Transcript: pages 1-2, with commentary. Today we start an analysis of Prager's foundational stance, i.e., his intentions, horizon, and degree of intellectual, moral, and religious conversion. Note that foundations lies upstream from any core judgments of reality known as doctrines.
Educational Projects: Foundations: DennisPragerSketches I
Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good.
— Thomas Sowell
The analytical tool we are using is Friedman's "professional practice" set of operations necessary for promoting rational action is a less than rational socio-political situation: Orientation, Diagnosis and Evaluation, and Estimating Scope and Constraints on Rational Action during times of Fundamental Institutional Change.
Today's work was devoted to creating an overview of Prager's evaluation of Western civilization, something that will be considered in details over the coming weeks. But one unexpected insight emerged that could explain Prager's assertion that Western civilization is the only one that has promoted good in the world, and that is the possibility if not highly probable recurring schemes of redemption possible in a Judaeo-Christian civilization that are improbable if not impossible in secular or non-Western societies. Something to keep in mind as we proceed.
RCB, June 21, 2018
Week 11 content continues with the analysis, page 6 of the transcript. Key points: universal evil vs limited good, the importance of wisdom in Prager's foundational stance, of living in the tension between one's own sinfulness and the fact of an ethical monotheism, and of Western civilization as the only one that has brought good into the world.
Week 6: Another showing of the video, this time with a focus on foundational stances and the kinds of doctrines (fundamental statements of reality) that emerge from them, plus the ripple effect down through evaluation, diagnosis, prognosis, and remedial plans/policies.
Prager's foundational stance revolves around goodness and wisdom. This is expressed in Jewish terms that relate strongly to twin themes of wisdom and liberty in the Torah. One of the interesting things we will be exploring is the difference between Jewish and Christian foundational stances, the latter being crucial to our ongoing development of an emergent cosmopolis that relies on ongoing conversion at all levels.
An Emergent Cosmopolis
Content consists of the 3rd page analysis of the transcript, while Conversion reviews those things concerning foundations to which we need to pay attention.
Prager's foundations lead to four things:
Here our primary focus is on the person's foundational stance, essentially who they are and what they stand for. It is important to note that basic statements of reality, i.e., doctrines, are downstream from the functional specialty of foundations. This means that what position a person or a group may take on an issue of the day is a function of who they are, be it a truncated or existential self, a limited horizon, a too narrow range of values or an inadequate terminal value, or the set of general and specific concepts used to understand the universe.
Prager's orientation is to goodness as represented in Judaism. His terminal value is grounded around the twin beliefs in liberty (exodus) and morality (ten commandments). Although properly speaking, he is a person committed to fostering good in the world, grounds this activity through doctrines grounded in Judaism, and carries this out through a quest for wisdom above all else. He detests lies.
RCB, June 30, 2018
Today was more of a general discussion held in two parts: design methodology and foundations. A video of design processes sparked the question: What is the context for our "emergent cosmopolis institute"? A brief over-view is provided in the attached notes, though the original mission statement may be found in the Cosmopolis Institute: Positioning folder.
It is important to keep in mind that we are a design team with a definite problem context and a prototype solution in mind.
This section delves into the last of the "marker's' videos exploring possible indicators of progress, decline, and reversal. Dennis Prager's analysis of the current state of Western civilization includes a number of critical markers worth exploring in greater depth.
Week 7: The Great Divide. In the continuing attempt to generate a reliable set of markers for an evaluative history (functional specialty of dialectic), we turn to the fundamental and originating self found in the functional specialty of foundations. Taking conversion as the essential feature in discernment, we sketched the broad dialectic between good and evil as an irreconcilable conflict between the great divide between God and non-God. Within an ethical monotheism, there is an universal morality that applies to all people; to take a stand without God is to become decadent, domineering, sadistic, and deceitful. Positions, by definition, are plans and policies established by those individuals and groups that offer a degree of intellectual, moral, and religious conversion. Such is not available to the godless, hence their plans and policies lead to unrelenting decline that is irreversible.
With such a conceptual framework in place it becomes possible to understand the current state of affairs within the United States, clarifying who exactly are the unconverted, their misbegotten attempt to dominate the converted, and the growing resistance to what have every signs of an emerging tyrant. Whether or not this framework is true, it does provide a way out of the trap of using the very horizon and concepts framing the debate by those eager to bend things to their own benefit.
Prager's foundational stance rests in part on the recognition of individual human dignity as well as respect for the "fact" that each person--not the collective--is morally responsible for his or her acts. Also, his focus on wisdom given meaning through Judaism leads to a confluence between the God of the Torah and the American constitution: the core meta-narrative is God's deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery. Hence Prager's "American Trinity" of e pluribus unum, liberty, and In God We Trust. From this comes his belief that if the U.S. loses God it can only devolve into different groups in conflict with each other. The model of where this leads is his experience of Europe as a dead lifeless and soulless place.
Upstream to the doctrines we hold are the foundational selves that generates such worlds mediated by meaning. While we are familiar with our own world mediated by meaning, we are less aware of the self that generates, sustains, and modifies such world. Here we shift from the functional specialty of Doctrines to that of Foundations. Doctrines are concerned with fundamental judgments of fact, core beliefs such as God exists as a personal being or there is no such thing as truth since all moral judgments are relative.
It also seems that there is an isomorphic relationship between Friedman's logical stages for professional practice and Lonergan's last four functional specialties: orientation = foundations; evaluation = doctrines; diagnosis = systematics; and scope and constraints = communications.
Finally, we consider a number of basic features of foundations that are important to keep in mind.
Week 10 content consists of the detailed analysis of pages 4 & 5 of the transcript. Key elements are the universality of evil and the need to explain the presence of good in the world, the failure of both universities and television to forge individuals capable of following the transcendental precepts, and a deep practical awareness of human dignity.
This session blocks out the primary sections of Prager's video on the future of Western society while adding notes on Lonergan's "truncated" self from his lecture on the Subject (first step in understanding differentiated minds).