A dovetail joint of news, art, science, politics, philosophy & global affairs

Grasping the currency true to our time

"Πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει"

August 3rd
9:17 AM
"Hegel is the ultimate bête noire of the last two centuries of philosophy: proponents of Lebensphilosophie, existentialists from Kierkegaard onwards, materialists, historicists, analytic philosophers and empiricists, Marxists, traditional liberals, religious moralists, deconstructionists and Deleuzians, they all define themselves through different modalities of rejecting Hegel. But when enemies start to speak the same language, it is a reliable sign that something is eluding them all. So what if something happens in Hegel, a break-through into a unique dimension of thought which was obliterated, rendered invisible, by the so-called post-metaphysical thought? What if the ridiculous image of Hegel as the absurd “absolute idealist” who “pretended to know everything” is an exemplary case of what Freud called Deck-Erinnerung (screen-memory), a fantasy-formation destined to cover up a traumatic truth?"
—  leviathvn
July 29th
8:34 AM
"Nothing is more inadequate than a mature judgment when adopted by an immature mind."


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."

July 26th
11:30 AM
"Love means in general terms the consciousness of my unity with another, so that I am not in selfish isolation but win my self-consciousness only as the renunciation of my independence and through knowing myself as the unity of myself with another and of the other with me. Love, however, is feeling, i.e. ethical life in the form of something natural. In the state, feeling disappears; there we are conscious of unity as law; there the content must be rational and known to us. The first moment in love is that I do not wish to be a self-subsistent and independent person and that, if I were, then I would feel defective and incomplete. The second moment is that I find myself in another person, that I count for something in the other, while the other in turn comes to count for something in me. Love, therefore, is the most tremendous contradiction; the Understanding cannot resolve it since there is nothing more stubborn than this point (Punktualität) of self-consciousness which is negated and which nevertheless I ought to possess as affirmative. Love is at once the propounding and the resolving of this contradiction. As the resolving of it, love is unity of an ethical type."
July 21st
12:26 AM
"We cannot run after ourselves. We must see ourselves reflected in others. If we want to become ourselves the surest way of losing ourselves is to run after ourselves, because it means that we escape ourselves. In seeking the self we get lost in the labyrinth and are consumed by the Minotaur."
—  Heinrich Blücher, A Fragment on Kierkegaard
July 18th
12:54 AM
"Human reason has this peculiar fate that in one species of its knowledge it is burdened by questions which, as prescribed by the very nature of reason itself, it is not able to ignore, but which, as transcending all its powers, it is also not able to answer.
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.

July 6th
5:52 PM
"At least part of the power of the Muslim Brotherhood lies in the fact that it has offered young men (men only, of course) a chance to grow and develop and build their skills for social leadership. The Muslim Brotherhood has thus served as a kind of civil society organization, albeit one whose ends are not those of creating a functioning democracy."

politicalprof, 2/4/2011

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.

1:34 PM
"Only an obvious fool could think that the sciences can be renewed by getting rid of and outlawing philosophy at the same time. Such a beginning is just as nonsensical as trying to teach swimming by continuously teaching fear of water."
—  Martin Heidegger, Schelling’s Treatise on the Essence of Human Freedom 
July 2nd
10:46 AM
"…if the space of emancipatory politics is defined by a distance towards the state, are we not abandoning the field (of the state) all too easily to the enemy?"

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.

12:01 AM
"Soul taken as a whole is in charge of all that is inanimate, and traverses the entire universe, appearing at different times in different forms. When it is perfect and winged it moves on high and governs all creation, but the soul that has shed its wings falls until it encounters solid matter."
—  Plato, Phaedrus 246b-c
June 27th
12:20 AM
"[Modern religious movements, countercultures, and cults] seek the shortest road to Nirvana. Whereas the world’s great religions have always emphasized the obstacles to salvation, modern cults borrow selectively from earlier mystical traditions in the West, from ill-digested Oriental traditions, from mind-cure movements and various expressions of “New Thought,” and from an assortment of therapies in order to promise immediate relief from the burden of selfhood. Instead of seeking to reconcile the ego and its environment, the new cults deny the very distinction between them."
—  Christopher Lasch
June 26th
7:42 PM
"Well, after I’d given up on studying the physical world, I thought I’d better be careful and not suffer what observers of solar eclipses do. They ruin their eyes unless they observe the sun’s image in the water or something. Something like that occurred to me, and I was afraid I might blind my soul completely by looking at things with my eyes and other senses and trying to grasp them like that. So I decided to take refuge in words and examine the truth of things in them."
—  Plato, Phaedo 99d
June 14th
11:44 AM
"…fundamentalists of all religions would rather have a spurious guarantee of an assured personal happiness that really awaits them at the end of their lives and at the end of all time. They have not reached the degree of acceptance of the possibility of sacrifice that being in a society necessitates. They do not want to turn the inescapable trust that is necessary to speak at all into a true faith that accepts the radical possibility of the greatest risk. Fundamentalism is therefore at its heart cowardly; hence its empty bluster about courage. Nor can fundamentalists play: for they turn the imagined supposition of the ideal agreement we need to open a statement for evidence of its actuality. From the evolutionary point of view, they are rigidified, bound into a self-deluding superstition. We owe the emergence of our “individuality” within the game of language to the faith of those who have preceded us, but that faith provides no safe pledge of an unchangeable and eternal personhood, some hallowed, inflexible uniqueness. Those primitive tribes that divinized their ancestors were nearer to understanding the structuring of our existence than ourselves. Our only immortality lies in what we contribute to that faith, both while we remain alive and in the legacy of faith we leave behind us."
June 5th
8:11 PM


Is math a feature of the universe or is it just something humans made up?

Mind blown.

One, two, three; but where, my dear Timaeus, is the fourth…?”

- Plato, Timaeus

June 2nd
3:59 PM
"I think I summed up my attitude to philosophy when I said: philosophy ought really to be written only as a poetic composition. It must, as it seems to me, be possible to gather from this how far my thinking belongs to the present, future or past. For I was thereby revealing myself as someone who cannot quite do what he would like to do."
—  Wittgenstein, Culture and Value 24e
May 27th
4:36 PM

Justice - Δίκη as a living architecture, honing structures, the muscle of spacing and timing. Fields of play wrought, even with violent gestures for the sake of lensing biological force, as in a παιδεία. All science afforded that leisure whereby not only a posture of study can be maintained but, moreover, a demarcated field of vision presented.

Space and Time as pure forms of intuition… in an ethical torsion where spacing and timing show as the beginning, substance, and end of action, of moving and faring well. Character and pulse of the ethosphere… The growth and movement of a diaphragm, something with which to breathe freely.