Postcards:

For all things philosophical.

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d63
Posts: 622
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:43 pm

“More specifically, it [the metaphorical approach to changing belief systems] is to think of truth as something as something that is not already within us. Rather, it is something which may only become available to us thanks to an idiosyncratic genius. Such a conception of truth legitimizes auditory metaphors: a voice from far off, a Ruf des Gewissen, a word spoken out of darkness.

Another way of putting this point is to say, with Davidson, that “the irrational” is essential to intellectual progress.” –from Rorty’s Heidegger and Other Essays

Here again, we come up against that pragmatic overlap between Deleuze and Rorty. And I would note here especially the phrase “a word spoken out of darkness” in which one could easily sense echoes of D&G’s concept of desiring production in the Anti-Oedipus: schizoanalysis. But more notable is the common emphasis of both on the creative act: their common sense that philosophy is as much a creative act as it is a matter of any kind of truth seeking. The main difference between them is a matter of temperament: Deleuze’s radicalism as compared to Rorty’s bourgeoisie liberalism. As D&G wrote in What is Philosophy:

“Dinner and conversation at the Rorty’s”

And what we should also note here is how Rorty’s (as well as Deleuze’s implicit (w/ and w/out Guatarri (point about metaphor is confirmed by contemporary dream research: the generally accepted theory that dreams play a role in neuroplasticity. Earlier in the book, the metaphorical approach to changing belief systems was compared to two other approaches: perception in which its changed by perceiving something that goes against one’s present belief system, and inference in which previous beliefs lead us (through an inevitable tension (to see that we can no longer maintain the belief system we currently hold. And as Rorty also points out, these two approaches leave the language (the underlying framework of thought (we use unchallenged.

Metaphor, on the other hand, opens up the framework (via language (hence Davidson’s rejection of thinking of metaphor as having meaning in any real meaningful sense (much as dreaming does the brain (via neuroplasticity (for the sake of expanded possibilities for the mind.

d63
Posts: 622
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Jan 27, 2019 8:30 pm

Dear Diary Moment 1/27/2019:

"To my mind, the persistence on the left of this notion of "radical critique" is an unfortunate residue of the scientistic conception of philosophy. Neither the idea of penetrating to a reality behind the appearances, nor that of theoretical foundations for politics, coheres with the conception of language and inquiry which, I have been arguing, is common to Heidegger and to Dewey. For both ideas presuppose that someday we shall penetrate to the true, natural, ahistorical matrix of all possible language and knowledge. Marx, for all his insistence on the priority of praxis, clung to both ideas, and they became dominant within Marxism after Lenin and Stalin turned Marxism into a state religion. But there is no reason either should be adopted by those who are not obliged to practice this religion." -from 'Philosophy as Science, Metaphor, Politics' in Rorty's Essays on Heidegger and Others

I would start by isolating this particular section:

"To my mind, the persistence on the left of this notion of "radical critique" is an unfortunate residue of the scientistic conception of philosophy.”

While I’m not totally in agreement with Rorty’s use of the qualifier “unfortunate” (I may be a pragmatist at heart, but I’m just not that pragmatic), I agree with the main thesis: a lot of the obscurity (read: radical (we find in philosophy may well be the result of trying to compete with science: the guilt at not being able to create an i-phone which most people are more likely to draw to. And Rorty is right in pointing out that for all of Marx’s emphasis on changing things, he hardly helped himself by working in the ethereal realm of theory. This, I think, is why Marx has become obsolete in that a lot of less theoretical writers have done a real good job of describing the failures of Capitalism without even referring to Marx. In fact, it may well be that Marx didn’t so much become obsolete as he became superfluous to the cause. I can more easily get the information I need to be critical of Capitalism through much lighter reading such as Naomi Klein, Robert Reich, Paul Krugman, Barbara Ehrenreich, Ha-Joon Chang and, the book I am listening to lately: Anand Giridharadis' Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World –all of which, BTW, I have come to know through audio books that don’t (beyond the in-depth anecdotal information they offer you (require a lot of in-depth reading.

And such is my pragmatic conundrum: why bother with high theory when I can more easily get the information I need without the pains I go through over such thinkers as Rorty and his other two companions in my holy triad: Deleuze and Žižek? And this question becomes even more pronounced under the threat to our democracy called Trump. And the only answer I can offer is that “radical theory” is a form of play: something engaged in for the same reason one might become a gamer. But it is a form of play with some perhaps serious consequences: that which could change sensibilities. Some of it may well trickle down into the day to day. But let’s not make the mistake, as Rorty is trying to point out (that is from the perspective of someone who has taken the time to understand such philosophical icons as Heidegger and Derrida), of taking it more seriously than it really warrants as concerns social and political policy.

d63
Posts: 622
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:37 pm

Dear Diary Moment 1/31/2019:

One of the things that are getting crystallized in my present immersion in Rorty’s Essays on Heidegger and Others is the import of metaphor as a means of changing belief systems. But in order to understand it, I have to put in the context of the other two means Rorty presented: perception (which can be associated with the empirical method and correspondence truth test) and coherence (which can be associated with the deductive method and coherence truth test). And it is important to note here that Rorty (via Heidegger (associates these with the mathematical approach to philosophy. And he does this because neither approach, while effectively changing belief systems, manages to change the language we use to explain them and, thereby, fail to change the language game (therefore the logical space (we tend to work in.

That is the gap that metaphor (a loose equivalent of the pragmatic truth test and Walter Kuhn’s “paradigm shift” (tends to fill by changing the language and, consequently, the logical space we work in. And what is important to understand here (via Davidson (is that metaphor has no meaning or content in itself. All it does is change the framework by which we work via the words we use within that framework: the logical space that is either expanded or revised.

(And I would note the overlap here with Marcuse’s concept of operationalism in One Dimensional Man.)

And yet again, I am given an opportunity to point to the pragmatic overlap between Rorty and Deleuze (this time specifically w/ Guatarri –and likely at the expense of the irritation of my fellow Deleuzians. If you think about the Anti-Oedipus, it is about a metaphorical framework in the form of Capitalism that they were attempting to overcome via a metaphorical shift they referred to as schizoanalysis. Now I understand they were arguing that things like desiring machines and desiring production were not just metaphors. But I consider that a mistake –perhaps even intellectual arrogance. By making such arguments, they leave their selves vulnerable to those who take what they argue too literally.

However, by looking at it as metaphor, you leave what you are offering as something the other can either leave or take. You offer it humbly as a framework in which the individual can fill with their own content.

d63
Posts: 622
Joined: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:55 pm

Re: Postcards:

Post by d63 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:14 pm

" I can summarize my attempt to split the difference between Lyotard and Habermas by saying that this Deweyan attempt to make concrete concerns with the daily problems of one's community -social engineering- the substitute for traditional religion seems to me to embody Lyotard's postmodernist "incredulity towards metanarratives" while dispensing with the assumption that the intellectual has a mission to be avant-garde, to escape the rules and practices and institutions which have been transmitted to her in favor of something which will make possible "authentic criticism." Lyotard unfortunate retains one of the Left's silliest ideas -that escaping from such institutions is automatically a good thing, because it insures that one will not be "used" by the evil forces which have "co-opted" these institutions. Leftism of this sort necessarily devalues consensus and communication, for insofar as the intellectual remains able to talk to people outside of the avant-garde she "compromises" herself. Lyotard exalts the "sublime" and argues that Habermas' hope that the arts might serve to "explore a living historical situation" and to "bridge the gap between cognitive, ethical and political discourses," shows that Habermas has only an "aesthetic of the beautiful". On the view I am suggesting, one should see the quest for the sublime, the attempt (in Lyotard's words) to "present the fact that the unpresentable exists," as one of the prettier unforced blue flowers of bourgeois culture. But this quest is wildly irrelevant to the attempt at communicative consensus which is the vital force which drives that culture.

More generally, one should see the intellectual qua intellectual as having a special, idiosyncratic need -a need for the ineffable, the sublime, a need to go beyond the limits, a need to use words which are not part of anybody's language game, any social institution." -from Rorty's article "Habermas and Lyotard on Postmodernity" in Essays on Heidegger and Others

First of all, guys, there is a lot here already in the quote. And I mainly post the whole thing above in order to have what I’m going to post and bounce off of to have it readily available. So it could get a lot longer. And I apologize for that ahead of time.

Secondly, this pretty much encapsulates why Rorty’s pragmatism is so dear to my heart while also justifying why I include him in my holy triad along with Deleuze and Žižek. And I would start with:

“More generally, one should see the intellectual qua intellectual as having a special, idiosyncratic need -a need for the ineffable, the sublime, a need to go beyond the limits, a need to use words which are not part of anybody's language game, any social institution."

I have always described that “idiosyncratic need” as “depth, intensity, and lightness of touch”. There was another French term offered to me via an interview of the actor John Lithgow stolen from ballet: that which meant lifting oneself into pure air –that which is expressed in the pirouette. But, ultimately, what it comes down to is the very rock star approach to intellectualism (via philosophy (that Deleuze had to offer. Hence: my inclusion of him in my holy triad w/ Rorty in that Rorty (while maintaining a distance from Deleuze’s avant-garde approach (showed a knowledgeable respect for it in very sharp contrast to Sokal’s cheap trick and attack on thinkers like Lyotard, Deleuze, Foucault, and other contemporary continental thinkers.

That said, Rorty’s main point here is a very democratic one: that it is going to take a lot of different people dedicated to a lot of different methods for different reasons to fix this: those who turn to the avant-garde in order to change sensibilities (see Lyotard (as well those who choose to accept grand narratives for the sake of social justice: see Habermas.

It comes down to Rorty’s repeated insistence that language is basically a tool with which we achieve desired effects. And under this model, we can see Lyotard’s embrace of the avant-garde and sublime as useful as Habermas’ search for a solid foundation for a liberal politics.

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