Description and argument: Discerning Resentment and Bias in Philosophy.

REPOST of a bit in Ressentiment.

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Nietzsche talks about in one of his essays somewhere (or maybe it is Kierkegaard) how he seems to have more compassion and understanding and relation to authors of the past, of a history, of a presence that is detached or somehow distant from himself, than toward contemporary philosophers, philosophers that existed at the same time as him, that he has little or no compassion.

I often feel the same way.

Slavoj Zizek and myself seem to have been moulded from the same bed of clay. I doubt that I will ever meet him and I doubt that he will ever hear of me, and so such speculations, however incorrect or presumptuous on my part, must indeed be the case. We may not of be dressed in the same fabric, our hairstyles and musical interests depart from one another’s, and our accents and mannerisms are definitely of different characters.

Nevertheless, I came to the same conclusion that he so eloquently and oddly describes and develops, and I even heard recently Levi Bryant suggest, namely, that an author does not fully realize the meaning of his proposals, and often and strangely enough, in fact, doesn’t even realize what they mean, and even more strangely and contradictory, sometimes makes incorrect arguments that stem from their own ideas!

One of the situations I point out in my book has to do with an apparent confusion in the discipline of philosophy. Sure, we have come up with a number of sub-disciplines such as ontology and epistemology, and even a greater division with Continental and Analytical philosophy, but I think there is a more subtle yet significant issue going on besides whether we are talking about methods, semantics or syntax. I say that this distinction has to do with an orientation upon objects. (See my book if you are curious as to how this relates to Graham Harman’s Object Oriented Ontology/Philosophy). Part of this issue is that there a basic and fundamental breakdown in communication that cannot be over come through current conventional methods.

More relevant to this essay here is the distinction between description and argument. The question might arise as to whether a description is an argument in disguise, but I think the significance involved is when one sees an argument as a description. When this occurs we have a different animal growling. The problem, as I tend to see it, is when a description is understood automatically as an argument.

When I say “tree” and point over there, there is no argument. I say “tree with leaves”; no argument. If I say “the tree has a brown trunk and green leaves, all of which are made of cells”, there is no argument in there. It is a description. When I goto the bar and order a beer, I am not making an argument to the bartender about beer (usually).

Yet for some reason, when it comes to philosophy, the automatic recourse to an apparently overwhelming amount of self-reported-philosophers is that certain statements are automatically arguments. If I say anything that remotely resembles philosophy, it is taken as an argument to be debated as to its veracity and qualifications. I call this common mode a real mode and also a conventional mode. I suggest that the discipline of philosophy is at a point when we need to begin to find away to discern between these two routes, and without arousing resentment from those conventional philosophers that have automatic recourse to the single view of argumentation. (See Heidegger “What is it we Call Thinking, about this one dimensional manner). Because, if I may use Nietzsche here: the conventional philosophers are unable to think outside of their resentment, and so use what is common as a leverage to pull what could be exceptional back into the regularity of the ideological norm. They argue their Being. 

To not argue Being is an extremely unpopular idea; no one wants to admit that thier rationality and ability is compromised by an aspect of themselves that withholds or otherwise cuts them off from the possibility of Reason –even if Reason is problematized likewise. One is not allowed to admit that there is a manner of discussion that excludes some people, but this is because those so offended simply are not understanding the issue at hand nor then do they want to nor see that it is possible

An example about ressentiment: I do not and will never know how to program machine language, yet somehow this does not offend me. The idea that I will not ever be able to do certain things regardless of what conventional potential might be shown to me, does not offend me. But for some reason, if I suggest that there is a manner of thinking upon things that not all people will be able to comprehend despite education or intelligence, then I have breached a social ethic, and I become biased as people get offended. Such recourse simply evidences an approach to things that is ignorant; such philosophers and people in general do not understand how such a discourse could be not biased.

Just think of race relations and social justice: White people cannot understand the lived experience of people of color ( generally speaking, at least, in the U.S., Africa, perhaps India, maybe everywhere in fact..). And, not only is it an incorrect sentiment to say that “oh, I don’t see color, I only deal with individuals”, but it is indeed racist. At best, White people can be allies to people of color by getting over their ressentiment that the human Being is a common sort by through which everyone may have access to knowledge within the potential of discourse, because this common sort, as we find in the critique of race relations, is a sort that is and has been implemented by discourses of power (bias; systems of power; colonialist white privilege ). Then, and only then, can we begin to discuss racism and its solutions. So I say of (conventional) philosophy of its mode. Not that it is racist necessarily, but that it will not admit its own lack.

For now, I merely throw this out there. I am not going in to all the repercussions involved with this most apparent and usually common ideological methodology.

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