What is Philosophy? (Part 2a)

However awkward the acknowledgment may be, there is no getting around the fact that philosophy, when apprehended within the Western tradition, is original sin. Between the tree of life and the tree of knowledge, it does not hesitate. Its name is indistinguishable from a lust for the forbidden. Whilst burning philosophers is no longer socially acceptable, our canonical order of cultural prohibition – at its root — can only consider such punishment mandatory. Once philosophers are permitted to live, established civilization is over.

For philosophy, the whisper of the serpent is no longer a resistible temptation. It is instead a constitutive principle, or foundation. If there is a difference between a Socratic daemon and a diabolical demon, it is not one that matters philosophically. There can be no refusal of any accessible information.  This is an assumption so basic that philosophy cannot exist until it has passed beyond question. Ultimate religious transgression is the initiation.

It should be of no surprise to Christian Traditionalists, therefore, to find the extremities of the philosophical endeavor mixed, intimately, into the ashes of the Third Reich. The negative religious absolute, or infinite evil of the National Socialist experiment, which supplants all positive revelation under the socio-cultural conditions of the mature Cathedral, is ‘coincidentally’ the place where the limit of philosophy has been drawn. This is, of course, to introduce the thinking of Martin Heidegger.

As the perfect negation of Christ, or consummate fulfillment of Anti-Christ, Adolf Hitler closes —  or  essentially completes — the history of the Occident. It doesn’t matter whether we believe that. The Cathedral does, utterly, to the point of sealed doctrine. Heidegger anticipated this conclusion lucidly. At an election rally, held by German academics on November 11, 1933, he declared:

We have declared our independence from the idol of thought that is without foundation and power. We see the end of the philosophy that serves such thought. … And so we, to whom the preservation of our people’s will to know shall in the future be entrusted, declare: The National Socialist revolution is not merely the assumption of power as it exists presently in the State by another party, a party grown sufficiently large in numbers to be able to do so. Rather, this revolution is bringing about the total transformation of our German existence. … The Führer has awakened this will [to national self-responsibility] in the entire people and has welded it into one single resolve. No one can remain away from the polls on the day when this will is manifested.
Heil Hitler!

Naturally, as a democratic pronouncement (addressed to comparative imbeciles), only a few hints of Heidegger’s profound modulation of the Germanic “will to know” seep through. Wikipedia’s reconstruction of the occulted visionary backdrop, drawn from the work of Michael Allen Gillespie,  is excellent:

Heidegger believed the Western world to be on a trajectory headed for total war, and on the brink of profound nihilism (the rejection of all religious and moral principles), which would be the purest and highest revelation of Being itself, offering a horrifying crossroads of either salvation or the end of metaphysics and modernity; rendering the West: a wasteland populated by tool-using brutes, characterized by an unprecedented ignorance and barbarism in which everything is permitted. He thought the latter possibility would degenerate mankind generally into: scientists, workers and brutes; living under the last mantel of one of three ideologies: Americanism, Marxism or Nazism (which he deemed metaphysically identical; as avatars of subjectivity and institutionalized nihilism) and an unfettered totalitarian world technology. Supposedly, this epoch would be ironically celebrated, as the most enlightened and glorious in human history. He envisaged this abyss, to be the greatest event in the West’s history; because it enables Humanity to comprehend Being more profoundly and primordially than the Pre-Socratics.

It is misleading to suggest that Heidegger saw any distinction between “salvation” and the “the end of metaphysics and modernity”, or no meaningful distinction between the thoughtless technological dyad of Americanism/Marxism and the National Socialist awakening of German existence, but in other respects this description is penetrating. By bringing the history of the concealment of Being to its ruinous conclusion, consummate nihilism would herald a return to the origin of philosophy, opening the path to a raw encounter with the hidden and unnameable abyss (Being in its own truth). As the door to the end of the world, Hitler led the way to the historically unthinkable.

Yes, this is highly – in fact, uniquely – arcane. Prior to The Event, there can be no adequate formulation of the problem, let alone the solution. By 1927, with the publication of Being and Time (Part I), Heidegger has completed what is achievable in advance of the calamity, which is to clarify the insufficiency of the Question of Being as formulated within the history of ontology.

Heidegger’s cognitive resources are basically Kantian, which is to say that he undertakes a transcendental critique of ontology, producing not a critical philosophy, but a draft for a ‘fundamental ontology’. Where Kant diagnoses the error of speculative metaphysics as a confusion between objects and their conditions of possibility (which then construes the latter as objects of an untenable discourse), Heidegger ontologizes the transcendental approach, distinguishing between ‘beings’ and their ground (Being), whilst diagnosing the attendant error of construing the ground of beings as itself a being (of some kind). Since the most dignified – and thus exemplary – being known to the Occidental tradition is God, Heidegger refers to the structural misapprehension of Being – defining and ordering the history of philosophy — as ‘Onto-Theology’.

Critically (or ‘destructively’) conceived, fundamental ontology is that inquiry which does not pose the Question of Being in such a way that it could be answered by the invocation of a being. No adequate formulation, compliant with this transcendental criterion (or ‘ontological difference’), is realizable, because however ‘Being’ is named, its conception remains trapped within the ‘ontic’ sphere of (mere) beings. We cannot, through an act of philosophical will – however strenuous — cease to think of Being as if it were some kind of thing, even after understanding the inadequacy of such apprehension. It is thus, broken upon an ultimate problem that can neither be dismissed or resolved, that philosophy reaches its end, awaiting the climactic ruin of The Event.

[Brief intermission — then time, language, and more Nazi ontological apocalypse]

July 5, 2013admin 72 Comments »
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  • Alrenous Says:

    Philosophy is civilization.

    The Athenian tradition conquered the world not only most recently, but four times over. The nearest competitor are the Khans, who could not preserve their power for long or even much past their own personal existence, and in any case were almost certainly influenced by philosophy proper.

    Outside the realms of war, science, with all its abilities and comforts is entirely and solely Athenian.

    What ends civilization is exactly that which philosophy arose in opposition to, sophistry. Sophistry is adept at co-opting the results of philosophical civilization, but being corrupt, eventually strangles its host.

    Truth is good and lies are not. A civilization based on the former has industrial and scientific revolutions. When philosophy is re-introduced, civilizations reliably have a renaissance period. When philosophy is removed, civilizations fall to stagnation and violence. A civilization based on lies becomes itself a lie, a barbarian in pretty clothes.

    Why has China never conquered the world? Why does China keep squandering its advantages and falling behind? Because its philosophy is but a weak second fiddle to true Athenian philosophy. They could have independently created their own system of logical inquiry, but did neither that, nor adopted ours.

    Christianity itself relies on philosophy for its heft. Christianity would be parochial at best, like the other large religions, without the Roman empire. When it fell, Christianity may have survived but it could not spread until it re-encountered philosophy.

    Aristotle’s title is “The Philosopher” Lacking this giant on their side, Islam and Judaism cannot compete.

    to find the extremities of the philosophical endeavor mixed, intimately, into the ashes of the Third Reich

    Good philosophy is rooted in experiment and logically consistent. If you try to hold me and mine responsible for the rationalizations of sophists, it only proves that you yourself are a sophist.

    Heidegger, even going by the bits immediately provided here, was clearly batshit insane. (Want a list? I can enumerate the diagnosis.) Shockingly, when you follow a madman, you don’t go nice places.

    Well, technically speaking you can do good philosophy without any root in experiment, but it is useless except as practice.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I’m strongly sympathetic to your arguments on all points, but the attractions of devil’s advocacy are irresistible. On the basics:
    (1) If you defend classical philosophy (really a pleonasm) in the way you do, it follows that Occidental religious history since Constantine has been fundamentally uncivilized, since, quite clearly, Genesis depicts original sin as an exorbitant (or unlimited) desire for knowledge. The most expected conservative response would be to defend Christianity in a watered-down form, ultimately subservient to a more basic philosophical culture. I’d prefer to see the cultural tensions exposed and prodded, which means holding open the irresolution for as long as possible.
    (2) Heidegger is most probably “batshit insane” but he’s also, at the very least, a fascinating cultural symptom, of something deep. The Question of Being tends intrinsically to obscurity, but the pretense of Analytic Philosophy to rigorously dismiss it is just that (a pretense). To argue that the verb ‘to be’ is no more than a syntactic function, semantically redundant, and without designation, is convenient for the purposes of formal systems construction, but no one could really find it credible. After agreeing with Heidegger that the question ‘Why is there being rather than nothing?’ is inadequately formulated, it does not follow that the puzzle is comfortably dissolved. There is a problem, but instinctively judging it hopelessly intractable, the tendency is to evade it. There are many ways of doing this, and none of them are convincing upon patient examination, certainly not for anything that claims to wear the mantle of philosophy.
    (3) The Hitler business is grist to the mill on the “batshit insane” front, but there’s more to that — too — than comfortable dismissal apprehends. Look at the number of very basic technological lineages that originated in the Third Reich — computing (Zuse), rocketry, jet propulsion — none of them have undergone qualitative transformation since. It is as if the total abolition of moral limits was darkly twinned to a demonic techno-scientific creativity, tapping into a single, unavowable root. Philosophy, too, found a limit possibility in this situation — not among the ideologues of the Hitler circle, but in Heidegger’s question. There is something there that we do not want to see, but which philosophy demands that we see.

    [Reply]

    David Reply:

    “Why has China never conquered the world? Why does China keep squandering its advantages and falling behind?”

    More devil’s advocacy: One might easily ask why China has never, in the long-term obliterating sense that the Roman Empire was, been conquered, but rather cycles through periods of regeneration after breakdowns that have long been encoded into Chinese political and philosophical thought as the revocation of the Mandate of Heaven. Why has China alone been able to maintain some 3000+ years of highly continuous civilization? One might posit that the lack of a strong tradition of totalizing religious thought has something to do with it, and that the counterbalance of a strong and flexible social philosophy that rarely strays into the unknowable/unknown (or rather quarantines it within Daoist and Buddhist precincts–and now Chinese Christian, too–as allowed within the overarching Confucian framework) but focuses on the questions of how to keep Han Chinese culture motoring along regardless of occasional–and predicted/predictable–disruptions of the kind that have destroyed many a civilization elsewhere in the past? (Related question: Why in the world should China ape the West in ways that history has proven lead to disaster rather than taking what works, trying it out, then adapting it to meet the needs and traditions of Chinese culture?). And at present, is it accurate to say that China has been squandering its advantages? Merely because a few Ming and Qing emperors failed to comprehend the threat a seafaring colonizing West would pose to what had otherwise been the most successful continuous civilization on earth, can we say China has squandered its advantages in the long run, or was the revocation of the Qing Mandate of Heaven in the face of Western technological and strategic advantage in the historical short run just the kick in the ass China needed to gear up for another long run as the Middle Kingdom?

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    China is kind of uncivilized. If the Chinese want to be more civilized, then they can continue to embrace philosophy. If they’re fine with how their society has gone in the last few millennia, then there is indeed no reason for them to change.

    Why has China never been obliterated? Perhaps it is as simple as the Switzerland effect. Being surrounded by mountains is great for stability.

    Second, perhaps it is as simple as the ‘mandate of heaven’ idea. If they have been conquered because it is revoked, then that raises the possibility it can be regained. That something was done wrong that can be repented. Whereas in the west, getting conquered just means you’re a loser. Can’t repent that, only what you’ve done.

    China is not presently squandering…much, at least relatively speaking. Indeed the Chinese should continue their own industrial revolution and all get rich. Going by past performance, they will get a commanding lead and then squander it all, either in government waste, or stasis in the face of an evolving west.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    The criterion of “past performance” depends on time scale, doesn’t it? Judged over 30 years China looks pretty good. Over 500 years not so great. Over 3,000 years extremely impressive. ‘The West’, approximately, the inverse.

    David Reply:

    Exactly! And what kind of sclerotic constipated recirculated fruitcake Iwouldn’t take the long view? Because the Swiss Confederation roughly equals China. 因为中国是相当不文明。I’ll take the long view for incalcualble value, Alex… #warmtricklerunningdownonesethnonationalistleg #whitewhitewestwhathaha

    David Reply:

    Apologies for having posted drunken nonsense. Object lesson in why one ought not post after a few too many glasses of wine, or even a few.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    So I’ve wasted the 16 hours spent trying to crack the code?

    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    @:Alrenous

    I’ve just got back from a rare loud night out, meeting lots of old friends, so can’t be too detailed about this.

    “Aristotle’s title is “The Philosopher” Lacking this giant on their side, Islam and Judaism cannot compete.”

    Both Islamic and Judaic philosophies are heavily indebted to Aristotle.

    “Good philosophy is rooted in experiment and logically consistent.”

    Literally, philosophia is the ‘love of wisdom’. What constitutes ‘wisdom’ is a question in itself, a question that it would be unwise to immediately ‘hive off’ into empirical method and procedures of ‘logical consistency’. Such methods and procedures may well constitute genres associated with clarity of ‘understanding’ and presentation, facets that familiarise, but they aren’t the only paths, as it were.

    “Heidegger, even going by the bits immediately provided here, was clearly batshit insane. (Want a list? I can enumerate the diagnosis.) Shockingly, when you follow a madman, you don’t go nice places.”

    Heidegger was a card carrying Nazi; he was ungrateful to Husserl (the library ban, etc.); was a weak character hoping to be the official party philosopher; there’s a whole Heidegger ‘affair’; but whether he was ‘insane’ is doubtful. He’s definitely important, the essence of technology considerations, etc..

    “Well, technically speaking you can do good philosophy without any root in experiment, but it is useless except as practice.”

    Sometimes, uselessness is the best option when insanity prevails.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 5th, 2013 at 5:38 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    Occidental religious history since Constantine has been fundamentally uncivilized

    If ancient humans were at least a quarter as hypocritical as modern humans, I can reconcile their stated beliefs with their actions.

    I’m interested in historical social hypocrisy; I don’t know much about it.

    I’d prefer to see the cultural tensions exposed and prodded, which means holding open the irresolution for as long as possible.

    When you’re devil-advocating, you’re supposed to say things I disagree with.

    exorbitant (or unlimited) desire for knowledge.

    To be fair, truth is powerful stuff and not to be trifled with. For example, truth burns lies away, scalding nearby psychological structures. The only salve for this burn is more truth…which will excitedly react with further mistakes, misapprehension, and so on.

    I can honestly and wholeheartedly recommend that most stay away from the stuff. Just not the civilization entire. On the contrary, anyone responsible and capable of handling the drawbacks I’m most eager to addict.

    but he’s also, at the very least, a fascinating cultural symptom, of something deep.

    Yes.

    the tendency is to evade it.

    The philosophically valid response is to accept my ignorance. There’s a question near there that’s important to me, and I don’t know the answer. I don’t even know where to look. Perhaps I might start by making sure I’m asking the question I think I’m asking.

    I’m told huge sections of voters cannot stand holding this kind of attitude.

    There is something there that we do not want to see, but which philosophy demands that we see.

    Though, philosophy would be improved by only demanding that the professional see it. That it demands I see it is only due to my own freely-held principles.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Yes to all this, although with a quibble on the qualification ‘professional’ for the social selection of philosophy. By its very nature, philosophy is socially self-restricting — credentials or occupational status have nothing important to do with it.

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    Professional? Right, sorry. I meant in the sense of taking it seriously, rather than the sense of being paid. Someone who wants others to take their philosophy seriously, or uses it as part of their identity.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 5th, 2013 at 6:47 pm Reply | Quote
  • Alex Says:

    quite clearly, Genesis depicts original sin as an exorbitant (or unlimited) desire for knowledge

    If so, the sin would be in the desiring not the knowing.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Philosophy, according to its name at least, is a type of desire (Sophophilia).
    (Not that names can tell us everything.)

    [Reply]

    Alex Reply:

    Philosophy, according to its name at least, is a type of desire (Sophophilia).

    Indeed, but you did say “exorbitant” desire. Thus far, your interpretation is in happy conformity with no less an authority than the Angelic Doctor:

    … the first lack of order of the human appetite was from this, that Adam inordinately desired some spiritual good. He would not have desired it inordinately, however, had he desired it according to the measure set forth by the divine rule. Hence it follows that the first sin of man consisted in this, that he desired some spiritual good above his measure, which pertains to pride. It is clear, therefore, that the first sin of the first man was pride.

    The disorder primarily resided in straightforward disobedience to a divine command, the moral of the story being not that ignorance is bliss but that God is boss. Haydock:

    God laid this easy command upon Adam, to give him an opportunity of shewing his ready obedience, and to assert his own absolute dominion over him. … True obedience does not inquire why a thing is commanded, but submits without demur. Would a parent be satisfied with his child, if he should refuse to obey, because he could not discern the propriety of the restraint? If he should forbid him to touch some delicious fruits which he had reserved for strangers, and the child were to eat them, excusing himself very impertinently and blasphemously, with those much abused words of our Saviour, It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles a man, &c. would not even a Protestant parent be enraged and seize the rod, though he could not but see that he was thus condemning his own conduct, in disregarding, on the very same plea, the fasts and days of abstinence, prescribed by the Church and by God’s authority? All meats are good, as that fruit most certainly was which Adam was forbidden to eat; though some have foolishly surmised that it was poisonous; but, the crime of disobedience draws on punishment.

    As to what was desired, you refer in the OP to the “tree of knowledge” but of course its full title is the tree of knowledge of good and evil. ‘Knowledge of good and evil’ cannot here mean the faculty of distinguishing between the two: as created in God’s image and likeness, Adam & Eve would have possessed that from the first. Clearly, had they lacked such a faculty, their disobedience to any command would have had no moral significance.

    Some have understood ‘knowledge of good and evil’ to mean the authority to decide what is good and evil; in which case their desideratum was not knowledge of reality but the right to determine reality, an arrogation of the divine prerogative. Others interpret ‘knowledge of good and evil’ to mean simply ‘knowledge of all things’, ie omniscience; again, implying an act of luciferian lèse majesté.

    (Not that names can tell us everything.)

    On the subject of names — pardon my impertinence — but may I ask if you are of Scandinavian descent? There’s a passage in the Bataille book where you mention that your ancestors were Viking berserkers or something of the sort. I didn’t assume you meant it literally but a cursory Google search suggests the surname Land could indeed be of Scandinavian origin.

    Forgive me, I don’t mean to be intrusive, it’s just that a Nordic Nick would be most reassuring as he couldn’t possibly be the Antichrist!

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Thanks for a valuable complication of a subtle topic (which I’m confident we’ll return to). Your points will undoubtedly guide my further reflection.

    As to my name (and distant ancestry), I can only admit to ignorance.

    Alex Reply:

    As to my name (and distant ancestry), I can only admit to ignorance.

    It was a long shot.

    fotrkd Reply:

    Nick is of German descent. Land is a contraction of Landauer (Gustav). This may not be 100% biologically or etymologically accurate. It is, nonetheless, worth pursuing. Honest.

    Alex Reply:

    Landauer (Gustav)

    The resemblance is uncanny lol!

    But no. I think we can safely assume the Man of Sin wouldn’t permit anything so recherché as Fanged Noumena‘s pagination.
    Or would he?

    Posted on July 5th, 2013 at 7:15 pm Reply | Quote
  • Matt Olver Says:

    One of the real German philosophical and metaphysical demons running throughout the background of Kantianism and German culture perhaps isn’t Heidegger, but another fellow Sinophile named Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz whom Kant studied closely by way of Christian Wolff. Concept Script and mathematical notation system builders like Frege and Leibniz knew numbers are metaphysics of an immaterial sort much like language, and numbers are intertwined with and relate closely to language. Close attention ought to be paid to Leibniz and his brand of particular diagrammatic reasoning throughout his life which concludes with the development of The Monadologie, composed in 1714. Leibniz discussion of monads are firmly rooted in his early thought, namely his undergraduate bachelors thesis he completed at Universität Leipzig — De Principio Individui. Typically Leibniz is not thought of as an existentialist but it is an early existential work and his project is existential and metaphyiscal to understanding the core infrastructure mapping of the human mind.

    What makes Leibniz a relevant contemporary figure is that in his own calulated fit of reaction he seems to believe that building upon a Western religious metaphysics is a worthwhile endevour as part of his philosophy. The monadology he developed by 1714 routinely calls upon his work 1686 work Discours de métaphysique. This is most definitely symptomatic of the time period he was a part of like Heidegger’s return to being was part of the late 1920’s rustic agrarian mode of thought he felt was best situated for understanding ontology. Heidegger’s thought cannot be simply dismissed as “batshit crazy” nonsense that is removed from a mathematical and informational metaphysics of time. Heidegger as a student of Husserl understood the recursivity of acts of thought and conscious perception. The literal [bracketing] of thought is uniquely a German phenomonlogical one, and most assuredly the German brand of phenomonlogy is Scholastic going back to Brentano.

    Leibniz and his Monadologie were built upon from the Pre-Socratic Pythagoreans forms the basis for all information and its most substantial level. Monad is literally μονάς monas, “unit” from μόνος monos, “alone”. Something that functions binarily. What’s interesting about Leibniz is that his understanding of a binary number system and certain patterns of diagrammatic reasoning as evidenced in his metaphysical charts (which he seems to have picked up from Chinese culture) really forms the basis for all of computation, calculating, and reason. Leibniz metaphysics anticipates computer networking which is an act of emergent metaphysical phenomena in itself. Time is information. Leibniz was really one of the first true pioneering information technologists. He is an essential figure in understanding Time-in-itself and modern computer science.

    [Reply]

    Matt Olver Reply:

    correction *phenomenology* was typing quickly

    [Reply]

    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    @Matt Olver

    Thank you for this, I’ll have to look into it. You didn’t mention the ‘characteristica universalis’: I assume that is that what you were referring to.

    [Reply]

    Matt Olver Reply:

    Thanks Artxell. Characteristica Universalis was indeed what I was referring to. Honestly, I don’t know enough about Leibniz or Characteristica Universalis, but who really does? Gödel seemed to think there were profound insights laying dormant with Leibniz. His project is gloriously overlooked. The real insights into the man, the literal connecting of the dots, are the inbetween pieces of his philosophy which are his letters which are just sitting around in his archive in Hanover.

    [Reply]

    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    @Matt Olver

    “Gödel seemed to think there were profound insights laying dormant with Leibniz. His project is gloriously overlooked.”

    I think you’ve got a good point there.
    Perhaps, if it was possible for Leibniz to conceive “the best of all possible worlds”, he might have been on to something.
    After all, his monadology was an early theorisation of the hologram.
    I don’t much about him, either, but have known of him for a long time. My impressions were always good, from the start.
    And yeah, Godel’s opinion is worth considering.

    admin Reply:

    Yes, to all that — I guess it means some kind of focused Leibniz discussion needs to be built into the schedule. I’m not convinced that it’s high priority as regards the present Heidegger-poking, though.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 5th, 2013 at 7:36 pm Reply | Quote
  • Little Hans Says:

    I’m not sure I grasp the OP. I read it as something like: Heidegger ‘short-circuits’ philosophy by showing that it hasn’t – and can’t – answer the question of Being. We must go back to the beginning, or go through catastrophe.

    How does this differ from all of the other questions which philosophy has failed to answer? It’s not like ethics or metaphysics have ever been resolved. If philosophy eventually breaks down, surely not being able to say that you’re ever ‘right’, or that anything is ‘true’ are more problematic than the question of being, an ontic conundrum which, essentially, doesn’t make an ounce of difference if it’s proven or remains eternally uncertain. Questioning the responsibilities of or information held by a cop might (might!) change something, but asking if they _are_ will never do anything useful. Why isn’t say, Hume, the avatar of catastrophe?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    “How does this differ from all of the other questions which philosophy has failed to answer?” — If you’re not persuaded that the Question of Being bundles the problems of philosophy, there’s no reason to take its stalling especially seriously. Still, the catastrophism is endogenous to Heidegger (which it isn’t, for instance, with Hume, who doesn’t even think that philosophy is in any truly significant way historical).

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 5th, 2013 at 11:58 pm Reply | Quote
  • Orlandu84 Says:

    Before I ramble on with my usual points, allow me to give due praise to the OP. It is not everyday that I read someone who understands “Being and Time” so well.

    @admin
    “For philosophy, the whisper of the serpent is no longer a resistible temptation. It is instead a constitutive principle, or foundation.”

    For the last few months I have been wrestling with Genesis and its account of man’s fall. After reading way too many books about political science and neoreactionary blogs, the typical theological explanation no longer seemed to hold. They either seemed overly materialistic in that they reduced the event to pure history – the evolution of humanity – or they were overly spiritual in that they abstracted the event out of history entirely – it’s a story that explains sin. In both sets of explanations, the event had no present meaning because it had no way of being linked to present life.

    Then I had a thought: what if it’s both. What if Genesis correctly records the transition of mankind from non-rational thought to rational thought? In other words Genesis is the moment of evolution when man and woman awake to conscience thought! Going beyond their nature is pride – they reached for the heavens when they were only meant to be on the earth.

    What sets Genesis apart then from modern thought is the belief that God does not reject his broken creatures. instead, God limits the damage and begins the long work of rehabilitating humanity. No matter what humans do, God finds a way to fix it. At least, that is the claim of the Bible.

    I suppose another way of expressing the above is to argue that Cathedral thought posits the “fixing” element of Providence while denying the existence of the fixer. Instead, it seeks the origin of that fix within the broken nature of humanity. Unfortunately, the source of that broken experience is man’s nature of being a rational animal. A vicious circle is thus created such that further investigation into humanity only reveals more ways of being broken necessitating further inquiry into man’s broken nature.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I respect your willingness to venture out into the wilderness of extreme heresy. When we eventually get back to Milton — or perhaps sooner — such boldness will prove most useful.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 6th, 2013 at 2:33 am Reply | Quote
  • j. ont. Says:

    I don’t know much about Heidegger – his style, and the sheer mass of his work, has always intimidated me enough that I’ve been more easily compelled to read other things. Is there less daunting (but still useful) text that I could read before Being and Time, or should I just dive right in?

    I always hear historians comparing him to Wittgenstein, who was roughly contemporary (they love to set them up as evil twins). What do you make of him, Nick? He gets a fair bit of hate amongst contemporary Continentals (language stuff is so uncool right now), but I think his Spinozism – as well as the generally incomplete nature of his later system – generates a potential for cross-pollination with some of the theorists favoured round these parts.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    If you’re going to do Heidegger, there’s no point prevaricating around Being and Time — it’s the classic (and the prose grows on you, if you have any sympathy for gothic grandeur).

    Is Wittgenstein really a Spinozist? I need more. I’m also entirely ignorant about recent hate fashions — if Wittgenstein is in the cross-hairs it has to mean he’s persuasive about something that’s annoying people (that’s my guess, at least). Kant unlocks Wittgenstein too, of course, which partially explains the potential for Heidegger fusionism (but all sophisticated post-enlightenment philosophy is crypto-Kantian, so it doesn’t explain that much). Going out on a limb, maybe some weird late Wittgenstein / game theory hybrid could re-activate an interest — thinking language as games edges into territories of possible formalization (algorithms), which is usually future-positive.

    [Reply]

    j. ont. Reply:

    I will get to that then – after I’m done with Kant, maybe.

    Wittgenstein has attracted the ire of the Speculative Realist types, since he is (as you’ve said) somewhat Kantian in his attitudes towards language, though I think they’ve misread him somewhat. My reading of Wittgenstein is less “correlationist”, more realist. The man was an engineer, after all! If he is annoying to people, in a more general way, I expect it’s because he’s somewhat anti-philosophy – or at least he claims to be.

    As for whether or not he’s a Spinozist – the influence on the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is mostly undisputed (remarkable, given how divisive that books it). There is some question as to the continuity between his early and late work (the Tractatus and Philosopical Investigations), but I’ve found the “genre” of thought to be similar. His work is somewhat compatible with Deleuze, though people usually go for the obvious comparison to Derrida (who’s thought, at least further down, is actually strikingly different).

    [Reply]

    Matt Olver Reply:

    The trifecta cotiere of Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein was really a three-man wrecking and re-construction crew in the world of philosophical logic. And Leibniz volleyed the sets to them. And Heidegger demodulated and re-designed the circuit of philosophy, language, and being with the help of Nietzsche — the anti-metaphysician of excellence. The little known algorithm Sub specie aeternitatis influenced Spinoza and Leibniz, and it is a static one outside of time running in the background at a base level of all of this. Gödel enters the picture and shows that there is always an incomplete recursive abyss in logic and time. All of this is derivative of Anaximander who was right on number, modality, and emergence.

    Posted on July 6th, 2013 at 7:13 am Reply | Quote
  • Alex Says:

    As the perfect negation of Christ, or consummate fulfillment of Anti-Christ, Adolf Hitler closes – or essentially completes — the history of the Occident. It doesn’t matter whether we believe that. The Cathedral does, utterly, to the point of sealed doctrine.

    Although note the Cathedral uses this icon of evil to indict and delegitimise Christianity — “Hitler was a baptised Catholic” … “Pacelli was ‘Hitler’s pope'” … “the Holocaust was the end product of two millennia of Christian antisemitism” … &c.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    My sense of it is that these rather lame propaganda efforts are entirely overwhelmed by the spectacular fact of Nazi nihilistic neo-paganism.

    [Reply]

    nydwracu Reply:

    There’s also the fascination with Nazi occultism. (95% of which is bullshit, but Lanz and List and the völkisch stuff did exist…) “But Hitler was a Catholic!” reads to me like a line, a bat that people pick up and hit things with, not something that more than a few people actually care about or think is relevant. Like debate-team sorts reading about the Holodomor on Wikipedia.

    [Reply]

    Alex Reply:

    This perception of Nazism certainly makes an ideal apocalyptic event for the Cathedral, embodying some of its darkest fears and longings … but it’s curious how little it rattles Christian traditionalists (apart from a few easily-spooked Protestants of an American persuasion). I imagine serious NS adherents would despise it as irredeemably vulgar and camp and morally degenerate — probably something the Jews of Hollywood are happy to promote to discredit decent Nazis.

    It could certainly gain a degree of cultural traction, most obviously if sold as a form of environmentally-conscious heathenry, but pagan/occult/satanist/nihilistic Nazism doesn’t really ‘fit’ the traditional Christian picture of apocalypse, any more than a resurgent Islam does.

    Posted on July 6th, 2013 at 1:18 pm Reply | Quote
  • John Hannon Says:

    Interesting how post-war Heidegger started turning Japanese – witness his “Dialogue on Language” with a Japanese friend published in “On The Way to Language.”
    Subsequently a number of studies of the relationship between Heidegger’s post-“Kehre” thought and Zen Buddhism have been undertaken, but such relationship can only ever be superficial as Heidegger – for all his valorization of “meditative thinking” and “letting Being be” – never practiced “zazen” – the rigorous transformative meditation technique so essential to Zen.

    For a far more substantial Western engagement with Zen, James Austin’s 700-page study “Zen and the Brain” is recommended. Here Austin, both a neuroscientist and Zen practitioner, alternates chapters detailing his (trans)personal experience of disciplined Zen meditation with chapters in which he seeks to understand the brain mechanisms corresponding to such experience.
    Way to go.

    [Reply]

    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    I’m sure Heidegger says the West can’t turn Japanese: it has to go back to Presocratic roots, take another turning than the ‘wrongness’ it exemplifies, follow its own ‘destining’, or whatever Heideggerian type of thing Heidegger would say. I think he’s probably right, in a way. At least, the understanding of such a ‘return’ requires development.

    [Reply]

    John Hannon Reply:

    William Barrett, in the preface to his anthology of the works of D.T. Suzuki (the leading exponent of Zen in the West), states that he was told by a German friend of Heidegger that one day when he visited him, Heidegger was reading one of Suzuki’s books, and declared that –

    “If I understand this man correctly, this is what I have been trying to say in all my writings”

    (Of course there’s always the possibility that Heidegger didn’t in fact understand Suzuki correctly)

    [Reply]

    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    @John Hannon

    ““If I understand this man correctly, this is what I have been trying to say in all my writings”

    (Of course there’s always the possibility that Heidegger didn’t in fact understand Suzuki correctly)”

    I think the fact that Buddhist writers have drawn upon both Husserl ( Sekida, Kazuki. Zen Training: Methods and Philosophy. New York: Weatherhill, 1975) and Heidegger, in order to explicate, to a Western readership, what they have to say, is significant.
    The question of correct interpretation; of Suzuki’s reading of Zen, of Zen’s reading of Chan Buddhism, of Chan’s reading of Mahayana Buddhism; of Heidegger’s reading of Suzuki, would be an interesting exegetical pursuit, but is not necessary here.
    As far as I remember, Heidegger was speaking of cultures, that one culture couldn’t suddenly become another: at least, that’s my understanding.

    Posted on July 7th, 2013 at 1:02 am Reply | Quote
  • Bill Says:

    We have a 4th century brother, Flavius Claudius Julianus Augustus, a.k.a. Julian the Apostate. He wrote a book “Against the Galilaeans” that critiqued Christianity and anticipates a lot of neoreactionary criticism against the left. He was the last pagan emperor, Constantine’s nephew, and the last emperor from the house of Constantine. He died fighting the Persians.

    Here are Julian’s thoughts on the tree of knowledge: “For that the power to distinguish between good and less good is the property of wisdom is evident surely even to the witless; so that the serpent was a benefactor rather than a destroyer of the human race.”

    The whole first book of Against the Galilaeans is here: http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/julian_apostate_galileans_1_text.htm

    Julian has some funny barbs for Jesus: “Yet Jesus, who won over the least worthy of you, has been known by name for but little more than three hundred years: and during his lifetime he accomplished nothing worth hearing of, unless anyone thinks that to heal crooked and blind men and to exorcise those who were possessed by evil demons in the villages of Bethsaida and Bethany can be classed as a mighty achievement.”

    Julian is a pragmatist too: “Now this would be a clear proof: Choose out children from among you all and train and educate them in your scriptures, and if when they come to manhood they prove to have nobler qualities than slaves, then you may believe that I am talking nonsense and am suffering from spleen. Yet you are so misguided and foolish that you regard those chronicles of yours as divinely inspired, though by their help no man could ever become wiser or braver or better than he was before; while, on the other hand, writings by whose aid men can acquire courage, wisdom and justice, these you ascribe to Satan and to those who serve Satan!”

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Fascinating, thanks. My only knowledge of Julian is indirect, so these quotes were an eye-opener.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 7th, 2013 at 4:55 am Reply | Quote
  • Bowman Says:

    Alrenous is wrong. True science is barbaric. Science is about experimentation over argumentation. Science is barbaric and will always be treated thus by ruling elites of any polity because polity depends on faith in a set of—usually unstated—hypotheses in human ecology adopted by religious faith as pragmatic enforcement of elite powers.

    The “body politic” is distinguished from the “body” in scientific terms only by the means via which the “germ-line replicator” hypothesis is stated. In the case of the body politic, it is the proposition constituting its polity. In the case of the body, it is the genome. Life or death of the body politic is not shared by other bodies politic in a meta-polity founded on the philosophy of science, just as life or death is experienced by individual bodies.

    This is “barbaric” in the sense that it does not recognize the “entitlement”, moral or otherwise, to resources “claimed” by other bodies. It recognizes only replication of results—or perhaps replications as results.

    [Reply]

    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    Interesting emphasis of the distinction: bodily entitlement/result production

    Of course, you’re saying that “true science” (barbarism?) privileges ‘result production’ over ‘bodily entitlement’? That it contradicts the Kantian injunction of people (their bodily instances) being treated as “ends in themselves”, rather than as a “means” (statistical connotation here? of a type of ‘average’?) in the processes of ‘result production’?

    These concerns are the essence of polity, of society-state-nation, of any grouping that requires bureaucratic administration. This includes all communities of consumption: the consumer tribes that arise around the ‘brands’ of ‘result production’.

    Aside from the arbitrary scopes of application belonging to the conceptual moments constituting this picture, each one of which is potentially problematic, there is a central assumption that mere delineation of the complex is going to have an effect of some sort. As if such delineations, communicated to the ‘bodily instances’ that form policy, are in some way going to improve things. It assumes that ‘power’ is located in ‘human’ decisions, that those ‘decisions’ themselves are in some way susceptible to images of ‘rightness’. I’m not sure if this is the case, given the history of atrocities and hypocrisies.

    One has to consider whether “replication of results” is itself an autonomous entity now, with its ‘own’ unyielding demands: to what extent the totality of ‘human’, or ‘inhuman’, discourse is merely another one of ‘its’ constitutive processes?

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 8th, 2013 at 5:54 am Reply | Quote
  • Bowman Says:

    Regarding Greek philosophy, ultimately it is only of interest due to its cultural proximity to the Dorian invasion as the foundation of Greek civilization. Greek philosophy echoes dissonance with their barbarian pastoralist ancestors — ancestors who most likely did not shrink from natural duel as the appeal of last resort in dispute processing as did the Greek philosophers. This dissonance — this cognitive dissonance — gives rise to rationalization of “the way things are”, which is the true content and intent of most of the social musings of the philosophers. In this attempt to rationalize “the way things are” we catch a glimpse of “the way things were” as the dissonant subtext.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 8th, 2013 at 5:59 am Reply | Quote
  • Bowman Says:

    When philosophy is re-introduced, civilizations reliably have a renaissance period. When philosophy is removed, civilizations fall to stagnation and violence. A civilization based on lies becomes itself a lie, a barbarian in pretty clothes.

    No, civilizations stagnate because of structural reasons inherent to civilization itself.

    As W.D. Hamilton wrote in his paper Innate Social Aptitudes of Man:

    “The incursions of barbaric pastoralists seem to do civilizations less harm in the long run than one might expect. Indeed, two dark ages and renaissances in Europe suggest a recurring pattern in which a renaissance follows an incursion by about 800 years. It may even be suggested that certain genes or traditions of pastoralists revitalize the conquered people with an ingredient of progress which tends to die out in a large panmictic population for the reasons already discussed. I have in mind altruism itself, or the part of the altruism which is perhaps better described as self-sacrificial daring. By the time of the renaissance it may be that the mixing of genes and cultures (or of cultures alone if these are the only vehicles, which I doubt) has continued long enough to bring the old mercantile thoughtfulness and the infused daring into conjunction in a few individuals who then find courage for all kinds of inventive innovation against the resistance of established thought and practice. Often, however, the cost in fitness of such altruism and sublimated pugnacity to the individuals concerned is by no means metaphorical, and the benefits to fitness, such as they are, go to a mass of individuals whose genetic correlation with the innovator must be slight indeed. Thus civilization probably slowly reduces its altruism of all kinds, including the kinds needed for cultural creativity (see also Eshel 1972).”

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 8th, 2013 at 6:08 am Reply | Quote
  • Alrenous Says:

    Science is applied epistemology. It is strictly a subfield of philosophy, which was recognized in the name ‘natural philosophy.’ If I was wrong, then science would appear before philosophy, somewhere, or it would survive the passing of philosophy.

    Instead, we have Grossteste, who was a scholastic.

    “After the Reconquista of the 12th century, Spain opened even further for Christian scholars, who were now able to work in ‘friendly’ religious territory. As these Europeans encountered Islamic philosophy, they opened a wealth of Arab knowledge of mathematics and astronomy.”

    Instead, ask our host about Al-Ghazali.

    The theory of philosophy and civilization correctly predicts these timings. Similarly, the theory of sophistry and democracy correctly predicts all timings.

    [Reply]

    Scharlach Reply:

    An apropos quote from T. H. Huxley:

    I often wish that phrase “applied science” had never been invented. For it suggests that there is a sort of scientific knowledge of direct practical use, which can be studied apart from another sort of scientific knowledge, which is of no practical utility and which is termed “pure science.” But there is no more complete fallacy than this. What people call applied science is nothing but the application of pure science to particular classes of problems. It consists of DEDUCTIONS from those general principles, ESTABLISHED BY REASONING AND OBSERVATION, which constitute pure science.

    I think Dawkins somewhere paraphrases this as: “applied science is nothing more than the application of good reasoning [i.e., the workings of rational epistemologies] to material problems.”

    The danger of the sophists (and the deconstructionists who actually believe what they write) is that they deny the utility of epistemology to adequately represent anything that has ontic status. In extreme cases, they deny the existence of ontological entity full stop. How can you have science–applied or pure–with such a presupposition? I think this is why so many academic Leftists are essentially sophists: they don’t like science. It distracts us from social justice!

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    Hear hear.

    Of course the social-ideal scientist researches for curiosity, but society only lets him or funds him because it intends to apply whatever he finds.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 8th, 2013 at 10:25 am Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    @ Alrenous, Bowman — I’m not hanging back from this exchange because I’m uninterested, but because I’m too interested to blunder in prematurely. Does it still have escalation momentum?

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 8th, 2013 at 1:18 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bowman Says:

    Science is the primacy of experimentation over argumentation and theory. It is not the application of epistemology or some theory in philosophy.

    An experiment is about belief. An experimental control is about doubt. An experiment conducted without an experimental controls is the bread and butter of the sophist — particularly the sophist who aspires to theocrat.

    A working hypothesis is a belief put into action. An experiment puts a hypothesis into action. Within the experiment, the belief — the hypothesis — is adopted as an act of faith since it, by the very definition of an experiment, is gathering the evidence that would make faith less necessary in its adoption. Outside the experiment we transcend the belief and adopt skepticism but skepticism is made practical only by the control experiment to test the “null hypothesis” — that the “treatment” is not causative of the hypothesized effect.

    Theology and theory are separated only by a respect for experimental results.

    What the Enlightenment did that was unique was take seriously the idea that not only can people deliberately set out to do controlled experiments, but that their consent is crucial if the experiment involves humans.

    Take, for example, the Catholic Church’s imposition of its experiment on the whole of Western and Central Europe. The tight coupling between the Enlightenment and Protestantism was no accident.

    What sophists and theocrats would have us believe is that there is no control experiment necessary — nay, that any experimental control would appeal only to barbarians, pagans, etc. Likewise, the Catholic Church’s belief was an experiment imposed by force on Christendom and any experimental control would appeal only to the demon possessed.

    [Reply]

    Scharlach Reply:

    Too strong, I think. Maybe Aristotle’s distinctions are more helpful for demarcating science and philosophical argumentation:

    1. Scientific knowledge, which is knowledge for its own sake (astronomy).
    2. Practical arts, which is doing something in society (politics)
    3. Productive arts, which is making something (pottery)
    4. Organa , which are methods that lack content but can, to varying degrees, be applied to the other three realms in order to “theorize” their workings (rhetoric and dialectic)

    I think you’re trying to distinguish Aristotle’s “methods” from the other kinds of pursuits, which have more material or practical ends. However, it is the methods which allow people to get a more theoretical (meta!) handle on what it is precisely they are doing, making, or knowing.

    In my posts on Islamic science, I make the point (well, I quote the point) that it wasn’t until the “methods” and the sciences came together in the West that the industrial revolution began to foment. Science, as you said originally, may be “experimentation over argumentation,” but anyone who works in the sciences will tell you that even the best experiment is worthless unless you can explain (argue!) why the experiment worked the way it did and how it does or does not fit into a larger theoretical framework.

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    The primacy of experiment? That’s what I say too. Philosophy is thinking about stuff, science is looking at stuff. However, then you go off into the weeds.

    Without the application of epistemology, you can’t even say, “The potential was measured at five volts.” You have to say things like, “I perceived a yellow square with smaller grey square which displayed a ‘5’ and a ‘V'”* Inference is logic. Even basic inferences. What can and cannot be validly inferred from evidence is epistemology. Moreover, for the voltmeter to work at all requires epistemology regarding valid evidence of voltages.

    It certainly seems possible that scientists could learn the relevant epistemic techniques by trial and error. However, they don’t. China did not develop science, despite far more opportunity than the West had. At the very least, it appears that scientists need philosophers – specifically Athenian tradition – to infect them with the right mindset, the idea of learning about learning.

    Similarly, they should be able to carry on when someone like Al-Ghazali gets a foothold. It’s not theology, right? It’s just measuring stuff and telling others about it. Again, they don’t, as far as I’m aware.

    *I do this on purpose from time to time to audit my inferences. Does the grey square with the ‘5’ and the ‘V’ in fact mean five volts? Am I seeing what I think I’m seeing or am I looking at a mistaken abstraction layer?

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 8th, 2013 at 6:32 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bowman Says:

    I don’t believe that because one “works in the sciences”, one is doing science. People today “in the sciences” are in a church whose piety is established by government funding. If
    you specialize “in the sciences” today you must give up your intellectual independence to demonstrate your piety.

    The moment you introduce argumentation and “larger theoretical frameworks” as the arbiter over whether experiments are “worthless” or not, you’re not doing science. You’re doing theology. The best, most elegant theory or theoretical framework is worthless in the face of one experiment.

    [Reply]

    Scharlach Reply:

    Well, yes, you’re describing the practical reality. But your quote here:

    The moment you introduce argumentation and “larger theoretical frameworks” as the arbiter over whether experiments are “worthless” or not, you’re not doing science. You’re doing theology. The best, most elegant theory or theoretical framework is worthless in the face of one experiment.

    You’re describing falsification, which is precisely what allows the “larger theoretical frameworks” to be refined and, perhaps, overthrown entirely. So, I don’t disagree with you. But I think you’re being extreme in suggesting that experiment without theory is sufficient. Theory guides experiment, then experiment confirms or denies theory.

    But remind me again, what does any of this have to do with neoreaction? Is there a “larger point” that all this is connected to?

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 8th, 2013 at 8:20 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bowman Says:

    Without the application of epistemology, you can’t even say, “The potential was measured at five volts.” You have to say things like, “I perceived a yellow square with smaller grey square which displayed a ’5′ and a ‘V’”* Inference is logic. Even basic inferences. What can and cannot be validly inferred from evidence is epistemology. Moreover, for the voltmeter to work at all requires epistemology regarding valid evidence of voltages.

    Science is based on avoidance of the “It’s not even wrong!” problem. That’s what operational definitions are for. They are necessary so you can perform experiments. Operational definitions are crucial to experiments, and that’s basically by definition.

    Wiki’s intro to operational definition is not bad:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operational_definition

    An operational definition, also called functional definition,[1][2] defines something (e.g. a variable, term, or object) in terms of the specific process or set of validation tests used to determine its presence and quantity. That is, one defines something in terms of the operations that count as measuring it.[3] The term was coined in philosophy of science book The Logic of Modern Physics (1927), by Percy Williams Bridgman, and is a part of the process of operationalization. One might use definitions that rely on operations in order to avoid the troubles associated with attempting to define things in terms of some intrinsic essence.

    The operational definition seeks not “what” (essence) but “how” (operation). Think of the opposite of the 3-wishes myth — the 3-wishes myth which allows the genie or leprechaun or whatever granting the wish to fulfill the wish in undesirable ways not anticipated by the wisher.

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    Okay, sure. But therefore, what? I’m not sure I see what you’re getting at. Elaborate?

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 8th, 2013 at 9:49 pm Reply | Quote
  • Artxell Knaphni Says:

    This is going to be quick.
    I like Bowman’s energy in articulating what seems to have a Heideggerian ethos.
    First, Heidegger does see knowledge, the will to know, as a type of aggression or “barbarism”. Even philosophy comes under this rubric.
    Two, I think what Bowman is trying to describe, is how the will-to-know ‘frames’ what it is attempting to control or ‘know’. So the whole technological ‘enframing’, calculative rationality, thing of Heidegger comes into it,
    Bowman is talking about the mise en scene of this process: how scientific method atrophies into, or is, a precise and predatory ‘stalking’ and studying of the ‘phenomena’ which it wishes to manipulate.

    Given this atrophy, driven by Nobel trophies, science, in practice, is a driven pursuit, a ‘hunt’.
    This engenders a professional ethos which shows the implicit devaluation of ‘poetic’ modes of thought in favour of overt displays of ‘serious’ empirical procedurality.

    And yet, didn’t the DNA double helix guy discover it in a dream?
    Wasn’t Einstein in a reverie, when he thought about light?
    Cue Gaston Bachelard.

    [Reply]

    Matt Olver Reply:

    @Artxell

    Good explication here. The will-to-know and imagination will take you everywhere you need to go.

    [Reply]

    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    @Matt Olver

    “The trifecta cotiere of Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein was … The little known algorithm Sub specie aeternitatis influenced Spinoza and Leibniz, and it is a static one outside of time running in the background at a base level of all of this…All of this is derivative of Anaximander who was right on number, modality, and emergence.”

    Eternity as an algorithm? “running” “outside of time”?
    In ‘its’ own time, perhaps?
    Only if there is such thing as an absolute Time, would the preceding be contradictory.
    Not that contradiction is such a big deal.

    ‘Staticity’ is always with respect to some ‘motion’, somewhere.

    “Good explication here. The will-to-know and imagination will take you everywhere you need to go.”

    Thank you, Matt.
    I’m just seeing what those faculties describe, what they show, the patterns they form, the economies they outline.

    [Reply]

    Matt Olver Reply:

    @Artxell

    Good interpretations. It was a small word-play piece.

    cotiere was an intentional malapropism making a play on words regarding Nick’s comment about fusionism and word games, I tried to do the opposite and unpack ‘trifecta cotiere’. The 3-pointed coastal region of Ἰωνία is were it all began. The first modal region. By starting off the blurb wrong and ending with right. I was showing everything emerged from the abyss – nothing – zero – negative to the modalities of being right – positive – future additions.

    Artxell Knaphni Reply:

    @Matt Olver

    “Good interpretations. It was a small word-play piece.”

    Thank you, Matt.
    Unfortunately, in my ignorance, I missed the word-play. It was a bit too sophisticated for me, lol. Thanks for explaining it: sounds brilliant! I haven’t really read every comment on the post, am in the middle of other stuff.
    I’m not sure if I understand its significance, as regards the contextual considerations you were responding to, but here are some quick responses.

    “modal region”: ‘modal’ has strong musical connotations for me.

    It’s interesting that you use the classical Greek antipathy to ‘zero’ in your contrast enabling the progress of ‘positivity’ (‘posit’, ‘position’, etc.). This is something I referred to before – my first comment, here http://www.xenosystems.net/diversionary-history/

    Posted on July 9th, 2013 at 12:06 pm Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    Sean Carroll post (and comments) plugging directly into the ‘what is science?’ discussion:

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    Modern ‘natural’ is used identically to ‘existent.’ If God exists, it is entirely natural that He do so. The supernatural doesn’t exist by definition.

    The multiverse is a supernatural theory, and I’m deeply disappointed with Carroll for not realizing it.

    if a so-called supernatural phenomenon has strictly no effect on anything we can observe about the world, then indeed it is not subject to scientific investigation. It’s also completely irrelevant, of course, so who cares?

    String theory might as well be supernatural.

    Evolution is based on reproducible experiments, it’s simply several inferential steps away from them. If it wasn’t, it would be a supernatural theory.

    The commentators want to socially exalt the scientific and not socially exalt the not-scientific. Absent that impulse, coming to an agreed definition would be straightforward.

    Science seems to be a good thing. What does it do that is good? Okay, everything that does that good thing is dubbed science. Or rather, we don’t care about ‘science,’ we care about the result, so let’s drop the abstract ‘science’ entirely and just talk about the result. Also important, such an understanding would promote non-science inquiry and deprecate scientific non-inquiry. (Humans have to dole out social status, so might as well put it something good directly rather than trying to do a bank shot off ‘science.’)

    Which is why I don’t I don’t particularly care if you (plural) agree with my definition or not.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 9th, 2013 at 1:55 pm Reply | Quote
  • Artxell Knaphni Says:

    Science, to know
    “from Latin scientia “knowledge,” from sciens (genitive scientis), present participle of scire “to know,” probably originally “to separate one thing from another, to distinguish,” related to scindere “to cut, divide,” from PIE root *skei- (cf. Greek skhizein “to split, rend, cleave,” Gothic skaidan, Old English sceadan “to divide, separate” http://www.etymonline.com/?term=science

    In practice, ideas can come from anywhere. In practice, methodology does not always guarantee results, but can ensure a systematic reliability, as it were.
    As to the distinctions, if any, between science, theory, epistemology, etc., they’re all involved, whether explicitly or implicitly, every time one does anything.

    Science involves knowing: so does art. They both involve techne. They are both crafts. Such crafts navigate possibilities into realms of ‘realisation’. It’s a good idea for an artist or scientist to ‘know’what they’re doing, to some degree. But ‘knowledge’ is not a ‘closed circuit’.

    Sometimes, discoveries happen through ‘practice’, mistakes, or other unintentional factors, ‘theory’ catches up after. What’s the point of fetishising method? A good scientist is trained to be aware of all that. Let them get on with it.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 9th, 2013 at 9:08 pm Reply | Quote
  • Bowman Says:

    Regarding Aristotle and Greek philosophy and science, here is a passage from Herbert Butterfield’s The Origins of Modern Science:

    “Of all the intellectual hurdles which the human mind has confronted and has overcome in the last fifteen hundred years, the one which seems to me to have been the most amazing in character and the most stupendous in scope of its consequences is the one relating to the problem of motion.”

    “The Aristotelian doctrine of inertia was a doctrine of rest—it was motion, not rest, that always required to be explained. Wherever this motion existed, and however long it existed, something had to be brought in to account for it.

    The essential feature of this view was the assertion or the assumption that a body would keep in movement only so long as a mover was actually in contact with it, imparting motion to it all the time… If resistance were reduced to nought, the speed would be infinite; that is to say, if the movement took place in a vacuum, bodies would move from one place to another instantaneously. The absurdity of this was one of the reasons why Aristotelians regarded a complete void as impossible, and said that God Himself could not make one.

    It is astonishing to what degree not only this theory but its rivals—even the ones which superseded in the course of the scientific revolution—were based on the ordinary observation of the data available to common sense. And, as writers have clearly pointed out, it is not relevant for us to argue that if the Aristotelians had merely watched the more carefully they would have changed their theory of inertia for the modern one—changed over to the view that bodies tend to continue either at rest or in motion along a straight line until something intervenes to stop them or deflect their course. It was supremely difficult to escape from the Aristotelian doctrine by merely observing things more closely, especially if you had already started off on the wrong foot and were hampered beforehand with the whole system of interlocking Aristotelian ideas. In fact, the modern law of inertia is not the thing you would discover by mere photographic methods of observation—it required a different kind of thinking-cap, a transposition in the mind of the scientist himself; for we do not actually see ordinary objects continuing their rectilinear motion in that kind of empty space which Aristotle said could not occur, and sailing away to that infinity which also he said could not possibly exist; and we do not in real life have perfectly spherical balls moving on perfectly smooth horizontal planes—the trick lay in the fact that it occurred to Galileo to imagine these.

    To answer Butterfield and defend the primacy of experiment over theory, what really happened was an advancement of communication technology in the form of Gutenberg’s press, which made it possible to go beyond scholasticism and hermeneutics to directed memetics where selection pressures of a very different character were brought to bear on the memes. Among the pressures was the idea that you could report an experiment and expect many others to reproduce it. This then created pressure for more precise descriptions of experimental setups and results. This created selective pressure for more precise quantitative formalisms. This created selective pressure for more reliance on mathematics. Once mathematics became the lingua franca it created a second revolution that rendered experiments more effective in overthrowing outmoded theories and their ways of thinking.

    So, in truth, the revolution in science was as much a revolution in communication about experiments as it was a revolution in thinking.

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    The Chinese had the printing press centuries before Gutenburg, including moveable type. Due to their alphabet it was more expensive. J.M. Greer seems to think the Chinese became broadly literate anyway, though sadly I can’t find the exact comment he says it.

    Reproducibility is an idea; that it is good, a theory. Because of the background of respect for philosophy, the revolution in communication enabled a surge in inquiry.

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    P.S.

    Widespread public literacy seems to be the trigger that sets off the collapse of mythic thinking. Where literacy remains the specialty of a priesthood jealous of its privileges, among the ancient Maya or in Egypt before the New Kingdom, writing is simply a tool for recordkeeping and ceremonial proclamations, but once it gets into general circulation, rationalism of one kind or another follows in short order; an age of faith gives way to an age of reason.

    And because I’m obviously not arrogant enough…
    Note publication dates.

    More interconnected people makes more information come in showing that previously-reasonable rituals in fact do nothing, and thus the ritual target cannot be conscious – it cannot understand what you’re trying to tell it to do, nor appreciate your offers and sacrifices.

    […]

    Eventually, though, materialists arose – people who were so well-networked they had all the information to realize that gods don’t make much sense, if any. So, desiring to serve Reason, they rejected gods.

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 11th, 2013 at 6:59 am Reply | Quote
  • O Que é Filosofia? (Parte 2a) – Outlandish Says:

    […] Original. […]

    Posted on March 20th, 2017 at 8:58 pm Reply | Quote
  • Ciência – Outlandish Says:

    […] Esta (pt) seção de comentários entrou em uma discussão sobre ciência, de considerável complexidade e originalidade. O post em questão se focava em Heidegger, que tem ideias bem definidas sobre a ciência natural, mas essas ideias – dominadas por sua concepção de ‘ontologias regionais’ – não são especialmente dignas de nota, seja para um entendimento da preocupação principal de Heidegger ou para uma compreensão realista do empreendimento científico. Por essa razão, parece sensato recomeçar a discussão em outro lugar (aqui). […]

    Posted on March 21st, 2017 at 11:53 pm Reply | Quote

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