Mormon Inquiry

Mormon Inquiry

Doctrine and politics

Here’s a short quote from Richard Rorty’s essay “Truth without Correspondence to Reality” for those who feel there is a tight link between politics and doctrine. Rorty uses the term “philosophy,” but I think the same argument holds true for philosophy, theology, or doctrine.

It is unfortunate, I think, that many people hope for a tighter link between philosophy and politics than there is or can be. In particular, people on the left keep hoping for a philosophical view which cannot be used by the political right, one which will lend itself only to good causes. But there never will be such a view; any philosophical view is a tool which can be used by many different hands.

Comments read comments(5)
post a comment
Nate W.

posted January 4, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Rorty is absolutely right. I feel that contained in this paragraph is a refutation of Kant. Kant posited that there is no philosophy, no theology, and no belief that cannot be used to perpetuate violence on others, except one: goodwill. The problem, however, with Kant’s belief in goodwill is that chauvinism and other barriers to understanding will turn even the most well-intentioned acts into violence against the other. History is lettered with examples of imperial expansion in the name of spreading civilization, saving the heathen, liberating the oppressed, etc. Without wisdom, even the elect can be led astray.

report abuse


posted January 4, 2009 at 9:21 pm

I don’t think this is correct. To say philosophy is merely a tool (i.e sophistry) is just plain wrong I think. Now in ethics in terms of giving prescriptive rules for behavior philosophy is pretty useless (IMO) but it can help people think about when they are being consistent and the hidden assumptions of our theories.

report abuse

Your Name

posted January 5, 2009 at 12:44 am

I think Rorty is half right here. The idea that philosophy is politically (or morally, or religiously) neutral is an abhorrent relativism. However, there is certainly enough in common among all reasonable political (or moral or religious) positions that one can hardly expect to maintain a monopoly on principle, nor should one want to.

report abuse

Mark D.

posted January 5, 2009 at 12:47 am

That was me. It apparently lost my name when the captcha was refreshed.

report abuse

Wallace King

posted January 5, 2009 at 2:42 pm

You are invited to visit my website, and explore what is on one Mormon’s mind.

report abuse

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Mormon Inquiry. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Most Recent Mormon Story on Beliefnet Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent ...

posted 2:21:45pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

The meanings of Zion
This is the third post on Richard L. Bushman's Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2008). [See Part 1 and Part 2.] In Chapter Three, Bushman reviews the several meanings of the term "Zion" in LDS doctrine and thinking. The Mormon ...

posted 11:00:37pm Jul. 29, 2009 | read full post »

A statistical portrait of Mormons
The Pew Forum recently issued a detailed summary of survey information about Mormons gathered as part of a much larger survey of religious life in the United States. It is a very readable summary, noting that Mormons comprise 1.7% of adults in ...

posted 12:33:08pm Jul. 29, 2009 | read full post »

July 24th: Pioneer Day in Utah
July 24th is a state holiday in Utah, designated Pioneer Day. It commemorates the entry of the first wagon train of Mormons into the Salt Lake Valley in the summer of 1847. They came down Emigration Canyon, somewhat north of the present I-80 ...

posted 5:38:50pm Jul. 23, 2009 | read full post »

Finding heretics in strange places
A very interesting post at Mormon Matters, reviewing a 1989 book titled "Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up?" The book was written by an attorney who grew up a Jehovah's Witness, then became an Evangelical Christian. That lasted until he ...

posted 6:27:09pm Jul. 22, 2009 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.