The Autinomies of Philosophy

The chance of there being an unconscious typo in the title is about as big as that of Freud not having slipped up. If it appears I am talking in riddles that is only because you feel that there is something to decipher. One thing is certain: philosophers are weird. So am I. Even if that doesn’t establish anything as far as me being a philosopher, you got my drift.


Let us wonder a while about the weirdness of philosophers. They have come up with waves and particles, with particulars and universals. Then they calculated and associated to come to one invariable conclusion: neither the one nor the other, or both at the same time but in an at most a superficial manner. Philosophers say they despair about this. That is merely a mask they wear to ensure somebody feeds them. If they’re particularly power hungry they will even exclaim they’ve solved it. Solutions sell, this much they know of real life. It’s one of those regularities that have neither rhyme nor reason.

Without weirdness we would discuss in caves instead of about waves. What is wrong with that? Caves are no place for philosophers. So what’s up with them?

They’re sick little bastards. Imagine a playground and a philosopher. The next word which comes to mind is: bullying. It is how it is, Hobbes must have thought. Give them what they want and outsmart them into peace by heteronomy for fear of the power of punishment. If they won’t take an ideal God, give them a mortal one that has their heathen head if it dare stick out. But the heads had were those that uttered words. The mortal god was a bully just like its immortal predecessor. Kant was critical and coined autonomy to come to the rescue for if debate was rational, the reasoned outcome would for sure be reasonable. He made us into subjects without even an escape in having the head of the powers that be. The bullies, relatively flexible as ever, turned all romantic and adorned their play with the perspective of pathetic patriotism. Oh what fun they have. To hell with God, Nietzsche said, beheading the last of the ghosts of reason created by his predecessors to tame the irrationality of that eternal playground. Intended for great minds, only small minds could take that literally to create a hell on earth.

So what was first: the philosopher or the playground? The bully or the bullied? It is chicken and egg, wave or particle over and over again. Will it ever stop? Luckily we have science to give us the final answers, logic to decide the matter, mathematics to clear up nonsense. So Heisenberg said there’s no choosing one or the other, Gödel there’s no proving everything and Cantor let the Genie back out of Its bottle. If we look for depth, the only thing we see is surface. When we try to remain safe at the surface, we are drawn into the deep end. Maybe, it just is what it is but it would not be without the weirdness of non-acceptance. The more we do not accept weirdness, the more it manifests itself (call it Deleuze’s law). Philosophy is unbeatable because where many theories turn out to be false, not a single one will ever turn out to be true. Sad maybe, but not true (take that Hegel!).

At this point people sigh and melancholically complain of the human condition. They then think they turn their back on philosophy not realizing philosophers always have their back and eat it too. Kierkegaard may say that their might not be a good choice, but at least there is a choice as long as you take it. Husserl reflects subjectively to discover inter-subjectivity as the phenomenon of choice. Wittgenstein tries to clarify language to find it’s just a game that everybody plays. Bergson discovers duration and Heidegger breaks it down to time as a given. Philosophers have their own kind of fun, extending the realities of bullies into the regularities of bullying encouraging us to be human and adopt other conventions, breaking down social customs of customary exclusion. They are peace offerings often taken to war. I don’t despair because each war takes us closer to a better peace even if it’s inevitably more dangerous by the time.

I don’t despair because of a simple fact of life: there are more and more philosophers. Over time there will be enough of us to realize that we don’t need depth but we do need space. If we have space for weirdness then weirdness will come up with the principle of charity of a Davidson, the maxim of co-operation of a Grice and a hermeneutical understanding of the self through another’s point of view of a Gadamer. Because Rousseau is right, war is not at all natural. And Hobbes is right, peace is not at all natural. So neither theory is true, if they are taken as ‘depths’ they are just falsely creating a debt between human beings and debts lead to war. At the surface though, they are right: to see war or peace as artificial is wrong, both war and peace come naturally to human beings if they take their antinomies as being a constraint on their autonomy to make sense of each other. As any autistic knows: ethical considerations always come before their theoretical thinking.


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