Viewing a single comment thread. View all comments

5

Dumai wrote (edited )

sure thing, i'll put that on my reading list.

i wasn't really trying to be combative, i was genuinely looking for an answer to those questions! it seems to me "religious privilege" is, at best, incredibly irresponsible, especially when applied to the west, and opens the door to a lot of islamophobia, anti-semitism, colonial ideology, and white supremacy that i think any radical should be able to notice. of course, as a christian, my religious tradition has been historically implicated in all these things! i have to acknowledge and critically engage with that or i'd be contributing to them directly! i think the least i can ask of secularists is that they do the same legwork with their own beliefs, and internet atheists are notoriously bad at that ("religion is a dumb backwards superstition that us enlightened rationals are simply too smart for" is inherently a colonial argument, and i see it in online atheist spaces all the time). so forgive me if i ask you to clarify a bit! i'm honestly not trying to be a dick.

3

shanoxilt wrote

The idea that opposing religion is colonialist is itself colonialist because it erases the centuries of naturalist/secularist/materialist thought in Asia, particularly India.

3

Dumai wrote (edited )

i'm not saying opposing religion is inherently colonialist, i'm saying colonial politics are very common in atheist circles, that this has a lot to do with the straightforwardly racist genealogies of rationalism and empiricism, and that projecting modern western categories and philosophies such as "secular" and "materialist" onto pre-modern asian schools of thought is, at best, western-centric.

3

shanoxilt wrote

Except, again, you're ignoring the parallel developments in other cultures. And some of those schools of philosophy self-identified as "materialist" (although using Hindi rather than Greek).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreligion_in_India

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrimination_against_atheists#Indonesia

Now, all that being said, I oppose any sort of organized atheism as that will simply reproduce the issues that religion either upholds or generates.

3

Dumai wrote (edited )

the term "materialism" doesn't just describe a physical one-substance monism, or else it (or something like it) could have popped up in philosophical language a lot earlier than the late 17th century. to say that the charvaka school was materialist as anything more than metaphor assumes they had far too much in common with thinkers from modern europe. it also assumes materialism is a much less pluralistic tradition than it actually is and responded far less to questions about identity, class, bourgeois subjectivity, and social critique that faced 17th-20th century europe than it actually did. which is ironically kind of idealist?

now, you're right that charvaka school did not believe in god(s), karma, or spirit. you're wrong that this should mark them as irreligious, or would have done to rival philosophies at the time. the fact that charvaka is traditionally considered a hindu philosophy should probably clue you into that. to say that they were irreligious, you'd have you'd have to first of all establish a definition of "dharma" as totally equivalent with "religion", which is notoriously problematic. as i've said before, "religion" considered as a social sphere completely distinct from wider social, political, and cultural life is a modern western concept, and you should be careful throwing it too far into the past, especially if you're dealing with non-western cultures.

(btw this is why i asked you to define exactly what you meant by "ALL RELIGION" when you said it was inherently oppressive)

it is, of course, true that atheists are widely discriminated against in many parts of the world. this does not mean we should throw around terms like "religious privilege" as if muslims of colour experience the same kind of social advantage in the us as white evangelical christians, or as if the west doesn't have centuries of history regarding anti-semitism and judeophobia. a white culturally protestant atheist in the united states is by no means oppressed on those terms.

3

shanoxilt wrote

the term "materialism" doesn't just describe a physical one-substance monism, or else it would have popped up in philosophical language a lot earlier than the late 17th century.

But it does, and it did. The fact that whites overlooked it in Asia and suppressed it in Europe doesn't change the fact of its existence.

you're wrong that this should mark them as irreligious,

They specifically call out the priestly caste as a fraud.

"Spells, incantations, rituals, even the duties of the four varnas [castes] - all these are nonsense, invented for the livelihood of those destitute of knowledge and manliness. If a beast slain in the Jvotistoma rite [Vedic ritual] goes straight to heaven, why doesn't the sacrificer offer his father instead? If offerings to priests can feed ancestors in heaven, how is it that that person standing on top of a house cannot be gratified by food served inside? They cannot - because all such long-distance gratification is buffoonery!"

this does not mean we should throw around terms like "religious privilege" as if muslims of colour experience the same kind of social advantage in the us as white evangelical christians,

But they do, in historically Muslim areas.

Atheist bloggers in Pakistan have been murdered for "blasphemy".

3

Dumai wrote

look, if you're just going to refuse to engage with what i'm saying then there's no point in having this conversation.

But it does, and it did. The fact that whites overlooked it in Asia and suppressed it in Europe doesn't change the fact of its existence.

okay then. can you tell me how the materialism of diderot is exactly the same ontological creed as the materialism of la mettrie? can you tell me there's absolutely nothing in marx's materialism that addresses human subjectivity that is absent in diderot? would you say that the charvaka school would recognise anything in common with their philosophical purposes and those of the french materialists centuries later?

They specifically call out the priestly caste as a fraud.

... which doesn't mean they were irreligious, or that the categories of "religion" and "irreligion" would be meaningful to them. if rejecting priesthood makes you irreligious, then sikhs must be irreligious. or if the absence of a belief in the immortal soul makes you irreligious, then judaism didn't become a religion until it was hellenised. if rejecting the existence of god makes you irreligious, then there are plenty of hindus, jains, and buddhists who aren't religious. if you aren't irreligious until you do all three of these things, then there are plenty of devout quakers who aren't religious. none of this is to even touch on the main point that the secular realm is as constructed and historically contingent as religion, which you keep ignoring for some reason?

But they do, in historically Muslim areas.

only if colonialism never happened? only if imperialism is not still with us?

Atheist bloggers in Pakistan have been murdered for "blasphemy".

and i recognised that there are many parts of the world where atheists are marginalised - that isn't actually the same truth claim as "there is such a thing as a unequivocal religious privilege". unless you think atheists in the west experience a harsher degree of discrimination than muslims or jews this can't be something you can defend.

3

[deleted] wrote

3

Dumai wrote

To sum it up: yes, I experience discrimination for being an atheist.

let's take it for granted that you do. does it naturally follow from here that jews and muslims are privileged? as willing as i am to say jews have made some gains, especially as a result of christian philo-semitism, i wouldn't say they were emancipated, and i would definitely not say anti-semitism isn't still a very present threat in their lives. as far as i'm concerned, you'd have to make those assumptions to say a singular "religious privilege" exists in the united states.

3

shanoxilt wrote

European materialism starts with Epicurus, not Diderot. Please, learn this.

only if colonialism never happened? only if imperialism is not still with us?

All Abrahamic religions were spread by the sword. This predates European exploitation of the Middle East.

unless you think atheists in the west experience a harsher degree of discrimination than muslims or jews this can't be something you can defend.

You've clearly never talked to an infidel of color, so I think you should end this conversation here.

4

Dumai wrote

European materialism starts with Epicurus, not Diderot. Please, learn this.

that's the traditional genealogy, yes, but it's far from perfect considering "materialism" as it arose in enlightenment european thought addressed philosophical and social questions that would have no relevance for epicurus, and carries historical baggage that he wouldn't recognise if he were here today. that isn't to say there aren't certain things epicureanism and enlightenment materialism have in common, but treating them as part of the same harmonious tradition is problematic.

it's kind of like assuming the modern category of "uncivilized" and the ancient roman concept of "barbarianism" are the same. well, no, not really, i guess you could use them synonymously in casual discourse, but if you're adequately historicising these concepts then you probably shouldn't.

All Abrahamic religions were spread by the sword. This predates European exploitation of the Middle East.

... right, okay. but if we're talking about the present day, you'd have to deny islamophobia even exists to say that muslims experience the same privilege as white protestants in the west, and not to notice how islamophobia itself ties into the history of racism and colonialism.

You've clearly never talked to an infidel of color, so I think you should end this conversation here.

and if i were to do this, they'd tell me that islamophobia doesn't exist and that white atheists of christian background experience exactly the same stigmatisation as they do?

i'm not sure that's actually what you're saying, but it's the only way i can make sense of your argument.