Friday, February 15, 2008
I was seated next to my wife on campus. I was reading an article of Clinton criticizing the ambiguity of Obama's speeches. It was noteworthy since the speech happened somewhere in Youngstown, OH (the exact area around Ohio where we are from originally). Clinton's message was simple: Hope doesn't put food on the dinner table, nor pay your stack of bills. My wife snickered and said something to the effect that hope is a more powerful message. She said that hope would make people do something for themselves rather than awaiting the government to do something one should do for oneself. I thought to myself there may be something to her intuition about hope that is phenomenologically descriptive. So, the question concerning me here what would a phenomenological description of hope look like?
Hope phenomenologically reveals itself as a hope of one's own--that is, there's something about hope that makes someone pursue it. Political hopes are practical in this regard. Moreover, it's tied to someone's authenticity, even when people are mostly in the mode of inauthentic herd mentality. Someone has decided to have a resolute determination for themselves, and at this point, the object of hope molds its believer. Like a traveler hitchhiking, hope stands off at the distant horizon as a pristine example of the socio-political world as a "could-be." Our actions become absorbed in the experience of the political as a "could-be." We pursue what is most likely resembling the could-be.
Promisemaking is a will-be. The politician promises the world will resemble their own vision as it is promised as. If you vote for me, the promisemaking act guarantees the state of affairs will be thus, yet, promisemaking is deficient with respect to the contingency of human action. Hope is couched in terms of generality where a theme is just a could-be, and to be truly hopeful, one has to hope that contingency of action works in the favor of what might not come to pass. As such, could-be is a more honest and prudent approach since it acknowledges the vision of the future as better, but doesn't specific too much on the content as will-be promises. Hence, will-be is a passing attempt of someone to tell you how they will rule. Promises qua will-be is a telling what "others want to hear" whereas hope invites others into its being since so many can hope that the world "could be" this way.
If you would like to respond to this post, then I have two questions plaguing my mind:
Do you think there is another phenomenological description of hope that better suits the how hope appears in our lived experience or not?
What type of social ontology is supported by hope?
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Now, phenomenology doesn't achieve causal accounts. Instead, phenomenology identifies the fundamental relation of being-in-the-world and attempts to retrieve that understandng for us. I'm wondering whether the fundamental attempt to retrieve essences of the world is in a way causal. How far do you push the thesis that phenomenology identifies constitutive a priori facts that play no causal role because when describing the world?
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
For instance, I have noted a dearth of Continental phenomenology amongst those appealing to moral phenomenology in Anglo-American ethics. Essentially, the definition of phenomenology offered is something more in line with a Nagel-ian what-is-it-like-to-be-X. As such, there is no broad knowledge of a consciousness as taking on an object in the Husserlian sense. Instead, phenomenology is only the "seems" part of the seems/is distinction often found in philosophy of mind. As such, I've proposed to take a look at questions of Anglo-American ethics. I want to see what undergirds these traditional problems -- such as a conception of practical reason or the incommensurability of values. I argue that the phenomenological reduction whence employed in looking at such problems can better guide our ethical theorizing.
In recent years, I know that the debate on how to take Heidegger has been raging in regards to whether or not Heidegger's phenomenology amounts to a form of transcendence or is it better understood as an existential phenomenology. But again, these are areas of scholarship that are currently beyond me right now.
So what are the current areas of continental philosophy that are intriguing to many?
Monday, February 11, 2008
Zahavi's Phenomenology Piece for Routledge originally linked off of Online Philosophy Papers blog.
Badiou represents an important point in contemporary Continental thought. He employs set theory, historical analysis of traditional Continental thinkers, including Rousseau, Marx, Heidegger, and Deleuze, and his own theoretical meditations in order to think through some of the foundational concepts of multiplicity, “the one” or “counting as one,” the world, subjectivity, and the event. He believes that philosophy is possible only when it is de-sutured from the events of mathematics, poetry, politics, and love. We welcome papers around these various aspects of Badiou’s work. Also, we welcome papers attempting to answer some of the following questions: What is the significance of Badiou’s work for the Continental/analytic divide in contemporary philosophy? What is the relation between subjects and events, and is Badiou’s account sufficient? Are there worlds that can resist Badiou’s logic or counting? Can one think of events on micro and macro levels? These questions are meant to stimulate ideas, but they are by no means comprehensive. All papers focused on Badiou’s work are welcome.
CALL FOR PAPERS / APPEL DE COMMUNICATION
Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy Call for Papers ~ Appel d’articles
Alain Badiou: Being, Events, and Philosophy
Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy will dedicate an upcoming issue to the emerging thought of the French philosopher Alain Badiou. With the publication of Being and the Event and Logiques des mondes (Logics of Worlds: Being and Event II), Badiou represents an important point in contemporary Continental thought. He employs set theory, historical analysis of traditional Continental thinkers, including Rousseau, Marx, Heidegger, and Deleuze, and his own theoretical meditations in order to think through some of the foundational concepts of multiplicity, “the one” or “counting as one,” the world, subjectivity, and the event. He believes that philosophy is possible only when it is de-sutured from the events of mathematics, poetry, politics, and love. We welcome papers around these various aspects of Badiou’s work. Also, we welcome papers attempting to answer some of the following questions: What is the significance of Badiou’s work for the Continental/analytic divide in contemporary philosophy? What is the relation between subjects and events, and is Badiou’s account sufficient? Are there worlds that can resist Badiou’s logic or counting? Can one think of events on micro and macro levels? These questions are meant to stimulate ideas, but they are by no means comprehensive. All papers focused on Badiou’s work are welcome.
Papers may be submitted in both French and English and should be between 5000 and 6000 words. Please double-space all submissions. The issue will be published as the Fall 2008 issue. Please submit two hard copies or an electronic copy of your paper by March 30, 2008 to the address below. Notifications of acceptance will be sent after the deadline.
Antonio Calcagno, Guest Editor, Symposium
Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, King’s College in the University of Western Ontario
266 Epworth Avenue, London, ON N6A 2M3, CANADA
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Lehrer's article with the LA Times
It is a conceptual feature of practical reasons given for justifying actions that to talk morally about situations is to abstract them in part from their situational content and to subsume them into general acts or rules of morality. This practice, though necessary for doing moral philosophy, undermines and alienates how each would feel towards the other. The wife may want her husband to act in the exemplary manner he does because he loves her. That should be "reason enough." From what the husband said, he has given the practical reasons why he is steadfast, loyal and sensitive to his wife neesds, yet it is insensitive, alienating the wife from her husband.
What is going on here? The moral point of view talks about agents and their reasons for acting as justifications for why they act. Is this moral point of view appeal to the intuition that morality is undermining, and alienates the wife from her husband. Is there a solution?
I think there is a solution. I want to claim that practical reasoning involves representational understanding, that is, the ability to represent the viewpoint of another. It is a conscious act of understanding to situate yourself in "someone else's shoes", and for that reason whenever someone claims a practical reason, a feature of that practical reasoning is its origin in terms of representing the viewpoint of others. This is, what I call, the subsumption of representation view in which particular people, the situation of being in a relationship with a husband and wife, and particular factual and situational understanding, are subsumed under a general principle. I borrow this from Kant's idea of a reflective judgment where the particular situation before us has its origin in a greater representation than the final judgment displays.
When the husband gives his justification for why it is that he is sensitive, a basic deontological answer of duty, the conceptual landscape that enables him to form that belief is enriched with the active attempt of representation and subsumption necessary for moral reasoning. I have yet to "flesh" this out into a coherent framework for what a practical reason is.
I am firmly a cognitivist (maybe enjoining to the label of internalism is in order as well), believing that the reason for not doing X is a motivation for not doing X. However, the ability to get to that determination involves the enriched landscape of emotions, sensitivity and representation characteristic of what it is to be moral. Being moral, I argue, is nothing more than having a greater ability of the imagination to represent the viewpoint of another.
In my heart of hearts, I feel he can do it. On Super Tuesday, Feb 5th, he carried a majority of the states. Today, he carried all 3 primaries: Nebraska, Louisania, Washington State and the Virgin Islands. What his victories tell me is he can reach and grab the attention of Republican dominated rural states. I feel this comes from his message of union and hope. His politics may be less liberal than I would hope, but if he can heal the great divide of liberal/conservative, Democrat/Republican, then there is a chance I can feel pride in my home once again.
Now, I often am obsessed with phenomenology, but it should be said that I am somewhat more of an ethicist right now. Perhaps, if I do get into a PhD program andmy research interests change, this will change. However, the research strength of my university is in its tremendous experts in ethics, meta-ethics and moral psychology. As such, I am at my best when doing ethics, and so it is not a far stretch of the imagination to hear an ethicist speculating about a better hope for America. Ethicists are a worrisome bunch about "what ought to be the case"
Canadians often refer to being the neighbor of America as "having an elephant as a neighbor." Most of my colleagues are liberal academics like myself, and BC is a pretty liberal place. Given this, my anecdotes of note are suggestive of a small representation of Canadian opinions concerning the United States. I find it funny that given these conditions and how liberal Hillary Clinton is believed to be over Barack Obama that the majority of Canadian colleagues I have talked to want Obama over Hillary. There is something untrustworthy about a politician who is so scripted! This criticism has come up more than once.
Jean Baudrillard has said that traditional categories of political space have imploded into other social categories. This idea of implosion in relation to politics has seen a collapse of entertainment and politics. In fact, they are pretty much the same thing anymore. We are supposedly entertained by the drama of a campaign trail, and part of this entertainiment is the scripted responses we get from our candidates. You could say we almost expect the answers they give before they give them like Hamlet pondering "whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them." Like the return of a festival, as Gadamer would describe it, we expect the same routine, the same performative utterances to be played out before us. Obama has defied such performative expectation.
When Obama started gaining my attention, it was from the 200,000 college kids that added themselves to the Facebook group wanting him for President. At several speeches and debates, Obama has been lively and engaging. Often, you can see him no longer looking at the teleprompter. He is spontaneous with words pouring from his heart, or so I believe. As a philosopher, I can acknowledge the force and conviction I have for his sincerity. I can always be proven wrong, and therefore must revise my beliefs. However, I have no evidence to suggest otherwise, and from everything I have heard I will consider myself justified prima facie in believing that Obama is a man who cares far above the anticipated scripted narrative of Hillary Clinton's persona.
Besides, apparently Obama was moved by Nietzsche, Sartre and a few other philosophers as reported by the New York Times
NYT Article on Obama
Friday, February 8, 2008
For the first time ever, I am making my base assumptions of how to proceed in Continental Philosophy (CP herein, CP-ers for “Continental Philosophers”). Here's how I think to navigate the Divide and renew interest in CP. This is basically a rant internalizing the healthy criticism I have received from many Analytics.
For me, philosophy comes down to arguments and an analytic attitude to know when someone is feeding you sophistry or genuine arguments. Essentially, what this means is that one can view CP in this way and defy all pigeon-holing from those that think CP is nonsensical. This amounts to rethinking CP canon with such authors as like Blanchot and Derrida. One doesn't dismiss them from not making sense. Instead, I recommend that CP-ers learn to write and do philosophy analytically. Unknown to many analytic philosophers, there is a history of dialectic argumentations in CP-ers that is never fully illuminated by how they are often approached by CP-ers ourselves.
The approach CP-ers take when writing on these CP thinkers often fail to push forward an argument clearly available for analysis. As CP-ers, this may make our case harder to make, but there are others doing good work in CP that are overlooked. For instance, Follesdal's JPHIL 1966 article on Husserl's Notion of Noema is a classic piece in Husserl scholarship, appears in J PHIL and meets all the expectations of good philosophical writing. In fact, I argue this piece should be emulated as a way of doing CP. The success of CP turns on CP-ers having the ability to explain CP in terms of arguments. For instance, a good CP-er and scholar of Levinas should be able to put Levinas' thought into the context of a dialectic. If one is a defender of his, then one will have to argue why ethics is a first philosophy and that my encounter with the other is transcendent. The better one can achieve mastery over what arguments are made in CP, the better CP will be in the future.
Finally, the fact that CP-ers want to talk to Analytics but can't do it effectively is another piss poor sign that something has gone seriously wrong. This is what I bring to the table other than being an Ethicist. Being schooled in the Analytic tradition allows me to know where other people are coming from, see arguments and work within a framework as the rest of the profession. I assume this is the best way to work, and my work on Heidegger and Husserl has benefited tremendously from these base assertions.
The insistence of argumentation is pushing those interested in CP to do actual philosophy. Such assertions are consistent overall with the pedagogical assumptions in teaching critical thinking, and the ideals we strive to emulate for in writing in our courses in every philosophy department worldwide. I would never TA a course in which the instructor attempted to emulate Derrida-like reasoning in its approach to writing. Yet, I would be very interested to TA a course in which Derrida's points were presented as arguments even though this last point of presenting his ideas would have him turning in his grave.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
My question is simple: How can the editorial board read philosophy in a different language if most of them may have submitted their foreign language requirement for logic?