on the hermeneutics of suspicion…

In preparation for a class on philosophy that I will be teaching next semester, I have been reading Ronald Nash’s Life’s Ultimate Questions (along with this and this, as well).  In his first chapter on epistemology, Nash discusses the idea of the “hermeneutics of suspicion.”  He writes:

Postmodernists regard texts as attempts by powerful people to impose their will upon the weak and powerless.  A text represents a hidden agenda.  Not only must we look beyond the apparent meaning of a text, but also we must dig deeper and uncover the relationships of power that make up the culture.  Postmodernists do this by means of what they call “subversive readings.”  Reading a text does not mean seeking out its objective meaning, which is something that cannot be done anyway.  Rather, the postmodernist seeks to uncover what the text is hiding.  Deconstructionists break down the text; they deconstruct it in order to uncover the relationships of power hidden beneath the text. (p. 234, emphasis mine)

Later on in the chapter, he recounts this anecdote.  He does not cite its author; rather, he says that the author wishes to remain anonymous.  He prefaces the scenario thus:

So far as I can tell, the people who utilize the hermeneutics of suspicion operate on the far left of culture.  Never once, so far as I know, has the hermeneutics of suspicion ever been applied to a liberal.  If the tables were turned and the hermeneutics of suspicion were applied to the practitioners of the method, the result might go something like the following:

Either deconstructionists are among the dumbest people ever to get university teaching positions, or there is something sinister going on.  But deconstructionists are not dumb, though at times they can put on a convincing act.  So what are they really up to?  As we learn from the hermeneutics of suspicion, whatever a text is hiding has to do with power, never with truth.  It hardly seems a coincidence that many deconstructionists are Marxists.  Naturally, this does not mean they are Marxists in any sense that the historic Marx or even Lenin would approve.  Marxian deconstructionists recognize that most nontrivial sentences in the writings of Marx and Lenin have been falsified.  They know that Marxian economics is a fraud.  After years of watching Russian and Chinese and Cuban leaders impoverish every citizen in their nations, except the rich and powerful people at the top, we know that no Marxist cares about poor and oppressed people.  Their entire program is keeping the power they have and smuggling as many American dollars as they can to their Swiss bank accounts.

As for Marxian intellectuals in America, the name of their game is also power.  They know that deconstructionism is bunk.  The real purpose of the deconstructionist power brokers is to separate as many Americans as possible from their families and from their literature and traditions.  If we cannot know the meaning of any text, then we cannot know the meaning of the Bible, including the Ten Commandments.  Neither can we know the meaning of the United States Constitution or any other text that might sustain social order or provide meaning and direction to life.  Once students become alienated from their families, their religion, their values, their traditions, they will be like lambs prepared for the slaughter.  And when that day comes, who do you suppose all the people with empty heads and empty chests will look to for their orders?  They will look to the deconstructionist, marxian, power-seeking professors who introduced them to the mysteries of a world without meaning.  The real name of the deconstructionist game is not meaning or truth; it is power, raw political power. (p. 240-1, emphasis mine).

Wow…  wow.  Now, this book was published in 1999, and there’s no indication as to when the anecdote was written, but it’s eerily predictive of the situation we find ourselves in today.  While it is the name of the game throughout the world, it is pitiful that it is also true of America, as well.  What is the liberal agenda but to expand the welfare state, ever-widening the parameters of who qualifies, so as to make more and more people dependent upon their government?  To propagate and exploit racism and sexism in order to be the lords and protectors of those in the “minority?”  To appoint judges to lifetime positions that believe the Constitution is a dead document, and must be interpreted (or even replaced) by international law and custom (here’s looking at you, Sotomayor [Ms. Wise Latina Woman] and Kagan [deciding cases you helped defend in your previous position]).  And to what end?  Has poverty and homelessness gone down?  Is the family the central unit of society?  Does Obama, or Pelosi, or Miss Sheila Jackson-Lee, or Maxine Waters, or Harry Reid really care about citizens?  Not in the least!  It is all about having the power, being looked upon as the saviors of the “squandered.”

It’s incredible how the destruction by postmodernism is so predictable; and yet, blind eyes are turned at the will and the whim of those in power and in the media.  And it all starts with a philosophical idea.  As much as I attempt to shy away from political discussion in the classroom, I dare say this philosophy class would be a time to have this discussion in the classroom.  Not only is postmodernism destroying Christianity, but it is destroying our country, as well.  I look forward to this discussion.  And I look forward to voting for someone — the only one — who would fight for traditional family values and the freedom upon which this country was founded.

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