Simon Critchley, When Socrates Met Phaedrus: Eros in Philosophy
… and as some hear ‘pharaoh’ whispering in the drone of cicadas, we hear phronesis over and over again.
Autistic savant Daniel Tammet on Synesthesia and the Poetry of Numbers.
Perception, imagination and the advent of essence - all torqued into action “enchanted by the mesmerism of the unknown”. Tammet’s observations may also enrich efforts to grasp the twist between §51 and §52 of Hegel’s Phenomenology.
An odd key, perhaps, in grasping the character of Hegelian dialectical transitions. The Concept flashes anew, marking necessity in an agon. But this maturity withdraws in the presentation of a new immediacy. The attitude of a new Gestalt takes this necessity, its concept, forward in a manner which is not only immature but seeks rigorously to save its youthful comportment. This is the pavement of the highway of despair, towards it’s exhausted recognition of inadequacy and its death.
"This new thing, it’s the shit… it can do everything", it says to itself. But the real Concept, hovering everywhere and nowhere, evanescently whispers "sic transit gloria mundi."
The perplexity into which it thus falls is not due to any fault of its own. It begins with principles which it has no option save to employ in the course of experience, and which this experience at the same time abundantly justifies it in using. Rising with their aid (since it is determined to this also by its own nature) to ever higher, ever more remote, conditions, it soon becomes aware that in this way - the questions never ceasing - its work must always remain incomplete; and it therefore finds itself compelled to resort to principles which overstep all possible empirical employment, and which yet seem so unobjectionable that even ordinary consciousness accepts them. But by this procedure human reason precipitates itself into darkness and contradictions; and while it may indeed conjecture that these must be in some way due to concealed errors, it is not in a position to be able to detect them. For since the principles of which it is making use transcend the limits of experience, the are no longer subject to any empirical test. The battle-field of these endless controversies is called metaphysics."
Immanuel Kant, Preface to the Critique of Pure Reason
Regardless of how it goes, and it did go, it pays to look back, heedless of how it went, into the nascent motivational pulp.
This hits at something one suspects is of massive importance; and yet, at the same time potentially occludes even more. Nowadays, its easy to buy into the notion that the Brotherhood and/or Salfasts, “jihadis”, wahhabists or whatnot are an essential reflection of Islam and its capacity for politics. But if we see an echo of the essential here, it may be in the relatively indeterminate notion of a “civil society organisation”.
Karen Armstrong's fascinating reflections on Islam in The History of God focus on a critical and fundamental embrace of social justice and compassion in response to the cultural, economic and political contours of Mecca prior to Muhammad’s recitation. It may be the case that this element of social justice and just politics resounds more strongly in Islam than in the other great monotheistic faiths. Perhaps it is fitting, then, that Aristotelian scholarship - with a related ethics shining even in texts apparently far removed - was preserved, augmented and passed on through Maimonides to Aquinas via al-Kindi, al-Farabi, Avicenna and Averroes.
And yet many of us stare at Islam with an enmity or casual disgust which is hard to square with its contribution to the very notion of a rational political science, not to mention the notion of any special science whatsoever. And these modern “exemplars” of Islam, though they claim orthodoxy in various modes, appear to suffice for a categorical rejection vis a vis “functioning democracy” - even though in one sense this view buys a central thesis of our would be “fundamentalists” (that they essentially represent Islam and its telos), begs the question in assuming we know the real meaning of functional democracy, and conveniently ignores that these modern, “fundamentalist” faces are long conditioned by ugly encounters with Western imperialism.
Nonetheless, it appears that in regarding any form of Islam we must appreciate a face of a civil society organization. Perhaps it speaks of freedom in a way that can’t be fathomed up against a frame where freedom and determinism are contraposed as a problem, where, rather, rite and immersion in a fabric woven with the eyes of others ironically rebounds with the breeding of spontaneity and grace. But regardless of whether we focus on the reflections of an essential idea or dig into the varieties of the empirical manifold Islam presents, it would never follow that its ends are necessarily contrary to the ergon of a polity.
Zizek, ‘In Defense of Lost Causes’
Our tumult wakes to a scene already conditioned by abdication, a field already abandoned. What it sees is a space taken over by con men, a kitchen infested by cockroaches. The most noble, animating discourse, what would obtain a living character in response to the deepest narrative need, now appears suffused with the scent of a vile concoction whipped up by the sorcerers opportunistic wherewithal to pimp a vulgar, dramatic tune.