Sunday, October 23, 2005
Think of the Body, October 22, 2005
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Reviewer: savitriera - See all my reviews
This book is a spectacular down-to-earth attempt to trasnscend positivism as well as Marxism. The very logic of the erudite author's argument alights in a blind alley, where the Heideggerian ambivalence remains the only saviour. This daring milestone in the history of thought would always be an inspiring read.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Ricoeur shares Marcel's view that the answer to the question "Who am I?" can never be fully explicated. This is because, in asking "Who am I?", "I" who pose the question necessarily fall within the domain of enquiry; I am both seeker and what is sought. This peculiar circularity gives a "questing" and dialectical character to selfhood, which now requires a hermeneutic approach. This circularity has its origins in the nature of embodied subjectivity. Ricoeur's account is built upon Marcel's conception of embodied subjectivity as a "fundamental predicament"(Marcel, 1965). The predicament lies in the anti-dualist realization that "I" and my body are not metaphysically distinct entities. My body cannot be abstracted from its being mine. Whatever states I may attribute to my body as its states, I do so only insofar as they are attributes of mine. My body is both something that I am and something that I have: it is "my body" that imagines, perceives and experiences. The unity of "my body" is a unity sui generis.The inherent ambiguity of the "carnate body" or "corps-sujet" can be directly experienced by clasping one's own hands (an example often employed by Marcel and Merleau-Ponty). In this experience the distinction between subject and object becomes blurred: it isn't clear which hand is being touched and which is touching; each hand oscillates between the role of agent and object, without ever being both simultaneously. One cannot feel oneself feeling. This example is supposed to demonstrate two points: first, that the ambiguity of my body prevents the complete objectification of myself, and second, that ambiguity extends to all perception. Perception is not simply passive, but rather, involves an active reception (a concept that Ricoeur takes up and develops in his account of the ontology of the self and one's own body in Oneself As Another, see 319–329). In other words, my body has an active role in structuring my perceptions, and so, the meaning of my perceptions needs to be interpreted in the context of my bodily situation.On Ricoeur's view, the question "Who am I ?" is a question specific to a certain kind of being, namely, being a subject of a temporal, material, linguistic and social unity. The ability to grasp oneself as a concrete subject of such a world requires a complex mode of understanding capable of integrating discourses of quite heterogenous kinds, including, importantly, different orders of time. It is to the temporal dimension of selfhood that Ricoeur has most directly addressed his hermeneutic philosophy and narrative model of understanding. IEP: James Fieser, Ph.D., founder and general editor;Bradley Dowden, Ph.D., general editor
The activities of the carnival square: collective ridicule of officialdom, inversion of hierarchy, violations of decorum and proportion, celebration of bodily excess and so on embody, for Bakhtin, an implicit popular conception of the world. This conception is not, however, able to become ideologically elaborated until the radical laughter of the square entered into the 'world of great literature' (Rabelais p.96). The novel of Rabelais is seen as the epitome of this process of breaking down the rigid, hierarchical world of the Middle Ages and the birth of the modern era. Rabelais is much more than a novelist for Bakhtin: his work embodies a whole new philosophy of history, in which the world is viewed in the process of becoming. The grotesque is the image of this becoming, the boundaries between person and person, person and thing, are erased as the individual merges with the people and the whole cosmos. As the individual body is transcended, the biological body is negated and the 'body of historical, progressing mankind' moves to the centre of the system of images. In the carnival focus on death and rebirth the individual body dies, but the body of the people lives and grows, biological life ends but historical life continues.
The carnivalesque becomes a set of image-borne strategies for destabilising the official worldview. Bakhtin defines the satirical attitude as the 'image-borne negation' of contemporary actuality as inadequacy, which contains within itself a positive moment in which an improved actuality is affirmed. This affirmed actuality is the historical necessity implicit in contemporary actuality and which is implied by the grotesque image. The grotesque, argues Bakhtin, 'discloses the potentiality of an entirely different world, of another order, another way of life. It leads man out of the confines of the apparent (false) unity, of the indisputable and stable' (Rabelais p.48). The grotesque image of the body, as an image which reveals incomplete metamorphosis no longer represents itself, it represents what Hegel called the 'universal dialectic of life'.
The Enlightenment, argues Bakhtin in a section which draws heavily on Cassirer (the corresponding passage is The Philosophy of the Enlightenment p.197), should no longer be considered an a-historical era, but 'an epoch of great awakening of a sense of time, above all ... in nature and human life' (p.26). But, argues Bakhtin 'this process of preparing for the disclosure of historical time took place more rapidly, completely, and profoundly in literary creativity than in the abstract philosophical, ideological views of Enlightenment thinkers' (p.26). Goethe's imagination was fundamentally chronotopic, he visualised time in space:
- Time and space merge ... into an inseparable unity ... a definite and absolutely concrete locality serves at the starting point for the creative imagination... this is a piece of human history, historical time condensed into space. Therefore the plot (sum of depicted events) and the characters ... are like those creative forces that formulated and humanised this landscape, they made it a speaking vestige of the movement of history (historical time), and, to a certain degree, predetermined its subsequent course as well, or like those creative forces a given locality needs in order to organise and continue the historical process embodied in it. (p.49)
Goethe wanted to 'bring together and unite the present, past and future with the ring of necessity' (p.39), to make the present creative. Like Rabelais, Goethe was as much a philosopher as a writer.
The same pattern of analysis shapes the 1963 version of the Dostoevskii study. Here Dostoevskii is no longer treated, as in the 1929 version, as a totally original innovator, but as the heir to a tradition rooted in popular culture. The novelist stood poised at the threshold of a new era, as the rigidly hierarchical Russian Empire was poised to give way to the catastrophic arrival of capitalist anarchy and ultimately revolution. Dostoevskii thus intersected with the threshold poetics of carnival at a different stage in its development, he sought to present the voices of his era in a 'pure simultaneity' unrivalled since Dante. In contradistinction to that of Goethe this chronotope was one of visualising relations in terms of space not time and this leads to a philosophical bent that is distinctly messianic:
- Only such things as can conceivably be linked at a single point in time are essential and are incorporated into Dostoevskii's world; such things can be carried over into eternity, for in eternity, according to Dostoevskii, all is simultaneous, everything coexists.... Thus there is no causality in Dostoevskii's novels, no genesis, no explanations based on the past, on the influences of the environment or of upbringing and so forth. Every act a character commits is in the present, and in this sense is not predetermined; it is conceived of and represented by the author as free. (p.29)
The roots of such a conception lie in carnival and, according to Bakhtin, in the carnivalised philosophical dialogues that constituted the Menippean Satire. This philosophico-literary genre reaches a new stage in Dostoevskii's work, where the roots of the novel as a genre stands out particularly clearly. One of those roots was the Socratic Dialogue, which was overwhelmed by the monologic Aristotelian treatise, but which continued to lead a subterranean life in the non-canonical minor satirical genres and then became a constitutive element of the novel form and, implicitly, literary modernism. This accounts for its philosophical importance. The Bakhtin Circle
Monday, October 17, 2005
Sunday, October 16, 2005
- One of Scotus' many significant contributions to philosophy was the recognition that different disciplines require different categories. Most importantly he broke with Aristotle in the belief that one could easily discern all the kinds of categories from a quick look at nature. Thus for Scotus the question of metaphysics, the study of being qua being, becomes the question of how an object gives itself to a subject. Put an other way, it becomes an analysis of how a subject comes to interpret objects.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Integral Fitness Solutions - "Integral Fitness Solutions offers an integral approach to health and fitness." posted by coolmel at 6:05 AM
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Integral Politics Website - Welcome to the Integral Politics Portal. posted by ebuddha at 6:21 PM
Integral Options Cafe - Integral Options Cafe offers news and views on all things related to an integral worldview. posted by ebuddha at 6:18 PM
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Holons.Org - WAKE UP! from the sleep of everyday life. posted by ebuddha at 2:19 PM
Savitri Era Learning Forum - Even the smallest meanest work became a sweet or glad and Glorious Statement. posted by ebuddha at 2:16 PM
Gavin's Blog ....because I love the sound of my own voice. posted by ebuddha at 2:04 PM
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Thursday, October 13, 2005
The fury to unveil the truth, to get at the naked truth, the one which haunts all discourses of interpretation, the obscene urge to uncover the secret, is proportionate to the impossibility of ever achieving this. (EC;73)
Again we are invited to locate the positive moment of truth in the very one-sidedness and paradoxicality of Baudrillardian thought:
The more one nears truth, the more it retreats towards the omega point, and the greater becomes the rage to get at it. But this fury, only bears witness to the eternity of seduction and to the impossibility of mastering it. (EC;74)
Here the aphoristic style assumes a pseudo-Nietzschean tone. As Nicholas Zurbrugg observes…like Lenny Bruce, Baudrillard commands attention in terms of his rhetorical excess—in terms of the register, rather than the substance, of his patter. An astrophysicist of technological society, Baudrillard explores the bleak and seductive logic of the mediascape from another planet from the optic of the primitive postmodern who sees in the triumphal ascendancy of the culture of signification—viral positivity—the gathering signs of its own violent dispersion in excess, loss and waste. [Arthur Kroker;80]His only media competitor is the Italian semiologist, Umberto Eco. And like Eco, Baudrillard’s thought centres on the galaxy of semiological problems generated by the great transition from capitalist-industrial society. To a civilization characterized by sign values, the mass production of culture and generalized communication technologies – what Baudrillard calls the modern universe of hyper-communication where signifiers are totallyemancipated from the signified and the referential. Rojec and Turner link Eco’s Travel in Hyperreality (1987) with Baudrillard’s America (1988) as comparable intellectual documents. the Baudrillard phenomenon is thus clearly seductive, if not, perhaps fatal. [Barry Sandywell; 98]