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Thomas Sheehan on the Resurrection – Part 1

  Thomas Sheehan has been Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford since 1999. Before coming to Stanford he taught at Loyola University of Chicago since 1972. He received his B.A. from St. Patrick's College and his Ph.D. from Fordham University. He has been the recipient of many academic honors including: Ford Foundation Fellow (1983-85), Resident Scholar […]

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This is KZSU Stanford.
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Welcome to entitled opinions.
My name is Robert Harrison.
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And we're coming to your live from the Stanford campus.
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For those of you just joining us,
we've been talking to Professor Xi in about the resurrection
or the reawakening.
And where else I ask you, where else my friends are you going to hear shows like this?
In title opinions is an oasis of ideas and intelligent conversation in the midst of a desert.
Are you dying of thirst?
Are you star for intellectual substance?
Every year it seems that the public sphere gets more and more burnt out.
The wasteland grows, wrote Frederick Nietzsche over a century ago,
wrote to him who harbors wastelands within.
We're not here to shrink the growing wasteland of history.
No one has the power to do that it seems.
We're here to plant a little garden in the middle of it and to make it flourish.
Come hell or high water.
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So we're back on air with Professor Tom Xi and author of the book,
The First Coming, How the Kingdom of God became Christianity into our second installment.
And a lot we didn't talk about in the first hour Tom.
So why don't we --
Yeah, I want to -- I want to ask you, Roberto, what do you think?
What can we talk about you and I as to what is the core of this Christianity that you hold to?
Well, I haven't declared that I hold to any core of it.
And well, the lived experience, the specificity of it as lived that you would think is a tradition worth renewing or continuing.
I don't know. That's a very complicated question for me to answer.
I was born into a -- into a Christian culture that has 2,000 years of history behind it.
And as you know, from our high-digger studies together, we don't choose the world we're thrown into.
We're thrown into it as such.
And we try to re-appropriate what has come before us in the ways we can and find ways to throw it into the future.
I have to say that my main interest in Christian theology is related to my interest in literature.
In particular, given that I was formed as a Dante scholar and a scholar of medieval literature.
And subsequently, you know, literature in general, which is my primary devotion.
Or let's say it's my primary faith if you want to use that term.
I believe in the power of literature more than I believe in the power of doctrine.
But I found that the only way to understand the sublime beauty of a poem like the Divine Comedy is to know something about the Christian traditions that Dante himself was embedded in.
The kind of doctrines that had devolved over the centuries in millennia that led him to hold certain positions and views of the world.
And a lot of the work of getting into some of these literary texts is a reconstructive effort with regard to how does the whole thing go here?
How does this Christian worldview go here?
And you know even better than I do that at the end of a portrait of the artist as a young man when Stephan Daedalus has decided that instead of continuing on in the seminary to become a priest, he's going to become an artist.
And his friend asks him if he's going to become a Protestant.
And he says that I've lost my faith, not my reason.
I wouldn't abandon a religion which is perfectly logical, coherent, and absurd to embrace a religion which is perfectly illogical, incoherent, and absurd.
So to answer your question, what interests me in this tradition which I would associate with, let's say, goes a model, you know, the medieval tradition, is whether one can reconcile logic and coherence with absurdity.
And whether it's possible to completely endorse and embrace everything that historical, biblical exegesis tells us about the facts of just how little Jesus claimed for himself, and just how invented, might have been the stories around his tomb, the Easter stories, and so forth.
Now we're in an era where this fundamental absurdity of the doctrine can be seen not as an objection to the doctrine, but rather something that will be creatively retrieved and a matrix for a new kind of relationship to it, which would not dispel the absurdity because I'm absolutely no interest in trying to defend.
Or neutralize what I take to be the absurdity of the doctrine.
But at the beginning of our first hour, he also said that one can be a believer and still not have to abandon reason.
And I take the Catholic tradition in quotes, if you like to put it that way, as having laid a foundation whereby you can achieve a certain balance between the claims of reason, and in our day and age the claims of science, to what we know as the natural causes of phenomena, or explanation by a natural causes.
Whether that is ultimately incompatible with or irreducible, or cannot be conjugated with this underlying absurdity, that's for me as an open question.
And I would be happy to explore it.
I would like to explore it with you. What is the absurdity part? I don't understand that.
Well, I don't know what Stefan Daedalus had in mind when he spoke about the absurdity, but I think it was Tertelian who said, "Keredo kwia absurdom."
That the reason I believe, I don't believe despite the fact that the doctrine is absurd, but because it's absurd.
What is that absurdity? When the early Christian apologists were clearly trying to answer Greek pagan wisdom, which said, "You believe in a man who was claimed to be the son of God who was crucified on the cross, and who was then reawaken from the dead and so forth."
All these things are blatantly unbelievable and incredible in the true sense of the word, incredible.
And I think some of these early apologists not only conceded the incredibility of the doctrine, but actually took it to be somehow the core out of which the faith would arise.
So clearly the absurdity and question in our day and age here in the 21st century is a very different one than the one that they would have been conceiving of.
Why? It's because they believed in what had become of Christ, what had become of Jesus when he became Christ, and in the kind of misunderstandings, if you want to use that term, which are crude around his personhood,
and so forth. I think in our own time the absurdity is a very different one, which is that we have a two millennia of a tradition in the West, which in the light of recent findings and biblical scholarship, tell us was founded on very, very scant historical evidence.
In terms of the claims about Jesus, and the question is whether anything about that tradition is retrievable in our own time.
So you find the absurdity to be the disconnect that you use that word in our first hour between the intentions and deeds and words of Yeshua as an historical figure and the Christian institution, and you wonder whether anything could be retrieved from the institution,
Do you think any can, is that the absurdity, the disconnect, and can we retrieve from both sides? Can we somehow relink these?
Yes, I would say that the primary absurdity is this disconnect between what the tradition is held about Jesus, Nazareth, and what we know about the historical Jesus as such.
But we talked at the end of our last first conversation about whether there was not in the preaching of Jesus as best as we can reconstruct what they were, whether there was not an implicit atheism in the message if by that we understand that the kingdom of God is not something that is outside of history,
He is waiting to break into history as some future apocalyptic moment that is something that has already happened here among us if one has radically changed one's way of looking at things.
And therefore, I would maybe even push the notion that what is retrievable in the tradition is something that would have to be conjugated with the fundamental underlying atheism, and that the story is really not about God as such, but it is about how human beings take over the
message that has something to do with the justice, mercy, charity, and so forth.
But why does that entail atheism? I mean, first of all, it is not clear that Yeshua was an atheist, his word, "Abah," my beloved father was addressed to God, and it is not clear that as a Jew he could have been, as an observant, he could have been an atheist, and yet he did believe as did Judaism in a God within history, the Shekina, the presence of the Holy Spirit,
the presence of God, whether in the Holy of Holies or in the lived experience of Torah observance, it doesn't strike me that inside history needs atheism. Could you explain why there should be an atheism about justice and mercy done within history by human beings?
Well, I'm speaking about atheism here in a rather expanded way, I would hope. And there's something about the death on the cross which one cannot help but associate with the death of God, and this turning over of the regime of a God who is somewhere out there, and a kenosis into the human.
And a turning over of whatever the previously had been associated with the transcendent God, turning it over into, consigning it to the human, and having it die its death would be one reason why I would be invited to think that perhaps if not atheism in the sense of not believing in a God,
atheism in the sense of saying that if God is not in our picture, then he's nowhere, or maybe he's out there, maybe he's not, but that's not the point. The point is how do we get on with shaping the societies and histories, and finding ways not to perpetuate the nightmares of histories that would begin with the assumption that it's really all turned over to the same thing.
It's all turned over to our responsibility. And that it's not God's responsibility to come to our rescue, or to put us on the right track historically that we are ultimately the authors of what we make of ourselves.
So you're setting up, I think, a very good disjunct between an inadequate notion of the divine as some sort of supervient or out there, theism, a God rather, who keeps us on puppet strings, and on the other hand, a humanism of this world, that's what secular humanism means.
So in other words, you're locating us right at the center of a uses word culture wars, which is such a trite phrase, but there is a real fight going on between a certain kind of Christianity and a Wahhabism and Judaism that sees a zero sum gain, the gains of secular humanism means the diminishment of the divine, and you're trying to put these together in such a way, in a very Catholic way, I might say, in which we are responsible for secularism.
We are responsible for secondary causality in our realm. God may have set the whole thing going. God may be the ultimate cause, but you're saying that human beings have the final responsibility here in this secular world. What happens when you die?
Well, here's again, I'm going to, I'm not going to mince words, I believe that death has a certain finality, or as far as I know, I don't have any faith, active, militant faith regarding whatever happens after my death, I will be, I'll completely leave that in suspension, it's not my concern.
My concern is not with salvation, it's not how we can go from our human world up to the world of heaven. The interest, the abiding interest I have in the tradition is to work out the still, on retreat possibilities of the idea that a kingdom of God, if there ever was one, has actually come to earth, and that's, that's his proper place.
And what would it mean to live out, to live on that basis? And I think it would, I take the earth here, not just in the sense of a secular place of human societies and human relations, but I take it also very literally, as the biosphere, in which our lives are embedded.
And that, while I don't believe in any of the miracles per se that are recounted in the New Testament, I do think that the more one knows, even scientifically speaking, about the radical exceptionality of life in the cosmic order of things, the more one has to think of life really in terms of a miracle.
And by a miracle, I mean it in the way, you know, the medieval understood it as an extreme improbability, no more than that.
So something about the sanctity of life, of the earth, the elements.
I think all of these, if I could find a way to conjugate that with a creative retrieval of this tradition we're talking about then, I, you know, I think that.
Let's go in that direction. What would the liturgical, doctrinal, liturgical, I mean sacramental and spiritual life of the Catholic church that you so warmly champion frequently in our conversations and in your relationships and in your, here on campus I know.
What might that give you, or do you need any of that? I mean do you darken the door of the church other than in Italy when, you know, you occasionally, I've seen you in churches in Italy. Do you feel that there needs to be a spiritual communal practice, liturgical, etc., spiritual? To speak for myself, it's been a long time since I've participated in the math of the, but on a more theoretical level.
I think that the church, whether it's fully aware of it or not, is founded on a kind of atheism. In the sense that without the performative sacramental enactments that take place within its precinct, there is no God, there is no Christ, there is no sacrality whatsoever.
It only happens to the degree that human beings come together and make it happen. But that would seem to say that there is no, no presence that escapes the Hermeneutics of liturgy and community that is to say there's no presence out there that one is referring to. Everything is the Hermeneusus of the church believing.
Well, you know, Italy is probably the most Catholic country in the world and used to be, used to be, but it's still a society in which the majority of the people consider themselves Catholic, and yet that same majority of them are not believers.
And I would like to find out how that works, because if, can one be a Catholic without being a believer in that hard sense, you know, in doctrine, that, I think that would go a long way in shifting the emphasis from belief and divinity to something else.
But we all know that religion is not about God. Thomas Aquinas makes it a moral virtue, not a theological virtue. Religion is about a community that does at least four things. It holds to certain, if you will, truths, it practices certain liturgies, it abides by a moral code, and it organizes itself as a community.
Those are the four things that constitute it as a community. You can be a good Catholic without being a believer in that sense. You can just simply go through the motions and say that these are important symbolic representations of your life. Lots of Jews are able to be culturally Jewish without believing in God or in after life. Is that what you're really saying that you want Catholicism there? You want other people maybe to believe in it, because that keeps the institution going and the liturgies going, and you get to drop in as a whole.
You get to drop in as it were or nod to it or even use it. But it has no substance under it other than the hermeneutical performances, as you say, of the sacraments by Christian believers.
Well, no, far more than that, I would hope that it would be a means of resacralizing the earth and the elements. And here I have to maybe go back a little bit in time. Walter Pader wrote a very beautiful book on Madhu-See Epicurean. It's a poetic history. It's not a hard-nosed history in the way you understand it.
But he said it at the time of the reign of Marcus Aurelius, you know, at a point where the Roman Empire had gotten to the point where there was this bloodlust, this endless repetition of the senseless scene of murder, whether it was of animals or of criminals or of Christians in the Colosseums and so forth.
And wrote this beautiful story where the major character who is an Epicurean, Marius, is observing the Christian sacramental rituals without really participating in them.
And finding that in their very performance there is a kind of resacralization of the elements of bread, wine, oils and things of that sort. And that there was involved with that, it's a certain affirmative affirmation of the sanctity of life itself.
And I think historically speaking something like that must have happened in the early centuries of the church where there was against this nihilism, a brome which had exhausted its own sort of investments in the sacrality of life that there was a move to rescue the absolute value of life.
With that extent, I think there's something there that can be re-appropriated.
I wonder how you do that as you and I have been talking back and forth about T.S. Eliot's line after such knowledge, what forgiveness, after such knowledge, what resacralization?
Shouldn't we just let the secular remain secular? Why do you want to resacralize it? And with what symbols would you resacralize it? Is Nietzsche says in the joyful wisdom if we've killed God?
And that seems to be what you are referring to here that secular culture has grown without a need for the divine. That is assumed responsibility for itself and for its own mortality.
Then why would you want to resacralize it? How would you invent sacred games as Nietzsche says? How would you invent rituals and why would you want to? Why not just simply read bread and wine by holdling instead of going to bread and wine at a Christian Eucharist? Why would you need religion?
Well, again, I'm happy to read hoded on bread and wine and to understand what bread and wine meant for him in that hymn that he writes on it. And in order to understand that, I have to know something about what bread and wine has meant in the Christian sacraments. And knowing that, I have to also allow for the fact that if there is not an agency of mystification, then the
somehow the sacrality of even these everyday things with which we live or eat bread and wine cannot assume, let's say, the proper dignity or absolute value associated with life that they deserve.
Agency of mystification that reminds me of the debate between our dear colleagues, Hayden White and Sepcombrakes recently on campus on April 6th, an agency of mystification. I wonder what that would mean.
That is to say a hermeneutics of mystifying. Yes. Well, a hermeneutics, I wouldn't necessarily say a hermeneutics of mystifying, but I would say a power of mystification, regenerative power of mystification.
The mystification would be, and we should remind our listeners to tell them that all this is unrehearsed, you're a hermene.
I'm unrehearsed, I'm taking you out. And what you say, I'm learning so many. All these questions are coming to me for the first time without the, I'm curious about whether mystification is a necessary casualty of the kind of
demystification that modernity represents and secularism represents, which I want to affirm on the one hand. I want to completely committed to demystification where it's required.
And I'm, in fact, I'm wondering whether one can be so committed to demystification that you push it to such an extreme to find out what is there that will finally resist its drive.
What about the holiness of the human? That might be the ultimate source of moein. But silence. But mystification. Yes, but when you say holiness of the human, even holiness has to ask is the result of some kind of mystification. It's not just given in the human that it's holy because we know how many people don't consider human life holy and are more than willing to dispense with it with a radical sort of casualness.
Well, I want to refer again to that, that dust up between Hayden, Wharton and Zeplobrecht, not the personalities, but the issues that they raise, which are the most important issues I think we could be talking about on the Stanford campus.
Whether there is any encounter with presence that escapes hermeneutics. I have to say that Hayden White had the courage and the kolioni to really raise that question for the first time because it's the question he alluded to this of fundamentalism versus
the irreducible human. If there are encounters with presence that escape discursive engagement, communics in the broadest sense, then we've not only lost humanism, which we practice on campus, but we've also lost our humanity, I think.
So they were really fighting over something not religion, but fundamentalism, the enforced reception of holiness as you just put it, forced reception of some experience that alludes interrogation that alludes the decisions that we ourselves make about meaning.
Well, you're a little bit of Saint Paul in this debate because it comes to you out of time since you weren't directly present at that debate.
Oh, I've covered it by asking everyone I could find what is present including you.
Well, exactly. So, and Zep. So it's already comes to you interpreted as such. Exactly. No escape from hermeneutics.
And I think you're also giving a very interesting hermeneutic reading of the terms of the debate because nothing that was said at the moment would suggest that the real issue was between fundamentalism and humanism.
I think the, I think it was called religion and hermeneutics in the debate. Well, and I call religion fundamentalism and hermeneutics.
Well, the question was whether a book which has as a subtitle what meaning cannot convey whether such a book was doing the job as a hidden white understand.
or the same understanding of being the curators of the humanities. Or whether there was not something fundamentally irresponsible and even to use one of his words dangerous about suggesting that there are certain experiences or moments of intensity in one's experience of especially things that are beautiful.
A piece of music, it could be another body or it could be a beautiful play on a sports field and so forth whether there are not certain isolated disconnected moments disconnected from the everyday world as Zep Gumbrecht says it, which have such an intensity of presence that they dispense with the whole mediator.
But we write books about them.
No, they of course will escape it but I mean they're still endlessly interpretable.
That could be so but we're not here to rehash a debate that took place a few weeks or we'll call on the country.
We're here to I thought to talk about the issue of I think see Christianity has lost its sense of hermeneusus. I said that at the end of our last hour, which means it's lost its sense of humanity of what a human being is,
which means that it's then free to construct retrievals of Christianity without any methodological controls so that we can become hernachians in the late 19th century or anything we care to in the 21st century.
And I was wondering whether there was a point of contact between our work as humanists devoted to the human, which you put at the center of your feelings about Christianity and your holding to Christianity.
That would also illuminate what's retrievable from Christianity.
So I'm not interested in talking about seppin hidden white.
I'm interested in talking about the issue of religion and hermeneutics, which is sort of what we're here doing.
We use the resurrection as one instance of that and then we in the second hour broaden it to what's retrievable at all from these religions.
Well, I have no problems with that.
We know that Jesus in history has had as many faces as those who have looked into his face.
That nothing comes to us in the doctrine that is not always submitted to further elaborations and interpretations.
And of course we find ourselves at a moment in time now where we ask ourselves whether there is not a need for a radical re-engagement with the meaning of that whole tradition to determine whether we should just let it belong to a kind of past,
let it assume the status of superstition, or whether it has a future that might serve to remind us of what you call the holiness of the human.
Exactly. And that holiness of the human I think is what Kant is referring to in his logic lectures when he said all the things we do, all the epistemology we engage in, all the ethics we engage in, all the etelliological hopes for whatever that we engage in are all based on what we already understand the human to be.
So humanism isn't set against religion. I think he said that very well early on. Humanism, secular humanism is the touchstone for being able to understand any expression of the human and its holiness, whether it's the arts or whether it's just constructing the world, politics, philosophy, literature.
But unless we have some sense of what that center of the wheel is, that to me is where the danger, where the nihilism lies today. We invent all sorts of worldviews, literary artistic, philosophical, political without being able to ground them and anywhere, anywhere. I say ground them in the groundlessness that is say the holiness of the human, but then we have to decide what that human is. So I went in the direction of is there a presence that escapes hermeneutics and no, we don't want to debate it, something went on in April.
I think that issue lies at the core of Stanford University. I sometimes fear that instead of that professional engagement with the human, that we call humanism, we get as not professionalism, but confessionalism, we get people telling us how they feel about things and telling us what they're not interested in talking about. And those kinds of discussions to me are the nihilism of the academy or that.
That's for all the vices and faults of the academy. That's not one of them. I don't know, you might be much more exposed to it than I am, but the one thing that one has to say about the academy is that if it sins in particular excess, it's always through analysis, critique, hermeneuses, submitting everything to multiple interpretation, that it's meaning, meaning, everywhere.
And the yielding of meaning, in fact, Zepz book is precisely an alternative is not an alternative, it's not an either or sort of decision that one has to make. The question is whether one can, is there room in an academy, which is so hyper critical and hyper hermeneutic and hyper given to the analysis of meaning for the experience of moments of intensity that somehow,
Don't call for this kind of reflective analysis and the translation of an aesthetic experience, for example, into critical terms that we can then abstract.
I hear an intensity in which you just said that just strikes me as wrong, what does wrong mean?
It strikes me as off key here. The word critical somehow becomes a bad word in your mouth.
It's a bad term. I never said that critical is a bad word.
Critical, analytic, harmony, you say that.
This is a tone there.
Well, it's not a question of the tone.
It's a question of whether the academy is a place of confessionalism, which does not have as a primary vocation, you know, the analysis of meaning, or whether on the country, the academy is exactly.
The home for critical analysis and hermeneutics.
So your fear that the university is handing itself over to feel good, confessional, unmediated, thoughtless, sort of enthusiasm, doesn't correspond to my experience of what the university is.
I worry about the humanities more than the university at large, where the professor, who I am, matters more than what I'm talking about.
That can often happen, can it? If I'm at Harvard, I must be important, and what I say must be important because I'm at Harvard.
No, not necessarily. Being at Harvard means it doesn't have an incentive, I know. It means you have to work harder.
You have to work harder for the students. It makes you much more pragma oriented.
And get to the thing itself rather than personality oriented, I would hope.
So I do think that we do run the risk in the humanities of the confessional mwah, rather than the matter itself.
Well, I don't know a lot of my colleagues who are particularly given to a confessional mwah over an analysis of the thing itself.
And here, of course, the thing itself is something that we're going to have to bring out into the open.
The thing itself is the interpreting animal. I think so.
And once we have established, if by taking your courses on high degree, that you're in literature, that human beings are fundamentally interpreting animals,
that still leaves us with the same obligation to go on making sense of what we have to make sense of.
And at the same time, finding ourselves in a world where a good quotient of it doesn't yield itself to sense making.
What would those areas be? I don't know, but I think that if we can't make sense of it, we can't encounter it.
We may not succeed in rationalizing it, but we can always interrogate it, always hypothesize it.
There's some French, I think, a 19th century physician who defined health as Lucille d'Ozogain, the silence of the organs.
As long as we're healthy, we are completely unaware of our organs. It's only when something goes wrong with my heart, my liver, or something that I have pains in.
All of a sudden, attention is drawn to it.
Now, I would say the condition, which fortunately most of us, for the most part, live in, which is that of the silence of organs, is something that doesn't need us to bring a whole apparatus of hermeneutics to bear on it.
It's there, it's given. It's un...
I see what you say. By the apparatus of hermeneutics, you mean academic bloviation about it, but we're performing the hermeneutics at every moment of our everyday life.
Well, the silence of the organs are our organs who are hermeneutic when they fall silent as they should when the body is in a state of health.
Is that a hermeneutic process that's taking place in my body?
Are you aware of evolutionary biology talking about the informational aspects of, yes, our neurons and our genes?
Yes, there is some proto hermeneutics going on there.
Yeah. Yeah.
And it takes place not only in the human animal, therefore, but it takes place also in other species.
Presumably, right? Maybe so.
So why the holiness of the human? Why not the holiness of the biotic?
I'm very much in favor of the holiness of the biotic. I declare it to be holy. So we're back to the holiness of the human.
It's the Cartesian thing in a way. It may be holy or it may be unholy, but I know it to be holy around the holiness.
That's Pascal as well. The world may crush me, but at least I'll know it crushes me.
But what about the other aspect of the academics, perminnutical obligation of the political?
You and I have talked about that so much. And that actually came up in the presence versus hermeneutics debate.
Well, the question to say within our theme is whether Christianity, as one, as it's retrieved, does have any particular, does it come with any particular political prescriptions,
or does it predispose us to interpret the political from particular points of view?
And can we not think of a politics in which the holiness of the human is the very foundation for the practices of the political?
I would hope so.
I didn't mean if you will, lapoly, teak, but lipoly, teak, the area of power, not of Democrats, Republican, Socialists, and Communists.
I meant on the contrary the fact that the academy sits at the thinnest pinnacle of a pinnacle of power, of a pyramid of power, if you will.
What's the obligation of the academic vis-a-vis the arenas of economic, social, and let us say policing power?
Kind of if you wish, Christianity as well. I mean, that's one expression of this human being sitting atop it all.
Well, I think I don't know. If I ask you that question, do you have a ready-made answer to it?
Well, the first thing I would do is, again, exclude presence from hermeneutics.
That is to say, there is nothing that we cannot begin to make sense of, even if only by questioning.
I just don't understand that argument that sets that fundamentalist, Wahhabist argument, that sets ecstatic moments of presence, ecstatic, yes.
But somehow frees them from the discourse that makes us human.
Well, the more you want to turn presence into a pro-scribe word, the more you might risk.
It's not my word inadvertently mystifying it yourself.
And certainly the author of that book, the production of presence, was not certainly not trying to promote presence as a new foundation for a
either personal ethics or a political ethics or something like that.
I believe so.
And he certainly wasn't opposing it to hermeneutics as such.
It was just, as he said, trying to find moments that are outside of the everyday continuum of our political and social lives.
And if we want to go on saying that there is nothing that falls outside of the political, then we can debate that.
I don't agree with it. I will never buy into that.
But I know that there are some people who hold very earnestly to the idea that if you exclude anything from the political, then that is a sin.
Again, La Poytique, the day-to-day Democrats and Republicans digging it out in Congress. I don't mean that at all.
Is there a part of us that is not of the pull-less?
Before I answer that, it is not social.
I want to tell our listeners that we may be just cut off the air at any moment because Stanford baseball is coming up and they warn me that it's three at 4.45.
They want to take over.
That is just ecstasy taking over discourse.
If that happens, then we have to apologize in advance, but that's a rule of the game.
Yeah, no, I have a question.
My commitment to the, well, let's call it the public sphere, more than anything else.
La Poytique, La Poytique.
Do I think that the public sphere is where the whole story begins and ends? Yes, I do. Do I think that the public sphere is everything? No, I don't.
Who or do I?
And therefore, I'm not against one thing and for another.
I'm just, if I could put it somewhat programmatically, I'm for opening the horizons of human dwelling as largely as I can.
In order to allow all sorts of heterogeneous modes and dispositions, ways of being into it without trying to reduce it all to some kind of leading understanding that it, that even the person also political, even my, the silence of my organs is political, or that, you know, my experience of the baseball game is political. No.
I honestly what the problem is with saying it's all economic, it's all social political, cultural, ideological religious, artistic, we'll make distinctions to be sure.
But when do you step outside of these realms and become what some are comedian eco?
Do you mean at what point do I? Do you see it being political, social economic, ideological, cultural, religious, philosophical, artistic?
Where is that standpoint outside of this?
NISHMASH, that is the human.
Well, even if I say that there is not ever a point, if I'm in the, in the foothills park here of Palo Alto, that, and where I can forget entirely that I am a citizen of a particular nation or a member of a certain academy and so forth.
While I, I can forget about that very comfortably, I know that the foothills are maintained by the city of Palo Alto, the municipal infrastructures that, that have already prescribed that space as a place for precisely this kind of recreation.
I know that there's hardly, probably not a place on the planet which corresponds to Washington's definition of a wilderness, which is a place untrambled by man.
I think that the, the human has, has somehow inserted itself everywhere, but that, that's, does that mean that we have a full bodied understanding, you know, of what it means to be human.
When we think of it as being fundamentally circumscribed by our social, economic, ideological and political, I don't think circumscribed, it informed would be a different word, but I like very much what you're saying, you're, you're basically a disabusing me of any notions that the academy is, Nero fiddling his little ditties for the faithful few while the rest of the world burns.
You've overcome that, I think, in what you just said now.
And you would forgive those who sometimes entertain that thought.
So what would you, what would you have us do in the academy that we're not doing, Tom?
Primo vivare de inde fielo so fari live first, then get about your philosophizing and cultural work.
Sounds good to me.
Sounds like a good place to end Tom before they take us over really abruptly because I wanted to get that favorite song of yours on the air for our listeners.
Thanks for coming on.
Thank you, Roberto, we'll continue.
(crowd cheering)