Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bodies of Thought : Embodiment, Identity and Modernity Editorial Reviews: Book Description
`The work develops and articulates a brilliant and original central thesis; namely that modern individuals are best understood as complex bodies of thought, as embodied symbolic and material beings. Future work on mind, self, body, society and culture will have to begin with Burkitt's text' - Norman K. Denzin, University of Illinois
`After his excellent Social Selves, Ian Burkitt has produced a new theory of embodiment which will become required reading for those working in the areas of social theory, sociology, cultural studies and social psychology. Steering between constructionist and realist theories of the social actor, Bodies of Thought provides an innovative assessment of Foucaultian, Eliasian, and feminist approaches to the body and a sustained critique of Cartesian notions of the subject' - Chris Shilling, Department of Social and Historical Studies, University of Portsmouth
In this incisive and truly impressive book, Ian Burkitt critically addresses the dualism between mind and body, thought and emotion, rationality and irrationality, and the mental and the material, which haunt the post-Cartesian world. Drawing on the work of contemporary social theorists and feminist writers, he argues that thought and the sense of being a person is inseparable from bodily practices within social relations, even though such active experience may be abstracted and expanded upon through the use of symbols. Overcoming classic dualisms in social thought, Burkitt argues that bodies are not purely the constructs of discourses of power: they are also productive, communicative, and invested with powerful capacities for changing the social and natural worlds. He goes on to consider how such powers can be developed in more ethical forms of relations and activities. Bodies of Thought will be essential reading for students and academics in social theory, social psychology, cultural studies, feminist theory and the sociology of the body.
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Think of the Body, October 22, 2005
Reviewer: savitriera - See all my reviews
Growing interest in the consciousness studies is forcing the skeptics to look at it afresh, for it no longer belongs to the New-Ager's domain, alone. This book is a commendable compendium of path-breaking ideas reconstituting our conception of subjectivity. While post-modern sentiments amply spice the text, what should not be missed is the emphasis on body-mind continuum, which runs as an undercurrent, throughout the work.

Justice Nature and the Geography of Differences

by David Harvey Customer Reviews:
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An Eye-opener, October 22, 2005
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


The superman. This Essay of Sri Aurobindo appeared first in his Arya Journal 1920.
The ideal of the Superman has been brought recently into much notice. It is a call to man to do what no species has yet done or aspired to do in terrestrial history, evolve itself consciously into the next superior type. And when we so envisage it, this conception ranks surely as one of the most potent seeds that can be cast by thought into the soil of our human growth. Nietzsche first cast it, the mystic of Will-worship, the troubled, profound, half-luminous Hellenising Slav with his strange clarities, his violent half-ideas, his rare gleaming intuitions that came marked with the stamp of an absolute truth and sovereignty of light.
But Nietzsche was an apostle who never entirely understood his own message. His prophetic style was like that of the Delphic oracles which spoke constantly the word of the Truth but turned it into untruth in the mind of the hearer. Not always indeed; for sometimes he rose beyond his personal temperament and individual mind, his European inheritance and environment, his revolt against the Christ-idea, his war against current moral values and spoke out the Word as he had heard it, the Truth as he had seen it, bare, luminous, impersonal and therefore flawless and imperishable.
But for the most part, this message that had come to his inner hearing vibrating out of a distant infinite like a strain caught from the lyre of far-off Gods, did get, in his effort to appropriate and make it nearer to him, mixed up with a somewhat turbulent surge of collateral ideas that drowned much of the pure original note. Especially, in his concept of the Superman he never cleared his mind of a preliminary confusion. For if a sort of human godhead is the goal to which the race must advance, the first difficulty is that we have to decide to which of two very different types of divinity the idea in us should owe allegiance. For the deity within may confront us either with the clear, joyous and radiant countenance of the God or the stern convulsed visage of the Titan.
Nietzsche hymned the Olympian, but presented him with the aspect of the Asura. His hostile pre-occupation with the Christ-idea of the crucified God and its consequences was perhaps responsible for this distortion as much as his subjection to the imperfect ideas of the Greeks. He presents to us a superman who fiercely and arrogantly repels the burden of sorrow and service, not one who arises victorious over mortality and suffering, his ascension vibrant with the triumph-song of a liberated humanity. To lose the link of Nature's moral evolution is a capital fault in the apostle of supermanhood; for only out of the unavoidable line of the evolution can that emerge in the bosom of a humanity long tested, ripened and purified by the fire of egoistic and altruistic suffering. © Copyright Webside Literaturen

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Paul de Man (1919-83)

Cynthia Chase
Raised throughout de Man's work are questions of history, including the conditions of literary history and texts' impingement on historical events. One way the issue is engaged is through the theorization of narrative, as in essays on Georg Lukacs's Theory of the Novel, Friedrich Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, and autobiography. De Man's own chief contribution to literary history is the revaluation of early Romanticism as the decisive, not yet superseded moment of the modern period. Essays written between 1956 and 1983 gathered in The Rhetoric of Romanticism read Friedrich Hölderlin, Rousseau, William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, W. B. Yeats, Charles Baudelaire, and Heinrich von Kleist; complementary to them are rhetorical readings of texts of Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Schiller, and G. W. F. Hegel gathered in Aesthetic Ideology, focused on the concept of the sublime and on the function and status of the category of the aesthetic.
The concept of materiality that emerges through these readings is connected by de Man with the concept of history as irreversible occurrence. Close consideration of the category of the aesthetic in Kant and Hegel and of a literary text staging the Schillerian notions of "aesthetic education" and the "aesthetic state" (Kleist's "On the Marionette Theater") leads de Man to diagnose and indict, as a fundamental strategy of the aesthetic ideology he links with the totalitarian state, "aesthetic formalization": the aesthetification, as a satisfying, recognizable form, of the formal, mechanical, arbitrary, and contradictory processes of language. His counterproposal to the conception of the work as a fully formal system is that of a reading process in which the formal and referential aspects of language are continually in conflict and at stake. Questions of history thus merge with questions of the structure and role of institutions and specifically of the institution of teaching.

Paul Ricoeur (1913-2005)

There are two closely related questions that animate all of Ricoeur's work, and which he considers to be fundamental to philosophy: "Who am I?" and "How should I live?" The first question has been neglected by much of contemporary analytical and post-modern philosophy. Consequently, those philosophies lack the means to address the second question. Postmodernism self-consciously rejects traditional processes of identity formation, depicting them as familial and political power relations premised upon dubious metaphysical assumptions about gender, race and mind. At the same time, contemporary philosophy of mind reduces questions of "who?" to questions of "what?", and in doing so, closes down considerations of self while rendering the moral question one of mere instrumentality or utility.
In relation to the question "Who am I?", Ricoeur acknowledges a long-standing debt to Marcel and Heidegger, and to a lesser extent to Merleau-Ponty. To the moral question, the debt is to Aristotle and Kant. In addressing the question "who am I?" Ricoeur sets out first to understand the nature of selfhood – to understand the being whose nature it is to enquire into itself.In this endeavor, Ricoeur's philosophy is driven by the desire to provide an account that will do justice to the tensions and ambiguities which make us human, and which underpin our fallibility. In The Voluntary and The Involuntary, he explores the involuntary constraints to which we are necessarily subject in virtue of our being bodily mortal creatures, and the voluntariness necessary to the idea of ourselves as the agents of our actions. We have, as he later describes it, a "double allegiance", an allegiance to the material world of cause and effect, and to the phenomenal world of the freedom of the will by which we tear ourselves away from the laws of nature through action. This conception of the double nature of the self lies at the core of Ricoeur's philosophy.

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

Post-modernism of Umberto Eco

By Niki Lambros
Philosopher Paul Ricoeur has called Marx, Nietzsche and Freud, "masters of suspicion;" yet he also notes that though they sought to undermine traditional ideas, they were able to "clear the horizon for a more authentic word, for a new reign of Truth, not only by means of a 'destructive' critique, but by the invention of an art of interpreting". In a similar way, Umberto Eco can be seen as both a post-modernist sceptic and a champion of truth and meaning. From a Christian point of view, one must be very suspicious of a post-modernist philosophy that will not allow the possibility that God, truth and meaning can exist: Rowan Williams and George Steiner noted that the "suspicion" or scepticisms of Derrida and Foucault are not suspicious enough for this reason: they do not allow themselves to suspect that truth may indeed exist. We must read Eco in the light of just such a suspicion; while Eco is sceptical of simply accepting traditional religion or modernist conclusions, he yet shows himself to be even more suspicious of philosophy which does not seek truth and meaning, but is content with nihilism and the void. The "art of interpreting" or, "deduction" in Eco, still leads a careful reader, if not to an absolute knowledge, at least to hope; and Eco sees a profound meaning in hope.
Eco is a post-modernist whose background in medieval theology, his study of semiotics and the philosophy of language, and general devotion to scholarship, do not permit him to reduce humanity and the cosmos to the meaninglessness espoused by much of dogmatic post-modernism. A close reading of both Eco's fictional and scientific works reveals this fundamental incompatibility with philosophers such as Richard Rorty, Jaques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and other post-modernists who have declared war on meaning. Eco's notion of irony is profoundly creative and liberating: in The Name of the Rose, it is God who has the last laugh. For who are they which survive the apocalypse?

Carnival, History and Popular Culture: Rabelais, Goethe and Dostoevskii as philosophers

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

Why to study Baudrillard?

The sexuality, during much time, consisted as something of the private sphere them individuals and occurred, among others reasons, face to the sexual repression. However, in last the 30 years, the society has become the sexuality as something of public sphere, bringing it it baila, over all in the medias of mass. The sexualização comes assuming the characterization of the man of the present time as a set free man, whose body is exemplary form of its identity. The body assumes role detached in the last times, where if it observes a narcísica dither and it becomes mark of the ideologies of the sexuality. Thus, in the medias of mass, we have the invasion of announcements of search of partners, feminine and masculine nakeds vendendo products and increasing the number of sections of periodic with sexual advice, columns gays and proliferation of ponographic magazines, etc. It is joined this a televising production that appeals the sex, the erótico and to the ponographic one as form of decoy of a public.
The problematização of these two categories - seduction and sexuality - passes for a baudrillardiana idiosyncrasy in that the negation of the Psychoanalysis says respect and, at the same time, contraditoriamente, is endorsed in this for its argumentativa task. Considering that we dislocate ourselves in the direction of an unconscious and libidinal economy where the existing space it is for the total naturalization of a desire directed toward the destinations of the pulsão, Baudrillard it underlines, "it has a sex and necessary to find the best use it, you have a body and is necessary to know to enjoy it, you have a libido and necessary to know to spend it."
The subversora seduction of the direction and the masked sexuality for the mercantile question ascend to one another category of sexual model marked by the express violence particularly in the advertising as in the medias of mass in general. To the measure that the sexuality is treated as something constituent subject it when this is only its mask, has a correspondence there to what the communication also chooses as predicativo of the identity of the citizen. This sexual model, this clothes, this skin, this appearance does not pass of simulation. Such correspondence is, of the baudrillardiano point of view, simulacro.
Baudrillard, in this way, does not occult its nietzschiana influence, what the apóia for the order of simulacro, the illusion, the emptiness, the sexuality and the questioning of the Real. Finally, it is necessary to elencar the antropológica philosophy in the thought of Battaille, also nietzschiano, will go to perpassar the thought of Baudrillard since the conception of the will of representation of the man - symbolic, to the erótico and its entailings to the body and this in its economic power.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Pierre Klossowski and Maurice Blanchot

Ed. Sarah Wilson. Introduction by Alyce Mahon. Black Dog
Review by Brett Bowles, Iowa State University, for H-France, September 2003.
As Mahon establishes in her lengthy introductory essay, Pierre Klossowski (1905-2001) played a significant role in French art, literature, and philosophy from the 1930s through the 1980s. His writings rehabilitating the Marquis de Sade as a figure of legitimate literary significance and exploring the philosophical dimensions of pornography, as well as his own substantial corpus of erotic novels and drawings, drew attention from influential critics such as Maurice Blanchot, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-François Lyotard, and Jean Baudrillard. Yet today Klossowski’s work remains relatively obscure, even among scholars conversant in contemporary art and theory. This compilation attempts to reestablish Klossowski by presenting three of the artist’s essays--Decadence of the Nude” (1967), “Description, Argumentation, Narrative” (1975), and “The Indiscernible” (1978)--with Blanchot’s “The Laughter of the Gods” (1965), a knotty meditation on the philosophical value of Klossowski’s literary and graphic creations.
Following Blanchot’s lead and Deleuze’s equally admiring characterization of Klossowski as a “theo-pornologer”[4], Mahon contends that “Klossowski’s fiction combines two sorts of theatricality: that of the Marquis and his ritualised ceremonies of decadence and that of Saint Augustine and his concept of theologis teatrica as a means of moral exegesis, exemplified in the thirteen books of his Confessions. St. Augustine praised God for his good and evil acts, depicting sin as a perverse love which frustrates man’s basic drive toward being and perfection. Like St. Augustine, Klossowski believed that man must find his identity outside himself and that he must choose either to rise above himself or to leave the love of God and sink. Man can turn his back to God, having sinned, and recognize that the full potential of his being lies with God. . . . Roberte’s physical exposure is intended to lead her and the viewer/reader to a spiritual catharsis, in recognition of a greater power” (p. 65).

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Sunday, October 16, 2005


Tuesday, October 04, 2005; In-der-Blog-sein: Savitri Era Learning Forum appears to be re-running Clark's post on Scotus, Heidegger, and Derrida:

  • 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.
Put that way, Heidegger's insight would be that an object must already be given--being's gift--before it can be interpreted. ¶ 8:57 AM 3 comments

Kosmic Bloggers

"Blogging egos into cyberspace and watching them grow to infinity..."
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

Kant-Friesian School

Identifying Schopenhauer and Fries as the proper successors to Kant is due to the judgment that Schopenhauer represents the best critique of Kant's metaphysics as Fries represents the best critique of his epistemology. That both viewed the "Subjective Deduction" in the first edition of the Critique of Pure Reason as the most revolutionary passage is significant, as is a similar use of it by a modern Kant scholar, Robert Paul Wolf, in his Kant's Theory of Mental Activity [Harvard, 1963].
Similarly, the identification of both Hume and Adam Smith in the Scottish background of the tradition represents a judgment, not just that Hume and Smith were well known and sympathetic to each other, but that Smith's theory of the free market in the Wealth of Nations is still the foundation of all productive political economy, mostly ill appreciated in the 20th century apart from Austrian economists like F.A. Hayek and Chicago economists like Milton Friedman. The personal and theoretical association of Hayek and Karl Popper ties Austrian economics firmly into the Friesian tradition.
On the religious and psychological side, Jung and Eliade may seem more peripheral, except to the extent that they rely on Otto, who is substantially and firmly Friesian, and (independently for Jung) on Kant and Schopenhauer. The use of all these figures, of course, implies a more substantial content for religion, both epistemologically and metaphysically, than Kant, Fries, or Nelson would have been willing to admit.
The inclusion of Freud and Nietzsche is only appropriate as background for Jung and Camille Paglia. The initial formative influence of Freud on Jung's mature thought, and the substantial influence of Schopenhauer through Nietzsche, motivates the reference for him. Paglia may seem to some as too much of an intellectual lightweight to be included on the same level as the other figures. However, Paglia is one of the few recent art historians who does not suffer from a facile, thoughtless political leftism. In fact she characterizes herself as a libertarian, which places her in almost unique agreement, for modern American academics, with the Classical Liberalism of Popper and Hayek. In positive terms, Palgia's theory is basically a Jungian one, of sexual archetypes, reflected in a Jungian title (i.e. Sexual Personae -- like Ingmar Bergman's 1966 movie Persona), even though she discusses Freud more than Jung.
Paglia herself certainly has no interest in or even awareness of the Friesian School, but her thought, independently and unintentionally, requires and promotes the Polynomic Theory of Value. Pagilia's theory of aestheticism, that the value of art is independent of any moral or political purpose (similar to the argument of art historian and critic Robert Hughes in his The Culture of Complaint [Oxford, 1993]), avoids being a theory of moral aestheticism, which would deny the significance of moral judgment, since Paglia clearly retains the full force of moral judgment with it. This is conformable to the distinctions found under "The Fallacies of Moralism and Moral Aestheticism", which are illustrated in "Logical Relationships of Moralism and Moral Aestheticism". Paglia's whole treatment thus stands as an important counterpoint to Nelson's own theory of moralism, one of the most important features of Friesian ethics.
The inclusion of Husserl, Heidegger, and Sartre, many of whose ideas, including nearly all epistemological, political, and ethical ones, are quite contrary to Friesian principles, is appropriate for the contributions of Phenomenological thought to metaphysics. Those contributions, concerning consciousness and transcendence, are considered in "A New Kant-Friesian System of Metaphysics" and The Origin of Value in a Transcendent Function.
A systematic and programmatic approach to the Friesian tradition is, of course, very much at odds with the tendencies of modern academic philosophy, especially Anglo-American academic philosophy, which expresses both scepticism and positive hostility towards systematic efforts and where the typical vehicle of philosophy is brief papers on dissociated, isolated issues. Such is the heritage, as Popper has noted, of Logical Positivism, which denied the status of knowledge to anything but science and gave to philosophy only the role of describing science or clarifying meaning. The next step, whether the later Wittgenstein, deconstruction, or "post-modernism," was to dismiss science as well and to deny that meaning can be clarified, which brings us to a final nihilism in which philosophy mirrors all the absurdity and meaninglessness of an Existentialist world.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Baudrillard, Derrida, Eco, Foucault

Pataphysician at twenty – situationist at thirty – utopist at forty –transversal at fifty – viral and metaleptic at sixty – that’s my history. [Cool Memories II, 1990]
Deconstruction is a weak form of thought, the inverse gloss to constructive structuralism. Nothing is more constructive than deconstruction, which exhausts itself in passing the world through the sieve of the text, going over and over the text and the exegesis with so many inverted commas, italics, parentheses and so much etymology that there is no text left. There are only the remnants of a forced organization of meaning, a forced literalism of language. [Cool Memories II, 1996]
Were I not so frequently associated with this adventure of deconstruction, I would risk, with a smile, the following hypothesis: America is deconstruction. [Derrida (Quoted in Mathy), 1993; 257]
As a self-conscious polemicist Baudrillard exaggerates half-truths into something like a dialectical image. Consider, for example, his one-line dismissal of the project of hermeneutics:

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]
Foucault (Other spaces: the principles of heterotopia, 1986) identifies two spaces (utopias and heterotopias) which he illustrates through example of the mirror. Foucault concentrates on these heterotopic spaces of which he provides a vast number of examples (brothels, cemeteries, colonies, fairs, prisons, psychiatric clinics, rest homes, ships, etc.). However, it is Baudrillard, not Foucault, who has concentrated on utopian spaces through the two main examples of America and Disneyland. For Baudrillard, the utopian spaces he describes are not other spaces as Foucault’s heteropias are, but are panergyric to the actual hyperreal society in which they are located. [170]

Circle of understanding

The central notion of the circle of understanding says that the parts of a text must be understood in terms of the whole and the whole in terms of the parts in an unceasing circular movement. This implies that before we start with a part, we already have some vague notion of what the whole is about and an anticipation of its coherence and meaningful unity. As we make the to and fro movement between the parts and the whole, each yields a clearer and determinate meaning, a meaning moreover, which has nothing to do with the life and the mind or times of the author but solely with the matter which finds expression in the text, with an impersonal, intelligible and coherent sense. When we take up an ancient text, seeking to understand it and expecting it to speak to us, deep calling to our deep, we do so with certain presuppositions, inexplicit and unconscious, never with an empty, unprepossessed mind. (J.L.Mehta: 166)