Crisis of Faith


T304434AHaving read Kant’s political writings for some time now, and having often compared his political advice (no resistance, reforms from above only) to his philosophical advice (revolution and undermining critique), I am slowly coming to an uncomfortable conclusion that was somewhat pressed upon me this week while I reread sections of “The Doctrine of Right” and The Conflict of Faculties – Kant was a  conservative and naive citizen of Prussa whose use of the imagery of “revolution” vis-a-vis his own philosophical discoveries (and multiple autobiographical events such as famous “dogmatic slumber” incident or a discover of Rousseau) did not propel him to leave his provincial shell of a “teacher of the people” and see radical political implications of his own discoveries. How Heine could possibly compare Kant to Robespierre is beyond me. How can we change our society for the better? According to Kant, we cannot do much – we hope and pray that the state “reforms itself from time to time” but ultimately we can only hope for a miracle, “a kind of new creation (supernatural influence)” [7:92] – What sort of reactionary flaming pile of shit is this? And coming for Kant? I better go read some Marx (or maybe Fichte) to get me away from this idiocy…

Anxiety of Influence? Heidegger on Husserl…


The, er…rocky, but fruitful relationship between Husserl and Heidegger is well known.  I was skimming through Psychological and Transcendental Phenomenology and the Confrontation with Heidegger this afternoon and I came across this passage in a fiery letter Heidegger wrote to Karl Lowith in 1923:

In the final hours of the seminar, I publicaly burned and destroyed the Ideas to such an extent that I dare say that the essential foundations for the whole of my work are now clearly laid out.  Looking back from this vantage point to the Logical Investigations, I am now convinced that Husserl was never a philosopher; not even for one second in his life.  He becomes ever more ludicrous.

And that’s actually pretty tame.  I can’t remember where it is or where I read it, but I think in a letter to Jaspers or another letter to Lowith Heidegger pretty much says something like “Husserl has totally gone off the deep end,” and goes onto accuse Husserl of being impressed with himself for founding phenomenology.  Nothing like a little hostility…

Though one need only to look at Husserl’s marginal notes in his copy of SZ to get wind of his rather unethusiastic reaction.  I think it was there that Husserl characterized Heidegger’s work as either irrational or at best, a superficial continuation of his own work.  Throughout the PTP (cited above) one can find a number of Husserl’s comments regarding Heidegger’s attacks on him as well as Heidegger’s work.

Philosophy as a Practice of Political Intervention.


Marxist-Leninist afternoon continues with a section from Althusser’s Lenin and Philosophy:

In a lecture now a year old, published in a small volume by Maspero under the title Lenin and Philosophy, I have attempted to prove that Lenin should be regarded as having made a crucial contribution to dialectical materialism, in that he made a real discovery with respect to Marx and Engels, and that this discovery can be summarized as follows: Marx’s scientific theory did not lead to a new philosophy (called dialectical materialism), but to a new practice of philosophy, to be precise to the practice of philosophy based on a proletarian class position in philosophy.

This discovery, which I regard as essential, can be formulated in the following theses: Continue reading

Philosophy and Revolution (Kant – Forster – Fichte – Hegel)


Institut für Marxistische Studien und Forschungen has its Jahrbuch from 1978 to 1989 available online here.  There are plenty of interesting essays there, but I liked this one about Kant’s “revolution in thinking” not becoming a “thinking of revolution” – check it out.

Disorderly Conduct: Don’t Be Hating.


Although I am sure that the charge of “disorderly conduct” has a long and glorious history, only with the arrest of Robert Louis Gates, a Harvard professor, the public finally realized that police is only there to serve and protect you if you are a well-behaved and respectful citizen (preferably, of course, white and middle class). Overly expressive fellow was arrested in DC the other day for loudly stating his distaste for the police (arguably a stupid stunt only a white DC lawyer would attempt).  ACLU responded with a fine description of the situation: “Current D.C. law on disorderly conduct (section 22-1307 & 1321) is confusing, overbroad, frequently used by police to harass disfavored individuals and violates constitutional rights of free speech, assembly and petition.”  Really? Police harassing people they don’t like? Get right out of town!   Continue reading

Met Opera Broadcasts Reruns.


Met Opera HD Broadcasts that I wrote about more when they just got around to it and which now became a sort of a regular thing to expect are reruning two operas from previous seasons in the next couple of weeks. Actually, the first date is tonight (Wednesday, July 29th) and the second date is August 5th.

Il Barbiere di Siviglia July 29, 2009
The Magic Flute – August 5, 2009

If you happen to live in New York, you can also attend Summer HD Festival in August: Continue reading

Braver Reading Group: Chapter 7 – A Short Rejoinder (by John Protevi)


[If you're just joining us, please click on the cover icon on the right side of the page to see the post that gathers all the discussions of Braver Reading Group, or click here.]

[Note from Jon Cogburn---

I felt bad that project overcommitment made me phone in the post on Foucault to some extent, and that its hasty nature made it uncharitable both to Braver and to Foucault. So I sent my post to John Protevi asking him for a response. I knew that Protevi's expertise could help make up for whatever sin I committed against Lady Philosophy. Also, what Protevi is doing with respect to biology and mind is pretty analogous to what Braver is doing with respect to realism/anti-realism debates insofar as both obliterate the supposed incommensurability of the analytic/continental split.

Unfortunately Protevi's traveling in Europe right now so had to write the below quickly and without access to any of the relevant books; he's particularly bummed that he didn't have Braver's book with him. There are some links to papers though that are really helpful.]

John Protevi’s Rejoinder:

1. About Foucault’s “false historical claims”: Gary Gutting has an essay in his Cambridge Companion to Foucault on this issue; we’d also want to consult Tom Flynn’s book on Foucault and historical reason (Volume 1 (mostly on Sartre, except for the last chapter) and Volume 2). Gutting says that Foucault makes historical claims as illustrations of his philosophical points, not as evidence for a historical argument. So in Madness and Civilization the point is to get at the episteme (later renamed regime of truth), which is the conditions for a statement to be serious, that is, to have a truth value, that is, to be recognized as belonging to the domain of knowledge claims — it could be true, even if it happens not to be; a statement attaining the status of discourse avoids Dirac’s gibe that “X is so bad it’s not even wrong.” Continue reading