Can a Brain without Neurons do a Pee? Well, let’s just see.
“From the viewpoint of racism, there is no exterior, there are no people on the outside. There are only people who should be like us and whose crime it is not to be. (..) Racism never detects the particles of the other; it propagates waves of sameness – until those who resist identification have been wiped out. ” Deleuze & Guattari, 1000 Plateaus, p. 178 (my emphasis).
The idea of racism is that there should be a blank canvas. That we should get back to our innocent starting point. That there is no singularity. It is no coincidence that the language of physics creeps in. Classical physics is racist. If it posits particles, it posits them as being essentially identical. If it posits waves, it posits them as equalizers. God is an equalizer as before him we are all the same.
Ableism, as a strong desire everybody should be healthy, is an equalizer. It wants to bring all of us back to a state of health. A state where we have all of our capabilities. What can we learn from physics here? That experiment renders reduction to determinism absurd. Every phenomenon is a singularity. Both particle and wave. Irreversibly generating what was neither started by nor attracted to God.
Let’s follow Deleuze & Guattari from the white canvas to
the a black hole. And, liberated from the the, let’s follow it to a plurality of black holes. In this case concretely to autism, ADHD and Tourette’s.
Although the concept of “selfish gene” has been all but scientifically abandoned, the basic concept of “survival” underlying it remains firmly entrenched in naturalistic narratives. This is a problem for this simple reason: it blocks us from increasing our understanding of (our) nature.
Part of the myth of survival is the myth that it is an inescapable consequence of going for a naturalistic narrative in the first place. That it is not is something Deleuze tells us based on a thorough reading of Hume (in his Empiricism and Subjectivity) where he says: “And, above all, Hume centers his critique on the theory of egoism.” The myth of survival is, of course, also the myth that, when push literally comes to shove, we choose based on self-interest. Hume was not Hobbes.
The other part of the myth of survival is that we need a unifying concept of life to which all else can be reduced. Survival seems to be the only concept that survives the struggle for narrating nature and culture alike. But, as Deleuze says, this falsifies both as: “Nature and culture form a complex. Hume refuses theories that reduce everything to nature (..) just like those reducing everything to nurture. The first, in forgetting culture, give a false impression of nature; the others, in forgetting nature, deform culture.”
The question then is: do we need the concept of survival at all? And if we do, what needs to be put alongside it such that we get a naturalism doing justice to all the facts (included those related to notions like solidarity, friendship, love, and self-sacrifice)?
“With many the question of life’s worth is answered by a temperamental optimism that makes them incapable of believing that anything seriously evil can exist.”
So says William James in his essay “Is life worth living?”. He identifies a deafness for the craving for death by those who self-evidently want to live. Those those have the floor and I do not know how to express my wish of death without being met by distress or comfort. And I do not know which of these two is worst. Both are just shields against what reasons I would like to express for being this way, a way I have always been.
The discussion, then, never starts and therefore never ends. That in itself is unbearable – not having an ear means not being able to develop the language in which to speak about it. So, with James: “Let us search the lonely depths (..) together and see what answers in the last folds and recesses of things our question may find.”
Religion is not getting a lot of slack nowadays. Maybe in reading those who were first to be overtly critical of religion we can learn exactly what occasioned the onslaught. This is an exercise in that, FWIW.
In tracing back the questions raised in the early modern period we may hope to trace back the current secular attitude to religion. To make a start with this analysis, I focus on 2 short texts by Baruch Spinoza, The Metaphysical Moralist (1), and David Hume, On Superstition and Enthusiasm (2), where they explicitly treat of the threats inherent to religions when the imagination goes unchecked by rationality. My analysis tries to bring to light that there is a crucial difference in their treatment: whilst Spinoza sees linear progress in using reason to eliminate ‘uncalled for’ imagination, Hume puts reason as a mediator between two extreme uses of imagination (one leading to docile superstition – the other to fanatic enthusiasm). In my view there is something of fanatic enthusiasm to Spinoza’s view on rationality which, in denying a constructive impetus in imagination, denies something more basic to the human condition than the arbitrary conventions of specific religions. Both Hume and Spinoza utter profanities against religion, but only Spinoza utterly desacralized the human condition. Continue reading
“The interest, on which justice is founded, is the greatest imaginable, and extends to all times and places. It cannot be possibly serv’d by any other invention. It is obvious, and discovers itself on the very first formation of society.”
David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, Penguin Classics, 1985, p. 669.
[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dd. 23-12-2009. I don’t know how good or bad what follows is, but it is for sure a great quote.]
Call it the Roddenberry-principle: you can’t imagine, can’t conceive of, a society that is composed of intelligent individuals in which there is no basic notion of justice & therefore of fairness. So much so that even the biggest bands of thieves have some code of law internal to them and that any changes to current laws are invariably justified – with recourse to some ‘higher’ principle of justice. Continue reading
“But tho’ education be disclaim’d by philosophy, as a fallacious ground of assent to any opinion, it prevails nevertheless in the world, and is the cause why all systems are apt to be rejected at first as new and unusual.”
David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, p. 167, Penguin Books, 1969.
[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dd. 13-08-2009. Sounds promising, it’s at any rate actual.]
I do not exist! Or more accurately (and more boringly non-provocative): the ‘I’ does not exist. This claim would come closest to summing up my system, if such a thing as philosophical ‘systems’ would remain after Hume and Kant. As one was tempted to sum up Hume’s system in Hume’s day as “This world does not exist” in preparation of a smug chuckle with which to discard the details of what was said by him; I’m sure one would be tempted to Laugh Out Loud reading how I sum up my thoroughly individualist thought.