- [Derrida's] Structuralism poses as a neutral quasi-scientific theory. Marxism was a theory of history which used historical evidence established by traditional methods to support its world-view. An aspect of structuralism is to regard history as fabulation, and 'the past' as a meaning-construct belonging to the present. It is, and admittedly, rhetoric versus reason. Of course we cannot see the past, so we must be though of as inventing it. This fake choice blots out the conception of seeking carefully for some truthful conception of the past. Marxism and (Derrida's) structuralism can join forces however in their rejection of God and religion and their hostility to 'bourgeois' views and values, seen as solidifying a view of the world which new revolutionary forces must destroy. Happily, since I wrote the above, the Zeitgeist, assisted by very many courageous individuals, has discredited and is demolishing Marxism. One of the first things which liberated people want to know is the truth about their past.
- Of course there is much novelty, scholarship, brilliance, to be seen in the structuralist compound. What is objectionable is the damage done to other modes of thinking and to literature by the presentation of this fanciful metaphysic as a fundamental system. Philosophy, anthropology, history, literature, have different procedures and methods of verification. It is only when the idea of truth as relation to separate reality is removed that they can seem in this odd hallucinatory light to be similar. With the idea of truth the idea of value also vanishes. Here the deep affinity, the holding hands under the table, between structuralism and Marxism becomes intelligible.
- ...it is a merit of structuralism to indicate to us, with so much energy and so much learning, that the concept of the individual which we have inherited from centuries of thinkers cannot any longer be taken for granted but must be defended.
- ...in the time to come, which we are not told but might gloomily prophecy, the majority of people will make contact only with the childishly simple machinery, as the great machines which explore the depths of what will then be thought of as human reality will only be understood by brilliant and highly trained experts. Most people, unable to read, will be watching television. Television, the dictator's best friend, already erodes our ability to read. What is, and not implausibly, envisaged here is an apocalyptic change in human consciousness, involving vast social changes and the disappearance of old local ideas of individuals and virtues. A loss of sovereignty.
- What is important is that we now take in conceptions of religion without God, and of meditation as religious exercise. There is, just as there used (with the old God) to be, a place of wisdom and calm to which we can remove ourselves. We can make our own rites and images, we can preserve the concept of holiness. The veil of Maya is not a single mysterious screen which can suddenly be whisked away by magic. We need the Platonic picture here. We are moving through a continuum within which we are aware of truth and falsehood, illusion and reality, good and evil. We are continuously striving and learning, discovering and discarding images. Here we are not forced to choose between a 'religious life' and a 'secular life,' or between being a 'goodie' and being a cheerful egoist! The whole matter is far more complex and more detailed. Our business is with the continual activity of our own minds and souls and with our possibilities of being truthful and good. Incidentally, and philosophically, we may see here the necessity of the concept of consciousness.
- Learning is moral progress because it is an asceticism, it diminishes our egoism and enlarges our conception of truth, it provides deeper, subtler and wiser visions of the world. What should be taught in schools: to attend and get things right.
- We must indeed preserve and cherish a strong truth-bearing everyday language, not marred or corrupted by technical discourse or scientific codes; and thereby promote the clarified objective knowledge of man and society of which we are in need as citizens, and as moral agents.
"The false god punishes, the true god slays."
My new favorite book is called Metaphysics as a Guide to Morals; it was published in 1992 by Iris Murdoch. Oh, the headaches I could've saved myself if someone had assigned this book to me at the outset of
indoctrination graduate school! Here are some excerpts [NOTE: Murdoch uses the term "structuralism" to indicate what we might refer to as "post-structuralism" or "postmodernism"]: