Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mystical exeriences as figments of language’s mirage machine

(title unknown) from enowning Ted Sadler
In Kant, metaphysical truths had become nothing more than those 'phantoms of the brain' vouchsafed by the concepts of pure reason.
All the post-structuralist critiques of traditional metaphysics argue that metaphysics isn’t doing what it says it’s doing. So when Spinoza or Kant or Hegel seem to be talking about Spirit or God or the faculties, there’s actually a slight of hand going on. Perhaps it is just language, playing with itself, producing illusions that there’s something there. Or it’s a play of power, producing new truths, none of which are anything other than strategies in power plays. Or perhaps it’s all desire, filtered through language, manipulating us so that we think we know why we’re doing something, but really, it’s all the unconscious. Paul Ricoeur famously called these approaches to thinking “hermeneutics of suspicion,” …
The most devious of the critiques, for any attempt to write new philosophy, however, is deconstruction. The argument is pretty simple. All philosophy is written in language. But up until the mid-twentieth century, language was seen as an obstacle for philosophy to overcome, a transparent medium at best, a hindrance to clear explanation of truths beyond language at worst. But then structuralism comes along, in the mid-twentieth century, and argues that language molds what we can say. Deconstruction, and the writings of Derrida in particular, radicalize this argument. Language and its workings are what make us think there’s anything to say in the first place. When we think we’re talking about God, or the faculties, or Spirit, or whatever else, what we’re really doing is talking about language. Or rather, language is talking through us, and all it ever really talks about is itself.
Our deepest desires are so imbued with the play of language, that we can’t tell where the mirages created by language begin, and our desires end, or ever if our desires are in some way created by this play of language. And since philosophy is written in language, any philosophy that doesn’t take into account this play of language is naive. It talks about God, or Spirit, without realizing these are figments of language’s mirage machine. Structuralism made us aware that language impacts what we say, but post-structuralism, and deconstruction in particular, shows us how language is what we say, and nothing more, which is to say, everything more. It’s all text, everything we’ve ever dreamed… In the Greek tradition, there were the ancient Skeptics, who believed that any and every belief put forward in words could be deconstructed, and should be… Deconstruction, however, is particularly sneaky in terms of its skeptical methodology. All philosophy is written in language… Derrida is a post-modern form of the Ancient Greek Skeptics… Taken to its extreme, Derridean deconstruction leads to repetition of quietism, with nothing to say. 9:22 AM
On the one hand, there is Bergson's constant suspicion of language; for Bergson, as we noted in the discussion of intuition, language is equivalent to symbols. And, symbols divide the continuity of the duration, leading us into illusions. Bergson's criticisms of language, moreover, must have struck the generation of French philosophers who came of age in the 1960's as strange. Philosophers such as Derrida had so thoroughly embraced Heidegger that they believed that “language is the house of being.” On the other hand, there is the mysticism of The Two Sources. The striking religious tone of this book did not harmonize well with Husserl's phenomenology, which aimed to be a rigorous science… We must recall that the linguistic turn in France during the 1960's was accompanied by an “anti-Hegelianism.” Thus Bergson became a resource in the criticism of the Hegelian dialectic, the negative. June 15, 2012 at 12:03 pm
Forms of Life from The Pinocchio Theory by Steven Shaviro
“Bifurcations, divergences, incompossibilities, and discords belong to the same motley world,” as Deleuze says in his commentary on Whitehead. This is why translation is such an urgent problem. As Latour puts it, “there are no equivalents, only translations… the best that can be done between actants is to translate the one into the other.” There is no pre-established harmony among “incommensurable and irreducible forces.”
Translation is then inherently problematic, because it is not just a matter of moving from one code, or one language, to another. Rather, translation involves the violence of codifying, or putting into language, a reality that stands outside of all languages and codes. Translation endeavors to make an equivalent for that which has no equivalent. It forces an exchange between incommensurables. “If there are exchanges,” Latour says, “these are always unequal and cost a fortune both to establish and to maintain.”
This means that the problem of translation is really one of aesthetics. Kant established the basic antinomy of modern aesthetics in his Third Critique. On the one hand, every “judgment of taste” is entirely singular: it is non-cognitive, it has no concept behind it, and it cannot be generalized. On the other hand, every “judgment of taste” aspires to — or even demands — the assent of others. It makes a claim, Kant says, to be “universally communicable without mediation by a concept.” We may understand translation, therefore, as the endeavor to capture singularity within some universal medium of exchange, in order thereby to compel acceptance by everyone. For Kant, this takes the form of a sensus communis as the non-cognitive basis for the very possibility of cognition.
Kant’s antinomy of aesthetic taste is central to modern thought. What happens when incommensurables are measured together, or captured in the same universal code? Can disparate singularities be brought into contact, without being effaced? This question haunts — among others — Marx, Wittgenstein, and Whitehead. For Marx, Kant’s sensus communis is materialized in money as a “universal equivalent.” Wittgenstein’s critique of the notion of “private language” is rooted in Kant’s questions about “the communicability of sensation.” And Whitehead answers Kant’s antinomy with the founding principle of his own aesthetics: the injunction to convert exclusions and oppositions into contrasts.
Quotation of the Day…  from Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux … is from page 247 of Leland Yeager’s 2001 book, Ethics as Social Science: The Moral Philosophy of Social Cooperation:
Writers should make it clear, explicitly or by context, when they depart from a word’s most usual meaning. 
Indian religions: a historical reader of spiritual expression and ... - Page 24 -Peter Heehs - 2002 - 620 pages - Preview … the most decisive way to verify truth-claims is by means of mystical exeriences. No doubt the experiences of a Buddha or Nanak or Aurobindo are not in the reach of everyone, but these and other spiritual teachers insist that such states are the ultimate destiny of all aspiring humans. A preliminary decision to take seriously a mystic's ... 8:56 PM
Aurobindo's philosophy of Brahman - Page 120 - Stephen H. Phillips - 1986 - 200 pages - Preview As indicated, this is not to say that a mystic experience could not count as evidence at all for the existence of Brahman as conceived by Aurobindo. As was mentioned, just as in the case of a rope-snake sublation where the sublating ... 1:40 PM 

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