Postcards:

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d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sat Dec 31, 2016 8:24 pm

The following is a continuation of discourse between me and a respected jam-mate, Chris, on the relationship between and preference for the theoretical or the day to day pragmatic:


"As Habermas puts it [about Heidegger], "under the leveling gaze of the philosopher of Being even the extermination of the Jews seems merely an event seems merely an event equivalent to many others." Heidegger specializes in rising above the need to calculate relative quantities of human happiness, in taking a larger view. For him, successful and unsuccessful adventures -Gandhi's success and Dubcek's failure, for example -are just surface perturburations, distractions from essence by accidents, hindrances to an understanding of what is REALLY going on.


"Heidegger's refusal to take much interest in the Holocaust typifies the urge to look beneath or behind the narrative of the West for the 'essence' of the West, the urge which separates the philosophers from the novelists. Someone dominated by this urge will tell a story only as part of the process of clearing away appearance in order to reveal reality." -from Rorty's Essays on Heidegger and Others

And I apologize, as always, for my wordy (rhizomatic (bricolage, but I would also like to connect this to (and, in the process, pay tribute to (a point made by a jam-mate, Lewis and fold in a response:

“I almost agree that ideologies do nothing while people do. Was thinking about William of Occam this morning and his condemnation of over-complexity.”

I mainly fold this in to today’s rhizome, Lewis, because it parallel’s the issue at hand: the relationship between theory and the pragmatic and which is preferable. While I agree with your point as concerns Ockham’s razor, I would define it in terms of our always being caught in the push and pull between theoretical overreach (that which results from the radical purely for the sake of the radical (and theoretical stagnation: that which results from failing to think or inquire beyond our immediate intuitions. While I agree that in many cases the simpler solution to a problem is the better one, we have to be real careful about oversimplified perceptions of what the problem actually is.

That said, I want to make a couple of observations about Rorty’s quote. The first is about composition and style. The above quote, to me, is a good example of what makes Rorty as good a writer as he is a philosopher. He fulfills my criteria of resonance and seduction the most when he goes into these kind of satiric descriptions of other philosophers such as he does here with Heidegger. To me, it fits in with that image of the of the generous teacher (much like Jaspers (which he props up with a healthy sense of humor, but a sense of humor that flatters you since you would have had to do the footwork necessary in order to find it funny.

But on a more serious note, we can see here in Heidegger (as ascetic priest (how theory can go awry. As another Jam-mate, Steve Orsli points out:

“'Theoria'--what is the essence of the original idea. It's related to the word 'theatre' and the sense of looking at things 'at a distance' a visual, detached understanding. Western man looking down from above--the objective, 'Gods-eye' view.”

Here, we see my main difference with Chris in that while he rightly points to how the scattered, chaotic (rhizomatic even), approach to thought contributes to the tyranny of Neo-Liberalism:

“But the breakdown in social systems that have a classical polis, ie a control and command centre, networks, common legal overview etc, has given rise to de-centred neo-liberal capitalism which thrives on a certain anarchy that allows money to free flow according to market forces with no "god' to adjudicate - or collect the taxes.”

:the God’s-eye view, propped up by corporate financing, is as implicit in it as the lack of theory might be.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:07 pm

Okay guys: this is the latest variation of my answer to Philosophy Now's question of the month: what is the future of mankind? Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to point out any lapses in clarity. In other words, I need you to be the reader I can't be:

Let's look at it in terms of our evolutionary process and two adaptive strategies: the competitive and the cooperative. Start with single cell organisms that develop diffuse nervous systems. These, in turn, self organize into central nervous systems that develop buds that serve the basic needs of more developed organisms then (in correlation with increasing physical complexity) unfold into the frontal cortex and the higher cognitive functions that bring us here .


This leaves us two conflicting modes of engaging with the world filled with others like us to varying degrees. The competitive involves our baser impulses utilizing our evolving cognitive functions strictly for the sake of our baser impulses. We can see, in this, the brutal world described, for instance, by a Hobbes or an Ayn Rand. The cooperative, which emerged later, sees its interest in an outward diffusion from inward self interest to the interest of others. We see this at work in the less brutal world of, say, a Marx or a Rawls.

So we find ourselves at an important evolutionary milestone. Do we stick with the competitive mode that, via Capitalism (and, up till lately, checked by the cooperative), has gotten us to this point and risk, at best, subjecting ourselves to a global oligarchy, the dismantling of our democracies, and the depletion of our natural resources or, worse, our extinction as a species through man-made climate change? Or do we turn to the next evolutionary step and evolve? Do we become better than what the market (via TV ads) tells us we can?

I'm not optimistic, not only because of the election of Trump and the emergence of the right in other advanced nations, but the sensibility of those voters (otherwise decent and intelligent people) who are perpetrating it. Having a front row seat as a progressive in the Midwest, and having seen the shifting assumptions, contradictions, and false information at work in their arguments (the complete lack of critical thought), having seen the fancy at work in Trump's campaign (much like a Quentin Tarantino revenge fantasy), I can't help but feel we are dealing with an evolutionary backlash.

But we can hope. And sometimes the only way out is through. So maybe this evolutionary backlash, that which can demonstrate, in very real terms, the actual consequences of the competitive mode, is what we'll need to put it behind us and truly evolve.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:22 pm

Now that I have gotten my Trump rant out of my system (which I fear will be a daily thing (I want to address a more philosophical issue: one that passed through my stream of consciousness (and which I caught like a true fisherman (that lies at the core of my process.

What came to me (as if out of nowhere (was an issue with an argument that hardcore materialists like to make concerning the existence of mind: the Casper the Ghost analogy. Their argument is that, since Casper can pass through walls without problem, it would be a contradiction to act as if Casper could have any real effect on the material world. The analogy, of course, is that the mind (being of such ghostly stuff (would have no way of affecting the body. But what is conveniently left out of the argument is the issue of “command”. For instance, if a ghost with less humility than Casper could command a knife to fly through the air and stab you in the heart, there would be a very real cause and effect relationship between the ghostly stuff and the material.

And can’t we make the same argument for the relationship between the mind and the body? While the mind may not directly affect what the body does, it can still issue commands that the body is too dumb to defy. Think, for instance, of suicide. The body, in an unthinking way, wants to keep going. Still, the mind (in its complexity) can work in ways that will make the body (command it) to work in ways that work against its own self interest.

Here we need to turn to the computer analogy as concerns the mind/brain relationship: that between hardware and software. While software may not actually change the physical nature of the hardware, it can change the way it works.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 8:34 pm

“I think you should choose a grad program that has reasonable success of placing their PhDs in gainful employment. Think about what you want to spend your time researching for your dissertation, about what languages you've learned and how they mesh with the content of each degree. Choose a path that will make you a versatile instructor and give you a good foundation for the research you'll be doing for the rest of your life. As someone who comes from a predominately analytic background, I suggest reading Fashionable Nonsense by Sokal and Bricmont (if you want to borrow the copy from my bookshelf, you are more than welcome) just to get an idea of where post-modernism goes wrong.” –Khristy

“Thanks for the advice. I'd be happy to borrow your book sometime.” –Brandon

Okay Brandon. I mean it’s all fuel for the fire. And I would encourage you to read anything you might find useful: both in the positive sense of what you can adopt and in the negative sense of what you can add to your process by rejecting the other. But I would like to offer a continental counterpoint (not reject or dismiss (to Khristy’s analytic lean, especially as concerns Sokal and Bricmont’s Fashionable Nonsense. And I would start by quoting Heather De Lancett’s impressive point:

“No jobs in Continental. No soul in Analytic. Just a practical perspective.”

First of all, I will admit that I have not read the book. I have, rather, encountered it often in the secondary text on the continental philosophers I tend to read. So my understanding of it is limited. But what I do know about it is enough to put it pretty low on my reading wishlist. Secondly, given that you seem a lot deeper into formal training than I ever got, I would have assumed you had some knowledge of Fashionable Nonsense; so I offer the following description IN CASE you haven’t:

What the book came out of was an experiment of Sokal’s in which he published a falsified science paper with false information in a magazine in order to see how postmodern and poststructuralist philosophers would respond. And some did as if accepting it as legitimate scientific data. It was those missteps of the philosophers that Sokal and Bricmont based Fashionable Nonsense on. But we need to look at what the whole scandal really tells us.

First of all, it tells us that Sokal was an authoritarian and pompous individual who engaged in the pettiness of publishing a false article in a legit science magazine, that is as compared to just publishing his own models and letting them compete with those of the continentals. His only concern was to maintain a vertical and hierarchal model of knowledge in which the position of “expertise” would legitimize an assertion as compared to just letting the legitimacy of assertions come out in the wash of cultural natural selection. And I would note here the role that an increasing need for corporate funding (as state funding decreases (is playing in the dominance of the analytic approach which APPEARS to be more functional –that is when scientists are no more interested in what analytics have to say than the continentals. Here I would return to a point made by Khristy (that is to give you sense of the cultural context she is working in:

“I think you should choose a grad program that has reasonable success of placing their PhDs in gainful employment."

This comes down to the tyranny of the functional that comes with corporate influence. And the only way that the analytic approach seems to be fulfilling it is through (see Dennett, Searle, Pinker, etc. (students learning how to write marketable books.

Secondly, all Sokal showed us is what we all should have known in the first place: that philosophers are not scientists. Therefore, they have to depend on the authority of scientists who publish in legit science magazines. So if there is fault, it lies with Sokal's schoolyard prank.

I would also note a point made in secondary text on Deleuze (it was either Hugh’s or Buchanan –I can’t remember which and haven’t the time to look it up(that much of Sokal and Bricmont’s argument against him was that they didn’t understand. And being a Deleuze fan, I get that. I mean it: that fucking French Man and damn the French and their weird obscure philosophies anyway. But I’m a little confused as to how Sokal and Bricmont could read a misunderstanding of science into text they clearly couldn’t understand in the first place.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Mar 19, 2017 6:59 pm

I know I am risking my credibility as an intellectually curious person and exposing myself to accusations of just being cute, but I would like address some philosophical implications of a movie that I, being a grandpa, have been exposed to several times now: Finding Dory.

I know!!!! It’s cute and quaint. But still, it seemed to me a more upbeat version of the same themes covered in Christopher Nolan’s Memento. Keep in mind here that Dory is a forget fish that suffers from the same condition that Guy Pierce’s character did in Memento.

The cool thing about it to me is that Finding Dory seemed just as tapped into the nihilistic perspective (that underlying nothingness (as Memento was. In that sense, it establishes what I have always argued as concerns the nihilistic perspective: that nothingness has no fixed trajectory. It basically undermines the pretenses of the cliche nihilist dressed in black, always with a glum expression, and always punctuating every statement with:

“Not that it matters anyway.”

It just confirms my suspicion that there can be positive (even ecstatic/spiritual (consequences of the nihilistic perspective.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Tue Mar 28, 2017 5:15 am

“But nothingness doesn't exist because in that case nothingness is nothing but the very concept of nothingness exists therefore nothing is something thus being something and not nothing”

Or as Sartre pointed out: a pure nothingness could not exist, otherwise it would annihilate itself. This is why he defined it as being buried in the heart of being, like a worm. I would also note the paradox in the recognition that if nothingness did exist, then it would have being which is a contradiction.

The problem is that its existence is perfectly implied by the fact that we are when we could as easily not be: think Pierre's non-appearance at the cafe or intentionality's assertion that consciousness is always consciousness of something. We could, as I have attempted to do, change the terminology from being and nothingness to presence and absence. But this proves unsatisfactory as presence and absence works at a phenomenological level while being and nothingness work at an ontological one.

So: as your post suggests, nothingness can never be confronted directly. If anything, it must glance the corner of the eye. This is why I prefer thinking in terms of the nihilistic perspective as compared to straight up nihilism. Still, its possibility is analytically (via deduction (and perfectly confirmed -much as mathematics confirms a lot of things we can't observe directly.

This is why this underlying nothingness (the nihilistic perspective (can manifest in perfectly observable human dispositions in relation to the symbolic order: the psychotic and the sociopathic. I start by pointing out that what results from the nihilistic perspective is the recognition that all arguments we make break down to assumptions and that those assumptions float on thin air. In other words, all assumptions are human constructs and there are no real criteria by which to judge actions.

For the psychotic, this lack of criteria results in a retreat from the symbolic order in which the individual resides in their own semiotic bubble with its own rules and terminology. The most obvious example of this is the schizo walking down the street engaged in a discourse only they get to participate in. But we can see it in ways closer to the symbolic order in drug addicts and alcoholics. We can further see it in socially productive forms such as the avant garde.

The sociopathic, having no real criteria by which to judge action, turns to the one criteria that seems to have a praxis about it: power. It results in a circular reasoning:

I have power because I am right; therefore, I am right because I have power.

The most obvious example, of course, is the serial killer. But this too takes forms that are closer to the symbolic order. Anyone who has been hurt by a player they fell in love with knows that. But it also defines cut-throat Wall Street types and hardcore libertarians.

So while nothingness may not actually exist, I think I can safely claim that it seems to be having a powerful effect on our lives.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: Postcards:

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Tue Mar 28, 2017 9:05 am

d63 wrote:“But nothingness doesn't exist because in that case nothingness is nothing but the very concept of nothingness exists therefore nothing is something thus being something and not nothing”
One has to make a distinction between the real and the ideal.

d63
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Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Thu Mar 30, 2017 4:18 pm

Hobbes' Choice wrote:
d63 wrote:“But nothingness doesn't exist because in that case nothingness is nothing but the very concept of nothingness exists therefore nothing is something thus being something and not nothing”
One has to make a distinction between the real and the ideal.
Yeah that's pretty much it as nothingness is basically a potential implied by Being.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: Postcards:

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:32 am

d63 wrote:
Hobbes' Choice wrote:
d63 wrote:“But nothingness doesn't exist because in that case nothingness is nothing but the very concept of nothingness exists therefore nothing is something thus being something and not nothing”
One has to make a distinction between the real and the ideal.
Yeah that's pretty much it as nothingness is basically a potential implied by Being.

I'd not ever express it in that way.
Nothingness, is a concept designed by humans.

commonsense
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Re: Postcards:

Post by commonsense » Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:26 pm

[quote="HobbesChoice]Nothingness, is a concept designed by humans.[/quote]

True, but trivial. Anything we can think of is a concept designed by humans. Nothingness deserves no more, no less.
d63 wrote:nothingness is basically a potential implied by Being.
Is there anything that does not have the potential to become something else? What are your thoughts?

Walker
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Re: Postcards:

Post by Walker » Tue Apr 11, 2017 5:43 pm

d63 wrote:
Hobbes' Choice wrote:
d63 wrote:“But nothingness doesn't exist because in that case nothingness is nothing but the very concept of nothingness exists therefore nothing is something thus being something and not nothing”
One has to make a distinction between the real and the ideal.
Yeah that's pretty much it as nothingness is basically a potential implied by Being.
Nothingness is not a concept because nothingness cannot be imagined. Nothingness is simply a word game of opposites.

commonsense
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Re: Postcards:

Post by commonsense » Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:36 am

Walker wrote:
d63 wrote:
Hobbes' Choice wrote:
One has to make a distinction between the real and the ideal.
Yeah that's pretty much it as nothingness is basically a potential implied by Being.
Nothingness is not a concept because nothingness cannot be imagined. Nothingness is simply a word game of opposites.
Is it a word game or is it possible that "anti-thingness" is a bona fide concept of its own.

Walker
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Re: Postcards:

Post by Walker » Wed Apr 12, 2017 4:50 am

Nothingness is a word game because nothingness cannot be imagined.

There is no real opposite to everything outside of the word game.

commonsense
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Re: Postcards:

Post by commonsense » Wed Apr 12, 2017 7:05 pm

d63 wrote:Okay guys: this is the latest variation of my answer to Philosophy Now's question of the month: what is the future of mankind? Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to point out any lapses in clarity. In other words, I need you to be the reader I can't be:

Let's look at it in terms of our evolutionary process and two adaptive strategies: the competitive and the cooperative. Start with single cell organisms that develop diffuse nervous systems. These, in turn, self organize into central nervous systems that develop buds that serve the basic needs of more developed organisms then (in correlation with increasing physical complexity) unfold into the frontal cortex and the higher cognitive functions that bring us here .


This leaves us two conflicting modes of engaging with the world filled with others like us to varying degrees. The competitive involves our baser impulses utilizing our evolving cognitive functions strictly for the sake of our baser impulses. It stands to reason that the competitive method would be primal. After all, from the standpoint of self, the center of the universe, or the base, is the self.

We can see, in this, the brutal world described, for instance, by a Hobbes or an Ayn Rand. The cooperative, which emerged later, sees its interest in an outward diffusion from inward self interest to the interest of others. We see this at work in the less brutal world of, say, a Marx or a Rawls. Eventually lessor competitors discovered that they could best an apex competitor by means of cooperation. So we find ourselves at an important evolutionary milestone. Do we stick with the competitive mode that, via Capitalism (and, up till lately, checked by the cooperative), has gotten us to this point and risk, at best, subjecting ourselves to a global oligarchy, the dismantling of our democracies, and the depletion of our natural resources or, worse, our extinction as a species through man-made climate change? Or do we turn to the next evolutionary step and evolve? Do we become better than what the market (via TV ads) tells us we can?

I'm not optimistic, not only because of the election of Trump and the emergence of the right in other advanced nations, but the sensibility of those voters (otherwise decent and intelligent people) who are perpetrating it. Having a front row seat as a progressive in the Midwest, and having seen the shifting assumptions, contradictions, and false information at work in their arguments (the complete lack of critical thought), having seen the fancy at work in Trump's campaign (much like a Quentin Tarantino revenge fantasy), I can't help but feel we are dealing with an evolutionary backlash.

But we can hope. And sometimes the only way out is through. So maybe this evolutionary backlash, that which can demonstrate, in very real terms, the actual consequences of the competitive mode, is what we'll need to put it behind us and truly evolve.I see the future as a recursive pendulum. Once the individual competitors have discovered the value of cooperating in groups with other competitors, they will be the evolutionary winners of the day. At the next stage, these cooperator-competitor groups will begin to compete against other groups, leaving non-competitive groups behind as evolutionary detritus. Next, these competitive groups of cooperator-competitors will learn to cooperate with other competitive cooperator-competitor groups. The pendulum now sways with infinite recursivity of competition wrapped in cooperation wrapped in competition wrapped in cooperation wrapped in competition wrapped in cooperation.....
In other words:
( ( ( ( cooperation ( ( ( competition ( ( cooperation ( cooperation ) ) ) )...

I should apologize for eavesdropping on your conversation since yesterday. It is my obsession with discourse that explains both my eavesdropping and my self appointment as another reader you can't be. My margin notes are embedded in bold text in your rhizome above, as well as, perhaps, those that follow.

commonsense
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Re: Postcards:

Post by commonsense » Wed Apr 12, 2017 7:26 pm

[/b]
d63 wrote:Now that I have gotten my Trump rant out of my system (which I fear will be a daily thing (I want to address a more philosophical issue: one that passed through my stream of consciousness (and which I caught like a true fisherman (that lies at the core of my process.

What came to me (as if out of nowhere (was an issue with an argument that hardcore materialists like to make concerning the existence of mind: the Casper the Ghost analogy. Their argument is that, since Casper can pass through walls without problem, it would be a contradiction to act as if Casper could have any real effect on the material world. The analogy, of course, is that the mind (being of such ghostly stuff (would have no way of affecting the body. But what is conveniently left out of the argument is the issue of “command”. For instance, if a ghost with less humility than Casper could command a knife to fly through the air and stab you in the heart, there would be a very real cause and effect relationship between the ghostly stuff and the material.

And can’t we make the same argument for the relationship between the mind and the body? While the mind may not directly affect what the body does, it can still issue commands that the body is too dumb to defy. Think, for instance, of suicide. The body, in an unthinking way, wants to keep going. Still, the mind (in its complexity) can work in ways that will make the body (command it) to work in ways that work against its own self interest.

Here we need to turn to the computer analogy as concerns the mind/brain relationship: that between hardware and software. While software may not actually change the physical nature of the hardware, it can change the way it works.

The software-hardware analogy is a good one. Software and hardware are connected (via middleware). On the other hand, is the Casper analogy valid? Mind is bound to body in a one-to-one relationship. Casper is not bound to anything. In the one instance, immaterial is bound to material. In the other there is no such connection.
Do the materialists have a faulty analogy on which to base their argument?

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