Monday, January 23, 2012

Nietzsche, Whitehead, & Levinas

Among recent philosophers, perhaps only Whitehead can claim to have accounted for the life of non-human objects, though his position is haunted by other serious difficulties. The problem is that everyone wants to avoid the naive versions of realism, but they also don’t want to be driven into the patent absurdities of solipsism, since it is far safer not to adopt any metaphysical position at all. Having painted itself into a corner on this issue, contemporary philosophy is left with the sole emergency measure of inventing sophistical compromise phrases such as “internal realism,” “quasi-realism,” or “the mad human subject positing the very gap between real and ideal.” But all of this reduces reality to its effect on humans: a position better known simply as idealism. NAIVE IDEALISM 427 Graham Harman PHILOSOPHY TODAY WINTER 2004

Braver accuses Nietzsche of backsliding into noumenal naiveté of a sort that Hegel had ended, and that even Putnam is praised for transcending (159). For despite Nietzsche’s apparent dissolution of reality into infinite interpretations, “this metaphor of interpretations brings in the idea of the text that gets interpreted, masks [that] imply an original face, and so on” (159). Braver’s verdict is clear: “[Nietzsche’s] Kantian way of framing the issues is strewn with conceptual traps…. Another revolution is needed” (159). For Braver that revolution is found in the later Heidegger, with the early Heidegger paving the way. A FESTIVAL OF ANTI-REALISM 203 Graham Harman PHILOSOPHY TODAY SUMMER 2008

I think my first bet would be on Levinas standing the test of time a lot better than many of my friends think he will. So many people seem to view Levinas as just a preachy old finger-wagger who talks about God too much. That’s not the Levinas I know. Then again, the Levinas I know was encountered through Alphonso Lingis, who isn’t exactly a preachy old finger-wagger who talks about God too much. Maybe you need to encounter Levinas through Lingis to be able to see Levinas as an utterly cutting-edge thinker, which is exactly the way I see him. 4th and final Philosophy Today article now posted by doctorzamalek “Levinas and the Triple Critique of Heidegger.” HERE.

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