The Dialectic of Philosophy: Claims, Ideas, and the Central Thinker

This is part two of the Dialectic of Philosophy posts. And we might wish to keep in mind what prompted this or these posts: I am not just speaking out into space as if from scratch, as some sort of fundamental truth of all things, some metaphysical postulate which is more or less true based upon the argument I am able to make.  I am speaking from part one of these blog posts the link to the link of the essay about Benjamin and Hegel. In Particular, I’m responding to what that author said about Benjamin. The question he asks (paraphrase) “what are we to make of this claim about dialectics that Benjamin made?”

As an indication of orientation, I should be honest and forthright. The motivation for this post was because I didn’t have to ask what we are to make of Benjamin’s claim. So the question arose, what could this mean? Not “the claim”, but rather what does it mean that what Benjamin is saying might not be a claim? I am thus not making a claim against the fact that there might be claims. I am asking into what constitutes a claim. I am doubting myself by asking why the author (sic.) would enter into his essay by a claim.

Or, to be more precise, why would he assume that what Benjamin said is a claim to thus even see through to making a statement about Benjamin’s claim without wanting first to justify why the author would be making a statement upon Benjamin’s claim?

The question is rooted in another situation; namely, (1) that the author must understand Benjamin (however he came to understand him); (2) that others do not understand Benjamin; (3) that others do not (yet) understand the point the author is going to make about Benjamin’s claim (the author’s claim about Benjamin’s claim). One might go so far as to say that this is the implicit ontology of claims; that is, it is an ontological method because it is assumed a proper method. Then the question must be: for what? What is this proper method of presentation and understanding trying to do? We cannot simply say that it is trying to do whatever the author is telling us he wants to do because that is the ontological method that I am indicating here: It is an assumed method through which modern subjects assert themselves as viable ideal entities, what we could call identities.

Now, I am not not suggesting that the author is incorrect in his synopsis nor in his attempt to educate people.  But I am attempting to show or bring out to view that the method is not automatic nor inherent to Being, thought, or humanity. Also, inherent here, is that I needed no special education or intensive thought nor intelligence to understand what Benjamin is saying. I do need some sort of level of ability or intellectual reflection, but I needed no primer nor background information to see clearly the point Benjamin is making. And I say this not to exalt myself but rather to indicate the claim-less-ness of his discourse. I say this because the view which would see Benjamin’s discourse as part of a series of claims is already invested in a manner of seeing which would then proscribe various interpretations of Benjamin which would require his making a claim. The obvious next question would be: making a claim about what? 

All this goes to show further Benjamin’s meaning without it having a stature of being a claim: The critical situation which comes to bare upon a simple viewing, as opposed to an intellectual method, is offensive to a particular manner of viewing the world and one’s place within it. Hence the requirement for what Benjamin has to say. He (and not only him) is indicting a particular manner of coming upon the world, as this manner, he sees, invests itself in problems that it does not wish to solve for the purpose of upholding and sustaining a particular kind of human being, in the case the modern subject that thinks freely, critically, but for a purpose that is ultimately disjoined from the world (transcendent). In this way, the modern subject enjoins with the world in a manner which denies the world’s real and effective existence as a thing independent of the thinking subject as an independent force of the universe.  Hence the irony and the link to the non-Sartre identified existential authors (Sartre’s existentialism is not the same as Kierkegaard’s discourse but is rather an assertion of reason upon what is foreign to it and thus which has missed Kierkegaard’s point, as I discuss elsewhere). As I say: the truth of the world is not a subjective intrusion, but indeed the subjective intension can indicate a mistaken manner of viewing the world. So it is that the problem, as many philosophers and critical theorists have indicated, is that the indication is not sufficient to cause a significant change in the manner by which things are done (see Slavoj Zizek’s works and Cedric Nathaniel’s The Philosophical Hack) even as such jurisprudence supposes it is making strides towards the ideological utopia not admitted through its efforts.

Hence, the conclusion of the ages, notwithstanding the Postmodern Condition (Lyotard). Such Indications do not present a problem to be solved but indeed offer a description of the situation which cannot be solved through an intellectual analysis of claims. This gauntlet of experience thus sorts out types of human Beings to what they are able to view, and how they are able to act and is thus an example of an instance which indicates an inherent problem with the (conventional) philosophical reason and its method by itself alone.  Indeed there is a method which operates upon claims, but often enough, the problems it entreats to suppose to offer a solution has already missed the truth of the statements it is involved with. Hence we see much of the late 20th century philosophical obsession with subjectivity attempting to argue that this manner is the true manner of subjectivity and of how “worlds” are constituted.  What failed of the (many ? continental) 20th century philosophers is they would not–even if they were able–see that their manner was only correct under a particular condition, but a condition which is not ubiquitous, but is only argued and thus asserted as accounting for all that is viewable.

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Unfortunately I don’t know Benjamin so I can’t say anything about him. But what never fails to amaze me is that somehow we have all been intoxicated, philosophically speaking, by Hegel’s dialectic. Anyone who encountered this theory was totally captivated by it, hence the immense interest of the 20th century philosophers in it, although they criticized it.
    The younger me would have told u that Hegel was the biggest philosopher of all time. The present me thinks that Kant is the biggest. Nevertheless, Hegel left his fingerprints on the world. Nice post 👏

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