Is the “social imaginary” of 21st century philosopher Charles Taylor the same thing as 20th century philosopher J. H. Bavinck’s “Worldvision?” Those who fall into these categories would have been what Glen Martin was talking about when he wrote about “Eclectic and Conglomerate thinkers.”
In all of these the idea is that people move in terms of a worldview that they do not self-consciously recognize as such. In other words in all these cases the individuals under consideration have not arrived at the way they are leaning into the world by being epistemologically self-conscious about the ideas that are forming the foundation for why they lean into life the way they lean into life. Instead, to use a metaphor, they are flowing with the cultural rivers current or whatever sitz-em-lieben they are in living in.
The way I have have often put it is with the analogy of a Hollywood film set. People, exceptions notwithstanding, are chameleons and they will blend into any film set that the culture gives them. So, if the culture is the equivalent of a Pirate film those who are not epistemologically self conscious about their belief system will dress in pirate hats, wear eye patches, and go around saying; “Arrrgh, Matey.” If, in their lifetime the cultural film set switches to a Western these same people will suddenly begin to wear ten gallon hats and speak with a Texas drawl.
Most people intuit “truth” and do not intuit it very well. In the words of Michael Polanyi they use “tacit knowledge” to ascertain what it will take to surf the zeitgeist and will accordingly adopt whatever it takes to fit into the “social imaginary,” (Charles Taylor) the prevailing “Worldvision,” (J. H. Bavinck) thus demonstrating themselves to be eclectic and conglomerate thinkers (Martin).
Still, like it or not the substratum underneath of all this is the handful of people who both play with and popularize and implement ideas which in turn eventually gets into the blood stream of a culture so that the social imaginary/worldvision can begin to gain traction so as to explain why the overwhelming majority of people lean into the times and so live the way they live.
To slightly change a quote from John Maynard Keynes;
“Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct ideologue/theologian. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.”
The long and short of this is that the largest percentage people don’t live the way they live or believe what they believe because they have thought through matters. They have not spent their lives examining the whys and wherefores of life. They were born, so to speak, on ice and having been born on ice they just put on their ice skates and took off without a thought that just maybe that wasn’t ice after all. Most people live the way they live and believe what they believe because they have caught all their “convictions and lifestyle” the same way they catch a flu virus.
This means it is those who are the idea people who are the most dangerous people as combined with those who promote the ideas which they more often than not don’t even understand. These are the creators, producers and manufacturers of culture (Hollywood, Publishing Houses, Media, Universities, etc.). More often than not in their role as “cultural gatekeepers” they are even more instrumental for creating the cultural film background set by which most people live by than those whose ideas they are (often unwittingly) pushing.
So, to make this practical, if we as Christians are to be have a plan of attack for returning to something that approximates Christendom what needs to be done is as follows;
1.) Negatively we must give a deadly virus to this current cultural context so that the social imaginary/worldvision can no longer be sustained by the average person in the culture. As Biblical Christians we have to find a way to make what was once considered “odd behavior” to be odd behavior again. That likely won’t be done by just chanting over and over again “that’s odd.” Instead it will be done perhaps by being able to mock the odd. Right now using the absurd to illustrate the absurd may be one of our best friends.
For example … We could run an ad campaign where someone tries to run their appliance by plugging in a male cord into another male cord and then run a tag line … “Gay lately?”
Look, Elijah mocked the hades out of his and God’s enemies. I think it is time for Christians to start clever mocking.
2.) Positively we have to have some people who are idea people who are casting Biblical Christianity in such a way that the current pagan theology of the self (as one example) is challenged and some other people who can promote those ideas into pop culture.
“J. H. Bavinck argues that the Christian worldview is far more important than individualistic late-modern Westerners usually realize. Although very few individuals master and animate entire cultures and civilizations. In that light Bavinck portrays the late-modern secular West as unwittingly living off borrowed Christian capital in order to prop up new world and life views that, thus far at least, have only ever run a deficit. While every individual is unique, there is a distinct kind of modern Western personality that takes shape through Western culture’s love-hate relationship to Christianity. As Bavinck states,
‘Worldviews last for longer than one generation. One generation celebrates worldviews that provide no foundation for its life and without the generation’s exterior taking on noticeable damage. This is so because for all of us, our hearts are unconsciously so Christian.”
Personality & Worldview — p. 19
J. H. Bavinck
“While cultures might be driven by grand worldviews, Bavinck argues that most individuals are not.”
Personality & Worldview — p. 11
Because the turbo-self is now ascendant so that the self is now King, anything the turbo-self can pull out of its social imaginary world vision can be expected to be given the imprimatur of social acceptability. The only exception to this would be the oddity of some turbo-self identifying with traditional Christian norms. That turbo-self would be squashed in a skinny minute. More likely, with the rise of the turbo-self we can expect more reality altering such as was codified by Obergefell vs. Hodges. What Obergefell vs. Hodges taught us is the there will no restraint on the turbo-self creating reality out of their social imaginary. In practice what this means is that just as the Uranian behavior of the turbo-self was codified by SCOTUS so we can expect eventually for every pervy behavior that the turbo-self can come up with to also be accepted and perhaps even codified eventually by SCOTUS.
We are already seeing this with the advance of acceptability of trannys — another fine example of the work of the turbo-self. We will see this with the rise of pedophilia. Keep in mind that whatever the turbo-self can imagine is to be accepted because the turbo-self as fallen is now sovereign.
In previous understandings of the self in the West the self was understood to be shaped and formed by the communal/covenantal Institutions wherein it was suffused and so marinated. With the rise of the turbo-self these Institutions (family, church, University, guild) no longer serve as places where the self is molded, influenced, and even challenged. In the turbo-self age, these communal/covenantal Institutions are only valued as they serve as a platform for the turbo-self to put itself on display. Now instead of being shapers of the self, Institutions in the age of PoMo now are to be themselves shaped by the atomistic Turbo self.
All sense of communal man is gone and what is left is only the sovereign turbo-self. The irony here though is that what is in point of fact happening is that the self is still being identified as influenced by Institutions, however the Institutions have been for a generation Institutions that are Revolutionary and have been preaching the turbo-self at least since the sexual revolution of the 60s.