Sunday, February 15, 2009

Individual is all but powerless when faced with the overpowering discourse by the mass media

© 2008 Paolo A. Bolaños ISSN 1908-7330
In this Issue of KRITIKE: An Online Journal of Philosophy
The Editor

Each open issue of KRITIKE: An Online Journal of Philosophy strives
to offer a collection of essays that reflect a broad range of philosophic
interests—classical and modern/postmodern alike. This year-ender
issue is no exception. As it marks the end of the year 2008, a number of essays
included in this issue tackle questions relevant to the historic events of the past
and preceding years. There seems to be a growing and heightened interest in
the notion and practice of "governance" or statecraft, as some papers in this
issue attest; the presidential victory of Barack Obama seems to be tied to the
issue of governance—while the hope that ensues in such historic victory is
seen by many as constituting a radical redefinition of the practice of
governance, while others remain wary. The eight-year reign of George W.
Bush has, nolens volens and whether we are conscious of it or not, paved the way
to the invention and reinvention of concepts and words which, in academia, we
are already too familiar with: the grammar of terrorism, national and boarder
security, the self-defeating idea of globalization, inter-alia. These concepts
have forced us to revisit, almost in subliminal nostalgia, our distant affairs with
racism, gender bias, national identity crisis, fascism, and other forms of
oppression. The humanities and the social sciences once again pioneered in
the prognosis of these humanitarian and social issues, resulting in the invention
of new disciplines—may that be of control or liberation. Our continuing
nostalgia seems to be that of global justice. Let us admit that philosophy
participates in this collective nostalgia.
While certain articles, one way or the other, delve into the above
mentioned social and political problems, we are also very pleased to bring you
papers which range from intellectual history, metaphysics, epistemology,
aesthetics, phenomenology, deconstruction, critical theory, and textual
The Editorial Board of KRITIKE is very grateful to Fr. Ranhilio
Callangan Aquino for allowing us to feature his short piece "To Build or to
Destroy? The Philippine Experience with Walls and a Southeast Asian
Perspective." In this thought-provoking essay, which was originally delivered
at the 2007 International Critical Legal Studies Conference at the University of
London, Aquino inquires into the normative dynamics of walls and wallbuilding
in the context of colonial and postcolonial Philippines. The essay
stands by the position that Southeast Asia, in general, and the Philippines, in
particular, have always been within "cultural walls,"—walls which colonizers,
like the Spanish and Americans, took pains in tearing down so that they could
build their own foreign imperial walls. Aquino advances a threefold position:
1) that national life in the Philippines has been a life of an-archic walls, in other
words, Filipinos, even before they were called Filipinos, have always been a
people of diversity and they are for better or for worse; 2) the basic principle of
international law is that of wall-building which has interpretative consequences
for either the protection or destruction of a state; and 3) political walls could be
erected within the domestic domain for the sake of purported "national
security," e.g., safe-houses and ad hoc places of confinement as "fortresses of
rights-violations." Ultimately, Aquino, at the end of the essay, outlines the
complex dialectical clash between and among walls; the author invokes Jürgen
Habermas’ notion of strategic action as the only possible means of resolution.
F. P. A. Demeterio’s "Some Useful Lessons from Richard Rorty’s
Political Philosophy for Philippine Postcolonialism" could very well take off
from Aquino’s deconstruction of wall-building, inasmuch as the practice of
postcolonial discourse is a byproduct of colonial wall-building. At the outset
of his paper, Demeterio offers a reconstruction of Rorty’s political philosophy,
described in the paper as "neo-pragmatic." Demeterio traces this neopragmatic
political philosophy from Rorty’s early exposure to Leftist-socialist
thought via the latter’s activist parents and a later exposure to the writings of
the American pragmatist John Dewey. The middle part of the paper is devoted
to a genealogy of Philippine postcolonial discourse—beginning with the anti-
Spanish writings of the Propaganda Movement to its recent appropriations in
the writings of Virgilio Enriquez (Sikolohiyang Pilipino), Prospero Covar
(Pilipinolohiya), and Zeus Salazar (Pantayong Pananaw). Demeterio argues that
Philippine postcolonial discourse could be fortified by using Rorty’s political
philosophy as an analytic tool because the latter dealt with issues that resonate
with current problems in the Philippines.
The victory of the first Black-American US president, Barack Obama,
has spawned excitement, hope, and worry among Americans and non-
Americans alike. Lukas Kaelin participates in all three sensibilities by
philosophically analyzing the events and circumstances that lead to the victory
of Obama. Through the critical theory of Theodor W. Adorno and the neo-
Marxist approach of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Kaelin is able to
interpret the political circumstances that brought about such historic event.
Via Adorno, Kaelin criticizes media politics that gave life to the campaign—
pointing to how during election period the "individual is all but powerless
when faced with the overpowering discourse and continuous presentations of
facts by the mass media." Moreover, Kaelin maintains that Obama’s
government exemplifies what Hardt and Negri call "Empire"—a "still
oppressive" regime but allows "the multitude a better organization and
development of its creativity." Meanwhile, Jeffry V. Ocay in "Heidegger,
Hegel, Marx: Marcuse and the Theory of Historicity" surveys the background
of Herbert Marcuse’s conception of "historicity." Ocay argues that historicity
is requisite for a theory of liberation and that Heidegger’s Being and Time was
instrumental for Marcuse’s formulation of the dialectics of liberation via a
political reading of the notion of the historical Dasein. The paper contends that
Marcuse fills the Heideggerian gap, or the lack of dialectical thought in
Heidegger, through Hegelian dialectics; with Hegel, Dasein ceases to be
apolitical and asocial, that is to say, Dasein becomes historically conscious. The
paper ends with a discussion of Marcuse’s revitalization of Marxism, which is
an attempt to salvage Marx from the corruption of orthodox Marxism.
Two articles on the French deconstructionist Jacques Derrida are
offered in this issue. Marko Zlomislic examines Derrida’s turn to the poetry of
Gerard Manley Hopkins and how this Jesuit is ironically the link that situates
Derrida within the Franciscan tradition. Derrida, according to Zlomislic,
sounds like a Franciscan philosopher when he "keeps the task of responsibility
open" and "keeps thinking with the aporia in order to avoid dogmatism." In
"Deconstruction and the Transformation of Husserlian Phenomenology,"
Chung Chin-Yi tackles Derrida’s engagement and radical disagreement with the
Husserlian project. Chin-Yi demonstrates that Derrida accuses Husserl of
"logocentricism." At the end, Chin-Yi highlights Derrida’s ultimate goal as the
acknowledgment of what happens within the space that the transcendental and
the empirical create—a gesture that could save metaphysics from its closure or
In the seventh essay called "Toward a Return to Plurality in Arendtian
Judgment," Jack E. Marsh Jr. presents a criticism of Hannah Arendt’s
conception of "judgment." Marsh first reconstructs Arendt’s take on judgment
and outlines the problems that the philosopher creates within her conception
of judgment. In effect, the paper maintains that Arendt’s conception of
judgment is a little too idealistic; Marsh concludes that Emmanuel Levinas’
writings could offer a more realistic account of plurality and a possible
framework in working through the ambiguities of Arendt’s theory of judgment.
For his part, Francis Raven, offers a discussion and critique of the notion of
judgment from the purview of Kantian aesthetics. Raven begins by
differentiating between "judgments of taste" and "judgments of the agreeable"
and moves on to discuss the confusion that happens when the two aesthetic
judgments are at play. Raven asserts that a "rigid theoretical distinction
between these types of judgment is not possible" because Kant fails in
distinguishing the two aesthetic judgments if he so bases the difference in the
notion of a "particular type of interest."
"The Limits of Misogyny: Schopenhauer, ‘On Women’" of Thomas
Grimwood investigates the idea of "woman" in the writings of so called "archmisogynist"
Arthur Schopenhauer. Grimwood zeros in Schopenhauer’s essay
"On Women" which has been regarded by scholars as of no importance or no
direct relation to Schopenhauer’s philosophical system. Grimwood attempts to
fill in this exegetical gap and argues that a more complex picture of the woman
or of the "other" emerges when the neglected essay is examined closely in
relation to Schopenhauer’s more popular works. The following paper by Philip
Tonner also deals with an early and unpopular text by Martin Heidegger: Duns
Scotus’ Theory of the Categories of the Meaning—a text written as Heidegger’s
Habilitationschrift. Tonner endeavors to trace the influence of this early text on
Heidegger’s more mature writings, in particular, Being and Time. Tonner notes
that Heidegger’s reading of Duns Scotus afforded the young Heidegger with an
insight into "human individuality," an insight which obviously resonates with
the resolute Dasein.
From the standpoint of Eastern thought, the last two articles of this
issue speak of "good governance" and "inefficacy of knowledge," respectively.
Moses Aaron T. Angeles presents an exposition of the eminent Chinese
philosopher Kong Zi’s (Confucius) theory of good governance. Angeles
explores the possibility of applying Confucian principles to the current Filipino
situation—a situation marred by the decline of political and moral sensibility.
Questions regarding the just state, the prosperous kingdom, and the humane
society are scrutinized in order to paint an image of the ideal Confucian society
or the Great Commonwealth. Ryan Showler in "The Problem of the Inefficacy
of Knowledge in Early Buddhist Soteriology" attempts to describe what he
thinks is a significant problem that early Buddhism, characterized as a gnostic
soteriology, encounters. In Showler’s critique of early Buddhist epistemology a
"quasi-analytic" method is used as scaffold. He juxtaposes early Buddhist
epistemology with Analytic epistemology and privileges the latter over the
former, arguing that based on the Analytic definition of truth as "justified true
belief" early Buddhist conception of knowledge grounded metaphysically as
opposed to being grounded cognitively encounters several problems.
Finally, this issue closes with a couple of book reviews. The Philosophy
of Edith Stein by Antonio Calcagno is described by its reviewer, Robert C.
Cheeks, to have successfully plumed "the rich material of Stein’s philosophical
quest to a depth and detail that belies the meager 151 pages of the book." By
breaking down the book into its significant chapters and providing ample
summaries of each, Cheeks’ review is itself comprehensive. Maximiliano
Korstanje summarizes the Argentinean edition of Jacques Derrida’s On
Hospitality (La Hospitalidad) and provides a reconstruction of the leitmotiv of
the book. Korstanje observes that Derrida’s conception of two different types
of hospitality ("unconditional" and "conditional") will help us understand the
intricate nature of migration and tourism. 12:09 PM

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