Postcards:

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d63
Posts: 686
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Postcards:

Post by d63 »

I tend to think of what I do on these boards as as kind of postcard or travelogue from a process (which is like a journey. And I'm straddling several boards in order to facilitate that process. The only point is to offer up what I have experienced in the hope that it will have philosophical relevance, even if it is not directly related to the discourses I might find myself in here. The only point is to open up opportunities for discourse.
d63
Posts: 686
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 »

“If we could come to see such appeals as gimmicks, we might become able to dispense with words like “intrinsic,” “authentic,” “unconditional,” “legitimate,” “basic,” and “objective.” We could get along with such banal expressions of praise or blame as “fits the data,” “sounds plausible,” “would do more harm than good,” “offends our instincts,” “might be worth a try,” and “is too ridiculous to take seriously.” Pragmatists who find this sort of banality sufficient think that no inspired poet or prophet should argue for the utility of his ideas from their putative source in some other to reason. Nor should any defender of the status quo argue from the fact of intersubjective agreement to the universality and necessity of the belief about which consensus has been reached. But one can still value intersubjective agreement after one has given up both the jigsaw-puzzle view of things and the idea that we possess a faculty called “reason” that is somehow attuned to the intrinsic nature of reality. One can still value novelty and imaginative power even after one has given up the romantic idea that the imagination is so attuned.” -Rorty, Richard. Philosophy as Cultural Politics: Volume 4: Philosophical Papers (Page 87). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

“Questions such as “Does truth exist?” or “Do you believe in truth?” seem fatuous and pointless. Everybody knows that the difference between true and false beliefs is as important as that between nourishing and poisonous foods.” -ibid

I think one of the most problematic aspects of the neo-classical/scientistic aversion to postmodern/pragmatic position (since pragmatism is basically postmodernism light with the anglo-American style of exposition (is that they tend to jump to a lot of unwarranted conclusions about what the looser approach to philosophy is about. They, for instance, assume that since we don’t take a reverent position towards the “Truth”, we are taking an anything goes position. We, as much as the neo-classical/scientistic, want to back our position with data and hard facts. The only difference is that we recognize that our emotional responses to what is in the world is as much a hard fact and part of the data as anything science might have the tools to describe.

Furthermore, they tend to argue that we are anti-science because we question the privilege of science much as Foucault did. But all Foucault did was question the political imperatives behind a lot of what science claimed to be the “Truth”. What they fail to recognize is how authoritarian science can actually become when it assumes itself to be the only means by which understanding can be achieved, that which claims the right (the authority (to shut down any discourse that does not play by its rules. Note, for instance, Hawkins’s claim that science would render philosophy pointless, that it would answer all the questions that philosophy presents. And note, also, that it was an argument based on what Hawkins thought science should be able to do rather than what it actually achieved.

Finally, it fails to recognize the role that philosophy plays in the general scheme of things. To cop off of and revise Russell: philosophy lies in that no-man’s land between science and the arts. The hard approach to philosophy tends to make the mistake of taking what the pragmatic and continental (the soft approach (do too literally. They think we’re trying to compete with science when all we’re really doing is offering metaphors: conceptual models that might give us a deeper understanding of the environment we are adapting to. We are not trying mirror the world. We are simply forming rhizomes with it in the hope of creating something better.
d63
Posts: 686
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 »

“Daddy, are animals ever ironic or sarcastic?” –from a Metalogue in Gregory Bateson’s Steps to an Ecology of Mind

Never really thought about the relationship between self consciousness and the more literary terms of irony and sarcasm. But I now realize that the capability to be ironic or sarcastic is one of the main things that distinguish humans from other species in that they require a certain amount of self consciousness. I see this in the sometimes self-deprecating humor I tend to engage in on these boards, or even in the more finished letters to the editor for Philosophy Now. I do what I do out of a serious effort to say something truthful to the world while being perfectly aware of how pretentious that must seem or even is. As I like to joke:

I refuse to be taken seriously!

And we should note here the mirror test of self consciousness brought to my attention in Steve Weber’s The Origin of the Self. If you take any animal and put them in front of a mirror with blush on their face, you get a sense of how self conscious they are by how they respond to what they sense as an abnormality. For instance, it’s been found that children up to six months of age will generally not respond by trying to wipe the dis-colorization off. This suggests a lack of self consciousness up until the age of six months. Furthermore, while some higher primates did respond by wiping the blush off, most did not.

But we have to be careful here. Bateson (via the father (goes on to argue that other species cannot engage in irony or sarcasm because they don’t have a language. But that neglects the fact that our language started out with specific grunts that communicated information to other members within our tribe. One of the points brought up was a smaller dog showing its belly to bigger dog in order to defuse a possible fight. It’s basically a submissive gesture. And it can even be thought of as ironic to the extent that it is exposing itself to the bigger dog to keep the bigger dog from attacking it while still talking in the language of domination. It is, as Bateson argues, an evolutionary adaption, little more. Still, it works very much like a language. So we have to be careful about the solipsism that can result as concerns animals based on demarcations between the ability to be ironic and sarcastic and that which cannot. Once again, even a human baby up until six months is incapable of such self consciousness.

The point I’m trying to make is that we cannot convolute a lack of self consciousness with a lack of a self. Here Sartre is useful. He makes the distinction between consciousness and reflective consciousness. And even though it is only humans that seem to be capable of reflective consciousness, we have to admit that other species are perfectly capable of consciousness (of a self), even if it expresses itself in a non-reflective form that can't engage in irony or sarcasm.
d63
Posts: 686
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 »

“It is logically possible that in one cultural environment A will be dominant and exhibitionist, while B is submissive and spectator, while in another culture X may be dominant and spectator, while Y is submissive and exhibitionist.” –from Gregory Bateson’s Steps to an Ecology of Mind

This comes from an interesting social model Bateson presents (that which generally deals with power relationships (that I have yet to fully explore the implications of. But it seems like it could be useful. And given the window I have here, I can only offer a short synopsis as background. He starts with symmetrical relationships in which there is a tit for tat. The best example here is a sporting event in which both teams are presumed to be starting from equal ground. He then goes on to describe relationships that are asymmetrical but complementary:

Dominant as compared to Submissive

Succoring as compared to Dependent

Exhibitionist as compared to Spectatorship

And if you think about it, pretty much every relationship you could think of (that is outside of symmetrical ones (fits within one of these complementary opposites. But given my window, I’ll have to leave it to the reader to pursue the implications of it. All I want to cover for now is the second part of the above quote: the culture where X is dominant while acting as spectator while Y is submissive while acting as the exhibitionist.

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the court jester who acts at the favor of the king while expressing their power through the folk magic of art. And as I write this, I can't help but think of Ayn Rand as a kind of court jester acting at the favor of corporate interests. Unfortunately, we also have to see in this the whole Hollywood system in which all participants (directors, actors, screenwriters, etc., etc. (are always working within the perimeters laid out by the producers: those who have access to the money. And they do so by continuing to be entertaining exhibitionists for the producers. As long as they’re entertained, the money will keep coming.

And we would like to think that the other arts are above all this. We know better, of course, with music since it works under the same industrial model that movies do. But the song remains the same with literature and the arts which pretty much follows the industrial model of being at the mercy of an editor or a patron. As much as we would like to think those higher pursuits are above all that, we are still working in a dynamic in which X is dominant while acting as spectator while Y is submissive while acting as the exhibitionist.
d63
Posts: 686
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 »

It seems to me that there have been three primary mythologies (that which lead to an emphasis on a loose fancy as compared to a more involved imagination (that have haunted America since the beginning and played a major role in what we’ve experienced for the last four years:

1. The truthful outburst

2. The triumph of the revolutionary

And 3. The Christ-like historical figure


The truthful outburst is about something that breaks away from protocol in order to express something that has been denied due to the inherent blockages built into the protocol. We see this in such movies as Bulworth and Man of the Year. And we can especially see it in the effect that Trump has had on his followers in his rallies. That which offended most reasonable people, because of this, seemed profound to his MAGA-Minions.

The triumph of the revolutionary can easily be seen in Trump’s followers storming the Capital and the fancy this must have ignited in their minds as they were doing it, especially given that it was this very behavior that established our country in the first place. Misguided as it was (due to a lack of imagination), they clearly fancied their selves analogous to the original revolutionaries.

But the most interesting to me (that is for my purposes here (is the Christ-like historical figure which, while being historically factual, took on a more mythical aura about them. Think, for instance: Jesus, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, and William Morris, anyone that was so inspirational that they took on the air of the profound. And that is clearly the mythology that Trump’s MAGA-Minions are embracing given that many of those who stormed the Capital actually claimed they were willing to die for Trump.

So you have to ask if the reason we end up with demagogues like Trump is that they fill in the gap left by the absence of such authentically inspired individuals as Jesus, Kennedy, King, etc., etc.. And put in mind that such figures cannot be forced. They have to emerge spontaneously, as if by an act of God –whatever that might be. Also put in mind that some theologians have presented the theory that the term “Antichrist” suggests someone who is Christ-like, but not quite Christ and, thereby, capable of all kinds of evil, even if it goes against their original intentions.
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