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The Heretic

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Everything posted by The Heretic

  1. The Heretic added a post in a topic Knowledge/Wisdom   

    My apologies, all. I posted in the wrong thread. James, since i cannot edit my post, please pretend that it is a response to your other thread.
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  2. The Heretic added a post in a topic Knowledge/Wisdom   

    That would depend on how you define "dark side" and "wisdom." I am generally wary of crossing ethics with wisdom, or judging the merits of wisdom by some ethical principle. Since it is conventional to suppose wisdom entails both ethics and knowledge, or a healthy marriage between the two, it doesn't make sense to judge wisdom by an ethical principle.

    Yet, certainly, especially when wisdom reveals unpleasant truths about certain state of affairs, such as the outcome of a naive belief in knowledge as a good, then there is a dark side to wisdom.


    The dictionary is a poor source of understanding, for it only supplies definitions which are themselves other words in the same book. However, since the pursuit of knowledge does reveal better ways to self destruct, and given the arational element in man, then knowledge can turn into a dangerous weapon.


    Since I would define knowledge as knowing how to do something, that doesn't tell us what we should do. Therefore, knowledge is neutral, and doesn't contain ethical principles. It is merely information, or scientific knowledge, and science lacks value judgments, at least on the level of knowledge at face value.


    Sure. I know the identity of this woman, and I know that she's married, and I know if i sleep with her, she is cheating, and cheating is considered a bad thing. If you try and use examples, you can always rationalize your way with knowledge, and justify your actions.

    As for wisdom on the other hand, one may experiment with current knowledge for the sake of wisdom in order to learn of the outcome.


    If the "good" is a value judgment, and value judgments are ethical, then knowledge lacks value judgments and cannot be considered as "good" or "bad."
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  3. The Heretic added a post in a topic Replacing philosophy with rhetoric   


    My apologies. I had started on a reply and then life rudely interrupted, and i lost track of it among my other projects.

    This is merely a compare and contrast between two characteristics of language - being founded on either logic or rhetoric - in a historical sense.

    In the medieval era, language was composed of three elements: grammar, logic and rhetoric. Grammar is sort of a prerequisite for language users in the sense that the user is able to compose the words of the language into phrases in an acceptable manner. According to the logic of the language, the language user should also be capable of identifying a combination of words or phrases as absurd or contradictory. After the logic and the grammar of the language has been mastered, the user will know how and when to employ the linguistic expressions effectively: when it is appropriate to describe one
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  4. The Heretic added a post in a topic Replacing philosophy with rhetoric   

    Foucault's comments at the end of that seminal work of neostructuralism, Les Mots et Choses, is a testament to the "death of man" concept..

    (Quote)

    This obviously alludes to the Nietzschean death of God. The classical image of 'man' or the subject defined by the laws of economics, biology, and philology is the product of the episteme of the modern times. 'Man' is dependent upon the concept of an anthropological essence that is no longer tenable, due to the recent developments in the human sciences
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  5. The Heretic added a topic in Explore   

    Replacing philosophy with rhetoric
    The influence of Nietzsche's rebellion against philosophy has extended to Ricoeur, Derrida, n Foucault. These progeny of Fritz address topics related to modern rhetoric. The rebellion has had far-ranging consequences to the degree that rhetoric has displaced philosophy as an architectonic, at least in the realm of humanities. Similar to the ancient sophists and italian renaissance humanists, Nietzsche has reversed the intellectual status of the two....

    In the Order of Things, Foucault claims the study of discourse will replace the intellectual obsession with humanity. If that is the case then Nietzsche's influence will be the watershed of modern times.
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  6. The Heretic added a post in a topic History, What is the truth?   

    That is correct, and I don't think bias or prejudice can be eliminated from historical writings.

    But I would contend that modern historians have learned from the errors of the past (ethnocentrism, etc) and attempted to strive for greater objectivity.


    That would be an impossible assertion to justify so, not at all.



    No, but the point of history is to present a collection of selected evidence of the past in a narrative. Since the narrative is only an educated guess based on limited information, complete with rhetorical ploys, it is not empirical or scientific. Therefore, knowing the "real truth" of the past is impossible.
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  7. The Heretic added a post in a topic Science=Philosophy or vice versa?   


    What would you say is the historical epoch of either discipline, when it started, where, with who, and why that place?
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  8. The Heretic added a post in a topic Why isn't there a standard for Philosophy?   


    Better yet: why should there be a "standard?"
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  9. The Heretic added a post in a topic Derrida's theory of language as writing   



    What is wrong with "book learning"? Why do you think "feelings" and "knowledge" are distinct from "book learning"?

    Don't you experience feelings when you are reading a book? How do you learn anything without a book? Why do i get the feeling your post merely asserted the very thing Derrida has been arguing against - logocentrism?

    I would appreciate a direct response to my summary of Derrida.
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  10. The Heretic added a post in a topic Philosophy, Mencken and Nihilism   

  11. The Heretic added a post in a topic Philosophy, Mencken and Nihilism   

    What's so terrible with boredom?

    Why are we in a hurry to get rid of boredom? Sartre understood 'boredom' as a particular access to existence, an awareness of existence. Reality as existence is exposed nakedly to the consciousness, through the 'pre-reflective awareness.' Since there is no such thing as an abstract access of existence, a person who becomes bored may become quite aware of Being as a brute existence.

    Boredom is the distraction free state that reveals hidden, embarrassing and discomforting truths of existence: insignificance of one's life, the general meaninglessness of existence, since one is inexorably headed towards deterioration & death.

    I think we have an intuition of existence, which it reveals to us as an immediate access to being, and it is through boredom or nausea that we become aware of reality as brute existence. Only when we become bored we become immediately confronted with the meaninglessness of existence. Since such depravity is never desirable, we as human beings are quick to seek anything that appeals to our interests, and rescue ourselves from boredom or nausea. It
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  12. The Heretic added a post in a topic The self   

    Definitely. Here's a lengthy exposition of Sartre's phenomenological enterprise.

    In a nutshell, consciousness is not identical to the self, for the latter is a creation that takes place once consciousness reflects upon itself as being in the world.
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  13. The Heretic added a post in a topic The self   

    Good stuff! Copiae, what is the relationship between your concept of the self and Sartre's?
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  14. The Heretic added a post in a topic Moral Relativism   

    The term relativism is little more than a polemical device charging the person with the intellectual crime of self-contradiction or illogical reasoning. But fear not, there are charitable readings of those thinkers of ill-repute such as this nifty epistemological category: relationalism.

    Posted Elsewhere: W. K. C. Guthrie, the 900 pound name in ancient Greek philosophy, argued that Sophists refused to undertake the Eleatic dilemma (the choice between being and becoming, stability and flux, reality and appearance). The Sophists concluded that they were incompatible concepts and gave up on the idea of a permanent reality behind appearances, settling for an extreme phenomenalism, relativism and subjectivism. Nonetheless, recent scholars like Richard Bett, Paul Woodruff, and others deny that the sophists were ever relativists, that they were diametrically opposed to objectivity. What the sophists actually embraced was a "trivially relativistic doctrine" which is now called relationalism, where certain predicates apply objectively but not absolutely. In other words, the applicability of objectively applied predicates is contingent of certain sort of circumstances. The phrase 'good for' or 'bad for' is a relational notion. What is good for me, is good. What is good for another, is good for that person. All such judgments are relational, but they are also objectively true or false.

    In Plato's Protagoras 334, Protagoras acknowledged relationalism and also made a conciliary concession in Theaetetus that judgments about what is beneficial are objective, that it is an objective relational fact that X is bad for me, but good for somebody else. Nietzsche also held this view, that certain types of moralities are good for certain types of people but bad for others.

    Since relationalism does not undermine objectivity, it is not a strawman relativist doctrine some would have you believe.
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  15. The Heretic added a post in a topic Derrida's theory of language as writing   

    How is the general theory of writing a general theory of materialism? Harland argues that Derrida doesn't just overturn the mind for a material concept of brain, he also goes on to deconstruct the ordinary idea of matter (Positions, p. 82) Materialism in a general sense is not to be confused with the materialism of the scientist who studies the neurones/molecules/electrical charges of brain. The underlying assumption of neurologists who studies positive entities is that the observation of extremely tiny entities decipher secrets and will explain everything.

    It is true that the term 'matter' is scarce in Derrida's writings, due to its history of logocentric values (reality, presence in general, sensible presence) (see Positions p. 64) but it seems Derrida is comfortable with the definition of matter without any referent to an extra-linguistic reality. Harland insists the understanding of signifiers is essential to both the general and the special theory. Signifiers do not exist in the ordinary sense as something that first exist and then point away to something else. Rather, signifers signify before they are anything & point away before they are themselves. Derrida insists "the trace must be thought before the entity" (Of Grammatology p. 47) for the "property of the representamen is to be itself and another... To be separated from itself." (Gramma, p. 49-50) This ambiguous and exceedingly paradoxical state is what D terms 'radical alterity,' and he is ready to confess that "if the extent to which matter in this general economy designates radical alterity then what I write can be considered materialist." (P p. 64)

    Derrida isn't particularly interested in the entities of the brain, but in the configuration between entities. Following Freud, Derrida doesn't consider the psychical structure to be localized in the elements of the nervous system, but between them (see Writing & Difference, p. 215). "Trace, as memory, is not pure breaching that might be reappropriated at any time as simple presence. It is rather the ungraspable & indivisible difference between breaches." What is delayed cannot be restored, & what is advanced is never recalled, for it is "an expenditure without reserve... an irreversible wearing down." (Speech, p. 150) there is no return to an origin, no Garden of Eden but a perpetual dispersal of remakes
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  16. The Heretic added a post in a topic Derrida's theory of language as writing   

    Towards a new materialism

    To be a superstructuralist, according to Richard Harland, one must subscribe to the conception of the human world being constituted by language. Expanding from the special theory of language as writing Derrida conceives both language and the world in the terms of Writing instead of
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  17. The Heretic added a post in a topic Derrida's theory of language as writing   

    The characterization of language as dissemination is a radical one, but it is actually a logical and a feasible conclusion from the pioneering work of the early linguists, particularly those of Saussure, Benveniste and Jakobson. These linguists took words to be stable units of meaning because they refer to one another within a consistent system of language, one that is both simultaneous and total in a static equilibrium. But difficulties emerged from this conception of
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  18. The Heretic added a topic in Explore   

    Derrida's theory of language as writing
    In a nutshell, Derrida's special theory of writing is his early work on Husserl's phenomenological theory of language in the Speech and Phenomena. Husserl has had been in search of a 'true level of language' for subjective philosophy. True language, for Husserl, is expression - where expression is intentional meaning, or intended by an utterer. Expression takes place when some individual is actively thinking the expression at that very moment of utterance. Derrida explains, "expression ... is meant, conscious though and through, and intentional." (Speech, p.33) Meaning is not just what words mean, but what someone means them to mean. According to common sense, we assume the physical signifier to be inhabited and stimulated by the content of a signified, but Husserl goes further and insists that the signified must be inhabited and stimulated by an act of consciousness. Henceforth, Husserl's theory of language privileges the role of the Voice.

    When you are talking to someone in person you are standing in front of the other person. Both of you can visualize and pinpoint the act of stimulating consciousness during your conversation. In real life speech, the meaning seems to float beneath the words, and is under their control. This apparent notion becomes more obvious when the speaker asserts his authority over the meaning within his words: "no, what I meant was..." or "what I am trying to say is..."

    Yet, situating the truth of language within the Voice is not satisfactory for Husserl. This scenario cannot resolve the question of the origin of the idea that other people have minds. Eventually, in the search for the true level of language, Husserl discards the person-to-person Voice and opts for an intra-subjective Voice, or interior monologue. Within the realm of the private discourse, no external signifiers are clogging or shackling the person's intentions, impeding what he or she really wants to say. When I am talking to myself, or whenever I'm talking to someone else, and I hear myself speak, I perfectly and directly understand the intention that stimulates the words. In the interior monologue the utterance and the reception are the same thing - absolutely adjacent in the consciousness, without a divisive, potentially subversive medium. Derrida explains, "my words are 'alive' be cause they seem not to leave me: not to fall outside me, outside my breath at a visible distance; not to cease to belong to me, to be at my disposition 'without further props.'" (Speech, p.76)

    Unfortunately, this proposed solution is not without its problems. Husserl is forced to admit that the concept of an interior monologue also requires that the individual must know everything he or she is going to tell him or herself before he or she even begin to say anything. If interior monologue is the true level of language, then meaning is now shared between the utterance and the reception, prior to the private constitution of words. The rest of language (physical speech, writing, etc) is now superfluous, to be considered as unnecessary accessories. If Husserl is right, that true language is exclusively human, then he has subverted the existence of objective oral signs for the sake of subjective ideas.

    Derrida, motivated by a desire to demonstrate language as the important aspect of reality, found this conclusion to be entirely unsatisfactory. Ergo, he set out to reverse the entire chain of Husserl's argument of interior monologue, the extreme case of Voice, by proposing the opposite extreme case: Writing. Instead of true language being language at its most human, Derrida claims language at its most 'language-y' or language at its most self-sufficient, independent of human beings, is Writing, which is "the structure peculiar to language alone, which allows it to function entirely by itself when its intention is cut off from intuition..." (Speech, p. 92)

    Writing is language at its most self-sufficient because it is language at its most spatial. Writing exists substantially outside of the mind, independently of the brief and transparent vibrations of the air, as marks on a surface. These marks do not need the presence of their author; rather, the author is always fundamentally absent or even dead. in the Margins of Philosophy Derrida argues: "For the written to be the written, it must continue to 'act' and to be legible even if what is called the author of the writing no longer answers for what he has written ... whether he is provisionally absent, or if he is dead, or if in general he does not support with his absolute current and present intention or attention, the plenitude of his meaning." (p. 316)


    "Orphaned, and separated at birth from the assistance of its father," Writing, at least for the reader, obscures or even distorts the transmission of intention. On the writer's side, to write is to place concepts on hold, to postpone them, and put them outside of consciousness until they are called for. After writing was invented, people no longer needed to keep concepts present mentally, or maintained before the mind's eye. Writing represents the passage of thought out of consciousness, and functions as a memorandum, an aid to memory. Derrida describes Writing to be "a mnemotechnic means, supplanting good memory, spontaneous memory, signifies forgetfulness ... the dissimulation of the natural, primary and immediate presence of sense to the soul within the logos ..." (Of Grammatology, p. 36)

    What exists in the writer's mind does not contain any special privilege over the meaning of his or her words. Rather, the author discovers the meaning of his words only during the act of writing. Derrida, speaking for writers, says "before me, the signifier on its own says more than I believe that I meant to say, and in relation to it, my meaning-to-say is submissive rather than active." (Writing and Difference, p.178)

    Several objections come to the fore: how can Writing be privileged in a theory of language? The rejoinder from common sense would point out that speech came first in the history of humanity, and is the first stage of the developing child. In this light, Writing seems to be an afterthought, an accessory attached to the underlying structure of the oral sign. In order to argue against this objection, and justify his argument, Derrida has to reverse the standard way of thinking completely.

    It seems rather trivial and obvious that those 'marks' on a surface are placeholders for the sounds of a spoken language. This is true only for those languages that contain phonetic scripts, where the letter 'd' stands for the spoken 'd' sound. But not all languages contain phonetic scripts, for some have hieroglyphic and ideogrammatic scripts instead. Chinese and Egyptian languages are the best examples where the written sign does not require a spoken sign to signify anything. Furthermore, ideogrammatic and hieroglyphic scripts actually precede phonetic scripts in the development of language. Writing as a true level of language, for Derrida, consists of ideograms and rebuses.

    This clarification, while interesting, does not address the objection that speech does precede writing in the history of human race, or in the development of the child. Derrida recognizes this, and does not deny such, but he rejects the nearly invisible fundamental assumption that the original form of a thing is supposed to be, somehow, also its truest form. There is a na
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