Thursday, August 29, 2002

I created a small altercation on MetaFilter. I felt that I was defending a relatively uncontroversial conception of Eastern and Western post-Kantian ontology against a righteously naive, narrow conception of science. One that is unfortunately widespread.

Monday, August 19, 2002

Good interview with probably my favorite director.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Life always retains the ability to astound me. Especially when I think I have things figured out.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

I linked to Fukuyama on MeFi and it started a bit of a tussle (which I did not participate in).

Monday, August 12, 2002

Friday, August 09, 2002

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Savor this moment; there will not be another like it.
The latest idea for the WTC memorial is neat, if impractical.
I hate to think of what would have happened if these Jews had been Muslims.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

A movie called "Derrida" will be playing in Chicago on 8 November. I'll be there!
DERRIDA is a complex personal and theoretical portrait of the internationally renowned French philosopher, Jacques Derrida. Best known for generating a movement known as "deconstruction", Derrida's radical rethinking of the founding precepts of Western metaphysics has profoundly influenced the fields of literature, philosophy, ethics, architecture and law, inalterably transforming the intellectual landscape of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Produced with Derrida's full cooperation and consent, the film is the most ambitious cinematic project ever undertaken with a world-class philosopher. Initiated by Amy Ziering Kofman, who studied with Derrida at Yale in the 80's, and co-directed by Kirby Dick and Ziering Kofman, DERRIDA is neither a conventional film biography nor a primer on his thinking. Rather, in the spirit of Derrida's own writing, the film investigates the concept of biography itself and explores the nature and limitations of the cinematic form in addressing philosophical thought.

Through the interlacing of rare verite footage of Derrida in his private life with his reflections on deconstruction, violence, the structure of love, the history of philosophy, and the death of his mother, the film raises questions about the relations between the public and the private, the personal and the theoretical, the biographical and the philosophical, becoming a rich and moving meditation on both Derrida himself and the themes that haunt and inspire his work.

Directed by Kirby Dick ("Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan Supermasochist", "Chain Camera") and Amy Ziering Kofman (Producer, "Taylor's Campaign"), with an original score by Oscar winning composer, Ryuichi Sakamoto ("The Last Emperor", "Taboo," "Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence").

Monday, August 05, 2002

"The highest at which human beings can arrive is astonishment ." ~J.W. von Goethe
Typical childish mendaciousness that passes for "conservativism": Law professor Glenn Reynolds reads the Drudge Report. He fixates on a story about Ted Turner putting up "No Trespassing" signs, but misses the 72-point headline about the fact that the Bush Administration completely dropped the ball on Al Qaeda. Who needs a department of misinformation when you have a whole civilian army of misinformers on the internet? I find it extremely revealing of Prof. Reynolds' mentality, and of the that of the right, that when he learns of an expose that shows the superiority of the Clinton administration in national security, he chooses to bitch about Ted Turner. Keep focusing on the irrelevant, Glenn, keep their eyes off the ball...

Saturday, August 03, 2002

...genuine spirituality is "bodymind dropped" --- that is, you cease identifying exclusively with both the feelings of the body and the thoughts of the mind, and this you cannot do if you merely "stay in the body".
--Ken Wilber, One Taste, August 12 entry.
"Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It woks the same in any country."
--Goering at the Nuremberg Trials

bumpersticker idea: "Dissent is patriotic".

Thursday, August 01, 2002

This is stunning and disturbing and I'd like somebody to get to the bottom of it.
Someone emailed me and asked my opinion on "how is Hegel's philosophy useful in a modern context?"

Hegel has been very useful to me in creating my own vision, but there are many (philosophers even) who do not find Hegel useful at all.

There are some superficial ways in which Hegel contributed to the contemporary vision, and some more profound ways. Walter Kaufmann listed some of the superficial ways in his book Goethe Kant and Hegel. One example is that he taught us to look at a proposition, or an argument, or an artwork in the context of its origin, its end, and its purpose, rather than to look at it as a timeless, decontextualized entity.

But in a more profound (and "fuzzy-minded") way, one can see all of existence as emerging, as developing, as evolving. Both the individual, and the group, and the world evolves. And this evolution is not the intellectually or existentially trivial type that is described by most scientistic Darwinists. Rather than the nihilistic survival of the most boring that Gould portrayed evolution as, for example, existence simply tends to evolve or develop. And this develoment does not stop with contemporary man. We have farther to go.

Further, mind is developing, and minds develop at diferent rates. The differences between minds is often what produces conflict. Therefore, one can see conflict (whether violent, intellectual, cultural, etc.) as differences between people who are acting equally appropriately and ethically, but from different frames of reference, different perspectives, different stages of development. Rather than the Christian/Medieval outlook of the world as conflict between Good and Evil, Hegel saw conflict as understandable differences of values. Conflict between different stages along the same path.

Further, unlike scientistic or moralistic views of existence, Hegel's Idealism allows for the legitimacy of these opposing conceptions--egoism, moralism, scientism, relativism. They are earlier stages (ancient, medieval, renaissance, Enlightenment), and thus appropriate to that stage of development. Therefore, to the moralist, the Hegelian is wrong, but to the Hegelian, the moralist is acting appropriately.

To Hegel, every stage of development was absolutely necessary. Seedling, plant, fruit, seed. Similarly, no aspect of life is worthless. No perspective is irrelevant. Quite a different perspective than the typically dualistic moral conception.

Even further, I believe that Hegel was somehow influenced by Eastern religion. Hegel posited Geist as the ultimate reality, the single mind of which our separate minds, our seperate selves, are mere individuated parts. And it is Geist that is developing through the development of each of our individual selves. As we pass into self-consciousness, it is Geist that is becoming self-conscious.

I think that Hegel saw the world, and the individual, as ontologically developmental. As becoming, rather than being. This is not easy to grasp, and Hegel's writing style obscures. (That's why I tend to recommend Goethe instead. Not that he's easy to grasp, but at least he's clear.)

But I believe that you have to be at a certain cognitive level before you can want to see all aspects of the world as necessary, right, ethical, and correct. That's why many (most?) professional philosophers are quite happy being totally ignorant of Hegel's vision. The moralistic and scientistic views of the world are incapable of grasping a holistic view.

In short, Hegel's vision is in my opinion so beautiful, so superior to the relativistic or materialistic or the moralistic visions, that it's truth value is almost secondary in importance.