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Grasping the currency true to our time

"Πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει"










December 9th
1:24 PM
Christopher Vitale  |  Networkologies Blog  »

The word in German for ‘the Concept’ (often unfortunately translated as ‘Notion’) is Begriff. Derived from the verb greifen (to grasp), a literal translation of a ‘the Concept’ is as a ‘grasping’. Any introductory reading of Hegel presents this basic translational quirk which is difficult to render in everyday English. But as some scholars have argued, this grasping can also be translated as ‘the knowing’. And in fact, that is precisely what Hegel aims to produce with his works. Knowing is more than a thing, or process, or even a database. It is rather the interplay, intertwining, and interpenetration of all these levels. Hegel’s model of time is thus much more than a simple combinatory, going beyond this to what might best be described as a sort of hyper-complex, video-game-like ‘crystal’ of time in the process of ‘playing’ itself – even as it is ‘writing’ itself – and all at the same time and separately, and all the states in between. And here we see precisely why Hegel’s texts are necessarily performative, because language itself begins to break down in any attempt to simply describe such a supra-linear, and hence supra-linguistic, concept of time.  >continue<

A cool piece, especially insofar as the author hazards to dig into Hegel in a manner counter to prevailing attitudes reflective of the conceit that we possess an adequate understanding vis-a-vis later philosophers of various stripes. He moves to conclude by suggesting an Hegelian focus not on “which form of time is true, but which, in a given situation, works.”
Already Vitale throws a linear notion of time into question, just as we might ultimately question any straightforward disjunction between the true and what works. But here, straining at the difficulty of speaking well on such a plane, we might see a core resonance with the timing of phronesis, just as when we say of the ethical and existential demands of making the right moves - that timing is everything.

Christopher Vitale  |  Networkologies Blog  »

The word in German for ‘the Concept’ (often unfortunately translated as ‘Notion’) is Begriff. Derived from the verb greifen (to grasp), a literal translation of a ‘the Concept’ is as a ‘grasping’. Any introductory reading of Hegel presents this basic translational quirk which is difficult to render in everyday English. But as some scholars have argued, this grasping can also be translated as ‘the knowing’. And in fact, that is precisely what Hegel aims to produce with his works. Knowing is more than a thing, or process, or even a database. It is rather the interplay, intertwining, and interpenetration of all these levels. Hegel’s model of time is thus much more than a simple combinatory, going beyond this to what might best be described as a sort of hyper-complex, video-game-like ‘crystal’ of time in the process of ‘playing’ itself – even as it is ‘writing’ itself – and all at the same time and separately, and all the states in between. And here we see precisely why Hegel’s texts are necessarily performative, because language itself begins to break down in any attempt to simply describe such a supra-linear, and hence supra-linguistic, concept of time.  >continue<

A cool piece, especially insofar as the author hazards to dig into Hegel in a manner counter to prevailing attitudes reflective of the conceit that we possess an adequate understanding vis-a-vis later philosophers of various stripes. He moves to conclude by suggesting an Hegelian focus not on “which form of time is true, but which, in a given situation, works.”

Already Vitale throws a linear notion of time into question, just as we might ultimately question any straightforward disjunction between the true and what works. But here, straining at the difficulty of speaking well on such a plane, we might see a core resonance with the timing of phronesis, just as when we say of the ethical and existential demands of making the right moves - that timing is everything.

November 24th
7:46 PM
"This is why the dialogue is called in Greek “Phaidros.” The dialogue is addressed to a specific and named interlocutor. It meets Phaedrus on his ground (it even walks out with him barefoot into the countryside) and brings him to philosophical eros. It meets him in his own terms, namely in terms of his questionable estimation of the high importance of speeches. It meets him by accepting his preferences, his prejudices, his sense of what matters, and then slowly turning his sophistical delight in speeches into a commitment to philosophy… He will have to say the right thing in the right way at the right time to the person right in front of him."
—  

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.

October 26th
2:13 AM
"We say that the theoretical faculty in man also comes into actuality from potentiality through the illumination of a substance whose nature it is to produce light. This is because a thing does not come into actuality from potentiality by itself but through something else which gives it actuality."
—  Avicenna, Kitab al-Njat, Chapter XVI
October 9th
11:15 PM
"Shall I get anything out?? It would be awful if I did not and all my work would be lost. However I am not losing courage and go on thinking… I very often have the indescribable feeling as though my work was all sure to be lost entirely in some way or other. But I still hope that this won’t come true."
—  Wittgenstein, 1913
August 11th
12:24 PM
Via
"Defining a set owes more to art than it does to science."
—  

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.

August 8th
9:34 PM
"Pinker seems to have trouble imagining any reasoning person disagreeing about either the moral necessity of “maximizing human flourishing” or the content of what “flourishing” actually means — even though recent history furnishes plenty of examples and a decent imagination can furnish many more. Like his whiggish antecedents, he mistakes a real-but-complicated historical relationship between science and humanism for a necessary intellectual line in which the latter vindicates the former, or at least militates strongly in its favor. And his invocation of “the scientific facts” to justify what is, at bottom, a philosophical preference for Mill over Nietzsche is the pretty much the essence of what critics mean by scientism: Empirically overconfident, intellectually unsubtle, and deeply incurious about the ways in which human beings can rationally disagree."
—  Ross Douthat, The Scientism of Steven Pinker
August 3rd
2:50 PM
The Writing on the Wall: How Facebook is destroying our capacity for political debate
Jacob Mertens  |  New Statesman&#160;&#187;

There has been a trend developing on Facebook for a while now, perhaps you&#8217;ve seen it. A friend of yours, or an acquaintance, or a cherished internet confrere who you do not speak with in the real world keeps sharing viral photos with all-capped, block letters that proclaim some deeply-felt political or religious conviction. However, these images have been lifted from somewhere else; the words do not belong to them, yet through the insistence of the Facebook share button it is as if they do. I have a friend just like this, and his wall is covered with these photos as if his beliefs could and should be reduced to the sophistication of an advertisement. More than anything, the manic energy he devotes to this task strikes me as an easy way out. There is no effort in constructing his opinions, no real thought process. Instead, he creates and broadcasts his identity with the click of a mouse. Months later, these miniature soapboxes of appropriated meaning will vanish and be replaced by a hundred more&#8230; &gt;continue&lt;

"&#8230;it is merely dipped superficially in the element of thought, is preserved in it as a sensuous mode, and not made one with the nature of thought itself. It is merely raised into the realm of picture-thinking, for this is the synthetic combination&#8230;[which] degrades the moments of the Concept &#8230; rejects the content as well as the form and, what amounts to the same thing, degrades content into a historical pictorial idea and to an heirloom&#8230;"
- Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit §764-771

The Writing on the Wall: How Facebook is destroying our capacity for political debate

Jacob Mertens  |  New Statesman »

There has been a trend developing on Facebook for a while now, perhaps you’ve seen it. A friend of yours, or an acquaintance, or a cherished internet confrere who you do not speak with in the real world keeps sharing viral photos with all-capped, block letters that proclaim some deeply-felt political or religious conviction. However, these images have been lifted from somewhere else; the words do not belong to them, yet through the insistence of the Facebook share button it is as if they do. I have a friend just like this, and his wall is covered with these photos as if his beliefs could and should be reduced to the sophistication of an advertisement. More than anything, the manic energy he devotes to this task strikes me as an easy way out. There is no effort in constructing his opinions, no real thought process. Instead, he creates and broadcasts his identity with the click of a mouse. Months later, these miniature soapboxes of appropriated meaning will vanish and be replaced by a hundred more… >continue<

"…it is merely dipped superficially in the element of thought, is preserved in it as a sensuous mode, and not made one with the nature of thought itself. It is merely raised into the realm of picture-thinking, for this is the synthetic combination…[which] degrades the moments of the Concept … rejects the content as well as the form and, what amounts to the same thing, degrades content into a historical pictorial idea and to an heirloom…"

- Hegel, Phenomenology of Spirit §764-771

9:17 AM
Via
"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
Via
"Nothing is more inadequate than a mature judgment when adopted by an immature mind."
—  

Goethe 

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
Via
"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
Via
"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
Via
"…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.