Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ethics that doesn’t need transcendent god to anchor it

It’s important for students to realize that when they’re composing papers for philosophy courses they’re not just laying down their opinions. Provided they give reasons to support their assertions, their papers are made up of arguments, not opinions. The reasons are what make an assertion more than mere opinion.
This is why it’s unfortunate that the new philosophy series, The Stone, in The New York Times is under the Opinion banner, as Postural Thinking notes in his latest entry. Of course, many of the the pieces in the Opinion page of the newspaper are more than mere opinion. But the newspaper maintains the myth that personal views are nothing more than mere opinion, just as the cable news shows keep viewers believing that there are always two sides to every story and that, furthermore, neither of these sides is better than the other.  All opinion is equal. You believe what you believe and I’ll believe what I believe. We’re both right.

The NY Times has introduced a new series on Philosophy. Oddly enough, it is in the "opinion" section of the paper, with Simon Critchley moderating (most of Critchley's introduction has to do with Plato, for whom "opinion" was never much of a safe place to be). Critchley's introduction is provocative, and should be questionable to a philosopher. This is, however, a good thing. A philosopher should find questionable attempts at making philosophy "public", but this does not mean that it should not be done. It's a dangerous thing, but then, so is driving a car, getting on an airplane, or using an electrical device of just about any sort. Philosophy is dangerous, too, as Critchley seems to suggest in his article.
This series comes at a time when philosophy's popularity may be at an all time low. It also comes at a time when religious and political fanaticism may be at an all time high. This "high", mind you, may not be decided by the number of people who fall into such a category, but by the threat it exercises upon civilization.
Naturally, most of the potential readers of this series are probably already fairly reasonable, intelligent people. But who knows? Any chance we've got at promoting thinking is a chance worth taking these days. Perhaps, as Nietzsche said, there really are more idols than there are realities. Maybe our thinking can be the hammer, even if this hammer is broadcasted. POSTED BY JACOB AT 6:16 AM MONDAY, MAY 17, 2010

What I'm interested in is the boundary between philosophy and theology. Aristotle spoke of "thinking thinking of thinking." Socrates claims to have lived the life of philosophy because he was doing the bidding of the god. We study Augustine and Aquinas in philosophy schools (although many think we shouldn't). The theological influence on Heidegger's work is undeniable (Benjamin D. Crowe has shown this well in his book, Heidegger's Religious Origins.) But the question is, at what point do we stop calling something philosophy, and start calling it theology (and this is what interests me about Heidegger). POSTED BY JACOB AT 2:48 PM SATURDAY, MAY 15, 2010

I spend a LOT of time in my manuscript trying to explain precisely how we can do work very similar to Whitehead today, but without the need for these objects/classes/types being eternal or transcedental.

But can we find an ethics that doesn’t need transcendent god to anchor it? Can we find a way to be ethical beings, and a way out of the society of the spectacle? And can we find a way to stop playing god or being cannibals of the rest of the world off which we feed in the process? Can we avoid becoming paranoidly insane, and devouring ourselves and the world in the process? Can we find a way out of the bubble of contemporary spectacle-capitalism, before we eat ourselves and the world with us alive? The only way, it would seem, is to understand how it was that the original world vanished, and the mutation started in the first place. We need to remember our history, even if this is as much about the future as the past. The alternative is to simply live for pure survival, with no reason why. In which case, the masters of the universe can have their sway with us all, because we can’t see anything beyond the present moment. Which means we are blind to the mutations as they occur. And of course, the masters of the universe are a sham, they don’t exist. They are merely the paranoid projections of our collective, frightened, deer-in-headlights, spectacle dazed selves. This is I think the challenge we find ourselves in today.

The Tehran Times interviews Lawrence J. Hatab.
Q: Is 20th century the best century in the history of philosophy? Why? 
A: This is a very difficult question to answer. In a sense, no century can match the 4th Century BC in ancient Greece, because there the very nature, shape, and scope of philosophy was created for the first time, and we still wrestle with the questions of Plato and Aristotle.
But I think the 20th Century has one great element, and that is sometimes called the ""linguistic turn."" Here the questions of philosophy must begin with how our language operates, rather than with suppositions about certain ""realities"" to which our language only ""refers."" Two giants of 20th Century philosophy, Heidegger and Wittgenstein, both worked in this way.
On the other hand, one of the worst parts of the 20th Century has been the ""professionalization"" of philosophy, where the discipline has become over-specialized, insulated in academia, and conversing mainly with fellow specialists, to the point where philosophy loses touch not only with concrete affairs of life, but also with an intelligent general readership. This is one reason why public discourse has become so much more shallow and thoughtless.
Hatab has written on ethics and finitude and on empathy and Heidegger.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tiredness and waiting

Chaudhuri reads Ray’s expression of bodies through Deleuze:

‘Give me a body then’: this is the formula of philosophic reversal. The body is no longer the obstacle that separates thought from itself, that which it has to overcome to reach thinking. It is on the contrary that which it plunges into or must plunge into, in order to reach the unthought, that is life. Life will no longer be made to appear before the categories of thought; thought will be thrown into the categories of life. The categories of life are precisely the attitudes of the body, its postures.

‘We do not even know what a body can do’: in its sleep, in its drunkenness, in its efforts and resistances. […] It is through the body (and no longer through the intermediary of the body) that cinema forms its alliance with the spirit, with thought. ‘Give me a body then’ is first to mount a camera on an everyday body. The body is never in the present, it contains the before and the after, tiredness and waiting. […] Perhaps tiredness is the first and the last attitude, because it simultaneously contains the before and the after; what Blanchot says is also what Antonioni shows, not the drama of communication, but the immense tiredness of the body, the tiredness there is beneath The Outcry, and which suggests to thought ‘something to communicate’, the ‘unthought’ of life.[18]

I want to stay for a moment, with Deleuze’s suggestion about tiredness as both ‘before’ and ‘after,’ as a state of being where time escapes the present by bridging a moment prior to with a moment yet to come. Tiredness – and waiting – is in fact, the most important trope defining Pratidwandi. […]

In an essay called ‘Nomad Thought’ Deleuze, in the course of an investigation of Nietzsche, produced a minor political manifesto. Society, Deleuze suggested, has developed historically, three ways of “encoding” populations: the law, the contract and the institution. In opposition to the dominance of these regimes of encoding, ideologies like Marxism and Freudianism proposed “recoding”: Marxism said the state had made people “sick” and a different state would cure them; Freudianism said the same with regard to the family.[27] The reason Nietzsche appears as a radical alternative in this larger trajectory is because he advocated “an absolute decoding.”[28] 

Deleuze performs, following this revelation, an exegesis of some themes in Nietzsche’s works. Only the last of these concerns me here. Referring to his discussion of the formation of primitive empires in the Genealogy of Morals, Deleuze argues that the process of formation or encoding might be read as the “production of two strictly correlated but different phenomena.” While in the centre there is a consolidation of power, the harnessing of an “administrative machine,” in the peripheries, people come together in “nomadic” unity, constantly decoding themselves. The nomadic “war machine” and the bureaucratic administrative machine are not discreet entities, both exist in constant tension with each other, and according to Deleuze, they continue to oppose each other even when they merge. However, although he is drawing on a historical moment, the argument is not a historical one. In contemporary societies too we find nomads – and these nomads are not migrants, they do not move. In fact, Deleuze argues, perhaps the greatest nomadic challenge in our times is to “stay in the same place while escaping the codes.”[29]

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Brecht, Barthes, Bakhtin, & Baudrillard

Like Bakhtin, Brecht wanted to extend "polyphonic artistic thinking" well beyond ....Following the literal shift in the location of action and .... of self-conscious theatricality support and extend the play's consistently ironic ...
The alienation value of Brecht's early play Drums in the Night has been ignored, dismissed, and co-opted. By reciprocally engaging Drums in the Night and Bakhtin's theory of the novel, however, we can see its radically dialogic structure, appreciate its alienation value, and reappropriate its prerevolutionary dimensions for contemporary use. We can, moreover, project directions for developing a rhetoric of performed narrative consistent with both Brecht's and Bakhtin's dialogic ideal.
The Invention of "Theatricality": Rereading Bernard Dort and ... by JP Sarrazac - 2002 - Cited by 1 - Related articles
Barthes certainly owed his most refined conception of semiological reasoning to. Brechtian literalness-a polyphonic theatricality, based on a "density of signs," a "layering of signification" (1972, 26). Pure theatrical presence was ... Jean Pierre Sarrazac and Virginie Magnat - The Invention of ...
Brecht pointed to Hitler's and the fascists' Theatralik, the German term that matches the pejorative connotation of the English word "theatricality." With ...
sent, where theatricality becomes a central paradigm of contemporary reality. ... positions repeatedly echo Brechtian ideas. In the second thematic group, ... the potential of film'sliteral uncoupling of sound and image to ...
The following aesthetic tenets inform Brecht's description of epic acting: 1. The theatricalityof the performance is brought to the foreground in order to ...
The Brechtian atmosphere is the result of the synecdochic structure, ... of the substitution of one literal term for another, but in synecdoche, ...... For a detailed analysis of the play'stheatricality and its relationship to ... 
The Radical in Performance interrogates the crisis in contemporary theatre and celebrates the subversive in performance. It is the first full-length study to explore the link between a Western theatre culture, which, says Kershaw, is largely 'past its sell-by ... 
ArtCat - Chelsea - Derek Eller Gallery - Dominic McGill, FuturePerfect by ArtCat
Dominic McGill’s exhibition FuturePerfect explores the construction and representation of history through epic works in graphite. Interested in Baudrillard’s concept of the collapse of historical linearity due to the speed of information, McGill constructs vivid timelines of text and imagery that have no beginning and no end. As McGill explains the show’s title: “The Future Perfect tense allows us to talk of the past in the future. If linearity has collapsed, then we can talk about the future by referencing the past and vice-versa”.
Social Media: Documentation as Stratification « PJ Rey: Posts from pj.rey
We resist the culture of documentation altogether, hoping that the system collapses so that we can retreat into the past (I call this the Baudrillard option). 2.) We take seriously the digital divide, adopting a rights-based discourse ...
more than meets the eye: Better Late Than Never by donald brackett
And though it was the charming and exhausting Baudrillard who has recently taken up the theme of the end of history, and its sudden reversal in a flow of time running backwards, it was E. Canetti who first postulated that indeed at a ...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Essence of Sri Aurobindo and Mataji breathes in every living tree

At Auroville, there is the right recipe for harmonious integration. Mix of cultural roots of people exerts an influence on its peaceful co-existence. ... Read more …