Thursday, July 30, 2015

A comment that may or may not make it, at Feminist Philosophers. It's sloppy.
The author responded to me by name without posting my comments. I waste too much time.
“But at least those of us with privilege can shut up and listen to it a little more”. And the people shouting to be heard will be in an adversarial relation to you. I’ll repost here what I tried to post elsewhere. We’ll see if it flies:
This entire debate is confused. Heath touts Habermas to the point of parody. “Thus the best arrangement will be one in which lots of different people study these questions, then challenge one another to robust debate, which will tend to correct the various biases.” It reads like a variant of Anatole France: The law, in its majestic equality, allows both rich and poor to engage in communicative action, or debate the importance of John Rawls.

Debate among the educated elite regarding their own beliefs is not enough. That’s why we have lawyers paid to make arguments they have no stake in beyond the urge to win.

Institutionalized adversarialism is the basis of democracy. And even then we know it skews towards the powerful. That’s why the most powerful adversarialism comes from below; social change comes from below. That’s not even debatable, it’s a fact of history. Change begins with the the janitors and the railway porters not college professors.

The model of the academy is collaborative. Heath is a white liberal and his politics is mediocre, but your background is in formalist philosophy which by definition is anti-politcal. If facts and events will always outflank liberalism’s best intentions, you’re living in Cloudcuckooland, with the fantasy politics of mathematicians and engineers.

And you’re all debating amongst yourselves within the academy. Real Politics as Geuss would call it, is outside.
Schliesser is a defender of philosophy as continuous with science, and a staunch defender of Zionism. He does not hear the shouting of Palestinians. Others do and that has led to change. What does that say about our ability to solve problems by reason? You have to be open to experience and allow yourself to be changed; the whole logic of analytic philosophy denies that. The recent “rediscovery” of experience by philosophers is comic. There’s no way to escape the need for others to argue, even to yell to get people finally to pay attention. A problem is that yelling can be self-perpetuating. Righteous anger can become an ideology. The history of oppression is mostly the history of rulers’ indifference to the suffering of others. Sadism is secondary. But sadism is primary to the experience of the oppressed and that leads to a misunderstanding of their own situation. Zionists see themselves as oppressed; they can’t imagine themselves the oppressors.

Heath asks when the anger of the poor becomes the whining of the careerist middle class. But then he falls back on the righteousness of the more serious middle class, by which he means himself. That doesn’t work. And Wallerstein simply elides the history of the relation of philosophy to theology, to the elite, the church and the crown. His response is also useless.

Philosophy can’t solve these problems, certainly no technically minded first-order curiosity, without self-awareness or irony.  “Irony is the glory of slaves." Czeslaw Milosz. Socrates hated poets.


  1. Anonymous12:27 AM

    How do your own comments escape the 'tu quoque' accusation?

  2. That question played for irony is brilliant. Played straight it shows the limits of formalism.
    I could reply with the same question and round and round we'd go.

    Facts cut the Gordian knot. When I ask someone who defends the goal of a "Jewish State" if he would defend a "German state" modeled on the same lines my interests are practical. Liberal Zionists have been the greatest obstacle to peace. You can't negotiate with someone who doesn't know or won't admit what he stands for.

    Logic is a tool. Self-awareness is a goal.


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