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k-punk
07-11-2004, 11:09 AM
A number of times recently, both on the web and in meatworld, I have seen males - and it is always males - aver something to the effect that intellectual discussion or rationality are masculine.

Rationality just means consistency: in the first instance, intellectual consistency, but more broadly consistency across all aspects of your life - ultimately this means a consistency <i>between</i> how you live and how you think, in other words ethical consistency.

That is why Spinoza and Marx are rationalists in the true sense: because they demand that your conduct be determined by reason and reason alone. So no-one can claim to be a Marxist or a Spinozist if they abuse children or beat women. (This doesn't go for EITHER Heidegerrian Contintentalism OR Analytic Philosophy; it's perfectly possible to be a good Heideggerian or an Analytic Philosopher and be a rabid Nazi precisely because, for diametrically opposing reasons, philosophy is held to be cut off from ('above') ordinary ('mere') ethics in both cases).

But the same is obviously true about feminism. Feminism is a rational critique of structural injustice. The force of the phrase 'the personal is the political' was of course to insist that there was no escape from consistency: politics had to go all the way down. (Now this phrase has an opposite meaning: the obsessive personalization of everything, the Cult Studs creed that the masses are resisting through watching TV etc, has contributed to the almost total evacuation of politics from public life.)

Importantly, feminism, Marxism and Spinozism are about resisting the lure of 'experience'. Traditionally, the working class experienced itself as inferior to its supposed masters; just as women experienced themselves as fit only for domestic labour. Collective consciousness raising allowed them to decode this experience, to use reason to escape the matrix-prison of individuated oed-I-pod emiseration.

Males have not always experienced themselves as inferior. And sometimes a certain type of male - by no means a lad, but in its own way, equally as typical of the sex - becomes very invested in a certain type of so-called intense experience. Now the cult of experience - even of these 'intense' experiences - is one of the most dangerous and reactionary positions to hold today. It is the new orthodoxy, which Zizek rightly calls the ideology of late capitalism. Sometimes, as Zizek notes, this phenomenological cult of 'cosmic engagement' calls itself Spinozism. But this phenomenologizing of Spinoza, this reduction of Spinoza to being a feelgood manual for drugged out hippies, is utterly disastrous, precisely because it removes politics. The thought is that, in principle, ANYONE could get out of their heads and become intense, so hey, why be concerned about injustice or the state of the world? So getting out of your head just IS political. No need to engage in antagonism, coz that's heavy man, and it messes with the vibe. Let people lie, cheat, steal, abuse each other, coz like, hey, what can you do about it? And those people being lied to, cheated, stolen from and abused - they could get out of their heads too, so what's the problem?

Why is there a male 'artist' on every block but precious few male nurses? Or conversely: why are there so few successful female novelists, artists or philosophers? Is it because women can't think or write? Because they don't have the inclination?

No, it's because they have tended to have other priorities - often involving caring for the wayward male 'artist'.

The intellect is not the preserve of the male. You only have to listen to most men talking to know that, surely. Saying that it rationality is masculine is straightforward, no-nonsense sexism. What of intellectual women? Are they monsters, failing in their supposed biological destiny to be irrational, compliant, non-antagonistic artists' muses?

Rationality is not male, it's not even human, it's not even limited to this material universe. It is a way of escaping what you are, what you have been, a way out of carnal heaviness into the lightness of the excarnate.

echo-friendly
07-11-2004, 12:00 PM
Saying that it rationality is masculine is straightforward, no-nonsense sexism.


and this week's "deep unheard of insight" award goes to ................ the k-punk!

kon-gratulations

johneffay
07-11-2004, 02:13 PM
And sometimes a certain type of male - by no means a lad, but in its own way, equally as typical of the sex - becomes very invested in a certain type of so-called intense experience. Now the cult of experience - even of these 'intense' experiences - is one of the most dangerous and reactionary positions to hold today. It is the new orthodoxy, which Zizek rightly calls the ideology of late capitalism. Sometimes, as Zizek notes, this phenomenological cult of 'cosmic engagement' calls itself Spinozism. But this phenomenologizing of Spinoza, this reduction of Spinoza to being a feelgood manual for drugged out hippies, is utterly disastrous, precisely because it removes politics. The thought is that, in principle, ANYONE could get out of their heads and become intense, so hey, why be concerned about injustice or the state of the world? So getting out of your head just IS political. No need to engage in antagonism, coz that's heavy man, and it messes with the vibe. Let people lie, cheat, steal, abuse each other, coz like, hey, what can you do about it? And those people being lied to, cheated, stolen from and abused - they could get out of their heads too, so what's the problem?


Who are these non-politically engaged, drugged up Spinozist male hippies? Most of the Spinoza as self-help manual material that I have come across has been inspired (if not instigated) by Australian feminists.

Why is a cult of intensity necessarily divorced from the political? Was Bataille apolitical? How about Foucault?

Zizek's reference to Spinozism as the ideology of late capitalism (at least as it is presented in Tarrying with the Negative) is based upon a misreading of Spinoza and a desire to hang on to deontology at the expense of the performative, and an autonomous individual moral agent; I am surprised you take it seriously.

k-punk
07-11-2004, 04:12 PM
'Originally Posted by k-punk
Saying that it rationality is masculine is straightforward, no-nonsense sexism.


and this week's "deep unheard of insight" award goes to ................ the k-punk!

kon-gratulations'

and every day's 'smug one-upmanship pointless depoliticized rejoinder' award goes to..... echo-friendly. This board is meant for serious discussion. If you want to engage in this kind of silly point scoring, I'm sure you'd be welcome at ILM.

Point is, Mr Supercilious, that this <i>ought</i> to be fucking obvious, but it seems to be beyond the wit of certain boy-artist types to see that. And not only boys: there are so-called feminists who maintain that 'women are essentially caring' and other such nonsense.

John:

'Who are these non-politically engaged, drugged up Spinozist male hippies?'

Don't think academics, think of boys that we both know.

As for cults of intensity: yes, much of Bataille is depoliticized Catholic onanism (or certainly lends itself to appropriation by Marilyn Manson naughtier than thou transgressocrat boys). Foucault is exactly the anti-type of the depoliticized cult of intensity though. Much more good Spinozist than D and G whose weakness for vitalist intoxication invites that interpretation. Zizek has a good point about this 'Spinozism', which he himself is usually careful enough to put in inverted commas.

k-punk
07-11-2004, 04:24 PM
Clarification: John --- since it could be read as a sarcastic put down, by 'boys we both know' I most definitely did not mean you btw... lol


as for Foucault: point is, it's intensity PLUS politics, and the two are mutually reinforcing.... can't really have one without the other....

johneffay
07-11-2004, 05:10 PM
Clarification: John --- since it could be read as a sarcastic put down, by 'boys we both know' I most definitely did not mean you btw... lol

The thought never crossed my mind ;)



as for Foucault: point is, it's intensity PLUS politics, and the two are mutually reinforcing.... can't really have one without the other....

I agree and I would make the same point about Bataille. If Bataille lends himself to Marilyn Manson fans, that's no more a criticism of him than it is of Spinoza to claim that he lends himself to drugged up hippies.

Anyway, where I'm really going with the point about intensity is here:


Importantly, feminism, Marxism and Spinozism are about resisting the lure of 'experience'

in that I don't understand what you mean. I'll ignore the feminism, because you obviously mean something quite specific here, but surely Marxism and Spinozism both work with experience in order to forge the political? Surely alienation and class consciousness are experiential at some level, and the whole move from passions to actions in The Ethics relies upon the application of reason to experience. I think that the examples you give show a different understanding of the data provided by experience. As such, I still think there's a lot of potential in using various intensive states to 'decode experience'.

echo-friendly
07-11-2004, 05:24 PM
you identify rationality and consistency and then claim that one
cannot be rational and a nazi or child abuser. that doesn't work, on
the contrary (cf de sade). consistency is a formal requirement and
just about everything is consistent with each other. in another
discussion here i repeatedly asked for clarification as to what my
opponents meant by "contradiction" because that's by no means a
well-understood concept. Consistency is the other side of the coin.
maybe you want to explain what you mean by it and why you think it's a
viable option to use it to get a handle on rationality.

k-punk
07-11-2004, 06:27 PM
'consistency is a formal requirement and
just about everything is consistent with each other'

Some things that are not consistent with one another:

the proposition 'it is raining now' and the proposition 'it is not raining now' if made simultaneously

oil and water

''you identify rationality and consistency and then claim that one
cannot be rational and a nazi or child abuser. that doesn't work, on
the contrary (cf de sade).'

Spinoza's definition of rationality = acting in your own interests.

Step 2: Your own interests can only be satisfied by acting collectively.

Conclusion: Therefore abusing others is not consistent with your own interests.

John I agree that reason can act upon experience, but experiences by themselves can never be the arbiter of anything. Yes, intense experiences can generate new lines of flight, but it is flight - and collective flight - that is the issue, not the fact that 'I can see colours, man'.

Class consciousness and feminist consciousness raising are the exact opposite of (what I am calling) experience. Surely the crucial point is that they are collective: i.e. not available to an individual subject blissed out in communion with the cosmooooooooooooos......

Greg
07-11-2004, 07:05 PM
k-punk... Iím interested - but who lives this life of rationality?

i don't think I've met one man who would make the assumption that he is a totally rational beast. isn't this male call to rationality rather just a popular shorthand for usual communicative breakdown between the sexes? something born out of frustration?

sorry if Iím being a philosophical-naif here, your article is intriguing though.

:confused:

nomos
07-11-2004, 07:56 PM
On a side note, could we please put this overused generalisation to rest...


the Cult Studs creed that the masses are resisting through watching TV etc, has contributed to the almost total evacuation of politics from public life.
To speak of a "Cult Studs creed" is meaningless. Cultural Studies is an interdisciplinary field concerned with areas of human life that are typically ignored by the established disciplinary constellation. Its origins are multiple. Same with its theories and methodologies. It has no specific orientation or "creed" beyond a typical, though not universal, desire to locate the politics of the everyday. Hence its strong links to feminism. There have been strong Marxist (Thompson) and Gramscian (Williams, Hall and the CCCS) currents, but work in the last decade and a half has relied more heavily on feminist, 'post-colonial' and post-structural critiques. In general, Cultural Studies has been far more open to non-Western perspectives than most other fields/disciplines.

At times, segments of the field have fetishized pop culture at the expense of a political critique. I assume your opinion is shaped by the brief period early in the 1990s when a portion of American CS received more than its share of media attention for studies of Madonna, The Simpsons, etc. - de facto market research. But one should also realize that the degree of attention given to this work was motivated in part by the economic and political climate of North America at the time Ė the ascendance of cultural conservatism in the US, and neo-liberal efforts across North America to delegitimise Humanities research in the process of further corporatising university funding structures.

Cultural Studies, as a broad interdisciplinary field, has produced a large body of rigorous and contestational work. It has given voice to people who have been marginalized by Sociology, Political Science, Philosophy, Economics, History, etc. And it has done much to promote a politicised understanding of everyday life within the academy and outside.

So enough with the rampant slagging off of "Cult Studs" (http://www.google.ca/search?as_q=cult+studs&num=10&hl=en&btnG=Google+Search&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&lr=&as_ft=i&as_filetype=&as_qdr=all&as_occt=any&as_dt=i&as_sitesearch=k-punk.abstractdynamics.org&safe=images
) already. One could make just as many derogatory arguments against the virtuosic stringing together of canonical philosophers. Theory as guitar solo.

echo-friendly
07-11-2004, 08:36 PM
'consistency is a formal requirement and just about
everything is consistent with each other' Some things that are not
consistent with one another: the proposition 'it is raining now' and
the proposition 'it is not raining now' if made simultaneously. oil
and water

sorry mate, oil and water are in no way contradictory. regarding your
first example: leaving aside the fuzziness between "it rains" and "it
does not rain" and that it can rain in Oslo while the sun shines in
Madrid at the same time, what is interesting with this example -- and
consistent with what i've suggested -- is that it is a formal, formal
in the sense that you take a sentence A and then say "A and not A" are
inconsistent. true! but this is the formal definition of
inconsistency. so what your first example boils down to is in fact a
tautology. there's nothing wrong with that as such but when you think
about the world you'll never arrive at such clearcut dichotomies A or
not A, because the world's too complex for that, the classic
equipollence problem really.


Spinoza's definition of rationality = acting in your
own interests. Step 2: Your own interests can only be satisfied by
acting collectively. Conclusion: Therefore abusing others is not
consistent with your own interests.

that doesn't work at any step. (1) one doesn't really know what one's
own interests are. (2) one doesn't really know how to achieve what may
be considered an interest. (3) some things can be though of as
achievable monadically, some as being doable with small collectives,
for example child abuse. (4) one's interests may turn out to be
inconsistent themselves.

johneffay
07-11-2004, 10:42 PM
John I agree that reason can act upon experience, but experiences by themselves can never be the arbiter of anything.

So that's why you don't like Bataille. I wonder whether you really mean 'ought never be the arbiter of anything'.

I do want to say that raw experience can be the arbiter of all sorts of things in order to break the necessitated chains in Spinoza; this is why I'm suspicious of pure rationalism.



Class consciousness and feminist consciousness raising are the exact opposite of (what I am calling) experience. Surely the crucial point is that they are collective: i.e. not available to an individual subject blissed out in communion with the cosmooooooooooooos......

I'd call them a collective experience, which would necessarily be political. I think we are just using the term 'experience' differently. I agree that there's no point going up to a cave with your animals, unless you come back down again.

Incidentally, I remember you expressing an interest in Robert Anton Wilson a while back. In the light of your comments here, I strongly recommend you read Cosmic Trigger: The likelihood of you getting even halfway through without succumbing to some form of apopleptic fit is very slim indeed!

k-punk
08-11-2004, 12:24 AM
It's late -- but re: Cult Studs, total evil, middle mass vulturous in the aftermath (I was there in the Department of Cultural Studies at Birmingham, false discussion in this institution in room CH10, pure bourgeois horror, will substantiate this later...)

As for

1) one doesn't really know what one's
own interests are.

Not if you're an irrationalist postmodern relativist teenage ontologist you don't -- it is precisely through the disciplined application of inhuman reason that you learn what your interests are --- I know it is a scandal to say this nowadays, when the idea that there is no truth is the unquestioned orthodoxy --- but, there are real interests for human beings (yes human beings can't see them often coz they're a fucked up species) --- those interests precisely lie beyond the pleasure principle ---- the whole point of Spinoza is to say that your ultimate interests are in attuning yourself to that which has no interests = god = body of uttunul.

John

too late to go into any depth on yr comments atm... but out with Nina and Alberto this eve .. and Albert averred that Spinoza and Bataille must be the two philosophers most incompatible with each other ever... Discuss :-)

nomos
08-11-2004, 01:12 AM
re: Cult Studs... pure bourgeois horror
Me or them? Looking forward to your substantiation.

Would also be very interested to hear of your experience at the CCCS.

johneffay
08-11-2004, 02:03 AM
Albert averred that Spinoza and Bataille must be the two philosophers most incompatible with each other ever... Discuss :-)

Oh, I've done this before; it's simply a variation on the 'Bataille's not a proper philosopher' objection. Basically, I would tie Bataille's general economy to Spinoza's ontology via the claim that they are both forms of immanent materialism and then do the compare and contrast with Marx read via Macherey and Yovel. If I wasn't trying to convince you ;) I'd also point out the continuity from Spinoza to Hegel to Bataille's (mis)reading of Kojeve on Hegel.

I'm not going to bother though because it's where the two deviate that I find Bataille at his most productive; basically for the reasons that I have already touched upon. Yes some of Bataille's personal neuroses are rather embarassing ("The guilt! The guilt!"), but then I have difficulty forcing down some of Spinoza as well (intuition leaps to mind - I've never seen a convincing explanation of how it works, also imagination as a necessary source of error).

I can think of much more incompatible couplings with Spinoza: Baudrillard, for example ;)

echo-friendly
08-11-2004, 11:46 AM
in the light of your claim "This board is meant for serious
discussion", the lack of reply to virtually everything i
suggested is interesting.


it is precisely through the disciplined application of inhuman
reason that you learn what your interests are

your say-so isn't a compelling argument. what is inhuman reason and
where does it's magic ability to tell me what's best for my dinner
come from?


those interests precisely lie beyond the pleasure
principle

can you expand?


the whole point of Spinoza is to say that your ultimate
interests are in attuning yourself to that which has no interests =
god = body of uttunul.

why is osama ben ladin/george w bush language helpful when in the
context of spinoza, nature, the universe, matter and the like would be
appropriate alternative terminology?

Woebot
08-11-2004, 11:59 AM
in the light of your claim "This board is meant for serious discussion", the lack of reply to virtually everything i suggested is interesting.

with the greatest of respect echo-friendly, had you approached mark just a little more even-handedly he might have been inclined to take your ideas on board/converse. just as anyone might! that you disagree with mark is fine, i do little else, but your approach does appear to border on the offensive. you've got a lot to say, you're a bright dude, i wonder if you could see it to be a bit more reasonable.

echo-friendly
08-11-2004, 01:08 PM
with the greatest of respect echo-friendly, had you approached mark just a little more even-handedly he might have been inclined to take your ideas on board/converse. just as anyone might! that you disagree with mark is fine, i do little else, but your approach does appear to border on the offensive. you've got a lot to say, you're a bright dude, i wonder if you could see it to be a bit more reasonable.

interestingly, your sentence remains true if you swap "mark" and "echo-friendly"!

fainting violet with attitude

dominic
08-11-2004, 11:15 PM
a couple of points

(1) i've always labored under the impression that the point of philosophy is to understand and articulate, as best one can, "what is," not necessarily to be "consistent" . . . . to strive for consistency is to presuppose that "what is" is indeed consistent . . . . one should recall the metaphor of the soul as presented by Plato's Socrates to Glaucon, wherein the soul consists of three parts, carnal desire, spirit (political ambition), and philosophic desire. Socrates says to Glaucon that in the well-ordered soul philosophic desire prevails over spiritedness (thymos), and spiritedness keeps carnal desire in check. But this raises a series of questions. First, it is not at all clear whether a person with a soul that is ordered in this fashion is better off than a person with a soul that is ruled by carnal desire or by spiritedness. Put differently, it isn't clear that a person with a soul ruled by philosophic desire has a soul that is "well ordered" or not riven by turmoil and strife. Certainly the philosopher, as presented by P's Socrates to G, is a lonely man with few equals, estranged from the wider community, and even should he have a few philosophic friends, he must still spend much of his time alone with his thoughts. One should not forget that P's S committed suicide (for reasons that I believe complicated, not simple). Second, even if it were desirable in the individual case for the soul to be ruled in the fashion that Socrates sets forth, what a boring world it would be if all souls were so ordered!!!! That is, isn't it the diversity of human types that gives the world its interest???? And therein lies the task of philosophy, namely, to understand human nature in all its manifold content, and to understand non-human nature . . . . And this points to other questions . . . . But again, only if "what is" were seamless and consistent would it be a virtue for thought to be consistent

(2) and this is an issue that I'd rather not rehearse here, but Mark's ad hominem attack on Heidegger in no way undermines the validity of his thought. that is, it is precisely the point of Heidegger's philosophy to bring thought and praxis together. ((((his nazism appears to have been the result of political naivete and personal grudges)))) . . . . but in any case, heidegger begins with what might be called "experience," or the world of appearances, or pretheoretical reality, the world of unconscious and semi-articulate associations. heidegger makes clear that so long as one engages with the world in this fashion, one's existence is inauthentic. but rather than advocate a posture that pulls away from experience, heidegger suggests that we should understand that which is given to us as experience, tradition, common sense, etc, in the light of the certainty of our own eventual demise. the person who truly grasps the certainty of his impending demise will make the most what he has in hand. what he has in hand may be art, politics, poetry, philosophy, any field of action . . . . it is at this point, I should confess, that I find Heidegger especially hard to follow. but so far as I can follow (and recall), the knowledge of one's impending demise, which one must "feel in one's bones," has two results. first, a person lives his life with more intensity and more seriously, for his time is limited, if of uncertain duration. second, because he undertands that his own life is radically finite, a virtual nullity, he is thrown back on what tradition has given him, the traditions of art, the traditions of music, political traditions, etcetera. but rather than engage with these traditions as merely given to him, he strives to redeem them, to recast them in ways that will "ring true" or "have sway." for a work of art to ring true, for a political vision to have sway, the work or vision must remain informed by death but also be appropriate to the times . . . . I don't know, but this is how I recall Heidegger

(3) getting back to the issue of consistency . . . . i think it bears stating that one of the main themes of ancient Greek political thought is the conflict between the interests of philosophers and the interests of the political community at large. Modern political philosophy takes a different position, namely, that of philosophers working to "enlighten" the rest of society as to its true interests. But this could only be had by reducing mankind's interests to self-preservation and material comfort . . . . Mark K-Punk, so far as I can tell, proposes that it is in the interests of all people to know the (supposedly) hard truth of a meaningless universe and get in tune with Uttenal. (By the way, since I haven't a copy of Spinoza at the moment (though he has rocketed to the top of my reading agenda), perhaps Mark could elaborate on this phenomenon called Uttenal, the unlife of the universe.) What had been grasped by Spinoza, and presumably by all true philosophers before Spinoza, should be grasped by all women and men -- for that would be in their interests. The "lightness" they would feel in getting in tune with Uttenal would be a kind of pleasure, philosophic pleasure . . . . But again, not all men and women feel "lightness" or pleasure in pursuing this line of thought, and many philosophers die unhappy, if not by their own hand . . . .

(4) one more remark on consistency . . . . the dialectical method may strive for consistency, but to what extent is philosophy dependent upon this method??? that is, I have argued that philosophy seeks to understand "what is," not necessarily to arrive at consistent outcomes. and yet, when a person contradicts himself in the course of a serious discussion, we (and I) insist that he clarify his thoughts, if not to overcome the contradiction entirely, then at least to hold things together in ways that do not fall apart

(5) mark k-punk says that men and women obtain their interests by acting collectively. yet surely some interests can only be realized in private, that is, by oneself, one on one, or in small groups. these are the interests that are had through such activities as contemplation, sex, poetry (even if few of us are poets). other interests are realized in collectives that are too large to be called private, to small to be called political. these are called social collectives. for example, religions. but also any celebration in which we join together with strangers. last, there are political collectives which work to change and direct the wider culture, from the straightforward example of protesters on a street, to the more mediated examples of books and internet . . . . whatever . . . . but the point is that different human interests are obtained in different kinds of venues, and some can only be obtained in private. (although collective action may be necessary to secure the preconditions for realizing private interests.) . . . . and i think, moreover, that different people have different interests. what is good for the goose is not good for the gander . . . . and the reason this is so is reducible, in the end, to fact that different people take more or less pleasure in certain activities than others do. some people take great pleasure in having sex, others take more pleasure in considering how people who are overly driven or determined by sex are not unlike monkeys . . . .

(6) this then points to three positions concerning the possibility of a just society. first, there is the position that the just society is the one is which each person is free (and has the economic and educational tools) to pursue his interests as he defines them himself. this is the pluralistic society, the society of democratic self-determination. second, there is the view advanced by mark k-punk, which holds that most people are ignorant of their true interests, but that were people properly "enlightened," they could realize their true interests through collective action. perhaps k-punk could elaborate further on the content of these true interests. third, there is the position which holds that a just society is impossible because human nature is too complex, and the variety of human types too diverse, for people's interests to ever be realized in the proper order or in anything approaching harmony. this third position invites a kind of fatalism, but also the pragmatism that aims in the opposite direction from the ills of one's own time and place

johneffay
09-11-2004, 10:05 AM
Dominic,

Great stuff. I don't want to pre-empt the reply that I hope Mark will provide, but would just like a point of clarification on (5): What do you mean by political and how could it be distinguished from the collective? Surely every action of individuals is political in that it impinges upon others. Private actions have consequences in larger spheres. The only one of your examples I might concede as being entirely private would be contemplation, but even this can be construed as a political action in that running off into the hills to be a hermit is an abrogation of one's responsibilities to others. I think this:


some can only be obtained in private. (although collective action may be necessary to secure the preconditions for realizing private interests.)

Is spot on (although I would argue that privacy is relative) and serves to highlight exactly why everthing is political.

echo-friendly
09-11-2004, 10:53 AM
highlight exactly why everthing is political.

what is gained by this concept of the political, apart from a novel
and perplexing way of saying "everything"?

johneffay
09-11-2004, 12:55 PM
what is gained by this concept of the political, apart from a novel
and perplexing way of saying "everything"?

Sorry, I'm not going to bite as I'm really not interested in watching you engage in yet another round of dismissive attempted point scoring, whilst refusing to engage in anything which even resembles mutual discussion.

&catherine
09-11-2004, 03:52 PM
so what your first example boils down to is in fact a
tautology.

What's that Nietzsche quote that I always think of?

"If (man) will not be satisfied with truth in the form of tautology, that is to say, if he will not be content with empty husks, then he will always exchange truths for illusions."

infinite thought
10-11-2004, 07:22 PM
I would be intrigued if there's anyone out there willing to defend the thesis that a more 'feminine' mode of argumentation/reasoning trumps a more 'masculine' one....anyone?

dominic
15-11-2004, 11:48 PM
this is in response to john effay's question up above . . . . everything is political, if you take the heideggerian view that all relations to "what is" imply a particular understanding of "being," a particular table of values, a particular sense of direction, etc . . . . the political, in this grand sense, is about hierarchy, directionalities, etc . . . . likewise, plato or at least his socrates seems to hold that all persons subscribe to a particular view of the good, i.e., have a particular political predisposition or bent. but as this predisposition is unfolded, the semi-articulate view of the good made articulate, it may of course prove riven by contradiction . . . . however, your definition of the political is not about the fundamental predispositions that guide our actions and judgments (the heideggerrian/hegelian/platonic definition), but rather a physical, atomistic conception wherein every human work or action impinges on others. however, because contemplation lacks physical dimension, so long as it remains unwritten, contemplation is not political. at least, that's how i understand your position. but you again raise the conflict between the interests of philosophy and the interests of the political community. the philosopher who runs off like a hermit to the woods, or in the fashion of Nietzsche up to the mountain tops, is of course politically irresponsible. just as the nightlife denizen is politically irresponsible, and the abstract artist, etc, etc, etcetera. and yet these people find it to be in their interests to pursue their mode of living away and apart from the collective, the city, the community, even if at the end of the day they're dependent upon the collective for the necessities of life, the luxuries, and personal security. and so they devise tactics, or make use of prevailing practice, to get what they want and need (a privileged existence) without incurring the wrath of others. this they do by convincing others that their work has value to others, the value of the profound writing, the value of the beautiful painting. or they strike a kind a bargain wherein it is agreed that if you let the nightlife denizen have his vice, he'll let you have your religious quackery . . . . as for my position, it's nothing that i've ever tried to work out systematically or defend in any rigorous fashion, apart from half-hearted measures. but i take what i would call a "spatial" approach to defining the political, and the social, and the private. certain types of spaces or venues are appropriate for certain kinds of activities. and certain kinds of activities constitute certain kinds of space. for example, activities such as contemplation and sex occur in private because the glare of the public is destructive of their integrity or essence. and on the other hand, activities like sex or unbridled thought, if performed in public, would prove harmful to the essence of what is held in common, in public space . . . . and political activities define political or public space. the protest is constitutive of the public park, and the park is the appropriate venue for the protest. and published writings are political, though in a way that is more mediated. and the media is the abstract space that such writings constitute . . . . admittedly, this "spatial" approach to defining what is private, what social, what political tends to breakdown when confronted with such abstract, highly mediated space as print media, the internet, television, etcetera . . . . i'm afraid i don't have time to elaborate . . . . however, hannah arendt has elaborated on this theme at great length (which is not to say that i by any means agree with everything that arendt has to say)

johneffay
16-11-2004, 11:20 AM
I wouldn't want to say that my definition of the political was a 'physical, atomistic conception', rather that is a social one predicated upon power relations. Basically it would be an extension of the concept of man as political animal with a much more inclusive version of the Polis than Aristotle's. The aim would be to draw a distinction between social relations as practised by non-humans, and those of humans. The reason I would want to do this is to highlight the fact that so-called human social relations are in fact artificial and imposed via a hierarchical power structure. This is very important for areas such as disability theory.

The conflict would not be between philosophy and the political (I go along with DeleuzeGuattari when they say 'politics precedes Being'), but rather forms of mysticism which attempt to escape the from the social.

I agree with what you say about artists, 'nightlife denizens', etc. and I am convinced their life has meaning for others ;)