Sunday, June 3, 2007

An integral communicative action

June 2nd, 2007 (posted by Edward Berge)
The above is the title of the book published in 2002 by the State University of New York Press, edited by Catherine Keller and Anne Daniell. It is one of the contributions in the Suny Series in Constructive Postmodern Thought. The purpose of this book is to explore the interstices between the two brands of postmodernism in the title, generally represented by Whitehead and Derrida.
Now some might find such a project untenable, as these seem to be two fundamentally opposed camps. On the one hand the process folks might find deconstruction to be destructive of any and all notions of the good, the true and the beautiful, leaving nothing in its wake. It seems Ken is on this side of the street. On the other hand the deconstruction folks might find that such Whiteheadian notions of “actual entities” to be stuck in a modernist position of stubborn fixity and evil metanarratives. Keller in the Introduction notes some of the similarities of the two projects:
“The profound parallels may still startle those who have the patience to untangle both skeins of arcane vocabulary. Both jubilantly privilege becoming over being, difference over sameness, novelty over conservation, intensity over equilibrium, complexity over simplicity, plurality over unity, relation over substance, flux over stasis. Both repudiate the inherited ‘truth-regimes’ of unifying metanarratives, which objectify reality from the vantage point of a stable, underlying subject. Both deconstruct—or, in Whitehead’s language, ‘criticize the abstraction of’—any essentialized substance of subject. And both accomplish this critique by exposing the Western linguistic structures that fabricate the illusory common sense of what Derrida calls ’self presence’ and what Whitehead calls ‘the subject-predicate form of proposition.’”
Keller also notes that to find some rapprochement between these camps one must not vilify each other. Regarding Griffin’s characterization of deconstruction she says that he never even engaged Derrida, that he “mounted the argument against a ‘deconstruction’ of his own invention.” This sounds a lot like what Ken does with Derrida as well. And from such a perspective there can be no creative hybrid, which is what the volume seeks. I’m guessing it is from this exploration that the next phase of “integral” will grow, not the dogmatic clinging to the postmetanarratives of either. And I will explore this book forthcoming in this thread, as time permits. Posted in Philosophy 5 Comments » show comments » Open Integral
Edward Berge Says: June 2nd, 2007 at 12:29 pm Richard Carlson said a bit about this book in an ARINA dialogue that mentioned it. The book was just introduced at the end of a dialogue which “closed” before we could explore it. Hence I’m extending the conversation here. Richard said:
excerpt: “Toward the end of the second Christian millennium, Western philosophy had unleashed successive and simultaneous waves of resistance to the “self-same”: to the metaphysical premise of “substance,” ousia, as the simple unity of self-identically subsisting subjects and objects. Among anglophone thinkers, Whitehead and his school posed the major alternatie, while the Nietzschean-Heideggerian-French lineage developed a continental antiessentialism. The one fights substance with process, the other with difference. Both have exercised a wide interdiscinplinary appeal largely outside of philosophy proper. And both can claim the title “postmodern” with ancestral legitimacy.”…..
RC: Differance “is” Process by any other name, although the “is” in quotations maybe a bit misleading since these signifiers relate only within an infinite recursivity of signification. Because one also wishes to resists the metaphysical premise of substance becoming reified in either word, as either “process and differance”, can themselves become problematic if we would ally Being in the single word of either.
Although (as with HK) it may have been through the post-conventional experience of a single (first) word which initiated us into the fourth dimensional curvature of language, the problem with signifiers is their tendency toward imperceptible reification: Even the term: Singularity can come to mean nothing other that -as they say-: “ousia, as the simple unity of self-identically subsisting subjects and objects”.
When Aurobindo introduced the term Supermind it was to signify that whatever “IT” was, it could not be signified by mental processes at all. And although his use of that signifier has evolutionary significance similar language views can be found among other traditions, Dzogs-chen, & Hua-yen, and although as Steve Odin has shown there maybe some differences between cumulative penetration and interpenetration in the latter with Whiteheadean process metaphysics, a bridge can certainly be laid down between these eastern and western approaches, as between process and differance as well.
However, for the purpose of trying to find pathways beyond the mechanistic jargon of academic discourse which reduce easily to the couched agendas of ideologies and re-sacramentalize the world post deconstruction, perhaps harmonizing the languaging of differance and process with the creative imaginative praxis of certain esoteric theophonic traditions can help pry open a bit wider the horizon for an integral communicative action to emerge.

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