Sunday, July 1, 2012

THE DOGMATIC MIND, Spiritual Meditations,

Spiritual Meditations
By Tariq Ramadan
Tuesday 29 December 2009

The increasingly universal human being is becoming simplified, devoid of complex ideas and nuances

There are various ways of appropriating the universal, claiming to have a monopoly on it and then establishing a hierarchy of values, civilizations and cultures. This sometimes involves forcing it on others without further ado … ‘for their own good’, of course. In the realm of the universal, the most natural, if not the least dangerous, attitude consists in reducing the range of possibilities to one’s own point of view: my truth is everyone’s Truth, and the truth for everyone, and the values that derive from it are, a fortiori universal. In that case, order is imposed from on high and Man adopts, for himself and with confidence, the viewpoint of God or the absolute. All religions or spiritualities run the risk of being distorted in this way: because we look down the mountain from the summit, we deny the very existence of the many slopes that constitute its very essence and give it its human perspective. If we attempt to use the common faculty of reason to elaborate a universal, the phenomenon is markedly different, but the outcome is the same. As we make our way to the common good of Men, we accept, by definition, the existence of a multiplicity of viewpoints, the need for postulates, doubts and even the paradoxical contradictions of analytical reason, irrespective of whether or not we believe in the existence of a truth or meaning. We can establish the principles of immutability and change in the same way as Socrates or Aristotle, or establish a framework of reference and hierarchies of truth as we go in search of the first Reality, like al-Kindî (ninth century) and then Ibn Sîna (Avicenna: 980-1037) We can, like Descartes, determine a strictly rational method and maxims, or begin by observing the truths empiricists like Berkeley and Hume derive from what they call sense-data. We can in fact start out from a thousand philosophical postulates and theses, and construct so many truth-systems that their very number signals their relativity.

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