In my very early and preliminary reflections on whiteness and being white it seems obvious to me that two issues are present in the philosophical reckoning.
1) The theoretical postmodern maxim of discursive reality.
2) The fact that no human Being is actually white. At best, even an albino is not truly white.
If there is a reduction or a larger meaning between these two aspects then it must fall into one of those categories. While it is not properly truthful to say that they are mutually exclusive, it is, so far, sensible to see that any argument that would be made would have to get its footing in one of these choices, ie either the argument is making a point about discursive reality and the manifestation of power, or, it is not making an argument.
Not making an argument? How can that be? You say.
There is no tension. Rather, the tension is come upon when both statements are understood within a methodological axiom where they occur in equal stature, both in the same existential space to be or as a question, both equally allowable and accessible to questioning. For example, each term of both phrases can be looked into to find its specific meaning, and at each step of inquiry, the results themselves are allowed to be questioned. This is usually what is meant by philosophy; this standard method has brought about a historical-traditional liturgy of reductionary theory and philosophical systems put forth by various free thinking and inspired people.
Yet when there is no tension, then the statements are seen to be describing what is obvious: 1) the post modern condition has to do with the organization of discursive structures and the corresponding belief that these structures reflect essences and or basic and operative realities ; 2) no living human being has ever been truly the colour white.
The sensible question should be what is the purpose of asking into these statements. For (1), the method is implicit: In bringing out Postmodern there is a invitation into discussing and debating what the statement means and whether it is true. (2) is not implicit; questioning into this statement would be more like a philosophical exercise , yet one that would seem to point out how the philosophical method can sometimes be taken too far, or be used for merely pondering and wondering; like the speculation that our universe could be but a speck of dust under the fingernail of a inconceivably large giant creature.
But again, the distinction of these into categories like I easily explained above, has shown us how argument falls into one of the categories themselves: Either it is relative or it is true; the discussion that takes place in the category that contains all humans, within the common category of human mental ability, has therefore already fallen into the meaning of the first statement, which, due to this seemingly automatic motion, can be come to be seen as a kind of religious dogma. It can be understood as areligious dogma because the plain fact of the two statements have already been tested. We have already found out that they are true beyond what argumentative proposals might confront them: The arguments necessarily fall back into the meaning of those statements unless we adhere to a special condition of the first statement, a condition that we automatically understand as obvious, a meaning that usurps as it calls all meaning to itself to thereby negate any other possibility situation. Hence we have located and identified a true aspect about the human being, and have begun along a different road in the effort to discover what the human being is. The question that informs this finding is “why are we still arguing whether or not the results are true when the same result has arisen through multiple testings of the same experiment?” This is how Philosophy retains its religious privilege of failing to become a science: Such a privilege is imposed as it is asserted. Religion allows for the human being to be infinitely creative in avoiding its determination and thus control — especially once it has established its power to control.
What I mean by this is the same or very similar to what we mean when we point to the near impossibility of getting outside or beyond capitalist ideology. Discourse is understood as communication of identity, which always involves a processual excess (transcendence) which when communicated “properly”is called progress (communion), and capitalism is the exploitation of this excess, again progress in evidence (“God’s Plan”). Because at this point, this moment in which this post for example is being read, anyone that has any higher sort of education at all will very soon come upon the reality that the argument about there being no skin colour that is naturally actually white in colour is an assertion of a discursive reality; shortly there after with a little bit of reflective thought people will inevitably stumble upon the fact that there is a sort of power that is being implemented in the use of the word “white” to describe human groups, social and cultural and economic positions and systems, in various sectors and for various reasons.
And yet there is indeed a certain factual basis that tells us in an obvious fashion that there is no human being that is white in colour. The next statement that would depart from relative discursive realities is the one that would say that the fact of there being no actual white person is true beyond what the discourse might reroute into a discursive reality, that is, to be argued and negotiated.
The involvement with the philosophical arguments around this issue thus becomes the issue, the issue that falls outside of a certain self-evident scheme of ideas.
But not everything is of ideas, you say.
The point then, the usual point, is that there is no argument to be made about whether or not being white is a discursive reality: The argument to be made must have to do with power relations and so is automatically reflective of this real situation of postmodern multivocal realities. In other words, there is no argument that can be made in the ethical region of common humanity that can argue that arguments about the problemitzation of whiteness should not be discussed; Even as we might be able to describe a situation where the discussion about race, power, and privilege becomes a secondary concern, we cannot, in good faith, dismiss the discussion as merely some sort of Idealistic fashion.
The only real way to get back to the things themselves is thus to create or establish or, even more, recognize that there is a partition that must occur. Some will cry “foul”, though, seeing this partition as another means to install a justification for segregation. But such a reaction is not comprehending the issue, nor the statement. Integral to this partition must be the fact that there are not separate species of human beings (we know that race is not a description of genetic fact), that ultimately whiteness as an indication of a particular group of people as well as a particular power structure of systems which is ultimately an ideology, and that this ideology a particular type of scheme of ideas that is been placed there necessarily. Nevertheless, this necessity is uncomfortable and tends to rely upon arguments that only make sense unto the ideology they support. Hence if we are to get around the contradiction that arises of the bare fact and the ethics that sees the necessity as incorrect, then we need to be able to theorize about the nature of Being that gets outside what necessarily has been given us for such Being. We find the placement of the postmodern as a rejection of this necessity. The problematization of whiteness is a pushback of ideas based in a universal ideal of proper human treatment. The idea struggles with itself.
We then must acknowledge that we are not allowed to acknowledge that we are dealing only with ideas: ethics demands that we are dealing with something that arises outside of discourse. And this is because of the insistence and near impossibility of getting outside what is present of discourse and it’s meaning, as an identity in itself. We must adhere to what is ethical to the common idea of humanity and no longer argue about what is real and what is Ideal, or what is actual compared to what is merely an idea. All such arguments are hopelessly caught in what philosophers Have termed lately “correlational”.
The very idea that we can formulate some sort of discourse that is able to get beyond what is correlational is itself based in a real idea founded in what is correlational, which is to say, discursive. The philosophical efforts that attempt to give to us some sort of argument to get us outside the correlational cycle is then, ultimately, based in the ideal that discourse is capable of identifying another way of getting to some actual situation of reality, an actual discourse that will lead, through its linking, to what is outside of discourse. Hence the continuation of the postmodern idea: correlation.
I’m not sure how many more ways I need to say it: If the problem is not understood by now then we have just realized an actual situation that occurs outside of what is correlational.
We’ll let that sit in a minute….
Once this situation has taken hold, and is no longer an effort of building on quicksand, then we can begin to understand why identity has become the valued thing that founds real ability of human interaction with the world. We have to admit that what is real, while a discursive formulation, functions more akin to a religious institution on one hand, and a thing in-itself to notice and have on the other to thereby be able to use and discuss without worrying about whether what is correlational will suck it back into relativity and conventional philosophical speculation.
This means that we are able then to problematize whiteness without asserting or attempting to impose again a hierarchical racist structure. The issue will level out to become an issue of the human being because of the religious effect of a common humanity.