nothing left of Being as such’’’ (Vattimo, 1988a: 20). Not only is a foundation for knowledge undesirable in the fragmentation of experience characteristic of the postmodern age, but it is also impossible. Nietzsche’s term for this experience of nihilism is the ‘death of God’. This is not meant in a metaphysical sense, but rather as the loss of the highest values of which God is the highest of all. It is impossible to find a centre, a universally-accessible metaphysical foundation amidst all the images and messages delivered in a society of mass communication. As a result, nihilism entails that there is no clear point of origin, no accessible epistemic foundation, and no universally-shared sense of where we are going. Rather than seeing this in a negative light, Vattimo sees nihilism as our ‘sole opportunity’ for emancipation from the violence of metaphysics, as will be explicated below.

Mr Flew´s arguments are not convincing to me. He questions “how matter can be managed by symbol processing?” Answer: matter is what it its; we have no access to ultimate knowledge about matter; all we can do is to imagine models (symbol processing) that explain facts as we see them. The argument that we need an infinitely intelligent mind to explain the origin of end-directed, self replicating life is no better. If we must postulate an end to the infinite argument “who or what originated what”, the choice of the big bang is better than an infinitely intelligent mind. Science had a big forward push when it´s object was changed to explain nature by way of models whose aim was simply to predict from observation, and not to understand the ultimate nature of things.

Berger believed that society is made aware of what he referred to as the nomos, or the patterns a particular society wants its members to see as objectively right and to internalize. The nomos is all the society's knowledge about how things are, and all of its values and ways of living. This is upheld through legitimacy, either giving special meaning to these behaviors or by creating a structure of knowledge that enhances the plausibility of the nomos. The existence of an eternal cosmic entity that legitimizes a nomos makes the nomos itself eternal; an individual's actions within its set society are all based on a universal and orderly pattern based on their beliefs. [2]

The secularisation thesis

the secularisation thesis


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