Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Hugh White, or How to Suck up to China and Make a Career of It

Of all the indecent and mesmerising imbeciles, impostors and sycophants - of all those miserable myrmidons who in any serious challenge to freedom and democracy instantly choose to sidle up with tyrants either because they fear what might happen to their heads if the tyrants succeed or else because they await anxiously and eagerly for any benefits tyrants may throw their way in case they do succeed - of all these bumbling morons with one foot in academe and the other in dementia - of all these utterly despicable bastards none takes a higher prize than Hugh White - Emeritus Professor of Pathetic Idiocy at the ANU in Canberra, Australia.

Just for the purpose of illustration I have filed here his latest collation of bestialities, non sequiturs and plain bad faith so that our friends may slag on this worm of an animal as well they might! Note that in all his indecent tripe that the Melbourne Age allows this dastardly beast to publish, he never allows his readers to respond to his utter and mephitic congeries of total garbage!

Well, here is our revenge then! And no doubt, friends, with your help, this expose' will instantly reach the top of the Google searches for this vile traitor of all democratic principles and ideals - this filthy dog who would have us creep like the larva that he is before the supposed might of the Chinese beasts in the Communist Party of China!

As for the "reasons" for this tirade, I have neither the time nor the inclination to go over the same old ground. Just search this post for anything connected with China (in the apposite search facility on the front page).

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/caught-in-a-bind-that-threatens-an-asian-war-nobody-wants-20121225-2bv38.html

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Rousseau and Nietzsche on the Social Synthesis


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Traditional social theory begins with “the individual” taken from an ontogenetic standpoint – almost as if that “in-dividual” could exist independently of the species and indeed of the environment with which the species interacts. It is understandable, then, why the passage from individual to society is so fraught with antinomies and antitheses and contradictions – and why only a “transcendental” approach can help fill this hiatus. What we are seekng to do here is to develop an “immanentist” approach to social theory that takes a phylogenetic approach to society and its “members” – an approach that treats “human beings” as “aspects of being human”.

Hobbes and Hegel started from the fear of death in order to escape the state of nature and secure the rational salvation of Christian-bourgeois society through the deus mortalis or the Welt-geist, the State. The negatives Denken despairs of the rational State and liberal Christian-bourgeois society; hence, it turns back to the pre-comprehension of the individual ontological dimension of the Da-sein (being there, bare existence) that precedes “civil society” – back toward an “authentic” state of being which is its own “state of nature”. Heidegger’s “pre-comprehension” of the Da-sein is perhaps the archetypal manner of escaping the alienated ontic world of liberal Christian-bourgeois society to return to the Hobbesian “neutral state”, or to what Schmitt called provocatively “the Political” (cf. Leo Strauss’s review of Schmitt’s The Concept of the Political) – indicating that the liberal State only deludes itself into thinking that it has eliminated conflict from Christian-bourgeois civil society. Heidegger and Schmitt utilize their revulsion at the “inauthenticity” of Christian-bourgeois civil society, at the “facticity” of its “reification and alienation”, at its “quantification and spatialisation of time” so as to revert to a phenomenological and existential “pre-comprehension” of it that leads straight to the “authenticity” of the “resoluteness toward oneself”, of “freedom before death”, to “the Political of friend and foe”, to “the decision in anticipation of death”, to “the decision stemming from nothing” (auf Nichts gestellt). Heidegger and Schmitt revive Kierkegaard’s “anguish before death” (an echo of the Schopenhauerian “renunciation”) to reject the liberalism of bourgeois society, its “mask”, its pretended “homologation” of all tension and conflict, its fear of contra-diction, and therefore its faith in the necessity of logic and science, and ultimately in the rational reconciliation of Politics and Economics in the liberal State.

Yet, what Heidegger followed by Schmitt will want to re-formulate later as an ontological difference, and Hobbes and Hegel wanted to reconcile with a social synthesis, Nietzsche criticizes immanently from the perspective of the Will to Power which (contrary to Heidegger’s effort to place him within Aristotelian-German Idealism) deploys a new ontology to formulate a new “negative theory” (as opposed to a syn-thesis) devoid of inter esse, whether rational-mechanical (Hobbes) or idealistic (Rousseau) or teleological (Hegel).

Marx himself remained, of course, within this rationalist uni-verse despite inverting Hegel’s dialectic to a “historico-materialist” basis: – although his inter esse is not the dialectically unfolding Ratio of the “free will” or of “self-consciousness”, it is still what he perceived as the “scientific” foundation of “socially necessary labour time” (which, like Hobbesian mechanicism and Hegelian dialectics, turns the “freedom of the will” into a [Schopenhauerian] quest for “freedom from the will”).

It is worth recalling here that the Marxian “necessity” of social labour does not refer only to the overall “re-production” of society”, but also to the “theft of labour time” on the part of the bourgeoisie against the proletariat – which is a way of saying that “pro-ducts” belong to social labour in a causal sense. The worker appears here as the “creator ex nihilo” of “value”.

This is another aspect of “necessity” that Nietzsche flatly rejects. From Schopenhauer and Kierkegaard through to Nietzsche and Heidegger, although in each case from different premises, the negatives Denken “de-structs” this social syn-thesis first by de-structing the Sub-ject of the con-vention, and then by attacking the “causal nexus” of the subiectum. Chief target of this de-struction is the “work” of “actu-ality” [Wirk-lichkeit], the ergon of energeia, the opus of the operari: not just for the “subjectity” of the notion of “work” (Arbeit), its “active” part, its being the foundation of the social synthesis; but also for its inevitable “self-dissolution” (Selbst-aufhebung, Nietzsche’s term applied to Christianity in the Genealogie) in “objectivity” and “reification” - in nihilism. Schopenhauer attacks the “futility” of the operari, its aimlessness, its evanescence at the point of satis-faction, of ful-filment and com-pletion; Kierkegaard attacks its “irrelevance” to the fundamental question of existence, of the human condition; Nietzsche attacks its “causality”, its “value”; and Heidegger its “facticity”, its “Zuhandenheit”. All are dis-satisfied, dif-ferently, with the apparent social syntheses of liberalism (utility) and socialism (labour) – with their Value, which is the central concept of “economic science”.

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Well-known is the distaste and revulsion that Nietzsche spews out at regular intervals in his oeuvre against an exclusively “political” thinker to whom many of his contemporaries attributed the ideological origins of the French Revolution – as well as his contempt for this epochal event that, to his mind, gave comfort to all those philosophasters (chief among them Hegel but also Hobbes) deprecable for being “crazy for the State” (Human, All Too Human), for that “idol” (Twilight of the Idols) on which Nietzsche endlessly pours scorn. That “political” thinker par excellence is, of course, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. And yet, for all the antipathy that the German feels for the Frenchman, it is rewardingly instructive to compare and contrast Nietzsche’s On Truth and Lies with the famous dictum with which Rousseau begins his Du Contrat Social: - “L’homme est ne’ libre, mais il est partout dans les fers.”

There is a well-nigh universal tendency to read this Rousseauean cri de coeur in a historical dimension as evidence of his glorification of “the noble savage”, of a primitive human being living in an idyllic, innocent “state of nature” from which he has been banished by the rise of “society”, and most damnably by that “private property” that characterized the rise of the capitalist bourgeoisie throughout northern Europe especially from the beginning of the seventeenth century. Human beings were once, in the remote past, “free” because they belonged in primitive small communities over whose destiny and direction they had full political control because they retained a measure of personal independence such that their natural self-interest did not interfere with or override the self-interests of other members of the community. It was the rise of commercial society, of the “exchange” of the fruits of one’s labour and personal exertions with those of other humans that made possible the development of the institutions of “private property” and, with them, the ability of some human beings to command the labour, the living activity, of others. This is how human beings who “are born free” eventually end up “everywhere in chains” – the chains of dispossession and alienated labour. “Freedom” here means for Rousseau the ability and possibility for a human being to live in accordance with its own abilities and potential and inclinations consistently with the “freedom” of other human beings. This “freedom” then has a “rational” element in that it postulates an “interest common to all human beings”, an inter esse, a common being and goal that is both innate and accessible to every human being through the power of reason. For these two reasons, the “freedom” of the individual and its rational foundations, Rousseau is both a product of Romanticism and of the Enlightenment.

But beside this historico-political dimension, comforted by Rousseau’s anthropological reflections (cf. the Discours sur l’Origine de l’Inegalite’ parmi les Hommes), there is also and preponderantly a metaphysical core to his thought – a point highlighted by Rousseau’s use of the passe’ simple tense: the phrase “Man was born [est ne’] free, but everywhere he is in chains” does not necessarily revert to the time immemorial of humanity but can refer instead to each individual human birth. Each human being, to enucleate Rousseau’s meaning, is free by virtue of its very “birth”, just as St. Augustine had said (and Hannah Arendt reminded us), by virtue of the fact that each human being is “a new beginning”. But this birth-right of existential “freedom” has no element of “contingency” about it (as it does, for instance, in Heidegger’s notion of Da-sein [“being there”]). Rather, Rousseau’s notion of freedom, like Kant’s, is also subordinate to “reason” in such a way that the “freedom” of the individual gifted with the power of “reason” must also be consistent with the “freedoms” of other individuals. This is the essence of Rousseau’s jus-naturalism.

It is in this transition of freedom from its metaphysical origins in the individual to its translation into social con-ventions that its potential alienation becomes problematic and indeed a historical fact that Rousseau seeks to explain with a full-fledged social and political theory. The “historical-political” dimension of Rousseau’s philosophy and his explanation for the social alienation of individual freedom is based on his confusion of human phylogenetic intersubjectivity and interdependence  - the fact that human beings are not simply, with Marx, “species-conscious beings”, but are rather “aspects of human being” – with the “exchange” by individual human beings seen as “in-dividuals”, as atoms, of “their individual labours”, that is, social co-operation that can be parceled (but how?) into individual tasks whose pro-duct “belongs” (but how, and why?) to the individual worker, with that of others through “specialization” in the process of production aimed at the “reproduction” of society – meaning by this, in the paradigm of Classical Political Economy, a quantifiable “socially necessary labour time” (again, why “necessary”?) required for “society to reproduce itself”; and finally that this “exchange” necessarily entails the creation of private property.

Of course, what Rousseau (or Adam Smith, who follows Rousseau in this crucial respect, see Ch.2 of The Wealth of Nationsv. L. Colletti, Ideologia e Societa’) fails to grasp is that it is not the “exchange” of pro-ducts between individuals that entails private property; nor is it “exchange” that encourages “specialization”. Instead, it is the artificial parcelisation of social labour into “individual labours” and the consequent attribution of legal possessive ownership of “pro-ducts” to the individual labourer that already presupposes private property and the “exchange” of the now commodified products of human living labour (what we call “dead objectified labour”) between “individual labourers”! Only through this misconception could Rousseau confuse capitalism with “exchange and specialization” and come to believe in a mythical “original” form of free association in which humans merely co-operated and shared simple unspecialised tasks that they could choose to perform singly, independently of others.

Yet for Rousseau the fact that such an original “natural state of freedom” was historically possible and has since been “lost” to private property means also that it can be re-constituted politically through the application of human reason to a re-founded polity or State – precisely because each individual “is born free” despite the fact that the present state of society places it instantly “everywhere in chains” (recall here Weber’s “iron cage” and his preoccupation with preserving “human dignity” against the Rationalisierung). Rousseau sees no “necessity” – historical or teleological – in the advent either of “society” or indeed of capitalist industry itself. For him, the “alienation” of the individual’s labour in advanced societies from its original, pristine freedom in the state of nature is simply an accident or an ab-erration of history due to a series of contingent historical circum-stances. There is no “necessity” in society and no “necessity” in alienation and exploitation. Rousseau’s existing bourgeois society is a “state by historical acquisition”. Only his advocated republic is a “state by institution”, but one that, unlike Hobbes’s, is entirely “voluntary”. For this reason, Rousseau always viewed with diffidence “the social synthesis” of bourgeois society, the interdependence of human beings in society through symbolic exchange, as “dissimulation”, as that “hypocrisy” that Mandeville first, though not Hobbes who saw civil society as “necessary”, and then Nietzsche will later condemn as an artificial departure from the genuineness (or “authenticity”, to echo Heidegger) of the pre-social “state of nature”.

It simply does not occur to Rousseau that his notion of “exchange” may be flawed because it presumes that human beings are capable of existing in-dividually, that is to say onto-genetically, not only separately as “egos”, but even separately as “bodies”. This atomistic view of “man” (human being as “a human being” [recall Leibniz: “a being must be a being”] rather than as “being human” – humans seen ontogenetically rather than phylogenetically) explains the “singular” mode of Rousseau’s dictum: “Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains”. Again, this confirms the “metaphysical” or ontological dimension of Rousseau’s philosophy that exists side by side with the exquisitely “political” one. The “freedom” with which “man is born” then becomes not just a “political independence” from other human beings but also an ontogenetic and existential freedom – the fact that as sheer “possibility” human being is characterized by free choice and by the possibility of establishing a society or community compatible and in harmony with the “intelligible or rational freedom” of that choice.

There are obvious similarities here with Heidegger’s concept of Da-sein (in Being and Time), except that Heidegger founds human freedom on the possibility of non-being, of nothingness, of death – on sheer contingency. His is a “freedom before death” that has few and certainly no obvious political implications – only “existential” ones; freedom as “condition humaine” (Pascal). And there are similarities also with Hobbes’s political theory, except that in Hobbes the social contract founded on the common-wealth, does not spring from the need of human beings to objectify and realize that innate “freedom” that has been distorted by society, but rather from their rational ability to curtail socially their antagonistic “free-dom” in the state of nature – so that Hobbes’s contractum unionis turns instantly into a contractum subjectionis through the relinquishment or alienation of individual “free-dom” to the Sovereign with the rational aim of avoiding violent death in the state of nature. (But we may ask, with Nietzsche and Heidegger, what is “rational” about preserving life?)

So rationally mechanical indeed is Hobbes’s transition from the state of nature to the civic state that, contrary to his jusnaturalist premises, the latter appears to be a “state by historical acquisition” rather than “by contractual institution” – because on Hobbes’s own theoretical premises his state of nature could never exist historically given that such a state would instantly self-destruct unless it turned instantaneously into a civic state! 

Unlike Heidegger, Rousseau sees “freedom” as a function of the basic rational equality of human beings – “equal in reason”. It is by virtue of this “equality in reason” and “freedom as birthright” – by virtue of their “universality” (recall “The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen”) – that it is possible for Rousseau to postulate the existence of a consensus, of a general will (volonte’ generale) upon which the new republic can be erected. Thus, unlike Hobbes’s “free-dom”, Rousseau’s “freedom” is not antagonistic and in contradiction to that of other individuals but is in harmony with theirs by virtue of the fact that “rational equality” is an intrinsic part of the definition of “freedom”: freedom and justice and reason co-exist in Rousseau as “la volonte’ generale”, but they are contra-dictory in Hobbes who believes that “free-dom” must be curtailed by an external force, the Sovereign, elected by common consent, on pain of death. Where Rousseau sees in the concept of “freedom” an original harmony now lost yet recoverable rationally and contractually in the new republic through a “total constitutional order” (the phrase belongs to Habermas, in Theorie und Praxis), Hobbes’s “free-dom” denotes an irresoluble conflict and contra-diction that only an external will - not a “general will” (Rousseau), a will made “general” by shared human reason, but rather the mechanical State - can resolve. Where Rousseau sees the possibility of a State founded on free choice of individual wills guided and unified by Reason, Hobbes sees the State as the bitter fruit of “dire necessity”, imposed mechanically on individual free wills by their rational self-interest in avoiding violent death in the state of nature.


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Returning to Nietzsche, we have seen how he opposes his physio-logical metaphysics of art (art intended as “intuition”, as the life of the instincts) to Rousseau’s rationalist metaphysics of freedom. Against Rousseau, Nietzsche follows Hobbes in seeing “freedom” – the Freiheit of German Idealism - as “free-dom”, as an antagonistic, inharmonious state – one to which “contradiction” cannot apply, but the fear of contra-diction, which is the foundation of logical and scientific “necessity”, certainly can. He does not see the “rationality”, either mechanical (Hobbes) or spontaneous-innate (Rousseau) or teleological (Hegel), of this freedom and of its ultimate expression in the State. Instead, he postulates an inevitable contrast and conflict between the “rational man” who lives in fear of “necessity”, and the “artistic man” who combats “need-necessity” through artistic creativity and dissimulation or mimesis.

There are ages, when the rational and the intuitive man stand
side by side, the one full of fear of the intuition, the other full of
scorn for the abstraction; the latter just as irrational as the former
is inartistic. Both desire to rule over life; the one by knowing how
to meet the most important needs with prediction, ingeniousness,
regularity [Weber’s ‘Kalkulation’]; the other as an "over-joyous"
hero by ignoring those needs and taking that life only as real which
simulates [imitates, mimes] appearance and beauty. Wherever intuitive
man, as for instance in the earlier
ON TRUTH AND FALSITY 191
history of Greece, brandishes his weapons more powerfully and
victoriously than his opponent, there under favourable conditions, a
culture can develop and art can establish her rule over life.

In this optic, the rational man is simply a distortion of the human artistic “instinct” to create metaphors to interpret life and the world – one without which human beings cannot be conceived of as “human” – for the purpose of making their lives more “secure and safe”. The rational man believes that “necessity is the mother of invention” and that logic and science are the tools with which this “necessity” can be explored and be known absolutely as a cosmos. And all this, this “crystallization and sclerosis” of artistic metaphorical invention and dissimulation, is the product of fear. The rational man also dissimulates, for this is the essential metaphysical activity of human beings: but the dissimulation of the rational man differs from that of the artistic man in that now this dissimulation becomes “fixed”, so as to crystallise and “freeze” the creative instinct of artistic man. Free dissimulation becomes now entirely subordinate to “necessity”, to a regular and predictable form of symbolic exchange, to a system of concepts, to “science” and “Truth”.

There is no Rousseauean “freedom” in Nietzsche, because there is no “purpose” or “reason” or “rationality” in human needs – and least of all any scientifically established “necessity” – that can constitute a telos and a ratio (a nomos or Law) in life and the world. There is at best, Nietzsche claims, the limited Hobbesian “free-dom” that is allowed to individual wills by their coming into conflict with other wills. For Nietzsche, “freedom” in the rationalist sense is not only unattainable, but also inexistent. In Nietzsche we find only conflict between and even within human beings: the artistic man and the rational man represent here different but conflicting complementary facets of human being. There are, to be sure, “instincts for freedom”, but these express a “need-necessity” in the sense that they are purely physio-logical and in no sense physio-logical. Put differently, for Nietzsche it is simply absurd to see any “necessity” in needs because their “satisfaction” can be arranged in literally infinite or indefinite ways! “Necessity” is the invention of “science” – it is the belief that there is only one way, or even several “scientific” ways (as in the mathematical case of “multiple equilibria”), in which needs can be satisfied. (Weber’s concept of ‘Wert-rationalitat’ is victim precisely to this fallacy that Nietzsche exposes: although he accepts that there are infinite “chains” of scientific causation, Weber does not see that this fact destroys the “causality” of the “chains”.)

That dissembling [dis-simulation, mimicking], that denying
of neediness, that splendor of metaphorical notions and especially that
directness of dissimulation accompany all utterances of
such a life [that is, one in which art rules]. Neither the house of man, nor his way
of walking, nor his clothing, nor his earthen jug suggest that necessity
invented them; it seems as if they all were intended as the expressions
of a sublime happiness, an Olympic cloudlessness, and as it were
a playing at seriousness.


It is not “necessity” that is “the mother of invention”, then, but it is rather “necessity” that rigidifies and deadens artistic invention: it is artistic invention (by no means to be read as “artistic freedom”!) that falls prey to this fictitious notion of “necessity”. Needs are so important and even “unconscious” for Nietzsche that he eschews and negates the entire notion of “freedom” rationally accessible to “the individuum”, in favour of “the instincts [Triebe, drives] for freedom” where these instincts are a function of “free-dom” and not the other way around – that is, “freedom” is not an innate, perhaps divine, function or property of the human will, of the “soul”, but rather the will is “free” because there is conflict, because there is no order or sense or “Value” (moral or scientific or metaphysical) in life . (This view of the will as a function of free-dom rather than freedom as a function-goal of the will was first expounded in Schelling’s Essay on the Freedom of the Will.)

“Free-dom” in this sense is not a telos as in Hegel but rather a struggle (Kampf) as in Schopenhauer (cf. his Essay on the Free Will). Unlike Schopenhauer, however, Nietzsche also negates and decries the social trans-formation of “needs” into “necessity” that can and must be dealt with “scientifically” – what he calls “the instinct for truth” - when in fact this “necessity” is merely a product of fear: - fear that results ultimately in the nihilism of Schopenhauer’s determinism and “renunciation” [Entsagung] of life and the world and indeed in the “self-dissolution” and nihilism of Christian-bourgeois society (cf. final part of Genealogie der Moral). Sheer folly for Nietzsche is Schopenhauer’s promotion of art as a refuge from the Will to Life. On the contrary! Far from being a refuge from life and the world, art is for Nietzsche the very essence of intuition, the very proof that we are alive, the “happiness” of existence, that without which human being would be inconceivable! (“What! Thou livest still, Zarathustra?” in ‘The Dance Song’, Zarathustra.)

Needs there are, but these are not and cannot be “rational”, nor can they be “rationally known” and “rationally met” – contrary to what was soon to become the central thesis of Weber’s entire lifework. (Like Nietzsche, Weber also “renounces’ the finality of “values” – their “ab-soluteness”, their suprasensible “quality”, their “objectivity”. But precisely because for Weber “science” cannot be “objective”, because it cannot sanction and justify “values”, it is possible for it to be extricated from “values” to the extent that it becomes “aware” of these “values” and thus achieve a limited measure of “wert-freiheit”. Much in the way of Schopenhauer’s principle of sufficient reason [cf. Piana’s essays on Schopenhauer], Weber the scientist, unlike Nietzsche, simply could not entirely jettison the notion of “rational” science [cf. Lowith’s essay on this].) These needs are “physio-logical instincts” that form part of life and the world (of the physis as opposed to the ordered cosmos) as exploitation, as struggle.

There is then in Nietzsche neither a theory of in-dividuality in the sense of subject-ity, of ego-ity or Ich-heit, nor a theory of inter esse, of common being or comunitas, but rather a “duality of instincts” – the instincts for freedom of the artistic man and the instinct for truth (or science) of the rational man which is a product of “fear”. The former represent the original intuitive artistic invention of human existence through “the construction of metaphors”, while the latter represent the rationalist mortification of this intuition and the “crystallization and sclerosis” of metaphors through the “hardening” of these metaphors into concepts, into Platonic “primal forms” that erect an unreal suprasensible world of ideas linked by logical necessity in philosophy, as well as a false reality dictated by physico-mathematical necessity (“necessity is the mother of invention”) in science.

…Surely every human being who is at home with
such contemplations [i.e. the rational man] has felt a deep distrust against
any idealism of that kind [by the artistic man], as often as he has distinctly
convinced himself of the eternal rigidity, omnipresence, and infallibility
of nature's laws [Naturgesetzen]: he has arrived at the conclusion that as far as we can penetrate the heights of the telescopic and the depths of the microscopic world, everything is quite secure[!], complete, infinite, determined, and continuous.
Science will have to dig in these shafts eternally
and successfully and all things found are sure to
have to harmonise and not to contradict one another. (p186)


Nietzsche’s “instincts for freedom” are not in search of a “freedom” that is innately and rationally given and that constitutes a human inter esse: they are rather a conflictual, Eristic “struggle for free-dom” – the will to power. They do not converge to agreement (homonoia) but diverge into conflict, into civil war (stasis) – the Hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes. The rational State as a “deus mortalis” imposed either externally by subjection (Hobbes’s Sovereign) or internally by union (Rousseau’s general will) or teleologically as the extrinsication of human reason (the dialectic of self-consciousness, the expression of “Objective Spirit”, Hegel) is im-possible; it is a contradictio in adjecto because State and rationality, State and com-unitas or inter esse, are as antithetical as godliness and mortality. The State can exist only as Police in the interest of those who exercise power and command in its name (cf. Schopenhauer, Part 4 of Die Welt, and Weber, Politik als Beruf), not as a neutral entity super partes.

Nor are these instincts “historical”, even though they are certainly physiological rather than metaphysical – and therefore retain a measure of immanentism. For Nietzsche, the instincts are removed from history intended as a linear, cumulative process; he theorizes them instead in an abstract cyclical or “epochal” sense (“There are ages when…”). There may be “history” for Nietzsche in the Greek pre-Socratic and Thucydidean sense of a-methodon hyle (shapeless matter) or even in the Herodotean sense of istorein (“inquiry”); but there most certainly is no “progress” – because there is no “science” and no “necessity” that attaches to the human choice over different courses of action, however much these may be prompted by “need-necessity”, that is, by physio-logical instincts (with the emphasis on “physis”).

It is important to note that Nietzsche does not identify “the state of nature” as a Rousseauean idyll (see Vattimo reference in Piu’ in la’ del Soggetto): – far from it, given his acceptance of the Hobbesian bellum civium! (- Albeit not as a historical state, as we have seen, but only as a paradigmatic one) Nietzsche’s account of the state of nature is not a romantic throwback to “the noble savage”: nor is there any trace here of that rationalism, Hobbesian mechanical or Rousseauean idealistic, that necessitates or enables, respectively, the transition to the social contract. Much rather and almost explicitly, it is a Mandevillean satire of Christian-bourgeois society, but one that engages in a fundamental critique of the rationalist bases of both the Hobbesian and Rousseauean versions of the state of nature. Even at this early stage, Nietzsche envisages the state of nature paradigmatically (not historically) as a “neutral state”, as a spontaneous state of ir-responsibility (Unverantwortlichkeit), of “un-consciousness”(Un-bewusstheit) and “oblivion” (Vergessen), one in which “values” such as “truth” and “falsehood” do not apply – only “the extra-moral sense” applies, and it is against the stark background of the “inaccessible and undefinable X” of this “state of nature” that “truth and falsehood” must be “under-stood”. But Nietzsche’s emphasis here is less on “hypocrisy”, as with the Hobbesian Mandeville, and more on the fear, the “need for protection”, the regularity and predictability of human life based on “science” rather than on “art” as “the splendor of metaphors”. The origin of this “fear” is to be found in the very “conflictuality” of “free-dom”. – Which is why to Nietzsche the Hobbesian, Rousseauean, Hegelian and Marxian call for a “rational State or society founded on freedom” must have sounded like the zaniest of absurdities.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Aesthesis vs. Aesthetics: Cacciari on Nietzsche


We may thoroughly appreciate now from our foregoing discussion the validity and correctness of Cacciari’s judgement on the “inexistence of an aesthetics in Nietzsche” separable from and subordinate to philosophical reasoning.

1. Es conocida la afirmación de Nietzsche en El origen de la tragedia por la cual el arte aparece como la verdadera actividad metafísica del hombre. Aun en el Ensayo de una autocrítica de 1886 él recalca que aquella juvenile metafísica de artista contenía ya lo esencial de su pensamiento sucesivo. Es lícito, por lo tanto, considerar en términos sustancialmente unitarios la concepción nietzscheana del arte. Nietzsche no está interesado en la elaboración de una estética como un dominio filosófico especial; el arte es para él problema filosófico-metafísico: en la actividad artística está en juego una apertura al ser, una iluminación metafísica sobre el sentido del ente.
Producción artística e interpretación del producto artístico son ambos problemas filosóficos. No existe autonomía del arte respecto a lo filosófico, así como no existe autonomía de lo filosófico respecto al arte. Arte y filosofía se presentan perennemente unidas en aquella deconstrucción de la tradición metafísica europea que constituye el objetivo de la total crítica nietzscheana. (‘El Arte in N.’)

We could not agree more with Cacciari’s position. As we have shown, for Nietsche art has to be “the true metaphysical activity of human beings” because for him art is prior to philosophy, just as intuition and perception (which are “based” on metaphors and “unthinkable” without them) are prior to reflection in terms of his “onto-geny of thought” in which, once more, memory or re-collection or re-flection plays a crucial role in the “construction of concepts” out of “crystallised metaphors”. Once again, however, the metaphysical status of art in Nietzsche’s early or inchoate conception of it as “the construction of metaphors by an artistically creative subject” and as “the genius of falsity” is open to objection on the grounds that (a) meta-phors re-fer (bring back) invariably to a substratum “beyond which they bring” (meta pherein, to bring beyond), and (b) it is impossible to separate (as Nietzsche himself maintains, and here is another chorismos) meta-phors from the act of perception itself and indeed from “concepts” – and therefore it cannot be accurate to describe human perception and intuition as “the construction of metaphors” and “appearances”! (On this, cf. our discussion of Merleau-Ponty in ‘Immanence Re-visited’ and ‘The Philosophy of the Flesh’.)

Cacciari sharply points out Nietzsche’s ambiguity on the first count: - that if “art is the genius of falsehood”, then it follows that Nietzsche still posits a “Truth”, a “Fundamentum”, in relation to which art is “falsehood”!


8 Nietzsche afirma que el arte constituye el "genio de la mentira". Se trata de un ejemplo evidente de "platonismo invertido", en que Nietzsche se obstina en separar de una manera demasiado abstracta "razón clásica" y modernidad.  (Cacciari, ‘El Hacer del Canto’, fn.8.)

Quite right! If indeed “art is the genius of falsity”, this can occur if and only if there is some “thing” that art can properly “falsify”, some “re-ality” in relation to which art can actually lie. But this is precisely the starting point of Plato’s vehement condemnation of art and its dissoi logoi (“double talk”) and doxa (opinion, chatter) as against philosophy’s logico-discursive dialectic reasoning (dianoia) leading to episteme (knowledge, science)! In complete contrast, what Nietzsche meant by this expression was precisely that art is the genius of falsity in opposition to or transgression against “the cemetery of intuitions” constituted by that oppressive “structure of concepts” represented by “logic and science” – by the two activities that, in opposition to art, pretend to represent “the Truth” and therefore the Platonic world of supra-sensible “values” leading up hierarchically to the summum bonum (the Good), when in fact they are “distancing” human beings from the greatest “truth” of all – and that is that all human perception and reasoning is “based on the construction of artistic or aesthetic metaphors”! Nietzsche’s expression about art is ironic to some extent; and yet its literal “inverted Platonism” points once more to his early confusion with regard to a “reality” that art “genially falsifies” by creating “contra-dictory appearances”.

And Cacciari is right also on the second count because “the construction of metaphors” – that is, art – is inseparable from the construction of concepts, which is the proper activity of philosophy. “But,” observes Cacciari with great acumen, “this affinity is revealed by a difference”:

Pero esta afinidad es revelable por diferencia. La consideración del hecho artístico es llevada a cabo filosóficamente, no porque el arte sea representación o se limite a imaginar las ideas filosóficas. El arte es problema filosófico en tanto su estructura es problema para la filosofía; su presencia, la presencia de su palabra choca con la dimensión conceptual del trabajo filosófico. Arte y filosofía se unen polarmente, por oposición. De una vez Nietzsche supera, por esta vía, toda estética decadentista de la autonomía pura del hecho artístico, así como todo contenido ideológico. Arte y filosofía están indisolublemente conectados en tanto problema el uno con la otra. Aún más: el arte es siempre presencia amenazante-inquietante para la pura filosofía. (El Arte en N.)

Because philosophy itself cannot be com-prehended (under-stood thoroughly) by its own logos and must remain therefore an artistic activity, a poiesis, and because artistic activity is prior to philosophical re-flection or contemplation in that it is in-comprehensible to and by the philosophical logos, it follows that artistic activity reaffirms the primacy of in-vention over re-flection – which poses an insuperable metaphysical problem for philosophy – again, not in the sense that art is a problem for philosophy to consider, one among many, but rather in the sense that art is the problem of philosophy, a problem that is ante-cedent to, that pre-cedes philosophical reflection, and therefore also challenges its claim to theoretico-practical pre-eminence as knowledge! As Cacciari again genially puts it, “art is a philosophical problem in that its structure [its nature as activity] is problematic for philosophy”. This cannot be said even of theology, as Werner Jaeger has shown with his concept of “natural theology” (in The Theology of the Early Greek Philosophers), in that the divine is not prior to “the problem of metaphysics” (Heidegger) but forms only one of its problems or aspects because it is just as plausible that reality is of divine origin as it is that it is entirely contingent.

This is precisely why art poses “a menacing and disquieting presence for pure philosophy” – because of its precedence over philosophy as an activity, as initium. Art shows the “activist” reality of philosophy – its practical initium, the fact that even conceptually its “doing”, its being a “beginning”, is prior to and cannot be com-prehended (grasped and explained totally) by pure thought or reflection given that thought is itself an activity, namely, “thinking about thinking”, where the second “thinking” stands for the meta-phorical activity of art upon which philosophy is both a “re-flection” and ultimately an artistic activity in itself! Of course, artistic activity is in-conceivable without thought itself – as Nietzsche reminded us earlier, without the “formation of meta-phors” (Bildung der Begriffe - and therefore of words, of language, something that Cacciari points out above but forgets in his later elaboration of this thesis) inseparable from the act of intuition and perception as appearance. Yet, if it is not pre-conceptual, art is certainly pre-reflective and (as Cacciari would say) pre-discursive activity in that both its “doing” and its “feeling” or “sense” is prior to philosophic reflection and its logos. It is the “union” of these opposed moments in art – the “doing” and the “feeling” - that poses a greater problem for philosophy than it does for art – because the task of philosophy is precisely to com-prehend all activity, including the artistic, and this it cannot do if philosophy remains an artistic activity itself, an initium that is incomprehensible by and inexplicable to philosophy. (This “materiality” or immanence of thought, its being tied inextricably to perception and language, is what escapes Arendt because of her formalistic-abstract, trans-scendental approach to it in The Life of the Mind. See our ‘Immanence Revisited’ and ‘Philosophy of the Flesh’.)



As we intimated earlier, in the course of the elaboration of his central thesis on ‘El Arte en Nietzsche’, Cacciari this time seems to agree with Nietzsche’s thesis that art is “the genius of falsity” because life and the world are perceptible and knowable only as appear-ances, and there-fore as intrinsically “contra-dictory”.

El problema filosófico del arte se centraliza en la relación arte-mentira. En el prefacio a la segunda edición de La Gaya Ciencia, Nietzsche dice:

Nos ha fastidiado este mal gusto [...] querer la verdad a toda costa [...] esta fascinación de adolescentes por el amor a la verdad. La artes son excogitadas como una especie de culto de lo no-verdadero.

Estas indicaciones se articulan plenamente sólo en los Fragmentos Póstumos sucesivos al Zaratustra. En el contexto de La Gaya Ciencia puede aún parecer que se trata simplemente de descubrir al juglar escondido en nuestra pasión por el conocimiento - y aquello que en el arte se limite a enfatizar la dimensión romántica del ejercicio interminable de la ironía, solamente deconstructiva, sobre el mundo-verdadero. En los Fragmentos Póstumos, sobre todo en aquellos que pertenecen al período 87-88, es evidente, en cambio, que Nietzsche no está interesado en una estética especial -en el caso en cuestión, la irónico-romántica -, sino en la definición de las estructuras fundamentales del hecho artístico. En el arte él aprehende una facultad general, un poder-Kraft que tiene validez universal. En el arte está en juego una dimensión general del ser, una total facultad falsificante. El arte es la facultad-Kraft que niega la verdad - o, mejor dicho el arte es expresión de esta facultad universal, y por lo tanto activa en cualquier otro dominio.

This is an unnecessary forzatura of Nietzsche’s thought caused in part by his own careless and misguided manner of articulating the problem in the early works. As we can see from our quotation below, for Nietzsche it is as senseless to say that “the essence of things”, and therefore contra-diction, exists as it is to state the contrary!

For our antithesis of individual and categories is anthropomorphic too
[i.e. is of purely human origin] and does not come from the essence of things,
although on the other hand we do not dare to say that it does not correspond
to it; for that would be a dogmatic assertion and as such just as
undemonstrable as its contrary. (UWL, p.180)

Nietzsche merely contends that the principle of non-contradiction is inapplicable as a “metre” of both artistic and of scientific “doing” precisely to the degree that they are “doings”, initia, and not statements, what Cacciari calls “logico-discursive reason” and “vestimenta-escritura del pensamiento”! Life and the world are not contradictory because they ec-sist only as “appearance”,” - but this term now no longer stands in opposition to a “re-ality(!)”, to a “true world” – “the true world has disappeared with the apparent one”, ironises Nietzsche in Twilight of the Idols. Rather it indicates the primacy of perception and its “participation” (methexis) in the perceived, as well as the impossibility of truth-as-certainty and of truth-as-totality, of “Truth” as Jaspers’s “all-encompassing” (das Umgreifende). The principle of non-contradiction is applicable only to the concept of truth-as-certainty and totality, of “reality as the essence of things”, and not to that of “appearance” which challenges the “objective existence” of such “being-as-presence” (as Heidegger described it) as against Nietzsche’s “being-as-becoming” and that therefore renders superfluous the notion of “truth-as-certainty and totality” together with that of contra-diction. (We have shown in our Weberbuch and will discuss again soon how Weber misconceived this essential point in his critique of “objectivity” in science – to wit, that as philosophers as disparate as Nicholas of Cusa and Schopenhauer pointed out, there is and there can be no “approximation” to “the Truth”, because the concept of “truth-as-certainty and totality” is toto genere, toto caelo [Schopenhauer] categorically different from that of “partial truths” or “verities” [Arendt] – which can ec-sist only as an “ideo-logical” entity if one falsely believes in “the Truth”!)

If we understand “appearances” correctly (as Nietzsche indicates but fails to do consistently), then they can never be contra-dictory because as such they do not re-fer to any “under-lying [sub-stantive] reality” or “essence of things” or “things-in-themselves” against which they can be judged to be false. This is what allows Nietzsche to speak of “truth and falsehood in an extra-moral sense” (ausser-moralisch), that is to say, “outside the morality”, or better “the suprasensible world of values”, upon which this false opposition of real events is absolutely dependent! The polarity here is between the mani-fold and multi-versality of experience [appearances] which is re-presented and embodied by the human instinct to the creation of metaphors, art and myth, against the truth-as-certainty and uni-versality of “rational science” for which “reality” is definable in terms of ultimately self-referential “natural laws” subject to the principle of non-contradiction which they themselves must infringe.


It is precisely for these reasons that we simply cannot go along with Cacciari and persist with the terminology he adopts from Nietzsche with regard to “art as the genius of falsity” and to the “contradictoriness” of the world. Indeed Cacciari at a certain stage seems to suggest that art as “the genius of falsity” is “that will to power that allows us to bend the cruel reality, contradictory and without meaning, of the world, to our necessity to live”: “We hold on to art so as not to perish before truth”:

Pero en el arte el genio de la mentira resurge en su pureza - el poder de la mentira se muestra en toda su luz y belleza. Aquella voluntad de poder que nos permite reducir la cruel realidad, contradictoria y sin sentido del mundo a nuestra necesidad de vivir - aquella voluntad de poder que es la gran creadora de la posibilidad de vivir - pone sus nervios al desnudo en el arte.Tenemos el arte para no perecer frente a la verdad.

But understood in this sense, Cacciari can no longer intend “truth” as “truth-as-certainty and totality”; rather, he can only intend the opposite – that is, “truth-as contingency” and “truth-as-becoming”. Yet in this case “truth” and “art” would simply be identical: far from being “contradictory”, this “truth” and “cruel reality” would simply be “contingent”, they would be Da-sein (Heidegger), to which the concept of “contra-diction” is entirely inapplicable.  Instead, and inconsistently, it is evident that in nearly every other context Cacciari, following Nietzsche, clearly understands “truth” as “truth-as-certainty”. At any rate, however “tragic” may be the attempt at mimesis, whether artistic or philosophico-scientific, it does not evince the contradictoriness of life and the world! Croce’s objection in the Logica against the Nietzschean thesis was precisely that if there is no “truth” understood as “totality”, as “Truth”, then it is impossible to prove the “truth” of this thesis! This is an objection of which Cacciari does not seem to be mindful because, like Croce, he remains captive to the primacy of “Truth” and thus equivocates about “the truth of non-Truth”!

El arte de lo profundo es del todo solidario con lo Verdadero de la metafísica. Para ambos la apariencia es mentira, y el signo no otra cosa que vestimenta-escritura del pensamiento. Este arte miente demasiado; en realidad, miente dos veces: la primera haciendo propia la mentira del Fundamentum metafísico; la segunda reduciendo las propias configuraciones sígnicas a seductores velos del logos. El poeta transformado opone a este exceso de mentira la perfecta medida de
su arte: existen múltiples modos de abrirse al mundo - el signo es una apertura al mundo; él afirma la verdad de la apariencia, el carácter abismal (ab-gründlich: sin fundamento, continuamente desfondante) de la apariencia, la verdad de aquello que para la metafísica es no-verdad, por lo tanto, mentira, y por otra parte, el carácter de velo, de ocultamiento de esta verdad de la apariencia que reviste la Verdad metafísica. Como Derrida ha explicado: la Verdad falsificada , deviene apariencia, o, mejor dicho, asume el rol que la apariencia tenía a sus ojos, y la apariencia deviene única verdad, no porque sustituya al antiguo Fundamento, sino porque indica la verdad de la ausencia de Fundamento, verdad de la no-Verdad. (El Arte en N.)


Indeed we certainly agree that for Nietzsche and for us “appearance” takes the place of the old “objective Truth”, but this does not mean at all that “appearance is now the truth of non-Truth”, for the simple reason that if there is no “Truth” then there cannot be any “non-Truth” either; and it is indeed absurd to refer to such a concept. “The absence of Foundation” is a meaningless phrase – unless there truly is a “Foundation”, unless one existed objectively either as presence or else as possibility, as opposed to ec-sisting ideologically!  To exemplify further, it would be equally meaningless for us to talk of “the truth of the non-Subject” because, having denied the existence as well as the possibility of a Subject, both the existence and the non-existence of a “non-Subject” must also be denied as meaningless statements – because it is absurd to assert the existence of the opposite of something that does not and cannot exist! The only way in which “appearance” can be described as “the truth of non-Truth” is if we intend by “appearance” the ab-sence, the non-being or non-existence, of “truth-as-certainty and totality”, that is, of “truth-as-presence”. But in that case it is incorrect to assign to “appearance” the meaning that Cacciari intends – and that is, “appearance” as not only the ab-sence of “truth-as-presence”, as “ob-jective truth”, but also of “appearance” as “life as contra-diction”, as “falsity”! (There is a little shadow-boxing or ghost-fighting here, similar to falling into the quixotic trap of the old refrain about Neville Chamberlain and Hitler:

As I descended down the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today.
I wish, I wish he’d go away!

Cacciari’s “man who wasn’t there” is the notion of “truth as the contra-dictoriness of reality”!)

(Incidentally, the Popperian test of “falsifiability” of scientific truth runs against this insurmountable objection: - that it invalidates the very notion of “scientificity” because only “false statements” are “falsifiable”! In other words, Popper’s test of “scientificity” mis-conceives the entire notion of “scientificity” and is quite simply an ideological attempt to rescue bourgeois science from the Nietzschean critique of it as “the will to truth” and “truth-as-certainty” that underlie and sustain it: - it is no test at all given that even, and especially, blatant lies are “falsifiable” by definition and that, as we shall argue below in agreement with Nietzsche, the notion of “scientific truth” cannot stand on contingency – what Arendt called “verities” - but rather on the physical-mathematical necessity of “the laws of nature”!)

[In our next piece we will attempt to draw closer to a novel approach to the social synthesis through the critique of Cacciari and Vattimo.]

We argued above that except for the fact that philosophic reflection cannot com-prehend artistic expression and is in-deed only one of its manifestations as artistic activity, philosophic reflection remains just as “artistic” as any other form of human ex-pression or pro-duction. Consequently, the mimetic gap ec-sists only for philosophy and its transcendental logos; it does not exist in reality for art, whose only reality is that of so-called “appearances” and “meta-phors”! (We shall argue later that the terms “appearances” and “metaphors” and even “art” are inappropriate and can only add confusion to our analysis of perception.) We can state therefore that there is no independent or autonomous sphere of artistic expression and production – and that indeed all human action is essentially artistic. The fact that under certain historical conditions this essential aspect of human action is overcome and repressed through the social synthesis and the mode of social reproduction that sustains it does not detract from this fundamental fact; it is instead the reality of what is widely known as “alienation” (cf. Hegel, Marx), and what Nietzsche describes instead as “internalization” (Verinnerlichung) of morality and of “all Values [aller Werthe]” occasioned by the ontogenetic “disgregation of the instincts” – which is what constitutes for him “the ontogeny of thought”. We will examine this aspect of Nietzsche’s critique shortly in connection with the social synthesis.

For the moment, we wish to turn to Cacciari’s analysis of artistic production to highlight the salient features of our own analysis:

Un instante hace irrupción, donde una voz que constituye siempre el a priori de toda idea del artesano, se abate sobre el hombre, transformándolo en su propio instrumento. A través de él, que no es, por lo tanto, el sujeto de la creación (y cuyo "hacer" no tiene su origen en el no-ser), esa voz se manifiesta visiblemente, se expresa audiblemente, resuena, se transforma en ese canto. (El Hacer del Canto)

But what can it possibly mean to say “an instant irrupts [breaks in], whereby a voice that always constitutes the a priori of all the ideas of the artisan, strikes the human being” – what can we possibly achieve and how is it even feasible to separate “the human being” or “artisan” from its “inspiration”, from “the voice that constitutes the a priori of every one of the artisan’s ideas”? And how is it even conceivable to argue that this in-spiration, this “voice” (surely, a divine afflatus?) or “de-lirium”, somehow “transforms the artisan into its own proper instrument”? For it is entirely evident to us instead – as immanentists – that the artisan and the “voice” or inspiration are in reality, in deed, in the “act” of pro-duction of the art form, one and the same entity – because perception and creation are one and the same activity, not two separate entities as all transcendental philosophy would have us believe!

We agree with Cacciari’s sharp realization that “[the artisan] is not the subject of creation”: but this is only because no in-dividual human being can be treated as the “subject” or “creator” of the act of perception and production (which is inevitably artistic) because this belongs to the species and not to the In-dividuum – because it is the creative activity of being human and not the individual action of a single human being! To consider poiesis ontogenetically as a reality that pertains to in-dividual human beings and not phylogenetically to being human is to relapse in the “philosophical” hypostatization of “art” as an autonomous sphere of human activity and not as the very essence of being human: it is to relapse into the notion of art as transcendence, as “divine inspiration” that Cacciari himself had earlier eschewed. And it is Cacciari himself who gives the game away when he (perhaps unwittingly, but inevitably, given his entire approach to the problem) relapses into the language of the old philosophical logos he ostensibly detests:

Ese canto es mímesis, en el sentido en que está de acuerdo, en armonía, solo con esa voz, y por lo tanto realmente con nada, ya que esa voz, en tanto tal, no se da nunca verdaderamente.
Ese canto, en suma, no es la mímesis sino de su propio presupuesto, que trasciende [!!] toda medida, toda utilidad y toda techne normal. Ese "hacer" que constituye el canto es, pues, verdaderamente un delirio en relación con el habitus de la poesía, de las technai que teje el arte de la realeza. (El Hacer del Canto)

Cacciari’s mysticism here becomes truly mystifying! It is a fact that the audible and visible or perceptible manifestations, or ex-pressions, of artistic activity cannot be confused with the “in-spiration” of art, with its creative moment. Yet it is palpably absurd to deny that the two are in reality fused and that instead this “creation”, the artistic expression, is pro-duced seemingly “out of nothing”, out of sheer “de-lirium”. On the contrary, this “pro-duction”, as Cacciari himself asseverates, distinguishes all human activity – indeed, this id-entification (this same-ness) of artistic inspiration with its pro-duction, this “objectification of artistic inspiration”, is precisely what allows that “symbolic exchange” between human beings that makes possible “the social synthesis”. It is utter nonsense, then, for Cacciari to describe artistic inspiration and pro-duction as he does above by separating onto-logically (yet another chorismos!) human inspiration (poiesis) and human production (techne) – because the two are inextricably bound and fused! There is no “techne”, on one side, and “poiesis” on the other, just as there is no Subject and Object in opposition to each other: both poiesis and techne are inseparable aspects of the one metaphor-producing “creative” activity – remembering that “creativity”, the initium, is not “subject-ity”.

[Artistic Form as “thought”]
Cacciari’s mysticism is again on show:

El arte en cuanto juego de configuraciones sígnicas es entonces el pensamiento de la verdad de la apariencia, de la verdad de la no-verdad… pero la Forma [artistica] no tiene nada de formalístico: ella es universal facultad falsificante, pone la verdad como no-verdad. La Forma artística abre al mundo, es apertura al ser, en cuanto divina tirada de dados, abismo del Azar y de sus combinaciones, teoría trágica del eterno crear-destruir. (El Arte en N.)


Note that this “play of sign [semiotic] configurations” or “the artistic Form” can be understood only in relation to the reality of social formations, only in terms of “the social synthesis”, without which our entire speculative efforts relapse into sheer mysticism, which is what Cacciari slips into in the quotation above. True, as Cacciari himself shows in ‘El Hacer del Canto’, the mimetic gap does remit the telos of philosophy and its logos back to the mystical world of divine “inspiration” and “contingency” (“divina tirada de dados”), of “delirium” – a thesis advanced long ago by Werner Jaeger in The Theology of the EarlyGreek Philosophers (see our ‘Postcard from Istanbul’). The painful realization of this common artistic-metaphorical matrix is what pro-voked the wrath of Plato’s “condemnation” of art and mythology because these expose the “tragic” inability of philosophy and science to bridge this mimetic gap. But as we emphasized earlier, the mimetic gap between the act of perception and its “ob-ject” ec-sists only for philosophy and its transcendental logos; it does not exist in reality because like all human objectification the only “reality” for art is that of so-called “appearances” and “meta-phors”, and therefore the unity of perception, thought and language! The error here for Cacciari as for Nietzsche consists in seeking to separate thought from its “ob-ject” (a separation implicit in the notion of “meta-phor”), thought from language, - and then in reducing all language and concepts to logic. Then, having established this last false equation, they correctly deny that all knowledge is logico-discursive but incorrectly conclude from the equation of knowledge with logic that it is possible to descry “a new union between knowledge and falsity, a new relation that is no longer one of mutual exclusion”.

Por lo tanto: la filosofía última, llegando al reconocimiento de la necesidad del arte, llega al reconocimiento de esta facultad falsificante como una formula universal del conocer, como estructura del conocer. O, viceversa, el arte en cuanto actividad metafísica en gran estilo torna visible una nueva unión entre conocimiento y mentira, una nueva relación ya no más de recíproca exclusión.

The idea that knowledge and falsity are not mutually exclusive, that reality is “contra-dictory”, arises from the mistaken equation of knowledge with logico-discursive thought and the latter’s doomed attempt to ob-literate all contradiction.

El problema que aquí sale a la luz tiene relación con un presupuesto vital de la tradición filosófica europea. En base a tal presupuesto, el mundo se nos abriría exclusivamente mediante pensamientos pro-ducidos lingüísticamente, o sea mediante un logos predicativo-discursivo. El mundo nos es dado exclusivamente a través de las formas de la discursividad lingüística, de las cuales siempre es posible afirmar verdad o falsedad. Ahora para tal tradición no tendría sentido interrogarse sobre la verdad o falsedad del arte. Por lo tanto, en el caso de un hecho artístico, no tendremos nunca nada que ver con pensamientos, con conocimiento sino con fantasías, del todo irrelevantes para el auténtico logos -o, como máximo, expresantes de los limites o de los necesarios días de descanso, o aún, de los lapsus de la actividad discursiva.

We know very well, from “em-pathy” for instance, that knowledge cannot be reduced to logic. There is therefore no sense in affirming the co-existence of knowledge and falsity as if knowledge referred to “truth-as-certainty and totality” – because we know that knowledge is not “formal-logical” or “logico-discursive” whereas falsity can only exist for logic. Yet knowledge can ec-sist only symbolically, through language: and we should remember that language is not logic – and that indeed logic itself is not “logical”! Therefore the phrase “logico-discursive” covers only one aspect of “language”. Indeed, we demonstrated earlier that the “logico-discursive” form (philosophy) too is “artistic”! The metaphysical dimension of art and the artistic dimension of metaphysics entail precisely that human perception, thought, and knowledge cannot be reduced to “logic”. But can they be “divorced” from language? The answer we gave earlier (in ‘Immanence Re-visited’ and ‘Philosophy of the Flesh’) is that they can-not!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Krugman on Class Wars


We don't always agree with Krugman's theoretical approach to economics, but we know that politically his heart is in the right place - and that counts for a lot! So here is his latest Column for the benefit of our friends.

Class Wars of 2012

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On Election Day, The Boston Globe reported, Logan International Airport in Boston was running short of parking spaces. Not for cars — for private jets. Big donors were flooding into the city to attend Mitt Romney’s victory party.
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Paul Krugman
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Readers shared their thoughts on this article.
They were, it turned out, misinformed about political reality. But the disappointed plutocrats weren’t wrong about who was on their side. This was very much an election pitting the interests of the very rich against those of the middle class and the poor.
And the Obama campaign won largely by disregarding the warnings of squeamish “centrists” and embracing that reality, stressing the class-war aspect of the confrontation. This ensured not only that President Obama won by huge margins among lower-income voters, but that those voters turned out in large numbers, sealing his victory.
The important thing to understand now is that while the election is over, the class war isn’t. The same people who bet big on Mr. Romney, and lost, are now trying to win by stealth — in the name of fiscal responsibility — the ground they failed to gain in an open election.
Before I get there, a word about the actual vote. Obviously, narrow economic self-interest doesn’t explain everything about how individuals, or even broad demographic groups, cast their ballots. Asian-Americans are a relatively affluent group, yet they went for President Obama by 3 to 1. Whites in Mississippi, on the other hand, aren’t especially well off, yet Mr. Obama received only 10 percent of their votes.
These anomalies, however, weren’t enough to change the overall pattern. Meanwhile, Democrats seem to have neutralized the traditional G.O.P. advantage on social issues, so that the election really was a referendum on economic policy. And what voters said, clearly, was no to tax cuts for the rich, no to benefit cuts for the middle class and the poor. So what’s a top-down class warrior to do?
The answer, as I have already suggested, is to rely on stealth — to smuggle in plutocrat-friendly policies under the pretense that they’re just sensible responses to the budget deficit.
Consider, as a prime example, the push to raise the retirement age, the age of eligibility for Medicare, or both. This is only reasonable, we’re told — after all, life expectancy has risen, so shouldn’t we all retire later? In reality, however, it would be a hugely regressive policy change, imposing severe burdens on lower- and middle-income Americans while barely affecting the wealthy. Why? First of all, the increase in life expectancy is concentrated among the affluent; why should janitors have to retire later because lawyers are living longer? Second, both Social Security and Medicare are much more important, relative to income, to less-affluent Americans, so delaying their availability would be a far more severe hit to ordinary families than to the top 1 percent.
Or take a subtler example, the insistence that any revenue increases should come from limiting deductions rather than from higher tax rates. The key thing to realize here is that the math just doesn’t work; there is, in fact, no way limits on deductions can raise as much revenue from the wealthy as you can get simply by letting the relevant parts of the Bush-era tax cuts expire. So any proposal to avoid a rate increase is, whatever its proponents may say, a proposal that we let the 1 percent off the hook and shift the burden, one way or another, to the middle class or the poor.
The point is that the class war is still on, this time with an added dose of deception. And this, in turn, means that you need to look very closely at any proposals coming from the usual suspects, even — or rather especially — if the proposal is being represented as a bipartisan, common-sense solution. In particular, whenever some deficit-scold group talks about “shared sacrifice,” you need to ask, sacrifice relative to what?
As regular readers may know, I’m not a fan of the Bowles-Simpson report on deficit reduction that laid out a poorly designed plan that for some reason has achieved near-sacred status among the Beltway elite. Still, at least you can say this for Bowles-Simpson: When it talked about shared sacrifice, it started from a “baseline” that already assumed the end of the high-end Bush tax cuts. At this point, however, just about all the deficit scolds seem to want us to count the expiration of those cuts — which were sold on false pretenses, and were never affordable — as some kind of big giveback by the rich. It isn’t.
So keep your eyes open as the fiscal game of chicken continues. It’s an uncomfortable but real truth that we are not all in this together; America’s top-down class warriors lost big in the election, but now they’re trying to use the pretense of concern about the deficit to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Let’s not let them pull it off.