That faith thing

March 14, 2007

Here’s something I’d like to write up something on, whether merely as an email reply to my friend Jerome or as something bigger:

It seems he took exception to some remarks by one Shaul Magid at a seminar of some sort at Brandeis, concerning the need to present arguments in purely secular rational terms when debating in the public forum. To Jerome it sounded like the speaker was asking people to bleach out the faith component of their personalities in order to be presentable in public, like he was reducing the public or “intersubjective” to the secular.

I definitely feel there are merits to both sides of this debate and would like to spin them out at length.

It largely depends on the purpose of the discussion. If it is for people to explain themselves to one another on a human level, then by no means should we be debarred from using the terms that seem to make sense to us. And we should all be prepared to listen to one another however strange their terms seem to us.

But if the purpose is to get some point accepted, to get someone to change their mind about an issue, then one must – as a practical matter, not because of some Law of the Land – accept reasonable limits on what one can expect to have taken seriously.

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