Culture Magazine

Philosophy TV: The Correlation of Church and State

By Bbenzon @bbenzon
Here's a video of a talk Graham Harman recently gave at Purdue:

It's mostly about the trials and tribulations of correlationism, a topic I've never really been able to take seriously. It seems to me that that fly escaped from the bottle some time ago. But what do I know?
More specifically, the various alternatives Harman discusses feel like voices in a conversation among people who have never acted in the world. They live in a truncated version of the spaceship Enterprise, of Star Trek fame. In this version the transporters are down so no one ever leaves the Enterprise and no one ever arrives. Further, the Enterprise never engages in battle. So the offices just hang on on the bridge, watch what appears on the screen, and eat the food that magically appears in the replicators. It's in THAT world that they discuss correlationism, whether or not something exists outside thought.
But, in THAT situation, what difference does it make? Things appear on the screen and they disappear. But nothing happens on the Enterprise except for conversation. So who cares?
Here's a much humbler video. This is a short discussion of whether or not the USA should have an inaugural prayer. The problem is that America is religiously diverse, so which religion would be represented in the prayer? As David Gushee asks: "Who is praying to what god for what purpose?"
The easy answer, of course, is to dispense with the prayer entirely. And I suspect that may be the philosophically preferred answer. But the problem implied by this discussion won't thereby disappear: How do diverse people live together under the umbrella of a single state? You spin correlationism however you will, but it doesn't touch that question.

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