Monday, April 30, 2007
I appreciate your hateful, egomaniacal, acid-spewing, demonic, psychopathological, and genocidal offering!
Robert W. Godwin Sunday, April 29, 2007
High theory seldom leads to any genuine action, and is often remote from the living struggles of its day
It seems to me that various types of activist movements, identitarian or not, and also religious movements tend to marginalize or exclude their more “intellectual” members. Hence when we get the impatient question, “But how does this play to the people on the streets/in the pews?,” it may represent a certain defensiveness among people who are seeking to be intellectuals who are faithful to the movements with which they identify. In rhetorically identifying with the “common person” — which the speaker, who is in this case enrolled in an advanced degree program, simply no longer is, whether they want to admit it or not — the speaker can make a double assertion:
1. The common people are right to be suspicious of some intellectual work, which really is useless at best or counterproductive at worst.
This identification and distancing, then, can be a means of expiating a certain type of guilt for enjoying “useless” intellectual pursuits for their own sake. It is difficult for me to imagine that anyone would enter a PhD program without enjoying intellectual work for its own sake, even if the primary goal is, for instance, to document a neglected aspect of one’s cultural heritage or history, or to develop specific programs to help people, etc., etc. Even if one really is a “movement intellectual” in sincere solidarity with an activist or religious group, one is still an intellectual, which is always going to include at least some minimal slippage between one’s intellectual pursuits and the immediate needs (strategic of propagandistic) of the movement. One may take theological stances that one’s church body takes as disruptive of the training of ministers, or one may ask questions about sexuality that are experienced as attacking the unity of one’s identitarian movement — in any case, one’s identification is not complete. Even if that must necessarily be true for every member of a movement, it is much more of a “public” issue for the intellectual, whose role makes it much less easy to hide misgivings than is the case for a “private individual” in the rank and file.
Every remark subsequent to my original one either insulted, attacked, or sought to shut down any discussion
Talking to you is a waste of time. Anthony is free to unblock you if he wants, but I’ll delete anything you write on my posts. Adam Kotsko said this on April 29th, 2007 at 6:33 pm
In that post I was criticizing a strain of Christianity that is supportive of rampant militarism, tribalism, and very often outrightly hostile to other ethnic groups and different sexual orientations. Anthony, Adam, neither of you advocate any of this do you? At least, I haven’t seen you write anything that would lead me to think you do. Yet in the discussion that ensued I was told that these groups are a fringe minority that doesn’t really exist or have any power and that I’m painting all religion with the brush of these types of groups. Given the article the post links to, why would you assume that I think all Christianity is this way? For the most part I have no beef with other Christian groups. I’m glad to have them as my neighbors and friends. It is these groups that worry and terrify me. How many times can I say that? How many times must I repeat it? When I suggest, Adam, that you’re an enabler, it’s not because I believe you endorse these things, but because you get so worked up whenever I talk about them as if you think I shouldn’t talk about them at all. Stop doing that and I think we’d have very little to disagree about at all. I’m not even sure we’d have much to talk about. I have no problem with you pursuing your theology, even if I don’t share those ontological and metaphysical positions. I’m perpetually baffled by the way in which the two of you respond when rightwing Christian groups are criticized. It’s as if you are looking to be insulted or attacked. Chances are I’m not going to agree with your metaphysics, but the fact that you have a different metaphysics doesn’t entail that I somehow despise you or wish to destroy you. That’s par for the course in philosophy. I really don’t understand why you seem to feel the need to defend anything at all in response to these issues. You and those you love are not the target. larvalsubjects said this on April 29th, 2007 at 6:51 pm
I’m much more concerned with Wolfowitz, with Cheney, with Rumsfeld, with Yoo — none of whom identify with the religious right that I know of. It’s not as though Bush/Cheney decided to implement torture because they thought that was the best way to live out their faith or something. All of these policies, with the exception of the occasional token gesture toward “social issues,” are fully grounded in secular reasoning. The Project for a New American Century is not a religious group.
Yes, the religious right came up with religious reasons to support this stuff later on, but that’s just a matter of being loyal to the Republican Party. Figuring out ways to maintain that loyalty is important to the (now apparently failed) attempt to maintain Republican hegemony, but apparently the religious right does not ask for a lot of concrete payoff in exchange for their fanatical devotion to the Republican party. And so instead of pretending that the religious right is somehow the center or the origin of the major problems in American foreign and domestic policy, I figured that maybe it would be a good idea to ground our analysis in reality and realize that (a) the religious right is stupid and/or insane and (b) apparently hasn’t noticed that they almost never get what they want.
The real goal of Republican policies is to satisfy a certain portion of the capitalist class. That’s the root of the problem, not the religious right. This is not to say that the religious right doesn’t believe and promote terrible things — they do. Certainly it’s not to suggest that they don’t exist. It’s just my attempt to address the actual facts, and this hysteria over the religious right — which you have maintained even as the Republican Party seems to be totally collapsing in on itself — strikes me as misguided and disproportionate. Adam Kotsko said this on April 29th, 2007 at 7:14 pm
Dude, this is blog land. I find the proposition that APS and Adam are attempting to stop open exchange on any subject, they are not of the religious right and again these are the blogs. You come across like they are oppressing you, preventing your freedoms.
Lets make it clear what has occured here. In an obscure corner of the internet academic A has temporarily suspended academic B from his - wait for it - blog. A is still talking and discussing stuff with him and everything and has explained his reasons quite cogently. But what is important here is that in an obscure corner of the internet academic A has temporarily suspended academic B from his blog. Its a blog-fight. Nothing more. No one has shut down anyones open exchange. If you want to fight the battle against those who really shut down open exchange, then sort China out. Alex said this on April 29th, 2007 at 8:49 pm
You see thats what makes me mad. I know Anthony pretty well in real life, and Adam fairly well through his blogs and via Anthony. The idea that even when angry about intellectual issues they will flip out and do something crazy. They will go nuts or something. The idea that they would say anything regarding deletion is absurd and you know it. Regarding the whole Rich thing, I said my piece at Scott’s blog.
Its in these debates that I seem to always pop up and like a stupid Fark.com poster remind everyone that it is just the internet. Well it is, but because we are all academics we all take it (often) far too seriously. When someone on Fark.com has a 2000 page discussion on religion no one is going to say anyone is policing the discourse or shutting down open debate. This all the more adds to my thesis that real academic debate rarely happens on the internet, and hardly ever happens on comment threads, no matter how high brow the blog is. Alex said this on April 29th, 2007 at 8:56 pm
Dude, you need to actually be under a fundamentalist as Adam has and I have experienced to understand what preventing open discussion really is. And I can tell you, it certainly is nothing like someone banning you from a blog or saying something snarky. Alex said this on April 29th, 2007 at 8:59 pm
The real goal of Republican policies is to satisfy a certain portion of the capitalist class. That’s the root of the problem, not the religious right. This is not to say that the religious right doesn’t believe and promote terrible things — they do. Certainly it’s not to suggest that they don’t exist. It’s just my attempt to address the actual facts, and this hysteria over the religious right — which you have maintained even as the Republican Party seems to be totally collapsing in on itself — strikes me as misguided and disproportionate.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
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Proposition 15 is a revolution in Western thought concerning the nature of pleasure and desire. Throughout the philosophical tradition there has been a marked tendency to distinguish natural and unnatural forms of pleasure. Take, for example, this representative passage from Epicurus’ Letter to Menoeceus:
- why do we begin approaching the world in an “objectified” fashion in the 17th century, seeing things as objects of quantification and dispassionate scientific investigation?
- What accounts for this sudden shift in how things are perceived?
Here questions of individuation emerge that are necessarily bound up with questions of changes in production that took place with respect to the emergence of capitalism. The historical explanation, however, is not sufficient as we must presuppose a certain malleability of the body to determine how it is possible for perception to be transformed in this way, shifting from what Heidegger called the “ready-to-hand” of the Feudal world, to the “present-at-hand” of products under capitalistic production. In particular, we would have to focus on what Marx describes as “alienation” from the object of production in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, as a non-phenomenological condition for the possibility of the phenomenology of the scientific gaze or attitude. This separation from the object produced serves as a historical a priori condition of the scientific gaze by rendering us indifferent to the use-value of the object for us qua producer.
One need only think of the difference between our phenomenological attitude towards food that we produce in a restauraunt for customers (for those who have been “fortunate” to work in food service), compared to our attitude towards food we produce for ourselves. In the former case the food becomes an “inert” think, such that our interest in it is subtracted. The object comes to be experienced as “present-at-hand”, just as a doctor or nurse sees a human body as a machine, rather than another person with whom they share interpersonal bonds. This “indifference” towards the object was also reflected in an indifference to subjects, where heirarchical social identities began to disappear and we came to conceive ourselves as individuals pursuing self-interest. Perhaps more on that another time, I’m off to dinner at the anthropologists house. ~ by larvalsubjects on April 28, 2007. One Response to “Spinoza Today”