Another Philosophical Stab At Philosophy

I’m going to take another stab at talking about something strictly philosophical. It has to do with the previous post, The repost of seven ways to read philosophy with my commentary of how I read philosophy, how I go about it.

I’m going to give you the philosophy behind my reading of philosophy.

I am going to attempt to describe and give an example of the difference between what one is able to do, compared to what is being done.

Take the example of a philosophical work. It doesn’t matter what it is, I am going to read this philosophical work so I can understand it.

The first way that I can go about this has to do with what I am able to do as a human being that is involved with consciousness in someway. It doesn’t matter how we define consciousness because no matter how I would define it you are already understanding implicitly what consciousness is; that is to say, regardless of if we have the same definition, I may use of the word “consciousness” and you implicitly understand something of the nature of what I’m talking about. Just as if I say “dog”. “Rock” or “el hermano”

Any argument which would propose something different, as though you don’t understand what I mean by the word consciousness, is a contradiction. For, you would have no basis from which to ask me what ‘consciousness’ meant, or more precisely, what I mean by ‘consciousness’, if you did not already have an understanding of what it meant. But further; if we both already did not have a common understanding of what ‘consciousness’ means, we would not be able to have any conversation about what you mean or what I mean. Hence, I’m not beginning a philosophical conversation about what each of us might mean by consciousness, I am merely drawing upon the fact that we both already understand what it means. If you absolutely don’t understand what “consciousness” means, then you have simply to go find out. It doesn’t matter what definition you have because if indeed you are talking about consciousness, you must be talking about consciousness. If you are using the word consciousness but you were actually talking about the moon, then you would not actually be talking about consciousness, by the sheer fact that indeed you were talking about the moon. Again, it doesn’t matter what argument you make about all the possibilities involved in whatever you would want to talk about, because you would be relying upon the fact that I already understand what you were talking about in order to make the argument about how it is relative, how we make our own meaning, how symbols are arbitrary, etc.

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So here I go. I pick up a philosophical writing and I am going to be involved in understanding it.

I start to read it and I begin to notice that it is somewhat difficult to understand what this person, the author, is saying.

It is at this point in this philosophical essay that I make a notice to what consciousness is able to do.

Because the reader is involved with consciousness in someway, regardless of what way we are defining it, the reader is able to slow down and analyze word by word, clause by clause, sentence by sentence, put together and construct the meaning out of the text what the author is trying to say. My point here is entirely that people are able to do this.

My question would be, how am I able to be able to do this? From where is the contents of any piece of text taken from or located? Is it in my mind? Is it in the other persons mind, the author’s mind and she is bestowing or infusing the contents of the text (somehow ) into the symbols themselves such that the content can there by be extruded from the text, from the symbol, by the reader?

My question has to do with where the idea resides. Does it reside in some sort of energy or some sort of ethereal space between two individuals, such that each individual can summon and motivate particular energies that traverse the space between individuals? What is occurring that one person can have an idea and it can be moved across space such that another person can have the same idea, the idea which the first person has?

I’m just gonna leave that sit for a little bit. And while it’s sitting, I’m going to place that little tidbit of being “able” beside it. Indeed there is some ability going on, something that we can call an ‘ability’ that has something to do with what we are calling ‘consciousness’. And this ability has to do with me, or the reader, being able to dive deep, do a close reading, a close analysis of a text to find out what exactly the author is saying.

I make notice of an ability, to draw a distinction between what can actually occur despite ability, which is to say, accounting for that ability.

Again, making reference to the previous post about ways to go about reading Philosophy, The way that I read philosophy is that I start reading it, and if I don’t understand it I might take a few minutes and see if it starts to resonate after 5-10 or 20 pages, and if it doesn’t, I make no effort to try and understand it at all. In fact I set the book aside, and I come back to it at some random time in the future whether it be a few days a few weeks sometimes even years go by. De facto, I am not able to understand it.

So I pick up a different book, and I continue in this process until I find a book that poses Philosophy that is easy for me to understand. It takes no effort, and actually it is quite astounding as I’m reading it that I understand intuitively what the Philosopher is saying so easily.

I read that book, it makes perfect sense. I didn’t have to try to understand it, indeed I could say that I was not able to understand it, but I just understood it automatically.

I do this over and over again with different books. Some books make no sense to me at all and I set them inside. Other books make absolute instant sense to me, or with maybe some effort of pushing through then suddenly makes sense to me, say after 10 or 20 pages usually. It is through this method that I then go back eventually to encounter those first books that I did not understand, and often enough at some point I suddenly understand them as clear as day.

 I call this latter approach an encounter with what is already being done. And it is consistent with what Heidegger calls the work of art, as indeed the answer to the question of the “in-itself”, in response to the critique of pure reason and practical reason, among many other “impossible tasks”, that is: if we have indeed yet begun to think. 

But as well, we come to answer the question and solve the debate around Plato and his “remembrance”. 

Yet, We are totally able to continue the debate!

I’m just not sure that gets us anywhere. 😆. It might, but I’m not sure.

Are you sure? xx

Thought experiment for those philosophers who.

I’m going to put forth a thought experiment. I imagine that I’ll get one or two comments about it, but I’d like to get more. Chances are I’ll probably get zero. So it goes to my point here.

I am going to write an intellectual academic paper. It makes a good argument. It has a proposal, it has thoroughly investigated rebuttals, propositions for solutions and faults, etc., but it does not site one single person in the history of written material.

Would I ever get published by a reputable journal, say?

My answer is, no. And then, why?

In in a paper I am currently writing I introduce the question of why it should matter whether someone came up with an idea that someone else already came up with, that is, in Philosophy or in critical theory or something like that.

Often, we will hear as a critique of someone’s work that it is derivative, or that someone else said it better, or that someone else said the same thing 300 years ago.

Why should that discredit or devalue at all what this other person said presently?

Chances are if the person comes up with a conclusion that other people already came up with, I would guess that the person is only putting this particular idea in a context which address is the current situation. So I’m not sure why the person’s proposal would be set aside or devalued because they didn’t reference all the other people who said something similar.

Why is it important to reference other people?



Thought is not Thinking: A critique of philosophy.

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.

Why?

The answer goes to why I think Graham Harman has the strong position.

Larval Subjects, the Impetus for Communication and the Common Thought of the Past.

Prof Bryant has an interesting post today.  And it inspired me to comment, below:

As I taught Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics today, I emphasized the manner in which so many of the virtues he lists are social in nature. Although we intuitively value many of the virtues Aristotle lists, I don’t think it would occur to many of us to count these among more or ethical issues. I wonder what the […]

via The End of Dialogue? — Larval Subjects . 

Levi;

It is interesting that you happened to ponder communication right now, because I was also pondering it, but along a slightly different line. I think you are commenting along a different vector of knowledge, perhaps a different category, but still…

I was asking myself if the academic form-method of “papers” and “journals” are even needed any more, if they are relevant in the sense that considers the actual possibility of being human, in the sense of being involved with what can Be. 

I recall a post you made a while ago where you were questioning the academic proper method and presentation of papers, how the whole act seemed in some instances to mock the content of some of the papers themselves, as though the manner by which an author has to present their ideas in academia in order to be taken seriously actually functions to devalue and or discount what they have to say, actually invalidates their ideas, such that the seriousness required detracts from the significance of the meaning of the paper.

heresy-cover_2175694a

I wonder what you might think of this:

I was thinking along these lines:

The reason why ‘papers’ and journals and that whole thing came about (I could be wrong) was because thats what they had. Thinkers had to be able to communicate their ideas at length and so they had these vehicles by which to circulate those ideas so other thinkers could consider them and comment on them. The whole idea of ‘communal’ -cation.

And when you think about the whole ‘modern’ – ‘post modern’. thing, and then this ‘speculative realist’  kind of thing; It seems to have occurred in correspondence with the methods of communication available.

The breakdown of the metanarratives that Jean-Francois Lyotard brought up occurred with the opening up of methods of communicating, namely computers and similar technology. But perhaps, old ways die hard.

Think about back in the pre-computer day: It could appear that everyone was involved in a common progress, every philosopher involved in moving toward some great reckoning of knowledge (of sorts), like knowledge itself was moving in a particular direction (of enlightenment, of progress, etc). because there was only a relatively small number of papers one could come accross, not that one could read, but just the sheer lack of theoretical material, or, at least, people could still entertain the perception that because there was only a relative few number of people who were saying anything significant, we were indeed moving in a progressive motion. Also, though, just the (again relative) small number of people who even entered into “higher education” or were even allowed if not privy to being privileged even to be able to think intelligently and critically, was extremely limited. It was easy to think there was a “manifest destiny” of sorts, an “historical conscious’ moving philosophy and indeed the world. It was easy to discount the ‘ignorant’ as the necessary condition for such ‘thought’, as an historical and divinely ordered hierarchy of progress.

Now think about now. What does it mean when we have raised the ability of the aggregate and or average of people in the world to be able to consider these once effectively esoteric philosophical ideas? Is it not possible that the product itself (philosophy) might change under different conditions? What happens, say, just as a hypothetical example, when instead of 1 out of 10000 people are able to understand, consider, ponder and respond appropriately to ideas, now 50 out of 100 are able to understand, but 75 out of 100 are able to also give a considerate response. And more: The bare fact that all these people can now actually enter the discussion via our technology. I would think that not simply do we have the situation where many more people contributing to what is possible within the possibility of thought, but more so we have an entirely new arena in which thought is possible. Indeed; do you not think there would be a difference in not only the nature of ‘thought‘ itself but in fact the ‘nature‘ of thinking also? It is an odd perplexion; we need only consider what is occurring all over the world to begin to start to understand that perhaps what we are calling thought or thinking is not something that is commonly understood, but only assumed as common thing, and indeed enforced. Must we stop at the Colonialization of a particular era? Does that now bring into question what we have merely accepted due to the Fact of Colonization?

We might discover that what we are calling thought is really a harkening to another time (time is a construct also; Heidegger beckoning us to that other time), a time when there was indeed a functioning meta-narrative, a time by which we displace our time and are unable to reconcile what we experience with what we are knowing of thought and thinking, this because we are not actually considering what is really occurring right in front if us through the ability of consciousness as it is occurring right now, but are rather considering how things should be with reference to this common thought of the past.

What might happen then if we look with opened eyes upon what is occurring now? We night find that Lyotard was correct, but in a significantly different light. It is not that we become aware in someway that we must now be critical in some form about general descriptive and directive narratives. No; such an approach is missing what is occurring for what we think should occur. It is the fact that we are unable to look at knowledge without an authority as to which knowledge we are supposed to consider, why we should consider it, and how we are allowed to consider it. It is a condition of knowledge and not some logical reductive result of a traditional heritage: The heritage is alive and well in the proposal that we had some choice over whether we should approach philosophy through these tropes (meta-narratives).

Perhaps we might be able to glimpse that what occurs through the convention of Papers is no longer a general communication that concerns a direction and purpose involved in finding out independent, dependent and dynamic aspects of our world, but rather an exclusive correspondence between those who decide which knowledge is valid, a manner by which knowledge is to be contained within a certain traditional lineage of what thinking is supposed to be, presumed to be, but indeed, perhaps, allowed to be.

You, Professor Bryant, who facilitated the very notion of Object Oriented Ontology, who entertains the idea of Being machinery, involved with the Speculative; is it not possible that what before was functioning implicitly (Zizek), invisibly, is now merely staying invisible though the very ideal mechanisms that are supposed to defy such oppression (the Modern by the post-modern: The liberal critical academy) ? Would this not be a minimum plausible factor in our moment of the attempt to account for and displace the nihilism of Modernity not coming to pass?

Think not only about how difficult and fortunate you were (are) to have gained a position as a professor at an institution, but how much more difficult it is now to get one, but also the anxiety that accompanies such a position; I am thinking of The Academic’s Peculiar Dissonance — Samir Chopra, his recent post on this topic.

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Here I get speculative:

One could argue that it has always been difficult (We have always been disenchanted), but I might venture to say for the cloister itself, that the difficulty has reached a different timbre now, and not merely more of the same kind of difficulty; I think a different type of difficulty might be in play now. Perhaps you might disagree? No?

Perhaps it is not merely an effort to keep one’s position of power and prestige, as well as identity capital that is involved, but a creeping suspicion, maybe not even yet apprehensible, that the academy is no longer involved with the legitimacy it is proposed upon. Perhaps it is more involved in the perpetuation of a particular kind of thinking, and that this implicit agenda is behind the difficulty, and the sheer number of ‘thinkers’ that are just as able and who have just as novel thought hiding under their dresses, pants, belts, bras and jock straps, are eager congregants just waiting to impeach the Ideal Priests of the Academy so they can Preach the message?

LOL.

I do get grandiose; for sure.

 


But I think there is something in there that needs consideration –I mean, if we are indeed involved with something legitimate.

No?