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The Enlightenment and Its Discontents

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THE ENLIGHTENMENT AND ITS DISCONTENTS
Antinomies of Christianity, Islam and the calculative sciences

In my point of view, the main concern of this paper is about the role of ideology in retarding or advancing the Enlightenment project. Which the ideologies itself in this case are Christianity, Islam, and accounting as a calculative science because each constitute a social ideology where they are systems of belief that inform conduct in everyday life. And what is Enlightenment itself? From the explanation of Kant, “Enlightenment is the liberation of man from his self-caused state of minority. Minority is incapacity of using one understands without the direction of another. This state of minority is self-caused when its source lies not in a lack of understanding but in a lack of determination and courage to use it without the assistance of another. Dare to use your own understanding.” From the Christian dialectic, human Enlightenment decline. It is characterized by the existence of a war against the accumulation of wealth, which is considered as an obstacle to the development of capitalism. In catholic paternalism, it is seen the pressure internally and externally. Internally, there was hypocrisy of economic in the body of the Church, where they prohibit lending practices and interest rates, but the Church itself there is excess wealth. Externally, the secularization of Church function in the form of God monarchy or God monopoly, faced with land acquisition monarchy that led to growing speculation, rents, and rising land prices.
In Addition, the English revolution in the form of agricultural technology push declining Catholic morality. The exploitation of export trade wool from England and cost inflation at home led to the seizure of land for profitable redeployment to new forms of industry. Public Fields and forest previously used for collective farming and fuel were fenced off and converted into pasture for sheep grazing. Landowners, themselves beset by financial pressures, reneged on ancient understanding, and drove peasants from their lands.
The monopoly of Catholicism’s led to the Protestant synthesis. A reformation of a movement by religious people, who shared with Enlightenment thinkers a dislike of Church’s monopoly over the individual’s access and communion with God, and who could no longer tolerate Catholicism’s anachronistic hypocrisy.
Catholicism itself never escaped from its mythological ancestry. Indeed, even today, it continues to deploy pre-Christian mythological symbolism to great effect. In anthropological terms, Catholic dogma regarding papal infallibility retains elements of God-King religions, such as that practiced by some Egyptian pharaohs. Authority under such belief systems is embodied in the Almighty here on Earth; a supernatural being that supplies a terrible and divine presence. Protestantism dethroned Catholicism’s infallible Shepherd of the Lord, and (modestly) crowns man as maker of his own destiny. The mythological crowning of man is the final chapter where he becomes the master of his own destiny (Tawny, 1937). This metamorphosis of Christianity into Protestantism is the quintessence of Kant’s dictum: “Dare to use your understanding”.
The Enlightenment and Catholic campaign against myth sought to abolish superstition, exorcise the gods, and erase magic. Yet both Catholicism and science proceeded by taking-on the methods of myth (and in doing so, they eventually revert to myth). The continuity between myth and science is reflected in their common pursuit of control, and the means for accomplishing control. Science inherits from myth its reliance on repetition, shown today in techniques of correlation analysis, pattern recognition, regression analysis, etc. From the point of view of science, there is a fundamental difference between the logos and the reality and the subject with object. Classification or Cartesian dualism provides a rational thinking that separates subject and object. While Descartes count ration, empirical evidence, technology and promoting everything that can be measured, demonstrated, engineered, and the complex reality recognized only material, physical and natural. Man is seen as a thinking entity, which is rational. Knowledge is the result of the deduction of priori that known as rationally. The view of Descartes and Cartesian also makes the struggle of Enlightenment, because of the emphasis on rationality and forget the other dimension which is the dimension of human nature by holistic. Enlightenment struggle occurred because of the failure of the view of science that tends to think logo-centrism. First, the thought patterns of binary opposition considered oppressive marginal position. Second, the emphasis on practical aspect and functions remove the ethical aspects. Third, the standard form that universally regarded marginalizes local values. Christianity has long-been in the forefront of religious engagement in the formation of capitalism. Recently, Islam has enjoined the struggle against capitalism in a visible and sometimes dramatic manner. Unlike Christianity, Islam is not so directly concerned directly implicated in defending the ideal of the Enlightenment (the latter being commonly understood as European in time and space, notwithstanding then on-European antecedents). From the Islamic point of view, the values of Enlightenment actually have in common with Islamic Value. First, Islam is a religion that privileges “the innate” moderate and positive qualities of Man, and the importance of knowledge in their development. Material and spiritual life are not bifurcated; they form part of an essential unity. Knowledge is privileged because it fosters human integrity. This knowledge is neither cerebral nor practical, but composed of a holistic relation between belief and behavior, that gives pride of place to a civilized development of humanity. Second, Islam is “Enlightenment”, and for capitalism – revolutionary – in that it rejects the division of the secular and the non-secular, and more generally, the separation between church and state. Indeed, Islam is not merely a “personal” religion; but, as the Koran shows in great detail, is also an organization for society, its institutions, as well as a guide for conduct of individuals within that institutional and social context. Consequently, the Koran itself is the authority for resisting the kind of ceasefire-agreement with the state that Christianities in the West have acceded to, where the secular has surrendered to the non-secular the realms of politics, education, the workplace, and economic relations. Third, in the realm of science, Islam remains holistic or dialectical, where, for instance, the health of the spirit and body and mind are treated as a unity. It’s thereby stands against many of the Cartesian dualisms that typify the Enlightenment’s regression under capitalism - with the attendant subordination of man. We consider each of these areas in greater detail below. Islam is simultaneously a religion, and a social constitution, because instructs Muslims in both how to worship and how they should conduct themselves with others (individuals, group, family, nation). The West has borrowed these precepts liberally from the centuries old traditions of Islam: the principles established by the League of Nations in regulating relationships between nation states, and the ideals of the French Revolution (freedom, equality and fraternity) derive from experience from previously functioning Islamic societies. Many institutions established in Europe under Napoleon I was similarly inspired after his Egyptian campaign. There is no explicit prohibition against private property or capitalism in an Islamic social order, although many of its excesses would be deemed unacceptable. In Islam the Koran elevates both the unity of the spiritual and material character of people. It is “moderate” in its recognition that does not ordain either a purely ascetic, or an essentially materialist life. It seeks a virtuous conduct that, on one hand, must be principled, and on the other, must be practical. These qualities are disengaged in market capitalism: principles are for the home, and practicalities are for work. The civilizations incorporated under the Islamic empire celebrated unity in diversity by drawing from all sources for their development. This tolerance of difference stands in contrast with the totalizing mission of Western capitalism(although not all forms of Christianity) where colonized identities are viewed as “primitive” and in need of “civilizing” (as under such ideologies of “Manifest Destiny”, and the “White man’s Burden”). In contrast, in Islamic architecture, mosques are constructed in a style that honors local traditions (Indonesian, Tunisian, Egyptian, etc). Similarly, knowledge vital to the development of science in the Islamic empire harnessed the efforts of scholars from all religions – Christians, Jews, Indians and Muslims – who were all supported for their contributions to the human advancement The straggle of the Islamic Enlightenment happened when Jihad has been scandalized by some Muslims and Christians as a “Holy War”, however for many moderates, and in the Koran itself, pre-eminence is given to knowledge and the integrity of conscience. The “Big” Jihad is the struggle against oneself and one’s passions. It is an effort to foster a conscience to control against corruption. The “small” jihad (Aljihad alsghar) consists of repairing an injustice (at the limit, war), but even here, there is a religious prohibition against aggression because life is sacred (Surat Al-r’ad, 11, Surat al-maida, 32). According to these respected, authoritative, and thus widely accepted readings of the Koran, the representation of the Jihad – as a war to convert people to Islam – is completely false. In the rise of calculative sciences, Kant and Bacon represent seemingly opposing visions for human knowledge and control. Bacon’s focus on the experimental method represents a movement from “Reality” to “The Idea”, whereas Descartes’ quest to unify science within mathematics represents a movement from “The Idea” to “Reality”. These early philosophical schisms threaten the Modernist Ideal, by misconstruing movement in reality in an either-or (Cartesian) manner (for instance, by reducing choice to either induction or deduction).Far more important than epistemic distortions are the shared social (materialist) precepts of Kant and Bacon: the dethroning of God, the demolition of his institutional and political (Catholic) arsenal on Earth, and the “Ascent of Man”. These antinomies at the level of the “Haut Science” of Bacon and Descartes, percolated through to the practical knowledge of algebra, geometry, and accounting to further unsettle the balance between the secular and the worldly. Calculus did not drop out of the sky; nor was it a purely a Western invention. In the West, it appeared with the advent of modern science, and followed closely on the rise of capitalism. The Great Renaissance and the emergence of European industry and the capitalist class in the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries had a tremendous influence on the development of mathematics. With the discovery of analytic geometry and the invention of calculus, mathematics was transformed from a science of constant quantities into the mathematics of varying quantities (calculus). These early developments in sciatic and mathematical competence provided an intellectual and methodological reservoir to be drawn-on by economists and accountants. Accounting’s complicity in these processes is multifarious. It intrudes into the operations of the workplace (management and cost accounting), into locating and shaping that workplace (financial accounting, tax regime analysis, mergers and acquisitions consulting), the quality and quantity of products that are generated by the workplace (budgeting, forecasting, planning), identifying more lucrative consumer segments and appraising strategies for reconstructing consumers and their tastes(market analysis), and the audit process that monitors the integrity of information and decisions operating at all these different levels, etc. There are Obstacles to developing a progressive politics; Progressive politics has been sabotaged by its own illusions, and these illusions are rampant in accounting. First, there is the allure of personal, identity, and issue-politics that are frequently conducted on territory “outside” the market. Second, following the triumphs of the 1933-1934 US Securities Acts, and 1948Companies Acts, reformist accountants today continue to favor such legislative remedies for contemporary ills, long after circumstances have rendered the elixir impotent. The SEC and the FASB were victims of the commodification of politics; they were captured by the industries they were designed to regulate. These were corporate and accounting casualties in the struggle between the market and the social, and between the modern and postmodern. The PCAOB is exposed to the same susceptibilities. The assault on the modern and its progressive Enlightenment precepts, has gained impetus from the rise of market capitalism, and the reduction of Man to a commodity for the alien purposes of accumulation. The struggle against Enlightenment regression cannot be conned to the traditional class concerns of the workplace. There is an integral relation between these issues and religion, race, gender, foreign policy, and uncommodified fields of experience (Elson, 1979). A “politics of production” includes not just the factory, but all activities that contribute to the reproduction of the factory in the home, in spiritual life, at school, in the theatre, in places of consumption, in parenting, etc.
The charge of progressive accounting in the Modernist project is to promote individual and social development by enhancing the integrity of accounting information. A moment’s reflection on the ramifications of this rubric would show that we have hardly begun work on this task. Here, we can begin outlining some of the possibilities for this new politics of accounting. Consider, for instance, the kind of educational curriculum for a properly priming of undergraduate students for the progressive work. First, the use of “live” case studies, drawn from the litany of accounting and audit failures from the last decade, to obtain this material, big firms need to be pressured into abandoning their practice of sealing court records of cases as part of their settlements. Second, an introduction to philosophy criticism that’s endows students with political acuity and philosophical skepticism as to the conservative precepts of Cartesian and empiricist analysis. And third, there is an integral connection between Islam and accounting today that underscores the exigency of broad historical, multicultural, social, and political studies – within accounting education itself. It is a responsibility of critical accountants to alert people that this is a ruse to divert attention from their own critical agenda and the problem’s engendered by this destructive social order.…...

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