Sunday, April 23, 2006

the usual
I made the usual comments:
The absurdity of analytic philosophy as philosophical act is that it operates under the illusion that one can analyze language and experience seemingly from outside of both. It may be possible for computers to describe computation, but consciousness can not describe consciousness apart from acting it. We are creatures of sense before logic, and we must try each day, without ever succeeding, to pick one apart from the other. Analytic philosophy does not teach self-awareness, claiming it is unnecessary. It is the philosophy of autism.

Derrida wanted to argue the primacy of craft and of description- as a novelist would- while maintaining the authorial certainty of the man of ideas. His works fail as philosphy because they fail as literature (and “do as I say not as I do” is no longer accepted as a valid argument) Judith Butler is a student of the moral success of his intellectual failure, but she doesn’t get the point. Still, to say [quoting Jason Stanley] that a university “should seek to promote work that will give that university prestige” either now or in the future sounds so ridiculously anti-modern that I don’t know what anyone has to complain about with either of them.

We separate science and law. We defend the rule of law over the rule of ideas [without thinking!] and then turn around and defend the rule of “truth” and science over the absurdity of “fiction”.
Derrida’s mistake was clumsiness, but what he represented in his clumsy way was a return [in the academy, and years behind the culture at large] to premodern now post-modern acceptance of the primacy of description.

The rule of law is the rule of language not of truth; and narrative is the order of the day, and will be for the forseable future.
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I was first introduced to modern analytical philosophy in the mid 1980’s when a friend who worked at the Journal of Philosophy gave me a subscription. I remember an article on “morality and self-other asymmetry” that relied entirely, and seemingly as a point of ideology, on absract logic unaided by empiricism.
Why is it permissible to sacrifice one’s own life to save others but not to sacrifice another person’s to obtain the same result? The next question might have been: “why is the militry an exception?” but it was never asked. Questions as to anthropology or history were deemed irrelevent. More recently, on this site, I’ve run into discussions of Donald Davidson and references to his ‘On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme’

The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Simon Blackburn writes this about Donald Davidson:
“Davidson is also known for rejection of the idea of a conceptual scheme, thought of as something peculiar to one language or one way of looking at the world, arguing that where the possibility of translation stops so does the coherence of the idea that there is something to translate.”

So if it is impossible to translate the finer points in Mallarmé, then no finer points exist.

There is a form of intellectual life that is indebted to people and to forms that are not strictly speaking intellectual, even more than it is those that are. Mozart was not a philosopher, and he is more important than most of those who were.
I prefer craftsmen to philosophs as I prefer lawyers to philosophers of law (and defense attorneys to prosecutors). But if the main question of philosophy remains the relation of action to reflection, I’ll still think it my right to demand of those who call themselves intellectuals that they have an understanding of the importance of craft, action and performance to their ‘intellectual’ preoccupations.
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Just to wind this up on my end…
john halasz,
My argument is not with analytic or continental philosophy but philosophy itself. The continentals, unlike the analytics, refer to literature as a model but they undermine it by rationalizing it, dealing in a conceptualization of thought that in this country has been used to academicize the arts in ways that I think are absurd.
The question is still: how does one act ‘within’ or through a philosphy? What is the relation of action to reflection?
Academic philosphy is defined by the culture of academe, and exists inside it; but what is the relation of a lawyer in a courtroom, to law, and to society? That relation is not the same as that of a speaker to a language, but a lawyer acts within law in a similar way. A lawyer acts, must act, within a system only as a part; he/she is required not to be fully conscious. But the system itself is considered philosophically valid. Again: the rule of law is not the rule of science. but I’ve gone through this before.

I defend the arts (my chosen field) as a function of culture that similarly is philosphically valid, in that each form is simultaneously a questioning and a documentation of itself and its surroundings, both formal and reflective. Continental philosophy values the arts for this even as it undermines them [artists and critics etc.] Analytic philosophy in it’s latent or not so latent positivism, thinks this is all bunk or otherwise hides from it, and therefore from the most important questions of philosophy.
I hate academic rationalists. I only defend theory to the acolytes of analytic philosphy because at the core of either is the same scholastic formalism. Like I said: the usual. Intellectual ghetto motherfuckers.

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