Much like “the history of consciousness” is not about an essential attribute of the functioning brain, like, we might associate consciousness with psyche, but is rather about the analysis of an appearance of what it is to be human in the world, so “thought” Is likewise not about what might be occurring in the gray matter, so to speak, but is more about what appears as human in a general sense and under a certain light.
The reason why I point out this distinction has to do with my reading various philosophical texts and beginning to really understand what I (seemingly) naturally reject in my coming upon philosophical texts.
I think the shadowy-gray area, the area that people get all up in arms about when we try to define or locate the object of philosophy, is found because people equate “thought” with “thinking”. Philosophers tend to read other philosophical texts– no matter from what era — as though thought and thinking are reflecting the same essential substrate which is inherently and absolutely attached to the human being in the world, which is to say, the phenomenological subject.
“Thought” is not thinking; but “thought” can indeed be thinking under certain conditions; there is no philosophical text that is doing any thinking nor reflecting anything about what thinking might be , or, Perhaps the more precise formulation is under what conditions can we be speaking of thinking, and under what condition are we speaking of thought. Philosophical text often reflects thought, in the same way as “the history of consciousness” is reflecting the intellectual academies’ version of history. But The history of consciousness is not talking about human beings in their actuality; On the contrary, the confusion I see popping up everywhere in philosophy — which is the reason why I think many things that are included in the discipline or activity of philosophy should be more properly referred to as “critical thinking”– Is because philosophers often enough, it seems, think that once we enter into a domain that talks about “thought” they automatically associate a constellation of ideas as rotating or orbiting some essential object, but without recognizing that it is indeed an object that they are referencing; in fact they denying the existence of such an object by an activity of focusing on what The satellites are doing, focusing on manipulating the orbits of such satellites.
Philosophers tend to read philosophical texts without actually understanding often enough what the texts might actually be about because of this implicit assumption that goes in to viewing the text. In many instances, philosophy is founded on a decree of unrecognized doublespeak, at once speaking of an undisclosed object about how there is nothing undisclosed but that which is encoded in the speaking (discourse). What?
This assumption amounts to or can be analogous to a black hole when we look out into the sky and space; how long did it take astronomers to actually find and identify and locate an actual black hole? I don’t really know, but I do know that the reason why it was even hypothesized was because astronomers could infer the existence of a black hole by referencing a movement of bodies.
The problem with philosophers, though, is they are identifying with Being a satellite; philosophers identify themselves through the motion of being a satellite as an essential and central universal component. This is the meaning of speculative realist authors’ idea of correlation, as they embrace the idea of “the Copernican revolution” that displaced the earth as the center of the universe.
Many philosophers see their activity as involved in manipulating orbits (Marxist ideology) instead of understanding how the physical mechanics, as an analogy, of orbiting satellites-ideas function. And they do this so well as to create an impression that there is no way to be able to understand how the satellites have their orbits.
The reason why I associate conventional philosophical activity with religion is because of what is apparent about what is in effect, what is occurring by the evidence of (a certain method) of philosophy. And this is to say that if one understands this kind of reference, this picture that I’m putting forth, then one might be able to see how philosophers are implicitly rejecting certain semantics, certain organizations of meaning along typical fronts.
These fronts become camouflaged by the arguments that are contained within the closet structures of the argument itself. But, like I said, once one begins to understand this picture, one can begin to see a routine and typical rejection that occurs at the same place, along the same contours of meaning in a large swath of philosophical discussion. I call this typical rejection “offense”, and I define or I refer to religion in general, what we know of religion and what we associate with religious ideas, groups, cosmologies, as “concerning offense”. And this is to say, similarly or as an analogue, that it is possible to associate Christianity, for example, and into different types of Christianity, different denominations, by how they understand sin.
And I think the most notable and significant factor of religion is its method of trying to apologize for that which it is implicitly rejecting.
And this is to say that when I talk about philosophy and I bring my various discussions about what is occurring within a particular text, I routinely get objections to what I’m saying is if my discussion is suggesting something about the other author’s or philosopher’s argumentative position, namely, that their philosophy their ideas are wrong or incorrect in someway because I’ve pointed out this aspect of their discourse. And so what I routinely get back is an argument about how I am incorrect, and usually by that point I have to tell them that I actually agree with what they’re saying but I’m actually more pointing out what is occurring through their text, rather than discounting their text by pointing out what it is doing.
My usual analogy is a tree. It is as if me and a friend or a colleague are standing in front of a tree and I am describing the tree to the other, e.g. it is a Pinetree, it has long thin green needles, it has brown pinecones that are sharp, it has bark, it stands 40 feet high — but then my colleague comes back at me and says “I don’t think that’s green”; “what do you mean by 40 feet?”
My point with the whole thing is: what is the point of us arguing over the green Ness of the Pineneedles whether or not they’re green or not, whether or not they’re sharp, whether or not they’re short or long, or what criteria we use for those designations?
And by this question I am not saying that it is wrong to go about that method. I am not saying, “what is the point” as an expression of futility or condemnation; rather, I am actually asking into what is the purpose of proceeding in that way.
So, I am saying that we should be able to distinguish what we are actually doing when we say that we are philosophers or that we are doing philosophy. And I say this because if I am standing at the tree describing the tree and then my colleague next to me is just sitting there questioning the categories I use — to me, while we both might be doing philosophy, we will never get anywhere because we are doing two different activities.
And I think my biggest gripe is with this is the kind of deconstructionist or whatever philosophy that likes to lay claim over the entirety of what philosophy can be, as if merely asking questions into definitions holds the entirety of valid philosophy wherever the word is spoken — I think this does not strengthen philosophy as a human endeavor but actually devalues and weakens it. Such a method that claims philosophy at the expense of any other type turns it into something that’s pretty much useless except to accel the person that can claim their superior intelligence because they can ask more questions then the other person is willing to define, as if at that final moment when the other person gives up with trying to find out that this “deconstruction-definition” person Can as last claim the superior argument. It is so utterly capitalistic that it kind of defeats the point of the word “philosophy” itself.
But I’m not saying again that such a method is incorrect or invalid or wrong. But I am saying that we should notice that that particular type of way of doing philosophy is a particular type and is not “philosophy” as a whole category that it assumes and imposes it itself to be.
Socrates was not about shooting down his opponent. What is dialectical is the effort to come to a consensus. I think the mass amount of a certain kind of intoxication of our societies has led philosophers to a certain type of self aggrandize, self interested, thought-capital oriented “thought producer” Who has appropriated and conceived what is Socratic in a kind of disgustingly misinformed and misunderstood manner.
My point is simply : let us identify this kind of conventional, critical thinking based, philosophy as what it does so that we can put it to proper use, use which is best fitting to what it able to do.
And then retain the term philosophy for the actual human-universal questions of significance. Perhaps we could begin this new philosophical enterprise with discussing perhaps we could begin this new philosophical enterprise with A discussion about just what is honesty. What is it to be honest?
Before this blog was called “the philosophical hack” it was called “constructive undoing”.
And perhaps some of you readers may be able to make a correlation there.
Consider this: by the very term “speculative realism” the authors are hedging their bets.
If anyone was there when or after the speculative realism conference occurred and then the few years after: what we saw was a bunch of people , the audience, all of a sudden getting very hopeful, but then as those authors continued to produce their various ideas on philosophy, the interest in them faded quickly. And that is because they had something very powerful to say, but then they either backed off or didn’t really understand what they were onto.
The answer goes to why I think Graham Harman has the strong position.