Tag Archives: cultural optimism

We’re all wavy particly people

“It is all connected!”, they think, blissfully unaware that their next awareness will be one of feeling entirely disconnected from everything and everybody. Or vice versa (or, in one word: virtue).

Who are they? They are us! We want them to be split, though, in two neat rows: the wavy kind, dreaming of connection, and the particly kind, feet firmly on disconnecting ground. Each one of us.

Why? We can’t help ourselves. We make distinctions and then we identify with them. So we can help our selves? Yes. Does that mean we hate our selves? Yes. Otherwise we could not love others.

Dichotomies. Paradoxes. Dualisms. Contrasts. Dualities. That’s what we are made of. That is what we want to escape. Quicksand comes to mind. Feet firmly in connecting ground. Ripples through.

Wavy people are particular now. Particly people are all the wave. From East to West. And back again. Back?

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Con-science

What do we say when we say ‘she couldn’t have done otherwise’? Does science tell us she could only do as she had done? Or does conscience tell us that, in her position, we would, probably, have done the same? It is a question that fascinated philosophers for a simple reason: it fascinates all of us and fascinates us all the time. It is a question whose upside is that she can go on with clear conscience and whose downside is science treats her, and therefore us, as believing in the quasi-religious myth of conscience. In the latter case, as I will argue, we are captive to the quasi-religious myth of con-science; science as a con act, or, in French, science as practiced by ‘un con‘. The former case teaches us something very interesting about science: it is something that we do together, something that’s intimately linked to conscience.

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On being progressive

Some hold that we actually do make progress, others that we can make progress and still others that we must make progress. This progressive spectrum from (neo)liberalism over Obama-ism to Extinction Rebellion is jointly attacked by reactionary forces who want to make things great again.  The progressive defense against it is weak, specifically because of a tendency to organize circular firing squads over who is truly progressive. In times of actual regress it makes sense to do something (admittedly quite unprogressive): build up our defenses.

So let’s analyze once for all: what does it actually mean to be progressive.

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The Charitable Gene, NeuroDiversity and Climate Change

We went viral from the outset. There seemed to be no end to our reproduction. Ever new forms of us emerged. We were having a blast. The world was soon filled with a thin layer of organisms based on us. They started to bump into each other. Suddenly this became a gene-eat-gene world. You’d call it natural selection. We experienced it as stress. It hit us: our perfection was going to be the end of us. This was not going to last. Wanting to have it all would wind up being the death of us. But: wasn’t it already too late? And: shouldn’t we just enjoy it while it lasted? We couldn’t reach consensus. Our reproductive strength was also our weakness so some of us decided to turn that weakness back into productive strength: we would diversify (as we’re condemned to do anyway by the principles of our vitality).

This is the story of these charitable genes’ last ditch effort to save the world even if a lack of self-satisfaction might require some self-sacrifice.

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Strangers amongst us

We struggle with strangeness. Whether we fear who’s different or merely fear those who fear the different differently from us, home’s where our differences largely go unnoticed. It struck me how self-evident it has become to see public announcements, on a hurricane for instance, accompanied by somebody translating them into sign language. It’s difficult not to see this as progress; therefore difficult to see it as anything but self-evident. But it’s not self-evident. It’s the outcome of a struggle by strangers incapable of hearing and once discarded by society and probably labeled “deaf and dumb”. Well, it is their struggle and that of caring people who provided an understanding home to them in which they could be understood and, hence, come to their own understanding. How did they realize such a remarkable feat making acceptance of deaf people into something “so general as to make it unthinkable to see it as someone’s original idea”? The latter is Kafka’s description of that immediate insight which, once made, seems to become so entrenched in custom it is like it could not have been otherwise. Wittgenstein would probably say it becomes part of the grammar of deafness that it is a difference that ought to be accommodated. Still, however self-evident it may seem now it was anything but self-evident not so very long ago.

How can that be? What can we learn from it?

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The sadness of You and I

What to do when tears well up in you for no reason? The fucking feeling of being lost. To be a loser born out of tune with a world, wrestling to get to terms with it and yourself. So focused on beating yourself in tune that you feel beaten black and blue and bloody tired of that everlasting energy put in the beating?

Missing verbs and punctuation unsorted. Such is my feeling that sucks the life out of me. I cry out for help but know not how to cry. I want it to end but my ending bothers you – I know that, yet I do not know why.  I have not written for a long while although I wrote so much that I did not care for to be really red.

Cassirer – on sadness – said: “We found that the separation of “I” and “You” – just like that between “I” and “World” – constitutes the target and not the origin of our inner life.”  If so, it is creative sadness that is our destination and blissful sterility that is our craving. Or with his words: “The productive is in a continuous struggle with the traditional.” And so we get, for our autistic history of philosophy, another set of irreconcilable oppositions reconciled in awkward worldly struggle.

Thus is my sadness and thus my insistence to create something in the vain hope of trying to get it across to you. Again and again until there is, finally, no again. But for now, again:

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To the latrine with our doctrines!

6.54 

My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them—as steps—to climb beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.)

He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright.” 

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Routledge Classics, 1961.

I’m reading Cora Diamond’s “The Realistic Spirit” in which proposition 6.54 is seen as the key to crack the code of continuity in Wittgenstein’s thought. I don’t know about that but I do know this: what she says resonates with why I always liked reading Wittgenstein. It’s not the famous proposition 7 calling bull-shit on philosophy that enticed me, calling bull-shit is easy. It’s the resistance to clear-cut philosophical doctrines and a view of reason as somehow beyond life as we know it which rings true to me.

Is it possible to do philosophy without leaving behind you beliefs that one p or another is true in a deeper way than pointing to the coffee mug and saying that it is on the table? In a way we’re all philosophers who want to believe that what we say matters in a way that is beyond being merely true. Philosophy, I believe (and I believe Wittgenstein believed all his life), is about showing that to be a terrible equivocation. A terrible equivocation more specifically on two crucial real-life common words: the demonstrative ‘that’ and the verb ‘to believe’.

Let me show you that. Maybe if you read on you’ll believe.

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