|Anti-philosophy, Self-Contradiction, and Gossip
||[May. 27th, 2007|02:10 pm]
♠Anti Philosophy♠ - Against Philosophy
|||||Perfidia - Glen Miller||]|
At anti_philosophy yofaceizscrumpy comments on the whole idea of the anti-philosophical project:
2006-10-15 08:57 pm
Sorry for interrupting you this evening, but it seems like your community is a walking contradiction.
As any sophistica can see from dictionary.com, "the rational investigation of the truths and principles of being, knowledge, or conduct" is the definition of philosophy. To be anti-philosophy is a totality that claims truth.
I kindly request that you disband your entire community this instant.
Anti-philosophy is simply an attitude or approach of skepticism to the possibility of most or all philosophical projects as philosophers themselves define their projects.
There is a simple reason to take an attitude of "anti-philosophy." All great philosophers, from the very beginning of the conversation that we call "philosophy", have been in some sense anti-philosophers, rejecting the very idea that any kind of philosophy is possible or that all previous "philosophy" was philosophy at all. Whether Plato or Rousseau or Nietzsche or Wittgenstein, or even such an infamia as Heidegger, (and many more) the first original steps in their philosophical work was to question whether philosophy, or at least systematic knowledge as assumed by philosophy, is possible at all. Is it possible to "know" (or describe or find a method to produce) the structure of "reality," the conditions of knowledge, the foundation of "being" or "thought," or the grand historical movements of "spirit" or the inherent logics of "Mind", in the way that philosophers claim, or are the very claims a form of self-deception?
Further, any advance in "knowledge" (science, theoretical thinking, mathematics) has represented both a break from philosophical rumination and a crisis of philosophy. Every scientific advance has represented a reconception of philosophy because previous philosophy is found to be limited and unfounded... And yet rarely do the professional advocates of the philosophical project look at itself with humility. The whole dung-shifting machine just rolls along as if all previous speculation had not been thrown onto the heap. All philosophy, like all religion, becomes an illustration of shifting into the "holes" left by science and literature, a "God" of the gaps approach... where there is no "science" it is there philosophy shall fill in the gaps. And finally any "advance" in "experiential understanding" has been pre-philosophical and has largely involved the kind of experience we get from the visual arts, poetry, drama, novels, etc. In fact, basically, what we call philosophy has nothing to do with wisdom or knowledge... Philosophical practice is basically a parasite on the arts, out of which the discipline of philosophy grew, during the historical period when arts separated from religious ritual... And philosophical practice is also parasitic on science, from which philosophy reacts by constantly redacting itself and reforming itself as commentary on scientific practice.
To the extent that you can say that an "attitude" or "approach" is philosophical, only to that extent can you say that "anti-philosophy" is a philosophy, and thus represents a contradiction, or perhaps a systematic paradox. But this in-itself represents the kind of imperialism of knowledge that philosophy has been accused of by every great philosopher who started his/her philosophical career as an anti-philosopher. Philosophy seeks to dominate all forms of knowledge, seeks to be a term that is everywhere and nowhere. In this way it is a lot like the word "language" or "ideology". Everything becomes a "language" and thus every aspect of mind or communicative experience is filed under the category of language, thus we get "the language of music" and "the language of architecture", etc., etc. The same occurs with the term ideology.... Among some "thinkers", even some anti-philosophers, all thought becomes an example of ideology and thought-itself is not possible without "ideology". You can parade out as many dictionary definitions of philosophy that you like to prove that an "anti-philosophical" attitude is self-contradictory, but it doesn't negate the fact that the definitions themselves are self-contradictory, assuming that all thought is philosophical and that philosophy is both everything and nothing.
This is the way that many use the term "philosophy". Philosophy is not only some kind of "systematic thought" obtaining to wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of the world, but also something that we "have" implicitly, simply because we think at all. Thus it is impossible to be an anti-philosopher because by definition all systematic thought of any sort is philosophical, and if the thought is not systematic, then the implications of thinking, is itself philosophical. Thus the reasoning goes, "To think 'anti-philosophically' is an example of philosophical thinking." But this is like the Cretan who says all "Cretans are liars", the very fact of making the statement I am "anti-philosophical" is either paradox or contradiction. Well the former rather than the latter. Yet the possibility exists that it is neither. It is simply a double-bind statement created by the systematic gossip of philosophers themselves, those engaged in the intellectual circulation of gossip to the extent that they have imposed a dictionary definition that is totalistic and intellectually imperialistic. But let me suggest that like most double bind situations, this situation was produced by a category mistake or a problem of logical typing. It is possible to be "anti-thinking" in certain situations. If I am a baseball batter, I am not thinking at every moment about how to swing the bat. If my baseball coach tells me that you have to get "beyond thought" and "just swing" wjem you are in the batter's box, I know that he is saying that "conscious" thinking is harmful to my batting average in this situation. But to define his "anti-thinking" statement as also a "thought" and thus self-contradictory is a form of sophistry, the same kind of sophistry that practically all philosophers engage in at one time or another. They, the self-described lovers of wisdom, the philosophers, have propounded their definitions through intellectual gossip, so that you are a philosopher whether you know it or not and no matter what you do or think getting beyond philosophy is impossible.
But lets be real. A "Philosopher" is a professional category in our modern society. Propounding philosophy is what those rarefied "professionals" do. But before "philosophy" was a profession it was a denotation of a systematic orientation to life that was "positioned" outside of organized (western) religion. Philosophers were not so much anti-religious as un-religious. Philosophy had an historical beginning and it has historical limitations. It was born when literature began to separate itself from religion and it began to attenuate when science began to separate itself from both religion and philosophy. Philosophy as an historical practice has always shaded into literature and myth on one side and science and mathematics on the other. Philosophy is not "strictly" bounded or limited by these other experiential practices and ways of producing understanding, but philosophical practitioners have always ignored the fact that they are simply continuers of these other projects. At its best philosophical practice provides abstraction and meta-comment on literature and science. At its worse philosophical practioners pimp off of literature and science while at the same time pretending to dominate both of those practices and proclaiming the originality of their discipline. An anti-philosophical point-of-view is simply a point-of-view that recognizes the historical limitations of philosophy and hopes for the further attenuation of philosophy in the future. But let me emphasize, that It is only the arrogant imperialism of some philosophers that necessitate anti-philosophy. To the extent that any other field -- religion or even physics or biology -- exhibits this sort of arrogant yearning to dominate other fields, then they too should be called to task.
Then what is left of philosophy? Mostly gossip. The true subject of philosophy has always been gossip in one form or another. It is gossip taken to a higher level -- the gossip of complex society commenting on the fact that face-to-face society, where gossip truly matters, is no longer possible. Philosophy is essentially meta-gossip, on the form and function of complex structures of growing human society.
There is no "contradiction" in being an anti-philosophy philosopher: if you believe that philosophy is parasitic meta-gossip, then your function is to reveal how philosophy works as a form of meta-gossip. Yet we assume that this practice of critique of philosophy that I am calling "anti-philosophy", is also a form of meta-gossip. The snake eats its tail.
New York City
27 May 2007
(reedited 28 May 2007)
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