Tuesday, September 23, 2003

First things first: I have no wish to listen to Dear Leader speak at the UN. Since I'm not working and I'm running out of money, I'd rather waste my time on other subjects. I am curious to see, however, whether Josh Marshall is right or I am (see below.)
I've been trying to figure out why I blew up as I did in my comments at Pedantry yesterday: what the logic was behind my anger? First, in reference to the PDF I linked to below, it really doesn't matter whether we behave the way we do out of indoctrination or out of mechanical, narrow and short sighted self interest, and that is the opposition presented by Joseph Heath. If you want to get into debates over that be my guest(s) but they don't answer, or even ask, the most important question which is this:

Do we act 'on principle' or in making decisions do we merely do so in continuation of a pattern?

Here is the root of my deeply personal and almost bitter response to this discussion, because I think that many of those involved in such debates operate under the tacit assumption that they themselves make decisions in their lives based upon the logical principles they use in their arguments. An overdone rhetoric of impersonality and distance produces a response in me that is almost physical. A network of references does not in itself constitute wisdom. At best it constitutes a sort of virtual wisdom. If you think my comment about our bodies being the root of all experience was out of place, and I was referring not only to physical but intellectual experience, you miss the point. A friend of mine, born and educated in Europe, told me when we had a similar discussion a few months ago that he had never conceived of there being anything but a simple choice between a technocratic philosophy or a metaphysical one. He thought I must be arguing for God! Similarly people involved in these debates cannot seem to get their minds around the notion of an answer to a problem that is merely a process and not a conclusion. It is an open question whether individual or collective action effects change. It is also open as to what degree human action is directed by neurosis (false consciousness) or short sighted instrumental reason. I see no reason to deny a role to any of these influences.

I take a few things as axiomatic.

That the only examples we have of human beings acting solely according to their principles are those that we have created out of our imaginations: Socrates and Christ are the first examples that come to mind.
That we have a 'consciousness' that allows us to imagine solutions not only to problems that have them, but also to those that do not.

That if we can look backwards in time and examine a series of collisions that have occurred on the felt surface of a pool table, or in the history of human interaction, we are still unable to project our ideas far into the future.

That the study of how we perceive the world is of greater moral importance than the study of the world 'alone.'

That until science can predict all future actions, Law -in action, in the act of interpretation, in the world/ in time- is the only example of a worldly philosophy we will ever have, and that analytic philosophy as such, outside of bodies and time, amounts to little more than an academic exercise.

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