Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What is lucid and light needs the obscure and the shadowy

Apr 5, 2009 (title unknown) from enowning

Light and shadow.
Wherever we may look, the discussion of the principle of reason becomes obscure with its very first steps. And that is how it should be. For we would like to elucidate the principle of reason. What is lucid and light needs the obscure and the shadowy, otherwise there would be nothing to elucidate. Goethe once mentioned a sentence of Johann Georg Hamann, the friend of Herder and Kant. Hamann’s sentence reads: "Lucidity is a suitable apportionment of light and shadow." Goethe added to this briefly and concisely: "Hamann—listens!"

On the Neglected and Underprivileged Metaphors of the Western Tradition from Per Caritatem by Cynthia R. Nielsen

In Greek there are two words, which we translate into English as “idea”: εἶδος (eidos) and ἰδέα (idea). Interestingly, in Greek these works mean something that is seen; however, Plato uses the terms to mean that which is not seen physically, but mentally. Nonetheless, seeing is still the root metaphor pervading his philosophy. Consider some of his most famous images-the cave, the sun, and so on. In the cave, there is no light, no knowledge. When one emerges from the cave into the light, one comes to know (or potentially comes to know) reality by first seeing the things of the sense world and then ascending to the Forms or Ideas in which the sense objects participate and imitate.

As is well-known these days, postmoderns have challenged this privileging of the visual metaphor and have attempted to imagine what it might mean for some of the other senses to serve as a central metaphors. For example, postmodern philosophers and theologians such as Jean-Luc Marion and Catherine Pickstock have written with great effect on the more “neglected” senses such as taste and hearing. Personally, I think that touch offers particularly fertile ground that ought be explored and put to use in philosophy. To be touched is, I submit, something that all humans need.

Ethics and the Moral Law, Part I: Anscombe from Grundlegung by Tom

Finally then, we can go on to consider Hegel as another anti-legalistic thinker who remains in the Christian tradition, but again whose opposition to a law conception of ethics is somewhat different than Anscombe’s critique. The Philosophy of Right does have a place for moral laws within the structures of Sittlichkeit, though arguably in a muted and secondary role. Here though, I shall maintain the religious theme by considering Hegel’s early theological writings, which attack law conceptions of ethics in an even more polemical fashion than Anscombe.

Of particular relevance here is the extended, unpublished essay, ‘The Spirit of Christianity and Its Fate.’ This represents Hegel’s first extended reckoning with Kant and in which the latter’s legalism along with his formalism is indicted. The hero of the tale, who Hegel often opposes to Kant, is Jesus. This is a Jesus who is a radically anti-legalistic figure, as can be seen from a representative passage:

The spirit of Jesus, a spirit raised above morality, is visible, directly attacking laws, in the Sermon on the Mount, which is an attempt, elaborated in numerous examples, to strip laws of legality, of their legal form.

The morality that Jesus is said to be above here is, of course, Kantian Moralität; and the problem with this morality is ineluctably entwined with its articulation in laws to which we are obligated. More fully, this problem is the split that Hegel sees it as nurturing within the subject between reason and inclination, divisively setting two aspects of the subject into conflict.

Hegel’s solution is, unsurprisingly, a complex one but as with Paul there is no straightforward rejection of law. Rather, in a deeply Pauline fashion, Hegel appeals to the fulfilment (πλήρωμα) of law through love: one that, so to speak, suspends its letter in the name of its spirit. The full details would take us too far afield, so all I wish to note are the deep affinities between these two Christian-centric critiques of law conceptions of the ethical. This makes it all the more strange that Hegel never explicitly mentions Paul. Nevertheless, my closing suggestion is that they might be profitably read together against Anscombe as anti-legalistic thinkers who take this opposition to law to be at the very essence of the Christian tradition and not a melancholy necessity imposed by its decline.

No True Scotsman Fallacy Redux from Larval Subjects
Because I love this fallacy so much:

The proposer initially treats the definition of “Scotsman” (i.e., a man of Scottish ancestry and connection) as fixed, and says that there exists no predicated case that falls within that definition. When one such case is found, the proposer shifts to treat the case as fixed, and rather treats the boundary as debatable. The proposer could therefore be seen prejudicially not to desire an exact agreement on either the scope of the definition or the position of the case, but solely to keep the definition and case separate.

1 comment:

  1. Lucidity means just that: Conscious Light.

    There IS only Conscious Light which is also the Happiness of the World.